Ex-etiquette, we all have something to learn

Photo by Paul Wesson Photography

Photo by Paul Wesson Photography


It took about two years for my ex and I to find ex-etiquette that seems to work for us. Once we got past the bitterness, the awkwardness and the newness of everything we found a place that has the greatest level of harmony for us all.


I almost jeopardized that in a new relationship who just didn’t understand that two adults who no longer love one another CAN and SHOULD have a civil and friendly relationship for their children’s sake. Fortunately I woke up and saw the effect it was having before any permanent damage was done. After a sincere apology and open communication things feel even more harmonious. This is all I could ask for my girls.


The children who seem to be the most well adapted to the new arrangements are the ones who see their parents speaking in civil, if not friendly, manners while always making the children feel at peace. If they can attend an event and easily transition between both parents (as well their respected spouses/relatives) there will be less unnecessary stress upon the children. Imagine being the child who can expect both of their parents, and whoever else is a part of their lives, to be ever present – just as they might in a traditional nuclear household? It IS possible. I’ve seen it.


Picture this: Christmas Eve; it’s dad’s week to have the children. His parents and significant other will be arriving for dinner momentarily. Mom and her new husband arrive at the door, with dessert and a bottle of wine in hand. Everyone has agreed that the traditional Christmas celebrations centre around the children, therefore, everyone has agreed to set differences aside and celebrate WITH the children. Mom and step-dad leave at bedtime and head home, waiting for the kids’ call to say they are up and ready for opening gifts from Santa. Mom and step-dad head back over for the magical moments of Christmas morning. Later that day, dad and significant other troop to mom’s house with the kids to finish exchanging gifts and have Christmas dinner with mom and step-dad’s extended family. This may sound absurd to some, but I have witnessed a very similar scenario, to which I was included as extended family.


We may not realistically ever achieve even a semblance of this, but can strive for something like it.  I think as human beings we find anger the most difficult to let go of. However, the negative energy associated with anger is much more draining and spreads much more than we can ever imagine. Sometimes it is necessary to establish firm boundaries so that the situations that anger us become fewer and farther between. But ultimately, if we can look beyond and still follow the course of action in the best interests of our children, everyone will be happier in the end.


If you’re trying to find that middle ground of forgiveness and compromise, perhaps there are some resources that would be helpful. Is there a book you would recommend in navigating these choppy waters?


I’m currently reading “Ex-etiquette for parents – Good behavior After a Divorce or Separation”, by Jann Blackstone-Ford and Sharyl Jupe. These two women are friends in co-parenting. They write a national advice column: Ex-Etiquette 


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About Trish

family legacy curator, social justice advocate, blogger, amateur photographer, reader, cyclist, runner & swimmer, mom of two

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11 years ago

As usually Trish i love to read your opinions and find you are always so knowledgable. I was a child of divorced parents in the late sixities when not too many in my entire elementary school even heard of it. The bitterness between my parents left me scared and full of anxiety , most of that I continued through my adult years. When I met my husband whom had a child , I decided that I would be mature enough to work with his ex-wife for the health and welfare of this child. It was not easy at times but i loved attending everything in sports , kindergarten graduation , 13th birthday at her house, her highschool graduation and hopefully her wedding someday, with no feelings of jealousy or hatred but out of what was best for my stepdaughter. She is now 28 and finds herself in similar territory with a boyfriend that has a small child. I hope through seeing us doing the best for her, that she too can bring this into her relationship now.
Goodluck, I know you are a wonderful parent, keep working at it.
Elaine Snow

11 years ago
Reply to  Elaine

Thanks for that Elaine! 🙂