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Temporary Credit Issued

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USAA has issued me a temporary credit while the investigation moves forward on the ATM.  I am thankful.  I enjoyed tips from the readers and will definitely use some of them in the future.  Thanks!

Now to a personal issue.  This one has the potential to impact finances and I’m pretty sad about it too.  It feels like just as I get myself feeling pretty good about things something else comes my way.  That’s life I suppose and I know I have many, many blessings but it is still tough.

My first ex-husband–the father of my children–has met and become engaged to a woman we’ll call NW for “New Wife.”  They met in December, he confided in me in early January that she broke up with him because she had never dated a divorced man with children (oh how I wish he had never told me that and even as he did I tried to cut him off–I did not need to know that but he has always struggled with boundaries) and then about ten days later she called him back and all I know is that it was back “on.”   Last weekend they became engaged.  She is 41, never married and no children.

This is challenging to talk about because I don’t know that I can convey how our relationship worked via blogging and I imagine there will be readers who jump to the conclusion that I am jealous.  Some of you regular readers know it has been a friendly divorce with the children’s time split 50/50 and no child support exchanged.  I have been told by countless teachers and professionals that my children are as well adjusted as they are BECAUSE of the unique way in which their father and I are divorced.  Friends and family have warned me for years that the potential for this good thing to go bad rested in my ex finding NW.  Everyone around me has recognized for years that I am the reason we are divorced well.  That I do the lion’s share of the parenting and Dad gets credit for a lot of what I do but that didn’t bother me b/c I focused on the kids.  If anyone should be made to experience unpleasant situations, it is the adults in the situation. 

Over the last 3 months the relationship with my ex-husband has deteriorated dramatically.  I do not want to jump to conclusions and assume this was a directive from NW for their relationship to continue but boy am I struggling with that!  It feels like since her return he has done all he can to be a man that was not married before and without children.  I no longer get responses to my inquiries regarding the kids.  The texts go unanswered.  I’m given excuses such as the phone was charging, he was driving, he was in a meeting.  These are logistical questions that I am texting or emailing about that simply do not receive a response.  As we enter summer we’ve had a lot of end of school and summer activity things to discuss and pay for. I am left to chase him down or just make decisions on my own and yes, pay for things too.

It hit a low point earlier this week and for now he is checked out.  He has left the kids with me for the majority of the month of May and that part is great for me–but not great for the kids.  I don’t know where this will go but I’m not looking forward to dealing with it if things don’t correct soon.  Thankfully the activities they are doing this summer are few and inexpensive so I’ve been able to pay the deposits on my own.  I do see the potential for having to escalate things to the courthouse and the very thought of that makes me ill.


38 Comments

  • Reply Jen from Boston |

    I am sorry to hear about your troubles with husband 1 🙁 I am concerned about her attitude towards the kids. After his divorce my brother dated a woman who had never had children, and there were issues related to how she treated his children. And my mother had told me that it’s difficult for non-parents to understand the importance of putting children first. We can understand it intellectually but we don’t actually get it. I’m sure that notion will rankle some, but I think I see where she was going. I suspect that the tension between my brother and his now ex-gf was her not understanding how much his children needed to be in his life.

    I really do hope for your sake, Claire, and more importantly your children’s sake, that their father gets his head together and refocuses on them. Sadly, in the end, he is ultimately hurting himself by missing out on spending time with them, and if he continues to blow them off they’ll grow to resent him.

    • Reply Claire |

      Jen–you reminded me of something I intended to include in my post. I certainly do not stand here as “Relationship Expert” as I have made a mess of that part of my life. However, I can sleep very well at night knowing that never, ever has a man come before my children. In fact, marriage #2 ended because (at least in part) I would not modify the relationship with #1. It is VERY difficult for any new person to be okay with how we interacted as, if insecurity is at play, jealousy could be an ugly monster to tame. I just want to go on the record that I am not judging his relationship decision as I have NO room to do so.

