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Monday, January 16, 2012

Co-Parenting Compromises

You've got to make it work, no matter how bitter was the end of your relationship.  Somehow you and your babies' Daddy have to work together, communicate and provide consistency for the children.  To that end, compromise will be necessary and so it is necessary to choose your battles.
There are little things that my Ex does which I would not choose and rather annoy me, but they are not causing harm to my children and I cannot control the issue.  Trying to monitor or enforce my will on the situation would only create conflict and a more antangonistic relationship.  It would not benefit the children in this case for me to 'get my way.'

So, if my children come home excited that they got to sleep in their day clothes, I cringe inwardly, but let it go.  However, if they explain they don't brush their teeth because there isn't time, I express to my ex the priority of them learning proper hygiene and it must come from both parents. 

Here is a filter through which I try to discern whether addressing a situation is necessary:
  • Is this (whatever this happens to be at the moment) something that happens often, or it is a one-time thing?
  • How does my child feel about it?
  • What message is this communicating to them?
  • Is this a matter of principle or a personal preference?
  • Do I actually have a say on the issue?
There are lots of things I hear once or twice and dislike, but I know that I'm not perfect either and sometimes things just get crazy with three children.  If they skip brushing their teeth one night, all will survive.  However, when it happens everytime or they aren't given the option, it's necessary to confront the co-parent and find a way to work toward common goal.  I know Daddy doesn't want them to have rotten teeth, he needs to remember the priority.  I could sense that my older two were especially aware that this was something they were supposed to do, and unable.  It doesn't need to be spoken that this was a matter of principle and not personal preference - it mattered for the hygiene and the message that self-care is important.  And while it might not seem that I have a say on the issue, I do.  I know that if my ex consistently ingored the basic hygiene of my children, I would have to take steps that insured they were not with him when they needed the care.  In other words, his visitation schedule would have to change.  He doesn't want that, so I do have a say in the matter.

Another thing that might make me cringe is the state of my daughter's hair while she is with Daddy.  She has beautifully long hair which is thin and wispy.  I keep it neatly brushed and pulled away from her face.  While she is with Daddy, it is left to hang free, just long and everywhere.  She looks unkept in my opinon.  However, I know that in just a few years she will be able to do her own hair, in fact I've already started teaching her to put on her own headband.  I know that ex has no interest in learning to properly pull her hair back and that there is little I can do to enforce my wishes.  So, I have to let this one go.  It's not what I would choose, but it isn't worth the battle.

There are lots of preferences I'm sure he would change in my parenting style, too.  Yet we're learning to allow the other to have freedom in the preferences.  He calls when something concerns him and I do the same.  By not bringing up every issue, the important ones can be dealt with.

I can think of so many small and large situations that I've had to determine to either suck up and let go, or confront and insist on change.  It's part of the ongoing dance.  Does anyone else deal with this?


  1. I have dealt with some of the same issues with my oldest, now 22, with her father. I found that she understand the need for self-care, and I enstilled it in her by sending her with her favorite body wash, and a spare toothbrush and toothpaste just for those visits. It didn't take long till her father decided to take action and ensure she had them and used them at his house.
    I'm not sure if this helps any, but it worked with my daughter's dad.

    1. I've long thought one of the best things my mom did in their divorce was to refrain from speaking ill of my dad in front of me. They disagreed, but I didn't find out till after my wedding that she had ever been angry with him about my care and the money/time it took.

    2. You are exactly right. You can never put the other parent down. Even though I always defended and made millions of excuses for the things my ex would say or do, my daughter had to tolerate nasty things him and his wife would say to me and about me to her. They're both very verbally aggressive people which always made me wonder if my passivity was the right way to handle it.
      Anyway, she's doing amazing, and our mother/daughter relationship is as good as it gets. Her relationship with her father? It's occasional, once or twice a month phone calls, and her forgot how old she was during the last one. REALLY.

  2. I feel that often parenting styles are polarised by gender - with women TENDING towards being more organised etc and men TENDING towards less. What matters is what your child feels. I knew a man who did NO care of that kind for his daughter when she stayed (fortunately her hair was not long!). I remember her clothes being filthy and too small. Although I would never have cared for my child that way in a way it doesn't matter - it isn't actually harmful to the child. But as they get older they usually want to look a certain way, and any parent should help their child to have a healthy self image.

  3. awesome text about all problems of childtime..

  4. Wow I can most certainly relate with you on this one. I would actually be happy if it was just a matter of my daughter's hygiene at stake. In addition to not brushing her teeth (she's 18 months), he feeds her too much junk, and also his car is not safe to drive (it needs news tires, they are bald). So I told him he cannnot drive her until he gets the tires replaced but he just argues and says "oh stop worrying, it's fine". I don't know if there is anything I can do but when it comes to my daughter's safety, that is where I draw the line. I do agree with you about picking your battles. The unsafe car is a battle I am trying to fight but haven't yet won. Any suggestions!?