Don't talk to me

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Few people imagined that the crazy-in-love romance between Hollywood hotshots Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie would end in a divorce and custody battle so fierce that Pitt would have to fight to see their children. But it’s happening. It’s also a reminder of the importance of parents working hard to make decisions together. If not, it’s easy to end up in the uncomfortable position of having choices dictated by a judge, like the Jolie-Pitts.

Both parents may be grappling with stress and hurt after the demise of a relationship, which can impact decision-making skills. So moving forward healthily requires work from both parents. Here’s how to find your sweet spot.

Address Maladaptive Coping Mechanisms

Are you a screamer? Do you like to drink when you’re stressed? While these issues may have been tolerated in a relationship, once you split from your partner, it will be used against you. First, your ex will not want to subject a child to behavior that they can’t buffer. Second, your former love is likely hurt, angry, and disappointed by your choices in some way, which will make it harder to trust that you will exhibit better behavior. The best way to prevent a chasm is to address the issue head-on with your co-parenting partner, letting the person know you’ve taken steps to remedy the issue.

Use Family Therapy Services

Sometimes exes simply can’t have civil conversations. The good news is that this period doesn’t always last forever. The bad news is that your choices during this timeframe can significantly impact how your family rebounds. Instead of arguing, use a family counselor or a mediator to help bridge the communication gap. Advocate for group sessions that include your children.

Ban Disrespect

Communication is irreversible. Once you call your ex a “whore ass bitch” or “piece of shit,” it’s in the universe of your relationship, which means no matter how far you travel from that moment it’s in the atmosphere. Your kids will be impacted, whether they overheard it in real time or via ear hustling adult conversation. Nasty words build animosity. Choose what you say with tomorrow in mind.

Keep Your Word

When you’re no longer living in the same household, you and your exes are both playing new positions blindly. No matter how often you communicate, you’re not in each others’ worlds the same way. Keeping promises is even more important because you don’t know how your lateness, cancellation, or reneging of funds will impact your partner’s—and your children’s—life. Being dependable creates trust and rebuilds your friendship, which is the ultimate foundation of all relationships.