The other route for parenting? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 27 Old 08-22-2010, 05:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The most common route with the kiddos living two separate lives and the parents being amicable about it and making the best of it.
What about the other route in which the parents continue to parent as if they were "married" in that they both do things to keep the "family dynamics intact" for the child. For example, making big efforts to attend events, activities, bdays together. Even trips and visitation the other parent can come along if they want. Even to consider that if the other gets a new partner that that person joins in as well.
Sort of a situation like that Reba show.
I saw somewhere where the parents lived in different rooms or parts of the house or neighborhood to make this happen. Anyone recall that info?
I am just wondering if it works. It seems logical on one hand that the child gets to see the parents putting dc first and getting along. Also the parents get to continue to share in all the growth of their dc and not miss out or have to hear about things second hand.
Is anybody considering this or doing this? How did you approach it with you stbx and in the legal papers if necessary?
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#2 of 27 Old 08-22-2010, 09:15 AM
 
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my parents functioned somewhat like this, in terms of birthdays, piano recitals, graduation, stuff like that. we sometimes combined holidays and sometimes not, like if ythere were a huge extended family gathering, then no. my mom did not come with on visitation primarily because she needed a break, but also because my stepmother was not mature enough at the time to welcome my mother into her home. otoh sometimes my dad did visitation in my mother's home (when he lived a few hours away and couldn't afford a hotel).

it's tricky. it seems like something that depends primarily on personality. if you are able to do it and see the value in it, you'll do it, to the extent the circumstances allow. if not, then trying to force it will probably just add to the stress and turmoil for everyone.
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#3 of 27 Old 08-22-2010, 10:25 AM
 
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This is what my stbx and I are trying. We still hang out as a "family", for example he'll come over for dinner once a week, etc. We plan on taking field trips together w/the kids and so on. I go over his parent's house all the time just to hang out. It makes sense for us, because then they can visit with the baby, who he does not have visitation with yet.

The only snag in our situation is that while his family welcomes me into their lives still, mine does not welcome him. Which I think is unfair to him. But so far, what we are doing works.

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#4 of 27 Old 08-22-2010, 10:52 AM
 
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I considered this when we first separated. It was too painful for me. It didn't have the "family feel" so it was bittersweet. I was also still recovering from his infidelity. It was very confusing for my older son who wanted us back together like you wouldn't believe.

I found I needed my boundaries. Continuing to act like a nuclear family wasn't within them.

That said, four years out we work really well together. We are comfortable meeting up at kid events. T-ball, fencing, open-house at school, etc. I don't want to ride with him though... We also really discuss parenting and the kids and normally have a united front. Luckily our parenting ideals are similar so there aren't big differences. We do birthdays together and he comes over here on Christmas morning.

I don't enjoy being around him in public but I can handle if for the kids. The though of inviting him on vacation with us (which I had thought a possibility at one point) makes me want to puke.

So, I think we are kind of in the middle of the scale of what you are thinking about. The middle works well for me.
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#5 of 27 Old 08-22-2010, 12:05 PM
 
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I have been able to do this with my oldest daughters dad. We have lived together a few through the years and co patented together. He has at times helped me to raise my subsequent children. Our legal papers state joint legal and physical. I have been solely raising her for the last 6 years and he lives in another state. When he visits he stays with us and I'm always open to her visiting him. Due to his life circumstances he doesn't visit much. We are close friends and talk almost daily. He will be staying with me and my kids for the next week or so. He is very easy going and we have never had ant conflict between us. However, with my other kids dad I have a long term restraining order and can not physically stand being in the same universe as he. He is angry, abusive, mentally unstable and it just isn't possible. I do think the above situation is beneficial for the children as long as you both can get along. It really is circumstantial.
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#6 of 27 Old 08-22-2010, 12:31 PM
 
