Jun 9, 2014

It's for the kids!

I'm going to hop on my soapbox a bit because lately there are quite a few people I know that are fighting with their children's other parent, either verbally or in the court rooms. I'm almost certain that there will be next to no one that agrees with me completely, a few will think I'm totally nuts, and many will like about half of what I say and discard the remainder...but I honestly do think it's the best approach.

First off, quit arguing with your former spouse/partner...it does nothing for you, them, and especially not for the kids. Most of the time this bickering back and forth falls along similar lines for the custodial parent (in Texas that's mostly the Moms) the argument is that the non custodial parent doesn't spend enough time with the children and isn't paying a fair share of the expenses. Whereas the non custodial parent's complaints are typically along the lines of not wanting to pay the custodial parent a penny more than absolutely necessary and that the custodial parent diminishes their standing with the children (emotionally, verbally, etc.).

Custodial parents, regardless of what you think of your former parenting partner this is no longer your relationship, primarily it's your children's relationship with the other parent. You should always respect that for the children's sake. I know that can be a great challenge. Your beautiful kid(s) come back telling you how mean someone was and how this person upset them all during the time they shared with the non custodial parent. Not your problem. I know what you're thinking "...um, yeah it is! That's my beautiful child and I have to protect them so it is most definitely my problem". If your talking physical or sexual harm...yes. Otherwise, no it isn't. If your little one comes back from the other's home saying "Dad is so mean to me, he wouldn't let me do things that my step siblings could do." You should definitely not get on the phone and tell "Dad" what an idiot he is. You may say, "but my little angel is only 4 or 6 or whatever age..." the sooner the better. It's a parent child relationship and as you are no longer parenting within the same time frame, you are only responsible for the parenting within your timeframe.

Now you non custodial parents, say it repeatedly to yourself, "it's for my kids". You are not paying child support so that your coparent can have a shopping spree. You are paying child support to support your child, and that amount the court ordered you to pay, no matter how astronomical, should be the minimum you feel obligated to pay. I can hear it now, your saying "but if I was the custodial parent it wouldn't cost me $20k a month for daycare and I wouldn't be driving a new BMW!!" Or your thinking but they tell my kids all these horrible things about me that aren't true (or are true but aren't for children's ears). Maybe so, but as I told your former child rearing buddy...not your problem. Worse case scenario, your kid(s) will see that they can't get new shoes for school because someone else needed a new Louis Vuitton purse or that awesome new smart phone, but you did your minimal part. You made sure they were financially sound and if you want to be the hero, get them the shoes too! They may ask why you did this awful thing that you didn't do, simply tell them you didn't do that and your glad they asked you about it directly. You want to make sure your children know that they are as important to you as ever, see them every chance you get. Remind them that no matter what happens between Mom and Dad...you will always be there for them. The theme of the day...you are can only control the parenting that you are privileged enough to bestow upon your children. You cannot control the parenting of the other household.

You may honestly hate your coparent to the core for what has transpired that divided your relationship and would love nothing more than for them to vanish from the face of the Earth, but your child(ren) will be better off for having that relationship. You need to support your child in that relationship for your childs sake regardless of your personal feelings toward that monster with whom you were involved. Custodial or Non custodial...it all boils down to the same efforts. Support your child being with the other parent. Even when you, and possibly your child as well, don't want to support that relationship remember that in the long run your child will be a better human being for having it. If the relationship is good, they will grow because of it. If the relationship is bad, they will grow in spite of it. If the relationship is absent the growth will be hindered or non existent. Children deserve equal uninterrupted time with both parents. If one parent doesn't exercise that privilege, the child will notice. If one parent attempts to restrict that privilege the child will notice. In either case, the only parent child relationship you are responsible for is between you and your child, not your child and the other parent.

Obviously I say all this to most of the parents out there. If your child is being subjected to extremes (physical, sexual, emotional distress, etc.) you do have to step in and protect them. In my (ever so limited) experience this is not the normal occurrence, but the parents involved FEAR that this is what is going on at the other's home because we all hate to give up control. Your child can grown tremendously from being exposed to perspectives of both parents, and shouldn't be deprived of that. Learn to set the boundaries of these new coparenting relationships and leave the blame out of it for the kids sake. Miranda Lambert says "At the baggage claim, you got a lot of luggage in your name" let them deal with their own baggage you don't have to carry that around anymore, your child doesn't either.

Thank you for letting me drop my baggage here.

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