Do you co-parent? To wish harm for your Ex is to wish ill for your child.

Many people who live with the ongoing frustration of parenting with an Ex post separation, divorce, or some form of family breakdown, confess to wishing for circumstantial revenge to fall and have their Ex pay — and sometimes not so secretly. It’s the one who laughs or celebrates someone else’s misfortune, devoid of human compassion. This is the parent who gains satisfaction when their Ex suffers an anguish of any sorts. The parent who feels superior because their Ex lives at subsistence levels while they succeed in their career justifying this inequality. The parent who fights for their right to claim more of the possessions to teach their Ex a lesson; or the one who wants their Ex in jail because they fail to pay their share of child support; the parent who’s pleased when another relationship for the Ex fails, or the parent who smirks when the Ex’s poor priorities finally brings calamity and loneliness as its only trophy.

While these sentiments can be understandable when it seems that your schmuck Ex is only capable of living up to one expectation, that being constant disappointment, it has no place inside constructive parenting. Particularly amused watching the movie It’s Complicated where Jane (Meryl Streep) sincerely, yet rather clumsily, says to her close friend how lucky she was that her husband was dead. While her dear friend was left quizzically to ponder how she may be meant to receive such luck, a heart-felt agreement could be felt by all who knew; Jane said what you’d thought for years. When living with the ongoing irritation caused through co-parenting it is easy to believe that if your Ex was no longer in your life, your troubles would indeed melt away, and perhaps it may be easier … but this is not so for your children.

The bond that created life is never broken regardless of any imposed attempts to severe it through living apart or signing a divorce paper deem important. This bond is far bigger than any legal institution could ever conjure up; it’s the very fabric of your child’s makeup and your child wants to at least be given the opportunity to love, and see good, within the two halves that creates a whole them.

Inconvenience, irritation, constant change, and circumstances not suiting you is part of life in a Complex Family. This is not a sentence to parental failure or personal doom for the rest of your child raising years; this is life with it’s gifts carefully wrapped in the paper we’ve called problems. In the moment that these obstacles arise it is your opportunity to lead your children in their further learning and development of themselves.

Your children watch you to learn how they ought to accept or love the less lovable side of themselves. If you wish your Ex to be met with some ill fate to deal with their character’s shadow side, your children learn to loath more deeply this part of themselves. Ironically this is the part that is in need of a greater love-investment than they are currently able to give, and as their parent this is your life-long practice. It’s easy to love the lovable bits – any fool can do that – but to love the unlovable aspects of your children (and Ex) is the key.

Handed to you with the gift of parenthood was the great endowment of love; it’s like receiving the batteries for a present at Christmas. Usually taken for granted, to use this gift of love fully and wisely is to bring growth and development to the more challenging parts of your child’s life — and this includes their other parent. To love your child so fully is to enable them to adjust, heal, and overcome these challenges, granting them the opportunity to live a life of greater abundance and harmony.


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Jill Darcey (author, parent, founder, and speaker) is a mother of three with thousands of hours of experience as a counsellor and coach, and more than a decade of real-time experience with "complex family" parenting --- parenting through separation, divorce or some other family breakdown. Jill is someone who has both vision and wisdom and has learned a lot of what does and doesn't work — and some of it the hard way!

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