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what to do when your child acts like your Ex-husband

What to Do When Your Child Acts Like Your Ex-husband

At last, you are finally on the other side of the longest, hardest life change you have ever experienced: your divorce. Your emotions are stabilizing and the coparenting arrangement seems to be working (for the most part). You are free from him* and ready to move forward. You are taking steps to advance your independence. You are beginning to rebuild.

Suddenly, BAMM! Your Ex’s expressions are plastered on your children’s face! Your daughter has the audacity to use a phrase your Ex may as well have coined himself. Your son grimaces and suddenly your reliving the past, remembering the sneers and the way your husband used to dismiss or disrespect you. You are blindsided, triggered, and instantly repulsed. You are so offended—how can your children be so insensitive? Doesn’t she know you used to HATE it when her father said those words? Doesn’t your son understand that you left your Ex because you decided to no longer tolerate any form of disrespect?

One client told me that every time her daughter responded to her with “gotcha,” it felt like a razor’s edge. For my client, “gotcha” was not an innocent word but a word that sounded like a parroting of her Ex when he was “pretending” to listen. And many women feel much the same. It’s not easy figuring out what to do when your child acts like your Ex-husband.

You’re divorced but still haunted by your Ex

What now? You can’t divorce your children. Should you react by yelling at them to stop their behavior? The fact is, none of this—not your divorce and not the ways that your children remind you of their father—is your children’s fault. Your children didn’t choose their father, you did. Besides, have you ever been on the receiving end of a derogatory comment like, “You are just like your mother”? How did that make you feel?

In my experience as a family and teen coach, lashing out at your children and blaming them for your triggers could have lasting damage on your relationship. It could put your kids on the defensive, wanting to protect their father. It could impact their self-esteem because you are attacking your children’s character. And it could compound guilt your children may already be feeling about the divorce.

Yes, that’s right. Kids of divorce sometimes carry guilt because they often think it’s their fault their parent’s relationship didn’t work out. They might conclude this based on what they heard and felt during the events leading up to the divorce, which later manifests as guilt.

Figuring out what to do when your child acts like your Ex-husband is a part of coparenting you weren’t prepared for. While it may feel nearly impossible to contain your reaction in the moment, doing so will leave space to build an amazing relationship with your children in the long run and will help you heal and build immunity to these inevitable triggers in the process.

Manage your response when you feel triggered

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” is a well-known quote by Jim Rohn, motivational speaker and self-help guru.

Not only are your children genetically 50 percent of you and their father, but they are spending time with each of you, so it is only natural that they will pick up some tendencies and expressions from both of you.

Therefore, when your children do or say something to trigger you, the first step is to do a quick analysis. What about this bothers me? Is this my pet peeve or an actual behavioral problem that will affect my children’s personal relationships?

If it’s a pet peeve, use your emotional intelligence to guide your response: “My children are not my Ex. This is not personal. I choose to let it go.” Tony Robbins always says, “What you focus on expands.” Hence, if you don’t like it, don’t focus on it!

Confront behavioral issues

If it’s a behavioral problem, keep your relationship with your children in mind as you parent the behavior from a place of compassion and empathy, in an age-appropriate way. Remember, your children learned this behavior and can successfully unlearn it with proper parenting from you.

If you wonder what “proper parenting” looks like now that you’ve survived divorce and are on your own, consider joining a professionally-facilitated parenting support group for women to get the support you need as a mother to stand strong.

Make time for self-reflection

Finally, if the hurt and emotion you are experience is defeating you, it’s a glaring sign that you haven’t healed yourself. Maybe it’s time to lean in and clear the burden once and for all, for the sake of your relationship with your children and any other relationship you hope to have in the future. Take time to heal through self-help alternatives, or speak to a professional coach who can help you face, explore, and abolish those feelings once and for all.

The topic of this article was inspired by a beautiful client of mine who endured a horrific divorce and custody battle. She was still putting the pieces of herself back together when she noticed that sometimes, if her 9-year-old son was hurting or feeling bad, he would say hurtful or vindictive things to her, such as “You’re fat,” or “You have no friends.” Ouch! The pain went right to her core.

As her coach, I had so much compassion for her as she realized the pain her Ex inflicted could still reach her through her children. Through the power of transformational coaching, she discovered the solutions resided within her.

Today she realizes right away that those comments are not coming from her son but are behaviors that his father often models. As a mother, she can respond with compassion and empathy to disarm him and then let him know that while she understands his frustration, taking it out on her or others is not appropriate or acceptable. She is earning her son’s respect while teaching him an effective way to navigate his emotions and have a healthy, loving relationship, without once mentioning his father.

In closing, the next time your children act like your Ex, bite your tongue and remember that they are not their father. Your loving connection with them matters so much more than your past relationship with him.

Cindy Thackston is a compassionate, certified professional coach and founder of Rate Life a 10!, Youth and Family Success Coaching. She works with families with tweens and teens who are facing various challenges that are causing disconnection and a breakdown of the family unit. To learn how Cindy helps families reconnect and create a thriving family culture, visit her website at www.ratelifea10.com to schedule a free consultation.

*This piece was written for SAS for Women, an all-women website. At SAS we respect same-sex marriages, however, for the sake of simplicity in this article we refer to your spouse as a male.

badmouthing your children

Why Badmouthing Your Coparent Hurts Your Child

Once we get married, most of us assume that we’ll spend the rest of our life with that person. We’re in love, we have kids and maybe even a house together—everything is perfect. But then something changes, and all our hopes and dreams are shattered. What are we to do? Do we file for divorce? Or, do we stay in a relationship that’s become toxic?

While this decision can be hard to make, you have to think about what is best for you.

Quite often, women decide to stay married for the sake of their kids. But think about it this way—how can your kids be happy if you and your partner are constantly arguing? Getting a divorce and coparenting might sound like a challenge, but the children should be your top priority. If your heart is in the right place, you’ll find it’s a challenge you’re up for.

Of course, you do need to keep in mind that even after the divorce, you will have to keep seeing your Ex if you decide on joint custody. It can often be difficult to maintain a civil relationship if there is still some lingering resentment. Finances, schedules, and lifestyle changes can all make it harder for you to coexist.

Unless your Ex decides to completely abandon you and the children, you should look for a way to include them in your kids’ lives. Maybe your Ex is a terrible husband, but a great father. Because of this, you’ll want to avoid badmouthing the other parent in front of your child as it can be quite harmful to their relationship with your Ex. Here are some more reasons why badmouthing your coparent can hurt your kids.

Your kid will be adjusting to recent changes

When kids find out about their parents’ divorce, they will probably have a hard time understanding what exactly is happening. Depending on their age, they might cry, become isolated, blame themselves, or understand that this is truly the best option.

