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And the inevitable reality starts to hit!

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sleepless34 posted 11/26/2013 14:07 PM

My current situation is that my STBX is fighting me hard on 50/50 custody. We have been seeing a divorce therapist/mediator to work on a parenting plan through this transition. He says he doesn't want to go through the legal system and agrees to the plan we make with the Divorce therapist, then goes behind my back and plots and schemes with his lawyer.

He writes all these fictional crap emails trying to create a story line where I am witholding the children and trys to bait me into saying something stupid. He says I am denying the children time with their father, that they should not have to tolerate this injustice, that they want more time with him...yada yada.

They have a long weekend scheduled this week...Fri am to Sun pm...longest stretch they will have done. He is thrilled, they are freaked.

So last night, the kids come home from seeing him and the little one says " Tell Daddy I don't want to go to the pad anymore. I like it here. I want to stay home more, see my friends, jump on my trampoline." My older one says "I can't believe you told Daddy we would spend Wednesday night and then Friday night and THE WHOLE WEEKEND over there. I am so mad at you. When am I going to see my friends??"

I said, "Your Daddy wants to spend time with you, don't you want to spent time with him? You always say you have a good time?"

Little one says "Well, I know he wants us to go there and he wants to see us, but I want you to text him and tell him I don't like it."

Me "Honey, you can talk to him about your feelings."

Her "No, he wants to see us and I don't want to hurt his feelings. You tell him. I see him more than before he got his apartment (she means when he lived here) so why do I have to see him so much now."

Me "I am not going to tell him that sweetie, it will be fun, and you can talk to him about it if you are having a hard time, it will be okay..."

So, I am seeing it unfold now like people told me it would. Secretly hoping it goes poorly. I don't want the kids to have bad time, but I want him to see that long stretches of time is not in their best interest nor is it sustainable. He doesn't get it, still thinks as long as they get to see him, everything will fine and normal. My mom told me two months ago that the kids wouldn't like going there, and he would realize that all this parenting time is not going to be easy as he thinks and they aren't going to like it.

Have you all experienced that with your kids??

hummingbird8 posted 11/26/2013 14:45 PM

I disagree. Long stretches of time are good for them. That's how they get used to their new normal. He is their father and has just as much right to them as you do. I personally think this is one reason why some men have affairs rather than divorcing. They don't won't to give up time with their children.

I know it's hard on children at first. I think it's our jobs as moms to reassure and encourage their relationships. My children didn't really struggle but there were times they missed me and didn't want to go. I just say I know we will miss each other but I will see you soon and daddy is excited to see you. They have really adjusted well. Kids pick up so much on our feelings and the best thing for my kids is to have a great healthy relationship with both parents.

Reality posted 11/26/2013 18:03 PM

I think you should listen to your children. I just can't get behind the idea that when a child expresses feelings, those feelings aren't as important as the adults in the situation.

You didn't milk that information from the kids. They came to you with it. That's really important. When kids communicate feelings, and those feelings are brushed aside or diminished, especially in a situation where they've watched adults behave badly (and engaging in an affair is BEHAVING BADLY), there is no good outcome. At best, it teaches the kids they aren't as important. At worst, it forces the kids to feel guilty about their feelings. There's no up side to EITHER scenario.

Yes, the ideal situation is where the adult care givers put the needs of the children first, but that's not what you're describing, sleepless. Your kids are telling you how they feel, what their preferences are, and that should be the first priority, not the possible hurt feelings of their father. Who has, frankly, already made some less than awesome choices concerning the welfare of his children. If he can parent FOR THEM, rather than for himself, that would be the ideal situation.

One of the hardest things for my kids has been the onslaught of, "Aw, don't you miss your dad?" speeches given by those who "mean well." It doesn't matter how many times they explain the "father" they had, there's always that person who insists, "Hey, you should be more positive about your dad! He's your dad! A kid needs BOTH parents."

Nope. Kids need adults who prioritize them and their needs.

I would have the kids talk to a counselor, sleepless. Don't communicate this through you to your STBXWH - you were smart about that. But you do need substantiation so the courts can also represent the kids' best interests during the mediation. Get it documented in the safest, least disruptive way possible for the kids - they've already had to step out of what feels "safe" to them.

PurpleRose posted 11/26/2013 18:50 PM

Oh bull... These kids don't need extended time with the man who imploded their reality! They need safety and security- which they clearly do not feel with him.