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i think that if there is any abuse, even verbal or emotional, that this is a bad idea. otherwise, it is a good idea. and even though my stbx is verbally and emotionally abusive, i often lean towards this idea wistfully. if i help him stay in the neighborhood, maybe he won't fall so far down into the bottle that he never sees his kids. if if if. and when i think about this i think, such a pattern in the world of divorce would likely keep more men involved in their children's lives. but then i think that this would only work if both involved are totally mature adults. if this idea gets taken up in the popular media, then it's going to end up a lot like 50/50 visitation and father's rights. here a lot of dads just go for more visitation to reduce child support, and then the kids get crappy parenting 50% of the time. i should change that statement to read ncp rather than dads- since we all know crappy and neglectful moms too- but here it mostly plays out along gender roles.
well, you didn't really ask about broader implications, did you? so i will repeat- if there is any pattern of abuse, then this is not a good idea. everyone will need space from the abuse or the bad pattern if you think it's 'almost abuse' before such co-parenting can begin. and regardless, separate legal residences would be best, such as living in a duplex, or a few houses over. how would your x handle you dating someone else? what if it were someone he knew?
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#7 of 27 Old 08-22-2010, 12:45 PM
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I think it's great when parents can put the kids first, like you say. My boys' dad left for another woman, which to me already shows that he doesn't put his kids first. He puts himself first, and it was apparent in many little ways over the years we were married.

He is in the service and lives in another state. Over the past few years he's been little more than a paycheck to the kids. Although DS2 misses him (DS1 is sort of apathetic about the whole thing), I'm almost glad he lives so far away. When he lived in state, he would only see them if it was super convenient or if he had nothing better to do, which is more hurtful, I think.

I feel fortunate that DH is a great step-dad and is pretty involved with them. He really does more with them than their own dad ever did. I know he's not their father and he doesn't pretend to be, but they love him just the same.
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#8 of 27 Old 08-22-2010, 01:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the responses, I am pondering this alot lately. My stbx is in midlife crisis and unfortunately we will be effected by his decision to end the marriage. By the way second marriage for him, not me. We have been married very very long time (18+), first one they were younger, they had 3 kids, ended up in traditional visitation role, (summers mainly). I would like to try something different, as he will probably suggest the traditional way. Truth be told now that he is older he is trying to reconnect with the previous dc's, they are way older now (over 30), not doing well, needing help etc. I think it is same symptoms of a little too late now they will just be adult friends not raised by the dad, but will try to make the remaining years in more contact. Recently stbx has been digging up lots of past family and friends (true symptoms of mid-crisis)
I think my suggest will also be a bit selfserving (in a good way) on my part. This is my only dc and I don't want to miss out on her life, not even the little things. And she is new to this whole thing and would like an "intact" family. I think I will need to do a little "convincing" to stbx, because he is familiar with the traditional way with us just being cordial/amicable but leading separate lives when it comes to dc's. By the way I was very amicalbe to his former sp and we and the kids got along great. I was more the "parent" when we were all together, helping stbx get more involved with them.
What is my fear...that stbx will want to push this and be the traditional role and we will get into a custody battle? I don't want to have dc traveling state to state, we parents can be the ones to travel.
Interestingly, my sister said I may be worried to much as many x's say they want to be involved and initially may do so, but it tends to die off significantly after 6-12 months if they don't really keep on it and make it a priority.
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#9 of 27 Old 08-22-2010, 01:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Dc said I should get another husband so we can be a family and do things together if stbx does not want to - I just told her everything is going to be okay.
My heart is aching for her, she deserves better.
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#10 of 27 Old 08-22-2010, 01:54 PM
 
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Big hugs to you. I would step carefully here. As I mentioned, I've found a middle ground where we can both be very involved. In a sense though, he had to earn that right because of the situation. A man in the midst of a mid-life crisis doesn't sound like someone who will be an equal partner in parenting.

One thing that comes to mind is that this could be part of the bargaining stage of grief. There is so much to grieve and I found the loss of the family unit one of the biggest. Looking back, my thoughts of having him come on vacation were probably more bargaining. (Not saying that some folks can't manage this--I've heard of it.)

