Okay, I want the forum position/opinion on this ongoing dispute we have.
I think I am probably wrong so feel free to tell me (although maybe you will sympathesize with what I am thinking).
I will call my kids up on a certain night and we talk about things and then sometimes I will say, "Well, what are you doing Friday night. I actually have off this Friday - an opening in my schedule. Do you and your brother (the middle son) want to go see a movie? Now. . .you can only go if your mom hasn't made other plans (or if it's a homework night, that has to be done)."
Mind you, I don't see the older ones as much as the toddler, who I get 2 overnights and 1 complete day per week.
She freaks out everytime I do this saying I have to ask her.
My reaction has been, "You're not my mother. You're their mother."
Again, I try to be very careful to not shirk them from their responsiblities but half the time I know they are sitting home just playing video games. I know it's not like she has an enrichening evening of educational activity or sports planned.
I don't know. . .I feel like I should have that freedom to just call my sons up and ask them out and not have to go through "mother" channels but. . .but I am trying to realize - I suppose it could be disruptive if she has to say, "No." But I have always supported her every time she has said no.
She says if she says no then it seems like she's the bad guy. We had a bad fight once and I told her, "What's with the word "seem"? You are just a natural at it."
(yeah, I can be a jerk too)
Anyway, my only defense is when you take that freedom away for me to just be able to call up and ask my kids out/to visit and I have to go through my caustic stb-x, I'll admit, I am less likely to maintain that extra contact with my kids.
It's like, "Oh God. . .I got to talk to her? Forget it. . .the movie ain't worth it."
Honestly, that's where I am at.
I suppose we both need some divorce counseling vs. marital counseling.
So, should I just suck it up and ask her when I want an extra visitation with them?
Short answer, yes. If she has legal placement at those times, everything must go through her first. You are in danger of "splitting" your kids by making them aware of how this bothers you. You do want to be the nice guy and you DO want to put her in the position of having to say "No" to THEM, not you. That's not fair. And, your whole thing about "threatening" to quit trying for more contact because you have to go through her? Childish. You should be embarrassed about that. Yeah, you may feel that way, but you do NOT let it affect your relationship with your kids. None of this is their fault.
It is 100% incumbent upon YOU to keep conflicts with your wife between you and her, all the time. Your kids deserve that. Any time you don't, you are putting them in the middle. You call her first and separate from when you call them, to fnd out if you will be able to see them that day. Then you call them, and if she's said no, you don't even mention asking. By frequent phone calls and keeping all the promises you make to them, they will feel your love and will learn to trust you even if you don't have as much direct contact.
And keep asking for the extra time, even if she says no 100 times in a row. She may say yes at 101, and it will be worth it. keep the calls and contact going--you can go to their school events without her permission, I suspect, as well as games and other things they do--and that will make a big impact on them. If they know you take every opportunity to see them that you can, the occasional "extra" will be a lot less significant.
And, your whole thing about "threatening" to quit trying for more contact because you have to go through her? Childish. You should be embarrassed about that. Yeah, you may feel that way, but you do NOT let it affect your relationship with your kids. None of this is their fault.
I did not threaten. . .I am just merely stating a consequence of having to go through her.
What can I say? It's a dissuader.
Is it right? Probably not. But people tend to avoid unhappy, miserable people right or wrong, sisters.
I'll try to be self-aware of it but I am just letting you know that's the consequence - you push people further out of your life. . .yes, even the father of your kids. She invited me to my son's birthday party the other day and I just didn't want to go. 1 - my attorney told me to stay clear. 2 - the whole thing is awkward. 3 - the book on divorce I read said this is bad for your emotional divorce - you need to say goodbye to the old family and way of life.
So I just politely told my son no thanks to have fun with his friends.
Yes, I try to go to most of their games and school events and I think I am able to volunteer to be a room Dad for the middle one this fall. I never got around to it b/c it was so late in the year and my summer work picked up but in the fall it will be down.
But I am going to challenge you a little here (even though for sake of civility I will agree and will ask her):
You do want to be the nice guy and you DO want to put her in the position of having to say "No" to THEM, not you. That's not fair.
Why isn't it fair?
Really. . .why?
What's "fair" in divorce?
Very simply, she could say, "No, I had these plans with the kids tonight" or simply say, "I haven't seen them much all week so I would like some time with them. Would you mind if they just hung out here and you rescheduled?" and I would totally 100% support that and even explain why it was important to the kids. . .you know. . .give a Dad-speech. When she assumes 100% control, she robs me of the opportunity to parent
And I don't respect that. I have never, EVER been one to say, "Oh well, you should go to the movies with me vs. visiting Aunt Millie."
