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No. of Recommendations: 17
SO, DN drops the kids off at 7pm, after a weekend in Other City with their grandmother, DN, aunt and cousins. He called when he rounded the corner on our street, so I could meet him outside and carry the kids in (they were asleep).

BF and I get out there to get the kids, they wake up and start crying. Of course they do – they are confused, tired, hungry as hell if the amount they ate for dinner 20 minutes later is any indication and Her Bootiness was soaked. I can't even imagine the last time she was taken potty or had her pull-up changed.

Anywho, boo-hooing and clinging to Daddy from Q and tantrums all the way up the steps….and they stop crying when DN drives off. Just stop. Her Bootiness remains moody until dinner is served, but Q perks right up, wipes away his tears and starts to play with the new toys DN let them bring inside because they were crying. It was a show, for a specific person, and when that specific person left, the show ended.

I ask Q later why he was crying – he said because he wanted to stay with Daddy. I say that's okay, I know you have fun with Daddy, and he's going to pick you up on Tuesday for a couple of days. Isn't that great?!

“But I always have fun with Daddy.”

“I know, but you have fun here too.”

“Just sometimes. I always have fun with Daddy.”

Stab. Heart. Thanks.

<sigh> I know people keep telling me that eventually the kids will see right through the DisneyLand Daddy act, and will appreciate that Mommy takes care of them and all the details. Intellectually, I can see this. But DOG DAMNIT I do not know how long I can take this. It's a knife straight to the heart. I get the dregs of their lives, the nights spent holding feverish kids, the days spent potty training, the “it's time to go to bed now”s, blah blah blah. DN gets FUN HAPPY DAYS, financed by his mother even, and then gets to drop them off wet, hungry and tired. Fan-effing-tastic.

And why do they throw these fits? It's almost like they are….trained? Expected? to do so. Maybe it's just because Mommy is all business – it's time to do this and it's time to do that – that they don't throw fits on me. I don't know. I know DN probably sees it as “proof” he's a good dad, since the kids don't want to leave him, but I really think it's just a show the kids put on for Daddy so they can have fun again. I mean hell, I wouldn't want to leave Fun and Games 24/7 either.

And yes, everything I manage to read on the subject says it's normal for kids to have stress at kid-swap time, but eff it. I spent a good half-hour sobbing after the kids went to bed. I don't want to know it's normal, I want to know how to make it better for them.

Bah-humbug to it all.

impolite
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No. of Recommendations: 16
I don't want to know it's normal, I want to know how to make it better for them.

Do you want a pleasant lie, or the ugly truth?

My two stepkids are 17 and 21. The games have been played for a decade now.

Here is the key to the problem as I see it. No boy wants to think badly of his father.
There will be brief shining moments that make it all worthwhile, really, but there will be no shortage of tears and pain and anger.

Sorry.

But you will have your self-respect and pride, and you will see your kids grow up into decent, productive human beings. But they will cry, and often for reasons that make you cry too.



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No. of Recommendations: 8
I know people keep telling me that eventually the kids will see right through the DisneyLand Daddy act, and will appreciate that Mommy takes care of them and all the details. Intellectually, I can see this. But DOG DAMNIT I do not know how long I can take this. It's a knife straight to the heart. I get the dregs of their lives, the nights spent holding feverish kids, the days spent potty training, the “it's time to go to bed now”s, blah blah blah. DN gets FUN HAPPY DAYS, financed by his mother even, and then gets to drop them off wet, hungry and tired. Fan-effing-tastic.


(((Impolite)))

It's your job to raise them into mature, responsible adults. It sucks that DN isn't helping with that stuff. Maybe you can try to think of a few fun things for you and the kids to do that'll give you some special time with the kids. Schedule a day off from your responsibilities (not necessarily form work, it's fine to do this on a weekend) for you and the kids to just have fun. Don't worry about doing chores for other people, make it a day for just you and the kids (and your BF if you want to invite him along for the fun day). Maybe taking a day off will help you feel better, too.

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No. of Recommendations: 37
“I know, but you have fun here too.”

“Just sometimes. I always have fun with Daddy.”


On a recent flight i saw an episode of the new adventures of old christine, starring Elaine from Seinfeld.

the end of this episode she & her ex are talking and she tells him (paraphrasing)Not fair that the kid calls your house the fun house and this the homework house

ex says
Of course my house is the fun house, but you know what- he calls your house home and all the fun in the world doesn't make up for that...

this message brought to you by CBS

peace & sitcoms
t
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No. of Recommendations: 5
((((Impolite))))

I can only imagine the pain you are going through. Perhaps you can take comfort in the fact that you are doing the right thing and doing it as best you can.

Mothers have always borne the burden of being the constant force, the bedrock if you will, for the development of children. I am not discounting the contributions of fathers; it is just that for Western societies, the little children have spent more of their young years with their mothers.

