Daily Archives: January 11, 2009

How to be a good ex spouse / co-parent…

(Part one of a series)

I have often been asked how come I write nothing about the other parent in my children’s lives, how come I don’t blog about him and the divorce and the whole nine yards. I have to admit there are times when it is extremely tempting to do so, but I am not perfect either and I would hate for him to take to a public forum to discuss me and my faults. Even when a couple is happily married there are disagreements – they don’t need to become fodder for the masses. I figured I would share what works for me, and maybe someone somewhere will learn something.

My first tip is to be respectful of the other parent’s role in your child’s life. Just because you guys got divorced from each other, doesn’t mean that you divorced the kids, or the non-custodial parent did. Don’t bash the other parent in front of the children, and don’t yell at the other parent when the kids can hear. What is between the two parents has to stay that way. You are ticked off at the ex because of a perceived slight? Deal with it away from the kids. But deal with it in a respectful manner. You guys are allies, you are co parenting these precious souls. Belittling the other parent, calling names, and making threats – it’s so unhelpful, and emotionally so unhealthy. Make your point politely and move on. I find that it’s helpful to use email – although the tone doesn’t always come thru, which can be a blessing and a curse. But people, one email to say what you need to say is sufficient. You don’t need to send 10 emails to make the same point. That borders on harassment.

Let’s have an example. You believe that your ex needs to stop yelling so much at the kids because they have complained to you that it bothers them. You have a few choices here, ok? You can email ex and say “I hate you, you piece of poop, you made my kid cry, I won’t ever let you see them again”, you could even call to give the same message. Or you could email “the children have mentioned to me that it upsets them when you raise your voice, I just wanted to make you aware of this”. The first two scenarios guarantee a scene and a full scale yelling war. The third option, while seemingly mild, gets the point across that there is a problem, it needs to be addressed, but that there is no anger and resentment boiling. That you trust the other parent will deal with the issue in a timely fashion.

Of course, this only works if you are both committed to behaving civilly toward each other. I think it is helpful to remember that you once loved this person, you had kids with him/her – do not disrespect your own past by perpetuating the anger cycle. It helps no one.

More to come – if you have any tips, please email me at hadassahsabo at gmail dot com.

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