You and your spouse split up six months ago. It was fairly amicable, all things considered. Neither of you planned for the marriage to end this way, but you were able to grit your teeth and keep from arguing. You both knew it would not help, so you acted civil no matter how you felt.
Now, your young children are asking if you, your ex and the kids can all spend time together. Maybe it’s just for something small, like dinner on a Friday night. Maybe it’s for a family vacation, a tradition from when you were still married that the children do not want to lose. Either way, though you have joint custody and you both see the children, they want you all to spend time together. Should you do it? Here are some positives and negatives.
It could send the wrong message
Be very careful about what messages you send to the kids. Remember that they may want you and your ex to get back together, even when you know it’s not going to happen. Do they secretly want family time to push you back together? Do not let them entertain the thought that it is working if it just sets them up for disappointment.
It can help the children transition
On the plus side, this is a big transition for the kids. A little family time here and there — a meal every now and again — may help them. It shows them that both parents still love them and it gives them something that feels normal and familiar. It takes time for kids to adjust to divorce.
You and your ex may not get along
One potential negative outcome depends on how you and your ex really feel about each other. You may have been able to avoid fights while getting divorced, with that end goal in mind, but can you do it if you spend too much time together? Do not put the children in the middle of a toxic relationship full of arguments, insults and loud vocal disagreements.
You may be surprised by your own success as a new type of family
Do not write the idea off entirely, though. The outcome could surprise you. One woman took a family vacation with her ex and her children over the Fourth of July, which was later described as an “unexpected success.” She wrote in an essay that “divorce…creates a different kind of family.” She and her ex didn’t need to get back together romantically to spend quality time with the children.
Every situation is different. As you consider your post-divorce life, make sure you carefully consider your options, your rights and your children’s best interests.