Thursday, September 27, 2012

Realistic Expectations

Dear Parents,

First off - I must sprinkle some honey on the vinegar I have been working with this week. Let me just say that there really are situations where intensive therapy and all the resources in the world can't change the toxicity of the system. Some things go back so far nobody can remember where they started. All I'm looking for from these posts is to plant a seed of self reflection in folks going through divorce or separation with children. There's a whole other world of posts for parents who are married or living together. They're not so perfect either so don't go thinking I'm biased! Anyway, I just wanted to put that out there.

In other news, let's talk about Realistic Expectations aka - Wake Up Call.

Back in the olden days, when I was a kid, I was raised by two parents who were married and living in a house with myself, my two siblings, and usually a couple of cats. My dad worked full time and my mom worked part time starting around the 6th grade. The designation of parenting tasks was pretty clear. My mom took us to all of our appointments and my dad would 1) Have her back completely no matter how unfair we insisted mom was when she wouldn't let us eat entire tubs of ice cream and 2) Fun stuff. My dad was my soccer coach forever and he taught me to ski and brought me to UConn games - soccer and basketball mainly but there was some football thrown in there too. Nobody questioned this arrangement, it never even occurred to us.

My point is, I am constantly told by parents that they are angry their Ex doesn't go to the kids' doctor/dentist/eye/whatever appointments. Seriously? Unless there is something seriously wrong with your kid why would both of you need to be there? Do you really want your Ex to take time off from work that they probably won't be paid for so he can watch the doctor swab your kids throat for the 900th time? Do you actually think your kid cares about that? Because, they don't. The only thing they care about when it comes to the doctors office is, "When can we leave?? We hate it here!"

My point is, if you were still married or in a relationship with the other parent, would you expect them to get out of work for a basic check-up? No. You would not. Because that would not make sense. Guess what? It still doesn't make sense. Whoever the custodial parent is, unless you have made other arrangements, doc appointments are your job. You have the kids full time therefore you know their schedule the best. Do not lambaste your Ex for this. I'm sure they would love to be there for every immunization shot your kids flip out about but it simply is not their job and expecting that from them will only lead to resentment on both sides.

The custodial parent should be supported by the non-custodial parent. Meaning in this case, child support. Just to clarify what child support is and how it should be used, the parent who receives the support should be using the money for whatever the child needs. Food, clothes, shelter. Usually there's a separate arrangement regarding payment for extra activities such as dance lessons. That's all child support usually covers. The idea that baby mamas are getting rich off child support money is asinine. Seriously, how many single mothers do you know who are rolling in the dough?

Child support does NOT cover what you, the non-custodial parent, has for the children at your house. Complain all you want about it being "unfair" it's still your job to have clothing, toys, food, etc. for your kids when they come to see you. It is not your Ex's job to provide them with every single item they may need while in your care. Why would you even want them to pick what outfits they'll wear, toys they'll play with, stuffed animals they'll sleep with while they're with you? Don't you want your kids to view your home as their home? Stop complaining about the money. Go to Savers. Use coupons. Get hand-me-downs from your friends with older children. Think outside the box and don't get caught up in what it costs. The benefit to you of your kids feeling at home and comfortable when they are with you will be worth every penny.

Embrace every opportunity to be your highest self for your children and yourself.

1 comment:

  1. I think every child is different. My oldest daughter in fact has NEVER had her father bring her to any appointment. NOW...she doesnt go to him when she is sick or needs help. Even if she is in his care she will call me. Kids do care, and do notice when one parent does more of their every day care than another. I am not saying that both parents should be at every appt. but should go to some. Maybe you didnt care, but for a kid that never has one bring them I think that they feel that one cares more, idk.