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kc, can I get your advice regarding a single mom-no contact-keeping ahealthy attitude matter?-ef
May 28, 2005
9:54 am
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exoticflower
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It's all there in the subject, I suppose. The situation is in 'no contact', I could really use your feedback. You have acheived about the sort of ballance regarding parenting and including the other parent that I really hope to myself, it seems, and I think our personalities are fairly similar to a degree, which I think helps in understanding where I am coming from and what 'hot spots' and drama I am concerned about, too.

SO, 'welcome back, can you do me a favor?' Thanks. Hope you are loving your weekend.

May 30, 2005
8:48 am
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kc30
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Hey
I posted once already, but I'll share what I learned at the course I took.

they broke separation/divorce down into "buckets"...there is

Financial

Emotional

Legal

Physical

Children

All of the issues and problems of divorce have a bucket that they belong to, so to speak. Our job is to make sure those problems go into the right bucket, and don't fall onto the children.

So I think my husband is a lying pig...that's emotional. He won't pay child support? Legal. I'm having panic attacks? Physical/emotional. I need to move because I can't afford my home? Financial.

They faciltators listed the 2 most common mistakes made by moms and dads.

For the dads, it's not paying child support.

For the moms, it's interfering with the dad's relationship with the kids.

Even if dad doesn't pay, they say you don't keep the kids from him. That's a money/legal issue and you resolve it legally, not by bringing the kids in.

They also talked about "above the line" issues. Adult issues, like adultery, drinking, money etc, are above the line....children should never be involved in above the line stuff.

It's hard because usually, one parent ends up being the one who does it "right" while the other one just does whatever the hell they want. But they say one doing it right is better than both doing it wrong.

I got lucky in one way...my husband took the same course, and it made a difference (he started paying child support immediately after attending)

Just treat him like a business partner. When you deal with him, only deal with relevant child issues...remember, it's not your job to nurture the relationship he has with your daughter...you can simply encourage it by not getting in the way. In the end, it will be up to him what kind of relationship they have.

I found that "bucketing" issues made it easier to deal with him. I could take all my anger, rage, jealousy, resentment, and find a place for them...then it just left dealing with the kids. We speak once weekly via telephone to discuss any issues or changes in our schedule...we send a journal back and forth to capture when they ate, slept etc. Other than that, no contact, which is also recommended. The less contact, the less potential for conflict.

Hope this helps! Feel free to ask away? I know many people may disagree, but I feel quite strongly about this....I have seen both sides of it...before taking the courses, my daughter was stressed out, having tantrums etc. Since I've changed my attitude and actions to reflect this new knowledge, she is doing fantastic!! They are both so unbelievably well adjusted...sometimes, I'm just shocked that they could be soooo ok despite the chaos!!

peace
kc

May 30, 2005
10:00 am
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exoticflower
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kc, helps alot. I do have a question though...how do you handle it when the two mix?

I mean, how do you smack it into the bucket and leave it there? Last night for example, he called after 9, little lady all tuckered out from her big first birthday, and I told him that of course she was asleep. He wanted to discuss how she was doing, how I was, what she got, and I said 'it will all be in the newsletter, I'm tired from the party and there's nothing for us to talk about right now'. He responded with 'Listen, I'm sorry I wasn't able to talk to her earlier, I was with my GRANDMOTHER, and this isn't something to fight about. M-- needs her father, even now. Are you saying you don't want to include me?". I said something cold and nasty and hung up. What if on its way to the personal bucket, he sees it and grabs it, dangling it over the child bucket? And about the gift, same question--it is a child matter where I say "she has to understand that we don't ignore mommy when mommy says no to something, I will have to send gifts back if you get them and you know they are things I have decided for reasons having nothing to do with us that she can not have). TO that he says "you are being spiteful", I say "I said no", and then I think god, what a jerk! and say 'you knew I said not to send that here, you had pleanty of time to send her something she is allowed to have'. and he says 'I can't believe you are telling me I am not allowed to give her any gifts'. Then it becomes an emotional issue, the child issue somehow contorted, and I'm sucked in again.

I guess I'm asking how do you personally strike up that ballance? I know he loves his daughter, but I'm at a loss as to how to keep them seperate when he tries to fuzzy the line, we just know each other so well, he is the quiet irritant and I am the rash everyone sees, including my daughter now. He slips away quietly and god only knows what comes after that--I just can't have that in my daughters life (child), and hate the smarmy pig for his willingness to do this to me while I am trying to deal with raising my daughter in a rational way, his usage of that to create drama regardless of his daughters best interests (SOOO emotional). Does the question make sense? How do you do it?