If you or your Ex move out, your children will have to adjust to constantly moving from one home to another. If one of you gets sole parental responsibility, the child will probably miss seeing you together and spending time as a family. Your children might also have to change schools. The last thing they need is to hear you complain about the other parent. This will make them feel even more confused and helpless, as they will not know how to act in this situation.

Your children aren’t your confidants or therapist

When you’re with your kids, try to find fun topics to talk about. Ask them about their day, what they want to read or watch, what they learned in school, etc. When the topic of their father comes up, try to stay calm and ask about their time together. Do not talk about your issues and tell them bad things about their parent.

You should not turn to your children to complain about your Ex. They do not need to know every single detail that led to your divorce. No matter their age, they are not your therapist, and you should not rely on them to make you feel better about your problems. Oversharing will possibly make them feel overwhelmed. If they have a good relationship with their other parent, you do not want to ruin this. So, if you need help, seek professional advice or talk to your friends.

The truth always comes out

The worst thing you could do is lie to your child about their other parent. If you spread misinformation, the lies will eventually catch up with you. Seeing as how your kid will still communicate with other members on both sides of the family, it’s quite possible that they will ask someone what the truth is. If they find out you lied to them, it can greatly affect your relationship going forward.

Your kids will feel forced to choose sides

Badmouthing your coparent—even when you’re on the receiving end of the complaints—makes your kids feel forced to choose sides. Even worse, they might develop a bad opinion about both of you, internalizing those feelings and becoming secluded.

This is especially true when children get older and become more self aware. It’s entirely possible that all those “bad parts” about your Ex that you list off are traits your children share, and you don’t want to offend or shame your children. Constant pressure and the stress of going back and forth between homes can often results in deteriorating health in the future, which is something you don’t want to contribute to.

There are so many reasons why badmouthing your coparent in front of our children is never a good idea, from making your children feel badly about themselves to ruining relationships within your family. No matter how you feel about your Ex, you should always try to stay civil and think of what is best for your child.

By Tanya Mayer for women. You can reach her at [email protected]

If you are seeking an education on best practices for coparenting as you support your children through one of the toughest moments in your lives, you will want to know about Gaia’s Group, SAS for Women’s virtual group coaching class for coparenting mothers. We all need a thoughtful, committed plan for helping our children weather and move beyond separation and divorce. Doing it the healthiest way is a choice. 

Communicating through divorce can be challenging.

Challenges of Communicating Through Divorce When You Have Kids

Problems with communication are often cited as a leading cause of divorce. Yet as a parent, getting divorced doesn’t typically mean that all conversations with your former spouse will cease. While your coparent might be far from your favorite person, finding a way to communicate through your divorce and beyond is non-negotiable when you have kids.

The methods you use to communicate can have an enormous impact on how successful your coparenting interactions are. If face-to-face interactions or phone calls continually prove to be non-starters, perhaps you’ll turn to web- and mobile-based resources like email or texting. The positives of text and email are obvious.

But if you’re struggling with conflict, text and email won’t make a difference if you’re seriously looking to improve your communication.

Some parents realize that text and email aren’t going to cut it so they ask others to get involved as messengers. But when parents choose an inappropriate third-party to serve as their messenger, this strategy can lead to much bigger issues.

For the messenger, the emotional burden of having to carry a message—especially if it’s not a particularly pleasant one—can be huge. This can be true if someone such as a child’s nanny, another family member, or a close friend is being held responsible for sending messages. And asking children to send the messages can create an even more dire situation for your family by putting them in the middle of potential conflict.

As hard as it can be to make communication work in coparenting, finding a healthy way to manage it for the sake of your kids makes it well worth the effort.

Set healthy boundaries as you communicate through divorce (and beyond)

So, what’s a positive first step to take towards lessening the challenges of communicating through divorce?

Instead of trying to communicate the same ways you once did, building a framework of healthy coparenting boundaries can significantly improve your efforts.

Commit to keeping your kids from being middlemen

Though it almost goes without saying, it’s absolutely crucial to protect your children. They should never be made to feel like they are carrying a burden because of your divorce. Even something as simple as asking one of your kids to relay a brief message to your coparent can be a potent source of emotional strain and anxiety. In doing so, your child must bear the responsibility of receiving the first-hand response to that message which, depending on the reaction, can be overwhelming.

As coparents, commit to keeping your kids out of the middle of your conflict and communications. Additionally, prevent others from acting as your messenger, including your child’s nanny. If you need a third-party to assist in your communication, enlist help from your attorneys or a neutral third-party professional such as a mediator or parenting coordinator.


If you are seeking an education on best practices for coparenting as you support your children through one of the toughest moments in your lives, you will want to know about Gaia’s Group, SAS for Women’s virtual group coaching class for coparenting mothers. We all need a thoughtful, committed plan for helping our children weather and move beyond separation and divorce. Doing it the healthiest way is a choice. 


Stick to your parenting agreement

Your parenting agreement should act as a guide for handling different aspects of raising your children as coparents. It will encompass everything from parenting time schedules and shared expenses to how big decisions will be made for your kids.

Sticking to your agreement can act as evidence that backs up different parenting decisions you make. This can curb conflict because parents are more likely to remain on the same page.

On top of details about your children’s daily care, your parenting agreement may lay out specifications for your communication plan. It can be critical to include specific guidelines, especially if conflict has been a recurring issue.

Give parallel parenting a try

If conflict becomes a chronic issue, switching to parallel parenting can be a great option.

In a parallel parenting arrangement, parents can disengage from one another while still playing an active role in raising their children. Backing off from one another—and from the constant disagreements that may have existed when engaged in more traditional coparenting—encourages a new level of calm in each household.

Disengagement in parallel parenting doesn’t mean that parents won’t be communicating at all. Instead, they will significantly limit their interactions to keep them business-like and entirely focused on their children. While some find email or text messages are equal to the task, they still present all the same opportunities for miscommunication that can lead to conflict.

Try a coparenting app

Coparenting apps are often recommended by family law practitioners to help resolve communication issues between parents. At their best, coparenting apps have built-in boundaries that promote efficient and straightforward conversations about shared parenting matters. Information is exchanged on the key aspects of shared parenting.

Apps designed to promote transparent and timely communication in a neutral environment can seriously support your efforts to improve your coparenting communication. Some of these apps include tools like shared parenting time calendars, expense and payments registers, family vital information banks, file storage space, private and shared journals, highly-documented messaging, and more.

Not all coparenting apps are created equal, however. While documented messaging is a crucial feature to have in any coparenting app, this alone won’t do much to help remove you and your coparent from the cycle of conflict in written exchanges. The right coparenting app should help to reduce conflict by providing you with specialized tools designed for every shared parenting situation you may encounter.

