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"what is the point of all this?"

This is an outstanding question to ask. Having purpose in life, I believe, is ultra important to living your best life. If that means religion, great. If it means something else, that is great too. But I cannot imagine going through life with no purpose. With no end goal.

Also, I can tell you that I have witnessed people living purposeless lives in my circle of friends and family, and it seems like such an empty existence. So if that question is coming to you naturally, I think this is another 180/self-improvement opportunity! Find a purpose and live for it. Maybe it is to be the best dad that you can be. Maybe it is to find a vocation that you love and are passionate about. Maybe it is religion. Maybe it is being an inspiration to others, not just your kids.

This is why I encourage LBSs to do self-examination and figure out what their own core principles are, and then to live by those principles! Purpose driven living is fulfilling, rewarding, and satisfying.


M(52), W(53),D(17)
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Great reply SteveLW!

There's great growth in the struggle through this, but you need to "get mean" with it and figure out for yourself how this seemingly horrible experience can actually make you a stronger, better person. That said though...it's a balancing act....don't get yourself stuck on dwelling. You must make the decision internally for yourself to move forward and not let this define your life and the person you are. When you are pushed, you must learn to stand up and keep going. I posted this elsewhere, but sharing here..."you can't be saved by what it was, you can only be saved by what it is"

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Update ~

Coparenting is a continuing challenge. I find that I'm falling back to DB realizations -- in this case, that I'm hanging on to the hope rope of coparenting amicably -- and perhaps I need to let go.

My STBXW has a way of putting the kids in the middle. In one recent case, she had D7 excited about going to an activity during my parenting time before asking me. So then I'm in the position of either asking my boss to work a half day once a week, or disappoint D7.

She has been demanding to know my availability so she can schedule activities (rather than just propose activities). In the past, she used my schedule as part of her argument for why it was okay for the kids not to see me for regular 10 day stretches.

She also has encouraged my kids to ask me to change our custody schedule, which we just spent over a year in court over.

As badly as I want to coparent well, simply for my kids' sake, I find myself thinking I need to detach, let go, set boundaries, and stop renting out free headspace to my STBXW over these issues. Just like DB. It's hard for me to detach because I feel it is worse for the kids if we move to a parallel parenting approach, but at least for now, I don't see a better way.

Elsewhere, things are great. I ran a trail half-marathon recently and am training for more coming up. I'm almost a year into learning Spanish and still enjoying it. Kids seem to be adapting to my new rental house.

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Just do your best. Unfortunately, you can't control her, but I know the temptation to retaliate is probably strong. Just keep putting what's best for your kids first. Filter everything through that, what is best for them.

Congrats on the marathon and the Spanish. Always good to see a LBS doing productive things to deal with their sitch. Rather than self-destructive things. Well done! You're going to thrive again, you're well on your way following the path you're on.


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Hi U,

Hang in there. A few thoughts for you:

Quote
My STBXW has a way of putting the kids in the middle. In one recent case, she had D7 excited about going to an activity during my parenting time before asking me. So then I'm in the position of either asking my boss to work a half day once a week, or disappoint D7.

If you allow yourself to be manipulated on this one, what will she do next? I do agree with Steve that what's best for the kids should be your guiding principle, but on this one, unless it is a truly extraordinary opportunity for your D7, I'd just stick to the schedule and I'm so sorry, D7, we can't do this (but maybe you have another thing to suggest that does work with your schedule that you can do with her). Otherwise, I'm going to bet that more and more of these activities will crop up until you finally break. Don't let her use your children as a weapon against you. If she has a suggestion that works for you and your kids-- great! If she has a suggestion that doesn't-- oh well. You have plenty of activities you can plan, I'm sure, that will be great for your kids *and* work with your schedule. if you worry too much about disappointing your daughter over some unrealistic expectation that her mom gave her, you will always lose.

Quote
As badly as I want to coparent well, simply for my kids' sake, I find myself thinking I need to detach, let go, set boundaries, and stop renting out free headspace to my STBXW over these issues. Just like DB. It's hard for me to detach because I feel it is worse for the kids if we move to a parallel parenting approach, but at least for now, I don't see a better way.

