Parents who are separated or divorced need to act in the best interests of the children. It may be difficult to set aside your own feelings and agendas, but for the sake of the children it is imperative that you communicate and cooperate.

First some facts:

  1. The single-parent home is still a family.

  2. There is no reason for a single-parent home to produce children destined for emotional illness or personal mediocrity.

  3. Your children will reflect your personal values based on the way you demonstrate your beliefs.

How to deal with your ex when it comes to the children:

  • Show respect to your former mate. And if there is any way in the world the two of you can work together cooperatively in the raising of your children - find it and do it. You may think it impossible, or you don't want to because of the way your ex has treated you. Find a way - because it's the right thing to do. If you try and fail, at least your conscience will be clear. You will have acted in the best interests of your children. Most single parents don't try, or if they do, they act in their own best interests.

  • Meet monthly. If you are both single, agree to meet monthly to discuss the children's lives. Choose a neutral territory such as a restaurant as your meeting place. If your mate has remarried, make sure he or she is free to bring the stepparent. Stepparents play a major role in your children's development - a difficult role because they are rarely accepted by their stepchildren. Don't allow your meetings to become a two-against-one situation.

  • Agree on a monthly agenda that, for the most part, deals only with the children.

  • Make a solemn vow never to demean one another. This is especially important when the children are present.

  • Make a list of decisions that are important for both of you to consider together.

  • Agree to defer to the gifts and knowledge of the other parent. Statements like, You should ask your mother that question. I don't know about those kinds of things, are very supportive. They will provide your children with the feeling that they are not being forced to take sides. They should not feel that they're in enemy-occupied territory when they are not with you.

  • Make sure you take time to share good news and interesting stories. Both of you are not missing blocks of time that can never be made up. It's important for you to fill in those blanks for each other.

  • Remind each other that raising children alone is not the way it was meant to be. When things get tense during your conversation, remember - sometimes they also get tense with parents who are still married and raising the children together.

From Successful Single Parenting by Gary Richmond. Copyright (c) 1990 by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Ore.

Gary Richmond serves as a pastor to single parents at the Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton, Calif. He is a popular speaker at Christian camps, churches, and schools through the Western United States and Canada. Gary and his wife, Carol, have three children and two grandchildren.