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Boundaries for co-parenting

Old 01-23-2011, 12:54 PM
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Boundaries for co-parenting

With some very strict boundaries for my kids STBXAH is able to now spend two days a week with them and that seems to be going alright. For the most part he has even been easy for me to deal with. Just having the kids ready when I come and I can just leave with them.

It was different when I picked them up on Thursday this week and he was being super emotional. He was telling me what a horrible person I am for ruining his life. Telling me how hard his life is and then crying at me. I know better, but it is still hard to be around.

Well this turned into a series of emails from him that started out confrontational and then turned into begging me to come back. I shouldn't have responded and I know that, but I at least held my ground with him and saying I wasn't coming back. However, the end result was I agreed to meet him on Monday and talk to him in person about some things.

He was implying that he wanted to find a "less extreme" relationship with me and a middle ground and that is why he wanted talk. I have been thinking about it, though, and while I do feel we should be civil for our kids I am not sure how much more I can really give to the relationship and still continue to define myself separately from him. Initially I thought being friends might be ok and that the larger issue was living with him and his problems, but I don't think you can really be friends with someone who is constantly trying to win you back and is unstable in their emotions and behavior towards you.

Anyway, my question was...what boundaries do others have in co-parenting relationships with their xA's when it comes to themselves? I think I know what boundaries I need for the kids, but I feel confused about how to approach my relationship with him and when I go talk to him tomorrow I want to be armed with boundaries and a clear image of what I can and cannot be to this man.
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Old 01-23-2011, 01:01 PM
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At this point, anyway, it appears you cannot "be" anything in terms of a relationship with this man, except as it concerns your parenting obligations. He needs his own support system, without you in it.

I am exceptionally fortunate that my kids' dad was sober for fifteen years when we divorced. Though we went through some rocky times during that process, we came out of it good friends and we are able to be emotional support for each other in ways that have nothing to do with the kids. That is the EXCEPTION. I don't think it is possible or realistic for most people to maintain anything more than a civil relationship where you cooperate regarding the children.
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Old 01-23-2011, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by LexieCat View Post
At this point, anyway, it appears you cannot "be" anything in terms of a relationship with this man, except as it concerns your parenting obligations. He needs his own support system, without you in it.
I think that is true for me and I am trying to figure out how to express that to him. I was just curious what types of boundaries different people have set with xA's they still associate with for parenting.
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Old 01-24-2011, 04:11 AM
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Axw likes to play the "hey, let's be friends and chit chat" card most of the time. She lives in a reality of her own making, alcohol induced of course.

I no longer accept people with her level of denial, of basic reality, as friends. It messes with my own sense of self, kind of like enabling. She's in la la land, I understand why, but I don't have to be there with her.

So I'm not rude, just mater of fact, and when the conversation begins wander from kid stuff, I just excuse myself.

I also would add, that if you don't want to "meet" with him to placate whatever HIS feelings are, don't. You don't owe him anything, that ship has sailed. Too bad. He'll get over it, or not.

I also don't return multiple phone calls a week, once a week contact is plenty for me.

Thanks and God bless us all,
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Old 01-24-2011, 05:14 AM
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You can change your mind about the meeting.

My ex swings between extremes: horrible, verbally abusive, paranoid behaviour on the one hand and overly-friendly lets spend time together watching movies, wanting to give me hugs, chat about his life on the other.

People who split up and have to remain in contact for the sake of the children often have difficulties negotiating the new relationship and it takes a while to settle down. Add into that on-going addiction, and everything that goes with it and that is a thousand times harder to get into an acceptable rhythm.

I don't want to be his friend and I don't want him to be mine, not at this point, I know all he could handle is a false friendship entirely based on his needs and perceptions, and that if I put a foot wrong in his eyes (any boundary enforcement or stating at all) he swings back to verbal abuse.

All I want is the basic civil interaction I would have with anyone else, a sort of business acquaintance: the business being raising our children. I don't want to watch a movie with him (we don't like the same movies anyway), or chat about what he's been up to over the week, or how tired he is because he "had to" sit up til 5am playing computer games online.

I don't divulge any info about my life (he doesn't ask, except to try and find evidence for the boyfriend/s that he is convinced I have), I try and limit contact, because the more time I spend in contact with him the more I have to repeatedly enforce boundaries and that sucks my already depleted reserves of patience/time.

I rarely bother stating my boundaries to him, as they always go unheeded, or he tries to argue me out of them: I just cut short the contact. My boundaries are pointers for me which cut down the crap in my life, not rules for him to live by; he's not a toddler, it's not my job to teach him how to behave.

Where possible I do everything by email, and I ignore any content that is not strictly business and civil about the kids/divorce logistics. This often means I write a big angry reply and sit on it for 2 days then chop out all the emotional stuff to a couple of simple sentences, or delete the whole thing.

It's by no means perfect. There are still times I let it get to me, in general those are when I'm already running on empty: I find it particularly hard when he's being "nice" (inappropriately over-friendly, wanting to spend time with me etc), as he won't take a simple no for an answer and badgers me. I haven't perfected the boundary holding in this situation as I still feel bad if someone comes asks nicely and then has hurt feelings if I say no. Even though logically I know that their feelings are their responsibility, and if they can't accept a civil "no" then it wasn't really a request it was a demand dressed up in nice words, followed by a lot of pressure.

