I suppose it’s universally known that divorce sucks, right? I mean, that’s no secret. And it’s worse when there are little kids involved. Again: not a secret.
But I’ve always had this rule, that I will do everything in my power to limit what the kids are exposed to. Dave and I go through phases where we get along, and phases where we don’t, but the kids don’t hear about it when we’re fighting. I never want them to feel like they’re being put in the middle, or forced to pick sides.
Since Dave lives in Seattle and we’re in North Carolina, I do whatever I can to try to facilitate the girls’ relationship with their dad. If they ask to have a FaceTime chat with him, unless it’s in the middle of the night, I always text him to see if he can talk to them. I try to make sure they get as much time with him as possible when he’s in town. Sometimes it’s inconvenient or hard for me personally, but I put my own feelings aside for their benefit. What am I going to say, “no I won’t text Daddy to see if he can chat, because I’m really annoyed with him right now”? He’s their dad, they have a right to a relationship with him, and the way I see it, it’s my job to help that along however I can.
I thought this was just a common sense rule of divorce. It seems so basic, doesn’t it?
It’s interesting, dating someone who is also divorced with kids, and seeing how other people handle the same life situations. And I have learned a lot about the kind of ex-wife I will never, ever be.
Chris told me ages ago when we first started dating that his ex-wife had some “anger issues” (phrasing it nicely), and I knew some stories of things that had happened between the two of them (and I’ve seen the court papers myself), but I naively thought that the kids weren’t exposed to any obvious hostility between the two of them.
I was wrong.
Based on his ex-wife’s behavior, I’m now coming up with a list of things that I vow to never do as a divorced mom. For example:
* I will never tell my kids that their dad doesn’t love them.
* I will never tell my kids that their dad didn’t want them.
* I will never call my ex-husband names in front of my kids.
* I will never tell them that they aren’t allowed to hug their dad.
* I will never tell my kids that if Daddy gets mad at them, they should call 911 and say that he’s trying to kill them. (No, really. I’m not making that up.)
This list could go on and on. There are also things that don’t involve the kids that I will never do. I mean, just as an example? I will never randomly text my ex-husband in the middle of a workday to call him a c*cksucker, for no apparent reason. Which has very little to do with my relationship with Dave, and more to do with the fact that I would never text anyone in the middle of a workday (or any other time, for that matter), just for the purpose of calling them a c*cksucker. I mean, honestly. That’s just rude. What would Miss Manners say?
Up until recently, I didn’t think that I had some superior moral compass or anything, I just thought that I was doing what all grown adults try to do when faced with a divorce while their kids are young. Now I’m wondering if her “do everything possible to alienate the kids from the other parent” scenario is more common. I really and truly hope that’s not the case, though. Because I cannot imagine how much that sucks for those two sweet kids.
I’m so glad you have that outlook. A friend of mine is divorced and her ex-husband is the same way as Chris’ ex-wife. If he is mad at her, he won’t see his son. He even didn’t see him on Father’s Day because he was holding a grudge against his ex. Horrible 🙁
You’re behaving like a normal person who was brought up properly. People who do those other things have some real problems…emotional, psychiatric, or behavioral. While I don’t care how a person wishes to use up their time on earth, it crosses a line when it hurts other people. This hurts the kids, so it is always wrong, always unjustified, always indefensible, forever.
Other things not to do, as taught to me by my husband’s ex-wife.
1. Don’t tell your kids that Daddy got remarried because the kids weren’t enough for him.
2. Don’t demand child support two weeks earlier than it’s due because you’re going on vacation (without the kids) and need the money.
2a. When he doesn’t send the money right away so you can go on vacation, don’t hide your kids’ phones so they can’t call their dad.
3. Don’t consistently demand more and more money for child support, and then when the kids visit dad, he can see that you’ve sent them with clothes that don’t fit so he’s forced to buy them new ones or have his kids running around in too-small clothes.
3a. While you’re demanding more child support, don’t post pictures on your Twitter account of you with new bags, new haircuts, new manicures with the hashtag #ExPaidForThis.
Not that you’d do any of these things.
I’m just sayin’.
Gah. Some people are just vile human beings, full stop.
I’ve known friends on both sides of the divorce spectrum and it’s ridiculous what some women (and men) will say in front of their kids about their ex.
I’m not saying you need to invite your ex to Christmas dinner yearly, though I know families like that, but your kids should never have to be exposed to that kind of drama. You may not get along, but the kids should never know that.
Also, glad you’re on the sane side of the divorce spectrum. The girls will be thankful one day.
miss you!! XOXO
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My parents divorced when I was three and my mom never told me her feelings about my dad until I was a grown adult who was starting to realize some things about him on my own. I appreciate that she did that.
I have a set of married friends who were both previously married and the man in the relationship has an ex-wife similar to your beau’s. It’s really unfortunate what my friends go through, and what his kids are subjected to.
I hope your beau’s ex-wife grows up soon. Doubtful, but I’ll still hope.
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so the line ” I just thought that I was doing what all grown adults” has a major flaw in it…grown does not necessarily mean “mature” in human references…HA
i used to work with a lot of men and it would INFURIATE me when i would hear their tales of woe in regards of children…and most of it was the grousing of the inconvenience of having a kid(s) to support and what a hag their ex was. I naively assumed the wife was doing the best they could because…well, they were the “mom”.
oh how wrong i found out i was…moms are just as bad.
It comes as no surprise to me, given the little i know you from just reading, that you are doing what is right for the well being of your children. As the mature and loving mother, you want want is best for your girls.
Bless you and thank you.