One such app, OurFamilyWizard, offers a full suite of tools that help you to focus your communication on the points that matter the most. For instance, instead of sending a message regarding a one-time change to the parenting schedule, parents will create this request directly on their calendar. Using the Trade/Swap function, you only enter the essential details regarding the change including the date and time, and a brief reason. If your co-parent approves the request, the calendar will automatically update to reflect the agreement. This cuts the need for updating the calendar later on, and a complete history of these requests is always maintained, leaving less confusion as to what was agreed upon.

It also cuts down on direct communication with your Ex, or negotiating with him*.

When a conversation must be had, the app’s messaging features provide a space for secure discussions while also offering analytical feedback. Integrated into the message board, ToneMeter™ is a function that will review the content of messages as they are written and flag any emotionally-charged phrases. This lets parents review the analysis and update their tone before sending the message. This function helps to promote mindful communication when messaging.

Many coparenting apps are subscription-based services, yet apps like OurFamilyWizard offer fee waiver programs to help make their tools available even to parents who cannot afford a subscription.

Keep learning 

The experience of your divorce, and what led up to it, is an opportunity for you to learn about yourself, to demonstrate to your children that you can be even better now, as their mom. You can promote honest communication, establish boundaries and fair “rules,” and take responsibility for your world.  Staying open to learning how others successfully coparent, what best practices are, or what new tools have been developed to support divorced parents lessens your burden and, more importantly, shows your children that you are doing your best to support everyone’s move into this next chapter healthily. For a lot of people, becoming a divorced parent and wanting to do right by their kids is a big motivator to getting educated on how to do it successfully and with heart.

Communicating through divorce when you have kids can be a significant challenge, even on a good day. Don’t expect that you’ll fall right into the best communication strategy immediately. The process of finding what works for your situation may take a little time. It’s imperative to keep your kids protected and out of the middle of conflict as you make this transition. Work to build healthy communication boundaries in your coparenting. Your boundaries will help to create a clear framework of how your interactions will take place, leaving less room for conflict and confusion.

Sara Klemp is a content manager and online marketing specialist for OurFamilyWizard. Since 2001, the OurFamilyWizard website and mobile applications have helped countless co-parents to improve communication and reduce conflict. Learn more at OurFamilyWizard.com

*This piece was written for SAS for Women, an all-women website. At SAS we respect same-sex marriages, however, for the sake of simplicity in this article we refer to your spouse as a male.

Divorcing mother and daughter

How to Tell Your Grown-Up Children You Are Divorcing

Telling your children that you and their father are splitting up is never an easy thing to do. Luckily, there are an increasing number of good resources to help parents speak to young children about divorce—but what about children who’ve already grown up? While some things remain the same no matter how old your children are, approaching the topic of divorce with adult children comes with its own set of factors to consider.

The fact that your children are adults doesn’t mean that they won’t be upset. You are still their parents, after all, and they have only ever known the two of you as one unit, making your way through this world together—they will have questions. Make sure you’re ready to answer them.

Carefully consider how you’ll bring up divorce with your children

Don’t let the fact that your marriage is over slip out while you idly chat on the phone about the weather or your feelings about your boss. Don’t spring the big D-word on your children as they make wishes for their future over birthday candles or while your family sits around the table, digesting their Thanksgiving dinner.

Instead, with your spouse, figure out what you are going to say and then find a way to break the news about your divorce delicately. Your children may be angry, but by bringing up your divorce in a calm and considerate way, you’ll be able to move forward with less resistance and more kindness.

Don’t expect your children to respond maturely

On the other hand, it’s important to know that even if your children are older, people have a way of reverting to their Inner Child when they’re around their family, especially when bad news is being delivered. Their first reaction is likely to be self-involved—why are you doing this to me?—no matter how much conflict or dysfunction they may have witnessed over the years between you and your spouse.

If your own children respond to your divorce this way, it’s even more important that you let them. A no-fault divorce may mean that no one is to blame in the eye’s of the court, but to your children, you and your husband (or probably, one of you in particular according to them …. ) is 100% responsible for the end of your marriage. If you attempt to brush aside your children’s pain rather than confront it, you’re making it harder for them to heal and move forward. Your children want to know that your divorce isn’t their fault, that you and your Ex will learn to get along, and that they won’t lose one or both of their parents.

For books on how to healthily navigate difficult conversations, or for personal support for you, consider our post, The 35 Best Books on Divorce.

Keep your children’s involvement in your divorce to a minimum

Do not drag your children into discussions, negotiations, or arguments about the divorce process and what life after divorce will look like for you and your soon-to-be Ex. Leave the advice-giving to the professionals if you need guidance, like a family law specialist or divorce coach. Involving your children in negotiations can lead to resentment and the impulse to pick sides. The repercussions of this may have a long-term, detrimental impact on familial relationships.

Of course, if you have adult children, you may also have grandchildren. Grandchildren feel divorce keenly, so it’s important that you explain things to them. You and your spouse must remind them how important they are to you and that your divorce does not change that.

Answer your children’s questions as honestly and openly as you can

In our experience, trying to shield family members by hiding things from them or waiting “for the right moment” doesn’t help anyone. But remember that there is a line between honesty and therapy—don’t overshare or vent your frustrations about your husband to your children.

Your adult children will likely have different questions about your divorce than younger children would. “Who will I live with?” could well be replaced with “Where will we go for the holidays?” or “Will this affect my inheritance?” Your children might want to know a little about how finances will be split to give them peace of mind that both of you will be stable and secure, that you or your spouse are not left to a life of frugality while the other enjoys a cushy lifestyle.

If appropriate, perhaps after the initial conversation sharing the news that you are divorcing, explain how any pensions and inheritance may be affected by the divorce and the fact that a new will (or wills) may need to be drawn up to reflect the change in your circumstances. Make sure you have expert advice for divorcing parents in black and white before you discuss these details.

Work together and not against your spouse throughout your divorce

There are some basic guidelines for good coparenting, but the best examples of helping children through a divorce at any age come from couples who manage the process as amicably as possible. They don’t express negativity about their Ex, they don’t force their children to take sides, and they aren’t unreasonable during negotiations — or conversations concerning the children. They prioritize the healthy approach to all things as they face their decision-making. In doing so, they avoid the slash and burn approach. They help their family move forward.

Visit the Woolley & Co website or call 0800 321 3832 if you are in the UK and seek advice on any aspect of divorce and family law. This article was written for SAS for Women by family law solicitors Woolley & Co. Woolley & Co, who have offices throughout the UK and also advise British expats.

Whether you are thinking about divorce or navigating the experience and its aftermath, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do it alone. Smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of “After Divorce.” Learn what this would mean for you in a free 45-minute consultation.

Parenting Through Divorce is not a cake walk

Parenting Through Divorce: 8 Things NOT to Do

Being a parent always offers a healthy dose of challenges, but parenting through divorce means facing challenges on a whole other level. Throughout your divorce, you may feel a surge of emotions—from anger to bitterness—but it’s ever so important to cope with them. Despite the impulses you may feel, these are some things you should not do to lessen the impact of divorce on you and your children.