Take some time to figure out what you really want this to look like. And have it be something you can live with--that can change over time.

I apologize if I come off as cynical. My intention is to be realistic. The form of co-parenting you are talking about requires massive commitment--and it needs to come from both people somewhat equally.
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#11 of 27 Old 08-22-2010, 04:33 PM
 
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I don't know the Reba show so I can't compare.

I do know that it is like any other relationship that needs to work itself to a manageable point. In my situation, x moved out about 3 & half years ago & we were separated but living in the house for a year prior to that since I had just gone back to school.

We are at a point now that things are pretty good, especially when I see other separated parents around me. It did take awhile to get here & I feel still a bit sad that it didn't work out. I don't love him anymore & I don't give any false hope to dd about the 2 of us together - she was on a kick for me to have a baby awhile back & offered up x to be the father.

I keep him informed of dd's activities & it's his responsibility to inform his family (though I will call his parents if it's something dd really wants them at). We both attend most of dd's activities - games, shows, we do the parent-teacher conference together, he & his parents are always welcome at her bday parties, etc.

I think living in the same house, taking trips or doing too many family things together would be crossing too many boundaries for me, but I know it can work for others. I also want dd to have a relationship with her father that is separate from me so doing things together would impede that as well.

It's a journey - for both parents. Good luck.
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#12 of 27 Old 08-22-2010, 05:55 PM
 
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My heart is aching for her, she deserves better.
And you think separating is not better?

seriously i think we parented dd better in two different households than we would have in one hh.

her dad parents her with his idea of how a child should be parented, my dd taught me how to parent her.

if both parents agree - then anything is possible.

doing things together IS the ideal way.

in my ideal world the only difference divorce would make is to have two separate households. not two separate parents doing separate things.

i know for my dd - doing things together is what she misses. i cant see why parents cant go to a fair together, dinner, a movie together. that should be a birthright of the child.

i know many successful divorces. amazingly since mine is such a mess.

they really stand out to me.

at dd's family i got to know and watch some families for 5 years. one couple bought houses right next to each other. another couple a block away. subsequently they grew their own families and still peacefully coexisted. it wasnt easy. but their focus was on it. and the most important thing. both parents were on the same page.

one of my friends' friend did the share the same house with the kids. today that friend tells me that is the family she has watched least affected by teh divorce. it wasnt easy. it was hard - but mostly for the parents. they were willing to do it. however there were 3 residences involved. the parents had their own apt and then their house where the children lived and they woudl move in and out every week individually.

i wouldnt be able to live next to ex. i would have to have him be at least out of eye shot. so the next block. we did the next best. move about 10 blocks away.

we moved out when dd was 18 months old. the thing is for both of us our dd was the main thing without too much expectation. like as much as i would love to do something with ex, he CANT do it. it was hard enough in K to sit thru a PT conf. there is a lot of things ex cant do. and so even if i want it, its not going to happen.

so we've done the next best thing. lived not too far from each other. figured dd prefered going to each house alternate days with me for hte weekend because we did stuff and her dad didnt.

when dd started overnights at 3 we did it gradually. i trust ex with her completely. he woudl bring her back fi she cried too much.

if both of you are willing to work then make the best that you can. if you make it child centric nothing could be better. even though we have a regular routine, really its our dd who calls the shots. if she wants to change it, we check if its convenient for the parents and then do it accordingly. we do have that much flexibility in our life that we are able to do it.

i think for me the key was - working within the boundaries we had. we were willing to do anything for our child but for ex anything that did not involve me. i was sad about that - but that was life was and you did the best you could.

dd seems to be well adjusted and a happy and confident child. at her age her dad - even younger - he was a dark, quiet really sad 5 year old watching the strain of his parents marriage which broke up 5 years later.

we have both had to work with each other as parents. for instance he never remembers stuff on his days. so i call him and remind him that they have science day on his day so he can take her. or there is a great art exhibition that both of htem might like. if i find events i know both of them would like i tell him about it even if its on my day so he could take her. for instance bodies revealed is in town. and finally ex took her on my day. that was fine.

i remind him of docs appts. he doesnt do the same at all. he takes her for dentist appt and the only way i will know is if dd tells me. i could do tit for tat but it makes my life much more difficult to live.

