Bitter is defined as angry, hurt, or resentful because of one's bad experiences or a sense of unjust treatment.
A Single Parent is defined as a person bringing up a child or children without a partner.
Society has made it a point to coin the term we know as “bitter babymama”. This is used to describe women that are angry or resentful towards the father of their child(ren) because the relationship didn’t work out and/or starts to pursue a new relationship with someone else.
Let’s break this down? What actions are displayed to categorize a woman as bitter? By definition it’s initially based on her feelings. I’ve asked a few people and also observed for myself. Here’s what I found:
Intentionally acting in a way that causes the other parent to become angry
They’ve dated in the past and are aware of their triggers
Saying hurtful things about the other parent to a third party (and possibly the children) in an attempt to discredit the other parent
Is it fair? Absolutely not! Does it happen? Probably more often than we’d like to admit. Most often the bitter single parent is the mother. But there is always a possibility that the bitter single parent is the father.
When there is a child involved, being bitter towards one another can often be felt by the child(ren). As a single parent, when my relationship was ending with the father of my son things weren’t good. We argued often and our son would cry for no reason. He could feel the tension between us. Note, we did not argue in front of our son, however, he could feel the anger we had towards each other during those moments after an argument.
I saw a post on Facebook recently that stated, “ A single mother protecting her kid from an inconsistent dad is not bitter!!”. I’ve asked a few people their perspective on the post. The consensus is this: The statement is partially true. My first question was why must a mother protect a child from their other parent in the first place? But during the conversation, we discussed how the age of the child plays a huge role in that statement. When a child is young, they don’t know whether the other parent is inconsistent or not. During the early years is when children establish who they can trust the most. Ever seen a child run to their grandmother? It’s because they recognize her face and how they’re treating when they’re with her. They feel safe. So it’s important (in my opinion) for children to at least see the face of the other parent even if it isn’t consistent, and let the child react however they feel. The other age range that’s important to note is when a child is age 12 or older. Children 12 and older are old enough to make their own interpretations and decisions. If they’re parent is inconsistent, they will recognize that on their own and react in any way they choose, whether that be pursuing the relationship or not putting in the energy necessary to nurture the relationship. Now, the vital years of about ages 5-11 is where protection is understood. Inconsistency is not healthy for a child. Once of the first things I learned as a new parent was that children love routine. They enjoy knowing it’s dinner, bath time, and then bed. When their schedule is interrupted, they don’t always adjust well. Imagine how cranky a toddler can get when they don’t get their afternoon nap! So children won’t always adapt well to a parent being in and out of their life during these years. They may start to ask hard questions such as “Why doesn’t my mom/dad want to spend time with me?”. Or be disappointed if the parent says they’re coming and never shows up. That can be traumatic for a child. Trust me, I know! I was once that child waiting for my father to show up……and he didn’t. I would cry thinking something was wrong with me. Even as an adult I questioned myself as to why my father has never really wanted a relationship with me. So whether you’re mom or dad, primary parent or not, do your absolute best to be as consistent in the life of your child(ren) as possible. They’re watching whether you know it or not.
It is important to try to be as cordial with the other parent as possible. Life is hard enough for children, especially in today’s society! Having two parents that aren’t together in a relationship but can coexist without animosity will make the life of the child(ren) easier. It teaches children that although they may not agree with everyone in this world, it doesn’t have to be a hostile environment when they are around those they don’t agree with or get along with all the time. Remember, it starts at home!
So don’t be bitter. Be better! Make a better life for your child(ren). Make life better for you and the other parent. Fabolous and Neyo released a song back in 2011 titled Make Me Better. Part of the hook says “I’m a movement by myself, but I’m a force when we’re together. This lyric popped in my head the other day about co-parenting. As a single parent we can be good. But as co-parents you both could be better for your child! It will be less stressful when you are able to co-parent in a cordial way. It’s not easy. It will require work on an ongoing basis. The main objective is to keep the child as the priority. Each of you will date other people. So as long as no hurt, harm, or danger comes near your child(ren), trust that the other parent will make decisions in the best interest of the child(ren) while in their custody, care, and control. Afterall, you do trust the person you are co-parenting with, right?!