Embracing the Differences

When going through a divorce or separation, it is often difficult to see the positives that could come from the changing and often difficult circumstances. Divorce and custody advice can be disheartening, and it is easy to forget that every challenge is in an incredible opportunity for growth. Let’s talk about a few of the positives that can come from co-parenting and shared custody, and we’ll see how this new, bright outlook could actually improve the situation.

  1.     You have the opportunity to illustrate, in real time, how to maturely respect other people and how to appropriately handle conflict.

You can preach to children the importance of respect and kindness, but like or not, your youngster is a sponge, observing and adopting your habits and actions. You are their role model, and what better way to practice what you preach by showing them how to handle difficult situations. Kids can sense when things are off, and while I’m certainly not suggesting you keep them in the loop regarding details, I do suggest that you always approach the other parent with respect and kindness, regardless of whether they will afford you the same. Their eyes are always watching, so take advantage of it and show them how to be a decent human. Never vent to the children, ask them to take sides, or use them as a weapon against your ex.

  1.     Your children have the opportunity to build strength, resiliency, and discipline.

This isn’t entirely exclusive to just separated households, but it is sort of a requirement for excelling in these situations. Routines are key to surviving any custody schedule, and without them, children may feel stressed out and unorganized. Consistency in these routines allow children to stay focused, maintain emotional and mental stability, and it keeps them disciplined and frankly, compliant. Both households do not require the exact same routines, though it is certainly helpful to ease adjustments and transitions. Just make sure to remember that you cannot control the other parent. If they want to allow the kids to stay awake until 10pm on a school night, but your idea of a healthy bedtime is 8pm, maybe try to compromise on 9pm. Be resilient and consistent, and you’ll surely pass these skills off to your children.


  1.     You can expose your children to different philosophies, ways of living, diversity, etc., etc., etc.

There’s not just one way to run a household, and you’ll children may find that out depending on how different you and the other parent are. Maybe you are laid back with a “we’ll clean up the messes as they happen” attitude while the other parent is more proactive and devises daily, weekly, and monthly chore charts. The learning curve may be high depending on the situation, but this has the   potential to expose them to new ideas and ways of living, and… well… it could also provide welcome breaks and escapism, especially if you are the less strict of the two. Regardless, this can be a great opportunity to acknowledge differences and show that there’s no right way to do things.

The list could go on and on. I think any presented negative could easily be made a positive so long as you are open to succeeding.

How will this help you in court?

Well, and important factor is being able to provide a stable and nurturing environment. If you approach this as a positive opportunity for growth, you’ll start to get a better handle on what matters most. Are you going to be confrontational because he ALWAYS sends her out of the house with socks that don’t match, or are you going to calmly listen as he tells you that he’s letting her pick out her own clothes without his help? Are you going to insist that she can’t have custody because you don’t like her new boyfriend’s attitude, or will you sit back and see that he can teach your kids skills you never even cared to think about, like juggling or playing guitar? The court will pick up on this attitude, and in turn, you will be understood as a stable, rational parent who just wants the best for the kids. You won’t unnecessarily nag the other parent during custody exchanges or insist that your way is the only way. Face every challenge as an opportunity for growth, and you’ll start to see the positive impact this new attitude has on the things that matter most: your children.

This article was written by writer and content strategist, K. Gleason.


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