C.H. asks from Newhall, CA on March 09, 2007
How Do I Get My Ex to Follow-through with Important Things W/the Kids
I need help in dealing with my ex-husband. We were married for 11 years, and have been divorced for almost 2 years. I did most of everything having to do with the kids activities, school, etc. when we were married. Now that we're divorced, my ex just doesn't always come through when he has the kids. I don't feel it's my job or place to have to constantly call him and remind him about appointments, or school projects (he doesn't like daily calls from me anyways), but I know that he is not that great at remembering things, and I don't want my kids to suffer because we are not together anymore, and mom isn't always around to take care of it. I've tried monthly meetings with him to go over important things, but after several reschedulings on his part, due to his terrible scheduling habits, even then things don't always get accomplished. We share custody of them, but because he works so much, he gets a lot of help from his parents as far as the kids go. I don't have that luxury. When it's my day to be with the kids, they are with me and no one else. When they need clothes or school supplies, etc.,I don't have the luxury of having someone else's help. He's just flaky, and I don't thing he will ever change.(was a major problem in our marriage) How do I manage all this with having shared custody? And not having to call him everyday?
So What Happened?™
thank you all for your helpful advise. There are two things I agree with. One, that if he didn't change then, he won't change now. And two, the kids will unfortunately come to find out that they can't count on him. i will take the adivice of those who told me to continue doing the best that I can when I have them, ....love and nurture through this hard process, and not let the ex get to me anymore. It's just not worth it, and that's why I left him in the first place, was not to be disappointed and frustrated by him anymore. Thanks to you all for writing to me.
N.G. answers from Sacramento on March 11, 2007
When my ex got flaky and he calls didn't work I would right a schdual on the computer and give it to him when I saw him next that way he could say "oh I forgot" cause if he did then I woulds say wheres the schdual that I wrote, if he said he lost it I would print another. It's unfortunite that some men are not responsible for their actions and thats why there are women to make up for their lack of responsibilty. lol
M.W. answers from Los Angeles on March 10, 2007
Here's my two cents for what it's worth. When I divorced my son was 2 and now he's 12. I likened the experience to empty nest syndrome that parents go through when kids go to college, I just had to start very early in his life. I'm not sure what kind of relationship you have with your ex, but there are many things that I had to let slide because I didn't have control anymore. We all have different parenting techniques and granted the father has different ways of dealing with things. I spent so much time worrying about how my son was being raised and treated and finally I had to let go of certain things and just get along.
Things are never perfect in divorce, but I'm sure your children are smart enough and with the guidance you give them on your time they will be fine. I would try not to worry so much and give yourself a break. Let dad be the kind of father he is and know that you are doing the best job you can when they are with you. Letting go of certain aspects that we had control of is difficult but it helped me finally get my life back although it took many years.
I don't want to be long-winded, but if I realize that some things I just can't control it puts me more at ease. Getting upset is normal but take it each step at a time. I just try not to let 'him' know that I'm upset and usually things blow over.
Going with the flow is what helped me.
A.G. answers from Sacramento on March 13, 2007
I am really sorry to say but there is no way for you to get him to do anything. I know what are you are talking about same thing for me. The only suggestion that seems to work for me is not to call. If the kids want him somewhere let them call or even send an invitation in the mail to him or e-mail which ever you think that it would get to him, if he does not show then the kids will learn that there dad is not realiable. That one is really hard however sometimes can not be prevented. I have this issue with my 3 year old, I have older children however they are nto his and not an issue. He will tell the 3 year old that they are going to do something together and then just not show or call. so I had to tell him that I refuse to have the baby know how flakey his dad is and if he wanted to do something with him to tell me and when he does not show at least the baby will not be disappointed since he never new that he even said that he is coming. It seems to work for me, however sometimes there is nothing taht you can do to get these men to realize that they are hurting the kids when they are not around. Make it the best situation that you can, I am not sure who;s idea for divorce and or the situation surrounded it however sometimes us as women will hold on to the fact that we have children together and sometimes make it worse since we still love the man in our hearts and want them to be around the kids so much so they do not loose out for our guilt or what ever it may be that now the parents are nto together, don't let this get you down even though he flakes the kids, because once he sees that he is not invited or speaking with the kids he will infact come around eventually hopefully it will be as fast as with my ex.. only took 30days for him to realize that he missed his son. we are working on a friendship although we will never be back together again I believe that is very important for us to be friends and have our son know that mom and dad are friends even though theya re not together that is very important to me. Evaluate the situation and make the best of it. I ahve the most wonderful friends and one is a great help in dealing with this situation she really guided me through so much of it. I wish you all the luck and remeber, even though he is not there you are, and YOU are important too.
N.P. answers from San Francisco on March 10, 2007
Since you say he gets a lot of help from his parents, and if you are on good terms with them, you can call them up and ask them to help you. Tell them your concerns in a non-confrontational way and give THEM your kid’s schedule. Then ask THEM if they would be so kind as to help remind him so the kids don't miss appointments or assignment due dates. In effect asking them to "parent" your husband and remind him about things the kids need to take care of. He’ll probably take it better coming from his parents than from you since they are already helping out.
