“You’ll never guess what The Kid did this weekend,” I said to Sara as we soaked in her hot tub under a full moon one night.
“Sleep through it, like every other teen?”
“Ha! No, Rob took him golfing.”
“Oh, now that’s a nice father-son activity.”
“Are you kidding? Now he’ll start wearing those ridiculous pants and talking to little white balls. Rob’s been slowly turning him into a suburban nerd!”
Sara laughed so hard she displaced a good inch of water. “Golf is not going to turn him into a nerd!
“Well, then an adulter …”
“Look, Kat., you know you can’t control what happens at Rob’s house when you’re not there. Unless he’s abusing him in some way, let it go!”
Isn’t forcing someone to play golf a form of abuse?
But, Sara is right — we can’t control what
our former spouse does with our kids when we’re not around. That’s one of the hardest things you have to accept when you divorce.
Of course, we never really had much control even when we were a couple — we just thought we did.
It’s just so hard sometimes! And because we’re hearing things from a second source — mostly our kid — we can’t really get a handle on just what the heck is going on over there. The wild orgy with half-naked women and lap-dancing might have been a relatively innocent Mardi Gras party; the “I starve over there because there’s never anything to eat at Dad’s!” might mean “there’s never anything I want to eat (like soda, chips, cookies and candy)”; the “I don’t have a curfew at Dad’s! I can stay up as late as I want!” might really mean “when I’m in my room, if I use a flashlight and earplugs, under the covers, where dad can’t see me.”
Sometimes, though, your ex’s parenting style and yours clash — gee, maybe that’s why you divorced in the first place! But just because you don’t have to live with that crappy behavior anymore doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Then what?
If you get pissed at your ex and freak out on him or try to control what he does, well, good luck. All you’ll end up doing is feeling angry and frustrated, and guess who picks up on that? Right, your kids, who have spent their entire life watching their parents (you’ll notice I didn’t say listening to them!). They have their own conflicted emotions about us; they don’t need our conflicted emotions to deal with, too.
There are some things that Rob does that I just can’t understand. I’ve called him on them a few times, too. But when The Kid starts bitching about his dad, there’s where I draw the line, because I know Rob, as oblivious as he can be sometimes, means well. That’s when I tell Trent, “That’s something you need to talk to your dad about, not me.”
The best advice I ever got was this — you can’t control what anyone else does, you can only control how you feel about it.
And, as much as it pains me, I will not say a peep about golf. I’m just not going to launder the pants …
- So, how do you handle dealing with your ex and his/her parenting decisions?
- What do you do when it’s something you strongly object to?
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