  • Reply T'Pol |

    I am so sorry Claire. I don’t think you’re jealous at all. I have never been married and don’t have kids so, what I am going to tell is merely an observation. It looks like kids belong to the woman in or out of a marriage. The fathers don’t take much responsibility. There are exceptions of course.

    I have witnessed a situation where the man got re-married and sued his ex-wife to pay less alimony. His reason? Well, now that he is married, he has more expenses. What if the woman married too? Would she kick the kids out?

    Don’t upset yourself over this more than necessary. This just shows that you are divorced for good reason. If you need to sue him to get him pay his share bringing up “his” kids, so be it. You are a strong woman and you have come a long way. As for NW, if she is unable to deal with a man who “must” pay attention to his kids, that’s her problem. A 41 year old woman should be better than that.

    If she is not nice to your kids, the kids will not want to go spend time with dad and gradually they will adapt to this situation too. Kids are tougher than we all think. Yes, it actually s.cks but, that is life. Keep up the good work, you’re doing great!

  • Reply Walnut |

    I think it’s important to focus on being gracious and recognizing that the new wife will be joining the community of people who will help raise your children. She will bring unique insights and experiences that will help shape the way your children see, process and adjust in the world.

    Maybe it’s a time to step back and see if there are any boundary issues between you and your ex? Are there constant text messages because a plan isn’t developed in advance? Would it be better to send one succinct email instead of three? Fully evaluating the methods and volume of communication is beneficial, as your ex will now be negotiating around an additional schedule – his new wife’s. It’ll take some time to work out the wrinkles around this new curve ball.

    Stay optimistic and try to believe that the new wife will adjust to her new role, love your children and overall enrich their lives.

    • Reply Claire |

      There are certainly boundary issues that he needs to work on and I welcome that–truly. I cannot be the one to coach him through that and if NW can be successful in that, we would all benefit. As for being gracious I have absolutely attempted to do so but then was accused of being too assertive by my ex. I simply asked her to participate in DD’s recital. She is shy, I am told, and I am overly cordial. There’s only so much I can adjust about my personality and I am pretty outgoing. Since that attempt interactions have been icy, at best. I’ve been the stepmom, remember? And I don’t wish icy on anyone! I don’t expect her to be my BFF but I do hope for friendly interactions for the sake of the kids.

  • Reply Phaedra |

    Would it be possible to have a dinner out to discuss the new dynamics in the relationship? (I mean the three of you of course.) Maybe she is feeling very jealous and if she sees that you are very happy to work with them as a team she won’t feel threatened. I am not a jealous person so I don’t understand that but I will bet there are issues. Espcially if your ex has ever discussed the fact that the two of you have such a good approach to parenting.

    As a child of divorce I know that whatever you have to do, please try and keep things peaceful. That may require you biting your tongue for a long time! Hopefully this is just a transition. And who knows, if she can’t handle being a step-mom, she may still walk away.

    You are a master at communication so I am sure you will do whatever you have to in order to keep your kids emotional and mental health in tact!

    • Reply Claire |

      I made the suggestion re lunch/dinner and got no response. I think it was taken as being too pushy, too soon. Jealousy has to come into play and as I explained to my ex, I have no issues with the new relationship changing how I am treated. I’m a big girl. I will object when a new relationship changes how my kids are treated. It’s early and I need to be patient. This is NOT my strong suit when it comes to the kids. Thanks for the support!

  • Reply OC Budget |

    I’m glad that you are getting the ATM thing resolved quickly.

    in regards to the new wife situation…it’ll probably be alot of hard and awkward situations that you’ll have to adapt to, forgive, and compromise with him and her.

    Especially if this lady is here to stay. He probably won’t be the same guy or dad that he was without her but that’s expected since he’s got to make time for her as well in his life.

    These situations are always stressful when there are kids involved that you have to make decisions regarding them by yourself. I wish you all the luck!

  • Reply margot |

    Ugh. So sorry that this has popped up as a new struggle in your life. What a mess. My parents did not divorce well, and I’ve always appreciated your civil relationship with their father and your commitment to shielding the kids from adult-type divorce drama.

