Wednesday, September 16, 2009

PART TWO: "Baby's Parent Etiquette"

Rule #2: Don't place your ex in a box. Or He'll never have room to grow...

Scenario B: Fife and Brian were a very young couple with a child. He was not a lot of help with their daughter, he was inconsistent with his income, often "in between" jobs. Most of the time he sat around, played the PS3, never helped with the potty training, never cleaned up after himself, or took the child on outings. Sadly, in this scenario, the mother was the bread winner, the homemaker, the quintessential single parent within a two parent household. By the child’s third birthday, she’d had enough.

When Brian moved out, however, he quickly moved on; moving in with another woman and her two children. He got a new job and stayed on that job consistently. He was regular with Fife’s child support and not only that, took care of his new girlfriends kids as well!

This put Fife in a fury she couldn't explain. She wanted to be happy that Brian had matured so quickly. But something inside her couldn't accept his new found paternal responsibility. The thing keeping her insides boiling every time she dropped their child off for weekends at his house with this new woman and her kids. What she wouldn't admit…was that she would rather Brian continued to be the predictable child she was accustomed to- than to see him become the man he never was with her...with someone else.

There is was. No matter how much he improved as a parent, Fife wanted Brian in that box she’d labeled "dead beat dad". If he wouldn't do right in their five year history, then he couldn't do right for this new woman, either.
She found moving on difficult. She would spend a great deal time on first dates talking about how badly her past relationship ended, and what a deadbeat her child's father was. When she didn't find relationship success as quickly as Brian, she became even more bitter. She decided to run a little interference. When Brian would come to drop off his daughter, she began coming to the door in her robe and underwear. When that did’t work; she became highly combative, even to the point of pettiness. She complained about the shoes he bought their daughter, that they were “too cheap, and maybe if he wasn't taking care of all those other kids, he could buy better quality clothes for his ACTUAL daughter." So, he stopped buying "extras", stuck to the court ordered child support.

The last straw came two years later; when she learned that he and his girlfriend were engaged, and expecting a child together. Fife called and asked Brian to come over “so they could talk about what that meant for the future of their daughter together“. Wanting to extend an olive branch; he went over to see her; alone, as she requested. He didn't come inside, she met him at his truck. They talked for a long time; and it seemed they were finally moving forward, and past the animosity. Fife was very emotional and used this moment to express why she was so mad all the time. She told him that she was hurt that he was such a bad father and boyfriend to her- yet he had moved on and became the “perfect man for this new woman“. She told him how hard it was for a single mother to find love again.

He was shocked. He explained that he was upset with himself when they'd broken up; and as a result, he’d vowed he’d become a better father. He said he never meant for her to think she wasn't good enough for him; but in actuality, he had not been man enough for her. He’d learned from his mistakes with her, and felt he was given a second chance at happiness with his fiance, whom he loved very much. This made Fife cry; and Brian embraced her. Things got heated quickly, and the next thing they both knew, clothes were off and the windows were foggy.
When it was over, Brian was very upset that he had lost control with Fife; knowing that he was going home to his pregnant fiancé. He apologized for hurting or misleading her. She smiled and told him she understood, that this was "the closure she needed to move on". He was relieved, though something in her tone made him question if she’d really meant that. Brian asked if he could go inside to freshen up. He left, and nothing of their little mishap was mentioned again....
Well, almost. The next week, Brian's fiancé went to pick up the dry cleaning in his truck. When she went to get the pick up receipt from the console, she found Fife’s black lace underwear, strategically placed on top for her to find.
Despite Fife’s efforts; Brian married his fiancé, anyway. After the truth about the incident was exposed; however, Brian never came to Fife’s home unaccompanied again. A bitter rivalry ensued between both women. At every "drop off", an all out brawl took place. It got so explosive, the police were often called to the residence. What had once been just tension was now outright warfare! The little one’s would watch as the parents behaved like children.
Brian's visits to his daughter became less and less frequent.

*How were both parties responsible for how things went array?
*Did Fife contribute, in any way, to how limited her child's time with her father became?
*Is Fife responsible for her own failed relationships after her breakup with Brian…?
*…Or is there really a double standard, when it comes to how single mothers are received in dating... versus single fathers?
*How does keeping Brain in a box, ultimately keep Fife in an even smaller one?
*Had Brian taken the time to sit down and explain his epiphany that led to his "new behavior", would it have helped Fife come around to the idea of his moving on sooner?
*How did Fife let her bitterness take over her life, and ultimately; negatively impact her own relationship with her daughter?
*How truthful was Brian about why he was such a better partner with the new woman? Do you believe he truly, "learned his lesson", or was that the convenient answer for his ex crying before him? Do you know any men/women who did a 360 degree turn after a relationship ended? What explanation did they give for it?

It is always refreshing to see our children benefit from cohesive relationships between the biological parents, even after the relationship has ended.

The underlying message in both scenarios is respect. A woman (or man) must respect themselves enough to set and maintain boundaries once they have been put in motion. If a relationship is over; the sexual aspect must end as well. You only cheat yourself trying to hold on to something dead with your body. It won’t make that person want to be a better parent. Similarly, if your ex has, in fact; matured and is trying to move forward in a relationship with someone new; it is only to the benefit of your children with that person that you maintain a respectful boundary. Trying to run interference will only make you look bitter and desperate.
We must learn the science behind when to close the box (in Angela's case) and when to keep the box open for potential lessons (In Fife's case).
Things run much more smoothly when the children are the focus after breakups, and not our own selfish needs.


  1. I like that, especially the part about running interference. I don't know why, but some baby-mamas go to great measures to make their ex jealous. Some of them need attention so badly, especially when they know that ex has moved on. They try things like flaunting new boyfriends in their faces. And when that doesn't work, they'll go as far as to offer the "goodies", trying to get that attention. In the process, she creates an awkwardness between herself, the man, his new woman. Besides that, she is disrespecting herself and his new relationship. I agree, she comes off looking very desperate. Tragic really, but that's reality.

  2. Yes, sadly too many women fall victim to the "stereotypical baby mama" drama...not realizing that they are only hurting themselves and their own child. People will move on, and that bitter ex will be alone. Don't they know that the new boyfriend will see through the games? that he is only being played while she tries to win over her ex? this is why so many men shy away from single mothers. part 3 will explore that :) stay tuned!