OP you can only do with what you have now. you cant predict anything in the future. you have to do what is working for the moment. no matter what you have in the documents if the parent doesnt want to be involved there is nothing you can do.

our children care nothing about 'intact' families. they care that they can interact with both parents when and how they can. it does not mean 'intact' families.

one day i had a heart to heart chat with my dd. she tells me she is not sure which is the best. somedays she misses us not being together. she said if she was granted the wish she is not sure which one she would like. us getting back together or separate. so she said we'll just carry on as we are. she has grown up to realise that if we were together she wouldnt have as many options as she has now. somedays she is so much happier we are. so its not an easy answer. one of my 'intact' family's kids told my dd she is envious of how dd has two houses and how everything is double. double toys, double eating out, double movies...

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#13 of 27 Old 08-22-2010, 08:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Big hugs to you. I would step carefully here. As I mentioned, I've found a middle ground where we can both be very involved. In a sense though, he had to earn that right because of the situation. A man in the midst of a mid-life crisis doesn't sound like someone who will be an equal partner in parenting.

One thing that comes to mind is that this could be part of the bargaining stage of grief. There is so much to grieve and I found the loss of the family unit one of the biggest. Looking back, my thoughts of having him come on vacation were probably more bargaining. (Not saying that some folks can't manage this--I've heard of it.)

Take some time to figure out what you really want this to look like. And have it be something you can live with--that can change over time.

I apologize if I come off as cynical. My intention is to be realistic. The form of co-parenting you are talking about requires massive commitment--and it needs to come from both people somewhat equally.
thank you Irony, no apology necessary. I too have looked at the grief stages. If I had to pick one, I am probably at ending depression moving toward acceptance that we are over. Getting ready for the next round of making it final, I presume the stages will resume.
I too have observed folks who are handling it well and just thought maybe to give it some consideration as an option if needed. My other mind tells me he will try hard in the beginning and then drop off as dc gets older.
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#14 of 27 Old 08-22-2010, 08:57 PM
 
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...
our children care nothing about 'intact' families. they care that they can interact with both parents when and how they can. it does not mean 'intact' families.
...
meemee I like this statement & think it has a lot of truth to it.
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#15 of 27 Old 08-22-2010, 09:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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meemee thanks also for your post. Lots to consider. And it would be difficult with stbx in another state. What I meant by "intact" was two engaged parents, it seems there is a strong tendency for only one parent to be the main parent and the other on the fringes. This is where stbx would probably settle himself on the fringes, playdaddy, whatever is the current phrase.
And yes I agree with all, maybe it would be "too much". But I just don't want the whole "two separate" lives thing, and the questioning of why you are doing this or that (from him), or the forcing her to growup too soon (he suggested a cell phone at age 7!).
We plan b-days together still and just looking ahead to the other holidays, seems I am always in charge of them, dc will probably want him to be there after the separation, so that is kind of where I am headed, maybe just deal with those events together.
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#16 of 27 Old 08-22-2010, 10:08 PM
 
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My husband and I have been separated for almost 2 months now. We set it up so that he'd have unlimited visitation. This way things are most like "normal" for dd who is 5. She still lives in the same place, but she also spends a few hours every day with her father. Neither of us wanted it set up so that she couldn't see both parents every day as she had always done. She has sleepovers with her father whenever she wants them. Her father came over for her b-day party and we plan to spend some time on Christmas day together. We had originally planned to have one day per wk together as as "family" day for dd's sake, but that has not happened.
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#17 of 27 Old 08-22-2010, 10:59 PM
 
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It can work or it can be a disaster. It all depends on the relationship and the level of trust.