Yes, if we want to be immature about it, I could make a legal petition for every time I want a little extra time. . .I suppose that's very legal beagle.
Is that exactly mature?
I'm just saying all it does is further alienate me, sisters.
And no, at some point, you just stop fighting. And if anything, the research shows what damages kids isn't how much time one parent gets or not, how much money, selling the house, etc. . .it's the witnessing and sensing of the fighting.
I'm sorry to say that I agree with sisters, Scanner, except that she's a bit more harsh about it than I am.
Here's the position you put your boys in:
"YAY Dad called and wants to take us to see ToyStory!"
(Mom says no you have to do homework)
Now...you are a little boy. Which one do YOU want to do? Go with Dad whom you don't see that often to a fun movie? Or math?
Here's the position you put your exW in:
"Dad is offering you time with him and fun--I'm being the responsible parent and offering you math."
It doesn't make any difference if you "back her up when she says no" because you have put a wedge between her and the boys and made her to be the bad guy.
You can avoid THEIR disappointment and HER anger at being put into that position by simply speaking adult-to-adult with her first:
"I have some extra free-time today and want to take the boys to a movie. Before I offer that to them, are they free to do so?"
If she says yes--you can be the good guy!
If she says no and it's a good reason, you can also be a parent and reinforce that they have to do their responsibilities...and since they didn't, they missed some fun with you today!--you are co-parenting and raising the boys right, and she doesn't look like the parent who's trying to keep them from fun.
If she says no and it's spite--then it is your job to deal with her adult-to-adult and stand firm for your rights...not to pit the kids against her.
If you continue on the way you are doing, in all actuality you are not being a responsible parent. You are teaching your boys they can avoid things they don't like or things that are hard. By going to your exW first, even if she says "no" for entirely spiteful reasons, you are teaching your boys that a real man will think of others ahead of their own need for gratification.
So if you find you are having free time like this, you may want to talk to your exW and make arrangements that are a mature agreement. For example, "Hey I find I'm fairly often having Fridays off early. Could we reach the agreement that you'll try to let the boys have 'free time' after school on Fridays so that I can semi-regularly take them to a movie or burger?"
Finally regarding this:
You do want to be the nice guy and you DO want to put her in the position of having to say "No" to THEM, not you. That's not fair.
Why isn't it fair?
Really. . .why?
Let me explain why it's not fair. It is not fair make your children do what you yourself are not willing to do as an adult. It is not fair to use the children as pawns to get back at your exW--even if she IS evil. It is not fair to put your children in harm's way just so you can "get back" at your wife. It is not fair to look your children in the eye and say, "Unless I can do this the easy way, you are not valuable enough to me to stay part of your life."
I can see both sides of this discussion. I've always believed that -->good<-- dads have gotten the shaft legally in the child department when it comes to separating. I've never seen it being fair that a willing, dependable, and good parent of either sex should have rights taken away from them ie, days spent with their children or as scanner said, just the right to take them to a movie or dinner even when you know there is no viable reason not to allow it.
But in the same sense it's a very fine line to walk when asking these things and not to end up making the other person look bad in the eyes of a child. Of course a child will want to see Toy Story as opposed to sitting around at home, hell I'll go see it with you instead of hanging around the house
The way I look at it from that angle is, the kids have already lost 'full-time dad', it'd be a shame for them to resent or start not liking 'most of the time mom' too....even if the spouse deserves it Posted via Mobile Device
This is also taking into account that spending more time with the kids won't be attempted to be used against the spouse in court to try and force a new custody agreement or anything of that nature. Posted via Mobile Device
I cannot put this any clearer than AC and Sisters have. The simple answer is that even though you no longer have a romantic relationship with your stbx you are very much co-parents. Parents always need to be on the same side, always. When you were together you both worked as a team to approve activities for the children, I assume. Even though youíre no longer together you still need to parent together in the best interest of the kids. Itís hard, thatís for sure, but youíre the adult. Besides which, from what I understand she is the primary custodian which you willingly gave up the right to. Unfortunately, less freedom in this area is one of the consequences of that action.
Donít begrudge your children quality time with you simply because you want to avoid going through your ex. How is that fair to them? It may be a dissuader to have to go through your wife but you and only you are responsible for whether you punish your kids by spending less time with them in the interest of avoiding your ex OR whether you take the action in spite of it.
No - I don't think you should be asking your kids directly. Yes, I think it is likely she is being unreasonable, and who the hell wants to deal with unreasonable when the outcome is clear?
