Treating Your Relationship with your Ex Like Work after Divorce
Parenting as a Business Relationship Post-Divorce
“The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.”
― Joseph Priestley
Divorce offers a wonderful opportunity for couples to end their marriage and move on. You may be explore moving to other state, changing careers, finding a new group of friends—starting over. But those considerations change when there are children involved, which there are in a third of marriages.
By the time you’ve made the decision to divorce, you’ve already taken into consideration how this will affect the children emotionally but also financially. You’ve planned how it will affect their schooling—whether they need to change schools—and their network of support whether that’s friends or coaches or family nearby. And one of the key questions you need to address is exactly how you are going to co-parent.
My guest this week tackled that question. Julie Ross is founder and Executive Director of Parenting Horizons, an organization devoted to enriching children’s lives through parent and teacher education. She is a psychologist and author of a number of books including Joint Custody with a Jerk: Raising a Child with an Uncooperative Ex.
Your Business: Raising Your Child
Ross suggests approaching your co-parenting like you would a business. Have regular “staff meetings” with your ex to come to an agreement about what your “business” is trying to accomplish. Listen to each other’s perspective about what route to take to achieve your mission. Check in regularly to see how you are progressing toward an agreed-upon outcome. This is even true—with some adjustments—for people who are single parents by choice, without a partner. They should have regular meetings with their child or children to help establish the parent as the leader in the family. It gives your child the chance for input, without disrupting the hierarchy of the parent as authority figure. It’s an opportunity for the child to feel that they are being heard as the family grows and moves forward.
It’s empowering to know that, if handled well, divorce doesn’t have to impact children negatively. With a well-thought-out parenting plan, families can be strong support for children and even lead to better outcomes than unhappily married families.
The Institute for Family Studies analyzed the outcomes for children of divorce in shared and single-parent families as reported in over 50 studies. They found that a children of shared custody families had better outcomes—academic achievement, emotional health, life satisfaction, behavioral problems, physical health and stress-related illnesses—than children in sole-custody homes. And when the study was extended to infants and toddlers, overnight stays with either parent did not weaken bonds with the other parent.
Surprisingly, the study found that, if the child maintains strong relationships with both parents in joint custody, this situation can offset the damage done in high conflict relationships. So, according to this report, the strength of the relationship each parent has with the child is critical to the child’s outcome.
If that isn’t a case for creating a “business contract” for managing your family, I don’t know what is.
If you’re considering divorce but would like to try an approach that might mean a brighter future, call my team to schedule a confidential consultation.