Ways to Foster Good Feelings about Your Co-Parent
After a painful divorce, finding good things about your ex may feel like the last thing you want to do, but if you share children with your former spouse, it can be worthwhile to try. Speaking positively about your co-parent can have benefits not only for your children, but also for you. Read on for suggestions on how and why to spread positive feelings for your co-parent.
Tell your kids a positive story about your co-parent
Rather than focus on why the relationship fell apart, tell your kids a positive story about their other parent, in so doing reminding yourself of why you were in a relationship with them in the first place. Whether you like it or not, you’ll be in a relationship with your former spouse for many years to come as co-parents, so it’s important for your own well-being to make the relationship pleasant for yourself. Psychology research shows that saying something positive about a person you don’t like can make you feel more positively toward them; in other words, “fake it ‘til you make it” turns out to be true.
Not only will feeling better about your co-parent make it less unpleasant to interact with them, positivity toward your ex will give your children more positive feelings toward themselves. When children are young, they identify closely with their parents. When kids hear you speak negatively about their other parent, it can feel like you’re also criticizing them. Additionally, children will benefit by hearing you validate their love for their other parent.
Find reasons to be grateful for your co-parent
It can be hard to feel thankful for someone who seems dead set on making your life difficult, but finding reasons to be grateful is shown to reduce anxiety generally and help you feel more positive about the subject of your gratitude specifically. Even something simple, like feeling grateful that your ex is usually on time for custody exchanges, counts.
Set aside blame
Don’t spend more time finding reasons to blame your ex for your breakup, and definitely don’t share your feelings of blame with the kids. Dwelling on blame will only foster more resentment, making it harder to start fresh in the new relationship you have with your ex as a co-parent.