“The truth is people get divorced for a reason,” L.A.-based adolescent and family psychotherapist Katie Hurely told the Today show. “If parents aren’t willing to let go of that reason, they’re going to carry it with them — it will always be a hurdle.”
Even if you see red looking at your ex, Philyaw says you still have to respect his or her role as parent for the good of the family. “You’ve got to recognize that the person who hurt or betrayed you is still the mother or father to your child and that the child has a right to a guilt-free relationship with him or her,” she says. “Their relationship is separate from your situation.” Everything flows from that.
When you try to see things from your child’s eyes, it becomes clear they don’t want to know all the gory details of what went wrong. So keep on a brave face for the kids and model confidence, and “then you can collapse behind the closed door,” she counsels. After you’ve picked yourself up, go to a place outside of the family to vent and get support. Friends, a counselor, a support group, “any safe place to process all the things you’re feeling,” Philyaw explains. “So it’s not happening on your child’s back.”
It’s all too easy to devolve into an “I’m right, you’re wrong!” standoff when parenting is executed separately. “Just remember it’s okay to have different parenting styles, and you can’t insist the other person do things the way you want all the time,” notes Philyaw. Talk about differing expectations with a counselor or mediator if you need a referee. “The goal is to avoid the mindset of, ‘I’m the good parent, you’re the slacker,’” she says of managing discipline, homework, and chores. “Approach it as partners.”