Parenting after a divorce is a difficult undertaking because you have to think about what's best for the children, and this is sometimes the direct opposite of what you feel is in your best interests. One thing that may fall under this category is helping your children have a meaningful relationship with the other parent.
It's difficult for many people who've gone through a divorce to have something positive to say about their ex. But, your ability and willingness to do this might have an impact on what the court decides about child custody.
How can you help foster your child's relationship with the other parent?
One of the most important things you can do is to avoid speaking negatively of your ex. You should never say anything bad about them in front of the children. Remember that what you say to others might get back to the children so you must be careful about to whom you open up where your ex is concerned.
Another way to help your children is let them know that they don't have to pick sides. Kids will sometimes think that one parent doesn't want them to have fun with the other. Let them know that you want them to enjoy their time with the other parent. You can ask them about what they did while they were there and show joy when they share it with you.
When should contact be discouraged?
While you should encourage the parent-child relationship between your ex and your child in most cases, there are some situations in which this might not be appropriate. Instances in which there is some form of abuse is one example. If your ex is doing things that are unsafe for the child, discouraging the relationship might be necessary.
Another situation is when there is parental alienation, which occurs when one parent deprecates the other to the point that the children don't want to be around the parent who's the subject of the disparagement. Parental alienation is a form of child abuse that usually must be handled by the court.
Getting the parenting plan in order is another way that you can encourage your children to have a good relationship with both parents. Make sure that both parents have time to spend with the child, and that your child has options for communicating with both parents.