This is a relationship that HE broke- the one with his daughters and him. Not sleepless. HE did that. The kids need time to figure out what makes them feel comfortable. Why does the fact that they are children negate their feelings of insecurity or anxiety??

I forced my kids to go with the Dooosh in the beginning. They didn't want to, then they would go at my insistence and come home frustrated and angry. Why? Why is that ok? Just because he is their father? What about their feelings?

It worked itself out in my family without any help from me (other than insisting that last time that both kids see their father. It was the last time for my 13 year old. She is done with him. He has done horrible things that have given her the right to say NO MORE. She now refuses to spend time with him. And he makes no effort. In fact, he continues to push her away.

The kids need a voice. They need to take it slow? They should be allowed to. Just my opinion.

TXMommy posted 11/26/2013 20:54 PM

No, they should not be forced to go somewhere they don't want to go. Really? They should get used to it? No. I don't think so. It is NOT their fault that their father made the idiotic decisions that he did. It is not their fault he is being a selfish jerk. They should not have to pay the price of his stupidity.
They came to you, telling you this was miserable. It's important to listen to them, and try to do something about it. Especially if their father is going to ignore their feelings, and pretend that what he wants is what's best.

PurpleBirch posted 11/26/2013 21:00 PM

I'm kind of two minds about this. One the one hand, I think it would be great for kids to see both parents, and that they (the kids) shouldn't necessarily dictate visitation.

On the other hand, if WH was as mean to them on visitation as he was in the past year, then I wouldn't want them to go. It wouldn't be good for them if he was treating them badly.

So I can definitely sympathize when you say it's not good for them. I agree with having a neutral party document this for court purposes.

Housefulloflove posted 11/27/2013 00:15 AM

I personally think this is one reason why some men have affairs rather than divorcing. They don't won't to give up time with their children.

I don't think their is a single man on Earth who has had an affair for their children's sake. There are many "reasons" people come up with for cheating and this horseshit might be one that people may use They aren't maintaining their family by cheating. How backwards would their thinking have to be to think that the outcome would be better if their marriage ended due to an affair rather than just ending?! What about the other option of staying married and NOT having sex with other women?! Sounds like an effective way to keep the family intact and not risk seeing their children less! Idiotic reasoning may be a part of why they cheated, but prioritizing their time with the kids had no part.

Sorry, didn't mean to t/j...but that statement was off.

Anyway, OP my kids don't enjoy time with their father. Unfortunately their father is a complete jackass in the process of imploding his life and that has seriously taken away from his ability to even try to parent. He doesn't know how to connect with his own children.

However, I did recently let him know a few of the things that the kids have been expressing to me (they refuse to talk to him and come to me only).

There is no amount of encouragement I can give them at this point that would get them to open up with him. Despite the fact that all 3 of our kids are elementary school aged, they are far more emotionally mature than their father who is stunted somewhere around toddler/preschool age emotionally. Seriously, it's like suddenly speaking in a foreign language with him. If anyone is trying to express their feelings to him they would be better off writing it in a letter and then throwing it in the trash.

I have told their father a few things that they have been expressing and tried my best to get him to understand what they are feeling (big fail there because he's incapable.)

I think that the only thing that can be done is taking a step back and watching him deal with the consequences of everything. The kids are going to figure out how to best deal with him as well. I agree with your mom, he might be creating some fantasy in his head and reality might make 50/50 custody look a lot less appealing especially if he is the type whose main focus is what makes him feel good. It's hard but there really isn't much else that can be done.

SBB posted 11/27/2013 00:48 AM

In Australia 50/50 is the standard. The only way it is more for one parent is if they both agree or if the other parent abuses the children or is incapable of looking after them.

It might be different where you are. What does your L say?

I couldn't fight for more custody - my L told me if it got to court the judge would rule 50/50. Ironically the sad clown was angling for more - he can't even handle them the time he does have. They are the easiest kids on the planet but I'm guessing they don't suit UnicornFartLand.

Follow your Ls advice here - fight what you can, surrender to the rest.

hummingbird8 posted 11/27/2013 04:59 AM

Well if kids don't want to go to school should we just say ok you don't have to do that either? The fact is in life there are things we sometimes have to do that we don't want.

