Being a mom is hard AF, and co-parenting with my former husband makes it so much harder. It doesn't help that people say and do horrible things to moms who are trying their hardest to do their best, despite a less-than-ideal situation. Divorce is hard no matter how you slice it, so experiencing the cruelest things anyone could do to a mom who's co-parenting is nothing if not completely unnecessary.
I never thought I would get a divorce. I was raised to think that marriage was forever, especially if you have kids. I think I loved my ex-husband once, but I can honestly say I'm not really sure. We were so young when we met, got married too soon, and our marriage was not good at all. I spent more than a decade believing that all of our problems were my fault, even though he was the one who lied, cheated, stole, and abused. When someone tells you you're worthless every day, leaving them is not enough; you also have to try to silence the voice in your head that tells you that they were right.
Once we had kids, I tried desperately to create a happy life for them while my marriage was falling apart, insulating them from the bad things and being the best mother I could be. When I left him, I had to fight to protect myself, but also to keep my kids safe when I could no longer physically place myself between them. Now, years later, I still hear comments and questions from people about me, our divorce, and our co-parenting agreement. It really hurts. Most of the time, I have no idea what to say and no fight left in me, even if I did.
Co-parenting moms are doing the best they can in a situation that's likely largely beyond their control. It's time for people to stop being cruel and try a little empathy for a change.
Criticize Her Co-Parenting Arrangement
Developing a parenting plan with my ex-husband took almost 18 months of court battles and mediation. Even then, I didn't get everything I had hoped for. My sister once told me that she learned in law school that "in family law, everyone loses." It's so true. It's not perfect, but it's what I have to work with. And getting it changed is not easy, so please stop suggesting that. It takes time, money, and energy that a co-parenting mom doesn't necessarily have. Your comments really hurt.
Tell Her To Suck It Up
Yes, I have to co-parent with my ex. No, I don't have to be happy about it. WTAF?
Tell Her She Needs To Be Friends With Her Ex
No. Not gonna happen. I don't have to be friends with someone who abused me. There's a reason we got a divorce, and I don't care if you think I am selfish. Being friends with my ex-husband isn't going to happen because it isn't a healthy option. In the end, I don't owe anyone my friendship and I don't have to be friendly. I am a grey rock. I communicate enough to make things logistically possible, that's enough.
Demand She Compromise Her Kids' Safety
There are situations in my life and in any family that you don't understand from the outside. Don't make things harder by appealing to my sense of "fairness" when my kids' safety is on the line.
Claim That Her Ex Deserves More Time
Our custody agreement was signed by both of us. We both agreed. It's pretty offensive for someone from the outside to claim that my ex deserves more time with our kids, because he's their biological father. Love and parenting ability are not determined by DNA. Child custody is not about what's fair or equal possession of kid's and their time. Instead and always, it's about what's best for the kids. Those are two different things entirely.
Compare Her To You Or Other "Perfect" Parents
I am so happy that you have an ideal marriage and that your cousin's sister's friend gets along so well with her ex that she goes on vacation with him, blah blah blah. It's cruel.
Make Her Compete In The "Oppression Olympics"
If there's anything that's worse than hearing how much of a better mom you are than I am, because you are still with your partner or you have a great relationship with your ex, it's hearing about how much worse your life is. My life doesn't have to be the worst life imaginable for me to deserve empathy and compassion. Life is relative. The last thing a struggling mom wants to hear is that she doesn't get to feel pain, because it's not the worst thing that can happen to someone.
Invalidate Her Feelings
I am an expert in my own life. You don't get to tell me how to feel about my divorce, ex, co-parenting arrangement, or the bumps in the road along the way. Just stop.
Tell Her She Deserves It
"If you didn't want this to happen you shouldn't have gotten a divorce." Nope. what a horrible thing to say. No one, I repeat, no one, can control the future, but I can tell you with 100% certainty that if I had stayed I would probably be way worse off and so would my kids.
Blame All Co-parenting Problems On Her
I assure you, I already blame myself and I am sure other co-parenting moms do, too. I have to hold my children when they cry because their bio-dad cancelled another visit, freak out when he stops paying child support again, and we have to use our credit card to buy groceries, feel ashamed when I tell people I am divorced, and wonder if I did the right thing. Please don't. It's just cruel.
Call Her A Bad Mom
Women who get divorces are not bad moms. They are often making choices that are in the best interest of their kids and with love and hope for a better future. A relationship failing is bad enough without people judging you for it or telling you that it will ruin your kids' lives.