Home > divorce, family law general, paternity/child custody > After the Divorce: Raising Kids with Your Ex (Part 1)

After the Divorce: Raising Kids with Your Ex (Part 1)

I’m calling this Part 1 because I see many, many, MANY more blog posts about this in my future.

I recently received an email question from a woman who married into the whole “raising kids with the ex” situation–she’s the stepmom, and she and her husband have his kids on weekends.  Mom (the ex-wife) is active in her church, and wants the kids to be as well.  Which is fine.  Dad, however, is not, and has other plans for his time with his kids when he has them on weekends other than going to church.  Recently, however, the kids have been begging Dad to allow them to go to church on his weekends, when they never had wanted to before.  Why the sudden interest in religion?  Their Mom had started taking away privileges/assigning “church” homework/effectively punishing the kids for not going to church when with Dad on his weekends.  Which is COMPLETELY inappropriate, and which prompted Step-Mom to email me a big WTF??  As well as a “What can we do about this?”

It's all fun and games til the kids feel like they're being ripped in half...

It’s all fun and games til the kids feel like they’re being ripped in half…

The short answer:  Nothing, really.  Dad could call up Mom/email Mom and discuss the issue, but if Mom doesn’t want to change, there’s not a helluva lot Dad can do about it.  We’re not supposed to dictate how the other parent spends their time with our kids, but manipulation happens anyway.  (And for the record, the court does not care about this, as long as no child is being abused, as defined by law.)

I have another case that I spent all day working on (and I’m sick, so I’m sure you can tell how enthused I was about it) wherein if the parties could just treat each other with common decency and consideration, they wouldn’t have needed to go to court.  But sadly, common decency and consideration are not so Common in a lot of divorced people’s relationships.

And who, really, is suffering from all of this?  The kids.  They are the ones who are being manipulated; they are the ones walking on eggshells for fear of offending one parent if they have “too much fun” or engage in “too many activities” with the other parent.  Which is not fair at all.  As divorced parents, it is our job to shield our kids from adult issues and help them to grow up as well-adjusted and happy as possible.

And while we can’t force the other party to Grow Up, Put on their Big Girl Pants, and Move On, we can control how we behave in regards to the other parent.  It sucks (A LOT) to always have to be the bigger person, but ya know what?  The kids DO notice.  And they WILL remember.  This is a long-term investment we are making in our kids.  Let’s not cash out before they’ve matured.

I just found another great blog about this topic…have a look-see:  http://lqwilliams2.hubpages.com/hub/How-to-Co-Parent-a-Child-with-an-Uncooperative-Ex-Spouse

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