    You certainly don’t need validation for your divorces, but whenever you do write things about your ex-husbands, I find myself grateful that they aren’t intimately in your life anymore. I guess that’s a small silver lining. Your children’s father lacks some level of responsibility and healthy relationship boundaries if he’s letting his new partner drastically affect how much time he’s spending with his kids. How unfortunate for him, you and the kids that he’s letting this new person create toxicity where you had all previously learned to co-exist and have a degree of teamwork.

    In shitty situations, I try to cope by focusing on gratitude. Even in the worst of times, there are things to be grateful for. And as Walnut suggested, maybe there are ways you can bring compassion and self-reflection to the situation (though it sounds like you already have). And if all that fails, then please do assert your legal and financial rights as appropriate. Money obviously isn’t the most important thing in this situation, but long-term, it would be fair for your husband to pay more if the kids are with you most of the time and if you are paying most of their expenses. But, hopefully it won’t come to that.

    Good luck. So glad your kids have you as a steady, loving presence in their life.

    • Reply Claire |

      Awesome comment margot. Thank you! I hold on tight to the fact that never has a man come before my children and they can carry that knowledge to adulthood. It made for a much bumpier ride than I ever wanted for any of us but they have always been the priority. I see little glimmers in them that tell me they are getting it and that they will always love their father (as they should) but that they know who they can rely upon in all areas of their lives. I do have much to be thankful for but I promise I will hold him to his financial responsibility. To do otherwise would be a disservice to my children. He knows that and I suspect he will keep that part of things intact to avoid any legal trouble.

  • Reply Susan |

    I am glad to read about the credit for the ATM snafu.

    I am sorry to read about the new conflict with your ex-husband and NW. I particularly feel sorry for your children.

    Will this affect your ability to travel for work? I seem to remember that the children stay with their father when you have to go out of town. It will make it very difficult for you if you are unable to do your job as required. My husband travels all the time and he would not be able to do his job if it were not for me, always here to hold down the homefront.

    Also, I remember you mentioning a cruise vacation for the kids with their father. What is going on with that? Will NW change those plans, too?

    • Reply Claire |

      Susan,
      I am blessed to have a reliable circle of friends that are available. We are a group of three that met as divorced moms about 7 years ago and we’ve been blessed to create a system that is our safety net. We all work outside the home and are each other’s go to call when our schedules blow up or Dads fail the children. It’s a beautiful relationship in that there is no scorekeeping. We are simply there for one another. One of the gals has remarried and that man has stepped up and joined our village. I used to rely on my parents a lot more but their age prevents that luxury now. God sent me these friends and has made sure the timing on all of our challenges is just right so that we can help one another. That said, my ex has been very good in the past so I haven’t had to tap in to the group very often. It is good to know that I can fall safely into this group now that it looks like I will need their help.

  • Reply Jim R |

    If the kids are tech-savvy, have them create and maintain a google calendar and have them manage their time with the both of you. Sorry, but they are the issue of divorced parents and will have to navigate this and more complicated balancing until you, you husbands and and significant others pass away. They can start slow, right now. Let it be their suggestion if possible.

    • Reply Claire |

      Smart tip and I’ve contemplated this. I do have a reluctance to force my kids to experience the very real issues of having divorced parents but if I don’t have a partner in raising them, I don’t have much of a choice. I am frustrated that now the children will step into the role I’ve held for now 20 years–the role of propping this man up.

  • Reply Alexandria |

    That is a bummer about the ex.

    I think even if she were being more cooperative that this would be an extremely difficult situation. He just met her in December!?! That is a big and fast adjustment, and it’s a shame that he is handling the adjustment as is. Tread carefully and good luck.

    I can’t help but feel that you will emerge from these past couple of years a VERY strong woman. What a lot of substantial curveballs you have dealing with lately…

    One final tip – something that helps with difficult personalities is to let them dig their own hole. The honeymoon period will wear off, and your ex may be more open to your communications if you do back off. I don’t think it’s so simple though – obviously you are concerned about the kids. But backing off as much possible may give you more traction in the long run. I think this is so sticky though. I wouldn’t hesitate to pursue full custody if it came to that too – you just have to do what you have to do.