My ex and I didn't have any major problems. We were just a really bad fit for each other - not as friends, but when it came to trying to share a home, a bank account and a life. However, we discovered that after the surprise twins came along!

After breaking up, we still celebrated their birthday together and he still came to my place on Christmas morning, because we both thought it was miserable for kids to have to be divided about those two big holidays, which we felt should be about the kids, not the adults' schedules and comfort levels. Other than that, we were rather prickly and defensive with each other for a couple years, until we got over our insecurities about the breakup and our futures. In those years, if there had been some court order mandating that I could tag along every time he picked up the kids - or that he could drop by my house for dinner - it would have created a lot of resentment.

But once we each grew more comfortable with our separate lives, we began to see there just wasn't any reason to feel angry with each other. We were both happier apart. We both loved the same kids. Why couldn't we be friends, like we had been since we were teenagers? Since then, we celebrate other holidays together, like Thanksgiving. We do things together with the kids. We have dinner at each other's houses. We're friends with each other's new spouses. His wife threw my baby shower and I attended hers. His wife became godmother to my husband's son from his previous marriage. He and my husband take all the boys camping together. It's like Reba, except we actually like each other! And, sure, it's great for the kids.

I would like to offer the same to my stepson, but given the different circumstances, I can't. There aren't any apologies to be made for it. It's just reality. There was such extreme animosity between my husband and his ex (including her cutting off contact between him and their son, making false reports to the police, etc.) that we just do not feel comfortable inviting her into our home. It is reasonable, not paranoid, to think she would look for any possible thing to use against us in court and that she might very well invent things. Us serving wine with dinner might turn into a $10,000 courtroom debate about whether DSS was exposed to drunken orgies at our house. Sadly, that's really not an exaggeration. So, best not to give her the credibility of being able to say, "I've been in their home and seen it for myself..." The niceness for DSS of doing things with both of his parents together is only theoretical. The misery for him of having his parents battling in court and his mother pressuring him to testify against his dad, telling him if he's "loyal" to her, he'll say what she wants him to say...that's actual. So the Reba model just isn't practical - or desirable - for them.

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#18 of 27 Old 08-22-2010, 11:45 PM
 
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It was very confusing for my older son who wanted us back together like you wouldn't believe.
This is a key thing to consider.

If a kid's having trouble accepting the divorce - or if he's aware that you're having trouble with it - of course it would be confusing for him to see his parents sometimes acting like everything's fine and taking him to the movies together; other times acting like the world as he knew it is over, i.e., going home to separate residences.

I'm not aware of my twins feeling confused. Of course, we split up when they were too young to remember us living together. But also, once we started doing things together with them, we were both clear about what was going on and comfortable with it. Neither of us was clenching our teeth and trying not to show resentment so the kids could have a good time at the park. Neither of us misinterpreted the other's friendliness, then felt crushed to realize the other person still didn't want to get back together.

My stepson also cannot possibly remember his parents living together. But he certainly remembers his mother telling him his father abandoned them; that she'd "never let his father come anywhere near his school" because his Dad was "bad" and his teachers and the parents of the other kids were afraid of him. He remembers her moving him across the country and telling him, when his Dad traveled there to visit him, that his Dad was "stalking" them and trying to "intimidate" them and "interfere with their life" and that he might try to kill her and/or kidnap DSS. He continues to hear that his Dad is "violently abusive" - even to him - and that he just blocks it out and can't remember. So naturally, the simple act of his mother attending one of his football games last fall - which his Dad and I always attend - and spending a couple minutes afterward chatting with us - left him with a bewildered, deer-in-the-headlights look. I can only imagine how much more confused he'd feel if his Mom came for Thanksgiving dinner! After all, why would you casually chat with - much less have dinner with - someone who has violently abused you and whom you think might kill you?

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#19 of 27 Old 08-23-2010, 12:00 AM
 
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When DH first left, we made an agreement that any 'firsts' we would do together. So the first time DS goes to a movie etc. He came around to our house for Christmas morning and we opened presents together etc.