1. Don’t aim to seek justice through the court system

Do everything to avoid court by getting educated in advance. Learn what your legal choices are and how you want to go through the divorce process. Talk to a divorce coach to understand your choices based on your needs, your story, and to help you take the next steps. Going to Family Court is a last resort. You want to negotiate and reach an agreement before then. Negotiating will save you months in court and thousands of dollars—plus it can result in a more harmonious coparenting relationship.

2. Don’t make your children choose sides

It’s important to recognize that your children do not have the same relationship with your Ex that you do. With some exceptions, children naturally love both their parents. Respect your children’s bond with your Ex by never asking your children whom they want to live with or who’s the better parent. If your children share unprompted thoughts about parenting arrangements, listen and ask your divorce coach, attorney, or mediator how they can be taken into consideration as decisions are made.

3. Don’t complain about your Ex in front of your kids

Pay attention to how you speak about your Ex in front of your children. Do you demean him or her? Do you get angry? Even your body language or tone of voice can send confusing and painful messages to your children. Over time, the hatred or bitterness you feel toward your Ex can dissipate, but these emotions will leave a lasting impression on your kids. Even if children and teenagers don’t verbalize their thoughts, hearing you complain about their other parent does affect them.

4. Don’t keep the kids from your Ex

Studies show that children can develop mental health issues when there is a disruption of a parent-child relationship. Do what you can to support your children’s relationship with their other parent. There are special circumstances, however, where you should keep your children away from your Ex, like when there has been a history of domestic or substance abuse. In these cases, supervised visitation is the best way for your Ex to have contact with your children.

5. Don’t coach your children

Coaching your children to say what you want is a big no-no. During the divorce process, you may deal with a judge and possibly a custody evaluator—both are trained specialists and will know if your kids are repeating lines they’ve heard from you. Not only will this make you look bad, but it will put your kids in a terrible position. Divorce is a difficult situation for them, too, and coaching your children could confuse them more.

6. Don’t go to court with your children

If you become involved in a custody battle, it might seem like a good idea to take your children to a court proceeding to sway a judge’s decision. But this could backfire. A courtroom is no place for children and dragging yours along could make you seem manipulative or irrational. If no one is available to care for your little ones while you attend Family Court, many courts offer children’s waiting rooms.

7. Don’t make false claims

If you do go to court, making false claims about your Ex is one of the worst things you can do. Lying under oath and fabricating statements are considered perjury, a crime punishable with fines or jail time.  Getting caught making false claims is also likely to affect your request for custody; you could even be brought back to court to have a final order changed. To avoid these and other sticky situations, always acknowledge the truth of events.

8. Don’t leave the state with your children (or break other standing orders)

Some counties have standing orders that go into effect when a divorce is filed. Other counties issue standing orders when requested. A standing order will come into place to ensure that you and your Ex refrain from any actions that could disrupt the lives of your children. Taking your kids out of state or enrolling them in a new school without permission from your Ex may violate your standing orders. Be sure to carefully review your court’s standing orders because failure to comply could make you guilty of contempt of court, an offense punishable with jail time or a fine. If you wonder if you can or cannot do something as your divorce coach or legal counsel. Getting divorced can be a scary and lonely path. Educating yourself on the do’s and don’ts of the process will make you feel more empowered and less intimidated. With the right mindset and knowledge, you will avoid making mistakes that will impact your family and begin to parent through divorce in the healthiest way.

This article was authored by Karen Lopez, writer and researcher at Custody X Change, a custody app solution. Custody X Change provides software for developing and managing custody agreements, parenting plans, and schedules.

Since 2012 smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to help them through the often times complicated and confusing experience of divorce. For emotional support and structured guidance now, consider Annie’s Group, our virtual divorce support and coaching class for women thinking about divorce or beginning the process. Schedule your 15-minute chat now to learn if this education is right for you, and where you want to go.

How to coparent when you hate your ex

How to Coparent When You Absolutely Hate Your Ex

Cutting the rope and letting go of a difficult Ex can be freeing—empowering and necessary, even. But what about when you can’t cut him* out of your life entirely? And you just hate him so much? Many women have to coparent with an Ex-husband they don’t particularly like or get along with. It sounds like hell, but it doesn’t have to be quite as miserable as that if you get clear in your head about what’s important.

And what’s important is your children.

Yes, you know that “it’s about the children,” but that does little to mitigate or heal your seething hatred for your Ex, does it? (We’ll get to that below.) For now, remember that other women—divorced moms like you—have navigated similarly difficult challenges. Think boundaries, think organization, think neutral ground. These concepts will make it easier for everybody

For instance, figure out how you are going to communicate with your Ex going forward. Establish boundaries so you feel more secure and less threatened or reactive to his behavior and what he says.

Use a custody calendar

Use a tool to make a schedule so there’s no question who has the children or when. Keeping a consistent schedule lets you talk to your Ex less while staying organized. Keep track of different schedules for holidays, summer breaks, and more, and make changes through the tool you choose. Also, a shared file can be a good way to let the other parent know about important things such as doctor’s appointments and school grades without talking to them directly.

Keep track of everything

Keeping a log of everyday things can help prevent many kinds of disagreements. Are you sharing expenses? Use a digital tracker to make things easy and keep each other accountable without having to communicate in person. Does your Ex often violate the terms set out in your parenting plan? If your Ex doesn’t follow your court order, keep track of every violation. Keep a file or use a digital tool with a journaling feature.

Separate your relationship with your Ex from your child’s

Allow your child to have a good relationship with your Ex. Just because you don’t want to see him doesn’t mean your child isn’t entitled to. Just because you don’t like him, doesn’t mean your child can’t get along with him. Your child has rights concerning access to you and his father. All the suggested steps in this post help you engage in self-care while doing what’s best for your child and letting them enjoy their father.

Use a third party for transfers—if you must

Don’t want to deal with your Ex every time either of you drops the kids off? Agree on a trustworthy third party to pick the kids up and drop them off at the other parent’s home or an agreed-upon meeting place—maybe a grandparent’s or friend’s house? Instead of feeling anxious or tense whenever it’s visiting time, you can send your child off with a smile and avoid any potential snide remarks or fights with your Ex.

Use a parenting coordinator

This is a last resort, but parenting coordinators who specialize in solving arguments in high-conflict situations and understand the needs of children can help you and your coparent resolve any ongoing disputes. A parenting coordinator will be familiar with the parenting plan you and your Ex have agreed upon and make sure both of you follow it. If your Ex is difficult to work with, having someone to keep them (and you) in line may relieve some of your stress and allow all parties involved to focus on your child and their best interests.

Speaking of…

Don’t badmouth your Ex

At least, not in front of him or your kids. While it can be healthy to get your feelings out to a friend, therapist, or coach, avoid exposing your children to negative comments or fights. Studies show that fighting between parents, even small disagreements or comments, have negative effects on children.

