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pete-rock explains it all, and asks for an opinion

What's best for the kids in an ugly post-divorce but new marriage situation?

  • Fight to maintain a relationship with the kids, in court if necessary; dads are important!

    Votes: 14 73.7%
  • Accept missed visitations and don't make waves; the kids will come around

    Votes: 5 26.3%
  • Take on an "uncle" role with the kids; call on birthdays, go to graduations, watch them grow from af

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    19

pete-rock

Cyburbian
Messages
1,550
Points
24
Until a few months ago, I was a semi-frequent poster quickly moving toward clube membership. More recently, however, I've done much more lurking than posting. That's mostly been because:

1. I got married last September (a good thing!), and Mrs. pete-rock still wonders what this whole Cyburbia thing is all about;

2. I became unemployed last September also, and while I've done free-lance planning and development work with CDCs, churches and small-time developers, it's not been easy or particularly fruitful (I'm still searching for a permanent gig); and

3. Constant tension with my two kids (ages 13 and 7) and occasional legal attacks from my ex-wife, largely due to #1.

[disclaimer]If you're uncomfortable with reading or discussing divorce/blended family issues, please just accept my explanation above for not being here. For just a little background, read on.[/disclaimer]

Prior to the wedding, the kids seem to really get along with my wife-to-be, but I always had the sense that my ex was giving them the negative vibes about my newfound "lack of values" (my wife and I lived together for two years before the wedding; don't worry, we met a full year after the divorce was final) and how "bad" Mrs. pete-rock was. Since the wedding, the kids have seemed to start believing the ex more and more. Over the last two years, Mrs. pete-rock and I have been cited by Children and Family Services for neglect (we let my two kids and Mrs. pete-rock's daughter go to a local park unsupervised that was one block away; it was dismissed by the department as unfounded) and constantly in court for child support adjustments and visitation.

My wife and I were in court just yesterday. We won an attempt by my ex to suspend visitation for one year. My ex got a protection order against my wife because my 13-year-old claimed to have been punched by my wife (didn't happen, I was right there; they argued but nothing else). The judge dismissed that motion and my every-other-weekend visitation is scheduled to resume, but there is no question the damage has been done, and maintaining a relationship with the kids will always be difficult at best.

I want to do what's best for the kids, and right now I'm wondering if that means drastically changing the nature of my relationship with them. What do you think?
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,852
Points
39
Keep seeing them and continue to support the Mrs. Your kids are old enough to see what their mother is doing but probably feel they have to go along with what she tells them to do/say. There is no good solution to this one. (I too have been thru post-divorce hell with an ex-, and all I could do was take the high road and do the best for my son). Eventually the judge/family services may get fed up with your ex's maneuvers.
 

Richmond Jake

You can't fight in here. This is the War Room!
Messages
18,313
Points
44
Geez, Pete and I thought I had it bad. I agree with ZG, the kids are smart enough to see the big picture and they'll come around. Best of luck to you.
 

giff57

Corn Burning Fool
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
5,436
Points
33
I also had the same sort of trouble early on. The legal stuff died out pretty quickly, because it gets expensive quickly. I think the ex still tries to say negative things and such. The boys 14 and 16 figured it out pretty quickly. I took the high road and never said anything negative in front of them.

It's not so bad now, but it has been 10 years since the divorce.
 

NHPlanner

A shadow of my former self
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,927
Points
40
I feel for you Pete. I agree with giff and ZG....your kids are old enough to eventually realize what their mother is doing.
 
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Planner Groupie

Cyburbian
Messages
173
Points
7
Keep in mind that your children might be testing your new wife too. I've watched it happen in my family and it definitely brings on some serious tension. There is little doubt that your ex isn't putting thoughts into their heads, but I agree that they are old enough to get tired of this as well and just tell Mom to shut up and get over it.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
19,983
Points
49
Wow that sucks! I may be young and stupid, but I can imagine what you are going though. I agree with ZG as well. I work with HS kids in my church, and once they get to a point, the start to see right though the negative intentions of adults. Hold in their, and I am hope things will work out in the end for you.
 

pete-rock

Cyburbian
Messages
1,550
Points
24
The funny thing is, the blended family thing seemed to get along well until recently. My daughter would talk to my new wife about things she felt she couldn't discuss with her mom. My son loves playing in our backyard with the new dog we got for Xmas; my ex lives in an apartment in a dicey area, and they don't get out much there. The kids spent a week here between Xmas and New Year's, without a hitch.

