“How do I refer to my ex, now that we’re no longer together?”
Good question. If you don’t have kids, referring to him/her as your ‘ex’ makes sense, because that refers to your relationship status with him or her.
But with kids, it’s a different story. They see it from a totally different point of view. To your children, he or she is not your “Ex,” but rather, like you, their parent. As one child put it, “They call each other their ‘ex’ like an ‘X’ on a bottle of poison… they may not be together, but they’re still who they are to me. My mom is not my ex-mom, and my dad is not my ex-dad.”
You are no less of a parent because you’re no longer with your former partner. Same for your co-parent. The relationship has not ended, it has changed — from an intimate to a business relationship.
A former lover, spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend you don’t have kids with is just that, an ex, and that relationship has ended. In fact the term “Ex“ means “out,” in Latin, as in, exit, exterior; external, etc.
The possible problem with referring to your co-parent as your “ex“ is, it may become easy to devalue or disrespect the role that your child’s other parent plays in your child’s life and relationship. It is the same if your co-parent refers to you as his or her ‘ex’ around the kids. “My ex…” meaning the one that’s “out.”
Even if you feel like your co-parent isn’t much of a co-parent right now, it’s good to think of it from the children’s point of view. Think of him or her as your child’s other parent.
It’s also very important for those around you to take care in how they refer to your children’s other parent, including any new partners of yours!
Kids hear what we say, and think about it a lot… for a long time.