Anytime I write about the challenges of being a single mum (which happens to include dealing with a difficult ex), I get comments from folks warning me to make sure I am not alienating my daughter from her dad. To be honest, those comments annoy me, because there’s the whole level of obviously, I am not trying to keep my ex away from our daughter.
I am, however, determined to do right by my child. And often, that means enforcing healthy boundaries with her father. After all, when someone shows repeatedly that they are unwilling to put themselves out for their kid, I don’t believe it’s healthy to keep catering to that parent.
It sets a bad precedent, and it teaches your child that they shouldn’t honour themselves. Or that they should take whatever sh*t a loved one sends them.
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Our kid deserves better.
Over time, I’ve realised that this is a much bigger issue than any breakdown between me and my ex. What makes me so irritated is the way our culture expects me as a single mother to facilitate my ex’s relationship with our daughter.
As if he can’t rise to the occasion of fatherhood himself. Frankly, that’s bullsh*t.
My daughter’s dad already had three sons before we ever met. He was a parent for 10 years before I became pregnant with our daughter. I find it laughable that just because I am a single mum, people believe that it’s my job to ensure that he and our kid enjoy a healthy connection.
When our daughter was two-and-a-half, she and I moved to live within 30 minutes of her dad. I still had my qualms about his ability to co-parent or speak to me with even a modicum of respect, but I chose to try it out.
It was important to me that my daughter could know her father, so there was a time when I took on that responsibility for their relationship. I updated him about everything. Encouraged him to spend more time with her. Made our kid beyond accessible.
And when we first moved down here, I worked from home as a writer for a social media marketing agency. I had apprehension about getting my work done, and he claimed he wanted to have her over frequently, so I agreed to plenty of visits.