In my last post, Kristi (@Divorcetohappy) talked about how your former spouse may be your ex but he’s still dad to your children. It’s important to respect that parent-child relationship and to avoid causing your children to feel awkward about their relationship with their other parent. Sometimes, that awkwardness could come from subtle nuances you don’t give a second thought to. The most visible obvious sign is how the two of you interact in public. You don’t have to like each other but you do have to figure out how to get along. Here’s Kristi,
I don’t think either one of us really likes the other much but we have three awesome kids together. If there was just one thing we did well, that would be it. He knows that and so do I and for their sake, we don’t make a scene anywhere. If we have to talk to each other about something, we’ll call or we’ll text.
Will I ever go out to supper with him? No.
Will we eventually have kids’ birthdays together? Yeah, I’m sure we will.
Will we ever be friends? Probably not.
Are we cordial? Very
“I cannot believe you two are actually standing here in public and having a human conversation.”
We both looked at him and we were thinking the same thing,
“We’re the adults here. This is how we’re supposed to act.”
There are times when the things he does to the kids drive me absolutely crazy. They do. But, that’s his choice. I can’t do those things for him. There was a time when my son and him did not get along at all. It was terrible on everybody. I literally made my ex come over to my house and I said,
“You two aren’t leaving this room until you can get along because he is your son and he is always going to be your son, and you’re his dad and he needs you.”
They sat there and yelled at each other and talked. That was two years ago and today, they’re great. They’re really good.
We still live in the same town together, we see each other at every sporting event, at every stop light, I swear. The last thing my kids need is for their parents to make a scene. They don’t need that. They have enough going on. A teenager has so many things to deal with as it is. They don’t want to have to deal with their divorced parents having a brawl in public.
He doesn’t waltz into my house and chitchat or anything and I don’t go into my old house. His new wife comes over and brings the kids or if they forgot something they needed like their golf clubs or book bag. She comes in and we can sit down and have a chat.
She’s good to my kids and I can’t ask any more from a step-mom than that. Not long after my ex and her started dating, she and I had a discussion at the ballpark. There were rumors going around everywhere and it was just drama, drama, drama. I said,
“I’m not listening to them because if you make him happy, I don’t care. The only thing I request is that you’re good to my kids because my kids are going to be your kids and your kids are going to end up in my house too. I will be good to your kids as I hope you are to mine.”
She looked at me and from that day forward, her and I have not had one single bit of a problem.
My relationship with my ex is probably very similar to the relationship Kristi and her ex have. We can be at the kids’ functions together – unless it’s a long drive, I prefer to travel separately because he’s a notoriously bad time keeper. I generally talk to him either in person or over the phone about parenting decisions. I’ll use email to confirm a conversation. I’ve learned that if he proposes something I don’t agree with it, it’s better for me not to respond right away but to take some time to think about how I want to say what I need to say.
We don’t go out for dinner together with the kids and I don’t ask for his input on non-kid issues. It isn’t the One big happy blended family that Lauren from My Life Incomplete has but realistically that just isn’t going to work for every situation. I think there’s a “ex relationship continuum” and your job is to find the place on that line that works for your children, for you and for your ex and know that it will likely change over time.
Kristi has a great blog, Divorce to Happiness and a lively Facebook Fan page where she keeps the conversation going with lots of engaging questions.