Dealing With Your Ex At Special Events

    A broken Christmas ornamentCan’t we all just get along? Dealing with your former lover or spouse may seem impossible at times. But if you have kids, this only complicates the matter. There are just going to be days where you will have to be together. Birthdays, holidays, graduations, weddings, and other occasions will be better for everyone if the two of you agree can figure out how to be in each other’s presence, minus the drama.

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    Early Days

    Younger children are especially vulnerable. Try sticking–as much as possible–to the family’s established routine during the first holiday season. Small children won’t comprehend why things are different. So you should consider spending limited time together. As you develop new patterns of celebrating, you want your child to realize that, although things are different, they can still be happy.

    Emotions–anger, sadness, bitterness–will inevitably run high over the course of those first holidays. One good way to keep them in check is to make plans in advance and then stick to them. Decide in advance, for example, how long you are going to stay and then leave at the agreed upon time. You are going to be vulnerable. So it will be important to avoid spontaneity.

    Consider avoiding alcohol too. There’s usually more drinking, more alcohol, around the holidays. Limit how much you drink. Otherwise, you might be less inclined to hold back. Once you’re through that first year, you can start establishing new ways of celebrating birthdays, Thanksgiving, and other events.

    Being Civil

    For some parents, being together always brings out the worst in either one or both. If you fall into that category, getting together could very well spoil the day for your children. Self-awareness is very important. A lot of parents have it but all too many don’t. Some parents, for whatever reason, remain in high conflict, and that’s not good for the kids. If you and your ex can’t be in the same place with each other, you’re probably better off not getting together.

    If both you and your ex are going to attend an event, it’s crucial that your children see that the two of you can get along. Think of your ex as a co-worker and then treating him or her accordingly. It should be a business relationship you strive for. Think of how you relate to a co-worker. You are friendly, kind, and validating. But you don’t hug and you are not intimate. Mothers and fathers who are separated should not hug or kiss–that is not part of a business relationship.

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