Chapter Eighteen: Rely on reason rather than emotion
One of my favorite law school professors had a sign on his door that read, “Stop. Think. Leave.” The professor’s hope was that his emotional first-year law students would leave him alone so that he could drink his morning coffee.
Sometimes the best way to help solve the issues with your ex is to simply stop and think. If you can stop and relax, you can think through the situation more objectively. Reasoning through your problem is a far better way to handle the situation than being emotionally overwhelmed.
For example, say your ex-husband calls you and tells you that you are the worst parent in the world because your child, who has always done well in science, is failing science in the child’s first year at middle school. Your ex tells you that he is disappointed in the way you are handling your role as the child’s primary caretaker and that he is calling his attorney.
If you will feel emotionally attacked, you will think things like, “How dare my ex think this? I’m the better parent,” and “When has my ex ever helped me with homework? That sorry SOB was never there for me.” You call your friends and your family and fret night in and night out on what your ex-husband plans to do because you think he may have one over on you because of your child’s failed scores.
Now use the approach where you use reason to approach the situation. The teacher has already told you that the child is having a hard time in science like all the other kids. You know from the other parents that all the kids are struggling in the beginning of the school year, and this teacher wants his children to work for the grades they get. You also know that your ex has not gone to the child’s new school yet and has not met the new teacher.
Your response to your ex is to send him an email and tell him to arrange a meeting with the child’s science teacher at school. What are you telling your ex when you provide him with this direction? First, you are telling your ex that you are not afraid and that you are on top of the situation. Second, you are telling your ex that you have more information than he has concerning the issue. Third, you are relaying to your ex that if he does not want to talk to you like an adult than he can find out the information himself. Lastly, you are providing him a way to ease his mind and reduce the conflict.
Reasoning allows you to look at the facts of your particular situation. Reasoning lets you be flexible and objective about how to resolve a particular problem you are having. Reasoning will get you through most issues with your ex when you understand that most conflicts with your ex are created by a total lack or gap in communication. If your ex wants to be an emotional basket case about every change in your child’s life, that is ultimately your ex’s choice, not yours. Stay above it and focus on those things that matter the most to you and your children.