My stepdaughter consistently comes home in the exact same clothes we sent her to her Mom's in (down to the underwear) regardless of the weather. We live in an area where there are many ups and downs. For instance, a couple of weeks ago, we sent her to her Mom's and it was in the 80's. The day we got her back, it was in the 50's. She was still dressed in shorts and sandals, no sweater, no coat.
My biological daughters had Labor Day weekend with their Dad and Stepmom this year. They decided to go out of town to a place my daughter's hate going. They've communicated this to their Dad and Stepmom and ask to stay home with me, but are told no.
Within the groups I've worked with, I've heard stories of their kids not having chores at their co-parent's house, being allowed to stay up as late as they want, are seeing things that are not age-appropriate among many, many others. The short story here is that every co-parent will be faced with battles. The question is:
Which hill are you ready to die on?
Hopefully, just asking the question makes you pause and consider what battles are worth it and which aren't. If you've chosen every battle, I would imagine there is a lot of anxiety every time you hear from your co-parent wondering what the next battle will be. I would also predict that your co-parent doesn't communicate with you as often as you'd like (because everything becomes a battle). If you select your battles, how do you decide what's important and what's not? Is it based on your mood? What's going on in your life? How important it seems to your kids? How likely your co-parent is to listen to your side?
Let me help and give you some ideas to help decide which battles are worth it and which aren't.
- Will this matter in the long run? You've heard of the 10/10/10 rule, right? Will this matter in 10 hours? 10 days? 10 years? Spend time on the things that matter rather than the ones that don't.
- Why would I choose this battle? If the answer is "revenge" or "karma" or to "win", know that this is not about you and not about your kids. If your answer is that it makes a difference in your kid's lives, then make sure that stays your focus.
- If this were your friend's kids, would you tell them this is worth the battle? Sometimes, you need to take a step back and see this situation from a completely different perspective. How many times have you been with a friend or a sibling that's venting about their children or their co-parent and you've said, "It isn't worth your time". The same applies here, what would your friends say to you if they were being completely honest?
Is it fair for my stepdaughter to have to tell both her Mom and her Dad that she's cold when it could have been prevented? Not really. Do my kid's feel unheard when they want to stay home instead of going to a place they loathe? Yes, they do. Rather than choosing this as a battle, though, I've learned that offering suggestions calmly and positively makes our kid's thoughts known from another source. I also know that I can't control the outcome.
The moral of this post is that there will always be battles available, but that I'm hoping none of you want to spend the rest of your children's adolescence fighting every single battle there is. There are many more important things to focus on, like your children's adolescence and how quickly they grow.
The days are long, the years are short. Choose your battles wisely. Comment below with battles you've let go of so we can all learn from each other.
When you're ready to face that battle, communicate it in the best way possible. You can learn how to do that in the Co-Parenting Course. Click the button to learn more.