It’s that time again. Soccer, LAX, Baseball or whatever it is your child is playing this Spring.
For a family going through Divorce, this can be a stressful time. For parents, there may be additional conversations that need to take place; changes to parenting time, practice schedules, pick up and drop offs. For many that don’t have a plan, these added conversations in an already communication challenged situation can be just miserable. Not to mention, having your Ex-spouse 20 feet away cheering like they are parent-of-the-year.
For kids, depending on your relationship with your Ex-spouse and their own relationship with the non-custodial parent, this fun and exciting event with friends, could be a roller coaster of emotions. Be aware, they may be irritable, act out or even quiet, you know your family circumstances, look for signs, this could be stressful for your child to have both their parents in the same place. Plan ahead for a successful and stress free time.
Remember this time is and should be “all about the kids” here are some parenting guidelines for kids sporting events that you and your Ex can agree to and make things a lot easier.
Talk to your child’s coach and or team parent about your family dynamic, don’t be divisive, stick to the facts, they don’t need to know your “dirty laundry”.
If there are court orders in place, keeping one parent from attending practice or games, let the coach know.
Let you child's coach know who the point person is for communication and forward that information to the other parent as soon as possible.
If the co-parenting relationship is a difficult one, planning ahead will help things to go smooth.
Keep conversations during game to a minimum, keep calm and be respectful.
If you want to keep your distance from your Ex, be discreet, and don’t share your feelings with other parents, try to be neutral. Remember the other parents may talk about any conversations you have in front of their kids.
If your Ex spouse is from out of town and doesn’t know other parents, introduce them if it’s possible, even if it kills you, this will foster a good co-parenting relationship and make others feel more comfortable. (It’s really tough when they arrive with dates, but as Nike says “just do it”)
Be honest with your child, if you won’t be able to make it to a game, be very clear, and say “no, I can’t, but I will be at the next game and make sure you are there.
Don’t tell your child “I will try to come”, they will be expecting you, watching for you and might even tell their team mates that you are coming.
If you attending a game with other siblings, encourage all your kids to visit with the other parent, they may feel a loyalty to you, let them know it’s OK.
Don’t discuss child support, issues with visitation or any other kid maintenance or Divorce issues, do that ahead of time or afterwards, through a phone call or email. NEVER argue, if they start, excuse you calmly and walk away.
If Family members are joining you, let them know what you expect from them as a spectator, if Grandma can’t bear to look at your ex, then it might be best if she stays home and comes another time.
Cheer for your child, encourage them and make them feel special.
If there is already tension, take the high road, if only for your kids’ sake; sporting events can open doors, provide an opportunity for you to take a difficult relationship and move it to a another level, better. Use this time as an opportunity to build a healthy and solid co-parenting team, with the goal of raising happy healthy kids.
And don’t’ forget - If you take pictures, send them to your Ex if they can’t make it to a game or practice; your kids will LOVE your for it!
Kerry is a CDC Certified Divorce Coach and the Founder of www.divorceresponseteam.com
Divorce Response Team© 2017