Saturday, March 19, 2016

Guru Jane: Kids Are Not Pawns




Dear Guru Jane,

I don't know how else to say this besides just saying it. I HATE my ex-husband. I loath him with everything in me. The problem is that he is the father of my two kids. He cheated on me, and I have to chase him every month for child support. I'm having a hard time because I don't want to let him see the kids. He is a rat bastard and I don't want my kids around him. I think he is a bad influence. When they are with him he lets them eat nothing but junk, and all they do is watch television - and it isn't anything I think is appropriate for them to watch. I just don't know what to do. I want my kids safe and I hate him. I just don't know how to balance this.

Help!
Angry Momma Bear



Dear Angry Momma Bear,

I hear you! You are in one of those super-crap mom positions. You love your kids. You want to protect your kids. You hate your ex-husband. Complete dilemma!

My first piece of advice is no matter how much you hate your ex, don't complain about him in front of your kids. There is a chance they will internalize it as, "if you hate him, and I'm part of him, then do you hate me?" We sometimes forget this possibility in our hatred for the other person. Having actually been this child - through my grandfather hating my mom - I get it. For me, when my grandfather would say disparaging things about my mom, it made me push him out of my life. I didn't want to be around someone who was supposed to love me, and yet hated one of the two people who made me. Just food for thought.

Next, please do not use the kids as tools. Do not try to punish him by keeping the kids away from him. He might be an ass, but unless he is hurting them (physically, mentally, or emotionally), you cannot keep them away from him during his visitations. If you feel like he is truly hurting them or putting them in danger, then you need to take him back to court or, if you really need to, get the state involved. Yes, these are extreme measures, but there is a difference between the children truly being hurt, and you just not liking how your ex does things. This is one of the hardest things in the world to do - to hate him and yet hand your kids to him is like ripping out your heart. But that is about you, and this is really about your kids. In this case, your kids have to win. Your kids always have to win against your hatred.

So we've talked about what you shouldn't do. Let's try to figure out what you should do. As hard as it might be, and I do know - I have an ex-douche... I mean ex-husband - how can you try to work with him? While you have limited rights on what you can tell him he can and cannot do in his own home, you do have the right to talk about what you would prefer. Explain to him when the kids eat crap all weekend, it is very difficult to get them to bed on Sunday night (if that's the case). Explain that because they are so hyped up on sugar and junk, this causes issues with getting everyone to school on Monday. Explain to him that certain shows seem to cause issues related to bad attitude and disrespect from the kids. (Can you tell I've had to have this very discussion? It was tough. All I wanted to say was, "Look, fucker. You'll do what I say." But of course I couldn't do it.

Now here is some advice for you, specifically. Almost as much as I want you to protect your kids, I want you to protect yourself. Carrying all of that hate around inside of you is poison. Check back to a prior UJ article: You Fucked Up: How To Forgive Yourself. Hate is horrible for you and your kids. Let's face it. Many of us have fucked up when it comes to choosing an ex and, in many cases, our babies came from that fuck-up.... which makes it not a total fuck-up. We get mad. We stress and we beat ourselves up for our choice. The anger comes out every time we have to deal with the ex. You have to forgive yourself and let go of that pain and hate. It is the only way you can stay sane, and it will make dealing with him a matter of inconvenience and not a matter of "I want to kill him," which is always a better place to be.

We know your kids are everything to you, so forgive yourself. Forgive the shit your ex did (he doesn't care if you're mad), and no matter what, don't use your kids as pawns!

Good luck!
Guru Jane

Oh, and P.S., get the state involved regarding the child support. Don't waste your time and energy.  You pay taxes for that department to work, and sounds like it is time for them to work for you!

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