Parenting Energy too Precious to Waste

I frequently meet with parents who are absolutely livid because they totally object to the types of things their ex-partners are doing with the children. The clients report that when the children return home it takes them two or three days to get back into the swing of things, they complain that the other parent doesn’t make them do chores, and the children threaten to go live with that other parent in fits of anger. The parents that come see me want to spend great lengths of time telling me what jerks the ex-partners are and tell me about all the things they are doing that are making their lives miserable. They want to convince me that what the exes are doing is wrong and it needs to stop. They want someone to empathize with them about how hard their life is. Okay. The ex is a jerk. He or she is making your life miserable. What he or she is doing is wrong and it needs to stop. Your life is hard. Now what? The problem is not what the ex is doing now. The problem is that you make an extremely bad choice in who to have children with and you are currently paying for that bad choice as we do with all bad choices we make. Or, if the ex is a fairly good person who just turned crazy once you became divorced or separated, perhaps you made a bad choice to stop working on your relationship and break up and now you are now having to cope with the consequences of your decision, as we all must do when we make decisions that result in negative outcomes. The point is, stop focusing your energy on your ex. You can’t control them now any more than you could when the two of you were together and you know how much that was. There’s really no point in trying. If you were interested in working out your problems with that individual, you would have stayed together. If the two of you could cooperate together, you would have done it while you were together. It makes no sense to think the two of you would be able to cooperate now if you couldn’t do it while you were together. Once you stop focusing your energy on your ex you can focus your energy where it can make a difference – on yourself and your children. Use your energy to learn to make better decisions. Use your energy to serve as a good example to your children. Do the things that you want them to do and they will copy you. Take your energy and use it to read bedtime stories, give hugs, laugh at their jokes, and blow up balloons for parties. Time and energy directed at your ex-spouse is simply wasted resources and chances are that your resources are just too scarce to be wasting them.

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