The day I disconnected from my ex and realized that I had to ignore his role as my ex and see him only as the father of my children was the day I became a better mother to my children. Jayna Haney
Does your ex drive you crazy? Make you so mad you could spit? Fill your mind with angry stuff that surprises even you? I don’t think it’s uncommon at all.
We’d all love to have those really nice relationships that we see on TV or read about in books by counselors or psychologists who have never been divorced, been a single parent or had a difficult ex, but the truth is- most co-parents don’t co-parent. My own experience has been that often one party really does want to get along and the other party is high-conflict or unhappy.
Many times, the difficulty with co-parenting together is that there is too much hurt in the middle. Too much anger about things that happened before or after the divorce.
But the problem is when moms and dads who cannot disconnect the two parts their former partner play– both ex and parent. You hear them all the time. Women and men who are mean and sour about their ex. Who badmouth them. Who criticize them. Who somehow think that its okay because they are “right”. Or who simply act like their ex doesn’t exist at all.
We know how important both mothers and fathers are to their children, but there are a majority of divorced women out there who think that the father is not nearly as important as they are. Or, if the dad won’t do what they want, then they will just ignore him and try to leave him out. Similarly, there are also divorced men who will constantly sue the ex wife for custody just out of spite.
If you have a high conflict ex, you can certainly be mad at them and feel frustrated but you have to guard against letting your children see this.
Nor am I saying that you have to do everything the ex wants to keep the peace.
But I am saying that regardless of how your ex acts, vilifying them to your children hurts your children. Acting like they don’t exist hurts your children. And don’t try to keep your kids from loving their parent. And don’t expect your children to take sides. Kids don’t want to take sides.
1. The first step is to recognize the importance of disconnecting the ex without disconnecting them as a parent.
The first part of dealing with your ex- no matter how difficult you believe them to be- is to recognize that disconnect.
Your children are a blend of both of you. Your kids need you to make the disconnect, so they can connect with both of you.
You do not ever want to make your kids wrong for loving the people in their family. Ever.
Even if you believe your ex to be selfish, hurtful and competitive, you must, must, must disconnect what they “do” from “who they are”.
2. The second step is to realize that how you treat your ex… has nothing to do with them… or whether or not they deserve it.
It has to do with how much you love your kids.
I am responsible to my children for how I treat their other parent- whether I approve of the other parent or not.
When you treat your ex with basic common courtesy in how you act toward them and talk about them with people around you- no matter what- you are loving your kids- you are respecting your kids- you are putting aside how you feel.
It doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t feel “right”. But it is “right” for your kids.
You don’t treat your ex with courtesy because they deserve it. You do it because your kids deserve it.
From Mother Teresa:
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
Your ex and you- it’s not about you and him/her. It’s about your kids. It was never between you and your ex- anyway.