Friday, January 7, 2011

How To Embrace His "Ex"

Ok so it’s a New Year and “Change” has become the most prominent theme of my week as the first week of the year comes to an end. It was the topic of discussion this week on the radio show that I co-host and "Change" seems to be ringing like an alarm since the New Year began. I had the pleasure of meeting one of my best friend’s beautiful cousin Amiyah (“Mia”) a colorist at a high-end salon in NYC on New Year’s Eve. Before we brought in the New Year together at NYC Times Square we sat and broke bread with one another (along my friend’s twin sisters Jazzlyn & Jenelle). We had a round-table style dinner at BBQ on 72nd & 3rd and it seemed as if we were all reflecting on the year gone by. At some point the conversation turned to Mia and her relationship with her live-in boyfriend's children. Mia who is in her early thirties and doesn’t have children of her own yet expressed the great relationship that she maintains with her boyfriend's children. At some point we all waited to hear the “Baby Momma Drama”, but I’m pleased to report that there was none. Mia explained that she decided to follow Jada Pinkett-Smith’s approach to embracing her man’s "ex-wife" and that the conscious effort made (initiated on her behalf) has taken the edge off of the situation in its entirety. Mia explained that she honestly felt if her man’s children were going to be spending significant time at their home then it was pertinent that she open the door for the children’s mother to have direct contact to her not just to her partner. Mia addressed her man one day regarding the way his "ex-wife" sends his girls over with wrap scarfs and bobby pins for their hair as if her man would be the one combing their hair. Mia felt like that was more than enough reason for the two women to have a formal introduction to one another. "I'm the one that combs their hair when they're at my house". As we watched in awe as if she were speaking a foreign language Mia said, "I had to put my foot down."

Mia explained to us that the relationship isn’t always peaches and cream but it is one of mutual respect. Mia is a little more lenient on the children as far as bed time on the weekends or how long they watch tv. Her viewpoint as far as that is concerned is that children need to be afforded the opportunity to simply be children. She takes the girls ice skating, swimming, to amusement parks, bike riding, to Broadway Shows, and many other outings that she needed to at minimum to have a positive relationship with their mother in order to do. She acknowledges the history her boyfriend and his "ex-wife" shared (over 17 years), and she never gives him the impression that saying anything negative about her will fly. She was also very clear on her position that this woman never did anything to make her dislike her so why would she? Once introduced formally to one another Mia expressed her feelings to his "ex-wife", and emphasized the importance of having a healthy working relationship would be for the children. She was later invited by her boyfriend's "ex-wife" to both children's' graduations and graduation parties. Mia opted to decline the invites, which I actually commend (too close for comfort). The invite was definitely an acknowledgement from the girls mother that she recognizes that Mia has become a second Mom in their lives. We all commended Mia mainly because we all understood in one way or another how difficult the task at hand could be.

I myself have never had a decent and/or respectful conversation with my "ex’s" fiancée and it’s painfully embarrassing for me to admit that. I would love to have a better open line of communication with the woman that my son’s father has chosen to spend the rest of his life with. A woman that plays such an important role in my son's life and who I can say factually that my son adores. My hope for the future is that our relationship will get better as time goes on. She is the mother of my son's sister and there shouldn't be any walls up. She recently helped my son with a homework project and I was so disappointed when I couldn’t just simply pick up the phone to call her and say thank you. I sent my "ex" a text message instead and asked him to please extend my thanks to her. Our situation is more complex then Mia's in some ways because she and I actually had a physical altercation a little over five years ago and because of that I realize that it will be slightly more difficult for us to make amends. The great thing about a New Year is that many of us start off with the inspiration to change the world. I visualize nothing but peace for the future and I know in my heart that there will definitely come a day when she and I will have peace and maybe even be able to have a glass of wine together so that I can commend her on being so great with my son. If that's too much then I'm sure that we'll be able to survive little league games. Until then one day at a time.

The complexity of having to deal with a new partner’s "ex" is that someone almost always has some unresolved issues and feelings of hurt and abandonment. There are no "winner's" when it comes to someone losing because we never want our children to feel like they've lost. When a breakup occurs one person is left feeling null and void and the first concern that person may have is how your new partner will treat their child. Matters of the heart are complicated in and of themselves yet if we make a conscious effort as adults to be empathetic and take another person’s feelings into consideration then we are already ten steps ahead of the game. If we can approach everything from a loving place that leaves the children as our main priority and focus at all times then we can promote healthy safe havens for our children that will never leave them feeling awkward and/or questioning their loyalty to one parent or the other. For those of us that have children and at some point have to open the door to the new love in our "ex's" life we'll have to find a way to do so without using our children as pawns in the process.

I'm also not suggesting that you become friends or BFF's with your "ex's" new partner/love interest because obviously that could compromise your relationship. Being cordial is a great start yet being cordial genuinely without being sarcastic or phony. Children are the absolute 1st to pick up on when a person isn't being genuine or when someone is being insensitive. The children need the comfort of knowing that everyone is really "ok" with one another otherwise they will be faced with a huge amount of unnecessary anxiety when it comes time to go to "Mommy" or "Daddy's" house. Do nice things for one another. If it's a special occasion and you can't see yourself being there because you want to set boundaries then send something with your man or woman showing your consideration toward the occasion. Will there be some feelings of insecurity, jealousy, and possibly annoyance at times? "Yes", I'm sure that there will be because in the end we're all human. If we start from the right place I guarantee you that little by little everything will fall into place accordingly and we'll be raising happy, healthy, and well-balanced kids that understand that in a blended family setting no one loses because ultimately everybody wins! Especially the kids because additional people enter their lives who care for them and want the best for them just as their parents do.

P.S. No one wants to have children with someone they love and then end up not being in a loving relationship with that person. If it does happen I suggest that you work through the situation the best way that you know how to and by being gentle and kind to one another. God has blessed my son with an amazing father that has totally stepped up to the plate and extended his fatherly hand to both of my daughters that aren't his biological children. I can't imagine the journey thus far without him and I pray to God for his safety regularly. Wes, I'm so happy to see the man that you've become and I wish you the absolute best in your marriage. I love you dearly and always promise to co-parent with you effectively to best meet all of their needs. (I do occasionally call you an a-hole way too often and I promise I'm working on that).

Pls lets show my girl Mia some love on Twitter @MiMiLuv_7...She's a beautiful spirit inside and out and I have a feeling we'll be hearing a lot more from her this year!

Much Luv

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  1. Thank you so much for sharing thoughts and life events that some would consider personal. Unbelievable how this very topic was at the forefront of my day today, and I cannot express to you how much it helps to know that there are others handling their similar situations positively. With that, I am hopeful that the adults in my triangle will prevail, and be healthy examples for the children.

  2. Hi Shannon:

    I'm so glad that this post was something that you could relate to. This was very personal for me and again I'm glad that you were able to connect. There are a ton of woosah moments for me in my situation because in all actuality it really is more difficult at times then others. I have made a conscious decision not to partake in any of the would be drama to come and I'm seriously learning to approach everything in my life from a "Love & Light" perspective. All you can do in your situation is be responsible for you, and when it does get crazy just take a step back (a deep yoga breath) and say, "I choose not to be a part of this". Things will calm down eventually and they will come to pass. Someone in the triagle has hurt feelings and hasn't resolved those feelings so typically that's where all of the hostility is stemming from.

    This is what The B.C. Chronicles is all about so I plan to cover a ton of these issues in 2011. Thank you so much for leaving your comment.

    Much Luv