    • Reply Claire |

      Alexandria! This is what my therapist reminds me of on a regular basis. This will take care of itself and she discourages me from sharing the CliffsNotes with the children. That’s my current struggle. I have the solid communication relationship with my kids that I could uncover all of his shortcomings and they’d believe every word I say. BUT, the smart part of my brain knows I cannot do that without a serious risk of resentment from them down the road. It must take care of itself.

  • Reply Tara |

    Hi Claire-

    I’ve been reading this blog since the days of Beks and have never been compelled to comment until now. I’m 31 and when I was 24 (my sisters were 17) my father left my mother for another, much younger woman. I suspect he was depressed for several years by the way he just leapt into this woman’s arms without, seemingly, a care for who he hurt along the way. My father, once a very rational caring person, became someone I still don’t know today–as now the three of us daughters are completely estranged from him. I blame my father, yes, but I believe the new woman in his life has much to do with the downward spiral he’s taken. I just cannot imagine my father turning into this person without the “push” from her. So, over the years, he just kind of eased out of his responsibilities as a father to us. I pushed at first to get him to realize what he was doing, but he couldn’t bring himself to deal with the tornado HE created. I think a lot of it is shame: Shame because he knows it’s a bit sad that he can’t be comfortable with being alone, shame because he was a person we never thought would behave this way, and shame because he was too shameful to turn it around in the early days.

    No watching my mother, myself, and several friends go through this with the husbands, boyfriends, and fathers in their lives, my advice, Claire, is to call him on it. Call him on it early. He needs to man up and make decisions that are good for him and his children, not this woman. He needs to realize that the best decision for him is to continue on a good path with his children. And she should be a woman and realize where she’s leading him astray. As women, we should support the lives of our men and everything that comes with them.

    Be strong. State the facts. Pull in a therapist.

    Lots of love to you, Tara

    • Reply Denise @ My House, My Rules |

      I agree with Tara. Call him on it now, before things get too far gone that the kids become bitter. And if NW is now in the picture, it is probably in everyone’s best interests to get all issues (including custody and financial issues) down on paper legally so that everyone knows what they are getting into. NW needs reminded also that she is dating/marrying a man with kids and that means she needs to accept the responsibilities that come with it.

      Personally, I’d be shocked if #1 and NW have a very long marriage. It already isn’t starting out good.

    • Reply Claire |

      Thank you so much for sharing this Tara! I was struck by your comments “So, over the years, he just kind of eased out of his responsibilities as a father to us.” What a shame!!! I had a heated discussion with my ex when he gave me his newest response of being too busy to look at his phone or not having it charged or whatever. As a parent you don’t get to be unavailable! The only time I can think of that I am completely unavailable to my children is when I am in an airplane. And, if I am in an airplane, he knows it as do others I can rely on to be there for my kids. It doesn’t take a lot of time to get the word out these days (by text) and it is simply what you must do as a parent. Even when I am in a courtroom I am capable of glancing at my phone to make sure I am needed by the children! It’s a total cop out and something I cannot comprehend when a parent eases out of their responsibilities but boy do I see it happening with my situation. His loss, no doubt. Just like it is your dad’s miss. Hugs to you and thanks again.

  • Reply Joe |

    Certainly a difficult time, and it seems like you are handling it as well as possible.

    At the risk of sounding too naive, I am hoping that your ex-husband is simply in the stages of getting his new relationship off on a solid foundation. It sounds like a whirlwind relationship (6 months from meeting to engagement) and so it seems the dust is still settling. Quite unfortunate that your children are caught up and impacted in a negative way, but hopefully he can re-engage (no pun intended) with this important aspect of his life soon. In the long term, it could be that investing this time up front to get things started on the right foot with the NW will ultimately be the most beneficial for everybody.

  • Reply Cathy C. |

    Glad to hear you’re getting some resolve on the ATM problem.

