Parent Survival Guide Parent Survival Guide Issue 02 (Spring) - Page 10

feel unwell on Mommy’s time. Half the time, I nurse her back to health on the few days I have her because she has a respiratory infection, or because her tummy hurts, or because she pulled a muscle, or because she is simply exhausted from all the activities that satiate her interests.

We demand respect because it is an essential ingredient of a family.

Any challenges she faces are attributed to me.

“Why do you always have to make everything difficult?!” My daughter has screamed at me when Mommy has unleashed a seige-grade passive aggressive attack against me - because I got my daughter a cell-phone, or because I asked her coach when the uniforms we had paid for may

arrive; because I continued to exist rather than walk away from my children so that she can raise them in the slow-motion glow of virtuous single-motherhood.

Whenever these instances arise, we hear my daughter out, console her, but hold our own. Sometimes by stating that regardless of the mess between her parents, we are adults and as such, shall be treated a certain way, with respect.

We continue to explain that we demand respect not because we are perfect, but because it is an essential ingredient of a family, of our daughter being safe and taken care of: as parents, we put her first; we commit to competence, to being present and informed because that is our responsibility to her. Whenever she needs to

advocate for herself, she has a voice in our household. But beyond that, we will not submit to any external measure of what a good family is because we, together, are the only people with the power to determine what that means. So we have open conversations around what kind of family we want to be.

Whilst things have been a bit better since, I am by no means out of the woods. I am still cast as the keeper of the Infallible Mommy’s laws.

Just this week, I ended up breaking down after several days worth of her alienation-induced behavior; crying in front of my daughter, for the first time in years, set off by the ‘last straw’: this thirteen-year old actually schooled me on how to communicate with her team’s manager.

Because that is how her mother would have behaved.

As my feelings poured out and we both cried, she again pleaded she had no idea she was acting like I was the lesser parent; she even asked us to help her see where she had, because she didn’t mean that at all. And I believe her.

I actually believe she isn’t aware that while with me, she will stay connected with Mommy every day through calls, emails or texts and then go for two weeks without reaching out to me.

I believe that she is oblivious to how she treats me because her conditioning goes layers deep.

I truly believe that she is oblivious to how she treats me because her conditioning goes layers deep through her subconscious. She is no more aware of the gauge by which she judges right and wrong that I was at thirteen; it just happens that her gauge is stacked against me.

All I can do is step outside of this game and explain an appropriate way to treat the adults who take care of her; and insist that while I'm the other parent, I am not the lesser one.

We will not submit to any external measure of what a good family is because we, together, are the only people with the power to determine what that means.

10 spring 2017 PSG