You should keep your shoulds to yourself

You should tell him to pick up his stuff.
You should make him take the kids since he promised he would.
You two need to sit down and talk.
You need to make him pay more.

I thought the list of what others thought I "should" or "needed" to be doing was long and irritating after I had kids, but it quadruples once you separate.
Suddenly the end of your relationship becomes the opening everyone was waiting for to tell you how to parent and deal with your ex-partner. Advice can help you see the other side of a situation in which your embroiled, but advice isn’t a "should". It’s something you offer with compassion.

From the moment I put separation on the table my first thought in every decision has been, how do I put my kids first, and then secondly, how do I keep the peace with my co-parent. I can’t think of him as my ex because this person is going to continue to be my co-parent forever. I have to focus on us as being a team, even if it’s a dysfunctional and barely communicating team.

And it is because of that focus that I find people’s forceful directives so offensive. I am doing everything I am capable of already and when the throw out these heavy handed comments like this recent one
"This is ridiculous, you two need to just sit down and talk face to face"
I am genuinely hurt.

I’d love to be at the point where we are able to talk with ease to one another. Where we both have stable homes and our belongings disentangled. And we more equally share the various burdens. But that’s not where we are at…. more so where he is at. I cannot push my agenda forward without my co-parent participating and so all those Shoulds just have to wait till we are on the same page.

This is our family to disentangle and reassemble anew. It is our job to safeguard our kids from the hurt that can be caused by separation and our lives that are directly affected. So friends, family, and those that care, offer support not indictment.

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