Boundaries

When you’re a step-parent, there’s a good chance that the other biological parent is still in the picture. If you’re lucky, the other parent is a good co-parent. They help out when things come up and you need them to watch the kids for an evening, they’re willing to assist with things like school clothes and supplies, and other random stuff that pops up. You WANT the other parent to be a good co-parent. If your partner and their co-parent are able to maintain a friendship, that’s even better. I think it’s wonderful for the kids to see that two individuals who have decided to end their marriage can still be friendly. It doesn’t always have to be full of anger and frustration. 

But what happens when the co-parent oversteps boundaries? When they start crossing lines? 

This has started happening more and more recently. As a co-parent, the ex husband is fantastic. He’s flexible, willing to take care of a lot of the financial responsibilities that come with school, and is a good father. As a person, however, he’s kind of a misogynistic douchebag. He seems to think that these are good qualities to try and instill in his oldest son, by doing things like showing him that it’s ok to buy a pack of cigarettes before heading to the river, so you can get girls who want a smoke to show you their boobs for a cigarette. True story. 

Yeah. He’s that guy. 

Lately, he seems to think it’s ok to make sexual comments and even passes at my partner. He thinks he’s being funny. She’s told him otherwise. He continues to do it. She continues to tell him he’s being an ass. 

This is a recent development, and I’m not sure why he thinks it’s ok to do it now, and not 6 months ago, or even a year ago. Regardless of whether or not I and the mother of his children are together, the way he speaks to her is just plain disrespectful. I don’t know if he thinks speaking to women like that “proves” he’s got “game”, or what, but I’m really glad I don’t ever actually have to hang out with him. It would not go well. There’s no way I could sit back and let him say the things he does, whether it be to my partner or to any other woman around. 

And what really bothers me is that this is the example he’s setting for his sons. He encourages misogynistic behaviour, that we then try to counterattack when they’re at our house. But it’s tricky sometimes. We’re always battling things like calling women sluts, or stupid, or dumb, just because they’re not what YOU think they should be. 

It is not my place to berate the ex husband for his behaviour. I can express my displeasure at what he says and does to my partner, but after that it’s up to her to handle it. I hate that. I hate not having that control. Because my interaction with him is minimal, I really only hear about things after the fact, but it doesn’t really lessen my anger. 

My advice to anyone who may be experiencing similar issues with the co-parent: keep the lines of communication open. Don’t ignore the issues, it won’t make them go away. We all respect our partners and expect others to respect them too. Let your partner know that you don’t appreciate the behaviour, and hopefully it can be relayed to the co-parent in such a way where the behaviour will actually stop. 

Hopefully…

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