Q&A: Potty training and the ex

(Now that my kids' dad and I are writing a blog together about co-parenting after divorce, I thought I could take a co-parenting question. I didn't ask my ex for his opinion on this one, as he bears no resemblance to the dad in question.)

Anon writes:

"No, not potty training THE ex, just...

I just picked up the kids from their first weekend chez papa.  Really just their first 1 night overnight.

I was informed that Daddy had decided, without consulting me, to try the 2.5 year old in underpants.  well, she had two pee accidents and a poop accident during the course of the day today.  In fact, no successful use of the potty at all.

How many weeks do you think he just set potty training back....?

Oh, and um, next time? Maybe take a page from the preschool's book and ask me how we might be working on potty training? Or how potty training is going?  Possibly consult with the custodial parent before dashing off on your own???"

Argh. Argh argh argh. I'm sorry you're going through this.

There are an awful lot of ways you can handle this (all of them awful).

1. Natural consequences. Since he had to deal with three accidents in one day, perhaps he won't do something like this without talking to you about it again. However, anyone who takes it into their head to just potty train a kid in one day without talking to the custodial parent about how it's been going so far might not be smart enough to respond to natural consequences.

2. Have your lawyer or mediator send him a registered letter telling him not to make any decisions affecting the children's health or welfare without consulting you first. It's assy and inflammatory and counter-productive so you won't do it, of course, but it feels good to think about doing it, so give it a minute just to think about doing it before you drop it. The "writing a letter but not sending it" method is highly useful.

3. Send him an email that's not aggressive but still calls him on it, and asks for his cooperation. "I'm concerned that you decided to use another method of potty-training over the weekend than the method her preschool and I have been having success with. She's upset about the accidents, and I'm concerned that yesterday may have set back her progress by several weeks. Could we agree that before you do something so major about a matter of health that you talk to me about it to find out what the current plan of action is? It will go better for all of us."

The good news is that in another few years she'll be old enough to advocate for herself a little. And she'll be potty-trained.

Divorce is hard, but parenting with someone you can't trust has to be harder.

Anyone else have anything to offer?