Parenting can be incredibly hard. Parenting after a split can be even harder. Parenting when your kids’ father suddenly gets serious with another woman … well, that’s a situation that can easily diminish into chaos. Is it even possible to play nice with your ex’s new significant other or, at the very least, co-parent with your ex while there’s a third party involved in his and your children’s lives?
Of course, it is possible. And here’s how.
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1. Accept the situation. As the saying goes, it is what it is. Unless the new girlfriend is a danger to your children or severely undermining your relationship with them, there’s probably no good reason for you to keep her away from your children. In other words, you must accept what you can’t change, and change the things you can control—like your attitude. When faced with the reality that you can either stew in hate and sow it throughout your family or you can make the transition into a new situation simpler for you and your family, it becomes a lot easier to go with the flow and worry only when there’s something to truly worry about.
2. Remember that she is not the same person as your ex. Whether your ex cheated on you or not (and whether the new girlfriend you have to deal with is that woman or not), she is not your ex. His behavior is not hers. Don’t make any of your ex’s past or present actions her fault.
3. Try to give her the benefit of the doubt. As much as television shows and films would have us believe otherwise, your ex’s new girlfriend is probably not out to get you or replace you with your children. Most likely, she’s feeling just as awkward as you about the situation. If you don’t ascribe deceitful intent to all of her actions (especially the ones you don’t fully agree with), you can start your relationship with her from a place of kindness.
4. Set boundaries—with yourself as well as with her. You are co-parenting with your ex—not her. When there is a parenting issue, ask your ex to keep the discussion between the two of you. Don’t bring every issue to her, as that can give the impression that she is co-parenting along with you and your ex. Also, under no circumstances should you discuss parenting issues with your kids or put them in the middle of adult situations. And if a particular situation is not worth sitting down and discussing with your ex, you should probably let the issue drop.
5. Remember that you don’t have to like her. The above suggestions aren’t in the hopes that you find your new best friend. There’s no need for you to be buddy-buddy or even like her. It’s about your children. If your kids like being around her and she helps care for them, you shouldn’t ask for anything more.
The above tips are based on the advice found in The Kickass Single Mom by Emma Johnson. For more tips on being a kickass single mom, check out the book!
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