Can I hate my ex despite the fact that we both have to parent our children?

You had a miserable breakup. Your relationship hadn’t been going well before the split, and it seems to be getting worse. But unfortunately, you can’t completely disconnect because you have children together. How to handle this?

Put the children first. Ideally, you can repair the relationship to the point that you can effectively co-parent. At the very least, you should strongly consider diffusing it to the point that you remove the bulk of the strain.

Strain between parents causes psychological damage to children. Some children may handle (or hide) it better than others. But it hurts them, and how much it hurts is difficult to measure.

Can you fake a decent relationship, so that you really deep down still hate the other parent, but hide it well from the children?

The facade of a cordial relationship certainly beats yelling at each other in front of the children. But if you’re committed to helping your children thrive emotionally, you can do more.

The fake hellos, the quick but fake-polite answers may seem like they work. But children have a sixth sense for this. And it sharpens as they age. They know when people dislike each other, especially their parents. And they’ll certainly sniff out your insincerity.

Extend the olive branch.

Are you crazy?!? What that *&#* has put me through, and you think I’m going to be nice!?

Here’s the reality: the better your relationship with the other parent, the greater the likelihood that your child will thrive emotionally and psychologically. The worse your relationship, the greater the likelihood that child will suffer from mental illness. How important is this issue to you?

What can you do?

Have a sit-down with the other parent. If necessary, get some counseling to at least process the issues that are causing the tension. Some degree of acceptance will be necessary. Accepting that years of your life were invested in a relationship that didn’t work, that you’ve been hurt.

However, it’s not about you anymore. It’s about your child. Investing in improving your relationship with the other parent will exponentially improve your child’s overall emotional state.

There are a million excuses not to. The other parent’s unreasonable, crazy, demanding, etc. If you prioritize your own feelings over the well-being of your child, continuing down the path of conflict is an easy choice.

But if your child’s the priority, you’ll figure out a way to summon the strength and will to be the bigger person and consistently move your relationship with the other parent in a positive direction. Your child’s mental health depends on it.