A marriage may end, but the love for your kids doesn't
The end of a marriage or relationship where children are involved can get messy, but don't let it ruin the bond you've created with your children. You're still their mommy or daddy, and you have to remember how your actions affect their current state of mind. No matter what the situation is between you and your ex-partner, when around the children, civility is the key. A laugh here and there wouldn't hurt, either.
This attitude should get doubled when co-parenting is in play. Dropping them off, or picking them up, is an awkward situation at first – and could continue to be for a while. So if you follow a few simple rules, you may be able to make the situation as clean and fluid as possible. Again, a couple of laughs can't hurt, either.
Don't vent in front of the kids. No matter what has you hot under the collar—their new flame, an old bill that went unpaid, or even being five minutes late—there's a time and place to talk and, yes, possibly argue about it. However, that place isn't in front of your children while you're handing them off. It's an already awkward experience for everyone involved, and you've started your spouses' time with the kids badly. That's a lose-lose for everyone.
Respect the co-parent's help. Here's a newsflash: a lot of single parents don't get help from their ex-spouse. So while you may not find them to be the cup of tea you did before, be thankful for their involvement raising your children. They get plenty of benefits from having them in their lives, so being civil around one another for a little while a few times a month can't be the worse thing in the world.
Let everyone chime in. You and your ex shouldn't be the only ones who dictate what goes on. The kids will have plenty to say, but will be weary of saying them. Ask them how they feel, and answer each question as honestly as the situation (age, appropriateness, etc.) allows.
Find new ways to communicate… with everyone. If you don't want to talk to your ex on the phone, suggest they text or email. If you believe that your young children are bottling up feelings, ask them to draw you a picture. Teens may just want you to take them to a movie to show you're still right by them. Find out what works for your situation and use it to make co-parenting as smooth as you can.