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?