I think it was a good compromise. I was like you in that I didn't want to miss big moments in my boys lives because of a decision DH made.

It's complicated.
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#20 of 27 Old 08-23-2010, 03:56 AM
 
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it seems there is a strong tendency for only one parent to be the main parent and the other on the fringes.
this was exactly what it was like when we initially separated. dd was 18 months old. ex had no real idea what to do with dd even though he was her cgiver. he had never really night parented and when he had put her to bed it was really really tough.

so he gradually started fitting into the role fo a single dad. he first came over to my house to be with dd while i went and did errands. then he started taking her for a little time as she became more verbal. by 3 he was confident enough to try keeping her overnight.

dd will be 8 soon. he is STILL not completely comfortable parenting her. he still needs time off. mind you though he loves his dd and enjoys spending time with her. if we lived far away eh would probably be the holiday parent - because of CS - not because he wanted to. he struggles to parent dd more than 2 days and usually sets up playdates to get some relief.

he is a v. strict parent and feels he has to watch dd way more than she needs to be. he is still struggling to understand being a parent - in the sense of how many hours it takes to devote to the kids. he hasnt got it that you cannot control so much. financially he totally gets it. he gets the other part too. he just doesnt get this is not just an 8 year old. this is his dd. who in no way or form fits in with a regular 8 year old. she is the youngest 8 (not yet actually) amongst all her friends. yet she is way more mature than any of her friends.

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#21 of 27 Old 08-23-2010, 10:51 AM
 
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Good thread, lots to think about.

In my case, I often find myself wishing that ex and I had better communication and that we could sometimes do stuff together (not even intimate stuff, like family bike rides or going camping together or anything like that--but that I could invite him to her bday party or we could go to her preschool together with her...)

But I left ex for another man, who is my current dp and father of my new baby. So ex, like a lot you mamas can understand, has to create boundaries for himself when it comes to me. Sometimes I want us to communicate better for the sake of dd (I'm not talking about even doing things together here, just being able to talk about issues/problems she's having, new things she's doing, new skills, etc.--currently our communication is pretty poor). But I don't feel like I can insist on that, given our situation. I keep trying: I will send him emails about things concerning dd which he always ignores and I just hope that someday he is less angry or hurts less and is a little more open to communicating about her. But I have no control over that, and I do (especially reading what some of you mamas have said) respect his need for boundaries.

I also, though, think it's really interesting what a PP brought up about a great relationship actually being CONFUSING for the child/children. I hadn't thought about this but it reminds of me of a (heartbreaking) incident that happened a few weeks ago: I let ex take dd on a trip to his home country and that morning he was uncharacteristically warm and emotional. While he was holding dd, he gave me a big hug and I hugged him back and dd, too. She was giggling and seemed so happy and kind of surprised, I can't explain it, it was just a look in her eye. And I thought: I want us to get along and not fight in front of her, etc. etc. but I *don't* want her to think that there's a chance of us getting back together!

Mama to a beautiful girl since May 2007 and a beautiful boy since August 2010! :
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#22 of 27 Old 08-23-2010, 03:25 PM
 
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We're working hard to get to that model. It's easier at the moment because there aren't any new significant others. But hopefully by that time that happens, we'll be so solid that we'll be able to incorporate the other person into our package deal. We have worked REALLY hard for the past year to get here. It was artificial at first. But now, it's not unlike the smooth patches in our marriage (which was mostly platonic for the last 5 years of our 9 year marriage--so not too weird!). We worked out our new boundaries. We put our son at the center. He comes over to hang out with DS if he's going to be gone for a while. Or he'll randomly ask if he can pick up DS from school or a on the weekend. We've got an official schedule just to base it off of, but we're pretty fluid about it and that works for us. We do family things together semi-regularly. But we needed to work out those boundaries first to give us both room to heal. (It was my decision but I'm still in the healing process a year later.)

