Annoyed in Ada 

Dear Minerva,

My ex and I share equal custody of our children. We get along well for being divorced. If she needs me to take the kids a day or two early, I do. If it's not my time with them and they need picked up, I do. On birthdays or Mother's Day, I get her a gift from the kids and me. I take time off work to ensure the kids are getting to doctors' appointments and activities, which is causing me financial strain. What irks me is she doesn't reciprocate. I keep telling myself to stop being this flexible with her, but it's hard for me to say no. I also feel like I have to answer to her when it comes to things that are none of her business in my personal life. What would you suggest?

Sincerely,

Annoyed in Ada

Dear Annoyed in Ada:

Expectations mean nothing if the other person isn't aware of them. The situation you are in is no longer about your relationship with her, but about what's best for the children. From what you've written, you're setting a great example for your children about responsibility. Draw a line in the sand about personal life stuff. You don't have to answer to her about your personal life. You need only discuss things directly related to co-parenting. You can't control how she'll react, so you might want to enlist a professional mediator. You'll not only have a "referee" but also have documentation of your agreements.

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