Ask Cindy: How Can I Talk to My Ex?

I have a question. I recently remarried and my ex husband is upset that our children are calling him Daddy Tommy. My ex said I am doing it on purpose and that I am an awful person. Our daughter is 5 and our son is 3. Our daughter came to me and asked if she could call my husband Tom, daddy… I said it was up to her. Now she does say step-dad or sometimes daddy Tommy. Well today my ex called and our son said, “Hi Daddy Tommy.” Well he went off…. I tried to talk to him but he just screamed and said he couldn’t wait for it to happen to me. Well I just hung up… so frustrating. . ~ Nichole in Georgia

Hi Nichole, This is always such a touchy subject for everyone involved. Bottom line is that your child’s father, feels as if you are trying to replace him in her eyes. Daddy and Mommy are often very personal words to parents.

  • Could you compromise on an alternative word - such as Papa Tommy? Would your child’s father be opposed to this?
  • If the situation were reversed, how would you feel - honestly?
  •  How often do your children see their father?
  • Do your children understand the difference between their natural father and step-dad?
  • Do you have any idea what prompted her to ask if she could call your husband Daddy Tommy? (for example: you have a child together or he has his own kids that call him Daddy?)

I understand the frustration you feel. However, I believe that you know hanging up is not the answer. Your ex wants to be heard and he wants to feel validated that he is the children’s father. Once you can understand this and work with him to help him understand that you are not trying to replace him in the children’s eyes you will have a better chance of successfully co-parenting. Let him know that the two of you make all the decisions for the kids. Really listen to him and his concerns, once he feels heard, he will be more apt to listen to your ideas.

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