As for the cheating, I didn't say that the cheating was best for the kids. I said I think some men choose to cheat rather than divorce because they know they will be out of time with their kids. They may want out of the marriage but don't want to give up time with their kids. Cowards way out? Sure. 50/50 should be the norm except in rare cases.

hexed posted 11/27/2013 07:39 AM


i'm sort of stunned by this. it takes time for children to adapt to a new situation. its not that you are not considering their feelings by making them keep the schedule, you are being an adult and making a decision in their interest. if we did what our kids wanted every time what would the point of being the PARENT be?

You need to give them a chance to adjust, make friends by dad's house. Develop a routine with Dad. Talk to him about figuring out how the kids can visit with their friends and do their activities when they are at his place.

My SO was the BS but still only gets the kids EOW. It sucks for him and the kids. Over time the kids have made friends where we live. They look forward to the different routine we have. We live about 30 minutes from his XWW. We make plans with their friends and make the time to drive them and pick them. We invite their friends here for sleep overs. If its his SO's weekend we take them to their activities.

Your XWH's consequences for his choices is losing you and his home but losing the kids is punishing them in the end. Kids really do need both parents.

Reality posted 11/27/2013 08:35 AM

Sorry if I'm pushing hard on this, but this is a really important point to me.

Parenting isn't (shouldn't be) a dictatorship. Children aren't possessions. Children are not vehicles for adults to project their own issues onto. Children have the same brain, the same ability to see information, as every adult around them. The only difference is access to information and experiences.

Parenting (whether through an "intact" family or not) means teaching and listening to our children in a mutually beneficial and respectful system. I think it's a huge mistake to think that age is some measure to clarity or wisdom, especially on a personal basis. For myself, I have learned as much from my kids as I hope they have learned from me.

I would be hurt if my children brushed aside my feelings or thoughts, just as I have no doubt they would respond if I did that to them. In this situation, for sleepless and her children, we're not talking an ideal situation. Her WH has already made decisions that severely negatively impacted not just sleepless, but the children. It's easy to see the betrayal to the spouse when someone chooses to engage in an affair, but it seems like the betrayal to the children gets pushed aside or diminished all over the place.

Then, the kids are forced into a new situation where adults are choosing actions and behaviors that rarely take the kids into serious account - especially for the waywards. That's a secondary betrayal.

Yes, we should guide and teach our children and help them understand healthy boundaries and what is safe and good in relationships. Part of them developing that is learning that people they trust and who they are vulnerable with will protect and put them as a priority. Like I mentioned above, diminishing feelings expressed by anyone is not going to build trust or good emotional boundaries or identity. Parenting is supposed to nurture and give access to important information in a safe and supportive environment, even if that means providing it at the adult's expense - never the kids'.

Do the kids need to understand the best way to interact with their father? Absolutely. But that doesn't just mean what's best for HIM. Their feelings matter. They should be heard. They should be taken into account.

If he's the father he should be to them, he will want their happiness as much as he wants his own. Ideally, he wants that MORE.

Again, sorry to soap box it up a bit. I'm not trying to criticize anyone trying to do their best for their kids. And that is what sleepless was posting about - trying to give her kids the best situation.

How we interact with children is a bit of a microcosm into how we interact with all other people. Control and domination and dehumanization can happen in big and small ways and can be easy to overlook and consider "normal."

ideservebetter45 posted 11/27/2013 12:34 PM

No, they should not be forced to go somewhere they don't want to go. Really? They should get used to it? No. I don't think so. It is NOT their fault that their father made the idiotic decisions that he did. It is not their fault he is being a selfish jerk. They should not have to pay the price of his stupidity

hexed posted 11/27/2013 12:42 PM

Nor should they have to pay the price for bitterness and hostility.

They need help and guidance. I want to not go to work and I want to eat lots of bad things. It is not healthy for anyone to indulge me in those things regularly...sure once in a while. I can say that I don't want to go to work and be respected and heard by my SO w/o having him encourage me to do something that isn't healthy.

Instead of having the kids not go over to dad's why not foster creative problem solving. "you don't want to go b/c you want to see your friends? why don't you ask dad to take you over to Jenny's house? Here's Jenny's mom's phone number, give it to Dad"

I'm not saying there aren't consequences but you are imparting those consequences on the kids by significantly reducing his role in their life.

I'm disgusted by some of this. As the child of divorced parents, I would be furious as an adult if my Mom had behaved like this when I was child.

BrokenDaisy posted 11/27/2013 14:31 PM

. best thing for my kids is to have a great healthy relationship with both parents.

Nor should they have to pay the price for bitterness and hostility.