Children can tell when you and your coparent are in conflict, so avoid the big fights and the small comments in equal measure.

Seek support for you

Just because you are taking the high road wherever you can, doesn’t mean you’re not human, and at times, you need to wallow in the mud. Find the place where you are safe to express what you are really feeling. Find the place where you can start to heal and work on all the feelings you have as a result of the divorce. As you begin to truly understand what divorce recovery looks like you will come to terms with your feelings and deepen your healing process.

The right, nurturing place for you might be an online guided divorce support group for women that will help you commit to your intention and follow through—with the work that will move you beyond the hatred and who you truly want to be.

Focus on your child

Ultimately, your child is the focus of your relationship with your Ex now. When you start to waver, shift and keep the focus there, through all the resources available to you, while taking care of yourself. This is what you want to model to your child. This is what you want for yourself, too.

This article was authored by Daniela Chamorro, writer and researcher at Custody X Change, a custody app solution. Custody X Change provides software for developing and managing custody agreements, parenting plans, and schedules.

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS to partner them through the challenging experience of divorce and recreation. Now you can learn the Art of Reinvention post-divorce. Secure female-centered support, information, and smart next steps coparenting and rebuilding your life with Paloma’s Group, our virtual, post-divorce group coaching class, for women only. To promote sisterhood and protect confidentiality, space is limited.

“I am so happy to have these sisters on the journey with me! Our connection is very powerful. It’s ended any sense of isolation or alienation that on and off, I’ve been struggling with. I feel understood — at last — because I know these women get it! They are going through the same thing. Thank you for bringing us together and creating Paloma’s Group!”

~ S.L., New York City

*This piece was written for SAS for Women, an all-women website. At SAS we respect same-sex marriages, however, for the sake of simplicity in this article we refer to your spouse as a male.

35 divorce books on divorce for your head and heart

35 Best Books on Divorce: How to Think Smart and Protect Your Heart

Are you in that awful place of looking to teach yourself about divorce? Do you want to help your children with the gut-wrenching issue? Or have you a friend who is going through an especially grueling break up and you’d like to support her/him with several books on divorce, speaking to their specific circumstances? Your instincts are good. Divorce is hard to understand and get a handle on, mostly because it’s not just one thing happening, but an ongoing process of things to navigate, consider, decide about, and heal from. Depending on who you are and what stage of divorce you or your friend is going through, divorce can impact a person in many different ways. And while divorce coaching and support groups can be empowering and healing mechanisms, sometimes the privacy of reading books is a more comfortable start. Thank goodness we live in this modern age, where now more than ever, there exists extensive guides, workbooks and how-to books on divorce and especially, divorce recovery.

That said, how do you choose the right books on divorce? It’s not like the subject is pleasure reading, or as if you had all the time in the world.

That’s where we come in. Throughout the course of our divorce coaching practice, we’ve often been asked if we can recommend “the right book.” So below is our list of the best books on divorce.

Whether you’re an avid reader, a loving parent, a thoughtful friend, a gung-ho problem solver, or someone looking for help with a specific aspect to divorce (splitting from a narcissist, perhaps?), you’ll find our seasoned recommendations for the best books on divorce below. Among all of them, you’ll find an emphasis on navigating your divorce not only smartly, but healthily. And if you are looking to be distracted from your situation and inspired by heroines who suffered and survived, we’ve got you covered there, too. We want you to know the right books for inspiration and distraction; for it is our wish you will find something that points to hope in your story, too.

Beginning the Process of Divorce

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71jncarvagL.jpg 1. Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay: A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether to Stay In or Get Out of Your Relationship by Mira Kirshenbaum. Should you try to save your marriage or is it un-saveable? From the inside, it can be really hard to tell. Kirshenbaum’s book helps you ask questions of yourself so you come to understand and navigate which sins are forgivable and which ones are deadly. This book, a new “classic” is highly recommended by SAS for Women for those who keep asking themselves what’s the criteria for staying or to go?

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/514u5MgMSfL.jpg 2. Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder by Paul Mason and Randi Kreger. Are you having problems making sense of the chaos that is your marriage? Do you feel manipulated, controlled, lied to, or the focus of intense, violent, and/or irrational rages by your partner? Your partner may have borderline personality disorder and the decision to live with or leave that relationship can be even more complex than others’ experience. This book, highly recommended by SAS for Women, is important for those confused by their “reality.”

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41RyV-G0PnL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg 3. Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Ever After by Katherine Woodward Thomas. No matter what the reason behind your divorce, moving on can be difficult. In this step-by-step guide, Katherine aids her readers in finding peace through five steps. SAS for Women loves this book for it giving you permission to reframe divorce on your terms. You can break up in a more meaningful, thoughtful and compassionate way.

 

Using Your Head While You Divorce

Divorce Made Simple: The Ultimate Guide by a Former Family Judge by [Schoonover, Linda] 4. Divorce Made Simple: The Ultimate Guide by a Former Family Judge by Linda Schoonover. Emotions run high during divorces; it’s a natural thing. Schoonover, a former judge, helps you keep your head grounded in the process with thoughtful, rational, and easy to follow guides that tackle questions on divorce: from how to prepare for a temporary hearing without an attorney to how to choose between mediation or collaborative divorce.

 

Divorce: Taking the High Road: Simple Strategies for Creating a Healthy Divorce by [Cooper, Pegotty, Mishkin,Kimberly, Wilson Gould,Kira, Levey,Marc, Reeves,Glenys, Burton-Cluxton,Lori, McNally,Lisa, Dykes,Pamela, Callahan, Tracy, Marhan Dropkin,Marie, Chacon,Kurt] 5. Divorce: Taking the High Road: Simple Strategies for Creating a Healthy Divorce by Peggy Cooper with a contributing chapter from SAS Cofounder Kimberly Mishkin. Sometimes taking your emotions into consideration is exactly THE smart thing to do. In this book, taking care of your emotional well-being comes first, because divorce is an emotional and costly experience that can have repercussions not only on your fiscal future but your emotional future as well.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41tgjd9DjeL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg 6. The Empowered Woman’s Guide to Divorce: A Therapist and a Lawyer Guide You through Your Divorce Journey by Dr. Jill Murray and Adam Dodge Esq. This compassionate divorce book is written by two experts from different fields—psychology and law. From helping your children cope and strategies for successful coparenting to tips and tricks to help you with obstacles in the courtroom, this book touches on every aspect of divorce and gives you a way to navigate through them.