    It’s very disappointing news about your ex. This is just a recipe for disaster. This woman sounds controlling and irrational. What 41 year old woman who has never been married and had children expects to find a man around her age or older who has also never been married and had children?!? She should have spun her web a bit larger if she thought she was going to find that. Meeting in December and engaged already when they’re this old?!? That’s for the young and naive, sorry but true.

    I’m a firm believer in “love at first sight”. I met and married my husband after knowing him just 2 months. We’ve been happily married now 16 years, but we were 24 when we met!! Your ex is being just as irrational about jumping into a second marriage this quickly ESPECIALLY with a woman who isn’t ok with him having children!

    Ultimately, there’s nothing you can do about him choosing to enter another marriage that will fail {and it will}. Take him to court to establish child support/custody as soon as possible once he’s done the deed. Don’t get pushed around on this, Claire. Your kids deserve better. If he actually goes through with marrying this woman, you must act quickly to set the ground rules by the courts. Please don’t try to negotiate this on your own!

    • Reply blaze |

      None of us can know what’s going on in his head, but personally I can understand a much shorter meet to married timeline the older you get. Yes it takes a certain amount of time to determine if you are compatable for the long haul, but the older you are, very few of the typical issues that cause you to delay are relevant.
      Remember when you were 20ish? If you’d met the ideal person then, you really weren’t in a position to make a long term commitment because you were both still figuring out who you were going to be as adults. When a couple of 40yr olds meet, there are a whole lot of questions that have been answered years before. Where to you want to live? Where do you hope to work with that brand new degree? Do you want to have kids? etc. Then there’s the financial stuff. Let’s wait to get married after we’ve paid off our student loans. I want to backpack around Europe before I start my career… Two people in there 40s (or 60s, or 80s for that matter) generally only have to figure out if they are compatible. All the other stuff is in the past. My mother was widowed in her 50s and in her early 60s met and soon married a widower. They were each financially independent and had grown children. They only had to answer to themselves so the entire process moved along very quickly from the perspective of the rest of the family.
      In this case having children still at home is the complication. If this were 7-8yrs from now the children wouldn’t be an issue. It’s unfortunate this woman doesn’t seem to appreciate the upsides of this relationship. She met someone she wants to marry, and as a bonus he comes with two great kids, ex who he’s on great terms with, and for the moment,he has no large financial obligations (allimony). Imagine how she’d be reacting if he had major financial commitments that were interfering with her married life.

      • Reply Cathy C. |

        Maybe so, but this just emphasizes my point. The older you are, the more set in your ways you are and this woman has already indicated that she’s pretty set in her ways with not wanting children in her life, particularly someone else’s. That’s going to be one huge obstacle in what I still consider too short of a relationship to even consider marriage.

        When you’re in your 60’s and beyond, knock yourself out. Get married after a day of knowing each other because that clock is ticking. When you’re 40 something you still have half your life to commit to someone and with this much baggage, it’s just irresponsible.

  • Reply Holly |

    I SO empathize with you Claire. I had a great divorce and post-divorce with my ex-husband…..as soon as he became engaged to the NW (three years later…..), things changed dramatically……I don’t know if she felt threatened by our friendly relationship or what, but it came to a screeching halt.

    It’s all her, he’s changed (fallen under her control), and unfortunately, his/our kids have figured him out. Pretty sad all around.

    Good luck Claire……as much as it sucks, all you can do is what YOU know is best and be the best mom you can be. Your kids will see it all too soon…..

    • Reply Susan |

      This is so sad, Holly. My background is in Family Law and this is all too often the case.

      The very sad thing is that the kids DO notice. They grow up, after all, and their view of their parents will change just because of that. With absent parents giving such a reason for the kids to notice … just sad.

      This is when it becomes so difficult for the custodial parent to never speak ill of the other parent. I know you can do this, Claire. Good luck to you.

  • Reply Chris |

    Claire,

    No patience here…kids don’t wait for their parents to ‘figure it out’. I say call him out on it immediately. If you need him financially to help out, demand it. If he is supposed to have the kids, expect it. I agree with Tara. GET IN HIS FACE!

