Before you dismiss your co-parenting communication style as hopeless, remember why you keep trying to make it work: your kids. They deserve to have a relationship with both of you, in fact it’s more than that; they need to know they are front and centre in both your lives regardless of how you feel about each other.
If you want to send a message of undivided love then consider doing the unthinkable; beach vacation together. This shows your children that they matter; that they are significant and loved by you both.
It took us 20 years to finally decide to take a beach vacation as co-parents and it was the first time my stepson was with his biological parents together since he was three years old. We went out of the way to make it a positive experience for everyone.
Here’s what we learnt from our experience:
Behind the Scenes
Prepare yourself emotionally by discussing each other’s expectations for the trip together. Decide not to disagree in the presence of the child. It’s not OK to argue about anything that directly involves the child. For example don’t say “yes he can have ice cream now” when ex just told him “No, he can’t it’s too close to lunch.” Set aside differences and refuse to fall into the usual traps of past behaviour.
Set the Stage for Success
Travel together to get to your destination. We made all our travel arrangements such that we flew together. This helps to break the ice and grow accustomed to being together setting the stage for a positive experience. Eat at least one meal a day together and try to keep the conversation light. Participate in activities together and save places on the beach for everyone. Put yourself in the situations you don’t necessarily want to be in until they become easier.
Play a Supporting Role
Listen, really listen when your child speaks to you. Observe how the interactions are going. Is your child happy? Comfortable with all of you together? Is he showing signs of retreating? Are you all fully engaged with each other? These signs are clues into how this situation is working and what you might do to make it better. Protect your child by leaving your negative feelings backstage.
Your Child Is the Main Interest
At the hotel, if your child is very young, allow him to alternate nights with his parents. This is a meaningful event for you and your child. The aim here is to help your child create happy post-divorce memories together so take family pictures together. Being together for the sake of the child does not entitle him to put one parent against the other though, especially if there’s a chance to get something they may not ordinarily be able to obtain.
What a gift you give your child when you and your ex-spouse make the effort to “play nice” together.
Doing the unthinkable – A Co-Parenting Beach Vacation. Just chill and enjoy the margaritas !!
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Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.ca