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Hurting Your Co-parent: Blowback is Inevitable

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As I move into a new period of my life, one where I have a house and enough money to pay for normal things, I’m still so confused about my ex-wife’s attempts to destroy me. Sure, she was mad about something. She didn’t want me writing a blog about my experience. Okay, fine. But, it’s *never okay to attack your co-parent.* Never. Ever. Shitting on your co-parent will always come back to you. There’s no escaping karma. Is that why my ex-wife looks so exhausted these days? She’s a year younger, but… (I’ll stop before I put my foot all the way in my mouth.)

What About the Kids?

In all the discussions leading up to divorce the phrase “in the best interest of the children” comes into play a lot. It’s argued that what is “in the best interest of the children” is that we do it the way I want to do it. When it came to being co-parents together, my ex decided she didn’t need to keep me in the loop on most things. That’s not what we agreed to in the parenting plan, but we already knew she wasn’t really all that honest about things while we were married, why would she become trustworthy in divorce?

If you are truly in support of your children, you’d also recognize that dads are just as important as moms. It’s true. You would’ve abided by the shared parenting plan. But you didn’t, because you didn’t have to. “In the best interest of the children” became what’s in the best interest of mom.

Where Will They Live?

About a year and a half into the divorce my ex-wife decided on a more aggressive approach. She threatened me with turning our decree over to the AG’s office for “collection.” (I wrote an entire book about it: Fall of the House of Dad.) When a middle-class white woman files her child support case with the state, it is often more about punishment than money. My ex-wife had no worries that she wouldn’t get paid. She wanted to hurt me, and crush the refinance options I was exploring to keep my starter home. She didn’t care.

I don’t know, maybe she wanted the kids full-time. Maybe she wanted me to go away. If I would become a deadbeat dad, and leave town, or leave the country, she could have 100% of their time.

What she didn’t think of was me. And, she really wasn’t thinking of the kids either. Where was I going to live? If I didn’t have rooms for the kids, where would I keep them on my weekends? How was attacking me, forcing me to sell my house, “in the best interest of the kids?”

Much of my experience of divorce has been colored through this harsh and vindictive lens. I’ve coached divorced parents who actually work together, who actually want the kids to be happy with the other parent as well. In my 12 years under the AG’s “enforcement” thumb, my ex-wife made things as difficult as possible for me. If I could afford to keep the kids on my weekends, that was fine. If I couldn’t, that was more time for her. I know it sounds surreal, but it’s just how things went down.

Would You Damage Your Co-parent’s Livelihood?

It’s not in my comprehension how my ex-wife’s anger turned into self-destructive rage. Why would she destroy my credit and my homeownership? What’s in it for her if I suffer?

Here are a few rules she could’ve used as guardrails.

  • Never attack or harm your co-parent
  • Always share responsibility for the divorce
  • Give the benefit of the doubt to your co-parent
  • Your co-parent is also the kids PARENT
  • Arrows fired at your ex-partner will hurt your kids
  • Always take the high ground
  • Don’t fight back (what’s the effect of one person fighting?)

When the divorce is done, keep your co-parent in your heart. It may not be easy for you. You can see that it’s not easy for your kids. Make things a little bit easier, by being kind and considerate to the other parent in your kids’ lives.

Love your kids enough to leave your ex in peace.


John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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