There may be fewer things more frustrating than disagreeing with your ex on a major, or sometimes not so major, decision regarding your children.
Your son wants to go to Europe for the summer. You agree he should go. Your ex says “no way”. Your daughter says she’s ready to date at the age of 14. You disagree. Your ex thinks it’s perfectly fine. What happens now?
History, personalities and magnitude of the decision are all key factors in how it all works out. Below are a few things you can do to ensure the best outcome for you and most importantly for the children:
- Check in with yourself about the true “why” you disagree.
- If it is a safety concern (physically or mentally), and your ex is unwilling to give, then think about mediation as an option.
- Be willing to bend if it’s not a critical issue.
- Be reasonable in picking your battles.
- Ensure that your approach is not aggressive given your disagreement. Explain your point of view rationally and as factually as possible.
- Depending on the situation and without bad mouthing your ex, do discuss the potential outcomes with your children.
- Make every effort to ensure that your children are not caught in the middle.
- Ask questions. Try to understand your ex’s point of view and the “why” behind their decision.
Ego, a need to be right, payback for past hurts and/or our upbringing may play a large role in how we handle these disagreements. As Stephen Covey so intelligently states, we must first seek to understand and then to be understood. Understanding your ex’s point of view may give you a different perspective or better information for stating your case. At a minimum, it could give your ex comfort that you are not disagreeing for the sake for doing so.
Communication is the most important part of any relationship. Even though you and your ex are no longer together, you are still connected. With everything else that we have to deal with in life, minimizing the conflict with your ex and keeping your children first, will serve us well.