Many separating parents blame each other for problems and think that the other parent is the enemy. This solves nothing, even if you are right.

The causes of intractable conflict are the enemy, not the other parent:
1. Emotional reactivity. Parents who have been in a romantic relationship that has deteriorated to the point of separating usually have a history of reacting with strong negative emotions to one another. Often, those reactions are justified by what actually happened.

Antidote: Practice detaching and not reacting. Take a breather before deciding on an action. Reject the invitation into the old dramas and arguments that are likely to turn out the way they always have.

2. Feeling superior. There are three simple truths: most children have a favorite parent; one of the parents
is more skilled at parenting than the other parent in most families; even the best of parents make mistakes and have faults.  By practicing life with parents and siblings, children learn that people make mistakes in relationships. They also learn to tolerate some traits that they do not like and are irritating. When they grow up, they can have successful relationships with friends, coworkers, even spouses because they have learned that
while many relationship problems can be solved, some cannot, and you just have to live with them and focus on the good parts of the relationship.

Antidote: Be happy that your child has someone with whom to practice tolerance. Remember that children do better in the long run with two parents rather than one. Use problems between the child and the other parent to teach your child skills that will be helpful throughout their lives.
3. Inferential thinking. We make sense of our world by making inferences. However, inferences are guesses, and guesses can be wrong. Inferences about what the other parent is thinking, feeling or what their motives are all guesses and could be wrong. However, some people believe their inferences, and worse yet, develop negative beliefs based on them.

Antidote: The more information you have, the less you have to guess. Ask! If you infer something negative, ask the other parent about it.

4. Loose ends. All parental separations have “loose ends.” Those can be unresolved conflicts, questions
about what really happened and so on. The problem with focusing on loose ends is that you are facing the wrong direction. You are looking backwards, into the past, instead of forward, to the future, which is what matters. Focusing on loose ends often starts old arguments and clouds judgment, and it rarely ties up loose ends.

Antidote: Accept that there are and will always be loose ends. You may never figure out why the dream
failed, and you certainly will never figure out whose fault it was. Blaming the other parent or yourself is just another way of staying stuck in those loose ends. Focus on the joy of raising children, of being grandparents someday and of moving on with your life.
5. Being “right.” There is no more formidable enemy in human relations then being right. When two people disagree and both believe that they are right, they have two choices: to try to win or to solve the problem. Although they rarely work, “winning” strategies include escalating, bullying, making the same arguments over and over, “case building” by getting experts, articles or asking others, and litigation in courts.

Antidote: the issue is what to do when two people disagree and both think they are “right.” The firs tstep is always to present a case supporting your position and listening to the case the other person presents. One might be more persuasive than the other, and it is wise to change your mind at times,when appropriate. If it is a decision, people develop plans to accomplish what they both want to accomplish; if it is a problem or concern, people get a solution; if it is a conflict, people engage in the art of giving in and trade-offs.

Editor’s Note: This edited piece is from COPARENTING TRAINING WORKBOOK FOR SEPARATING OR SEPARATED PARENTS, written by Kenneth H. Waldron, PhD and Allan R. Koritzinsky, Esq.

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