May 30, 2005
10:25 am
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kc30
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Makes perfect sense...my stbx was/is the same way...he is soooo unemotional and I'm a hothead by times, and he knows how to push those buttons and he ends up trying to make me think I'm somehow overreacting!

First thing I had to learn to do was to take the emotion out of all my contact with him. When I started my "no contact" it was actually "no unnecessary contact/no reaction"....meaning, I'd never let him see me sweat so to speak. Talk about "fake it til you make it!!"

You have every right to set boundaries with him...don't let him play the "kid" card with you. If you don't want to talk to him at a particular time, make it clear that now is not a good time, and offer an alternate time that works better for you.

If direct contact is too difficult right now, I see no problem with indirect contact (letters, email etc) Make it clear that you will only discuss pertinent child-related information. The experts I've talked to say the best thing to do is to reduce conflict at all costs, and they recommend doing exactly that (avoiding personal/direct contact) in the early days if things are too heated.

The gift thing is touchy....I can see his side of things as well as yours. Hmmm....I'd probably just let it go...he sent it to her, and yes, it was rude because you asked him not to, but at the same time, he is her dad, and it isn't really right that you tell him what he can and can't buy. I'm not defending him though...you were clear and he did it to piss you off and once again engage you in another emotional drama. And it worked. Sometimes, it's just not worth the headache.

Your daughter is only 1- this gift thing isn't about role modelling for her right now. It's more about this shithead continuing to disrespect you, and your being fed up. Deal with that on your own, and let the gift go. I woulnd't give him the satisfaction of ever mentioning it again.

Thus, the shitty part of all of this...we, the mommies, are the ones who end up biting our tongues to keep the peace, for the sake of our kids. And it sucks because they just run around doing whatever. But in time, it will make you a better parent. It doesn't mean you become a pushover...you just learn to ask "would I rather be right, or happy?" and even though you know HE'S doing things wrong, you stop fixating on that, and start making sure you're doing things right. It's the only way you'll stay sane!!

So, to summarize:
- Figure out your personal boundaries, what you are and aren't comfortable with, and lay them down, HARD! Expect a few weeks of slack from it where he tries to convince you you're unreasonable. Stand firm.

- Don't give him the satisfaction of an emotional response. That is how he controls you, and he knows it.

- He's her father, and as much as you don't like it, he has a right to be involved in her life. Yes, he's a shit and if he had been a real man, he'd be there to be involved, but he's not a real man, he's a shit, so he's not there as he should be. This is fact. So because he's a shit and he's not there, and you are not a shit, and you are there, he will depend on you for information about her, as she is too little. If he shows an interest, support that interest and know that even though he's a shit, it's good for your little girl. That'll take the sting out of it.

Find a way to satisfy his interest in her life without compromising your own peace of mind. Don't let him distract you...if he wants information about her, give it to him. However, he doesn't get to dictate HOW the information is relayed. Writing is fine if you are comfortable with that.

In these issues, you ALWAYS want to appear to be the fair and reasonable one. Give him no reason to badmouth you. Give him no emotion. Give him no control. He is dead to you, but a father to your child. Treat him as such.

This is tooooo long!! Sorry...I have more if you're intersted 🙂

kc

May 30, 2005
10:33 am
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kc30
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oh yeah...when he realizes he can't get to you anymore, he will leave you alone in peace. Mine did!

May 30, 2005
10:39 am
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exoticflower
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I am, I am! I want so badly to just do this right, she just sturned one, kc, and I spent the whole day just in awe and crying about how sad and wonderful it is... AND realized in a big way that one of us (guess wihich one) needs to get this bull under control, because she's really growing up faster than we think, and can't see stuff like this.

"we, the mommies, are the ones who end up biting our tongues to keep the peace, for the sake of our kids."...It does suck, but i suppose it is also the very chemical thing that makes us mommies...something clicks in you that forces you to give of yourself when it is a matter of your child no matter what. I juat forget that things like these can be viewed as nessacarry sacrifice for the young one as well. It kind of even makes it easier, looking at it that way, sort of lets me embrase it if that doesn't sound Phucked up that's my new favorite thing, btw, your 'Phuck' spelling.

May 30, 2005
10:52 am
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kc30
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I'll see if I can find some of the information from that session around conflict resolution. I used to keep a script by the phone every time I had to talk to him that would get me out of the conversation if it took a bad turn. I also would draft an agenda of topics to discuss, as would he, and we would stick to that agenda. If he deviated or seemed to be getting emotional (which was a real switch) I would ask him to return to the topic at hand.

Twice, when he wouldn't let up, I told him "It sounds as though you are feeling emotional about this. We can discuss this at a later time when you aren't feeling as emotional. Feel free to call me back then. I am hanging up now"...and I did!!! A couple of days later, I got an apology both times!