I think detaching and dropping the rope on this one is exactly the right move. I remember in the thick of my sitch what really helped me was thinking-- you can't clap with one hand. It takes two people to be married and it takes two people to coparent successfully. It isn't worse for your kids to parallel parent if coparenting doesn't work or isn't an option. It sounds to me like successful coparenting simply isn't an option for you right now, no matter how much you might wish it would be. So-- focus on those kids and on yourself and be the best dad you can be without letting your ex get in the way.

(((U)))


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Originally Posted by unchien
It's hard for me to detach because I feel it is worse for the kids if we move to a parallel parenting approach, but at least for now, I don't see a better way. I need to detach, let go, set boundaries, and stop renting out free headspace to my STBXW over these issues.
Hi Unchien,

Originally Posted by unchien
She has been demanding to know my availability so she can schedule activities (rather than just propose activities).
Does the label you use--"co-parenting" or "parallel parenting"--change this situation? Why do you feel angst over saying "No"? I'd say "No" even though my ex and I get along well. In general, it's none of her business what my schedule is beyond the agreed-upon custody schedule. Okay, I'd probably actually evade with, "Why do you ask?", and allow her to propose whatever she had in mind.

Originally Posted by unchien
In the past, she used my schedule as part of her argument for why it was okay for the kids not to see me for regular 10 day stretches.
Sounds like baggage. Can you let go of the past, and just say yes or no to the present request?

Originally Posted by unchien
She also has encouraged my kids to ask me to change our custody schedule, which we just spent over a year in court over.
Mine did that, too. "That's a Mommy and Daddy talk. Mommy and Daddy both agreed to this schedule." I refused to engage my kids on that topic. It came up after every handoff for like 3 months.

Originally Posted by unchien
In one recent case, she had D7 excited about going to an activity during my parenting time before asking me. So then I'm in the position of either asking my boss to work a half day once a week, or disappoint D7.
Wow, that's low and manipulative. You won't easily escape this game, either, but I can see why you may wish to reduce communication with her to the most essential items. That might be a wise approach until she reduces the manipulation and you're triggered less by her requests.



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That’s a tough one Unchien. My stepdaughter’s mom used to do that. She’d tell her that Daddy was going to take her skiing all day on her visit and then would mention right before the visit, “I’d like XH to take SD skiing on Saturday.” Sometimes she wouldn’t even do that and we’d hear from SD that mom said Dad was going to… In the meantime, we were both working full time and had two infants at home so he couldn’t just take off for a day and leave me with everything. Whenever that happened, we would just tell SD that we were sorry that her mom promised her but that she hadn’t spoken to us about her plans and it didn’t fit with our schedule. She may have been a bit disappointed but she also learned to take what her mom said with a grain of salt and not to expect it unless we told her ourselves that it was happening. We also set a boundary with her mom and told her not to plan any events for our time with SD. It took a few times but eventually she gave up when she figured out we weren’t going to play the game. Don’t worry about your D7 being disappointed once in awhile. Disappointment is a part of life and too many kids struggle to cope with it because their parents went to such great lengths to prevent it from happening. Think of it as an opportunity for her to develop some resiliency. This is a tough phase to go through Unchien. I promise you that it doesn’t last forever. Just keep being the best dad you can be. (((HUGS)))


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Thanks all for chiming in.

I don't feel angst about saying "no" but there is constant blowback.

I constantly hear how the kids are "struggling" because of what I did or didn't do. She makes it sound like the children are scarred for life because, for instance, I had to move houses recently (I rent). Or I went on a hiking trip and they were worried about my safety. Or I enrolled them in some after-school care.

I don't like the games going on with my kids, but I don't think there's much I can do other than let it go and not react.

