Most of my clients are women. They exhibit a specific behavior in relation to their ex. They compensate. If their ex does not behave towards the children as they think he should, then they try to balance things on their side.
I coached a woman with two boys. The boys complained that they had too many duties with the father. The woman listened to the children and decided that they should have none with her. The children soon found out that if I complain about dad to her, then I have my way with her. I will not be “burdened” with anything by my mother.
I asked the woman if she was satisfied with the solution. She was not. She was annoyed with her ex. I asked her to describe what she would demand of the boys if her ex was not part of the problem. The response was immediate. She was not in doubt. The boys would be part of the community and help out.
Do not compensate for your ex. You cannot compensate for your ex. If your kids complain about conditions in their father’s, just listen to them and assess whether it is something you have to agree with him about. Or if the kids are older, they can even take it up with him. The best part is that the challenges are to be solved where they occurred.
It is good to assess whether the problem goes under the category “children’s well-being” or “minor issues.” Choose your battles wisely. If you take the fight with your ex, be aware of your motivation and your way of speaking. Speak gently without anger and condemnation.
When we compensate for our ex, we do so indirectly to make ourselves be heroines and our ex to be the villain. It feels good immediately, but in the long run, we give our ex the power to decide what the kids should contribute, within our own house.
Within our four walls we determine whatever our ex can do. Within our ex’s four walls he determines what works. Everything else creates imbalance, dependency and anger.