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Divorced parenting class nightmare

FusedGlass posted 12/17/2019 15:16 PM

Can someone please just tell me I'm not crazy and an awful person? Last night, I completed the two-part parenting class that is court-mandated to get divorced in my state, and both sessions were traumatic and made me feel horrible about my situation.

The worst part was this participant who kept saying it should be everyone's goal to be friends with their ex. She herself somehow has achieved this after two years of being separated from her husband, who'd led a double life and had an entirely separate family. She said, "If I can do it, anyone can!"

I got stuck in a breakout group with this woman and stupidly felt I needed to share why I wasn't able to be friends with my ex (emotional/psychological abuse in the marriage that I could only see after he left me, PTSD from the affair, etc.). At the end of my story, she just asked if I was in therapy. The impression I got was it was my problem that I didn't want to set a goal to be friends with STBX and I was doing a disservice to my kid.

The class went over how to "coparent," which is not really my situation since STBX just sees our teenage son when he feels like it, about once a month, while I do all the parenting.

On top of that, they talked about how hiring lawyers is bad and mediation is so much better; kids have much worse outcomes from high-conflict divorces; and kids who have witnessed their parents being hurt in a marriage will have a really tough time in life.

Since my situation falls into all those awful categories, I left feeling like I've permanently screwed up my son and I'm a miserable failure who can't be enough of a grownup to put my son's needs first. I know that's not true, but it all felt so crappy.

I am in IC, a divorce support group, doing all I can to take care of myself and my son. This entire time, I've taken the high road with STBX (but have been NC except money and kid for many months) and always tried to support the relationship my son wants to have with him. I'm working on myself to learn and grow from this. But I am NOT planning to be "friends" with STBX -- that would be taking a huge step backwards in my recovery.

This just triggered all the crap that broke me down and kept me in a marriage with a toxic person in the first place -- self-doubt, wondering if the other person is right, if I could be a better person, if I should do more, if everything is my fault, etc, etc. UGH! Please help me stop spiraling.

MamaDragon posted 12/17/2019 15:28 PM

There is no "best" way to divorce so please do not beat yourself up about how you are doing it.

I did not have children when I divorced my first XWS so I really can't comment on the parenting class. I can say that IF your EX is not being an ass, you can co-parent. IF your EX is abusive or a "whenever it suits me parent", you won't be able to co-parent and the best you can hope for is parallel parenting.

I had two couple friends who divorced, one was able to co-parent like champs (well until one got remarried to a real shrew - not related to their divorce, but by then the kid was 17). The other set could not even sit together for a parent teacher conference without almost coming to blows. Guess what? BOTH set of kids did wonderful in school, graduated top of their college course and have great relationships with their parents - well as much as the parents want.

My point is, you be the best parent you can be - which it sounds like you are - and let your EX decide what type of parent and relationship he has with your child. Don't let the rantings of some divorced parenting class make you feel less than just bc you don't sit around the campfire singing camp songs together. Trust me, it is not all candy and roses in her house either, she just fakes it or takes a lot of bs.

Sometimes, it is better for the kids to not have parents who co-parent.

EllieKMAS posted 12/17/2019 15:39 PM

I am in IC, a divorce support group, doing all I can to take care of myself and my son. This entire time, I've taken the high road with STBX (but have been NC except money and kid for many months) and always tried to support the relationship my son wants to have with him. I'm working on myself to learn and grow from this. But I am NOT planning to be "friends" with STBX -- that would be taking a huge step backwards in my recovery.
Sounds like you know EXACTLY how you need to handle your business to me!

Anyone who wants to blame or shame you? You just give them this picture:

Marz posted 12/17/2019 15:48 PM

That counselor doesn't know anything and you're wasting your time. Just complete the course and go your own way.

[This message edited by Marz at 3:48 PM, December 17th (Tuesday)]

FusedGlass posted 12/17/2019 15:52 PM

Thank you, Ellie -- that's awesome! I may have to print that pic out and carry it with me to wave at people like that.

MamaDragon, thank you, I appreciate your perspective on the long view of how kids turn out, and the reminder to do the best I can and not listen those who aren't supportive.

