Let your interests, your purpose, your vision of being co-parents for the benefit of your children guide you.
This helps you create a new solution or choose a good option. Think of what needs your children have in this whole process and how out of the loop they were.
The divorce decisions are often made without their input at all.
Their needs do supersede yours. That said, your needs matter, as do the needs of your ex.
In co-parenting decisions, we take into account the needs of the children, parent 1 and parent 2. Ideally, we look for a solution that is win-win-win. Make your decision with the highest good of all as your goal. This is the best possible win-win (google “Nash Equilibrium” for more info on this concept).
If someone “loses” it affects everyone in this long-term relationship. Invest the time in negotiating to get the best possible long term co-parenting relationship. Above all, avoid the win-lose mentality.
EMPATHY-Consider looking at a typical week right now:
Where are the children every day, every hour? What are their needs? Put yourself in their shoes, in their mindsets. What emotional/psychological needs might they have? Let your decision meet their needs first, without trampling on anyone else’s needs.
How will you look back at this agreement in 6 months or 5 years? What needs to change as time goes on for this?
Teen years, college, move out, joining scouts, theatre, sports etc. The goal is to negotiate this once and stay out of court , so you retain full control.
Drop off or exchange of the children can be split 50/50; one person does the driving, one person never goes to the other person’s house, kids walk, bus, meet at the local grocery store to swap.
Consider a transition time with the kids. They will usually resist going with the other parent. This does not mean they hate that parent or that anything bad is happening. Does not mean the parent is poisoning the children’s mind or turning them against you. Transition time in some families is going out to eat. “Every time I pick you up from mom’s place, we will have a sit down dinner together at a local diner. We will reacquaint ourselves and have no TV distractions. It is just time to catch back up. By the time we get back home, people are feeling okay.” “We never used to have transition time and when the kids got to my place, they were like animals. Their emotions were out of control, they were acting out and my patience ran thin within minutes. I knew they were testing their limits and my limits. I knew they were suffering and just needed reassurance and connection. Once I was able to listen for their needs, I was able to reduce the chaos immediately.”
Discipline is consistent between the two houses. We predict what ways they will break rules and why and work with them to meet their needs. Breaking rules just means they used a strategy that was unsuccessful in meeting their needs. We have similar expectations to limit their confusion. Kids benefit most from consistency of philosophy and carrying through. One parent is almost always harder and the other is almost always, by definition, softer. Kids will test boundaries more, making life a challenge, if you are not consistent. They thrive on consistency.
At a time when you may be nursing your own wounds, it is paramount to look out for their needs!