Then take a deep breath and hope they come through for you.
L.M. answers from Los Angeles on March 10, 2007
C. ~ So, you really don't need help dealing with your ex. You can't make him do anything. He is grown and responsible for his own actions. My advise to you (for what its worth) is to help your kids at your home. You can help the kids get their school projects done at your home and tell the kids to hand their school projects in while they have their time with you. Getting school work turned in on time or early is a good thing. Don't have them put it off until they are with their dad because obviously, that's not working.
Also, I would suggest not scheduling important things on dad's time. I understand activities they may be involved in happen on his time, but if at all possible, make them on your time. Dad is responsible for his time and its not up to you to tell him what he needs to do with the kids on his time. His opinion of what's important is different than yours and you can't change that. Many people in a divorce want to control the happenings at both homes, but that only creates drama. Your kids are suffering through the divorce along with you. Don't add extra drama where it's not needed.
The fact that your ex has the luxury of help from his parents has nothing to do with you. Divorce is not fair or fun and there is nothing you can do about it. I know I sound harsh but that is truly not my intent. I'm trying to be helpful. When divorce happens, we as individuals must accept that we don't always have help with the kids, which by your own statement, did not happen during the marriage, so why expect it to happen after the divorce? Just know that your ex will be held responsible in the eyes of his children for his failures and he will have to live with that. They will in time see the strength you have and will appreciate it and respect you for it. Be strong and do what you can do while they are with you and don't hold yourself responsible for what does or does not happen at your ex's home.
Like I said, try to arrange things for your time with the kids and help them to get their school work done and turned in early so they do not have to suffer the consequences of their dad's irresponsibility. And whatever you do, don't speak negatively about your ex in front of or to your kids. Talk to your boyfriend or girlfriends or post it up here, you definitely need to release your feelings, but never within ear shot of the kids. Remember, they love both of their parents and don't ever want to hear negative things about either parent. They know how their dad is, but don't necessarily want to hear it out loud.
Good luck and best wishes during this difficult time. It will get better.
R.C. answers from Salinas on March 10, 2007
I hate to tell you this but nothing you do will probably make any difference. Have you tried talking to his parents? Are they willing to take them where they need to go? I know its not their responsibility but if they are with them alot it might at least get the children where they need to go. Just remember if he didnt change and do the things when you were married why would he do them now? Good luck, Ive been there I have two of my own also.
T.P. answers from Las Vegas on March 10, 2007
Hi C.! I just wanted you to know you are NOT alone with dealing with the ex thing!! I have been divorced for almost 5 years and it seems like things get worse as time goes on. What I did (and you might try) Was got my kids cell phones.. I know that some people think they are to young but it really works! My oldest is 13 and he has a phone on my cell account so all the calls from me or to me are free and he is able to send and receive text messages to remind him to work on a school paper, or remind him of an appointment or football practice, etc. The ruel is.. if he leaves the house he has the phone in his pocket! My daughter is only 9 and I wasnt ready to try this with her yet, but at xmas she got some $$ and REALLY wanted to buy her own cell phone. So I let her get a pre paid one. She does chores to earn a 20$ card that gives her about 60 min of talk time or about 3x that in text messages. I put a few numbers (Mine, dads, grandma, brothers etc.) in her phone and she is only aloud to answer calls if the name comes up with a number. She has also figures out how to text message and sends them to me almost every day. I think it cost me about 40$ a month on average and I have not had to talk to my ex in 2 or 3 months!! It's worth every penny to me!!!! Good luck! T.
M.D. answers from Los Angeles on March 10, 2007
It sounds like he has some issues about being an adult. You know by now that you can't change anyone but yourself. You may want to get some sort of mediation to change the custody situation. He doesn't seem to be able to show up. It's a shame for your children. When he has his children, he works? I am sure the kids would much rather be with him. So I'm sure they are happy to be with you on your days. It sounds very frustrating, but be grateful that you don't live directly in it anymore wishing you didn't.
C.N. answers from San Luis Obispo on March 10, 2007
I feel like I am writing to myself, that is my name too.
You are right about him not changing, so that is problem number one solved.
If I were you, I would make a little 'calendar' and send it with the children. Does he have them for more than a week? Anyway, do not make it for more that the exact time that he will have them for that particular time. It is a try anyway.
I don't know if young mothers know this or not, but this, now, is the hardest time in your lives. Oh yes, later on there will be problems, but this time is the worst. That is my opinion anyway. You are learning about your 'voice and job in the world', you want the very best life for your children, and you are trying to do it, many times, by yourself. They say that every Mother needs a 'Mother'. So if your mother is not near or easily available, then chose another woman to talk with. Notice I said, talk with, you do not have to follow directions, you are the captain of your own ship. But it really helps to hear another way of handling things. I ask my sister what she thinks sometimes and she says, "You are not going to do what I tell you" and I say maybe , but I want to hear your thoughts. She truly has helped me over the years.
Also, slow down and do not be so hard on yourself, or your ex. Things do not have to be perfect. Be honest with your children and love the heck out of them.