The pay-off of the hard work is now. This is what I saw when I was sitting where you are now OP. It was a dark place, but I could see glimpses of the possibility in the future.

BUT...coparenting like this will not work without BOTH parties participating. If you're not *both* committed to it, there is so much room for hurt and frustration and anger. In order to heal, you might need to back away for a while. Let both of you establish separate lives with plenty of access to both parents for your kids. Find things that make you happy. (I decorated my bedroom with lots of pink and modern artwork, got another kitten, went back to school, did experiments in the kitchen...lots of things I wouldn't have done before.) Work out a nightly phone-call to say good-night with the kids. If they go anything like ours, it's mostly parents talking anyway and if you can both play nicely...it's a good way to get used to the new normal--at first it's really difficult and kind of uncomfortable, but gradually it becomes mundane and you might find yourself chatting about work or gossiping about relatives in addition to what is going on with the kids. (If either party has trouble being civil, obviously you'll have to keep it strictly about the kids and this is a whole different conversation.)

We have agreed that if/when there are significant others, they will need to accept the other parent as part of the package deal. And that we will continue to do family celebrations when we're both in town for a birthday or holiday or little field trip to the pumpkin patch or whatever. We even put that in our divorce decree to solidify our intents. (Totally not enforcable if we went toxic later on.)

I guess we're not too far off from the "Reba" scenario you're describing, but way in the early years.

ps. We've also had a major help in the fact that XH has been in a really stable place since I made the decision to divorce. Not having the constant rollercoaster/crisis to deal with has left us both with enough energy to put into healing and coming out in a good place. I can't really imagine how it would have played out otherwise!!
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#23 of 27 Old 08-23-2010, 04:24 PM
 
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I'm really curious if anyone has experience doing this with SOs in the picture. I would love to be able to do holidays together, go to the pumpkin patch etc together. But, while XH and I are extremely amicable, I don't think we could do this. At least right now. I left XH for another man (my current DP) and am now 5 months pregnant. And DP was a friend of XH's.

XH has been really mature about the whole thing, but I really think it would be asking too much of all of us to go to a pumpkin patch together. Way too new and raw. I do continue to harbor hope, though, that with time we can all heal enough to be able to be together in the same place. DD's 3rd birthday is in January, and I have no idea if we'll be able to hold a joint party or not. I really, really hope we can.
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#24 of 27 Old 08-23-2010, 04:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by carriemama View Post
I'm really curious if anyone has experience doing this with SOs in the picture. I would love to be able to do holidays together, go to the pumpkin patch etc together. But, while XH and I are extremely amicable, I don't think we could do this. At least right now. I left XH for another man (my current DP) and am now 5 months pregnant. And DP was a friend of XH's.

XH has been really mature about the whole thing, but I really think it would be asking too much of all of us to go to a pumpkin patch together. Way too new and raw. I do continue to harbor hope, though, that with time we can all heal enough to be able to be together in the same place. DD's 3rd birthday is in January, and I have no idea if we'll be able to hold a joint party or not. I really, really hope we can.
I think you'll have to cue off of your XH on that. Talk to him openly about it and accept his opinion. In your situation, you might need more time to let the healing happen and new boundaries sorted out. We're super lucky to not have extra complications in this raw period while we sort things out. It could be a year or two or five before either of us brings in new SO's. But we've laid out the ground rules.

Would your SO be offended if he stayed behind for a smaller family activity (not birthday, but something little like a pumpkin patch)? It might test the waters a bit. When I was explaining where we're at...know that this is well over a year past the initial decision to divorce! We have had time to sort things out. I've seen an awful lot of people say that in the beginnings when it's raw, it is too painful all around to do the "happy family" appearance. Maybe this year you won't be able to do things together. But when there are days when you need to really count to ten and pick your battles...think about how it might be a year or two from now if you don't fight this particular fight. It helps put things in proportion to decide if the battle is worth fighting today. Good luck! It doesn't have to all happen TODAY. You have your whole lives.
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#25 of 27 Old 08-23-2010, 04:45 PM
 
