How to Break the ‘Round and ‘Round With Your Ex Who is Also a Co-Parent
I started checking out other blogs to get inspired, and to also see how to pump up my volume and attract more readers. Turns out, I am not a fashion blogger, nor a “how to” blogger, and I don’t review products. I shop at thrift stores for my new clothes, add water to my mascara to make it last longer, and just learned how to curl my own hair so I don’t think I should be showing anyone else. I guess I’m not in the cool blogger group.
I started thinking about all of the things that I know how to do. Most of them are centered around being a single mom, and others are about… well, parenting, so I guess that still falls into the “single mom” category because I’m a mom who parents and his dad lives 4 miles away.
Just because I so badly want to fit into the blogger world of many photos, few words, and how-to demonstrations, I have decided to share my insight on a topic that I was recently asked about.
My good friend is also a single mom. She is absolutely gorgeous, has a rockin’ job, and an 18-month-old. Back and forth, back and forth… she keeps testing out her baby daddy and he keeps acting the same way – like a douche bag. She asked me how to break the pattern – how to move on and eventually have a civil relationship with him without feelings – good or bad.
When you have a child with someone, everything around you tells you that you should be with that person. It will be easier on the child, people will accept you more if you are a two-parent household, it makes more sense financially, and it is just what we are raised to believe! You see them frequently, speak or text with them daily, and share the one thing that you love the most. It’s hard to “make the break” and carry on with your life without them having an impact on your daily stress level or new relationships.
The song goes, “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage!” Oops… fucked that one up.
For all of the “oops” parents out there who know it won’t work but can’t quite figure out how to break it off, here’s my advice on how to distance yourself from the one person who will always be around:
1. Block them on Facebook. If you want them out of your life (as much as possible), you don’t need to see who they were with or what they were doing. It will only bring out that fire in your chest (aka anxiety) that makes you do crazy things and make crazy assumptions. Outta sight, outta mind – at least while scoping out Facebook. This doesn’t give you any extra fuel for your fire… and it’s a fire you want to go out.
2. Change their name to something boring in your phone – like their initials, or “_____’s dad.” Also, give them a distinct ring and text signal so that you know what you are about to see on your phone, or if you need to let it go to voicemail. Letting it go to voicemail and then responding with a text or email is a great way to stay neutral. Again, working on how to keep that anxiety level low.
3. Give yourself a time frame. This is a big one. See if you can go 3-6 weeks without engaging in any extra conversation. Obviously contact each other if there is an issue with your child, but take out the chit chat, the favors, the check ins and be a single parent! No need to make a big announcement to the other parent. You can simply say, “I need some space and time to regroup, can we email if we need to talk and stick to a plan just for a while?” And leave it at that.
4. Stick to a parenting plan. Like, for real. Send calendar requests to set the schedule (that’s already in your plan) and set clear rules for pick up/drop off and notice for a change in the plan.
5. Think about your future. You want a good relationship with this other person, and time is your friend. Take the 3-6 weeks to establish new boundaries and patterns. Maybe you were flexible about your parenting plan, making communication more frequent – but if you have a set plan, there really isn’t a reason to be in touch. Let distance assist you in healing and moving on.
6. Use email to communicate when you absolutely need to. If there are things that you need to discuss regarding updates about your child, maybe send an email once a week that has the facts. Using email is a great way to communicate, and you get to re-read what you write before you send it.
7. Be nice. Really. I have a hard time with this one… but I have realized it is very important. If you are starting a new relationship with this person, one where they are simply the parent of your child, you should respect them and try to get along with them. Just remember that they are a good person (ok, not allll of them), and that they want to be in your child’s life, so be a good parent and put your BS to the side (as best you can). You don’t need to speak with them, but you don’t have to be mean either. Remember, they’re going to be around for a lonnnnng time.
I’m still learning… and know that it can be oh so complicated, but these steps can certainly help.
Crap, I forgot to add a zillion pictures to my post to make it interesting! Ooooops.
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