Allowing our children control because we feel guilty, because we are tired of fighting, because we think it will make them like us. These are all things we find ourselves doing or thinking of doing, especially in the midst of or following a divorce. None of us would choose to put our children through what they go through during a divorce and custody battle. Even if you are the one that wants out of the marriage, you wish there was a way without involving the kids. No matter how civilized and friendly and cooperative your situation is or becomes, things for the kids change just like they do for us. Best case scenario, both parents love the kids and want the best for them. But even then, the kids still live with only one parent (or one parent at a time if they split their time between mom and dad). We work hard to compromise and get a schedule that works for everyone, that we feel is best. Sometimes we cant decide or agree, and parenting coordinators and judges decide. No matter how it happens, it gets written in our divorce decrees and we are ordered to abide by it.
Some parents will push every boundary and try many different ways to twist those orders to work in their favor or at least against the other parent.
No matter how yours came about or how you feel about it, do your best to stick to it and make the best of it. I did not choose to only see my children 50% of the time, but fortunately I learned early on to make the best of every minute we had together. Or maybe looking back it just seems like I learned it quickly. While going through it, I am sure I should have done it sooner.
Stop focusing on what the kids are doing or getting or where they are going when with the other parent. Don’t compare your time with your children to their time with your ex, but do make it important that they have that time with you.
My heart hurts for a friend who is allowing her 9 year-old to dictate the parenting schedule as he wants. He says he likes it better at dad’s, he has more fun at dad’s, he wants to stay at dad’s. She gives in, and gives up her time with him because she thinks he will like her better if she does. Even on Mother’s Day, a day meant to celebrate us moms, she gave up time with her son. Her son is learning at a very early age how to control mom (Hmm, something dad did during the marriage?)
As hard as it is, it is better to make the kids abide by the schedule. If you give in once, they will expect it every time. I didn’t have this situation with my kids; it was the opposite. They wanted to be with me all the time. As difficult as it was, I would explain how important it was for them to spend time with their dad. For reasons explained in previous posts, this was very hard for me to do. I mean, how do I continue to tell my kids how important it is to go to their dad’s when their dad isn’t there?
But if your situation is like my friend’s, sit your kids down, remind them how very much you love them and how much you miss them when they are away. Explain that you look forward to your time together. Acknowledge their feelings that they think they want to be with the other parent at the same time, letting them know that this is your time with them and you need to make the best of it.
Think of fun things to make your time together special. Do a craft they choose. Eat dinner on a blanket on the floor while watching TV of their choosing. Make the most of your time with them during your time.
D14 Originally published 5-2014