Then we moved and my husband was able to find a job before I did, and because we needed money to survive, he took it and I became a stay-at-home parent for the first time ever. I was ill-equipped to be the one responsible for three young children 24/7. I had never packed a diaper bag, didn't know what the kids' normal routine was, and had never managed three children alone for more than a couple hours. I didn't know how to put the toddler down for a nap, that my kids were used to a morning snack between breakfast and lunch, or how to get the 2 1/2 year old to use the potty successfully.
So what did I do? I did what any other parent would do in that situation... I learned fast. I figured it out. I made mistakes, I didn't do things right, and I certainly didn't measure up to my husband's expertise. I asked him for help when I didn't know something, or I made it up, or I learned from my mistakes.
Now I am back at work and my husband is back at home. He is still much better at it than I am. But I am a competent parent, and I can juggle the responsibilities and do a passable job of it when I need to. My routine is still different than his, and the caregiving is far different... when he goes out of town they watch more TV and we eat a lot of scrambled eggs or mac n cheese. They go to bed later and the rules are a little looser. Sometimes we forget to brush their teeth. But I am not a bad parent, and my children aren't suffering because my caregiving is different (probably worse) than his. Just because I spend less time with them doesn't mean I don't deserve to parent them as much as he does. Just because I earn more than he could or enjoy my job, my kids don't love or need me in their life any less.
I think our experiences color the response we give, which is natural, and not that bad, as it provides for different perspective on the issue.
You are right, it might not be always so drastic as to children losing weight, but I am also right in saying that it is also not so drastic as a child not caring about not seeing their dad for 2 weeks at a time. I don't know if OP's husband and child relationship fall into either of the extremes, as all I know about her life is summarized in three paragraphs of a single post.
I tend to come out swinging hard on this issue, because my ex wasn't a very involved parent (per his choice) and started making noise about wanting shared custody months after we split, when I had been doing the lion's share of the child care for well over seven years. He quickly drew back when he realized that by the end of EOW he was exhausted and had difficulty keeping up to the demands of our two busy girls.
There are so many points of your post that I agree with. I actually hope that there are more families that can have a greater range of flexibility with regard to sharing time spent with their children; my situation is such that this would not (now? ever?) be possible. Part of that makes me angry, and part makes me relieved (that would be the mild controlling half of my personality that likes to micro manage )
I hope to god that if my ex ever meets someone and settles down to start a new family (is it new? I believe that second family isn't considered very nice?) that my children's stepmother is half as insightful and caring as some of the women on this forum. I continue to learn a lot about the dynamics from the other side of the issue, and while it can get heated, it's certainly appreciated.
Besides, how would a father "prove himself" if he isn't allowed enough time to take on the tasks the mom is convinced he can't handle?
I've known several couples who split and even though mom was the full time caregiver while they were together, dad was a FAR better parent and ended up getting full and 50/50 custody. (2 separate cases) Actually the 50/50 dad is a pro-breastfeeding, babywearing, co-sleeping dad, (opposite of mom in every way) who had to FIGHT for his rights simply because he was male and had been the full time wage earner in the relationship. IMO, that is totally unfair. He now has to jump through hoops to see his child, whom he'd like to fulltime parent. He can't work now because of an accident that pretty much stuck him on permanent disability, yet he can't parent as much as he would like because of the court decisions. Child goes to daycare instead of being with dad during that time who would love nothing more than SAHP. Out of spite and 'control' the mom wont work with him (she actually fled the state with the child at one point and he was granted full temp custody for a short time. It was then that he "earned" his 50/50). Had the sexes been reversed people would be throwing huge fits.
I just feel badly for the dad's who are not allowed much time with their kids. Even my husband and I don't parent the same, we definitely don't always agree. Yet, if we got a divorce I would never demand more than 50/50 because I think the kids deserve to have a dad that is very much involved in their lives on a day to day basis.
I am going through a divorce and sat in mediation today. My ex recently retired from the military. This past year while deployed, he had an affair in a combat zone. He was abusive and an alcoholic. So, when he wanted three weekends a month and five weeks in the summer without the kids getting to see me, I said NO! I was forced to live where we do because of his military career, not by my choice. My family is three hours away, but his is barely an hour from here. I want to be able to move closer to my family, but he is blocking it. He has serious anger issues and has openly admitted to his adultery and his depression. Now, I am in for the fight of my kids' life. They do not want to spend most of their weekends with him because they will not get to see much of my family, whom they are very close to.
I have worked full time for years. Still, I did the majority of the child-rearing responsibilities while he came home, demanded dinner, yelled at the kids to be quiet while he watched the news, then proceeded to get drunk and verbally abusive.
Now, he is acting like he is the victim because I finally had enough and filed for divorce. He was extremely selfish throughout the marriage and now he wants to be the "Disneyland Dad" and the fun one while I am the one who will be doing the bulk of the child raising. This is still very selfish, considering he went several years without seeing his first two children (that are now in their 20s and want alomost nothing to do with him.)
When looking at the quality of time spent with the kids, six days a month of "fun" time, versus maybe one hour a night (after homework, dinner, chores, showers, activities, et cetera) doesn't measure up, especially when the parents and the children are exhausted from the busy day.
How can I take my kids to a museum after school when they close at 5PM? Or the zoo? Or to a parade? Or to go shopping at the mall? Or to go fish? My one weekend a month doesn't cut it. Not only that, but when the children have been raised to go to church on Sundays, but now that they are with their dad, they won't be? How right is that for them? I believe the EOW is the way to go, along with some time in the summer for the OP to have a couple of weeks to take a trip or plan something special.
I am sorry to hear about your divorce, but glad that you are getting out of a relationship with a man who wasn't good to you.
I'm very glad you've bumped this thread, because it gave me a chance to see what I had written on the topic two years back, and to reflect on how much my perspective has changed due to some IRL experiences.
Divorce is about change. It's a huge, fundamental change in the relationship between two people and their relationship with their children. The bad old days of "he doesn't parent, I do all the heavy lifting, he just plops them in front of the TV" can be OVER now. He will wash their clothes and provide their meals and brush their teeth more than he ever did before. The hard work of parenting can and will be more evenly shared if you allow that to happen.
Your ex has been deployed. You've been raising these kids completely solo for huge chunks of time. It's reasonable to want to be the primary custodial parent during the school year and to move closer to your support system. But he's retired now, and if he wants to step up and parent at this point in this life, well, better late than never. Make a deal with you ex that allows you to live close by your family. Give him EOW and drive halfway (since you're the one who wants the move) and give him the WHOLE SUMMER with the understanding that your kids will not be barred from attending camps, etc. as they get older. Let him take them to Disneyland. Let him do whatevertheheck. Use the time when you're not the custodial parent to develop your own interests. Travel. Date. Sleep in.
I'm sure he's not perfect, but the's their dad. Even if you marry again (and I hope you will!), he'll still be their dad. Let him find a way to be the best Dad he can be.
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