In fact my ex’s MO appears to be that if he thinks he is slightly out of order with a demand, he'll go in guns blazing "attack being the best form of defence" and all. If he feels completely entitled he will ask nicely, but it never occurs to him that anyone could/would/is entitled to say no, so he is mystified, and very affronted when they do. He thinks the very act of asking rather than taking means that everyone will acquiesce.


sorry, I've used your thread to work through some stuff from the weekend: good luck, it ain't easy!
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Old 01-24-2011, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by JenT1968 View Post


sorry, I've used your thread to work through some stuff from the weekend: good luck, it ain't easy!
Don't be that is kind of what I was looking for. It is always nice to hear from others in similar situations and see how they handle it or if nothing else feel a sense of not being alone. Thanks for the post.
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Old 01-24-2011, 02:10 PM
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There are days when I read this forum and think that I could have written almost every post myself. Your post is one of them.

You are in your full right to cancel that meeting if you feel it's something he manipulated you into saying yes to when you really don't want to.

I wanted to say that first, because I've been exactly there: Agreed to a meeting "because we need to be on amicable terms for the sake of the kids" only to realize that, wait, he's just pulling me in again -- this is not about what the kids need or about what I need -- it's about him, again.

I can tell you what I've done: I have limited our contact to e-mail, other than in emergencies. Now, he and I define emergencies differently -- for me, that would be "our child has a gaping wound and I'm in the ER," for him it's "DD can't find the charger for her phone"...

I have told him in no uncertain terms that I want minimal interaction between us. I keep my e-mails very brief and to the point. When he goes off on a rant and accuses me of being the cause of everything evil under the sun, I ignore it. I've also told him that if the communication veers away from things pertaining to the children, I will hit delete and not look back -- so if he has important things to tell me, stick to that, or chances are, I'll never read it.

(I don't delete, of course -- I archive those rants.)

I've had really good counselors who have been good at catching me when I fall back into the enabling codependent behavior, because when you've lived like that for a long time, it's very easy and natural to fall into the "oh, he needs me, of course now that I've been the mean 13itch from he!!, I have to run to his rescue."

As someone here said -- if a guy needs rescuing, call the Coast Guard.

It's not easy to find your own footing and your own boundaries, but you can, and you will -- we can and we will -- one step at a time.

And I agree with every word of what Ceridwen said.
I don't want to be his friend and I don't want him to be mine, not at this point, I know all he could handle is a false friendship entirely based on his needs and perceptions, and that if I put a foot wrong in his eyes (any boundary enforcement or stating at all) he swings back to verbal abuse.

All I want is the basic civil interaction I would have with anyone else, a sort of business acquaintance: the business being raising our children. I don't want to watch a movie with him (we don't like the same movies anyway), or chat about what he's been up to over the week, or how tired he is because he "had to" sit up til 5am playing computer games online.

I don't divulge any info about my life (he doesn't ask, except to try and find evidence for the boyfriend/s that he is convinced I have), I try and limit contact, because the more time I spend in contact with him the more I have to repeatedly enforce boundaries and that sucks my already depleted reserves of patience/time.

I rarely bother stating my boundaries to him, as they always go unheeded, or he tries to argue me out of them: I just cut short the contact. My boundaries are pointers for me which cut down the crap in my life, not rules for him to live by; he's not a toddler, it's not my job to teach him how to behave.
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Old 01-25-2011, 03:12 AM
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My boundarie with STBXAH is to do only what I'm comfortable with. Right now that is NC unless it is something to do with legal stuff as we are going through divorce right now, as we have agreed on everything and we have one lawer representing both of us.
And I keep that contact only when apsulutely necessary and even that does me some harm, as it takes me at least a day to come back to my senses, as he always manages to manipulate me into feeling all kind of stuff, guilt and the rest. And than I have to play the whole tape back again, like: he is the one who drank every day, who continues to drink even though he'll die soon, he is the one who told me nothing but lies, the one who cheated on me for years and I never knew, who stole from me...., so I have to put all those pieces of madness back together to create one picture that tells me again I want nothing to do with him, I want to run away from him as far as possible.

Maybe there are some people out there who can remain friends with their XA's and be unaffected by it but I am not one of them. There is a good reason I'm divorcing him, and that is the fact that he has hurt me more than I even like to admit. He is toxic to me, and I'm toxic to me when he is close to me. I do feel tempted to call him every day to see how is he doing, is he still alive, but I don't. I know that is my weakness, the very thing that kept me captive of insanity for too long. I chose a life without him, and there is only one way to do that: have him out of my life.

I don't answer his calls, if he wants to speak to kids, he can phone them. But they don't want to see him either or to speak to him most of the time. I felt very bad because of it for a while, as it felt like I'm denying him his right to see his kids, but I finally realized that has nothing to do with me, I never spoke ill to kids about him, they have as much right to feel they do as I do. he has made his own bed.

None of this is easy, but I so hope that it will get in time.
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Old 01-25-2011, 04:38 AM
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i don't think i would go to a meeting with a man who is trying to manipulate me to get back together.

it's hard enough separating, without re-engaging in quacking.

i always worried about hurting his feelings, but then i reminded myself, was he worried about hurting my feelings when he was out drinking? when i didn't know where he was? when he lied to me?

crystal, i will share that everytime i re-engaged in such conversations with mine, i got sucked back in. and he would be good for awhile, until he felt i was back on board, and then it all just started over again.
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