4 Ways to Handle an Ex

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A lot of us have exes.

We have to deal with our exes on a regular basis because we share a beautiful child or children with them.

There are certain things that you should never, ever, do when it comes to dealing with your ex in front of your children.

Somebody wrote in the other day.

David,

My ex-wife came to pick up my kids.

Every single time my kids showed her the Christmas gifts I got them, she would make some kind of snarky comment.

My daughter loves stuffed animals, like most daughters probably do, so I got her a whole bunch of new ones to play with.

My ex looked and said, “that’s all she needs, more stuffed animals.”

Right in front of my kids.

I bought my daughter a couple of toys from the Disney store that were apparently repeats. My ex had to say, those are the same ones we have at our house. She even spelled out S-A-M-E over and over again.

My oldest kid knows how to spell, and was watching in disbelief.

There were a few other comments she made that I don’t really feel the need to go into.

How should I deal with this?

1. Don’t engage

Your ex wants you to engage. She sounds like a bitter person. A person who can’t control herself in front of her children because she is angry about the split.

So when she does something like that, she wants you to engage to validate her actions.

I’m sure that was not the first time she’s cut you down in front of the kids. Perhaps it’s something you’ve even spoken to her about.

Realize it’s who she is. She’s not happy and is looking for you to engage. She cuts you down because she sees things that reflect poorly on her. It’s not about you. Classic signs of a narcissist.

Who knows and who cares at this point.

If you’ve spoken to her there’s nothing you can do about it. Just realize this is her behavior, her issue, and the kids are going to start seeing it. The kids understand more than you think about who their parents are.

2. Let it go — they’re just words

A good friend of mine said to me one day, they’re just words and that’s it.

If you engage with an ex, that’s what they’re looking for. It’s a marriage (or relationship) argument and you’re not married anymore. Focus on the relationship you have now. If you are co-parenting, keep the conversations about that and avoid the trap of a ‘marriage’ argument.

Your ex might be looking for confrontation. It’s how they get off. It’s probably what they think is passionate. It’s probably what they witnessed their mom and dad doing to each other when they were a kid.

They are repeating the same pattern.

Ignore it and focus on the relationship you have now, not the one you had in the past.

3. Protect the children

The children are going to see it. The kids are going to know who their parents are regardless of how you imagine you are shielding them. They are remarkably perceptive and intuitive.

If one parent demeans or bad mouths the other to or in front of the children, it’s going to backfire. Every time. A child will always hold this behavior against the parent that spoke badly about the other.

As they mature, they’re either going to walk away from that parent, or they’re going to finally say something to them.

I know how tough it is to deal with an ex, especially when you share kids. But the only thing you can do is be a great parent. And that’s it. Never speak badly about your ex in front of your children.

The ex? Be glad you’re no longer with them. Be glad you’re no longer romantically involved and living together.

4. Focus on the ‘now’

Remember the old adage — sticks and stones may break my bones, but names and words will never hurt me.

They’re just words.

They’re your ex’s own frustrations coming out at you. Their fears, insecurities and doubts.

Focus on what you have to do now, as in today. Once again, realize you just need to be a good parent.

The insults are going to come. Ignore them. After a while, they will stop coming. You have to lead your ex through this jungle by example. Show them what your relationship looks like now.

Don’t engage, don’t talk, don’t comment, don’t defend yourself. That’s what they’re looking for. It doesn’t serve you or mean anything to you today.

That maybe all your ex knows. So you have to be the leader and bring your relationship out of the negative into the positive. Moving forward. That’s the direction of life, forward. And it never goes the other way.

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