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The Pit of My Stomach

Advice from a Friend Who’s Been There

Sometimes the advice friends give are better taken as expressions of concern from a friend who cares but certainly not advice to be acted upon. But yesterday I spoke with a friend who gave me the advice that I needed to hear and the advice that I think is the right advice to act upon. And for that I sincerely thank her, even if she was cleaning her refrigerator while we were talking. I’m taking the liberty of passing on the advice that cost her many hours and dollars in therapy and challenging moments with her own daughter and psycho-ex (her phrase).

You need to have mantras. These are some of the mantras she shared with me for dealing with exman/slime on custodial issues. We are only one week into younger daughter going back and forth and already he is being himself, causing problems, lying and bullying everyone around.

Take the high road. Get yourself out of the conflict between you and your ex because that is over, and put your daughter in the center. It is no longer about your failed marriage and bitter divorce; it is about taking care of your daughter as best as you can, regardless of what he does. It is about enabling her to grow up as independently as possible from the conflict that her parents have wrought.

Take the pressure off her. Don’t make her choose between parents, and don’t make her any more anxious than needs to be. Just step back.

"I will support whatever decision you make." This mantra is to be repeated to daughter instead of transmitting to her any of my fears of loss (of her love and attention) or anger (at exman/slime).

"I will do whatever you choose." A variation on the previous mantra, because it’s not good to keep repeating myself. Again, stepping back and letting her find comfort as best as she can without the added agony of worrying about how her actions will impact me.

Though these will surely be hard to act upon and say, they make sense and seem worthwhile to recite to myself and daughter. When she said them, I knew she was right. Right in the way the friend who told me to just put daughter on a bus to visit her grandparents in New York regardless of ex’s games was wrong. Sometimes there is a difference between what would feel good for me and what would be good for her, and that is what I need to remember. It is about how I continue being the best mother possible for her. That is the only relationship that counts now.



Yes, good advice. Sometimes I get unasked for advice that is not so good. You are fortunate to have a griend that gives good and loving advice.

Thank goodness your daughter is not too young and you only have a few more years of forced parenting with slime exman.


That is great advice Laura! I believe in mantras too...some are very similar to yours. Keep up the great work Laura!


This does sound like good advice and hopefully it will mitigate unpleasantness between you and your daughter.

I have a favorite mantra that I borrowed from a classic Seinfeld episode, "Serenity now." I say that when I'm very stressed and I usually crack up. It helps.

Liz A.

It will be okay. It will be okay.

It may not be okay in the way or time you want it to be okay, but it will be one way or another. Once I learned to stop fighting the inevitable, that helped with the whole, it's gonna be okay thing, too.


I think your daughters are very fortunate to have you for a mother. I'm glad your friend was able to give you good advice but I think it is wonderful that you have judged it sound and found a way to make it work for you.
My two step sons came to live with us full time when they were quite young. Ex wife was a lunatic and alcoholic (still is, actually). My husband and I discussed our situation and I insisted that the boys not hear anything negative about their mother from us. We went to great lengths to keep things neutral even though she did not. They grew to adults and told us how much they appreciated the way we raised them and cared for them. They are great guys, raising families of their own.
They make me glad that we took the high road.


Ah, Laura, I am so glad that this friend of yours was able to be there for you. I'm sure it comes from years of her own experience, including mistakes and successes. I know for myself that there was a long time where my anger and hurt took over and I made mistakes that didn't help the situation with my crazy ex. Yet , with counseling I have forgiven myself, and never forget that my daughter's welfare comes above all. Believe it or not, she is now becoming aware of who the "crazy" one is, and I don't have to say a word.
You are doing great. Thank you so much for sharing and validating:)


You are learning well Grasshopper. :) But seriously, I heard a lot of those mantras when I was a member of step-parenting group years ago. Being on the other side of the coin - being the step-parent, my mantras are a bit different, but not much. They've saved my sanity.


ll sound strategies. Although he does make it difficult to take the high road because you just want to hit back so to speak with all his antics.


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