Originally Posted by emilyrose
thanks for that... I guess I wasn't quite as clear as I meant to be. I am wondering more about books that discuss the "rules" as they apply to being civil to one another, and all the best things to do/say/act around the girls - for both parents to pay attention to... or, mama41, do you mean that books about acting in a civil way aren't useful?
Emily, I mean that you can't play pattycake with one person, and that all the divorce books I've seen are either too general to be of much use or that they presume an unusual degree of presence of mind & civility on the part of both parents simultaneously.
You cannot get your stbx to behave civilly; he will or he won't. Right now it sounds like "won't". I'm sure he knows how to do it if he wants to. If he's freaking out about legalities, you're not the person who's going to calm him down, because everything you do and say is suspect. And if he's freaking out about your wanting to nurse dd, the odds are not terrific for your working as a team with him right now on helping the kids deal with the divorce. It really sucks, but you should be prepared to do that one on your own. You really never know what, if anything, he or his family will say to them about the divorce. If you ask, he may well get angry at you (which is nothing to be afraid of) and yell that it's none of your business. Which may well mean "I haven't said anything or thought about it because everything is working fine and don't come in here with your ex-wife voodoo and try to stir up trouble." Down the line, of course, if he remarries, he may well be willing to discuss it with the woman if she brings it up (or if he carries the problem to her in a basket and says "please fix this for me"). She may even housebreak him to the extent that he's willing to talk with you. But don't hold your breath.
One thing I've learned in going through divorce and watching others do the same is that men are not good at teamwork that requires a genuinely social component with ex-wives. And I don't mean saying hello politely, I mean sitting down and talking candidly about childrearing issues. On the whole they're much better at running away and hoping like hell that no one will ever make them have these conversations. That somehow it will all just magically be taken care of (note passive voice).
I've got one here who said yes to everything in my divorce proposal, is like clockwork with visitation, pays support and everything else as stipulated, etc., etc. He's been trying to get into MSW school for two years now, so you'd think he'd be all talky about divorce with the kid. Apparently not. There is no communication about either divorce or dd's reaction to divorce. I had to tell her about it by myself. In the early days of the divorce, I couldn't get him, either on my own or with a therapist, to sit down with me and work out what we'd tell her, so that at least she'd be hearing consistent things. I found the psychologist on my own, told him I was taking her, and went. (She seems to be doing fine.) I have no idea what he says when she asks him about why we got divorced, but she's never tried any of it out on me; it's possible he doesn't say anything much.
You may have an exception there, but what I've seen on this board, elsewhere, and in my own life says "Prepare to do this on your own." Read the books if they help you, but don't expect he'll bother with them. If things get better, and if your daughters are inquisitive, you may be able to hand him a low-pressure children's book and tell him you've been using it to explain divorce things when they ask. You may get nowhere with that; he may still be frightened to try. But he might use it.