Marz, yes, I got my certificate, and now I just need to get this experience out of my head and keep moving forward.

skeetermooch posted 12/17/2019 15:52 PM

Glass,

I felt like this is parenting glass years ago with my abusive idiot ex. And it fucking offended the hell out of me - these classes really aren't written for people coming out of relationships with cheaters or other varieties of abusers.

You do not have to be friends with your ex. I divorced my ex almost 16 years ago. My son is almost 21. I am still not his friend. I don't want friends who abuse women.

I did what you do - take the hide rode, support their relationship and only communicate when necessary - worked great. My son is 100% not messed up around this.

[This message edited by skeetermooch at 3:53 PM, December 17th (Tuesday)]

crazyblindsided posted 12/17/2019 16:07 PM

This would have sent me spiraling as well so far I feel like I haven't been able to do anything right since separating and my STBX falls on the toxic side of personality disordered so he is not a friend nor is he trying to be one.

Adlham posted 12/17/2019 16:16 PM

I would suggest that you take what you need and to hell with the rest.

I completely relate. 99.9% of the parenting class I had to take was just not applicable because my ex was physically abusive and stalked me for a few years after.

Sorry, but we were never going to be friends. No thanks.

Those classes, like Skeeter says, are not at all useful for the really difficult and tramautic situations.

Fuck their shaming bullshit! Onwards and upwards!

The1stWife posted 12/17/2019 17:14 PM

She maybe was trying to make a point BUT As we know, one size does not fit all!

Donít beat yourself up over things you have no control over. And one of those things is Co-parenting with your ex.

FusedGlass posted 12/17/2019 17:27 PM

You are all helping me feel so much better - thank you!!

skeetermooch - You're exactly right these classes are not created for this type of situation. I'm so glad to hear your son turned out wonderfully. I suspect mine will too, though it's hard to remember sometimes.

crazyblindsided - Thank you for the support!

Fuck their shaming bullshit! Onwards and upwards!

Adlham - Thank you, yes!
Donít beat yourself up over things you have no control over. And one of those things is Co-parenting with your ex.

The1stWife - Very true, thanks!

nomudnolotus posted 12/17/2019 17:57 PM

My mother had to do all the parenting on her own when my parents split too.

My dad hardly ever saw us.

My mother did not say bad things about my dad, but she did NOT try to be friends with him.

She did what would now be called parallel parenting, if you can even call what he did parenting.

You know what screwed me up?

NOT my mom, who did everything she could to give us the best life despite the divorce.

It was my dad, and how he just happily abandoned us as if we were nothing.

Don't listen to that woman. Maybe some people can be friends, but it's fine if you're not.

Snapdragon posted 12/17/2019 18:16 PM

What the actual hell? What makes a "participant" think that they know jack squat about YOUR situation?

Imagine that you live in Arizona and I live in Michigan. I am insistent that you need a snowblower in order to get through the winter without hurting your back shoveling snow. Naturally, you would look at me like I have 3 heads (as you should)! But, since the snowblower is critical to *me* I think that everyone needs one. Well, you are welcome to take my adamant advice and toss it right out the window

People are interesting, aren't they? People get ideas in their heads and feel they have the right to spew those ideas all over everyone else. Just because that person had a basic philosophy for her situation doesn't mean it works for you. It doesn't mean that you are failing because you can't live up to HER philosophy. In other words, she can go pound sand!

Friendship with an abuser? Yeah... no. What message does that give to your kids? Let people abuse you and continue to be their friend? Boundaries! When people abuse me I remove them from my life. If I cannot for some reason then I reduce my contact to the bare minimum. I am civil. That's it. But, hey... that's just me. You be you.

barcher144 posted 12/17/2019 18:27 PM

Maybe I am weird, but when I went through my court-required parenting class, I repeatedly noticed that STBXW was basically doing precisely the opposite thing that they were saying to do. Sadly, I am not exaggerating or joking.

It would be great if you could be friends with your STBXH... but you can't. That's his fault. You can't clap without two hands... it takes two people to be friends. Be cordial to him at all times, but friends? Fuck that!

Or, more politely, the Serenity Prayer:

Grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference

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