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U,

Co- parenting is a super long road with a contentious ex. I know I'm not the only one who's done this a long time on here so I'm sure others can attest to the same thing. You will fluctuate between parallel parenting and true co-parenting from now until the end of time pretty much. My ex's involvement in parenting our D is based on his mental stability and who he's dating. However I'm the default parent regardless. We've had knock down drag out fights like I was ready to drive to his parents' house and go physically fight him in the street and he has like at least 7 inches on me kind of knock down drag out fights. We also have super sweet moments. Like he'll find something of hers from when she was little and send a pic of it to me and ask where that little girl went. Or we can joke about her himbo bf together. It's not a straight line to the finish line. And contrary to popular belief the finish line isn't at 18. I won't even discuss what we deal with with my H's ex. Maybe when you're more settled in to this or if your ExW proves to be crazy pants for the long haul.

Your kiddos are so little that I don't know that family therapy excluding mom or even trying to do what DejaVu did would work right now. I'd suggest both of those in the future.

I think for right now you can set strict boundaries, your decree should have everything spelled out as far as time with the kids. And I'm sure there are penalties. I know it's more money but if she keeps violating the court orders you can take her back to court. It's an option...(I wish there was a shrug emoji). I don't think this is a good time to just kind of let things slide. You may need to dig into the DBing bag and dig out some validation. But you may want to look into some co-parenting classes or books, or difficult communication books. I'd strongly suggest Difficult Conversations. I had to read it for a business related thing but there's a lot in there for more personal convos with difficult subject matter or difficult people. (Crucial Conversations will pop up when you search it. I've also read that for professional reasons. I think the Difficult book is much better applied to real life, and I prefer the methods.)

In the immediate I'd say things like:

-I'd really rather not deviate from the court order right now. I'd really like to stay on schedule for a little while until we get settled in to this routine. Maybe we can discuss day exchanges because of fun plans in the near future once were a little more practiced at this.

-No, I won't be giving up my time unless you plan on a fair day exchange 1 for 1. This is what's court order. I can bend on this so the kids won't be disappointed but that means you need to bend too.

-No, we can't do that. I'm sorry, you'll have to disappoint the kids but this is what's court ordered.

-I don't think it's necessary to assume the kids are struggling with every little change. No one likes change, but kids are resilient and if this change proves to be a continued problem we can address this down the line.

-I'm not saying that these kids aren't struggling, I'm not really seeing the same thing when they are with me. Could you be more explicit in why you feel that way so I can understand better?

-I don't really understand why the kids would worry for me while I'm hiking(etc). On our time I don't concern the kids with where you are or what you are doing on your time without them. That's your time just for you. They obviously miss you but they never worry. Can you help me to understand their anxiety around that better? I'd like to address that with them myself.

This kind of stuff works with my ex, and the exes of friends. I don't know how your ex will take it, but it's worth a try. Warning though, conversations like this are hit or miss with my H's ex. But she's not real good with deescalating conversations. She takes validation and any attempt at cooperation as patronizing even when it's sincere if she's in the wrong head space.

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WF ~ Thanks for the advice. Your last sentence sounds a lot like my STBXW.

Technically she'll be my XW as soon as our final settlement is signed off in court.

Having everything signed off is a huge relief. At the end of the day, we spent a minor fortune just to agree to equal time share and a reasonable financial settlement that I can live with, given the laws where I live. I have to shake my head at the complete waste of it all, given I made essentially that same offer before we ever went to court, but I know I'll be able to get back on my feet and move on.

There were 1 or 2 posters who chimed in anonymously once or twice on my thread who went through similar high-conflict situations. They were spot on. DB has been great for the other relationships in my life (kids, friends, colleagues, family) but the way to deal with XW was to stand up to her and craft and execute a plan.

Coparenting continues to be tough but that's going to be there always. I focus on what I can control and let the rest be noise. I may not like my kids being put in the middle for no reason, but if I can't control it, I just do my best to be there for my kids and ignore the noise.

I had the kids for Thanksgiving this week and we made a little feast for ourselves. It was very special for me -- the first Thanksgiving post-separation that I had them. They all helped cook a little feast (just the four of us) and we treated ourselves to pie for breakfast because, well, why not?

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