In an article by Laura Lifshitz posted on the PopSugar website, she discusses how confusing it can be for children to see their divorced parents spend time together. Of course, parents make this effort in an attempt to make the transition easier for their children, but their efforts may actually cause confusion and unease.
Once your child understands what divorce means, having their parents spend too much time together and then go to separate homes afterward can be puzzling and uncomfortable. If your parents can get along for birthday parties, school events and other events, why can’t they make their marriage work? Is spending time together a sign that you are reconnecting and going to be a couple again? These types of questions can swirl around your child’s head, especially if they are young and do not understand what is going on.
If you think about it, trying to spend time a significant amount of together as a family after divorce may be selfish. Both parents want to spend time with their children and they don’t want to miss out on anything the other parent is doing with their child, so they don’t completely let go. The problem is that without letting go, nobody can move forward.
How do you know if your time with your ex-spouse after divorce is too much? The first sign is often that you are fighting. When this starts to occur, you need some time apart. You must also consider your child’s age and ability to understand what is going on. If your child is mature enough to discuss the situation, it is important to ask how they feel. If they cannot communicate about their feelings, it is up to you look for the signals about how your child is dealing with the divorce and what is happening afterward.
It is also important to examine your own feelings. How do you feel when you are spending time with your ex? If you are feeling anger, sadness or even guilt, you still need time away from her. Your kids will notice if you are not being yourself, so it is better for them to see you take separate time than seeing you with their mother and burdened by negative emotions.
There are certain events that seem “mandatory” for both parents to attend, but there are also times when you and your children should spend time separately. Be strategic about planning your time with your ex-spouse and pay close attention to how your children handle it. Ultimately, the one thing you and your ex can probably agree on is that putting your children first in your post-divorce life is most important.