 

The Financially Smart Divorce: Three Steps To Your Ideal Settlement and Financial Security in Your New Life! by [Licciardello, J A] 7. The Financially Smart Divorce: Three Steps to Your Ideal Settlement and Financial Security in Your New Life! by J.A. Licciardello. Divorce is hard enough but splitting assets and negotiating a settlement can be especially difficult. You’re not just letting go of who you thought would be your life partner, but you’re now negotiating for your present and future finances once that split is over. This book can help you keep your finances in mind, even when you have a heavy heart.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/416P5C5ndbL._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg8. BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Hostile Emails, Personal Attacks and Social Media Meltdowns by Bill Eddy. Divorce is hard enough without having to deal with social media, emails, text messages, tweets, DMs, etc. We live in an age of technology where, when one soon-to-be-former partner is frustrated, there’s a plethora of social media and digital means of communication for them to harangue, harass and embarrass you. If you’re dealing with that, this book is for you!

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51JB90CDQEL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg9. Onward and Upward: Guide for Getting Through New York Divorce & Family Law Issues by Cari B. Rincker, Esq., SAS for Women, and additional divorce pro’s. This is a comprehensive divorce and family law book that is truly one-of-a-kind. It offers the perspectives of attorneys and important professionals like SAS divorce coaches Liza Caldwell and Kimberly Mishkin as they discuss a myriad of family and matrimonial law topics, including how to divorce, what the legal process looks like,  custody issues and how to avoid court.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51QiRlkhxdL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg10. Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice from the Battlefield by Tina Swithin. Divorce is hard enough without having to deal with a person with narcissistic personality disorder. Narcissists are, by virtue of their diagnosis, especially good at manipulation and projection. If you find yourself facing or engaged in the battleground of divorce with a narcissist, this book will help you stay prepared and steady.

 

Caring For Your Heart

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51ZzCmz3WtL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg11. Getting past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You by Susan J. Elliott. Focusing on the hurt and loss in your life can leave you drained and unready to move on. But Susan’s book gives you a step-by-step guide on what to do after your divorce to start you on your journey of healing: from putting up boundaries between you and your Ex to focusing on yourself rather than your loss.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51MzAZ5Lz5L._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg12. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Dr. Brené Brown. Being vulnerable is seen as a weakness, but Dr. Brown uses this book to illustrate that vulnerability is anything but weakness. Vulnerability is one of our core emotions, like love, joy, fear, etc., and when we expose our vulnerability, we are actually showing courage and can find empowerment through it.  This book is highly recommended by SAS for Women.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/91oqnZRdz5L.jpg 13. This Is Me Letting You Go by Heidi Priebe. When you love someone deeply, even when divorce is the right thing to do, it’s hard to let go. This collection of essays is a fantastic tool for living with your feelings and understanding that love sometimes isn’t enough, even when we want it to be.

 
 
 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41WIbflfG2L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg 14. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Sometimes the pain you are feeling really is only in your mind—you suffer because you think you are suffering. If you want to challenge logical pain and find joy, happiness, and love, look no further than within this book and within your heart. Through learning to embrace your day-to-day life and living within the present, the pain in your head will slowly fade away and will be replaced by a connection to our “indestructible essence” within.  Highly recommended by SAS for Women.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41LrftXWyrL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg15. Grieving the Loss of Love: How to Embrace Grief to Find True Hope and Healing after a Divorce, Breakup, or Death by Dr. Eleora Han. Grief is a very real emotion—one you’ll more likely be feeling after your divorce or the loss of a major relationship in your life. But grief doesn’t need to be a bad or negative emotion, and Dr. Han offers readers a path to recovery from grief that includes embracing the feeling of grief and loss and directing it in healthy, life-changing ways.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51TS0mIIqbL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg16. When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön. When your world feels like it is crumbling around you, it’s hard to carry on and live through the pain, anxiety, and fear. In this book, Chödrön illustrates that the path forward isn’t through our heads, but through our hearts. Through Buddhist wisdom, Chödrön gives her readers the right tools to navigating troubling times within their lives.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51dZiYV4emL._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg 17. You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. Author Hay believes that we are responsible for all the joy and all the pain we experience in our lives. When pain starts to outweigh your joy, this book has first-hand experiences to help you heal, internally, and to overcome the obstacles, externally, that take you away from your ability to live life to its fullest.

 

 

Helping Your Children

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51YdVutKtlL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg18. Talking to Children About Divorce by Jean McBride. McBride, a family therapist with over 25 years of practice, has helped many children going through their parent’s divorce. In this book, McBride offers the tools and encouragement needed to help your children deal with your divorce. This book will empower you to have emotionally honest and open conversations with your children and will help ensure your child’s emotional wellbeing. Highly recommended by SAS for Women.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51A%2BiUP1tZL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg19. Co-Parenting Works by Tammy G. Daughtry. Imagining your children’s life after divorce never brings up happy images—but, there is a way to navigate a seemingly impossible situation. Through your children, you and your Ex are forever linked and building a strong coparenting relationship not only benefits you but helps your children lead a healthy, happy life post-divorce.

 
 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/513yoFu4awL._SX398_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg20. Helping Your Kids Cope with Divorce the Sandcastles Way by M. Gary Neuman and Patricia Romanowski. Divorce can be especially rough on children, but this book is designed to help you help your children cope. This book includes tips from building a coparenting relationship that benefits your children and age-appropriate scripts for addressing sensitive issues, down to what to say and do when one parent moves away.

 

It's Not Your Fault, Koko Bear: A Read-Together Book for Parents and Young Children During Divorce (Lansky, Vicki) by [Lansky, Vicki]21. It’s Not Your Fault, Koko Bear: A Read-Together Book for Parents and Young Children During Divorce by Vicki Lansky. If you have younger children, it can be especially difficult to communicate what a divorce is, why you are going through it, and, most importantly, how it is not their fault. This book, a classic, specifically designed for younger children, can help them come to terms in an age-appropriate way with what’s happening during a divorce.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51fQwgijgdL._SY457_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg22. Two Homes by Claire Masurel and Kady MacDonald Denton. In preparation for your divorce and future as a coparent, this book is fantastic at illustrating what living in two households is like for a young child. This book helps younger children understand that no house is a part-time house but two loving homes for them to be a part of.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51mRRWPhJbL._SX398_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg23. Family Changes: Explaining Divorce to Children by Dr. Azmaira H. Maker and Polona Lovsin. This multi-award-winning book isn’t for you but for you to read to your younger children. This beautifully illustrated children’s book helps children grasp the changes that are about to come about in their life and that change isn’t something to be afraid of. This book is designed to help ease a child through a difficult time in their life.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51a1qqGqdHL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg24. Divorce Is Not the End of the World: Zoe’s and Evan’s Coping Guide for Kids by Zoe Stern and Evan Stern. This upbeat book is by two children of divorce, Zoe and Evan, whose parents divorced when they were 15 and 13 years old. Instead of turning that experience into something negative, the siblings worked together to create this book to help other children of divorce handle the situation in a positive way. With the help of their mother, the teens tackled topics from anger, guilt, fear, and adjusting to two different households.

