By: Albertina Webb, Esq.
Being the back seat driver gives one vantage points regardless of whether or not they have the actual experience to cast a stone. That means that being a hands-on family law attorney, who actually listens to her clients, allows me to share what I believe, are common co-parenting mistakes that should be avoided at all costs:
Now’s the time to learn to be an Adult
You were told that making the decision to get divorced was hard. It’s not always easy to accept that you failed at something, especially something so precious and personal as your marriage/significant personal relationship. Negotiating and litigating with the person who you thought you would be with for the rest of your life – to reach a final resolution of all of your issues – was even harder. Well, the truth is, the hardest part after all of that is learning how to co-parent and “adulting”. That means being the adult in the relationship and not use blame, fault or anger decide and determine your interactions with the other parent. It means that you will have to still work with this person to raise your children so that the children are not harmed or put in harms way. Sometimes, this is easier said than done.
Blaming the other parent in front of the kids like:
- I can’t afford it because your father did not pay child support.
2. We have to move because your mother took all the money in the divorce.
3. Ask your mother because I give her all my money for alimony and child support.
4. We can’t go – we can’t do – because I don’t have enough money because of your father/mother.
Don’t do this. The kids did not ask to be involved. You sound bitter and making your children a part of adult situations they should not be involved in. They do not want to hear you bashing the other parent. The situation might be true, but you are the adult – you handle it. At some, the children will learn how to manipulate both parents and use the information they learned to their advantage. Pitting one parent against the other is never good and is damaging to the children. Plus, whining is never flattering.
Asking the children to keep a secret from the other parent.
This is basically teaching your children to lie and letting them know that its okay to not tell the truth. Children should not be in the middle of your disputes with the other parent. It is irresponsible to interject your children – at any age – in your disputes with the other parent. Be an adult.
Using the Children as Messengers
It might be the easiest thing to do – but you should never send messages to the other parent about anything through the children. You do not want the children in the middle, do not want the children to feel that they are in the middle, and do not want to empower the children with the knowledge that they are “in the middle”. You can communicate with the other parent via text message, email – which is preferable for printing for motion exhibits; or though a family calendar or dedicated email address, where you can post updates, exchange receipts, etc. for the benefit of the children.
If you are having problems co-parenting or extricating yourself from your marriage or relationship, contact a family law practitioner to help you make the right decisions. Our office is available for consultations via zoom – 732-852-7550.