Trying to be civil around my son’s father is possibly the single most difficult thing that I’ve had to do – aside from giving birth and raising my son as a single mom. Ok, so it’s not the single most difficult thing that I’ve done, but it ranks really high.
But in the past year, I have built a better relationship with my son’s father and just by using these 9 tips! But realize, this is more for those that are attempting to have a better relationship for the sake of the children. If you’re trying to get back together with your child’s father, then this is not the post for you.
This post is focused more on the single mom perspective, but please know that this works for all single parents!
1. Do you really want this? Decide why you want a better relationship with your child’s father. Is it so that your child can have a relationship with their father? Are you tired of the constant fighting and arguments? Do you just want to be the bigger person? Figure it out. Don’t push for a better relationship with your child’s father until you realize the true reason why you want it.
2. Release the emotional baggage. Did your relationship end poorly? Did you take him to Maury and you got all up in his face when it was confirmed that he was the father? Are you angry at him for taking care of another child and not taking care of yours? These are legitimate reasons to be bitter or angry, but it’s not helping anyone to hold onto that. Is it going to benefit your child? No. Is it going to help you in the long run? No. So, let go of it. Stop rehashing it and let go of the past – remember that you’re doing this for your child.
3. Come up with a plan. One of my goals for this year is to stop planning everything, but you know what? Sometimes it’s necessary to plan things. Why go through all this when you don’t have a plan for what you hope to achieve? You just want a good relationship with your child’s father? Or do you want to figure out the best way for your child to have his father in his life and have everyone happy too??!! A plan is a good way to keep you both grounded and focused. If you haven’t set up regular visitation, come up with a plan. If you haven’t set up child support, figure out how you can split things up. Although it could be a painful conversation, it’s a necessary one and neither one of you will be trying to read each others mind – it will be clear how to move forward.
4. Have an open discussion. Sit down and have a conversation with your child’s father. Go to a public place and have lunch, especially if you anticipate an argument or confrontation. Be open and honest about your desire to have a better and more positive relationship with them for the sake of your child.
5. Expect resistance. Just because you are ready for a better relationship and you’ve determined your focus, doesn’t mean that your child’s father is ready. And don’t get angry about that! Even if he’s ready too doesn’t mean that there won’t be resistance. Be prepared for this to take some time.
6. Include him. Will your child be the tree in his school play? Is he auditioning for the math club? Invite your child’s father to be a part of it. Even if he doesn’t show up, he will appreciate your desire for him to be a part of your child’s life. And if he doesn’t show up, send him a picture of your child at the event and give him a call with an update on what happened. Trust me, he’ll appreciate it – and he’ll probably show up next time.
7. Mention the positives; don’t always point out his faults. I have a really bad habit of pointing out something negative in my son’s personality and claiming “that’s his daddy in him.” I’m joking most of the time because my son is very much like me, in too many ways. But he has some really good qualities from his father. When I speak to his father, I mention that our son is really good with tools (he really is, he can name every tool in the toolbox) – his father is really handy and can rip a car apart and build it back up. You can hear the sense of pride in his voice when I mention these positive qualities.
8. Stop making threats, make promises. This is a biggie…so he did something to piss you off? Then be angry and let him know that you are. Stop threatening to take your child away. Now, this is an entirely different story if he is placing your child in an unsafe environment or causing physical harm. Then, this is even more important – stop making threats, take your child away! But for the every day stupid stuff, go back to having a conversation and level-set the situation. Many times it is needed to just reset the relationship, then things are better than before.
9. Time can be your best friend or your worst enemy. In time, things will get better or it could get worse – who knows. But you’ve got to put in the effort to make things a little better to benefit your child. It may be a bit rough around the edges and you may fall back into your bad habits, but at the end of the day, it could be a lot better than before.