    BTW–I have a friend whose ex-hubby was an absentminded guy. Their relationship tanked b/c he never paid child support on time. She made up a payment coupon book for him, complete with stamped envelopes. He hasn’t missed (nor been late) a payment in 8 years.

    • Reply Susan |

      In my state, child support is paid through the Family Court. That takes the monkey off of everyone’s back and also removes (mostly) the emotion of giving money to an ex. The Court system charges 5% (so $100 a week is $105) processing fee. If the paying parent is late, an arrest warrant is automatically issued. The late paying parent has to be in Court the very next week.

      This has really helped with delinquent or absent-minded parents. It has also helped with bad checks because if the check is bad — an arrest warrant is issued. No ifs, ands, or buts.

      I don’t know what the norm is in Texas, but if this is available, you might consider it.

      • Reply Claire |

        There are such systems in Texas Susan but I’ve never felt the need to use them given our workable situation. And this isn’t about the money really–it’s about his sudden disregard for his kids.

    • Reply Claire |

      Chris–I “argh”ed out loud when I read about your friend and the coupon book. That is SO something that would be needed by my ex and that I am SO tired of having to provide. The entire near 13 year marriage was me trying to help him be less absent minded and when nothing worked, I grew weary. Then when the second child arrived and my career was taking off, I realized I was mothering THREE children and so I got out. I get so fired up pissed off when I think about how many women I know that prop their men up far beyond realistic expectations of marriage. I’ll support and help my mate but at some point he needs to step up and meet me half way! I know this is probably why I am twice divorced because I do refuse to compromise on this issue. If I can get shit done without someone making me reminder coupons (using this example of course but I have countless examples) then he should too! Talk about no patience, this is officially a rant! LOL And then when girlfriends tell me their husbands complain about not getting enough sex I really have to rant. Call me crazy but I’m not ready to get naked for the man that I have had to raise like a child all day.

      Okay so I have learned that women have a lot to do with this problem. Your friend making envelopes for her ex is a great help to the kids getting the money the need and deserve. If I could just stay focused on that isolated benefit, I’d be good to go but I can’t! As women we often add to the problem of men (in general, please don’t hear this as my thinking all men are like this) being able to go through this life on a peg leg. I want to go on a rant with that man and tell him that his kids deserve his support even if their mother doesn’t give him a self-addressed stamped envelope to do so! What a luxury to sit in this life and have responsible people carry you through all of your responsibilities! I do not want my kids to get that message (not that her kids know she did the envelopes but you know what I mean…)! I want my kids to know that adults have to meet their responsibilities without having another person in their life to remind them, spoon feed them, etc. Yes, we all have to help one another in relationships. I get that and am not suggesting we stand by and watch our mate fail over and over again b/c they weren’t taught how to be responsible but at some point something has to give or the responsible one in any relationship will want to suffocate the irresponsible one in the middle of the night when the responsible is unable to sleep keeping track of all the responsibilities!!!!

      That is all. Stepping off the soapbox now…I’m glad your friend’s kids are getting support from their Dad because their Mom is responsible. That’s getting it done and at the end of the day that is best for her kids. Blah.

  • Reply Dream Mom |

    I think it needs to be addressed now. I would send him a long email and tell him that you need to talk with him. I’d tell him in the email that you are happy he’s engaged, but moving forward, you realize that things will change with the NW but that you’ll need some answers with regards to where the kids are concerned. If what you had was working, I’d say something that he’s always been a great dad, that the kids are happy and well adjusted and that you are happy that the two of you have been able to work things out so well up to this point.

    I’d also mention that it’s probably difficult to balance a new relationship with the kids and that you are open to discussing it if things are going to change. I’d also say something to the effect that you can understand how challenging it can be to be pulled in different directions between the kids, the NW and the ex-wife but that you both need to keep the kids as a priority and work together for the kids. I’d tell him that you want to work with him however he is not answering his texts or emails so it makes communicating difficult and it is upsetting to the kids. I’d tell him that you want to be respectful of his new relationship and that you’d understand if he wants to communicate differently but that he needs to talk to you about what that looks like and what he needs you to do.

