Resentful over cash – The Lima Information

Q. My ex has just moved from the house we lived in to another more expensive neighborhood. She now lives in a much nicer townhouse. When I asked her why she had moved, she now said that our oldest daughter was going to school, the school district was better. I do not believe that. I think she uses my money (child support) to live high and that makes me really angry. When I told her how I was feeling, she just laughed which made me even more angry and now we hardly talk anymore. My kids see it and keep asking why I’m so mad at mom. What is good ex-etiquette?

A. Sounds to me like the root of your anger is not believing that your ex took the step for your kids but that she is high style and you disapprove of her using your hard earned money to live like this. Your anger and frustration flow into your dealings with the mother of your children, they see it, they are hurt, and since you see no end in sight as she spends the money, things keep getting worse. Meanwhile, your children are walking back and forth between two parents who are so mad at each other that they won’t speak.

That’s terrible ex-etiquette.

First, I can tell you that families who have worked with divorced parents for over 20 years, when given the choice, choose to live in the best school district they can afford. They sacrifice so that their children get the best education possible. Sometimes living in these areas is more expensive. Moving to a better school district is a common practice.

Second, child support is not an arbitrary amount intended to raise a parent’s hard-earned money. The amount paid is based on a computer program that analyzes the income of both parents and the time a child (or children) spends with each parent.

That said, I don’t hear you get angry when you pay the money. I don’t hear that mom wants more. I hear that you resent the way she is spending it – you haven’t even raised concerns that the school is further from you and that you are less able to see the kids. This tells me that you are more concerned about what mom is doing than what is in the best interests of your children. Hmmmm.

If you’re looking to fix this, it’s time to redefine your perspective. You literally have to change your mind.

Here’s how it works: I bet every time you write the check or transfer money it creates a barrage of bad feelings that make it nearly impossible to communicate with the mother of your children. Remember good parenting ex-etiquette, rules 5 and 6 (“Don’t make a grudge.” “Don’t be malicious.”)

Imagine your children when the money is transferred instead of imagining your ex when it is time to make a payment. See their smiling faces. Think how that money pays off for a better place to live when they are not with you, better schools, healthy food to keep them warm in winter and cool in summer. Think about how your children are thriving, not how their mother is taking advantage of it.

Thoughts lay the foundation for behavior. As you control your thoughts and use it to curb your animosity, you will find that your frustration subsides and lo and behold, you will be able to communicate better with the mother of your children – and your children will stop asking why you are so mad at their mother . That’s good ex-etiquette.

Dr. Jann Blackstone is the author of Ex-Etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation and founder of Bonus Families,

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