Avoiding Uncooperative Co-Parenting

Are you guilty of uncooperative co-parenting? You might be if you are standing in the way of your ex's relationship with your kids. I know how tempting it is, especially if your ex was a jerk during the marriage. The following article offers insight on why this happens and what you can do about it.

Custodial Parents, the Fight to be Right

By Kim B. Miller

Image of a man and woman arm wrestling

As women, we tend to deal with a lot of different emotions when a relationship ends. Men do as well, but women normally internalize things more than men do. We'll spend hours rethinking every move we've made. We second guess decisions that were sound at the time but now seem questionable. We question the sincerity of everything. Add massive issues like infidelity, lies and arguments and you have a very volatile situation.

Now, let's further complicate the issue and add children to the mix. This really adds a unique dimension to the break up. You have to focus on their needs. You can't ignore their difficulties, and that complicates how you handle your own grief. Sometimes we put our feelings to the side to help our kids deal with their struggles. You can't lecture that things are going to get better if you have been crying hysterically in front of them all day. They look to us parents for guidance on how they should handle it, not just the words we say but our actions too.

Pain replaces logic

Moms let me talk to you for a moment: You know how we can get when we're upset. There is very little thinking taking place. Pain replaces logic, and we get immersed in what could have been. We can be inconsolable.

Sometimes you look at your ex and in your eyes he is living his life. He even looks happy. "How dare he look like that", you say to yourself, not realizing he is just pretending to look okay.

Eventually you figure out that there is a way to get through to him, a way that he cannot avoid. You throw everything you know that is good, right and Godly out the window.

You want revenge

You want him to feel the pain that you are feeling. He calls to speak to the kids and you are "on the other line" and he has to call them back. You were not on the other line and before he calls back you turn the ringer off. He comes to visit the kids and you are not home. You "forgot" he was coming. Some of you have stooped even lower and told complete lies like: "Daddy doesn't want to see you, I tried or daddy is more interested in seeing his new girlfriend so he does not have time for you".

Dads you have not been saints either. You use just as many "tricks" when you are the custodial parent living with pain.

The custodial parent has an internal dialogue going on. They have found a way to justify everything they are doing. They've even convinced themselves that the other parent doesn't even deserve to see their child.

Is this you? Am I describing you? You know if I am, search your heart. If I am describing you, please listen closely. 

There is a major problem with your logic. You may eventually crush the other parent's resolve and spirit but you will also crush your child's spirit and self-esteem too. Eventually they will begin to wonder what they did wrong to push the other parent away. A child uses simple logic: if I did not do anything wrong then my parent would come and see me, since they are not coming to see me I must have done something wrong. 

Another foreseeable problem is,

As you afflict pain on your ex you also limit yourself.

How? Revenge is a lot of work. It's almost impossible to prosper while you're being spiteful. It's time consuming to play the "I can out do you" game. You waste a lot of time plotting and you are not fun to be around either.

You know what I mean. The kids can't mention the other parent without you going "off". How are they supposed to feel? This is someone that they look up to, and aspire to be like and you are speaking badly of them. Remember kids emulate their parents. If you put down one of their heroes, in their eyes you are putting them down too.

I was like you once, happily in love and my marriage ended due to his cheating. I had 2 young children when I found out about the "third" affair. I was furious at him. I had enough and I left, but he was always welcome to see the kids, after all they did not do anything wrong. Did I want to see him at times? No, but they did. It wasn't easy, I prayed a lot, but it was the right thing to do for all of us, especially them.

It's never too late to change.

I know you feel that you are not over the break up yet and forgiving the other parent makes it seem like they are "off the hook" for all they did, but that is not what this is about. Forgiving is not excusing what they did. Forgiving is freeing you. You will be free to live your life and make decisions based on growth. Nothing will change until you decide to let go of the pain that is holding you back. If the other person is a fit parent, then they have the right to interact with their child.

Despite all of this negativity you are not hopeless because you can change this. Parents are inherently strong willed people who are used to being resilient. This is an obstacle and you can overcome it. Demonstrate to your kids that when you make a mistake you accept your responsibilities and do everything needed to make it right.

Apologize to everyone involved including you and start over. Forgive yourself; don't keep looking back at all the time you wasted. Call you ex and work on a visitation plan that is fair and starts immediately. It's never too late to change. Don't let shame and embarrassment hold you back. Walk past that to your victory. John Lennon said it best: "Imagine all the people living life in peace." He was right; he's not the only one. I want you to join us so we can work on changing the world one family at a time. 

Article by Kim B. Miller, Internet Radio Host and Author of "How To Love Your Kids More Than You Hate That Man". Find out more about Kim on her site or listen to her talk radio show at Blog Talk Radio.

To help you get past any uncooperative co-parenting tendencies, the following articles offer advice to help you work together with your ex for your kids benefit: