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How to Go From ‘X’ to ‘Ex’

How to go from 'X' to 'Ex'
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So many times after we go our separate ways we wish our Ex would just disappear.  The constant stress and difficulty of dealing with someone who carries reminders of hurt and broken dreams, perhaps even regrets, is a horrible situation to be in.  But every study ever done shows that kids must retain the parent-child bond with both parents in order to feel secure, safe and to be able to make sense of their world moving forward into adulthood.  Because we are willing to do absolutely anything to protect our children and keep them healthy, we face the decisions we have made and continue to interact with this ‘person’. 

Changing your perception of your Ex is never easy, but if you can move from thinking about your Ex as someone you would prefer to never see again to looking at your Ex as someone who you used to know and who loves your children, YOUR life will be a million times easier today and every day after.  It’s worth the work! 

Here are 5 tips to get you on your way to make co-parenting with your Ex easier:

1.  Chanel your inner Buddhist or favorite Beatles star.

How to see your Ex as a better parent than they were partner

It is what it is. Live and let live.  You can’t change someone – I bet you’ve tried!   Probably at some point you have attempted to make your Ex love you more/nicer/more involved with the kids/less dramatic/more dramatic/funny/interesting/flexible/responsible/a Democrat/a Republican/the perfect person . . .  People are resistant to change so just STOP!  It takes a lot of work but you are going to have to Let It Be:  your Ex is just who they are. 

Vent to your friends, write down your rant, turn your phone’s voice notes on and let loose but realize that there is no point in fighting with your Ex over how they see the world!  Maybe one day they will evolve, maybe this split is what it will take and they will reevaluate their life and past choices but it will have to come from within them.  If you didn’t make them into the perfect person while you were together, it’s doubtful you’ll be able to work that magic now that you are apart.  Recognizing this will make things easier for you and help you to detach.

2.  Cater to your Ex’s strengths.

If your Ex is better at some things than others – jump on it!!!  Use that to everyone’s advantage.  If your Ex loves sports, let your Ex have the kids an extra weekend during that season.  If your Ex loves to cook, give your Ex one extra night where the exchange is after the kids eat dinner at their house.  The easier it is for your Ex the less stress they will have which means the happier you and your kids will be.  You know this is hard – it is also hard for them.  Just making one nice gesture can make things a million times easier for everyone.

On the flip side, if your Ex is really bad at some things, instead of just griping at them and asking them to make a fundamental change in their personality, brainstorm some work-arounds.  If your Ex doesn’t enforce or help with homework, plan in advance; find a ‘study buddy’ for the kids to meet while with your Ex or try to get the kids to stay at school for an hour before they get picked up by your Ex.  If your Ex never sends home clean clothes, just accept that you are 100% responsible for your children;’s laundry.  Of course it’s not fair but you’re not doing it for your Ex, you are doing it for your kids and fighting over it is much worse for you and your kids than the pain of doing extra loads of wash.  It’s never about what is ‘fair’ it’s about what gives you and your kids the most net happiness. Whatever it is that is driving you crazy – doing nothing or doing the same thing will never help you evolve from your current situation.  You have nothing to lose by thinking up other options and trying something new!

3. Stop letting your kids complain!

how to see your Ex as a better parent than they were partner

Always listen to your children!  ALWAYS!!!  But once you have established they are not in physical or emotional distress don’t let them complain about your Ex!  Sure it might feel good to hear about how dirty the Ex’s bathroom is but it’s not helping anyone, especially you.  The Ex might not be as exciting, cook the same way, be as flexible, adhere to the same values, but if it is not an immediate threat to your child’s well-being then you don’t need to know.  It will only frustrate you, further diminish your opinion of your Ex, and make conflict and stress more likely.  Tell them to be glad they are able to see different ways to live their life so as they get older they will be able to make active choices about who they want to be.  Let your children talk freely about their other parent and other home but if the complaining is excessive, change the subject: they may be just telling you what they think you want to hear.

4.  Treat your Ex like a stranger.

how to see your Ex as a better parent than partner

Instead of picturing the room in their underwear, pretend you are talking to your favorite aunt, a co-worker, or even the cashier at the grocery store.  You don’t have to be nice or charming but try to be more reserved in what you say and more open to what you hear.  You may walk away from a stranger thinking ‘They were awful!’ but you don’t confront them or feel like it’s your responsibility to correct them and make them a better person.  You are polite and act in a detached, respectful manner.  Speak with a neutral tongue and listen with a neutral ear.

5.  Have NO expectations!

You should have one expectation:  your children will always be safe.  But in general, don’t expect your Ex to be on time, bring what they were supposed to, or treat you with warmth and affection.  I have a secret to tell you:  your Ex is flawed!!!  It doesn’t mean that their behavior is okay; you still have every right to communicate to your Ex about how their behavior is affecting you and/or the children but also be prepared that this is who they are and come prepared.  Make the exchange at a park where you and the kids can be on the playground if you have an Ex who is always late .  Bring books or other entertainment if you are going to have to wait in the car.  Don’t count on your Ex remembering to bring that one item ‘this time’.  Take control of what you can and adjusting your expectations will allow you to determine what is truly within your control; you will feel empowered, independent, and less stressed!

how to see your Ex as a better co-parent than they were a partner

Chances are, the things that drive you crazy about your Ex aren’t going to change. But, with some time and distance, your reaction can change!

All of these tips are ways that you can begin to detach, set boundaries and become less enmeshed with your Ex.  When you start to evolve into your new life communication will get better and you’ll be able to put behind you the broken promises and emotions from the past .  Once some time and distance are between you and your Ex and you can accept your Ex for the flawed, less-than-perfect person that they are (because we ALL are) the less their shortcomings will drive you crazy and the easier co-parenting will become.

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More Than an App

We don't just scan for 'appropriate' language but we let you say what you want and then work with you to communicate your goals. We provide interactive services for every message sent between you and your Ex.

Universal & Neutral Messages

Mediators make sure that each and every message is easily understood. We help clarify details and prevent misunderstandings. We make sure anyone would understand exactly what each person is saying.

Support for Issues Big & Small

Whether you dread any contact with your Ex or know that a certain topic is going to start a big fight - we can help. Instead of thinking about what your Ex said over and over again, contact us and we can help resolve things right away. We give you the peace of mind that any communication with your Ex will be calm and polite.

Real-Time Response

Your message goes out within 1 hour. Co-parents who are actively engaged get immediate translation in real-time without delay. Never wait for your attorney to return your call - you get professional services immediately!

Less Anger & Stress

It's always easier to talk to a 3rd Party about your problems than to the source of our problems. We help tamp down emotions and break the old patterns of communication. You and your Ex can listen to options with a more neutral ear and objective perspective.

Protect Your Kids from Conflict

Kids feel your pain; they know when their parents are mad or sad and it causes them stress. The more you can avoid conflict with your Ex, the easier it will be to work with your co-parent and life gets better for you AND your kids. We help you transition to your new role as Co-Parents conflict-free.

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