    I’d also tell him you can understand how hard it can be in a new relationship. I’d say something that you were really interested in someone a while back (doesn’t matter when) and that when you realized they didn’t want to put the kids first that you struggled with that because you really liked that person. Doesn’t matter if it is true, what you are trying to do is to talk to him about something that he can relate to (meaning he’ll be uncomfortable that NW is wanting him to give up the kids) and it will help him. I find it’s better to tell that from your point of view than to comment on his new relationship and how he “shouldn’t give up his kids”. In other words, it’s not judgmental this way. Then tell him that when he’s ready, you’d love for him and the NW to join you for one of the kids activities. That way, you start incorporating NW into things and she can see that you aren’t jealous. Two things will happen…either NW will come with him or he won’t come at all and pretty soon, he’ll feel pretty crappy that she won’t come along and that he’s no longer involved.

    My best guess is that the new relationship won’t work out for him. Your ex-husband is not going to give up his kids and while he may try to please her for a while, the bottom line is that if he’s worked together with you up to now, he is probably struggling with this himself and needs to figure out how to handle it. By sending him an email, he’ll have time to reflect on it and he won’t have to answer you directly right away. He needs a little time right now.

    I would however wait a week or so and then invite him and NW to one of the kids activities. Do this asap and try to get her involved and keep her involved from day 1. Pick something that’s pretty quick so she can say she came and that she won’t be uncomfortable. If she’s 41 with no kids, she’s going to be a challenge. I find people without kids really don’t get understand that kids are a big deal. Kids are what you live for in life (in my opinion) and a life without kids would be really empty. I am not talking about people who can’t have kids, I am just sharing my opinion that when you see your own baby for the first time, you really understand what an amazing thing it is.

    • Reply Claire |

      Well put Dream Mom–as always. Thank you! I am using your tips to draft my email.

  • Reply Adam |

    Lots of points of view here. I don’t have children OR an ex husband so I’m probably least qualified to advise here. But aren’t you a church going family? It seems from that angle I’d think: 1. Be grateful for your time with the kids. 2. Cover their expenses with grace. 3. Allow ex1 to kick on help when he wants, but don’t force it. It’s really about being a caretaker for your kids and then your reward will be in heaven. You certainly have the right to litigate or force the issue but you har enough income to cover their needs so it gives you the chance to handle it with grace.

    • Reply Claire |

      Adam,
      This one had me thinking a lot this weekend! Handling this situation with grace while also being the advocate I should be for my children is the balance I need to find. You are correct that I do not need his financial help and so little of my thought process even goes to money. I do feel duty bound to advocate for my kids to a certain extent but then I have to realize they are children of divorce and they will need to “skin their knees” a bit. Boy is that hard but they also need to know why Mom is no longer in that marriage. Your suggestions here (IMO) give my kids the impression that it is okay to be a half-ass dad and I can’t stand by and reinforce that message. I do have a duty as a Christian to practice kindness and forgiveness and I do on an almost daily basis with this man. But, that does not mean standing by and allowing him to participate as he feels like it without telling my children that is wrong. While I can certainly verbally tell them “Dad wants to see you today and that’s great but you should know that he should see you on the days even when he doesn’t feel like it” but that’s damaging I think! There has to be some accountability on this earth so that my children don’t get the idea that it’s okay to do things only when you feel like doing them.

  • Reply Tara |

    I commented earlier and have been reading everyone’s comments since.

    Just an observation: The tone of comments are almost completely drawn along gender lines. The women seem to be adamant about nipping this in the bud, while the men seem to advise a hands-off and “let it sort itself out approach.” Sounds like a lot of us women have either been through this ourselves or watched a woman close to us go through this.

