He's driving me nuts! Co-parent edition
June 23, 2014 2:55 PM Subscribe
The person in question is my significant other’s ex, I’ll call Steve. We share custody of the kids (3 under 12 years). Their separation agreement calls for the responsibility/decision making for the kids to be shared 50/50. The kids go back and forth between houses. In reality, we do much more than our share. A recent conflict has left me searching for a new outlook on Steve. I’m tired of being frustrated and angry with his behavior and attitude. I need to find some peace.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (22 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The details: Steve is educated, bright, 30-something from an upper-middle class background, employed in a stable job with a good income. He owns a vehicle and lives in nice part of the city. While covering the basics of everyday childcare (feeding them, helping with homework, taking them to school), Steve has a history of being reluctant to take on ad hoc tasks such as schedule or take them to appointments, haircuts, baths, back to school shopping, school field trip prep, registering or take them to sports or activities. He won’t take initiative to do these things, and if asked he sometimes agrees, but often doesn’t follow through (though I suspect he means to, he is just terribly disorganized). The result - we manage that sort of work.
The specific incident: The children, as children do, have grown throughout the school year and Steve hasn’t removed too-small clothing from their wardrobes, or purchased larger sized clothing. The kids, when he dresses them, have been wearing clothes that are clearly too small. That puts the onus on us get larger clothes, and weed out / reallocate small clothes. We asked Steve to participate in updating their wardrobes. He blew up. His position, as best as I can understand it, is that he adds value in other ways, and can’t be held responsible to participate (while also claiming that he does buy them clothes, but that they ‘go somewhere’). He went on to bemoan his lot in life, saying he is too busy, that he does 50% of the childcare work and demanding to be recognized as such, and painting himself as a victim.
Steve struggles with keeping up with life tasks – which I have some of sympathy for. His entitlement and unreasonableness drive me crazy. I wouldn’t mind picking up some of his slack if he didn’t demand recognition for every instance where he does a little something more than his usual routine (while maintaining all the while that he contributes 50%). I recognize he isn’t going to change. I have to do the work of making peace with how he is. I have tried a pity approach, but it isn’t working for me. What perspective do you use to not be frustrated by those who play the victim, or don’t pull their weight?