It's a fact. If you have children, you and your children's other parent are always connected. No matter how disappointed, angry, or sad you are about the break-up of your marriage, you and your ex are still related to each other, by blood if your children are bio-kids, by the ties of adoption if your children came to you another way, by shared experiences if your children are "steps".
This is something your divorced friends without children don't have to deal with and possibly don't understand. They can learn from the break-up -- or not -- and move on. They don't have to interact with their ex ever again. Some people even elect to write off the married period of their lives as a bad dream and move on. They may tell you to do the same. But when you have been raising children with someone, you simply can't erase your ex from your life forever.
To parent well post divorce, the kid connection is something to accept and perhaps to foster. Here's why:
If your ex shares custody and is involved in the kids' lives, every parenting decision you make is affected by the other parent's input, reaction, support or upset. Even if you aren't talking to each other, the kids know how each of you feels about actions each of you takes. Acknowledging the kid connection can help both of you avoid putting the kids in a painful middle.
If the kids' experience with their other parent was negative and hurtful, they may still be reverberating from it. If they have positive memories of their relationship with a parent who has dropped out of sight, they will be grieving. Denying their connection to the other parent makes it harder for them to heal.
Your ex lives in your children. If they are biological children, they probably have some shared physical traits. If your ex was in the picture while the children were young, it's very possible they adopted some of his or her traits. How could they not? One of the most hurtful things a parent can say to a child is, "you're just like your mother/father" when it's meant as a criticism or put-down. It's crucial to your child's self-esteem that you find ways to see and emphasize the positive traits they share with their other parent.
The kid connection will be there as long as you live. Even if you feel you need to protect your children from the other parent, they need to have their history acknowledged. If you and their other parent both love and support the kids even if you can't love and support each other, the kids can relax and so can you.
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