    This is by no means an insult to the men who have commented or men in general, but it seems like there’s a problem with not recognizing when something is a problem? I feel my dad didn’t see him pulling away from his children as a problem until it was far too late. I do think unreturned texts to your ex-wife simply about scheduling activities with your children are signs of a problem… because it will probably continue to go downhill from there. And Claire, your kids–at any age–do see what’s happening.

    Again, no hard feelings to the men who have provided their input. Just an observation.

    • Reply Cathy C. |

      Tara, you are SPOT ON with your observations!
      A mother will 9 times out of 10 never leave her children.
      Men, however, are different. It’s a generalization, of course, but I wouldn’t wait to find out if he fits it.

    • Reply Claire |

      I’ve been wanting to comment on this post all weekend! Excellent observation and one that did not occur to me as I read the comments. I have told my ex that he doesn’t have the luxury of being unavailable (see my comment about this topic I just posted) when he has children. Given the timing and his refusal to offer any legitimate explanation, I can only surmise this is the result of a woman who does not want to be bothered on their kid free days. I think men and women, generally speaking, have a very different reaction time to these situations. I know I can tend to be on the “overly alarmed” side of things while men in my life tend to be much to slow to react. I have learned to seek input from trusted sources to check my sometimes too quick to pull the trigger self. That changed behavior has helped me tremendously in relationships of all kinds. My ex is never going to stop and self-critique his reaction time and instead I am going to be overreacting. I am putting together a well-formulated email to him and will send this week. If for no other reason so that in 10 or 15 years the children can know I tried to keep communication open for their benefit. I can envision sharing that communication if it comes to the place that you are now in Tara. I don’t say I will do that to get brownie points with the kids but instead in case the time comes that they wonder what I did to continue encouraging their father/child relationship.

      All of the above is my smart, clear-thinking brain talking. There’s that part of my brain that wants to rage at him and physically harm him but I’ve evolved since my twenties…mostly. 🙂

    • Reply Jen from Boston |

      I wonder if some it has to do with the women reading this bearing the brunt of divorced fathers behaving badly? I think if you’ve been down this road before, either as an ex-wife or a child, your emotions get revved up quicker.

      I haven’t offered any advice because I’m not quite sure which path to take. An agressive stance could just alienate him further and sour any possibility of a smooth relationship with NW. However, it is difficult to watch your children being ignored by a parent. Plus, I don’t know Ex #1, so I can’t gauge how he’d react (or not). So I am not much help on that.

      As to what to say to the kids – I think they may be old enough to figure things out for themselves. And they may be old enough to write their father and tell him that he’s being a dork. (In much more diplomatic language, of course.) If the kids ask what’s up with their dad, instead of offering your own opinion, perhaps ask them why they ask, and then ask them if they want to tell their father themselves? It’s constructive, and it takes you out of the mix of saying something negative.

  • Reply Jocelyn |

    Same as another reader above, I have been reading this blog since the days of Beks and have never commented before. I don’t even really know what I want to say in this comment, other than I am a child of divorce (parents separated when I was three, divorced when I was five, I’m now in my mid-twenties) and divorce sucks. I am glad that you are your children’s advocate and you should continue to be so.

    When I was younger my dad dated a woman for years who NW reminds me of – she had never had kids and never really interacted with us very much. We had a two weekday/every other weekend custody arrangement with my dad, and she took up a lot of my dad’s time and he’d often go on dates with her on “his” nights with us. So, we’d be sitting at his house alone.

    Kids are not stupid. They’re a lot smarter than most people give them credit for. They’re a lot smarter than some of the comments above are giving them credit for. We were easily able to understand our parents’ personalities, including their faults and weaknesses. We understood every situation perfectly well, and understood where we were on the hierarchy of our parents’ priorities – especially when it came to their relationships. I don’t know how old your kids are, Claire, but past a very young age there’s not much you can do to shield them from their dad’s actions. If his NW is a bigger priority to him than they are, they will understand that.

    Anyway, sorry this is so rambly. I think you’re doing great, Claire. I’m sorry about this new situation, but think you’ll be able to do a good job handling it.

So, what do you think ?