What if the dad is incapable of having a healthy relationship with his children? And your decision isn't based on hostility or bitterness?

Sorry to semi-t/j but this struck a nerve so I hope I'll be coherent. I spent almost 2 years after dday with my xwh because I so strongly believed children need both parents. I allowed him at the birth of our son (despite being super vulnerable and exposed) because I believed children need both parents. I encouraged a relationship between them because I believed children need both parents. I stayed even when I saw my son was not warming up to him and that I was doing all the work in trying to get wxh to bond with our son because I believed children need bot parents.

Every time wxh messed up I'd go back to "a son needs his dad I need to stay and figure this out" Until I finally realized I was doing much more damage trying to keep his dad in his life than if I were to leave. A month after I left I got a call from his psychologist. She broke patient confidentiality (legally) because she believed our son was in enough danger. My xwh has (among many other very serious issues) pedophile tendencies. He has apparently not acted on it yet but obviously the threat was high enough that it warranted a warning. It shook me to my core (and I have been exposed to some awful things xwh did) I stayed because I thought I was doing the best for my son. Then I allowed visitation as much as xwh wanted because I thought it was best for my son. Then I was contacted by the psychologist. I regret every second he had with my son. Every second. What I don't regret is getting full legal custody and he is only allowed to see son under supervision.

It took too much for me to realize that "a child needs both parents" isn't always true. Great if a child has two good parents but a child most certainly does not need a bad parent. I am protecting my son, not because his dad hurt me, but because his dad IS NOT GOOD FOR HIM. I would've sucked it all up,and I did for a long time, if it was better for my son to have his dad in his life. When I left I left because I could see my son was not doing well with his dad's influence. I did not yet know all the reasons but my gut was screaming so badly. I wished I listened to it sooner, instead my son was exposed to a monster. I'll never forgive myself for that.

Yes he is his biological father but no my son does not need him in his life. He needs safety and stability. I hear those words from others too many times "but honey your son needs both his parents". No he does not. And no I am not doing it for revenge or to be vindictive or because I am bitter and I didn't come to the decision easily. It's not easy. I struggle every day with the father I chose for my son and fear every day that my son will hate me someday for not knowing his dad but I can't, knowing what I do know, expose him to his dad. I just cant. It's not safe. I wish it wasn't the case but it is not something I am willing to ignore.

Sorry for t/j i just strongly feel as a parent it's your job to protect your children even if it has to be against their other parent. It sucks.

[This message edited by BrokenDaisy at 2:33 PM, November 27th (Wednesday)]

rainagain posted 12/1/2013 23:53 PM

Sleepless, in response to what YOU wrote,

I've been there. I can't help wanting to see the reality of the situation not work because I so knew he wasn't prepared and able to deal with it. But then that reality means the kids suffer. And yes there's a happy medium of getting used to new and supporting their needs - finding that line in a time when things are emotional and raw is hard. Add in just a dash of crazy and it feels impossible.

So I haven't given advice but just wanted you to know I hear you. It's been over 5 years now for me and I can say time helps. That and a compassionate understanding mom like you are what your kids need - you'll be able to help them find a way through. ((((Sleepless and kids)))))

Sumrlady posted 12/2/2013 02:38 AM

Brokendaisy, your situation, terrible as it was, is not what is being described here. There is no mention of OP's X being a pedophile.

As for "Children have the same brain, the same ability to see information, as every adult around them." This is simply not true and has been proven over and over. Brains are only starting to mature at approximately age 18, and even then they are still not fully mature. This scientific fact is why children are not held to the same legal responsibility as adults when they commit crimes. This is the reason why children need parents, and why parents sometimes need to make decisions on behalf of children that differ from what the child would decide if given the chance. Like eating all their Halloween candy in one night. Not to say you should ignore your child's feelings entirely, but you need to keep it in perspective.

Also, having raised my kids through divorce, I learned a long time ago that the kids will tell you what they think you want to hear and then turn around and tell the other parent what they think they want to hear. For all you know they kids are telling him how much they prefer to be with him!

In the end, unless he is a real danger to them, they should spend time with him whether you like it or not. He is their dad.

And for the record, I can't stand my X. He spent most of "his" time with the kids at my mother's house so she could tend to them for him. I could go on and on about his totally lack of parenting ability or simple common sense. But, the kids have a good, realistic relationship with him (they are 25 and 32 now). They know he is a flake but they still love him. Nothing wrong with that.

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