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BetrayedNoMore 05-15-2013 02:01 PM

The line between being flexible and being a doormat
 
I need help, I am really stuck at a crossroad. I understand co-parenting is a give and take. I am just not able to wrap my head around some things. When an issue comes up, for example one of the kids gets sick. My ex's approach (during her time) is to call me, tell me about the problem, complain about missing work and I offer to take time off of work and take care of them. My approach is notify the ex, take the time off of work and take care of them. Sometime I will just get random text, asking if I can watch the kids for a few hours while she runs errands. Sure, no problem. I'm not complaining, I get to spend more time with my kids on top of the every other week rotation. I just see a pattern forming...

Her latest is an off the wall trip during her own week with the kids, so since they are in school she isn't going to take them. So now she is complaining that she won't see the kids for weeks. The Mr. Fix It me is trying to "fix" her self created problem (be flexible, trade weeks or something) and part of me is asking myself why the are you making this your problem? So how do you handle the guilt trips and where do you draw the line at saying no vs being flexible vs being a doormat?

3Xnocharm 05-15-2013 03:08 PM

Re: The line between being flexible and being a doormat
 
This one is tough..I can see her taking total advantage of you here. I would never EVER had thought to ask my ex to watch our daughter while I ran errands! Thats absurd. I get why you do it, more time for you with the kiddos, but it still isnt right. That is one of those times where she needs to either step up or suck it up as the parent and figure out what to do with the kids in regards to her errands.

My daughter's dad and I have always been flexible with her time, he is a little more begrudging about it, but he usually cooperates. If she is sick at school, I am always the one to get her, whether she is with him or not. That is because 1) I work closer to her school, and 2) he is a lazy-ass who never wants to drive anywhere or put forth any additional effort. Most of her schedule rearranging was due to her competitive sport schedule over the years, so there have been very, very few times that I asked for changes due to my own personal activities. And when that actually DID happen, I inquired with him ahead of time. Also, she is always free to attend any family gatherings with his side when she is with me, I never want her missing family stuff. She is 16 so we are getting close to the end of all this crap.

SO, all that said...my suggestion would be to base your flexibility on the situation at hand. If a business trip comes up, thats one thing, or if the kids have something going with their activities. If she is just looking to do something for herself, thats different. I am not saying to be a jerk, but being TOO flexible will get you taken advantage of, and also look bad to the kids. (for HER not you) If she makes a habit of skipping out, you may need to consider altering your custody agreement.

Holland 05-16-2013 12:27 AM

Re: The line between being flexible and being a doormat
 
Ex and I co parent 50/50 and we have it down to a fine art. Firstly we are each others back stop but do not take advantage of that. So for eg I would not ask ex to have the kids while I did errands, I have a whole week to do errands.

If he goes away for work he will ask me first if I can have the kids, no problem. If either has a social event on we swap days if possible.
But there is no taking advantage going on, the time swapping is only ever for valid reasons, work or a social event where the date is set by others eg a work dinner or wedding etc.

IMHO you need to set firmer boundaries, I would start to decline having the kids for a few hours while she does errands. Don't be rude about it but maybe have plans for that day. She is using you as child minding, maybe not on purpose but if you are not happy then it is up to you to stop the pattern that is forming before you get resentful.

zillard 05-16-2013 09:43 AM

Re: The line between being flexible and being a doormat
 
I had to set clear boundaries with my X about parenting time. Actually written down on paper for her during a counseling session for co-parenting.

I am a recovering codependent. Due to this I refuse to jump to fix.

If she needs my help, she must ask, nicely. That must include a question mark and a will you, can you, would you, etc. If that does not happen, I refuse or simply do not reply (as there was no question asked). If she asks for my help nicely, I still have the right to refuse... an explanation is not mandatory.

If times are to be changed, I require 24hrs notice. Flexible in case of an emergency. Emergencies do not include social events or errands.

If time change cuts into my personal time, that is needing something. See first boundary.

