Revelations of a Child of Divorce

Ev - posted on 06/08/2016 ( 13 moms have responded )

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I decided to share something with you moms out there about my kid. Several here already know my story as I posted bits and pieces in a lot of other posts when answering question and giving advice. I found it necessary to share it because it was important to me to show how much divorce and custody not only affected me but my children. Note please that both my kids have gone into adulthood and one has kids while the other has just started out in life away from home. The divorce and custody took place 14 years ago. I made the choice then after a few talks with my lawyer and my family (not the kids) to let them go live with dad for a few reasons: 1) He had access to more funds to continue fighting for custody, 2) He had offered joint custody where the kids lived with him and I got visitation, 3) I did not have the funds to continue to fight to keep them, 4) Most important of all, I did it because they needed stable minds and peace of mind about everything. They needed to know that I was still there for them and they would be able to be with me though limited on time. They knew I loved them and I was always there for them. I did not want to keep fighting for custody because it was not fair to the kids not to know where they would end up every few months, to be bounced around home to home, and to not have some sort of stability going on for them. By allowing this to go his way, I was able to focus my attention on the important things I wanted to have with my kids. My time was limited but I learned to do things that would enable us to become closer. I did not become the total fun parent though we did fun things; I did keep up my discipline routine as I had done before. I made sure to keep on working with them on things such as manners, social graces, and other major life lessons and values I wanted them to have. It was not easy because I feared their dad would do anything he could to turn them against me or that they would come to hate me because things had happened as they did. It took a couple of years for me to get it that because of how bonded I was to my kids, that would never happen. So I can say after all these years my kids respect me not only as a parent but as a person too as I learned to gain their respect, trust, and honor as a person. I had it as a mother to a point but it became so much more when it was as a person as well. But enough of the story, if anyone wants other details, that can be given in another post.
What I want to divulge here is something altogether different. I want to touch on the relationship that my kids have with their father from their point of view as reported to me through the years. I am not trying to make their dad out a bad person or to call him that either. None of us are perfect and I admitted to my kids things I did wrong along the way and then learned from them to move on. My kids learned this from me. I cannot say what all things they learned from dad. I also want to note here that I always made sure they knew when they were 18 years old that any relationship issues with dad would be with dad and them and I would not have any say in the matter anymore but would listen and advise them as best as I could.

My son came to me a few months ago and said he wanted to tell his dad about things. I asked him what he was doing. He wanted to express his feelings on how he felt growing up in his dad’s home with step moms and step siblings and how he was treated and how it influenced the person he has become. I told him that it might cause a rift in the family on his dad’s side with his aunts, uncles, and grandmother. I also told him it also would depend on how he presented it and I asked if it was a good idea at all. He told me it was the only way to get things off his chest. I said I knew he would do what he thought but to be careful and not be surprised by the reactions he got. He said okay.
Just this past weekend, he called me and we were talking about just this and that and then he said he had a talk with his dad. He told me he asked his dad to talk man to man about something. I asked him what he told his dad. I am not going into a lot of detail but this is a summary of some of what he discussed. He told his dad how it made him feel growing up and he was not happy and did not feel like he was part of the family. He told his dad that he was also speaking for his sister’s behalf as well. He told his dad he was disappointed on how his dad handled things at the house and how his dad’s influences and actions and words did not help with his own anger and frustrations; that his dad had added a lot to that. He also told his dad that at home his dad needed to take more control over things there because they were not going good and were still the same as when my son lived there. There were other things discussed but not important to this as they are of a more personal nature. But the impression I got was this: My son has loved his dad because the man is his father but in the end he does not respect him because of what he did and did not do while the kids lived at the house with him. He was sorely disappointed how things have turned out. His sister is in agreement. Their dad failed in spending one on one time with them, listening to their concerns or thoughts on things, tring to stand up for them when necessary (my son ended up having to stand up for his sister at times and she had to stand up for him on others), favoring the other kids over them both, and many other things they have told me and have not. In their eyes, he has not lived up to the definition of what they think a father should have been or should be.
We did not go back to court to fight for the kids’ custody. I did want them with me but money as it was then did not allow me to go back to court to get them. My son voiced it more than his sister did that he wanted to live with me. He also voiced a lot of his feelings where his dad was concerned. I hated to see that a child had to point out to a parent their faults as he had done with his dad. Today we have a close bond and relationship, my kids and I. I did everything I could to keep that relationship strong. I did not make promises I could not keep and I did the things I knew I could do. And they appreciated that. I just hope someday their dad can try to repair the relationship with his kids.
I just thought that maybe this would shed some light on how the kids feel when one of their parents is not all they are cracked up to be after all. Its sad but it is true. I wish their dad had done better by them but he made his choices and now he has to live with that and how the kids react to him.
So what is more important? Who has custody? Who is the best parent in the world according to the parent? Who is the better parent? None of that is important. What is most important is that your kids and mine have that chance of some stability and peace of mind while growing up. They need to know the parents love them and that the kids are the ones that are important. The kids suffer so much more than the parents do in this. And when one parent fails to be a parent to their kids and accommodates their emotional needs as best as possible—that parent can lose their kids’ trust, respect, and honor. Is it really worth that?

