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So how do you let them off the hook and still hold them accountable?
Re-visiting this because I just had a conversation with a friend and something there made me think of this discussion.
It's the same as hating someone's behavior but not hating the person. Separating the two. Is that more clear ?
Nope. I need a picture painted. How’s does Ms. Butterfly hold ex Mr. Butterfly accountable?
I am compassionate to the person he is, someone who was used as a weapon in the war between his parents, rather than cherished as their son, but I never forget for a second what he's amply demonstrated the damage he's capable of inflicting, and I never put myself in any position where I need anything from him if I can help it at all.
The accountability looks a lot like Hope's version - I'm polite, but there's a reserve that will not be breached. Respect, trust have to be earned. No longer freely given. When he contacts me, getting back to him is not a priority. I get back to him when I have free time to do so - not days later, but not immediately either, unless it's convenient for me. Any response from me is now measured and guarded. He was not listed in my mom's obit (he was listed in my dad's) - they loved him like a son, and I did include him but son deleted him from the final draft. Son didn't feel it was appropriate to the relationship in the last years of my mom's life. I feel in retrospect that decision hurt my exh, and I feel sad about it, but you know, you can't have it all ways, and I recognized that my son was not comfortable with his dad being listed and thought it best to honor my son's wishes over ex's hurt feelings.
I'm not sure how to best explain the accountability as a co-parent, without going into details I'd rather not share, so if this leaves questions I apologize and will answer them as best I can while protecting my son's privacy. My son and I had a hellish 2021. He didn't want his father involved, because he doesn't trust his dad. His dad has given ample and quite valid reasons for this mistrust, completely separate from the divorce. I used to try to co-parent, because this is a serious issue and I needed help, desperately. Once I realized that any involvement of ex's only made things more dire for my son as exh is a major trigger, accountability was me finally recognizing that and dealing with it on my own.
Now, some people may not think of that as accountability. It may seem exh was left off the hook. Not so. When son finally asked me to contact his father to tell him of the most recent episode (last spring), I did so with as much gentleness as possible. Why? Because no one needs to hear arguably some of the worst news a parent can hear in a cold manner.
When exh asked questions I told him the truth, because I won't lie when asked a direct question, which our son knows. When exh realized how many months I had been dealing with this, he asked why he wasn't told. I again told him the truth, our son didn't want him to know. This information really needed to come from our son, as coming from me would only make things worse for all of us. I didn't say, "every time I've asked for your help you've heaped abuse on me, told me I was lying, and reviled me to your AP/OW/new wife" - I didn't need to. He knows what he's done. He knows better than I what he's said and to whom he's spread his version of reality. He's responsible entirely for the fact that neither son nor I trust him enough to have him involved in something as deeply personal and serious as what our son has been dealing with and continues to try to heal from. He doesn't know that some of the few times he's talked to or seen our son have led to a recurrence of the most acute symptoms of what son deals with. What exh has is a very limited and tenuous relationship with the person he loves most in the world, our son, because son doesn't feel it's safe to be on intimate terms with his dad. What exh than usually does is contact me when weeks go by without son returning a call or a text, only to have me say "I'll have him contact you" because I'm not the go-between. That's a wifely duty I no longer have to fulfill.
In ex's case, accountability means watching, from a vast distance, your family move on without you. I do everything in my power to encourage son to try to heal his relationship with his dad, when he's ready. I always stress that exh didn't grow up in a vacuum ... that his role models were not the best. I always stress that we are all human, complex, flawed, doing the best we can and sometimes failing epically ... but that doesn't mean his dad doesn't love him, or that I don't love him. I've told son he will have a price to pay if he cuts his dad out of his life completely, but that I will also respect and support his right to decide the boundaries of their relationship.I pray they find a way to heal, for my son's sake more than ex's, although truthfully, they need each other.