THE BLOG

Hey, Divorced Parents, How About Going Beyond Civility?

06/13/2014 11:43 am ET | Updated Aug 13, 2014

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I'm living with my ex-husband again. It's not what you think.

When we married in the spring of 1998, before wedding registries were online and photos were still shot on film, our chances of staying together forever looked pretty darn good. Great, in fact. We were 26-year-old college graduates who had dated for four years, came from loving families and agreed on all of the basic fundamental issues in life.

Twelve years later, with a 4-year-old daughter, we split after two years of concerted effort to salvage our union that included couples therapy. We were the couple who still touched each other, talked to each other and spent time together. Our friends, neighbors and families were heartbroken, a couple to the point that they seemed more concerned with their own sadness than what was happening to us. But what hurt the most was the thought (spoken or not) that we were not considering our daughter and that our decision would cause her harm.

Neither were true. And, so far, we see no evidence of harm. Impact, yes. Harm, no. The impact hasn't necessarily been negative and, in some instances, arguably beneficial in terms of understanding human relationships and forgiveness. If the naysayers were to speak up now, they'd have to admit it, too (a couple of them have).

We divorced through mediation. We have no custody arrangement, no court-approved schedule or visitation, no alimony or child support.

We are still a family.

We both care for our daughter when she's sick, take her to the doctor, pay for camp, go grocery shopping and attend her Little League games. We still talk, touch (friendly hugs), and spend time together. Some may wonder why we are divorced. It's none of their business and I won't be writing about that because it wouldn't deliver anything beyond a story of how two people discovered they didn't want to be married. Some of that story is very ugly. The better story that serves more impact for other divorced parents now and in the future is this: Don't be nice for the kids' sake. Be nice for everyone's sake: the kids, yourselves, your neighbors, your families, your kids' teachers, your kids' friends. Everyone. Be the example that you would want for your kids.

Your marriage is over. However that happened, forgive each other. Revenge, money, houses and all that other stuff will not change that or make you feel better about that.

So, here I am, living with my ex-husband again, temporarily, while I'm in escrow on a house. My daughter is happy, confident, honest, healthy, and smart. She's doing well in school, has fabulous social skills, and participates in a club for kids with divorced parents. She was shocked to learn of kids with parents who don't speak, live in separate states and argued about their kids in court. I understand that sometimes those things are unavoidable. Many times, however, they most definitely can and should be avoided.

Do I wish my daughter had parents who were still married? Sometimes. Do I think my daughter would be a better, happier person if her parents were still married? Not at all.

I can't be sure what my daughter thinks. She's had a handful of sad moments about our divorce. Today, she says it doesn't matter. Tomorrow, who knows? She's 8 going on 18 in all the good ways and still a little girl in all of the best ways. Part of that maturity is nature. Part, perhaps, might be due to having divorced parents. Not a bad outcome and, arguably, beneficial.

I like to think my ex-husband and I are revolutionaries of sorts. We know very few divorced parents like us. We welcome more followers. And, I'm guessing, so do your kids.