But there's no doubt that my daughter in particular harbors a lot of resentment toward me, and she directs it at my wife.

My best guess is that things will stay weird for another year or so before they calm down or come to their senses. Like giff57 said, the legal options run out quickly because of the cost, but the ex has been representing herself in court lately.

FWIW, Mrs. pete-rock and I would like to have a kid in the next year or two, and that might again throw things out of whack.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,995
Points
31
Pete,
Been there in some similar ways. It was hard but I took the high road and NEVER dis'ed the ex. I let her actions demonstrate why we were divorced. You are not just working with teenagers. You are working with the people that will be your best friends in 20 years. Think "long-term." Evaluate every action based upon what is best for the kids and what will help them grow up with the fewest emotional scars. Often it will come down to you taking a load of crap from the ex and suffering in silence. But 10-20-30 years from now your kids will look back on your actions with the eyes of an adult and respect you all the more. That will also help them deal with their future spouses with more love and competence. That may in turn help your grandchildren...

No, matter what go with your inner core when it tells you to take the high road. You have my respect and best wishes.
 

Queen B

Cyburbian
Messages
3,179
Points
25
Pete,

I am there for you man, yes you have been missed here.
Our current situation at my house is very similar, very similar.
We had been living together about six months when King B lost his job and we moved our wedding date up to keep insurance coverage for his girls.

King B's EX is the most insane person I have ever seen, up to and including attacking him though the window of my car one time when we returned the girls. I made him press charges on her. And he won that round.

Visitation for us and the children has been made as uncomfortable as possible by their mother. We lived close by for a while but the constant fighting was just not good for any of us. We opted to move away and make visits fewer but longer in duration. Which mostly works.

King B hurts really bad for his girls but they have talked alot and they all know how much the other loves them.

To further make matter worse, the ex won't even let the girls talk to their father on the phone.

We just hold them and squeeze them when we can and let their mother be so the girls don't have to suffer any more by her hurtful toungue.

My best advise is. Do what you can, love them all you can, they will get though it and you can heal when they are adults. Once teenagers grow up and get a chance to look back, if you have been the best person you can be they will see the truth.

Hang in there, it is always, always hard during this period.
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
Perespective of the new wife.

I can understand your situation, but probably more from your wife's perspective. I'm the newcomer to the family, and I have observed situations similar to yours from the outside. I was torn beteween the first two choices, but selfishly chose the second option. I say selfishly because I was choosing with how I feel right now in my own situation. As the new girfriend/wife-to-be, I like the second option because there is less fighting and less negative feelings in my own household. This is a new relationship for Elmo and me (approx. 2.5 years). Some of the family issues I've been involved with or witnessed, especially what comes out of the other house, were shocking to me considering that I was in the formative period of my relationship with some permanently tied to the chaos. As much as you have to think of the children, you also have to think of your new family. What does the chaos do to you and your wife? Only you know whether #1 or #2 are best for you, and I think either would be good for your children. Try not to be a hallmark card dad, your children need you around more regularly even if they don't know it yet.
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,550
Points
25
Can you talk to the kids about this? Maybe have a Daddy weekend and take the kids to a water park or some other over-night attraction) and see if they will talk about their feelings? Maybe if they are alone with you (and w/o Ms Pete-Rock) they will open up a bit and express their feelings. I agree with ElGuapo, maintain the high road, don't say anthing negative about their mom, etc.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Pete, you have been missed a great deal here. I'm sorry to hear the problems you are having, but I trust you to figure it out. It seems many of the posts above have some excellent suggestions, and I have little to add. I saw this in my cousin's family, and the biggest mistake was in the parents not setting rules for the kids. The mother did not discipline them and the father spoiled them to compensate for being away and for the mother's bad-mouthing. The youngest kids suffered the most from this, never really maturing and taking reponsibility for themselves. Be a part of their lives as much as you can, but always be the positive role model. Be honest with them, explain what is going on and tell them you trust them to look and make up their own minds as to who is right.
 

pete-rock

Cyburbian
Messages
1,550
Points
24
Thank you all for your support. I had no idea that so many of us have had similar situations. I guess there's more that bonds us than just planning.