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ps. Just a thought...last summer, when everything was really raw, I gave XH a vision of where I hoped we would end up. It was completely foreign to him. He'd never seen a really amicable divorce, but was willing to give it a shot. While it was still so new I said that once in a while, I might invite him for dinner with DS, or to go out for pancakes on the weekend. Something random. And I was very clear that until he was READY, he could always say no, or make up an excuse with zero guilt. It was going to take a while before we could do casual things together and just because it felt fine last time, didn't mean that the next month it would feel fine. There are ebbs and flows. There are still ebbs and flows even now. Some days I just don't want him in my house. But other times I don't mind at all. Just depends on the day.

We did the big effort for special days---by mutual agreement. It was never a requirement. It was an invitation which could be declined.

Hope that makes sense!!
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#26 of 27 Old 08-23-2010, 10:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by RollerCoasterMama View Post
We're working hard to get to that model. It's easier at the moment because there aren't any new significant others. But hopefully by that time that happens, we'll be so solid that we'll be able to incorporate the other person into our package deal. We have worked REALLY hard for the past year to get here. It was artificial at first. But now, it's not unlike the smooth patches in our marriage (which was mostly platonic for the last 5 years of our 9 year marriage--so not too weird!). We worked out our new boundaries. We put our son at the center. He comes over to hang out with DS if he's going to be gone for a while. Or he'll randomly ask if he can pick up DS from school or a on the weekend. We've got an official schedule just to base it off of, but we're pretty fluid about it and that works for us. We do family things together semi-regularly. But we needed to work out those boundaries first to give us both room to heal. (It was my decision but I'm still in the healing process a year later.)

The pay-off of the hard work is now. This is what I saw when I was sitting where you are now OP. It was a dark place, but I could see glimpses of the possibility in the future.

BUT...coparenting like this will not work without BOTH parties participating. If you're not *both* committed to it, there is so much room for hurt and frustration and anger. In order to heal, you might need to back away for a while. Let both of you establish separate lives with plenty of access to both parents for your kids. Find things that make you happy. (I decorated my bedroom with lots of pink and modern artwork, got another kitten, went back to school, did experiments in the kitchen...lots of things I wouldn't have done before.) Work out a nightly phone-call to say good-night with the kids. If they go anything like ours, it's mostly parents talking anyway and if you can both play nicely...it's a good way to get used to the new normal--at first it's really difficult and kind of uncomfortable, but gradually it becomes mundane and you might find yourself chatting about work or gossiping about relatives in addition to what is going on with the kids. (If either party has trouble being civil, obviously you'll have to keep it strictly about the kids and this is a whole different conversation.)

We have agreed that if/when there are significant others, they will need to accept the other parent as part of the package deal. And that we will continue to do family celebrations when we're both in town for a birthday or holiday or little field trip to the pumpkin patch or whatever. We even put that in our divorce decree to solidify our intents. (Totally not enforcable if we went toxic later on.)

I guess we're not too far off from the "Reba" scenario you're describing, but way in the early years.

ps. We've also had a major help in the fact that XH has been in a really stable place since I made the decision to divorce. Not having the constant rollercoaster/crisis to deal with has left us both with enough energy to put into healing and coming out in a good place. I can't really imagine how it would have played out otherwise!!
Thank you rollercoastermama for this post!
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#27 of 27 Old 08-23-2010, 10:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This does seem to be a viable option, yes both parents would need to be stable enough to see the benefits to all, and mature enough to handle it. That is great if it takes place early on. I could see it early on after stabilization, but I don't think my stbx (traditional minded) would see the benefits to dc. I have seen a couple doing this within the first year. I also think they participated in counseling to make it work and took there new partners with them (at least I know the mom did).
This is not by stbx first marriage and they did the "traditional way", so not sure if he is open to consider it. And he grew up with absent parents as well.
For us to last 18+years was against all odds I know, but his midlife is major major major and sadly we are part of the fallout.
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