Do try to spend time together as a family on special occasions.
Don’t let lingering animosity disrupt Pansy’s step-up party—and, for the record, it’s unbecoming to arrive looking like a drunken slattern.
Do introduce your new partners gradually and with sensitivity.
Don’t interrogate your child about said new partner with techniques more appropriate to Abu Ghraib.
Do give your child just a smidgen of uninterrupted time during Daddy weekends.
Don’t text a stream of cute pictures of Mommy and child together during her father’s birthday dinner.
Do nod and smile supportively during birthday dinner text barrage.
Don’t hiss through a mouthful of crème brulee, “Who’s a manipulative C-U-Next-Tuesday?”
Do ask your ex if she had a nice day when you’re picking up your child at the agreed upon meeting place in the demilitarized custody changing station, aka Target parking lot.
Don’t ask loudly and rhetorically “See why I divorced her?” of the shoppers gaping at the unholy hissyfit you’re having over her congenital tardiness.
Do let your ex know in advance you’ve invited Pansy’s class to her birthday party at Kid Zone Saturday morning at eleven.
Don’t upstage Daddy’s party by inviting Pansy’s class to Kid Zone that same Saturday at nine.
Do give Pansy another Coke and extra large slice of chocolate cake before dropping her off at Mommy’s after the reenactment of the 53rd Hunger Games at Kid Zone.
Don’t tell Kid Zone to charge both parties to Mommy’s credit card.
Do remind your ex often that you are both your child’s loving parents and equally important in her life, though of wildly varying degrees of competence.
Don’t list the new live-in boyfriend as the child’s emergency contact even if your boyfriend explains that he is “there for Pansy 24/7” in the house your ex husband is still paying for.
Do support your child’s father with kind words and praise whenever possible.
Don’t end the praise by saying, “and he’d be an even better dad if he wasn’t such a narcissistic pig.”
Do let your ex know that narcissistic pigs are not willing or able to do laundry. Pack all your child’s stinking, damp clothes in her overnight bag, and get it all—her mother hates things left behind.
Don’t pick up the phone for 24 hours.
Do let Pansy dye her hair with Kool-Aid, which is safe, child-friendly permanent hair color—particularly if her mother routinely spends $70 on a haircut for a goddamned 11-year-old.
Don’t pick up the phone for 48 hours.
Do reinforce the values of thrift and delayed gratification for Pansy, even when she really, really wants the pink pony that’s displayed at the CVS cash register.
Don’t scream “stop fucking texting your mother every time you have a feeling” when Mommy shows up at the door with the pink pony 31 minutes later.
Do oooh and aaah over Pansy’s new puppy, “her favorite, favorite Christmas present ever from Mommy,” that you are going to have to house train over the next week of vacation.
Don’t shove the puppy shit you stepped in on your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night and trailed all over your white rug under the rear seat of Mommy’s new hybrid SUV when you are putting Pansy’s bag of dirty laundry into the car at the end of the week.
Don’t do it.