For the most obvious of reasons, Karla B. is thrilled that she and her ex-husband are finally being civil to one another — friendly even! But while she knows it's good for her teen daughter that she and her ex now get along, she also thinks it's confusing: "She loves her dad but hates us getting along," she shares. Her daughter is upset because she doesn't understand why two people who get along so well can't simply get back together.
Alexis G. shares a similar story about how an amicable relationship between exes can confound a child: "We still attend parent/teacher conferences, baseball games, birthday parties, and school plays together. My son sometimes doesn't understand why we can't still be together," she rues.
Advice on how to make the best of the relationship for your kids when the battle escalates after divorce is readily available, but what about the complications that ensue when a divorce is amicable? What do moms need to do to make sure a good relationship with a former husband doesn't devolve into a sore spot for the kids?
1. Give Your Kids Time to Adjust
Just as it takes kids time to adjust to the fact that their parents are splitting, they also need time to accept that their divorced parents are now, strangely, getting along, says Circle of Moms member Jackie L. The post-divorce experience she and her kids had, which she describes as "pain and hard years," underscores how reluctant kids might be to accept another confusing change.
Another divorced mom, Heather A., mentions that every major change in a family's members and dynamics takes kids time to accept. For hers, there was a period of struggle following the birth of her ex's new baby with his second wife. Now the blended families — her ex’s new family and her own — hold birthday parties and the occasional dinner together, so it did eventually work out well: "My kids love seeing that their parents get along, and they enjoy having us both at events," she encourages. (She also mentions that to help the baby see the situation as natural, they all agreed that he would grow up calling her "Aunt.")
2. Once You've Made Peace, Keep it That Way
After working hard to make peace with her ex, Meghan O. says she strives hard to keep the disagreements they do still have under wraps. Her kids are now used to their parents getting along she doesn't want to confuse them further. Absent any obvious explanation for the occasional spat, she worries that the kids will blame themselves: "Kids pick up on the petty fighting and all that. Never tell your kids that the other parent doesn't want them or fight in front of them, or complain about your ex to your kids. They subconsciously think something is wrong with them if you complain about their dad or their mom," she warns.
Angie S. agrees: "We talk it out if there's an issue with the boys, and always seem to work it out. We've let all the pain and hurt go so we can be parents to our boys, and that is all that really maters in the end."
Christina H., who married a man who'd been divorced, has made it a priority to have a good relationship with his ex-wife. The adults in her blended situation act as a united front to show their children that divorce doesn't have to leave ever-lasting conflict in its wake, in which kids can "play one [parent] against the other."
3. Open the Lines of Communication
The best way to handle all aspects of divorce when there are kids in the picture is to be as open and honest as you can with your children, says Michelle W., another divorced Circle of Moms member. She encourages moms to confront a child's feelings of confusion or anger directly: "[You'd] think [the kids] would be happy that you both now get along, but it's good to find out why they feel awkward. Sit down and have a nice heart-to-heart over a big tub of ice cream."
Alexis G. underscores that you may need to have this conversation many times. To end her son's hopes that she and her ex will reunite, she makes a point of repeating that that their ability to attend events together peacefully is a good thing, but that it doesn't mean that they'll get back together.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.