It isn't the divorce that "screws up" children — it's the way the divorce is handled.
Alicia Keys and her husband were seen recently on vacation with his ex-wife. They all came together on a joint family vacation for their son. Is this really so surprising? Why do those in our society insist on making divorce such a combative process and so emotionally difficult? By letting go of the negativity and working through the anger and hurt that is inherent in dissolving a relationship, divorced couples can be happy.
Transitioning in a healthier way helps the children adapt. It's also not as rare as you may think. As I write this, I have a close friend vacationing in California with her husband, son, ex-husband and his wife. Two years ago we all vacationed together. It was a lot of fun for all of us to have so many adults while touring Disney. There were also three dads available to hold all three of the kids on their shoulders during one of the parades.
Having a good relationship with your ex takes a lot of work, and sometimes even the help of a blended-family therapist. If you got along so well, you probably would not be divorced. The issues that cause a couple to divorce don't go away when the divorce occurs. In fact, many couples still remain emotionally "married" to the other person for years.
A healthy divorce means that one or both partners can interact with each other and aren't dramatically pulled into a negative interaction pattern. They can manage their frustration, anger or jealousy and choose to set it aside and move forward.
Here are 5 simple steps to start the process:
1. Create A Vision
How would you would like to see the relationship look with your ex? Do you want to vacation together or would you simply like to be able to exchange pleasantries at pick up and drop off without incident?
2. Create A Pause
Identify what your typical emotional reactions are and where you can make changes. Calm yourself before interacting with your ex and plan your interactions prior to having them.
3. Think Positively
Things can change, but it may take time or effort. Maintaining a positive outlook will help retrain your brain to see things differently.
4. Don't Give Up
It may take time and energy, but things can change for the better. Keep in mind what your goals are and constantly work to create a pause before reacting.
5. Keep The End Goal In Mind
This isn't for you. This is for your children. It isn't the divorce that "screws up" children — it's the way the divorce is handled. You can choose to make it as peaceful a transition as possible, no matter where you are at in the process.
For more help with this process, seek out the help of a Divorce or Blended-Family Coach. Things can be different, and you don't have to do it alone.