The summer days of leisure, camps and long, lazy afternoons are over. Time to head back to school, re-start those routines and schedule activities on the family calendar.
Personally, I prefer a little structure in our household. A weekly dinner list on the fridge for everyone to sign up to make a meal. Rugby practices every Tuesday and Thursday. Weekday limits on technology. But when parents are newly separated or divorced, back to school time can be full of stress and unknowns. Will my ex step up and help with homework? Are the kids getting to bed on time? What is the best schedule for them? And how do we schedule extracurricular activities when we don’t know whose parenting time the games will land on?
It is important during this season to reduce the effects of separation on the children, since they already feel the pressure of starting school again. Learning to co-parent in a respectful and team-oriented way will protect your children and create much more peace and happiness for all involved. Despite the grief and trauma of separation, many couples are learning that they do not need to become enemies. They can rebuild trust as parents and learn to work as a team, for the sake of the children. This is not a pie in the sky dream. It is possible for most couples.
But most couples do need assistance in reaching this new reality where they understand that although they have separated as a couple, as mom and dad they have not. Co-parenting coaches or divorce coaches, who are therapists and counsellors particularly experienced in working with post-separation families, can provide the support and tools needed to move forward in a healthier way. If there has been high conflict in the past, retaining a parenting coordinator, who acts as a mediator but is empowered to make decisions if you cannot, can be a good choice. And if you are still in the midst of the separation process, moving into the collaborative process, rather than the adversarial process of the courts, may be the best decision you can make for you and your family. Collaborative lawyers work in a non-adversarial way so that you and your spouse can remain committed to resolving matters without litigation, without becoming enemies and without resorting to methods and behaviours that can harm each other and your children.
Start this new school year off well. Seek out resources that can improve your ability to co-parent in a healthier way. Find a third party who can help facilitate a respectful conversation between you and your spouse as you start this new season. And consider debunking the myth that your ex must be your enemy.
If you would like to pursue a better way of navigating separation and divorce, please contact us. We’d love to help!