I Don’t Have Control Over The Way My Ex-Husband Parents My Kids

I Don’t Have Control Over The Way My Ex-Husband Parents My Kids When They’re With Him

November 8, 2020 Updated November 12, 2020

Serious father and studious son looking at laptop on table
Maskot/Getty

My ex-husband moved on to a serious relationship a few weeks after he moved out. Within a year, they were living together. Within a few months of another woman meeting my kids, they all went to Florida together.

He is stricter than me and takes their cellphones away and limits their time with them. He thinks I take them out for fast food too much.

I don’t check the parent portal everyday to see how they are doing in school, but he does.

I decided not to introduce them to anyone I was dating until I knew it was going to be serious, and I’ve decided not to move in with anyone until my kids are out and living on their own.

He and his girlfriend enjoy a few drinks in front of the kids; I don’t.

I let them have friends spend the night whenever they want, and that’s not his jam.

He’s given them consequences when they don’t treat his girlfriend’s daughter the way he thinks they should.

He goes away a lot with his girlfriend, and I prefer to stay at home and not give up time with my kids since I only see them part time.

I’m telling you all of this to illustrate the point that my ex and I parent differently. We have different views about what you should and shouldn’t do in front of the kids. We both feel one is too lax in some areas and too strict in others.

But to save our sanity, we both acknowledge that we have zero control over the way the other parent treats our children when they are with the other parent.

Now, I’m not talking about a dangerous situation where I send my kids somewhere and I don’t feel they are safe. I’m talking about a difference in the way we parent our kids — that’s it.

We try to stay on the same page as much as we can to be consistent for the kids, but the reality is this: we don’t have the time or energy to try and match or manage the way one another parents. My main goal is to be there for my kids and make sure they are happy and healthy. That isn’t done by trying to control how my ex parents them.

A few months ago, my daughter messaged me because (according to her) my ex’s girlfriend’s daughter was taking her makeup and hair stuff and hiding it in her room. This wasn’t the first time it has happened, and I’ll admit, I was irritated.

I could have called my ex and told him how to handle the situation. I could have ripped him a new one for not taking care of this sooner, and making my daughter feel uncomfortable at his house. 

But I had to stand down and tell my daughter to go talk to her dad and his girlfriend and they would make it right.

Believe me, I wasn’t doing a happy dance when he decided to live with someone else and I knew my kids were going to have to adjust so soon after getting used to our divorce. I didn’t love that she posted pictures of them on Facebook, or the fact that they went on family vacations early on. 

My kids were happy though. That was worth biting my tongue over.

My ex-husband may be different than I am, but I know he is a good father regardless of how we feel about each other. I’m not here to blast him and nitpick every little thing. All that does is make things worse and more complicated for our kids, and they don’t need anything extra to stress about. 

After seeing how Megan Fox called out Brian Austin Green on his personal Instagram page for posting a photo of their kids for Halloween, I was like, “No, no, no!” I have no idea what’s going on here, but as a co-parent you have to let go when your kids aren’t with you. You have to. Not just for their wellbeing, but for yours. If you know your kids are safe and well-cared for, fucking let the rest of it go and tend to your own damn self. You will be happier, I promise. 

It’s called being an adult and realizing this is part of the divorce package. You can’t micromanage the other parent. You are allowed to disagree, argue, and not see eye to eye. In fact, there’s a 100% chance that will happen. Divorce sucks balls, but what we have to remember when we are co-parenting is that our kids absorb the negativity we feel when we talk about our exes and take up issues with them in front of our kids — online or not. That stuff sticks in their heads.

I know how hard it is. I also know you aren’t made to be perfect and never slip up or have a weak moment. Those moments will definitely happen. We all deal and cope with divorce differently, but the importance of realizing when we are saying something harmful or acting out because of hurt and in front of our kids to make a jab at our ex, doesn’t really hurt the other parent. It does hurt our kids, though, and during those times when you want to go off, it’s important to remember the long game and call a friend or therapist to vent instead — then take it up with your ex one-on-one. 

Believe me, I lived it as a child of divorce, and I’ve seen what it’s done to my own kids when their father or I have said or done something we shouldn’t have. It will never be worth it, that’s for sure.