Q. During the holidays my ex suggested we celebrate together (we have three children) for the sake of “family unity.” We broke up three years ago and have worked through a lot of drama, but for some reason she has decided she wants to try again. I do not want to reconcile or spend the holidays together. Because I said no, she then told our kids that I was the reason we were no longer a family. What’s good ex-etiquette?
A. Lots of red flags here, and the fact that you don’t want to celebrate with your ex is the least of them. It sounds to me like you and mom are not on the same page about a lot of things.
First, celebrating with your ex as a family over holidays like Christmas, Hanukkah or Thanksgiving sends a different message than both parents attending your child’s soccer game or birthday party. If you are going to attempt to celebrate together, say, over Christmas, you must project the right attitude all year round, which is one of cooperation in the name of co-parenting after a breakup, not pick a holiday significant of “family” and then with no warning make someone look like the bad guy because they won’t play along.
As I read between the lines of your email, the bigger issue is how out of tune you and mom seem to be. It is evident you don’t have a forum in which to calmly problem-solve.
The obvious answer is to put your issues aside and talk honestly about what you both really want and what you want to project to your children. However, many in your position don’t know how to do that.
If this is you, you are a perfect candidate for co-parenting counseling. Although you may discuss reconciliation, more it is to help you examine your current and future goals, acknowledge your mutual interests and guide you through making a plan to successfully raise your children together even though you are no longer a couple.
You will find helpful articles on the Bonus Families website, keyword “co-parenting” or “contract.” That’s good ex-etiquette.
Dr. Jann Blackstone is the author of “Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation,” and the founder of Bonus Families, bonusfamilies.com/Tribune News Service