For whatever the opinion of an anonymous Internet poster counts, I think that you are being a good mother. And remember, being a good mother does not mean that your children always are happy with you.

Cheers and hugs (platonic, of course),

Nuclear Redneck
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(((((((((((((Imp)))))))))))

Ishtar
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No. of Recommendations: 38
Imp,

This probably won't help much, but I am a 34 year old version of your daughter. I can remember that game myself. The crying was solely for Dad, so that he doesn't forget to come get us next time. (If he thinks we miss him, we may get to see him more often...)

My parents divorced when I was just under 3. I actually remember vividly the day we moved out.

Dad was also a DN, (with more similarities to yours then I really want to mention) and when we lived 2 towns away, we'd see him for maybe an hour once a month, if that. He'd take us to the park, fair, movie, or something fun to make up for the weekends he missed. Visitation was supposed to be every other weekend, but he'd always have a date, forget, or have his parents pick us up. (Sound familiar?)

When we moved 2 states away, and he had us on Xmas and during the summer, he was no longer the 'Fun Dad'.

Both my brother and I knew our Dad was a DN from a very early age, and would work to try to change things with him by our outbursts, or emotions. It didn't really help though.

Mom was our 'rock', and her home was always 'Home' to both of us, even if we'd just spent the summer at Dad's, his house was never home.

I'm sure that Mom felt the same as you.

I just wanted to let you know that even with what my DB & I did to get some attention from our Dad, didn't mean that we didn't know that Mom was unconditional love, and our safety and security.

Mom never once said anything bad about Dad until we were grown. By then, we'd always expressed that we knew he was an 'A$$hole Dad', so she wasn't saying anything about him that we hadn't already figured out ourselves.

We both have a relationship with him now, but it didn't happen until our late 20's on for both of us, it is now a relationship on our own terms.

Right now, your kids are trying their best to make DN a better Daddy. They wish they could convince him to be a good man, and the game is just that, for his sake.

This probably won't help your sadness, but know that you are doing the best for them, even if you aren't as fun.

(((Imp)))

Amy
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No. of Recommendations: 3
I know people keep telling me that eventually the kids will see right through the DisneyLand Daddy act, and will appreciate that Mommy takes care of them and all the details. Intellectually, I can see this. But DOG DAMNIT I do not know how long I can take this. It's a knife straight to the heart. I get the dregs of their lives, the nights spent holding feverish kids, the days spent potty training, the “it's time to go to bed now”s, blah blah blah. DN gets FUN HAPPY DAYS, financed by his mother even, and then gets to drop them off wet, hungry and tired. Fan-effing-tastic.

And why do they throw these fits? It's almost like they are….trained? Expected? to do so. Maybe it's just because Mommy is all business – it's time to do this and it's time to do that – that they don't throw fits on me. I don't know. I know DN probably sees it as “proof” he's a good dad, since the kids don't want to leave him, but I really think it's just a show the kids put on for Daddy so they can have fun again. I mean hell, I wouldn't want to leave Fun and Games 24/7 either.

And yes, everything I manage to read on the subject says it's normal for kids to have stress at kid-swap time, but eff it. I spent a good half-hour sobbing after the kids went to bed. I don't want to know it's normal, I want to know how to make it better for them.


Just get DN to leave sooner. Then they'll stop sooner.

Really, you're doing fine. I know it doesn't feel like it, but you are. Unfortunately, you're going to have to continue to put on the brave face and at least act like it's not tearing you up inside and take it on faith that we who have gone through it before you know what we're talking about.

Honest. It's the only way. BTDT.

(((((((((Imp)))))))))))

MOI
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No. of Recommendations: 32
<sigh> I know people keep telling me that eventually the kids will see right through the DisneyLand Daddy act, and will appreciate that Mommy takes care of them and all the details.

I had a slightly different experience than you are having, since 1) I was the one who asked for a divorce, and 2) my two kids were then 14 and 17, and 3) my ex and I had joint custody but she retained physical custody of both of them.

But, I'd like to tell you that if you are consistent, that your kids will eventually figure it all out, and in that respect it will get better.

However, you will probably still not like it.

In my case, my son (the 17 year old) already had a pretty good idea that neither of his parents were perfect, and he was self-confident and independent enough to assert that yes, he was still going to have a relationship with both of us.

However, my daughter (then 14) decided to cave to mom's demands that they take sides. Specifically, mom's side, who was bitterly angry over our separation and divorce.

For several years, my relationship with my daughter consisted of me sticking my face into a buzz-saw, and getting shreds of it handed back to me. I heard my ex's words in virtually everything she said to me. I got emotional blackmail constantly (e.g., "Well, if you won't buy me XYZ, I know my mom still loves me!")