I say jump through the ring of fire, and simply document each time you ask, and what if any reason she provides for every 'No'.
Obviously if she isn't going to accommodate you, then you have to make the choice that most fathers understand clearly ... but seems to consistently get minimized. 'Do I start another legal fight to get more access to my kids? Or, do I let it go to keep the peace on their behalf?'
I'm an every other weekend father. I'm not particularly happy about it. But ... if I chose to throw down for 50/50, I know without a doubt that it would risk EVERYONE's well-being. It would be too much change for our kids. It would be an incredible disruption of their familiar routine. I would need a new career that has me home instead of traveling for work - that undoubtedly would pay less. I would need daycare arrangements. All of this would mean my ex would get less child support. All of the child support currently goes towards housing. I would simply be painted as 'controlling and selfish' were I to pursue such a course.
However, my ex and I don't have anything even near the kind of enmity that you have with yours. I have the ability to do the very thing that you are talking about, in terms of expressing an interest in seeing or having the kids other than our agreed upon schedule, and there are no issues.
I dismiss Affaircare's and sister's posts as they seem woman-biased - especially the whole "man-up" insult hurled at me - I make my child support on time and I keep the schedule faithfully that I have with my kids.
In fact, this weekend I had to do a lot of explaining to the 7 year old. He had natural questions "Will Mom's boyfriend be my new Dad? Will you still be my Dad?" and so forth. I had to handle those questions as a man and I think I did so well.
Trust me. . .I am "manning up" much more than other divorced fathers so with that comment, I really didn't listen to anything else they said.
They are just being typical divorced(ing) sniveling women.
Now. . .I appreciate what you said though being a divorced father.
Once again, when I ask the kids, I am "clearing" it before I even ask them to a movie - "Have you done your homework?" "Have you done your chores?" "Do you have any other obligations?" "Are you just sitting around?" Yes? Well, how about a movie if it's okay with mom? And if mom said, "No, wait I asked them to clean their rooms and they haven't!" then you know what? I jump in and get their asses in gear as much as I can from the telephone.
No clean rooms? No movie!
That's not the same as "Hey, screw your math - let's go see Karate Kid tonight." like women above were making it out to be.
What this is all about I can tell you - CONTROL. It was a huge issue for my stb-x in our marriage and I can tell it always will be. She used to complain her mother was controlling and I find the irony of those continued complaints over the years.
But I have already started to document this.
Now. . .all this being said, Deejo - we may have had a breakthough in the fighting. I asked her for the boys an extra day (the older 2 this Sat.) but I said, "I heard you were going to 6 Flags with your boyfriend this Sat. They weren't sure though so i wanted to ask what your plans were." She said she would have liked to go but she can't with the baby and I said, "Well, since you are giving me the boys this Sat., I'll take the baby an extra 1-2 days so you can go there." Hopefully we can make such collaborations a little more commonplace. I'll call her today with a couple of days in mind and see what she needs. Maybe she needs a whole weekend. I would glady give it to her around my crazy work schedule.
(the older 2 are thrilled - they get to go surf fishing with Dad and I am sure they will have fun at 6 Flags with them and the boyfriend's daughter).
Anyway, I do appreciate all of the answers (even the ones I dismissed) and helping me work through this. Yes, Deejo, I will just swallow it and ask "MOTHER" first before I talk to the kids.
Best hope I have in your case is that your behavior remains consistent, non-threatening, and she becomes more ingrained into her relationship, eventually it simply becomes difficult if not impossible for her to keep the 'b!tch shields' up.
It doesn't have to be hard.
Of the SOooo many things that went wrong between my ex and I, the kids and access to either parent has never been an issue. However, I do expect that to change when I move in the Fall.
Well, I think all of this anger (that everyone has - you, me, your wife, my wife) has to do with the intense grief you feel (no matter how much you deny) when a marriage breaks up.
We have had parenting issues but i am thankful we haven't had one issue too much - finances. Oh yeah, we are wrangling a bit over the house but she hasn't gone out and accumulated $15,000 in c/c debt and neither have I and there is implicit trust that way (maybe too much sometimes but she has never given me reason to think she'd do something like that).
It's hard on me and you that we don't have 24/7 access to our kids, no matter how great our relationship may be restored. It sucks for both of our wives that it's always on them, that the "free babysitter" (not that we were that but let's face it - every parent sometimes babysits while the other parent does something) is gone, never to return, esp. b/c we are often forced to work more b/c of child support.
I am also coming to terms with the fact she may move and then that really sucks. Another loss. . .
