Wow you’re were I was a few years ago. I think the first thing you’re going to have to accept is that nothing really good is going to come from the court systems. Your best bet is to establish visitation the in the beginning. I know you said he wants every weekend but you should at least try to get one weekend a month. I would also highly recommend you think about EVERYTHING right now as to what is going to be in the court order. I made many mistakes not specifically spelling out dates and holidays and it has make things a nightmare, actually even with the things that were spelled out it was a nightmare…
The first thing you are going to have to do, that took me a long time to figure out, you won’t be able to reason with the other person. You’ve probably already tried to have reasonable discussions that just only work to trigger and emotional deregulate yourself. I did that a lot and it was just counter productive.
Your best bet, in my opinion, is to try and establish the best, stable, supportive environment possible with your kids. They will figure all of this stuff out on their own BUT if you try to point it out to them it doesn’t help. They need to find their own answers, you can point them in a direction but you have to be VERY careful about it.
The next thing is you need to mentally prepare yourself for the kids to be external triggers. They will say and do things that make it feel like your ex is right there with you dropping bombs on you. This part is VERY difficult but it’s crucial to try and not take the bait. Unfortunately it took me three years into the divorce to realize all this new information so I made MANY mistakes in this area.
On your communication email is probably a better approach because it’s easy to document and track. Text’s are a pain in that regard, at least from my experience. Also, DO NOT take the bait on emails. Again this is something that I failed on numerous times and the communication would be a tit-for-tat back and forth that was pointless. My ex was obviously much better at this that I was and she could get me going and then she would disappear (maybe in her mind she was going ‘no contact’ with me, who knows). So what I do now is:
- Do not send any question in an email, I only send information either copies of school, medical, etc documentation or statements as to what is going on.
- If you receive a reply, read it to see if they are asking any questions. If they are, read it again and ask yourself is it really a question. If the answer is still yes ask yourself do I really need to answer that question. Bottom line, don’t take the bait.
To go back to your comment about “protecting the children” I think you’re best bet is providing a safe, sane, secure, nurturing environment for them. There is really nothing you’re going to be able do to keep the kids from seeing the other parent (at least in our state). I’ve had two therapists say this too me from the beginning of all of this and it didn’t really click until I came across The Spartan Life Coach site. But I think it’s really true, you have to demonstrate the difference to the kids and they have to figure it out on their own. It is going to suck and it’s going to hurt but there isn’t any way around it.
What also took me a long time to figure out is if your ex truly is a narcissist/cluster-B all of this is really only about them. He/She isn’t really going to spend a significant amount of time trying to go after you, well unless you take the bait, and just let them implode on themselves. BUT, and this is the part that is hard, your kids may see it and may even comment on it BUT they won’t really get it. That part hurts, it’s hard when the kids will say something to you that shows what they re going through with the ex and then completely disregard it later like it never happened.
Think of it this way, you escaped, you got away so you are free from the physically close nightmare that was your life. Now that’s the kids life when they are there with the other parent. I mean I was with my ex for 23 years and it wasn’t until the last few months of the marriage that I really truly realized that something was wrong. Prior to that I made excuses, thought I was the problem, and just couldn’t understand. It’s still your kid’s mother/father and they still love them and want them to be there. Maybe if you do better than I did they will feel safe enough to talk to you about it when they are hurt and you can help them heal. But more than likely they are going to feel like they are in the middle in-between two warring factions.
So, final bit of advice, try to get good therapists for the kids. If you can find someone who understands this trauma the better. Unfortunately the therapist “we” found did and it has taken YEARS for her to finally start to understand what is going on. I think partly it helped that she has a professional relationship with my therapist and they share information. But your kids are going to need a save environment to openly communicate without fear of picking sides.
Keep going through Richard’s videos and if you can pick up some of his courses and listen to them A LOT. His thoughts and observations have helped keep me sane during this nightmare even with the progress I feel I’ve made I have to routinely go back to his information/videos to keep me grounded.