When babies are born, it’s hard to fathom that this, is a person. It’s not just “your baby”. It is a human being, with a name and everything. A future, likes, dislikes, etc. This is not a puppy, it will grow up and fly away (at least if you do it right).
New parents have all sorts of ideas about what “their kids” will and will not do. That’s wonderful in theory (I had them too) until the little bundle of joy learns that dropping the sippy cup from the highchair is funny because they made you retrieve it. What a fun game! The toddler that spouts off to your mother-in-law that “her food is disgusting”, is not a child you will want to claim. This of course escalates as they get older. “I can’t wear blue mom, it’s a boy color.” A year later, “Why are all my clothes pink mom? Pink is for babies.” Seriously, I will smother you in your sleep…. This is a person who has feelings, likes, and dislikes. Surprise! They are not the same as yours.
Your kids have their own path. They have relationships with people completely independent of yours, even if you know the person. This is especially true for their relationship with their other parent. What you find annoying, they love about that parent. What you once found charming, they find embarrassing. This person is not their ex, it’s their parent.
When they go to the other parent’s house, they are following their path with one of the most important people in their entire world. Good, bad, or otherwise, this is their path and you cannot follow them. If they hate that mom makes them go bed an hour earlier than you do, well, “mom has different rules, honey”. It’s up to them to discuss it with their mom. If dad has a habit of blurting out “private” stuff they didn’t want everyone at dinner to know, the kids will have to learn to speak up and tell him. It’s simply not you place anymore.
Whatever you think is the other parent’s transgression, you’ve done something equally annoying. Oh you haven’t? Think harder…..I’ll wait. Yep, there it is. Glass houses and shit folks…. No one gets it all right. It’s their parent to be dealt with either now, or later in therapy.
It’s hard, but this is their family, even if it isn’t yours anymore. These are people too and they love their parents. Both of them.