Parenting and Coping with Reduced Time After Your MN Divorce

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The idea of not seeing your children every day after separation or your MN divorce is heart wrenching. We only have so much time with our kids, it can be overwhelming to know that your time is even more limited than what you envisioned when they were born. This fear pops up a lot with my clients.  Family therapist, Brian Burns, came back to Doing Divorce Different to give us tips for navigating parenting beyond divorce. 


Brian’s first piece of advice is that the more invested you get with co-parenting, and the harder you try to make the situation as smooth as possible, the more likely it is to work. Don’t give up hope, but also remember that co-parenting doesn’t work for everyone. You are only 50% of the co-parenting relationship, so control what you are able to control and show up for your child in a positive light.


If you want to have a respectable co-parenting relationship, but the other parent just can’t seem to work with you: you’ll be operating on two different islands that the children go back and forth to. There won’t be a lot of communication, warmth, or respect. When this type of parallel parenting happens, Brian had the following advice:


  1. Don’t feed into the drama.
  2. Don’t blame the situation or the other parent. For example, if your child wants to go to a birthday party, and it’s not your weekend and the other parent says no, listen to your child if they want to talk.  However, never talk negatively about the other parent. 
  3. Be the best parent you can be with your kids when you have them. Be positive, stable, reliable, and available for the children. They are experiencing their own feelings and emotions, allowing them a safe space to express them is imperative.
  4. Don’t undermine the other home. Avoid talking about the other parents' rules. Keep your opinions about how the other parent runs their house to yourself. Your kids don’t need drama, they need two loving parents.


One thing to remember when co-parenting gets difficult, is the gift of how strong you are becoming. You’ll come out on the other side  better grounded; and your children will probably take notice and learn to deal effectively with future difficulties.   All you can do is what is  in your control.  This is enough to give your kids a positive foundation. 


Another tip that Brian gave, was to remember that even if you cannot get along, the other parent is oftentimes a good parent, just not a good co-parent. Distinguish between your feelings and how you feel treated vs. your kids. Your feelings are legit, but they don’t need to be shared with your child no matter how easy it is to talk to them. Instead, be intentional about the time you get with your kids. Focus on them and be present in the moment. You already have reduced time with them, the last thing you should be doing is devaluing that time by being angry with the other parent. 


When your children are with their other parent, utilize technology to connect with them. This is easier when kids are teenagers and have cell phones, but even if they have a tablet send them a message letting them know that you are thinking of them.  These little touch points can help you feel less distance from them. If your co-parenting relationship is strong, technology can also be a great way to get stuff done! For example, while you are putting one child to bed, the co-parent could be reading your other child a book via FaceTime! 

At the end of the day, all you can do is your best. Focus on your kids, use difficult times as an opportunity for growth, and enjoy the time you have with them because trust me, when they move out and head off to college, it’s a whole new experience of emotions! Check out Brian’s website to learn more about the services he offers and/or schedule a free consultation on my website if you need mediation support!

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