I'll bet you find as your confidence increases, and you know that you are always operating with your daughter's best interest, he won't be able to shake you with the "kid" card anymore.

When mine was being really unreasonable a few months ago, taking the kids out of daycare when he felt like it, not checking with me, etc I finally left him a very unemotional message and told him that if we couldn't come to an agreement on a visitation schedule, and follow that schedule, I was prepared to have a judge work it out for us.

I meant it too. I was asking him for a change in his behaviour, and was willing to take it to the mat because it was something we needed...stability. He tried to put it on me...told me I was "threatening" him and using the kids. I just let him think whatever he wanted, because I knew what my intentions were, and they were honorable.

And guess what. He stepped into line after that....

At one time, it would have bothered me for him to think I'm using the kids, and he knew it. But something happened to little kc...she got a spine and some self-esteem, and he now knows the playing field has changed.

You'll get there!! You're doing ALL the right things and asking ALL the right questions. I would say you're a fantastic mom...too many mothers in our place would just say "screw him" and cut him out. It takes big balls to walk the higher path....you are going to come out of this strong and bright...like a ray of sunshine, while he'll be down in the gutter, dirty and stinky!! 🙂

kc

May 30, 2005
10:59 am
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exoticflower
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Yippie! Of course if I read right, I will be a ray of sunshine with giant testicles?...Of course then I can just get myself knocked up next time, no conflicts there!

Yes, i would love if you could post those things, I want to take a course or something too, but any help would be egerly gobbled up right now. Thank you so much, and as a mother, you are one I look up to often in amazement...it really means alot receiving that compliment!

May 30, 2005
12:22 pm
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I have about 10 cents worth of info to offer here. I am not divorced or separated, but until my son was almost 5, my husband and I behaved pretty badly around him. I made plans to divorce him, even went out and signed a lease on a flat that was just big enough for me and my boy, but my codependency kept me from throwing my husband out because I knew he couldn't afford to live on his own and share child-rearing expenses at the time. He was being an ass, but I couldn't end it.

So for 3 miserable years, we lived in a war zone, and I watched little Lucas change. I was so caught up in my own misery and the never-ending DRAMA, that I didn't really realize what was happening to him. It was only when I saw a set of school pictures of my handsome lad that I realized that he had stopped smiling. To make it wors, he was always tall for his age, and the sadness and his size just made him look prematurely aged. I cried over that picture, and I keep a copy in my office to remind me that the crap in my life MUST be contained as much as possible.

I still lose myself sometimes, like this weekend, and my husband calls me out, tells me to remember that Lucas doesn't have to be involved in my personal struggle.

And I remember also that my mother tried to protect my sisters from the DRAMA, but I was the eldes (by a year!) so she would turn to me for help and advice and support and I became my mother's caretaker. Her pain was my pain, and I became so bound to her, that I was unable to find myself for many years. I ony knew how she felt, I was an expert on my mother's emotions, but I couldn't even tell if I was hungry or tired.

I'm rambling, but I just needed to share this with you, ef.

May 30, 2005
4:50 pm
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JW, I am glad you shared it. Not only do I understand where you are coming from a lot of times much better now, but what you and your mother went through is EXACTLY what I always want to avoid. I am my fathers best friend in many ways, and as much as that has meant to me and effected who I am, I have always felt sorry that I could not just be daddies little angel for a bit, instead of the equal, the confidant, the available shoulder...I never want my little girl to be that for me, least of all where her father is concerned, but in other areas of my own life as well. thank you for sharing it with me, ramble any time!

(((((AW)))))

May 30, 2005
5:41 pm
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kc really sounds like she has got a handle on things. I wish I had access to a course like that when I was going through my DRAMA. In fact, all parents should get training even if they are staying together, because I have realized how easy it is to forget the parent's prime directive: Look after the children.
No matter what you are going through, look after the children.

ef, when you described yourself locked in the bathroom with your screaming daughter, trying desperately to do what would be in her best interest despite the circumstances, I really felt for you. I remembered that back when my husband was an ass, he would start shouting and swearing, and I would beg him to keep his voice down so He wouldn't wake up our son, and he would just shout more. I hated him so much, then. I'm not sure what caused his turn around, but one day, we were both exhausted from arguing all night, and we just agreed that we had to put the child first. No matter what happened between us, the screaming matches had to stop because they were messing up a 5 year old's world. The passive agressive behaviour had to stop because they were messing with his head. If we couldn't fix our lives and our marriage, we were going to break something else that we couldn't fix.

I think that even if we had divorced, we both grew up that night, because after being parents for so many years, it was finally clear to us that our priorities were phucked up. I think that is the core of kc's advice, realizing that you are the grown up, and your children's entire future turns on the decisions you make.

Heavy, heavy stuff.

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