Being flexible with non custodial parent. (ex) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 05-03-2006, 10:56 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm a custodial Dad. I've been divorced 9 years. I've had custody of my 3 boys since two years after the divorce. (We shared custody for the first two years) So, I've had full custody for 7 years. She has them every other weekend and unusually takes those weekends. Though, she sometimes has been inconsistent in the past.

Occasionally, she will plan something and tell me at the last minute and come and pick them up for a movie or something. This didn't happen often but, not occasionally. I always felt that it was important to choose my battles. If I didn't have something planned with them, I never made an issue of it.

I got married almost a year ago. My new bride has 4 kids. So, we have a full house now. (7)

Last Sunday, it was her weekend. My wife and I had something important in church that we wanted two of my boys to attend. (They are 13 and 15) The older boy is grown now. We asked that she allow me to pick up the kids for about 2 hours Sunday and drive them back to her house to finish their weekend. We had to talk my ex in to letting us have those hours in the middle of the day. But, she did let us do it. Though, the older of the two didn't choose to come. He stayed with his Mom the entire Sunday.

Now, this coming weekend, a mutual friend of ours is having a dance recital and has been selling tickets. She approached us to buy tickets and my wife reluctantly bought 3 tickets so some of the 8 in our family can attend. She didn’t exactly want to go herself.

Now, we come to find out that my ex bought 3 tickets so that she can attend with the two boys.....on OUR weekend. My ex still hasn't asked if she can pick them up this Saturday. My son told my wife about it.

My wife is angry that an event has been planned without asking us and we STILL have not been asked by my ex if she can take them.

My view in the past is that, I feel good about being flexible about things like that. If she had wanted to take them somewhere, at the last minute, I'd be OK with it as long as it didn't interfere with any plans I might have had. I still feel more comfortable dealing that way.

Now, my wife wants me to do things differently. She's very concerned that allowing my ex to plan something, then allowing her to take them, is treating her (my wife) as a "non person."

She feels that if I allow that, I'm putting my ex's feelings or the kid's feelings above her feelings. My wife suddenly wants to go to this dance recital and go down to buy enough tickets for us all to go. Then, we can tell my ex "no, we're planning on attending as a family".

I know how I feel about it. I want some objective opinions about it. What do you all think?
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#2 of 6 Old 05-04-2006, 03:09 AM
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Why can't you just call your ex and tell her that you heard about her plans, but that you guys were already planning on going? Ask her if she wants you to buy her tickets.

I, personally, have been through irritating issues like this with my ex. Except he would plan to take my daughter, so I would make plans, then he would cancel.

It's an irritating way to live, but we more or less signed up for it. We have to act in a way that won't put the kids in the middle or cause major problems between the parents, right?
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#3 of 6 Old 05-04-2006, 05:49 AM
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I know it stinks.
Personally I'd communicate clearly to your ex that the boys going with her isn't a problem, but the way she's organised it (using children as a go-between, telling you about her plans late) is. Unfortunately, by allowing the children to know the plans in advance of telling you, she's chosen to make an issue of it- I don't think it's treating your wife as a non-person, though, I think she's treating both of you with minimal respect. It's a 2 minute phone call, after all. I understand your concerns about picking your battles, but I think a gentle reminder is not out of place here.
THEN I'd tell her that you'd already planned on going with some of the kids and take it from there.

Helen mum to five and mistress of mess and mayhem, making merry and mischief til the sun goes down.
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#4 of 6 Old 05-04-2006, 10:31 AM
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There were a few things that stood out in your post...

First, it doesn't sound like you guys (or at least your wife) was very excited about the recital, and if you couldn't get tickets for all your family to go, was that because it was too expensive? If so, maybe your ex also having tickets and planning to go is a blessing, it will allow your two ds to go and also allow two of your other children to go.

And if your wife feels like she is upset about this, even though the recital isn't something she wanted to go to, is it more a principal thing? I think that's where you start running into problems...because no one can win. You can battle your ex over the "idea" of how she's treating you forever, and not get anywhere. The only times I have success dealing with my ex is when I focus on purely practical matters, on actual schedules and logistics. You will never be able to change how she treats you, even if you express it until you're blue in the face, the only hope you've got is to control both how you feel about it and what you do about it.

It sounds a bit like your new wife is feeling insecure, perhaps there are some other things you could do to reassure her of her importance to you?

Good luck!
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#5 of 6 Old 05-04-2006, 12:59 PM
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I have so felt like your wife and the emtions are so raw.

BUT they are off the mark you know?

I was mad at the fact that my life was so totally out of my control and that this whole bit of it was being decided "above me" between my husband and some other woman. It was primal and not my higher self thinking. It was about another woman having a role in my life with my husband and my input not being as valuable as hers.

OK So I think that your flexibility is great. I think that despite her lack of flexibility yours should continue. I think kids benifit from as much time with both parents and since you are custodial let her have as much as she will take.

But I think you need to talk to you wife more, when ex asks for extra time then say "I have to get back to you" then talk to the wife, when you two agree THEN tell ex. That way she doesn't feel that you and ex are deciding her life around her. Then in that conversation you can talk to her about the importance YOU see of your kids seeing their mom - not about what mom wants but about what you want for your kids. I think that changes the conversation. When a custodial sm is doing so much it is hard to care what the ncp wants becuase you feel pretty put out- and honestly it shouldn't be about her- it SHOULD be about the kids and what they need.

I hope that helps. I think reframing the way you bring stuff to her as you are asking instead of telling will make a huge difference.
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#6 of 6 Old 05-04-2006, 02:02 PM
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I am custodial step-mom of my older son. My role was very hard for me to get used to. I remember feeling very jealous of my dss's mom in the beginning. My dh was always very flexible and polite with his ex. It took a while in our relationship for me to become comfortable with this. My feelings about dss's mom have changed over time. After jealousy became anger, then sadness about everything she's missing. Now, I just realize how much my dss WANTS and NEEDS his mom. It is much more important for all of us (especially DSS) to just let her see him when she can and is willing. My only advice is to nurture your relationship with your wife so that she, too, will feel comfortable in the positive relationship you need to keep with your ex.

Good luck,
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