Ex-etiquette: Support son at Little League games

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Q. My ex and I broke up three years ago. He’s recently remarried, and he sent me an email saying that his wife will now be accompanying him to our 8-year-old son’s Little League baseball games. She has not been nice to me over the last year, and the thought of her going to the games makes me very uncomfortable. My ex never calls her on her behavior, and I feel out in the cold. I’m thinking I’m going to back off attending my son’s games because I don’t want to deal with my ex and this woman.

A. When you have had a history of run-ins with your ex and his partner, it’s easy to understand why you predict the worst.

However, you have to remember who is really hurting when you spend a lot of time anticipating a negative outcome: you!

Agonizing about what may happen simply keeps you upset and really has no effect on your ex. He has moved on.

Here’s where applying the 10 Rules of Good Ex-Etiquette for Parents comes into play. They are rules to live by that allow you to take the everyday headbutting and turn it into a more positive experience. (You can find the full list at www.bonusfamilies.com.)

This basically means that you don’t let things like this interfere in your support of your son. He wants both of his parents to cheer him on.

If it’s gotten to the point that he would prefer one or the other to attend, that means you have BOTH forgotten your true priority — being a loving parent to your child — and you have allowed your personal animosities to color your ability to parent.

The first rule of good ex-etiquette for parents is, “Put the children first.” When you use your child’s welfare as the basis for all decisions, the decision is easy. Use your self-interest as the basis for the decision and the result is situations like you describe.

You are actually contemplating not going to your child’s game because of how you feel about your son’s father and his wife. If you stand back and really look at what you are considering, you will realize you have lost sight of what’s important.

Rules 2-10 also point you in the right direction.

For example, Rule No. 3 is, “Don’t badmouth.” It would be easy to talk behind their back, to let family and friends know what you think your ex and his wife are. But how would that help your child?

And, if your child likes them, you have now made him check his allegiance to you and question his father’s judgment. He’s 8.

Let me take this one step further.

Let’s say you’ve decided to go to the game. Where do you sit? Far enough away to feel comfortable, but not so far away that your child has to look in two different directions if he hits a home run or catches a fly ball. In other words, same vicinity, but not next to each other — unless you all feel comfortable.

The good news: It will be over in an hour, and you have done this for your son. That’s good ex-etiquette.