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Attending Children’s Sport Activities… When the Ex is There


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Keep it Classy with these 3 Tips

If you have children and/or stepchildren, chances are they are enrolled in some sort of sports activity.  Football games, soccer matches, swimming lessons… chances are also good that someone’s ex will also be in attendance.

The atmosphere can turn from one of light-hearted fun and the joy of seeing the kids learning new skills, to one that is awkward, uncomfortable—and sometimes even downright hostile. 

If you’re not careful, there can be more offense and defense going on along the sidelines than what’s happening on the field, and this is something to avoid for your sake and most especially for the kids.

How do you handle this and keep your dignity intact, without avoiding going to activities altogether?  Here are 3 tips for attending sports activities, with dignity and class:

Tip 1: Plan for Selective Avoidance

If you and your ex don’t get along, or you don’t get along with your ex’s new partner, it doesn’t mean you have to avoid attending the kids’ sports activities altogether.

Instead, practice selective avoidance.  If you get to the location early, claim a spot and more than likely, the ex will avoid you.  If you arrive after the ex, then select a spot that is comfortably out of their view.  Either choose the same side and go to the opposite end from where they are, or one of the two sides that end-cap the activity space, where you’d have to crane your necks to see each other. 

For example, any square or rectangular field has four sides from which to choose.  Or, if there is only one set of bleachers, there are two ends to them.  There are plenty of opportunities for blending in comfortably.

Avoid going directly across the way from the ex, as it’s human nature to look to see if someone else is looking at us, and when we catch them looking, to continue to look back to see if they’re still looking. Yes, it sounds childish, but that’s the result of not having a game plan for how to handle such a situation.

Tip 2: Keep Communication Neutral

A child’s practice or game is not the place to discuss financial issues or anything else that is a potentially hot topic.  Kids are always on high alert when they sense there may be trouble, especially with their parents and stepparents, and it will distract them from what they should be focusing on: their sports activity.

If there’s something you need to discuss with your ex or your partner’s ex, ask to set up a time to talk by phone at a later time.

Tip 3: Remember Who You Came to See

It can be tempting to take advantage of being in a crowd: you know things probably won’t become overheated because there are witnesses and the ex probably won’t do anything to embarrass themselves.

But there is a time and a place, and a kid’s activity is neither of those.  Remember that you came to relax and watch your child or stepchild engage in an activity, and you are there to support them.  By focusing on the child and not the ex, you can make sure you stay on point, which is supporting the kids.  Keep in mind that kids depend on adults to act like they’re on the same team.



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