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Ev - posted on 06/30/2016

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It was determined by them. I have not see anyone post what it was like from the kids' point of view and I am a proponent of doing things for the sake of the children. They are the ones that suffer the most in divorce and custody. No one seems to take them into consideration really outside the judge's decision in the best interest of the childrens needs and so on. A lot of parents just worry about what it is they get out of all that is going on and who has the upper hand, who has won the "battle" as it were. Then they wonder why the kids are as they are.

Michelle - posted on 06/09/2016

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I had something similar to your kids when I was growing up.
My parents divorced when I was 11 and back then it was just a given that the children stayed with Mum and Dad got every 2nd weekend. So I was the only person in my circle of friends (and even my class) at school that had divorced parents. That wasn't the worst of it though.
Dad would make sure he planned outings on our weekends with him. He had the money to do it though he didn't do it to buy our love or anything. He actually wanted to spend time with us (I have a brother 4 years younger). He took us to Disneyland (we live in Perth, Western Australia so it'a not cheap to get to america, especially in the 80's) a year after the divorce. Mum said he was trying to buy our love. Also a lot of the time the words out of Mum's mouth was "your f***ing Father this and your fing Father that".
Dad then took a work contract in the UK for 18 months so we didn't see him at all. Dad paid for us to visit him in Europe for the whole 2 months of our summer holiday since he hadn't been around. We had an awesome trip and I still remember skiing in Austria and driving around the UK to visit castles and everything (It's only been a couple of hundred years since Australia was settled so we don't have the same history).
Dad also took us trekking the Himalayas and I love my Dad for being able to get the travel bug into me. Mum on the other hand would always say that he was just trying to buy our love and would put him down at every chance she got.
Mum had met someone while still married to Dad and he soon moved in when Dad left. He had 2 daughters that would get away with everything. I also didn't like him but that's a completely different story!!!!
To cut a long story shot, one night when I was 16 I told Mum's husband what I thought of him since he was putting my Dad down. I went to live with Dad and my brother also decided to live with Dad. Dad was back in Perth by then and all of a sudden he went from being a bachelor (for 5 years) to being the single Dad with 2 kids.
My Mum then decided to kick her husband out since he was an alcoholic and a con man but then blamed my brother and myself for ruining her life! Yes, she would ring us (me at work before I started) and blame us for ruining her life and would just abuse us.
My Dad during all this wouldn't say a bad word against Mum though.
I look back as an adult and respect my Dad so much and have a very strained relationship with my Mum. She has blocked out that whole time in her life and thinks she was the worlds best Mum and never put my Dad down. I only keep a relationship with her for the sake of my children, she is the only Grandparent they have in the country so why should my children suffer.

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Sofia - posted on 06/30/2016

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Yes...father was 'there' by virtue of custody but in fact it was determental to the children.

Ev - posted on 06/30/2016

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But also the fact that they lived with their dad the entire time of the custody and he did not step up in my son's eyes to be the father he should have been to begin with.

Sofia - posted on 06/30/2016

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You said it well...the bond you create and continue to create with your children is the foundation for love and trust---not custody rights

Ev - posted on 06/30/2016

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I am asking once more for anyone interested to read this and leave an opinion or ask questions.

Ev - posted on 06/13/2016

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Thanks Sarah E. for the kind words but if I had to do this all over again no matter who the father was...I would make the same choices I did. It was not easy. It was the worst thing that happened to me 14 years ago. I was lost. Those kids were my life and I had done everything for them from staying up all night being sick, missing work to take to doctors because of being sick, meals, cleaning house, making sure they had clean clothing, did homework, got off to school or activities on time, learned how to do household chores, how to treat people and what kind of manners to have etc. I can not say their dad never taught them some of this before we divorced but I have to say I can not say what of the same things he taught them after it and he had custody of them. I am going to relate some conversations my daughter and I had after the divorce. I even heard her dad say a few things too that went with them.

Conversation one age 13 to 15: Not sure how old she really was. We were talking about the facts of life and she told me that her dad told her that if she ever got pregnant while under his roof he would kick her out end of discussion. I told her that if that ever came to pass that she had a home to come too and we would work things out and take care of business. I told her I would not be happy with the actions but I would be there for her.

