Divorce can be a difficult experience for the couple going through the process, but it is even harder on the couple’s children. While divorce is an incredibly demanding matter for anyone going through it, the pressure can be much worse for parents of children. They not only need to settle their affairs with each other legally, but also account for their children’s futures. This requires setting pride aside and doing what is best for one’s children, even if that may not coincide with one’s preferred outcome in a divorce case.

Once you have gone through the divorce process and the child custody agreement takes effect, it will be more important than ever to be civil with your ex. Regardless of your feelings toward one another, your children still depend on both of you for love, guidance, and reassurance during what is sure to be one of the most difficult things they have ever experienced.

Being Civil Can Be Difficult

With more than half of all new marriages ending in divorce these days, there are countless possible reasons why a marriage may abruptly end. Spouses may lose romantic interest in one another, they might fight constantly and have been unsuccessful in counseling, or one spouse may mistreat the other in various ways. Whatever the case may be, it can be incredibly difficult to remain civil with an ex who you feel has wronged you. However, being a parent requires you to do just that more often than you might expect.

Children function and develop best with both of their parents in their lives, so it is your responsibility to nourish your relationship with your children following your divorce. This experience can be even more traumatic on younger children with no frame of reference for the things that are happening all around them. You may hold very strong negative feelings toward your coparent, but the bottom line is that your marriage is totally separate from your duties as parents.

Consider Counseling

Many relationships break down from poor communication, trust issues, disagreements about parenting methods, infidelity, and many other causes. As you transition from a family unit into a separated family, counseling could be beneficial to everyone involved and help coparents and their children have open and honest discussions about their family dynamics. Counseling could potentially pave the way toward more civil conversations with an ex and keeping parental obligations and discussions separate from personal issues between the two of you.

Your marriage may be over, but if you have children with your ex then you must face the reality that you are going to be part of each other’s lives on some level due to your obligations as parents. Counseling can teach divorced parents how to leash their personal grievances and develop healthy coping mechanisms that allow them to communicate civilly with one another.

Focus on Your Children First

A divorce can leave a child’s head spinning with questions, and seeing their parents constantly fighting and being negative toward each other every time they meet can make the situation all the more confusing. Some children may have a harder time than others when it comes to grasping the concept of divorce and adapting to any new reality like this can be very challenging for any child. When parents are accessible, available, and reasonable, they are more likely to create positive influences in their children’s lives.

Remaining civil with your ex allows you and your coparent to craft the strategy that works best for your kids. One of the best ways to keep your cool is to always put your children’s interests first in every discussion about your parental rights and obligations. If you find it difficult to engage with your ex on reasonable terms, try to keep conversations polite and strictly to the point; talk about your kids, the issue at hand, and how you would prefer to proceed with addressing it. Ultimately, this dynamic could help both of you remain focused on your kids during your interactions, and a more civil relationship will naturally develop over time.

Your Children Benefit from Your Temperance

Your ex may have done terrible things and directly caused the end of your marriage, but it’s necessary to separate the feelings you may carry from your obligations as a parent going forward. The most important reason you should have for remaining civil with your ex is that it’s what is best for your children. Research proves that children raised by both parents tend to have the best quality of life as adults, and keeping a civil relationship with your ex helps to ensure your children have equal access to healthy relationships with both parents.

Children also absorb information from their surroundings like sponges. If your kids constantly see you and your ex bicker and fight, they will interpret this as the way adults solve problems. If they see you and your ex working cooperatively to solve problems and being respectful toward one another, they will interpret this type of exchange as the right way to handle things as adults. Your civility can eventually help your children grow into more rational, temperate, and cooperative adults.

Seek the Middle Ground

Effective coparenting requires a willingness to compromise on some issues. It may be very difficult to feel like you’re “losing” to your ex by making concessions from time to time but remember that this goes both ways when it comes to coparents. You may need to make minor adjustments to your custody schedule at times or come to terms on irregular issues throughout your children’s lives. Maintaining a reasonable and cordial tone is much more of an asset than a liability and will increase the likelihood of respectful and rational discussions in the future.

In the end, civility makes it easier to handle the unexpected things that are sure to happen as your kids grow up. You and your ex will probably disagree on a lot in the future, but it’s vital that you never use your children as leverage against one another. Not only could doing so jeopardize your custody rights depending on how you go about it, but it will also irreparably damage your relationships with your kids. Stay civil, stay flexible, and stay willing to compromise as you keep your kids’ best interests first and foremost in your mind every time you engage with your ex.