"Second, both parents see the importance of establishing a separate happy life after divorce. When they are no longer fighting, they can more on to successful happy lives—and so can their parents."
Building on this foundation of mutual interests, Jann and Sheryl say the next big step is to build a working relationship. They recommend approaching the relationship as a business relationship, having a clear shared goal, cultivating respect, picking your fights, being honest and straightforward and looking for opportunities to compromise.
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While it may not be easy, Jann and Sheryl note that building a relationship with your ex is the most important thing you can do for your children. In their book, they also provide more specific instruction on how to act in certain family circumstances. When your ex is bad mouthing you, Jann and Sheryl recommend confronting your ex with their behavior:
Parents who badmouth their ex in front of the children may not understand the negative effects of their behavior. They just know they are angry and they want the child to identify and understand their anger.
They forget, however, that children have shared loyalties. The inner conflict that badmouthing creates in children can be devastating for them — and, at times it backfires on the parent doing the badmouthing.
This may be what is happening in this home. The child loves both parents. When his mother badmouths his father, the child takes it personally. He didn’t want to tell his father what his mother was doing because he also identifies with his mom.
Rather than take sides, he clammed up and chose not to visit her again. Here are some steps you can take if you find that you are the victim of your ex’s badmouthing: Ask your child how he feels about what he heard and listen to his explanation.
Empathize with him by saying that you understand how disturbing it must be to hear those things. If the child has been told something that is untrue, explain that the other parent was mistaken and then clarify the misinformation immediately.
Do not retaliate by saying cruel things about the other parent. It only makes matters worse.
For more information on ex-etiquette visit Jann and Sheryl's web site, BonusFamilies.com.
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