I've tried to maintain the high road throughout all of this and resisted the urge to speak negatively about the ex. I wish, however, the same could always be said about Mrs. pete-rock. I love her to death, but she is a scrapper. She is quick to anger and will remark to the kids of what my ex's actions have done to us as a new family. Trust me, we've had those arguments before. After yesterday, I think my wife has a new appreciation for the high-road approach.

I like Repo Man's take on this. I've tried to talk to the kids about this individually, but taking them away, just the three of us, might bring a whole lot more out of them.
 

BiteMeElmo

Cyburbian
Messages
324
Points
11
As you can see by nerudite’s response, we are going through something very similar. The ex seemed to turn into a different person, bent on destroying my relationship with my kids (or so it seemed) after the separation. She had no problem dissing me or picking a fight with me right in front of the kids. The day we separated, she gathered us all around and said, “Daddy’s not going to be living with us any more. Now he’s going to tell you why”. She seems to like forcing issues and making me sweat. Some kind of punishment for me in her mind, I’m sure.

Anyway, all through it, I’ve taken the high road. Many people wiser than me all basically said the same thing: Always take the high road. Never stoop to name-calling, harassing, etc.. Discussing your negative opinions about your ex with or in front of your kids does no one any good. Try to remember that she is their mother, and they have a right to love her as much as they love you. Try to continue your relationship with your kids exactly as it has always been (or as close as you can make work). Just being present in their lives is a huge thing; fight to at least get that. When they get a bit older, they will figure out who is the bigger person. The time right after a break-up is the worst…usually it SLOWLY gets better. She will run out of money, steam, or malice at some point, and hopefully get her head back on focussing on the kids and their future.

No doubt you fear that she is trying to poison the kids against you, and if that’s the case, unfortunately there’s nothing you can do to stop her. All you can do is prove her wrong by loving your kids and showing it as much as you can. They will remember how hard you tried. The hardest thing is to always try to be consistent, never try to make two wrongs a right, and NEVER GIVE UP.

If you need to talk this out with someone who has recently been through it all too, feel free to PM me.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
35
Pete-rock, you've definitely been missed on the boards. I can't really offer any useful advice beyond that which has already been given. All I can say is you have the support of everyone here. I hope things are able to work out for you in the end.
 

yaff

Cyburbian
Messages
108
Points
6
P-R,

I just wanted to add my best wishes to the group that you and your family are able to sort things out with time. My only additional thought for you to consider is to remember that thirteen year old girls are a very insecure group. Since you stated that your daughter got along well with your girlfriend before you two got married, it is possible that she is feeling that she is not as important to you or to the new family any more. She may need some individual time/attention from both you and Mrs Rock in order to enforce the message that she is important in your new family. Your daughter may also be feeling like she needs to defend her mother (whom she loves too) and is lashing out if she perceives her mother as being attacked. Wishing you all the best.
 

pete-rock

Cyburbian
Messages
1,550
Points
24
Again, thanks everybody for your comments and support.

I didn't want any of this to come across as a "woe-is-pete-rock" thread, posted for the sole purpose of emotional extortion. On the contrary; married life has been great, and the unintentional move from planning to community and economic development work has been fulfilling. I really do see a great personal and professional future ahead of me.

Look for me on other topics again. Frequently.
 
Messages
7,657
Points
29
I would recommend that you begin keeping records and documenting it. If it gets uglier, I think you could make a case for "child endangerment" (or some such) by their mother and seek custody of them. That kind of psychological warfare is some sick sh** and it brings out my own Amazon Mom -- "Don't Mess with MY Kids" -- kind of reaction. I don't much care what my husband does to me. But I am pretty rabid about protecting my kids. I consider such tactics to be ....evil.
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,852
Points
39
Michele Zone said:
I would recommend that you begin keeping records and documenting it.
Great idea. I was advised to do this by a co-worker so that I wouldn't forget anything that had happened, have dates handy, etc.
 
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