Can't we all just get along?
Updated: Mar 29, 2019
It takes a village to raise up kids. When you expand your village by way of remarriage and blending families, this concept needs to be embraced as much as possible. Like it or not, your ex, their new spouse, and their extended family are now present participates and now part of the party. Ignoring or dismissing this fact will only lead to undue and wasted frustration, emotions and energy that would be better spent pouring into acceptance. Acceptance is the bridge you need to be able to put pettiness to the side so that everyone can work together to raise up healthy and well-adjusted kids. (This is the goal, this is why we are all in each other's lives, remember that.)
I have spent so much time upset by my kids' new reality that I let it consume me to the point I couldn't see past my own nose. It wasn't a healthy head space for me to exist in and it turned me into a judgmental, cynical, and negative version of myself, when my kids deserved better. Time, it took time. It also took having said reality in my face consistently for me to get desensitized enough to stop fighting it. I began realizing that all my issues were MINE. I viewed my exes new family through my eyes, with my perceptions and my experiences and my assumptions instead of really trying to see things from my children's viewpoint (which is what actually matters). There was a whole lot of history with both my ex, his new wife and I that tainted how I saw things to be (because if I am being honest, I was horrified at the notion that this was going to be where my kids would be raised up half of the time).
As time went on though, my kids were always happy to go to their Dad's and never spoke of anything alarmingly unkindly about either parent in the household. The consistency of this made me rethink a lot. I I began to ask myself: are my kids loved and treated well at their Dad's?, do they feel happy to be in the other household?, are they taken care of and their needs met?, are they excited to go see their Dad and be a part of that family?, are solid and healthy relationships forming there that they would miss should they come to an end?, do they have rewarding and fulfilling experiences when they spend time with that side of their family?, is it possible that they are more well-rounded kids by experiencing things with the other family that they would otherwise miss out on with me? All my questions came back with a resounding, YES. That really put things into perspective, and allowed me to begin to separate my personal feelings out from my parental duty: to discern what is in the best interest of my kids. Turns out, for my kids, supporting their desires to be a part of their Dad's new life (spouse and new siblings included) is the right thing for THEM. This was the bridge of acceptance for me; it was the freedom I gained from a fight that I would never win.
Power struggles really need not exist when it isn't really about either "power", but about the kids. When you can adjust your mindset to this, it becomes easier to NOT BE BAITED and to step away from unreasonable and unuseful conversations and interactions. The less negativity that you are part of, the more acceptance is easier to embrace because the reality of the situation begins to feel more safe and less alarming. When you are able to see that raising up your children is less about you and most about them, you are able to see more clearly the path you will need to walk and the adjustments you will need to make in your mindset to have them be the best kids and the happiest kids they can be (all things considered).
Some people in my life feel that I am "controlled" or "walked-on" because I choose not to be baited, because as long as the answers to the above posed questions are yes', and my kids aren't abused, neglected or hurt, I choose acceptance in the hopes of being able to work with my ex as much as possible to be on the same page for our kids (don't get me wrong, I still voice my opinions, I just don't fight the reality anymore that I don't hold all the cards and I never will; I am not the only power at be and I am not the only parental influence my kids will have). I operate out of a place of acceptance now which informs my decisions on how to handle interactions with my kid's father and their step-mom. That is what I believe is in their best interest and what is right. People like a fight. People think that by engaging in conflict that you are somehow standing up to something and that says something. But, I'd rather stand up for peace than die in a blood bath of wills; I think that is a more useful lesson. Once you are dead my friends, there's no more influence to be had.