3 Things Not To Do If Your Ex Acts Like a Toddler
“Thanks so much for picking up the kids this week”
“Ahh, no problem. They’re my kids too.”
“Yeah, I know but work has been crazy this week and well, thank you.”
“Anytime. I love being invited to their games and what not.”
Sounds kind of dreamy, right? Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? Actually, it’s not that far-fetched. I know several divorced families where this is the standard flow of things which continues to leave me to starry-eyed and staring off into the distance fantasizing about a healthy, constructive dialogue with my ex. POP! Well, there goes my bubble.
Now, this is not a post about dogging out, belittling or degrading exes. Not only is that counter-productive; it’s destructive, especially to your child (ren). Here, we discuss positive practical ways to confront and manage difficult situations and in doing so, discover some truths about ourselves. My hope is that we’ll use those truths to make better decisions and choices in the future.
That said, let’s dive deeper. Let’s ruffle some feathers and enjoy a good chuckle, or two, in the process.
THING #1 — DON’T BACK OVER ’EM WITH YOUR CAR
As you well know, I’m happily divorced. Like happily, happily divorced. Delirious in fact…which would explain a few things. If you’re like me then your ex doesn’t always **pause for dramatic flair** respond in a manner conducive to your emotional and mental well-being. I’m pretty sure you all know what I’m driving at.
No matter how upsetting, annoying, frustrating or hurtful the conversation or interaction, responding at the height of your anger is NEVER a good idea nor is using violence to make your point. Silence can be your greatest weapon — use it often. Deep breaths and taking your time to respond not react, works wonders.
THING #2 — WHY DON’T YOU SHUDDUP ALREADY?!! — YEAH. DON’T ASK THAT.
Not that I’ve ever said those words…or anything similar. *insert nervous side eye glance* Much to your chagrin and possibly mine, shut-up really is a mean word. The trickiest thing about most “ex” situations is communication. Without it, you’re almost guaranteed a fail-FAIL every time. Unless the ex is using vulgar language, demeaning you or otherwise trying to manipulate or control you, hear him or her out completely. No, it’s not easy but respect is a two-way street.
THING #3 — DON’T PLAY BY MY RULES? NO KIDS FOR YOU! — DON’T. EVEN. GO. THERE.
Remember the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld? If you didn’t speak, act or behave in a manner he wanted he’d retaliate by refusing to sell you soup and quickly dismiss you from the store. Hilarious as heck on TV, not even remotely funny in reality.
Friends, children are not bargaining chips. They’re blessings — treasures — to be honored and valued, not things used to punish a parent for not doing what we feel or think is right. If your ex isn’t putting the children’s lives in danger, you don’t get to dictate if or when they get to see their children.
But I’m not getting child support.
But he refuses to help pay for their clothes and tuition.
But all she does is leave the kids with her boyfriend.
It’s ridiculous and it sucks; and I’m so sorry. But you can’t do that, ever. If you’re concerned for their welfare, then get the proper agencies involved. If the children don’t want to go, get the proper agencies involved.
When my daughter was left in a park, alone for the better part of two hours, I got the proper people involved. Years later, when the ex petitioned the court and falsely accused me of violating his visitation rights, the proper agencies responded, the facts were reviewed and the petition was dismissed. Was it difficult listening to the lies in court? Heck yea, I almost succumbed to Thing #1. But the wonderful thing about lies is that the truth ALWAYS comes to light.
STOP. THINK. DO.
Ladies and gents, in the words of Prince “act your age, not your shoe size.” Your ex may not always abide by those words but you can. An eye for an eye leaves the world blind. Using fire to fight fire will result in burns for everyone involved, especially your children. So, remember: think before you act, show a little respect and keep the children out of the drama.
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