Time for a controversial post. Haven't had one of those in a super long time, so I'm dusting off my opinions to smack them down on you again. Sorry readers - sometimes I just can't keep my trap shut. At least I own my actions and words (as I'm hiding behind my computer screen...)
Seriously though... I just have to know the alternate side to my opinions. I yearn to hear differing opinions. It helps me learn
just how crazy other's points of view and teaches me objectivity. And if any of you know me, you know I want to be right so I better learn my objectors! So I beg of you - if you have a different opinion or would like to "enlighten" me, give it a shot. I'll try to listen. Really, I will.
A good friend of mine is still struggling with her ex in coparenting their children. Their kids are being affected, no doubt. They are both angry with each other for certain reasons. They are still working out communication efforts and the like. The oldest is yearning for his father's attention. The youngest acts out sometimes unprovoked. The kids have been to therapy. The mom (my friend) has asked for help from friends and loved ones. But no matter what she does, no matter what the kids do, no matter what anyone's needs are, the simple fact is that the dad remarried immediately after their divorce and his wife doesn't like his ex (my friend). That's the bottom line. To the new wife (3rd, in case you were wondering), his ex-wife is just in the way. As a matter of fact, the kids are, too. She just wants to be married to him with no interruptions. No other commitments. No baggage.
Mind you she has her own children, too - of which she does not have physical custody of either of them by either of their fathers. Yep, probably her 3rd marriage, too. Not that there is anything wrong with that - some people are slow learners and need three tries. But some are just... well...
I wish he would just grow up and see what he is doing to their kids. But instead, he has caved. It's SO much easier to just cave. Because if he wants to see his kids, he has to fight his new wife. If he wants or needs to talk to his ex about the kids, he has to fight his new wife. If he wants to see his kids activities (where - oh my god - the ex might be!), he has to fight his new wife. He really can't win ever, because the new wife will never let him.
See a pattern here?
So he takes the easy path. He stops. Stops participating. Stops asking questions. Stops taking the kids on his days. Just stops. Ah, so much better. The 3rd wife has stopped bitching.
Now what? It's all quiet on the battlefield... no arguing with ex, right? Nope... that's where he makes his grave mistake. Because he was so focused on his 3rd wife's feelings, he has completely overlooked his children's feelings. Guess who is cleaning that up? Hate her all you want, stepmoms reading this. But bio mom is the one that tucks those kids in bed and apologizes (or tries to) to them for daddy not being there. She's the one attempting to defend his honor and integrity to the kids (and believe me, she hates him... but she does it anyway) knowing any shred of relationship they have left will most likely be her words and encouragement. Sure, she could throw him under the bus. She could tell the kids he's a piece of crap. And I'm sure eventually, if he keeps on this path of destruction with the kids hearts, she will tell them he's a piece of crap. Because it's all she will have left to help them understand he will never change and get any better. And she is battling him, nonstop. She is trying to get him to pull his head out of his ass. She is trying to show him what is going to happen in the future if he keeps this up. So she is a big 'ole bitch - because she has to be.
So that's better for the kids, right? Just avoid the ex, avoid the kids and appease the new wife?
I just can't get this through my thick head. I remarried once in my life. I had a 3 year old son. I told (and showed) my husband how much my son meant to me. THE ENTIRE WORLD. I made it quite clear that his needs came first, and my hubs totally and unequivocally understood this fact. He never, ever, ever tried to get in the middle of any conversation, email, verbal discussion or meeting with my ex over my son's needs. We didn't have to go to group therapy to figure out how to coparent together. My husband gave me room to coparent with my ex.
And I'm sure he swallowed HARD - a lot! Oh, he sure caught the brunt of all of my frustrations with my ex when he didn't do what he said he was going to do, or didn't support our son in his activities. Yep, he kept his mouth shut and let me rant and rave, knowing full well that it was my responsibility to navigate this mess I put myself in. He silently supported me in my efforts to raise my son and loved him (and me) unconditionally.
My heart aches for my friend. She is in a no-win situation. She is watching the clock tick on all the opportunities the kid's dad has to be involved and yet he keeps abstaining to appease his wife. And he seemingly doesn't care, so she thinks.
I try to remind her that unless he is completely soul-less, he will care. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow... but someday, when he's old and the 3rd wife has long moved out and he is sitting alone in his house with no relationship with his kids, he will care. Maybe pity himself... but nonetheless it will sting. His decisions will cause remorse. She may never see them, but he will feel them. I guarantee it. Every large life event that the kids have that he misses will put 25 more feet of distance emotionally between him and them. And eventually, they will no longer see or speak to him. And their pain will subside because they will grow to learn that it had nothing to do with them and everything to do with his own decisions.
New wife wins. I guess that's what she's in this for to begin with.
Stay strong, bio moms. You are doing a great job loving your kids. Remember it's not your job to defend your ex's actions to your kiddos. Unfortunately, let them feel the pain. It will make them stronger. Just hug and love them through it and show them YOU are their constant in life.
And if by some strange stroke of luck I do have any men readers, please know this. Although my examples are pretty gender biased most times, I do realize there are really fantastic fathers and really crappy bio mom's, too. I see dad's raising their kids alone and loving them through their mother nightmares. I also realize there are some fantastic stepmothers and without them, kiddos would be in a world of hurt. Remember, Bubba has a stepmom and she is FANTASTIC! I'm not sure how things would have been for my son had he not had her to love and unconditionally care for him when he did see his father. I pray for her all the time having to raise her three children with my ex and his 4th wife. Nightmares all around... she's in the same boat as my friend above. Of course she's crazy though, it's all her fault. Isn't it always when the new wife moves in? Keep talking, pot.
It always comes back, regardless of gender, to loving your kids unconditionally and putting their needs first and not your own. Unselfish parenting.
And so a new book idea arises....