Through it all, I was patient as I could be, I kept trying to re-connect, and I tried to just be myself. It sucked. Really sucked. But I didn't say anything bad about her mother. I simply tried to be myself. Many people tell you this is the best and only course to take, and they're right. When she would drag out some lie about me told to her by her mother, I would simply say, "I'm sorry that's not true. If you ever want to hear my side of that story, just ask."

Today, I am happy to say that my daughter and I have a very good relationship again. She even has a very good relationship with lizmonster. She adores her baby sister.

However, she now has a horrible relationship with her mother. She nows sees (or, allows herself to see clearly) all of her mom's many and sundry faults. And she's quite bitter about many of her mom's faults; her mom can be downright mean and nasty. She's the queen of passive-aggressive, is extremely tightly-wound, and often explodes at the stupidest of trivial imagined slights.

I never pry my daughter. I don't bring up her mom. I try always to do nothing more than listen, and try to be sympathetic, when she needs to vent about whatever latest hurtful thing her mom has done to her.

I'm here to tell you, it doesn't really feel any better when your kids finally realize that DN is a bad dad. You may think it will feel like vindication. But it won't. You will be hurting because they hurt, and there's really nothing you can do to make it better.

So, be patient. Understand that your kids take you for granted because it's safe for them to. They probably are quite aware that DN is not to be relied upon.

--FY
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Imp,

Rambling thoughts...

Your kids aren't stupid. And they aren't above playing you two against eachother. "Maybe if I tell her how much more fun it is at Daddy's house, she'll let it be more fun here."

But I've heard many times (and seen enough to believe it to be true) that kids are more comfortable with known, enforced boundaries. They might think they like doing whatever strikes their fancy, but the reality is that it's probably pretty unsettling after a few hours. That might actually be part of why they cry during the transition - they're unsettled. Especially during a breakup, stability is pretty damned important. And they're going from rules to no rules and back again. I'd be unsettled also.

And of course they cry and put on a show for Daddy. I did the same thing. I always knew I had to tell each parent that I loved them most and hated the other one. Kids try hard to figure out what you want to hear. And that's another area of stress. I'm not saying you ASK them to do such a thing, or give any indication that you want it, I'm saying it's natural for them to try. And maybe the lack of information about what you DO want to hear is also part of the stress. "I don't know if Mommy wants me to say good things or bad about him."

Anyhow, I think everyone is unsettled... except DN who won't let anyone, even his kids, unsettle his life if he can help it. So expect some emotional outbursts from kids who have fewer coping mechanisms than you do for all this confusion and uncertainty.

And of course having rules sucks. But honestly, being able to do what you want all the time actually sucks too. Keep doing what you're doing. You ARE the good guy here, and even your kids know that.

And, yeah, they'll try to manipulate you. But then, they probably always have, right? "You're not my friend" changes to "I like Daddy better" but it's the same old stuff. You're tougher than that. It's all just kiddie mind-games. Let it slide off of you. It's no more real than "if you make me eat my green beans I'll run away from home!"

Keep being who you are. It's actually who they love and trust.

Hugs to you,
Frydaze1
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No. of Recommendations: 3
Understand that your kids take you for granted because it's safe for them to.

Ah. Okay. Alright, I can see that.

Thank you, everyone who responded. I know I'm not the first to chart this territory, but there are days it certainly feels like that is the case.

impolite
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I always knew I had to tell each parent that I loved them most and hated the other one. Kids try hard to figure out what you want to hear.

Do people actually do this to their kids? I can't even tell you how I go out of my way to make sure I say nothing but good things about their father in front of them, and how I've made sure my family also follows that decree.

I've told people before that I could never really hate DN - every time I look at Q, I see a tiny copy of him. He's a mini-me of his father, and I love him with every atom of my body - there is no way I could *hate* the bigger version of him. It just isn't possible.

Severly dislike what that bigger person has become? Ayup. But not hate, because that would be hating a part of my children. I'm just not capable of it.

So to start bad mouthing their father would feel like I was dismissing parts of THEM, and I love them and their quirks so completely I cannot even fathom it.

And they're going from rules to no rules and back again. I'd be unsettled also.

This is probably the crux of the immediate problem. Poor things don't see a decent meal at his house, and have no bed times and no set wake times. My son is especially cranky when his schedule is changed, and my daughter just flat keeps the schedule whether you want her to or not - for example, there will be a bowel movement at 7:30am. There just will be. Expect it. ;)

<sigh> Poor little things.

impolite
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No. of Recommendations: 7
for example, there will be a bowel movement at 7:30am. There just will be. Expect it. ;)


About that, I didn't mention it after your original post, but if the children are really suffering because their basic needs are not being provided for while DN has them, you might mention it to your lawyer with specifics. Supervised visitation might be called for.