I prepared my parents for that this weekend - that she may move and be far away and I get to see my kids infrequently, that our lives drift apart.
It's scary. . .I am not sure whether to honestly share these fears. . .I know she has to move on as do I. I am pretty anchored to this area with my business and luckily she has a great job with great benefits and a co. who invests in her. I try to take a long term view. . .that while I miss a lot (most?) of their childhood that I will have their adulthood, I guess.
Well, i am rambling - just taking inventory. . .it could be better. . .it could be worse.
I am only going to say that the fact you dismiss my comment based on your own bias rather than even consider looking at how you may be contributing...really diminishes my respect for you.
I've been here on this forum a long time Scanner and you've read my stuff. Am I really judgmental, biased and looking for women to have control? Or am I the one who often challenges and encourages dad's to NOT just hand custody over to unfaithful wives?
Yeah--my respect for you plummeted today and it wasn't because I'm somehow biased. It's because you won't even consider the possibility of looking at yourself and that maybe...just MAYBE...treating even an exW that way is disrespectful, or putting your kids in the middle hurts them so you can avoid discomfort.
P.S. Don't worry--I don't intend to bother posting to your threads anymore, so there won't be any snarkiness. Just wanted you to know that any respect I may have previously had flew right out the window.
Oh, let's see. . .how should I say this, Affaircare. . ."woman up?? No, how about about "grow up?" Can't you see I was just giving you a dose of your own medicine? There's no hard feelings - you struck out at me and I struck back in my own way and very non-confrontational. I just dismissed you, which you deserved, right? I have offered opinions before that deserve dismissal. I didn't get all bent out of shape and lose respect for the poster. If anything I always respect any poster for posting his/her weaknesses and problems and sifting through the replies and deciding which one to listen to and which one's to ignore, in this case - yours (not that Deejo's was even all too dissimiliar - his was just a more balanced and reasonable response).
I mean, you are crying foul and that you lost respect for me becuase I dismissed your advice? Well, really. . .how pompous of a position, Affaircare. And not entirely honest becuase. . .
Sure you respect me for it. . .Oh, you don't like it. . .in fact, I'm sure it bugs you.. . .but you respect me for it.
And that's one of the skill sets I've learned in the past year. (impressed? sure you are. . .you won't admit it, but you are ) Okay, maybe I am overapplying that skill set here but for the most part, I can tell it worked.
What? You would respect me more if I said, "Oh golly gee, Affaircare. . .you are right. . .I should man up. I'm such a limp noodle. Yes, dear. Whatever you say dear." (you wouldn't. . .oh sure, you would have the initial female, "Wow, what a great guy, he listened to me and obeyed me" but eventually you would disrespect me even more, like an annoying puppy).
C'mon, Affaircare. .. you deserved it. Don't cry foul.
So. . .your position in summary:
1. If there is infidelty, you can engage your opponent in legal melee. That's justified and not harmful to the children.
2. With extra visitation, you shouldn't engage your opponent in melee. That's unjustified and harmful to the children.
based on your post:
Am I really judgmental, biased and looking for women to have control? Or am I the one who often challenges and encourages dad's to NOT just hand custody over to unfaithful wives?
I disagree with your position (haven't decided if I respect it or not).
The research is pretty clear - fighting in front of the children is anatomically damaging to children's brain. And I think visitation can be resolved, even this contentuous one. But infidelty - if one partner screwed aroudn on the other. . .and they want the kids. . .well, you are basically endorsing a fight to the bitter end (because how can you take it back?), which results in anatomical damage to the children's brains.
I am already ahead of you - you think if you just limit the theatre of the fight to the courts, well, the children will escape harm.
Simply not true. It's an illusion to think that by limiting the theatre, the children escape the harm of the War.
As far as I can tell, kids want 2 things in divorce:
1. They want to be in their home (most of the time)
2. They want unfettered access to Dad (or Mom in the other 20% of the time)
They dont give a flying F that Mom slept with the US Soccer team or they dont' care Dad had a 3-some with 2 local pole dancers. They don't care about their sex lives and someday, your kids will keep their sex lives to themselves. I would be careful about egging divorcees on with that position.
I try to have exactly ZERO contact with my nj ex, but sometimes I have to suck it up and speak with her. Believe me it sucks to hear that voice, most contact I have is through email and occassional text. Try emailing a few days in advance when you can, if not a text is good also.
I agree with Sirch. Using emails or texting also takes tone and attitude out of the equation, as well as the benefit of a traceable line of communication. You can even look like the good guy and let her know preemptively that in the future if you would like time with the kids beyond the agreement, that you will give her the courtesy of an email.