 

For Yourself

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51nruTM3RfL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg25. The Awakening by Cate Chopin. Discontented, Edna Pontellier lives in New Orleans with her husband and two sons. While on vacation with her family, Edna falls in love with a mysterious man who is not her husband. When she returns home, she misses him deeply and when her husband goes away on a business trip, things will never be the same for Edna again.

 
 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51Nr1ldFFRL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg26. How to Sleep Alone in a King-Size Bed: A Memoir of Starting Over by Theo Pauline Nestor. This honest memoir is Theo’s story of kicking her husband out for his gambling problem and dealing with being alone with two young daughters. Formerly a stay-at-home mom, Theo not only has to figure out how to provide for her now husbandless family but also how to rebuild and move forward in her own life.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51BIxac7uFL._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg27. Evening by Susan Minot. Known as a daring exploration of time and memory, Minot’s novel will whisk you away into the life of Ann Grant. At 65, Ann is experiencing illness which brings her in and out of lucidity. Throughout the novel, Ann slips into memories of the past from her first time falling in love at the age of 25 and through her three marriages and five children.

 
 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51-pvNep7bL._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg28. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1920, this novel not only captivates with a love triangle, a rebellion, and a smothering dose of tradition but also transports you to 1920s high society through the characters of Newland Archer, Mary Welland, and Countess Ellen Olenska. Forced to choose between obligation brought about through tradition or love, Archer, engaged to Mary and in love with Ellen, must navigate a world of social pitfalls and taboo to see if he can have both love and marriage, or forever being denied passion.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41pqc%2BDV-qL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg29. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert. This new classic is a classic for a reason—it’s just plain old good. Wrap your head and your heart around Elizabeth’s journey across Europe and Asia to find herself after divorce. This book will not only captivate you as Elizabeth tries to find herself and her happiness but will make you hungry. Be sure to order yourself a pizza, pour yourself a glass of wine, and wear your comfortable sweatpants while reading.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51Rqbzlu8VL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg30. Falling Apart in One Piece: One Optimist’s Journey Through the Hell of Divorce by Stacy Morrison. Never believing in fairy tales nor happy endings, Morrison grew up with the idea that hard work and ambition would be her path to a happy life. But her world view was challenged when she realized that no amount of work could save her marriage. This book is Morrison’s lightly humorous journey through divorce and learning how to love again, how to forgive, and how to live through a divorce.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41BGrvQV%2BTL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg31. Heartburn by Nora Ephron. Life seemed perfect for Rachel Samstat. She loved her husband dearly and she was about to have a child with him, but, while she was seven months pregnant, Rachel discovers her husband Mark has been cheating on her. Therapy comes in all forms, and in this novel, Rachel turns to cooking and writing recipes to cope with Mark’s infidelity and her own feelings about their marriage and future child. Ephron conveys things we all feel, but reading her is more: it’s both hilarious and cathartic!

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51-rwApY85L._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg32. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Told in the age of industrialization of Russia and called “the best novel ever written” by Faulkner, this is the story of Anna and her two loves: her husband, Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin and her lover, Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky. Anna is torn between her love of two Alexeis, between obligation and freedom, between her role as mother and the dictates of society and her own need for fulfillment through love. This stunning classic will both capture and break your heart through its beautifully-told journey.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/513x35SHFTL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg 33. Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman. This story is that of Rita leaving all her worldly possessions at the age of 48, on the brink of divorce, and deciding to walk away from everything and become a nomad. Rita traveled the world from Mexico to the Galapagos to Borneo and everyplace in between as a way of not only seeing the world but discovering herself.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41rcED%2BzQAL._SX339_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg 34. Stag’s Leap by Sharon Olds. If you enjoy poetry and are also going through divorce, SAS for Women highly recommends this collection. Olds penned these complicated, nuanced and moving poems during the end of her own marriage and opens her heart to the reader. Through beautiful words, Olds reveals the strange intimacy that comes with the separation of a man that was 30 years her mate.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41hP1UGDzSL._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg35. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. This autobiographical book takes you on the journey Cheryl went through to become the person she is today, starting with her mother and her divorce. Cheryl falls into a dark place and, to save herself and learn to move forward, decides to hike over a thousand miles on the Pacific Coast Trail alone. Sometimes what you need is a really good book to lose yourself in, one you can learn and grow with just as the protagonist learns and grows. Wild is that book.

 

While there’s no guarantee you (or your friend) will connect with each and every one of these books on divorce, we’re willing to bet at least a few will resonate. Maybe one of them will teach you how to do  something step by step, while another will inspire you and remind you that in fact, you are not alone.  Hearing what the experts know or learning from other people who have gone through a divorce, can lessen your learning curve, bolster your own confidence and give you insight, tips, tricks, and strategies to make this process a little bit easier and less emotionally devastating.

What books on divorce do you recommend? By all means we invite you to share it in the comment box below so other women can benefit. Do tell us what made the book meaningful for you. We love learning from other women and their hard-won experiences! By all means, too, if you did not find a particular book on this list of “best books on divorce” relevant, good, or it did not serve you, let us know that, too.

 

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the challenging experience of divorce. If you wish to move beyond reading and connect with others to learn the smartest and most compassionate steps for you specifically, we invite you to consider a free, 45-minute consultation with SAS, or, to learn about our powerful, female-centered, group coaching classes here.

* Please know, we recommend these books on divorce based on our experience with them and the feedback we’ve received from clients who have read them. The links to each book in this blog will take you to Amazon and should you purchase one using the Amazon links here embedded, SAS for Women will receive a few pennies commission. Though the links are designed for your convenience, you are welcome to buy the books from anywhere you like (your local bookstore perhaps?); just get the education and support you deserve and begin taking care of you.

Divorce with kids can be challenging.

8 Things to Get You Through Divorce with Kids

It seems a truism that parenting is hard. But when you’re in the midst of a divorce, or trying to rebuild your life as a newly-single parent, the challenges multiply and can even strike you unawares. For support and solace — to get through a divorce with kids no matter their age — follow these important suggestions and practices below. Doing so will lessen the bumps as much as possible for you, for your children, and for the entire family.

Retain some consistency

Research shows children thrive on consistency. Wherever possible, bring a sense of familiarity to their changing lives. This can apply to your own decisions, big and small—like whether to move within the neighborhood or keep dinner at the usual time. It can also mean working with your Ex to create consistent rules and habits between both your households.

Put your children’s well-being first

In some cases, you may need an emergency or temporary custody order from a court to ensure your children stay out of harm’s way. Or perhaps the opposite is true, and you need to admit that allowing your children to spend time with your Ex is for the best, even if you don’t personally like it. In every decision, ask yourself what would most benefit your young ones.

Find common ground with your Ex

As much as you can, put the past aside so you can focus on the best future for your children. Compromise wherever you can, so you don’t get caught up in “winning.” The more divorcing spouses are able to come up with their own solutions, the faster the legal proceedings can end. Maybe you’re in a deadlock over who gets the house, but can you at least start by agreeing that the kids should remain in their school?