MOI
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For every Disney Land moment they remember, bet your last dollar they will also remember every time he bailed on a promise, didn't show up to get them, and all the other joys he brings to the table.

The sad part is, that won't make you feel any better, because it hurts them. But they will remember.

Marianne
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Dear Imp,

I have no good advice, but just wanted to offer my sympathy. It seems like you are doing the right thing, and the only thing in this situation. Kids are people, and people see through b.s. They do.

It seems to me that your ex is really digging his own grave. In a few years, they really, really won't have any respect for him. And they'l have a LOT for you. You are handling this with class, dignity, and grace.

BTW...did you ever decide to go after his pension, or is that too late? Or just not a part of the settlement/decree? In DH's job, that sucker is worth potentially huuuuuuge bucks over one's lifetime.

-M
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Of course they have "more fun" with DN - he's like another child, not a responsible adult. You're the only mature one in the group, which sucks. ((((((imp)))))
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tconi,
I had that same episode of "Christine" DVR'd and it just so happened I watched it the night before, and I was totally going to weigh in with that same comment. But luckily I read ahead first and you had already said it, so I didn't seem totally lame....

imp - hang in there. it will get better.

Huggs.

-gs
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No. of Recommendations: 23
I've never posted on this board but I have read every single post on here (even the lunch polls). I have to say, you are doing a fine job raising your kids.

You remind me of myself. I was 26 with a 2 month old when I discovered my ex was cheating on me. I was out of work and we ended up staying in the same house until K was 2 before I had gone back to work and had enough, barely, to move out. We stayed in the same area for 2 years and Ex was at least consistent about picking her up when he was supposed to. It got bad when I moved 300 miles away for a better job.

I would drive 180 miles each way every on Friday night after work every 3 to 4 weeks so he could get her, often sleeping in the car on the way home, then back again on Sunday night. In between was rough. I could never get him to call or send cards. He just didn't get that she needed to hear from him regularly. Sometimes I'd call for her and he'd tell her he was too busy to talk. Or he'd say he would call and then he wouldn't. I never said anything bad about him and made excuses (maybe he's working and can't get away). Once, when she was about 8 she asked him why he didn't call when he said he would and he yelled at her, making her cry. I was sooo ticked, I called back and left a nasty message. She never asked him anything like that again. One time I picked her up and she had a raging ear infection, gook coming out of her ear, fever, the works. She'd been like that for two days and he never took her to a doctor even though I had insurance and he had a card for her. I drove for 3-1/2 hours home with her hot little head in my lap, then straight to urgent care. Another time, she was throwing up when I got her. Just clueless.

Today, she's 27, happy, going back to school for her master's, has a great boyfriend, etc. She works part-time for her dad and they have a good relationship now, but it took years.

You are doing the right things: providing love, stability, order and a safe home. Keep your chin up and keep moving forward. Your kids will come out of this strong and happy and they will know that you did your absolute best for them.

((((((((((imp))))))))))

Judi
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{{{{{{Imp}}}}}}}

That really sucks, but honestly, they will see through that Daddy Disneyland act. They already do to some degree, since the big fit they throw when he's leaving is a show to try to make sure they'll see him again soon, because they've already learned not to trust that he'll be there when he's supposed to be there. If Q felt like yes, he would definitely see Daddy on Tuesday, and he could rely on that, he wouldn't need to make a big fuss when Daddy leaves.

But, because DN is unreliable, and your kids already know that, every time they say goodbye, they probably feel like, "When am I going to see Daddy again?" And maybe even a little bit of "Will I ever see him again?"

And, as eudaimon6 said, no child wants to think badly of his or her father. Many an undeserving parent has had a kid love them far more unconditionally and just more than they deserve. It sucks that Q said Daddy is more fun than you, but honestly, Q probably would never dare say anything negative to DN about DN, because he doesn't have certainty, stability in that relationship. Q has to really trust you to say such a thing to you (I know, it doesn't help much with the heart stab), and he was able to because he knows he's safe with you, that you will love him even through a heart stab.

I know it hurts, Imp. Hang in there, you're doing a great job, and I promise you, the kids will know the truth someday, if they don't already. It sounds like Her Bootiness already is getting the idea of what a DN her daddy is, alas, and hopefully you can shore up her self-esteem enough to overcome his treatment of her. That's what really worries me. :-(

Hang in there. It seems like you have the dregs, I know, but that is what kids need, and what they will remember--who held them when they had an ear infection, who made them pass algebra, who was at home when they needed a ride home at 3 AM because their buddy was arrested for drunk driving. DN might be more "fun", but not really, because who can really have fun when they're hungry and with a wet diaper?


--Booa
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DN might be more "fun", but not really, because who can really have fun when they're hungry and with a wet diaper?

----

Don't knock it until you've tried it.
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