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I don’t want to help my ex, only my kids!

Your ex may have caused pain, hurt and disappointment, turning your life upside down which is a major struggle to regain some form of stability and security after the aftermath of the breakup.

You may feel your ex is the last person you would want to help after what they did to you. This may be understandable, but have you thought about the impact on the children? Your desire to see your ex suffer without you, hoping they will regret what they did to you or possibly suffer a form of karma as punishment, can actually impact your kids!

Of course, you are happy to help your children, but if you perceive helping the children will benefit the ex in any way you immediately withdraw the thought of helping. It may even be a passive aggressive reaction hoping your children see how the other parent isn’t coping, their incompetence as a parent or not being as reliable as you! You may verbally refuse to help, criticising their ability to resolve problems on their own, almost validating support sought from others that you are a better parent.

Co-parenting is fraught with conflict when parents are not united to ensure the children are not impacted by the struggles of rebuilding a routine in two family homes, or not having a support person when single parenting throws challenges at you or hoping to see the other parent fail out of spite.

There may be many situations where you might withhold help even if it impacts the kids –

1. Your ex says he has a work project cutover happening next Saturday that they can’t get out of, but it is their shared parenting time so asks if you can swap another day with them.

You may think to yourself, that’s their problem to get someone else to look after the kids as you are not going to give up your Saturday to help him out even though you have nothing planned. Your ex would feel stressed that they have to find alternative care for the children when they are already stressed with the work pressure. The kids may prefer to be with you than be at vacation care, with a family friend or a babysitter obtained at short notice and may feel you don’t want them because it’s not your parenting time, making them feel rejected.

2. Your ex calls you as they are stuck in the car with the kids which has broken down an hour from home and it is extremely hot, asking if you can come to get them.

You may think to yourself, have they forgotten we are no longer together? They can call roadside assist and wait. You may even start berating them for not travelling with enough drinks for the kids! You may be in the mindset that you wouldn’t call your ex for help if they were the last person on earth. You might think, they didn’t want me then, so they can’t want me now when they need me! Stop! See the situation through the child’s view that you have been called to help and refused. They may feel you don’t care. Think of the children suffering in the heat.

3. Your ex received the letter from school about the upcoming camp whilst the kids were in their shared parenting time. Your ex never use to arrange anything before as you were the organised one and did those things when you were together.

You might think to yourself, oh well they will be the one letting the kids down if they don’t get the form filled in and sent back to school by the deadline. You may hope the kids get to see that you are the go-to parent to make things happen. In allowing your ex and your kids to be stressed about getting the form populated and sent in by the deadline isn’t putting your kids at ease that they will be able to join their school friends on camp. Offer to your ex to arrange it and if they don’t take you up on the offer, wait until the deadline and go to the school, sign the form and submit it to avoid the kids missing out.

You will always be parents even though you are no longer partners. Be united to make life easier for everyone which minimises conflict, makes the kids feel supported and reduces stress for everyone in the family. Be a good role model, as your kids are watching and learning from your behaviour, both good and bad!

If you need help to deal with challenges to separate how you feel about the breakup from your coparenting responsibilities then reach out to a Divorce Coach, Parenting Coordinator or do a parenting after separation course.

Author – Cheryl Duffy, Divorce Coach, Mediator & Author

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