So You’re an Apple and You Married an Orange
The ABCs of resolving parent-child disputes
Chapter One: Avoid useless conflict
The term divorce, by way of legal definition, means that the marital relationship that existed between husband and wife is now over. Divorce for parties without children means that individuals no longer have to communicate with their ex spouse. Matters obviously become more complicated when divorced parties have children together.
People who are recently separated or divorced usually feel extremely irritated or uncomfortable when dealing with their ex spouses. Custodial agreements included in divorce actions list rights, duties, and obligations that each party has to their children. Custodial agreements mostly fail to establish effective manner and means by which parties interact to address the future needs of their child.
Many divorced parents fall into adversarial relationships with their ex-spouses because they simply lack sufficient training to learn how to effectively communicate. Blindly following your court order most likely will not allow you to resolve every potential conflict that you and your ex will face as your child grows and develops over time. Effective communication skills is a learned process and may even require the assistance of counselor’s and/or psychologists.
It is important to address the many factors that incite conflict. The most common reason for conflict is that the parties lack emotional closure. Conflict is created as a means by which these people interact and attempt to assert power over the other.
Another common reason why people can not abandon conflict is that they have failed to heal from their divorce. In this situation, the experiences individuals had in court or at settlement conferences have been internalized and carried into future dealings with their ex over matters concerning their children.
People also will not abandon conflict because of their stubborn need to be right. Some individuals are so entrenched in the notion that they are right that they abandon reason and effective compromise over disputes regarding their children. Disputes are assessed by wins or losses, and not by what action needed to be done to address the child’s needs.
Conflict hurts kids both in the short and long term. Children emotional development will suffer if parent’s can not agree to resolve their differences. Children will suffer anxiety, low self esteem and depression when parent’s go to war. Children from combative divorce parent’s will have trouble maintaining healthy relationships, effecting their abilities to be happy and loved.
Prolonged conflict comes at a great personal cost. Your individual cost may also include potentially losing your relationship with your children over the long term. Simply put, there is no benefit to maintaining a course that puts you in constant conflict with your ex.
It is important to learn how to cooperate and effectively handle disputes between you and your ex from the onset. People who have experienced years of constant conflict feel trapped and saddened by the entire experience, understanding too late the cost of their actions.
If you want to remove continuous conflicts with your ex, change what you are doing and how you are acting. Remember the reason why you divorced in the first place. Why put yourself in a situation that creates the very conflict you swore that you would never go back to?
So, in a nutshell, avoid useless conflict. When presented with a situation, use every opportunity you have to be the deal maker, not the deal breaker.