“Think about what’s bothering you most and why”
I sent those words to my ex recently when he was struggling with the challenges of parenting a teenager. I hoped I was being wise, but I was probably being obtuse.
What I was trying to say is that sometimes we don’t realise the real reason we’re angry about something.
In the case of teenagers, it can be that we’re struggling to adjust to them becoming independent human beings, rather than there being something “wrong” they’ve done.
That said, parenting a teen is way tougher than I thought it would be.
I love this meme I saw last week on Facebook about it:
I’m glad my ex and I can discuss our frustrations with each other, even though our parenting styles are quite different.
My wild child ex has become the strict one, while the rigidity of my youth is ebbing away with age.
Ironically, he was the one trying to calm me down during the toddler years.
We might still come to loggerheads at some stage, but so far we’re managing to positively co-parent and I’m hoping we can keep it that way.
So I was a bit shocked when my hairdresser accused me of hating my ex last week. I think he was recalling my bitter rants during the early years post-separation. It rattled me that he thought I still felt that way. I did a full-body scan of my emotions as I sat in the hairdressing chair and thought “Nup, not feeling any hate.”
I stopped hating my ex a long time ago. I hate what he did, but life has moved on and so have I.
And that circles me back to one of my most passionate blog topics. Nothing good comes from holding onto hate. You don’t have to like your ex but, unless they’re being emotionally, mentally or physically cruel, let the anger go.
I saw photographs of Rumer Willis’ 30th birthday over the weekend. They reminded me how much good comes of letting it go. Rumer posted a pic of her divorced parents – Bruce Willis and Demi Moore – cuddling her sisters with the simple caption: “Family.”
Bruce and Demi broke up in 1998, but they’ve put aside the ill will for the sake of their kids. And you can see from the love in everyone’s eyes that it was worth making the effort.
And here they are with daughter Tallulah:
You might wish never to have anything to do with your ex again, but the love you share for your kids will always bind you.
Their happiness and wellbeing are what matters most, not the petty stuff.
Do you speak to your ex the way you’d like them to speak to you?
Do you treat your ex the way you’d like them to treat you?
If you can’t answer “yes” to those two questions, then you are part of the dysfunction.
While you can’t control your ex’s behaviour, you can control your own. If you can’t control your own, it might be time talk to someone who can help you with that.
If you can find it in your heart to treat them with respect, maybe they’ll find it in theirs to do the same.
Many won’t, but it’s worth a try.
You’ll be happier for it and so will your kids.
Song of the day: Sister Sledge “We are family”