There are some things you actually have control over when parallel parenting.
Sorry, none of these things involve controlling your ex or children.
But trust me, if you learn to control the five things below, you will set yourself free from being labeled as a crazy ex.
Yes, you control you, not your ex.
Think about the amount of time you spend being angry with you ex. More than likely, he or she isn’t using the same amount of energy on you. The two of you are no longer together for a reason. Hopefully, you took the right amount of time to heal from the divorce/break up. You may be surprised to find that, even though you can’t stand your ex, you still need to grieve that the relationship does not exist anymore. Going through this process will bring the clarity needed to be a better you for yourself and your children.
After my divorce, I took a few counseling sessions because I knew that I, eventually, wanted to be married again. I knew that in order for me to have a happy marriage, I needed to go through all five stages of grief because my husband didn’t need to suffer from any bitterness I was holding against my ex.
Take time to examine why you’re angry, bitter or resentful. Work through redirecting whatever emotions you have towards your ex. Remember, you cannot fully move on until you face this.
Controlling yourself also means no more late night booty calls.
Being in control of yourself puts you in a better position to effectively parent with an ex.
Everything your ex says or does not say does not warrant a response from you.
A good friend once gave me great advice about dealing with office politics: every email does not warrant a response. This sage advice can apply to different parts of life, even when parallel parenting.
There will be times when the two of you disagree. Guess what? That’s fine because you can’t and won’t agree with everybody all of the time.
Regardless of what your ex says, your mouth is yours.
Everything your ex does should not warrant a reaction/response from you. Be careful not to be fueled by your emotions. The last thing you want is for your outbursts to be used against you.
Yes, stringing together some “choice” words and throwing them in your ex’s face will feel so good…for a hot minute!
After all, you’ve been waiting for this moment for a while, waiting for those words to slap your ex in the face was worth the wait. But then comes the aftermath, yes, the consequence. The consequence may not come immediately, but it will come. It may arrive in different forms: your ex may have a response that hits you right back, he or she could use it against you in the future, or your ex may not do anything at all.
I have been parenting with my ex for nine years. During this time, I reacted and the end results were not in my favor. Of course, it felt good at the time of the reaction, but that feeling faded. I became the recipient of the pain I tried to inflict on him. My stress levels went through the roof.
In 2014, I began parallel parenting. I made this decision because I was tired of reacting. My life is 110% better as a result. Realizing that my ex and I could not co-parent forced me to learn how to respond so that we could at least parallel parent.
Your house and what happens in it
The kids deserve your attention, not your ex. It is tough to not want to control what goes on in your ex’s house when your kids are there, but you must get a grip on this.
Another good friend gave me great advice on how to cope with not controlling what goes on at my ex’s house when the kids are there: My ex is an adult (at least, physically. I added this part, not my friend :-)) and while the children are in his care, he is responsible for them.
This was not an easy adjustment for me. I could not help thinking about how late he was letting our daughter stay up or how he was trying to be a better parent than me. As time passed, I realized the harm I was doing to myself by trying to control two households. It was exhausting! Not only exhausting but causing me stress.
How did I stop worrying about what/how the kids were doing while with their dad? I would repeat the following question in my head:
What’s the worst thing that can happen?
Sounds simple, but I would seriously ask myself that. I knew that my ex had the children’s best interest at heart and would not allow any harm to come to them. I know this may differ for everyone. If you feel that your child(ren) are in danger, please contact the authorities.
Notice, I said danger. Just because your ex lets them each junk food for breakfast is no reason to have the authorities involved; it’s more of a control issue on your part.
Staying in control of my own house allows me to better control my parenting skills.
Your parenting skills
Pick your battles. Parenting with an ex can already create frustration; no need to make this a competition to see who is the best parent. You must remain consistent with discipline when necessary.
Remember, children can sniff out trouble between their parents and use it to their advantage.
It isn’t necessary for you and your ex to have the same discipline style while parallel parenting. 9 times out of 10, you won’t agree with each other’s style, hence one of the reasons why you’re no longer together!
And that’s ok. You just have to make sure you stick to the rules you’ve set in your house.
Ultimately, you have control over you, your mouth, your reaction, the rules you set in your house and your parenting skills when parallel parenting.
Don’t give anyone any reason to label you, unless they want to label you as a: “confident, secure, living and loving life parent”.
What are you controlling? Are you ready to let it go?
Previously Published on Tiffany’s blog Unrehearsed.