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Patience is a Virtue
I know this is an old cliché, but if there is anytime in your life that you will live it out, it is during a divorce. There are so many aspects of a divorce that you want done NOW, yet rarely is that the case. You will find that many conversations, communications, and confrontations include words like “as soon as possible,” “immediately,” “today,” “before you do anything else,” etc.
To be fair, it will not only come from the man’s side, but also the women in the divorce. OK, to be very fair, in my experience, it comes from the women much more than from the men. Men, don’t let this language get to you, get you upset, press your buttons, or any other negative. Be patient!
Decryption of Actions and Emotions
There is one thing that I learned from my divorce that has proven to serve me well in many situations. That one thing is reading people. I feel that I can read people much better now, in nearly every situation. (Granted, I still have no clue what women are thinking!)
When it comes to the urgency that people put on events, tasks, documents, information, etc., it typically can be boiled down to a few issues.
First, urgency in a divorce situation is often due to power and control. The person expressing urgency wants to control the other person. Here are perfect and real examples of e-mails that I have received recently:
· “The children need lunch money for today. If you don’t put money on their card, they will not be able to eat lunch today.”
· “I need the social security numbers for the children immediately.”
Second, I have found that urgency can also be used as a delay mechanism. For example, let’s say that one of your children has an event on Friday. Your ex might have known about the event for weeks, but you have not been made aware of it. So, early Friday morning you receive an e-mail: “Your son has his school event 5 p.m.. He is very excited for you to attend. I hope you can take time away from your busy plans and new girlfriend to attend!” Notice that not only is there urgency, but you get dinged for having someone new in your life!
Third, urgency can be used as a way to get things done or even disprove you as a good parent. When it comes to health, well-being, and safety, your ex might want to make it seem as if you are not taking care of things properly, so you need to address them ASAP. Recently, I had an issue with a “bully” and my youngest child. (Note: The issue came up around spring break, so keep that in mind when you read the following information.)
I received an e-mail indicating that my child has been bullied “all year long” (not a semester, but a year!). Due to the bullying and the extent of the bullying, it has been decided to move the child to a different school to “remove her from the bully.”
Now, reading that you might be feeling a bunch of stuff due to your own situation. I hope not, but let’s focus on the information we have.
First, as an engaged parent, I had not heard about ANY bully at ANY time! So, this is new information to me. Second, the urgency is that my child is going to be changing schools!? This is where my ex made the mistake, and you should be looking for oddities in communication from your ex, too! If there is really a bully situation, my ex would want my input and help to fix it. The fact that the entire school year has gone by, but I am just hearing about this is proof that there is really no bully. Come to find out, there was NO BULLY, but my ex wanted our child to ride a different bus to her house! Not really in the best interest of the child, but a reality that we must all live with when it comes to our ex’s wanting something and their ability to step on anyone (even their own child) to get their way!
I am sure there are other reasons for creating urgency, but these are the ones that come to mind. The point is that you must be able to read through the urgency and find the real reason for it. Now, if the urgency is a text message saying that you need to come to the hospital because your son just got in an auto accident, that is not what I am referring to here. In that situation, you need to drop everything and get to the hospital!
Reacting to Requests of Urgency
Every situation will require you to take a step back, evaluate the scenario, evaluate the words used, evaluate the validity of the claim, and then take action. Notice that in my list of things you must do, evaluation is key. Remember the corny but effective saying, “be quick to listen.” Well, here, make sure you hear what is being said. It will give you insight into what is really occurring.
In my opinion, the slower you are to react, the better the situation will be for you. It might not be better for your ex, but in most instances where “urgency” is forced upon you, there is really no urgency at all. Rather, your ex is trying to gain power over you. Here is a recipe for how to react to an “urgent” request, which you know is not an urgent situation unless there is an immediate health risk.
First, address the e-mail, text, or voicemail immediately. In your response, follow this model for communication:
· Acknowledge your ex’s point of view. Something like: “I can see how this is an important situation.”
· Be thankful that you are being informed about the situation. Something like: “Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I was not aware of the situation before.”
· Give information about your position or direction. Something like: “Now that I am being made aware of this situation, I am going to take immediate action. Give me some time to gather some information and I will get back to you shortly.”
(Note: I am being very generic in my examples above. Each situation requires a unique response and approach. The goal is to follow the model… it works!)
Taking Action on the Urgent Situation
Now that you have put the urgent matter at bay, it is no time to stop your actions. You must immediately put together your approach to the situation. This might include you doing some research on the situation, asking questions to someone that can give you more insight to the situation at hand, or what you plan on doing from your end when you take your action. Don’t hesitate to act or put it on the back burner. Waiting will only cause you to forget the details and now you just look like you are not giving an urgent situation attention. That is not good!
You should have an idea of when you will respond based on the situation. For example, if the situation is that you need to provide money for your child but your ex should be responsible for it, you have up until the time the money is really due. You need to find out when the money is really due. If the urgent situation is due to some situation at school and your child is going to be moving schools due to it, you have a ton of details to find out but have even more time to respond.
Regardless, start putting your response together. Be that investigative reporter that you have always wanted to be. This will require you to gather information over the next few days.
If you receive an immediate or “in-between” nudge from your ex on your answer, just respond with the same model:
“Thanks for being persistent with this situation. It is extremely important to me, too. I am still gathering information so I am informed. I will get back to you shortly.”
When the time is right, then you take your action. No matter what, even if you find out that the urgent matter has no urgency at all and maybe not even related to the urgent matter that was brought up, take the high road! Just respond with an answer that is matter of fact, true to who you are, and gives a solution to the situation.
The final part does not mean you “cave in.” Rather, you provide a solution from your point of view.
For example, I was told that I needed to make an immediate decision on braces for my pre-teen. I did my research and found out that she is too young for braces and she really does not need them based on her teeth alignment. So, my response was that I was not going to address braces for another year and at that time, if my ex still felt they were essential, she could come back to me with the request. At that time, I will do my research again.
You can see by my example that I addressed the situation, but did not give my reasoning in depth. It is like poker! Show what you need to, but keep your aces and kings hidden. Also, I put it all back on her! She must get back to me in a year. I did not agree to come to her in a year.
Most “urgent” situations that your ex throws you are not urgent at all. They are ways for your ex to keep communication with you, gain power and control over you, or make your life miserable. You are in control, not your ex. So act like it. Respond like it. Take the correct action like you are in control!
When all is said and done, you will know you did the right thing, your ex will not have power over you, you don’t have power over your ex, and the situation is handled in a way that you feel comfortable.
If you only take one thing from this entire article, it should be “Be fast to listen and slow to react!”
Richard “RJ” Jaramillo, is the Founder of SingleDad.com,
a website and social media resource dedicated to single parenting and specifically for the newly divorced, re-married, widowed and single Father with children.
RJ is self employed, entrepreneur living in San Diego and a father of three children. The mission of SingleDad is to help the community of Single Parents
“Make Life Happen…Again!”