Although the California laws about child custody have the best interest of your children in mind, many things can affect how you approach the parenting plan with your ex. High-conflict divorce can negatively affect your children in ways you may not recognize. Handling the contentious relationship with your ex might take time, but happy, healthy children may be your reward.
Psychology Today states that family conflict adversely affects children more than living in a single-parent home. The more extreme the hostility, the more children suffer in both the long and short term. Although peaceful behavior with your ex after the divorce may be unrealistic, you can take steps that can help keep the co-parenting situation calm.
Refrain from judging
A high-conflict situation can result from one or both parents maintaining the conflict. If your ex is narcissistic, manipulative or contrary, the stress it causes can lead to frustration. Chances are you realize that you cannot force your ex to change and forgiving the bad behavior is unnecessary. However, you can remove yourself from the drama.
Start paying attention to your negative responses, and deal with them. Although focusing internally and deep-breathing exercises may cause rolled eyes, they also can work. Learning how to handle negative emotions can take the drama out of situations and help you focus on yourself and your kids in a healthier way.
Expect trigger statements
You and your ex likely have experience pushing each other’s buttons. Couples know what sets one another off and causes retaliation. Learn to identify the trigger statements your ex uses and not only anticipate them but also plan for techniques that can calm you. Practicing alternative reactions and self-soothing strategies can help you deescalate the situation.
Finding a solution that satisfies your ex and meets your children’s needs takes patience and understanding. It may require creative problem-solving, but designing a flexible parenting plan up front can help you stay out of court in the future.