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Why getting along with your ex can be hard on your kids

In most senses, getting along with your ex after divorce is an admirable goal. It allows the two of you to co-parent successfully, working toward what is best for the children, rather than what you want on your own. It also helps to keep both of you involved in the child's life in meaningful ways. Some parents have joint birthdays or Christmas celebrations or even vacations, for example.

However, as much as this level of civility and cooperation can be good, it can also be hard on your kids. After all, they may be hoping for you to get back together.

A lack of understanding

Parents often talk about the simple fact that their children can't understand their situation. They see them get along and cooperate -- and even be friendly to one another -- and they can't see why two people who can act that way cannot stay married.

Many children fantasize about getting their parents back together after divorce. They want it to be temporary. They feel like their family will eventually become "whole" again.

You and your ex may have to work hard every single day just to stay civil and to get along. It may be a constant struggle. You may have to fight down your urges to argue and disagree. By putting your children first, you work hard and manage the relationship as well as you can.

Unfortunately, the children may not understand just how much work this takes and how the two of you could never be a couple again. They see the end result, which is what you want them to see. Unfortunately, this can give them a skewed perception of reality and they may think your relationship is becoming something it is not.

Being honest

The best way to combat this is simply by being honest with your children throughout every stage in the process. When you decide to get divorced, tell them what it means for them. When you work on the child custody plan, ask them what their preferences are. When they ask questions about the relationship or the divorce, give them honest answers.

They may still want you to get back together, but your honesty can help to show them that it is not going to happen. You do not fuel those false hopes. You may also find ways to show them what your new relationship with your ex looks like and why it is not going to change.

The legal process

Divorce impacts your children. Never forget that. As you work through the legal process, find out how involved they need to be, what options you have and what decisions you can make to provide them with the best possible outcome.

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