Assface is a liar. A serial cheating, justifying, emotionally abusive, remorseless, liar. Who tossed their mother aside like an old dishrag. But to them he plays super dad of the year. And they adore him.
My biggest fear, with them being boys, is that they are going to identify with him and grow up to be just like him. I know he'll never tell them the truth or tell them anything that makes him look bad. I can't control what goes on there and what he fills their head with. I don't want them to grow up thinking that what he's done is ok, or make escuses forvhis behavior like he does. I can't bear the thought of them growing up to be like him. :(
I hate feeling so out of control.
I think you are in a significant position to teach them to think for themselves, and to treat people with respect. Of course they are instinctively going to try and identify with their father on some level, but the more they know about integrity the more they are going to naturally gravitate towards you and your outlook on life.
The only thing you can control is what they learn from you, but that's going to go a very long way.
They may have seen the way dad treated mom-BUT they also saw the way mom stand up for herself. They see mom acting with love and integrity. They see mom sacrificing time, energy, funds on their behalf. They experience mom showing them respect. They know mom makes time for them in small and large ways.
They don't get all of that with dad. His interactions with them are less that 200 hours a month-including the time they sleep. He doesn't have time to be an effective enough parent to teach them anything more than how to get to the next level in a video game.
I have a parallel fear for my DD. X left when she was 8 and he has literally abandoned her. I was then (and still am to a degree) terrified that she will try to find love in all the wrong ways and seek out any/all male attention to fill the void. Luckily at 16 she has not done that.
I am very happy to say that other men in her life have stepped up to provide positive male role models for her, including uncles, coaches, and teachers. DD knows what a good man does and very little respect for her father.
At that same age, my boys loved and adored and greeted dad's visits with bouncy enthusiasm. He was so much FUN, he's like a big idiot KID himself and really, what comes up in two days that can't be joked away, or set aside at that age? It is skinned knees, or sibling squabbles and eating out and staying up watching movies that don't come near being uncomfortable topic wise.
But the kids age into movies that have jokes that aren't really funny and they see dad laugh. They have problems that they want the adult to handle not set aside. They know begin to recognize
Assface is a liar. A serial cheating, justifying, emotionally abusive, remorseless, liar.
and kids don't like being lied to any more than we do. They may not see the cheating, but they might. If dad dates, they will see him act secretive. Or meet a "friend" that is a secret. They will be emotionally abused when he snaps and is distracted or angry. They will know that his bribes to make them forgive him don't feel like remorse.
This is a hard thing for them to see in their father so be prepared for the abrupt shift in "great dad" to confused or angry.
He may be the male role model, but you are their MOM. Dad doesn't get a free pass for being a jerkface to MOM.
Try to use the EOW time to get solid and rested. And know you are not alone. What a blessing that us "single parents" aren't ever walking this parenting alone.