Make a detailed parenting plan

Everything you and your Ex agree on regarding coparenting should go into a parenting plan for approval by a judge. To avoid confusion or debate, make your plan as detailed as possible. Think about specifics like who can apply for a passport for the kids or how long you’ll wait if your Ex is late for a pickup. A parenting plan template can walk you through commonly included items so nothing is missed. Include anything important to you, so there’s no room for ambiguity.

Consider your children’s ages

Children process divorce differently depending on their developmental stage. Make sure your conversations about the divorce are age-appropriate, as is the coparenting schedule you select. Infants and toddlers need frequent contact with parents to develop secure relationships. Older children are able to handle longer periods away from each parent, but need their social lives accounted for.

Know and understand, that regardless of your children’s age, they are entitled to certain rights regarding their relationship with you and their father.

Be flexible

Even long after your divorce, unanticipated situations will arise. If you and your Ex can make decisions together as you go, rather than returning to court or mediation, life will be much easier. Your parenting plan itself may need to change, too. Coparents often modify their plans multiple times as their children grow.

Attend coparenting counseling

Coparenting counseling combines parenting education topics (child development, disciplinary methods, etc.) with counseling specific to your situation. The counselor can help you and your Ex work on things like communication and emotion management together or separately. Sessions can lead to a smoother transition not only for the two of you but for the whole family.

Get help wherever possible

Resources are plentiful for women going through divorce with kids. Don’t be ashamed to use as many as are helpful to you. Go to a large bookstore and look in the self help section. Often you will find a divorce section and in particular, books about divorce and kids: adult book and children’s books. Have you contacted your children’s school and asked what resources they recommend? Investigate them. Your court’s self-help center can help explain the legal processes of divorce with kids. Custody software like Custody X Change can help organize your coparenting. You also have support groups and classes at your fingertips.

This article was authored by Shea Drefs: senior editor and researcher at Custody X Change, a custody software solution. Custody X Change provides software for developing and managing custody agreements, parenting plans, and schedules.

 

Since 2012, SAS for Women is entirely dedicated to the unexpected challenges women face while considering a divorce and navigating the divorce experience. SAS offers women six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, your family, and your future. “Divorce can be on your terms.” – SAS For Women

 

Coparenting with a narcissist

Coparenting with a Narcissist

A person with narcissistic personality disorder has a veneer of generosity and kindness, but after marrying him*, when you really get to know each other, you discover that’s not who he is at all.

A narcissist controls and manipulates his spouse. But at first, this behavior seems so at odds with the person you thought you knew, that you feel confused, convincing yourself it’s nothing. Once the convincing becomes harder to do, the anger settles in.

Day in and day out, he dismissed your truth in favor of the “truth” he made up for you. Then he blamed you for how your “truth” made him feel.

Even after treating you poorly, he was confused when you didn’t feel like putting on a smile and happily meeting his needs. And that was on a good day.

On a bad day, he had a temper when you didn’t do what he thought you should. He would emotionally attack, verbally abuse, and possibly even get physical with you if you weren’t behaving the way he expected.

And the time suck! Your Ex demanded your attention regardless of the space you needed or what plans you had. He wanted every minute of your time to be spent with him or on activities he approved of.

Living with your narcissistic Ex was hell. And divorcing a narcissist is never easy. But that’s over. Now you’re on your own.

Yet your Ex isn’t completely out of your life. You still need to interact with him because you have children together. But coparenting with a narcissist isn’t easy either.

But there is some good news . . .

Now that you’re divorced, you’re not with your Ex all the time. You have some space to breathe and think without the persistent and all-consuming fear of how he will react.

You can choose to use this separateness to your benefit. Maybe this breather can give you perspective, so you can work on making yourself strong and becoming realistic about how your Ex is going to continue to behave.

He isn’t going to change—unless he embarks on an arduous and lengthy journey of healing.

It’s important to keep in mind how his personality is affecting your children. When your kids spend time with their other parent, whom they yearn to love and be loved by, they’re stepping back onto a minefield.

Coparenting with a narcissist means that you have to be the calm, reasonable, and affectionate parent. Narcissism prevents your Ex from reliably being an empathetic and nurturing parent. Your Ex’s focus is on his own experience and not your children’s.

As you continue thinking about coparenting with a narcissist, you’ll find yourself asking some serious and important questions:

How do you coparent effectively knowing that your Ex is always out to discredit and blame you—even in front of your children?

The truth is coparenting with a narcissist isn’t possible in the truest sense of the term “coparenting.” A narcissist is incapable of the collaboration and respect required to successfully coparent. He will always be looking out for his own interests regardless of what your children need. And because he isn’t able to put the children first, a narcissist can’t coparent.

The only way to share parenting responsibilities with a narcissist is to let him do his own thing while you do yours.

You must also be ready to help your children deal with the confusion they will have after spending time with or even just talking to their other parent.

Which brings up another great question . . .

How do you talk about your Ex with your kids?

This may be challenging, but when you talk about your Ex with your kids, you need to keep your opinions and experiences out of it. Focus on empathetically listening to your children and allowing them the space to come to their own conclusions and guide them into having the healthiest relationship possible with their other parent.

You may need to remind your kids that you are always available if things get to be too tough with their other parent. And you’ll also need to be aware that children are very good at getting what they want. Be on the lookout for your children trying to use your concern for them inappropriately.

How do you model “taking the high road” for your kids?

There’s greater pressure when you’re “coparenting” with a narcissist than if your coparent didn’t have a personality disorder. Not only do you have to deal with a narcissist, but you must be the model parent, so your children can learn what it means to deal with difficulty—how to deal with their other parent, how to be resilient, and how to be a well-adjusted adult.

This means that you aren’t getting sucked into drama with your Ex. That’s not the easiest of tasks since he knows how to play you like a fiddle, but you can start by setting clear boundaries.

When you know what you will and won’t tolerate, you can communicate that to your Ex. Then, when he disrespects those boundaries (as you know he will), you can firmly, calmly, and dispassionately let him know his behavior is unacceptable and that you will now take the appropriate and necessary action to remedy the situation.

These are just some of the questions that will come up with you attempt the court-required coparenting with a narcissist. One of the governing ideas to keep in mind as you continue raising your children together-ish is that your children’s other parent is all about himself.

His behavior and what he says is all about gaining the advantage over you and your children. The more you disengage from him, the more he will struggle to maintain control. However, by persistence and refusing to rise to the bait, you can successfully “coparent” with a narcissist and raise amazing children despite your Ex.

*For the sake of simplicity, in this article, we will refer to your spouse as “him” or “he” even though we know same-sex marriages exist and your spouse may be a “she,” or you are a man reading this article and your spouse is a “she.”

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