Hypothetically speaking, if your co-parent approached you and gave you their most honest reason explaining why they are high-conflict, inconsistent, or not involved -would you listen and accept their response? Would you offer solutions to help ease them back into your child’s life? Would you berate them and spew insults?
I recently posed this question on Facebook and I got all sorts of answers. I usually enjoy dialogue with people, not so much for their answers but for the insight their answers give me on who they really are. I got a range of answers- some saying, “I already know why they are they way they are”, “I’d listen and then say get it together”. But what I found most interesting were the answers that went something like “Who cares, that isn’t going to feed my child”, “Share your heart with someone else ‘cause I don’t have time!” These are the answers I’d like to talk about and explore deeper.
Your co-parents shortcomings do affect YOU whether you like it or not
Why do we like to pretend that someone else’s issues have nothing to do with our lives? Can we be honest for a second? Our child’s other parent whether present or absent impacts our lives. On a basic level, they are half of our child, so a lot of our child’s smallest mannerisms can be traced back to their DNA. That little quirky thing your kid does came from your co-parent! We’ve all seen it! On the next level their involvement and absence affects our child both positively and negatively. A lot of how we move in life, our feelings, our bitterness and our peace is wrapped up in who they are or are not. Once you unravel yourself from the misgivings of your co-parent, you can then begin the process of taking a less emotional approach. You do not have 100% control of your child, what makes you think that you can control another adult?! You’re dead wrong.
Money is NOT the root of all of your problems
Why do we ALWAYS resort to finances as the root of our problems? Like Why Sway Why????? Keep it real, our daily decisions aren’t all based on feeding our kids or ourselves. We make a ton of decisions based off how we feel. In fact, most people make emotion-based decisions. Some of the people that pay child support are are still HORRIBLE parents. That being said, their co-parent and children are still suffering, maybe not financially, but in other ways. So let’s just knock off the whole”this isn’t going to pay my bills” rhetoric. That has NOTHING to do with the issues you face. Do you want to get to the root of your unresolved issues? Look in the mirror, that’s a start.
Your expectations of your co-parent can set you up for disappointment
Here’s why I believe most of us really need and want our other parent to own up to their ish. It will truly FREE us of feeling like nobody recognizes their ish stinks. But here’s what’s even more valuable, if we actually listened and accepted what they said, it would allow us to Let Go of the expectations we keep hoping they’ll live up to. Let’s be honest, you’re angry because your child’s other parent is not doing what you think they should be doing. Now I’m not saying they don’t need to do more, but the problem you are experiencing is that they aren’t living how you want them to live. The moment you accept who they are you, release them from living up to YOUR standards. One of the main reasons you are not in a romantic relationship with your child’s parent is because you two could not get along. What makes you think you can control your co-parent’s actions now that they are out of your household? You could not maintain that when you were under the same roof. You may still need more money, you may still deal with the emotional ramifications of them not being consistent BUT you won’t expect, need or want them to be any more than who they are.
You can only control yourself
When you remove YOUR expectations from your co-parent, you find peace. You are able to release all the emotions and feelings that accompany disappointment and frustration. No! You did not sign up to be a Single Parent, but this is your assignment. From my personal experience and from observation I can attest to the fact that when you do the work to achieve this peace, no missed child support payments or broken promises can take your joy and derail your mission.
XOXO Your Favorite Baby Mama Whisperer aka The Single Mom Sage