AGE 21: At 21, she came to me still a college student late summer just before she was due to go back to school. She was in a Christian college and just to let you know going back for fall was not an option because she was pregnant and unwed. She told me first because she was afraid of her dad's reaction as well as her step mom's. Her then boyfriend now husband was with her when they told me. I asked them to consider telling her brother before her dad because I wanted her brother to hear it in a non-angered environment. So my son inlaw and daughter did tell her brother before they told her father. On the day they did, I drove them over to return her brother home from the weekend and they told her father. I was there. I saw her father get an angered expression and her step mom turn 50 shades of red. I could even see the steam coming out the ears on this woman. I had to remind her dad we could not say much because we had been in the same dire straights as they were and they needed us. I was there for her and him when they needed me. After that, my son did report that they were talking badly about her behind her back and I told him not to say a word because it just was not needed. A month later we had the wedding. Five years later I am the proud mother and mother inlaw plus a proud grandmother of a grandson and granddaughter. Those babies are a blessing. However, from the bits and pieces I do hear about her dad seeing the babies---he hardly ever visits or tries.

Conversation two--College age. My daughter and I had another conversation about what she had learned from her dad. I think it might have been the same summer she became pregnant. We were discussing it because she and her brother had told me a lot too late that when dad and current step mom were not yet married they would co-habitat at each other's homes with all five of the kids present. (They had two more after they got married.) My daughter made the point that her dad would tell her if she got pregnant she would have no home and that was not how she was raised but at the same time he would share a bed with a woman not yet married to him. I recall her words and I can quote: "What did he really teach me?"

Now: We have not had that conversation lately nor revisited it. But my daughter in some respects could see the truth of what her dad was becoming even if she never was one to voice it. She is a sensitive person and did not want trouble. But I know she saw how things were and now that she is married and on her own she is not one to stand there and not say a word. She has told her dad a few times what she has thought of things.

I am proud of what my kids have become as adults. I am glad Sarah E. thinks as much too. I tried my best to be as honest as I could be with them. I also reminded them if I had something to say about their dad that he was not a bad person, but he was not making the right choices depending on what the kids had asked me questions on and that was how he did it. I also reminded them I was not perfect and made mistakes but tried to learn and go on from them so I did not do it again. I also never made them promises I could not keep. Though a couple times, my promises were broken due to weather or being sick...but that has to be expected as beyond control.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 06/10/2016

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Hang on Evelyn...digesting. I'll be back!

Sarah - posted on 06/10/2016

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It took me a bit of time to read this and really think about it before I could respond.
In all of the hundreds and hundreds of posts about custody I don't think I have ever heard a mother or a father admit that surrendering the battle over the children, for the benefit of the children was the path they chose and they felt they were right in their decision. It is heartbreaking to read dozens of posts where the focus is; How can I win? How can I keep the children from the other parent? Do I have to let the mother/father see the children?
I have yet to read a post that conveys a sense of "I want to chose the path that will end the turmoil, provide peace and security for my kids; even if that means they are not with me all of the time." It is very easy for parents to forget the greatest cost of an ugly drawn out custody dispute; it isn't their life, it isn't their deflated ego, selfish heart or judgmental attitude. Nor is it financial. That expense is the kids well-being; both physically and emotionally. You don't prove how much you love your kid or how great a parent you are by diving into a long, petty custody battle. So Evelynn I commend you for your wisdom and selflessness to choose what was best for all parties, even if it meant you got your own heart broken.
Now onto you son and his adult perspective; it is not often that we can hear from a child especially one who had reached adulthood. I think that often we assume kids will adapt to a changed custody arrangement; incorporate it into their life history and essentially forget what transpired. A divorce and subsequent splitting of a family leaves a permanent mark on a child, forever changed. Sometimes for the best and sometimes not. Your son had great courage to say to his father, "you dropped the ball raising me and my sister, and that isn't ok. You could have and you should have done better and you need to do better now". The fact that your son grew up to be a confident man who could confront his father actually says a lot about you Evelynn. You easily could have led him to hold on to bitterness and to be unforgiving. Rather he is forgiving and loving of the parent who he feels failed him. Hopeful even one parent can read your son's testimony and realize that every decision they make and every action they take can leave a lifelong imprint, and change their ways before it is too late.
Children are not possessions to be used to barter and gain leverage, or as a weapons to hobble opposing parents. Wake up everyone! Are you really doing what is best for you child or what is best for you? Parenting is not a contest, there is no winner, no prize. Only potential loss.

Ev - posted on 06/09/2016

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I am sorry you got that in your childhood too. It was so hard for the kids to have to play second fiddle to everything when it came to having step moms and step siblings. The first one came in the picture 14 months after the divorce. That marriage lasted about as long. The second step mom came into the picture and married their dad in less than 6 months. In both cases, dad would not spend time with them one on one. I do not know how many times they asked him to do so. And if I considered dating, my kids would ask me to make sure that the guy did not have kids their ages....my daughter asked me if I met someone that he have kids way older than them. I just did what I could with the time I had.

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