Now generally I will gladly take the extra time with my daughter. But my personal time is just as important as hers. And my job is just as important as hers. If I see a pattern of disrespecting my time, I change things up or refuse simply to drill home the fact that I'm serious about my boundaries.

I felt like a jerk at first. But it was necessary in order to avoid doormat status.

She is much more cooperative now and coparenting is improving.

Hope some of this helps.

EnjoliWoman 05-16-2013 12:01 PM

Re: The line between being flexible and being a doormat
 
I agree with Zillard. With one caveat. If you are happy to get any extra time and it's convenient for you, even if it's a "favor" to her, take it. And DOCUMENT it. If at any time you end up in court you can show she frequently, voluntarily forgoes her parenting time. It also may help with child support by proving you spend more time parenting than the agreement outlines.

Here I am awaiting my ex to tell which two weeks of vacation time he wants this summer that he was supposed to submit to me by May 1st, JUST so I can be sure to plan any adult vaca time when she's gone.

#)*#(%(@#$%&^%

zillard 05-16-2013 12:15 PM

Re: The line between being flexible and being a doormat
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by EnjoliWoman (Post 1865177)
I agree with Zillard. With one caveat. If you are happy to get any extra time and it's convenient for you, even if it's a "favor" to her, take it. And DOCUMENT it. If at any time you end up in court you can show she frequently, voluntarily forgoes her parenting time. It also may help with child support by proving you spend more time parenting than the agreement outlines.

Yes. I'm happy to do a favor (time with D is really a favor to me :) ), but she must first ask.

I am firm with this as I previously jumped to fix without being asked. I trained her to expect me to rescue.

"I'm hot". So I would drop what I was doing to turn on the fan, etc.

After divorce it continued. "I have to work Saturday". With nothing else. No asking if I have plans or am willing to take D. Just expecting.

I'm not ok with that because I feel bad about myself when I take on her responsibilities without being asked.

unbelievable 05-16-2013 01:09 PM

Re: The line between being flexible and being a doormat
 
I'd agree to take the kids whenever I possibly could and I'd secretly document every time. The easier it is to dump them on you the more often she will do so. After a while, you'll probably find you actually have primary custody, by default. If you wanted to make it official, she's built your case for you. A classic example of giving someone enough rope to hang themselves.

BetrayedNoMore 05-16-2013 02:19 PM

Re: The line between being flexible and being a doormat
 
Holland, I don't want to decline the small stuff, because it doesn't really affect much right now. It doesn't affect the schedule because that is counted by overnights. Plus stuff like this acts a counter if we end up in court over the current schedule or if she tries to say I am not flexible. Now turning down a week long schedule change is something I have considered, because if she offset it a single week it would be a non issue. If this was a business trip, I would be flexible as the need arises. I see this as her creating a problem and expecting me to bend to her solution, instead her exploring all of her options first and preventing this from being a problem in the first place.

Zillard, I often wonder if I was co-dependent. I take on the I'll fix it attitude until you have abused it. She asks first, so I give her credit there. 90% of the time co-parenting is smooth sailing. When her trips start affecting my time with kids, now or in the future due to changing the overall schedule. The biggest challenge is she looks at the here and now while I am looking the schedule asking myself how is this change going to impact the rest of the year. She keeps pushing me to change to a Saturday to Saturday rotation instead of the using Friday. Now on the surface it seems reasonable until I look at the impact. I can pick the kids up from school on my Fridays and I don't have to worry about the ex dropping them off or picking them. I would no longer have a full weekend to myself. I lose out on going out Friday nights. Am I being selfish?

EnjoliWoman and unbelievable, I agree with you 100%.

zillard 05-16-2013 02:28 PM

Re: The line between being flexible and being a doormat
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by unbelievable (Post 1867561)
I'd agree to take the kids whenever I possibly could and I'd secretly document every time. The easier it is to dump them on you the more often she will do so. After a while, you'll probably find you actually have primary custody, by default. If you wanted to make it official, she's built your case for you. A classic example of giving someone enough rope to hang themselves.

I agree with this.

My situation is a little different as I already have primary... 6 nights/week.


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