Here’s the thing: idealistically speaking, parents bring children into this world together as a team. They have a common goal of raising healthy, well-rounded, independent future functioning members of society. Go Team Go!
Enter divorce and co-parenting…
Despite the circumstances, settlement, time, respect, or care you have for your ex-spouse and co-breeder, deep inside as a parent, divorce changes the game. Sometimes you feel like you are on a different parent team and well, it’s time to play man-to-man defense.
Why? At some point, after a husband and wife go their separate ways, children spend their time in separate parent quarters. One has to think, that there is a level of natural and circumstantial competition between parents that arises. More than likely, who can be the better “liked” parent is a thought that rears its ugly head. I believe we have all felt some natural jealousy, or dealt with competitive feelings in being your child’s number one as a parent anyway, but divorce can take it to another league.
It has been said, okay I said it, that divorce can somewhat be synonymous with competition, especially when children are involved. Before I get any backlash from the perfectly divorced tribe here, I am talking about the first stages of separation, your inner voice, the not so good for the karma, competitive derived thoughts here. In fact, I have a very amicable relationship with my baby daddy, I mean ex-husband.
I think as divorced parents you are really governing on your own, but hopefully under a united front. The goal is to still try and raise your children with the same objectives and ideals you had when there was a ring on your finger, and/or the umbilical cord got cut.
Oh, how easy would it be to let competition take over in the process? Let’s take a peek, shall we?
The following examples, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this write-up, are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.
Bemily (Child): “Mom, Dad’s girlfriend braided my hair. She is so good at it, you can’t even braid at all. She is soooo nice….”
Tally (Mother): “Oh, wow, that does look fantastic. Yeah, I can’t do that. That is so nice of her.”
Lebron (Your Inner Voice): “Can’t do that, but I did carry the almost 10 pounds of you in my body. Oh, I also absorbed the pain of a pinched nerve in my leg for three months while mourning the loss of seeing my ankles for two. Let us never mind, the physical act and trauma of getting you to see the light of friggin day, missy. Did she do that? Kind of a nice thing your old mom did for you too there sunshine. But yes, SHE is sooooo nice…”
Bella (Child): “Dad tried to make your homemade macaroni and cheese. Yours tastes way better.”
Tally (Mother): “Well I am sure it was good. Maybe you can help him next time.”
Lebron (Your Inner Voice): “Damn straight. Mom’s pasta will always be better, just like most of my dinners. Yes, I will also have the better ability to help you with your school work, and make life decisions, and oh, better sense your every single need until the day you die, really. Slam dunk.”
Now I am sure if you thought long and hard, you would be able to come up with perhaps just one “fictional” example as well.
Ugliness, Envy and One Up Manship
In the end, I think competition fever is normal and a side effect of divorce. Here is your support and validation of at least one other parent who has dealt with the ugliness of envy, and one up man ship. Proudly I think most of the time I suppress the green monster and handle it with grace, other times, not so much! (Yes, accidentally hiding your daughter’s sweatshirt gifted by your ex’s girlfriend…not so mature.)
What to do? How do you tame your inner LeBron? You have to harness that competitive feeling and avoid foul play to stay ahead in this “game” of parenting.
Physiologically as humans we should be able to control our instincts. As an adult and responsible human being of another human being, it’s important to control your emotions. I know that taming the untameable is a far cry for a solution. But in the best interest of your child and keeping an amicable relationship with your ex, you should ‘co-parent” like it’s nobody business.
I can only tell you that for me, I try to live by the mantra ”through the eyes of my child.” Look at life from their point of view. That usually helps me hold back my thoughts or actions. When I am feeling the full court pressure I journal to write it out, or I friend to gab it out. You would be surprised what a little time and perspective does. (Tequila doesn’t hurt now and then either;)
Also, think big picture. It’s not who scores the individual basket, but yes, wait for it… the final score as a cohesive mother, father, child team. That is the commonality to hold on to.
A child fortunate enough to have two parents who are living their best lives with their kids at the forefront, teaching and sharing united values, will be a child on a winning team. Alright then, insert applause here, get out of your seat and let me hear some noise!! Because if that is the case, that means in the end, YOU win too.
Originally published at theyouafter.com