Co-Parenting After Divorce
February 12, 2016
There is a nice article in the Huffington Post on Co-Parenting after Divorce. (Thank you, Douglas J. Sanderson of Fairfield Virginia, for posting this link on the ABA FLS listserv). There is a wonderful story about Halloween, as well as a great picture of an extended family.
The article refutes the common myth that new spouses are always an irritant for the relationship between divorced parents. Sometimes, they are actually a good thing.
When I put on my friend cap, rather than my divorce lawyer one, and a former client who is marrying a divorced man with children asks for advice on this subject, I suggest that she tries to become friends with the ex-wife mother.
It is amazing how many times I am told that the new wife has never even met the mother. The lack of familiarity can lead to suspicion and misleading impressions.
So my advice is for the new wife to call the mother and invite her for coffee. Then, she should tell the mother that it is not her intent to become a new mother to the children. Rather, she should reassure the mother that she intends to be a good influence in the lives of the children and to parent consistently with the mother’s goals. In short, the new wife should tell that the mother that it is her intent that they will be allies in co-parenting the children.
The most important part is not the message, but the meeting. It needs to be without the father present: Just two women, agreeing that they want the best for the same children.
In a case once which involved the issue of an extended family, a mental health professional once told me “No child has ever been harmed by having too many people loving him or her.” As shown in this article, the message to children about how to get along is one which can be used often by the child in many instances in life.