*Lovingly dedicated to Kaitlyn
Do you have a shitty baby daddy? You know-the one that wants to be involved in your kid’s life but makes everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, difficult…as if parenting wasn’t hard enough on its own. You feel guilty because you know your kids love him, but you can’t help but daydream about how amazing it would be if he would just go away!
You get reminders, almost every day, of why the relationship didn’t work, but you still feel caught off guard when he sucks. You catch yourself feeling jealous over your friend’s uninvolved, deadbeat baby daddy that’s nowhere to be found.
When you broke up, you wanted to…well, break up. But that didn’t happen. You’re still stuck with him and his shitty ways. It’s like a bad job that you can’t quit.
Here’s the bad news…I have no magic potion to make your shitty baby daddy go away. So, I offer you the next best thing-coping skills and tips for how to survive.
1. Treat it like a professional relationship
In a professional relationship, you have boundaries, expectations, and deadlines and you make those known. You don’t expect more than that, but if you get more than that, you’re pleasantly surprised.
Your relationship with your baby daddy is much more triggering and can bring up a lot more emotion than a professional one. And even though you know the two of you aren’t really getting along, you still long for empathy, compassion and understanding.
If your baby daddy is shitty, change your expectations. If he were capable of being empathic, compassionate, and understanding, you’d probably still be with him. He couldn’t do it then, and can’t do it now. Stop trying.
2. Stop being a people pleaser
Ladies! You know what I’m talking about. There’s a part of you that wants to make sure everyone is happy. You want to come up with the perfect compromise of give and take. You don’t want to be seen as the “the crazy ex”, so you accommodate…and appease….and try to make sure everyone’s happy.
Stop that! Be direct and straightforward. Say what you need and what you’re willing to do. Stop trying to make him see your point of view. I’m not suggesting you play dirty…I’m simply suggesting you stop playing small. There’s no room for “Kumbaya” around the campfire when you have a shitty baby daddy.
3. Keep it about the kids
Does it seem like every conversation ends up somewhere other than where it started? Are you still talking about all that old stuff? Are the old resentments and hurt feelings still overshadowing even the simplest of conversations? Don’t take the bait. You’re not here to resolve anything-you’re here to talk about the kids and their school.
If your ex is taking digs at you when you’re simply trying to make arrangements for your kid’s soccer game, DON’T TAKE THE BAIT! He clearly has some hidden agenda that has absolutely nothing to do with soccer. Bring it back to the kids. You have nothing to prove to him.
You: What time is the kid’s soccer game on Saturday?
Him: Well, you’d know if you weren’t so busy gallivanting around with your new boyfriend.
You: Ok, so what time did you say the soccer game is?
4. Have an abundance mindset
When your kiddo returns home talking about what a good mom their new stepmom is, or how cool their dad is, it’s only natural to feel jealous or inadequate…. or maybe even competitive.
Remember that your kiddo doesn’t have a finite amount of love to give. Just because they love their dad, doesn’t mean there’s less for you. It’s ok to feel this. And, its ok if he offers something that you don’t.
What you have to offer is uniquely yours, and your kiddo needs that. And know that there’s more than enough to go around. The more you let your kiddo love their dad (stepmom), the more love you generate, which means more love for you!
5. Cover your ass
If your baby daddy communicative, supportive, and understanding, this DOES NOT apply. If your baby daddy is shitty, cover your ass. Don’t give him the benefit of doubt. Put things in writing. Dot your I’s and cross you T’s. Even though you’re the mother of his child, he does not have your best interest in mind-he has his. Protect yourself. Don’t be afraid to get the court involved to protect your interests.
NOTE: The courts WILL NOT get involved in disputes or opinions. They tend to see families and make decisions as if it’s black or white. Don’t waste your time or money going to court simply because your child doesn’t like daddy’s house as much as mommy’s house. Without proof of abuse or neglect, the courts don’t care.
6. Validate your kiddo’s situation without blame
It’s hard to hear your child’s pain or discomfort when their dad’s stubbornness is what’s causing it. You didn’t agree with his decision and you told him so. You TOLD him this backfire and be hard for your child.
He didn’t listen and now here you are listening to your child cry.
Whatever you do, DON’T DO IT! Don’t tell your child that it’s all because of their dad that there’re in situation. Take the high road.
Even though it’ll tempting to take the winning shot, and prove to your kiddo that you’re the better parent, it will make your child like they’re in the middle of you and their dad. It will make them feel guilty for loving their dad. This winning shot will prove to be a loser later in life.
Instead, you can validate them by saying, “I know honey. It’s hard that you had to switch schools. I hear that you’re feeling really lonely.”
If your child is upset at their dad, take the same high road. You can say,” It sounds like that was really hard for you when he did that. Parents don’t always make the best decisions. Can I teach you how to talk to him (or me) when you’re upset?”
7. Let go of the outcome
In a professional relationship, there’re consequences if you suck. You can lose business, get fired, or get put on a performance improvement plan. The hard thing about a shitty baby daddy is that most of the time it feels like there are no consequences for his bad behavior. He can act like a child, throw a giant wrench in things, or talk badly about you to his kids. No matter how poorly he behaves, the kids still love him and he still gets his time.
There are things about this you’ll never be able to change. No matter how hard to try or fight or learn, sometimes there’s absolutely nothing you can do…. except…. continue to be the best parent you can be for your children. Even though this sucks, I promise you, they are learning from you. They are feeling weightless because of the pressure you ARE NOT putting on them. Even though you can’t see it right now, this WILL pay off.
I know it’s hard to have a shitty baby daddy. The next 5 or 10 or however many years you have left to co-parent seem insurmountable. Be kind to yourself. This does suck and it’s ok if that gets to you. And even though you feel so powerless at times, always remember the things you can control and put your mama energy into being better at those things. You have more power than you think.