It's no secret that I'm not thrilled with my daughters "ex ex." I call him that because he was in and out, never showing up unless his doing so could create the most awkward of moments. His timing was impeccable (and I don't mean in a good way).
And I may be to blame — at least partly. I didn't like the dude from the start. Too many badly spelled tattoos, too many days he went missing, too few bills being paid, too little of a lot of stuff...
And add this to the mix: I am a judgmental cad.
Was the eventual demise of my daughter's relationship a self-fulfilling prophecy for me? I certainly hoped for it to happen. Who knows?
What I do know is that it can't happen again — and by "it" I mean "me not being supportive of my child's decisions."
For those in the same boat, here's how to avoid my mistakes.
You can't do much about who your child sees or what she does when she's seeing him. But you can be kind and personable. Maybe call the guy in and sit down for a dinner — just you and him. That might start things off right.
Lead by example. When push comes to shove, are you behaving the way a responsible adult should behave? If you're not known to be reliable, you can't expect any better of anyone else.
Be a good grandparent. Sometimes, the Lord grants "do-overs." They are called grandchildren.
Try to imagine what it feels like to be excluded. I have been in that situation — where my in-laws weren't too thrilled with the man their daughter chose. It's interesting that, even having been in that position, I was less than supportive of my daughters "ex ex."
Do not participate in talk that happens behind your child's back, and do not make up pseudonyms for your son or daughter-in-law so that you don't have to say his or her name. (My name for "ex ex" was Durwood. Bewitched, anyone?) Life will be hard enough on your child without all the gossiping and griping.
Remember that it isn't about you. Your child's choices do not reflect on you, and if they did, it wouldn't matter — because they're your child's choices. Your job is to be as accepting and forgiving as you would want others to be with you (even when your child gets hurt and you feel like popping somebody one).
If worse comes to worse, remember that what you are really doing is supporting your child. What you do and how you act still affects your child and your grandkids. Treat them like family. Blood is thicker that a tattoo with bad grammar.
Use your sense of humor. A well-placed, well-timed bit of humor can lighten most any situation. Not sarcasm — humor. (I am a funny guy, and there is no reason my family shouldn't benefit from that.)
Drop the tug-of-war rope. You're not playing around. You don't need to win every argument or interaction. The real goal here is keeping your family safe. That is the war you must win.