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Co-parenting Cake

cakeHere’s a scenario:

You’ve been married to Mildred for 15 years. You have three children under 18. She has an affair. Perhaps it’s many affairs. (You suspect. You don’t know. The one is enough.) You are devastated. You lose 20 pounds out of sheer grief. You beg Mildred to end the affair. You pick me dance your heart out. The affair(s) don’t end. Mildred never files. Instead, she runs up your credit cards. Humiliated, crushed, and finally angry — you file for divorce. Mildred fails to understand your hostility.

Here’s another scenario:

Bob pretends to be the model husband for 20 years. He has his hobbies that take time away from the family, but you’ve never begrudged Bob his golf weekends with the guys. Then, one day, you learn in some spectacularly horrific way, that Bob has a double life — and his latest flame is Roxanne, his secretary. The very secretary you’ve had to your home for dinner. Hell, you helped organize her baby shower. (Whose baby? OMG.) You confront Bob. Bob abandons you and your four children for Roxanne. You’re a part-time school librarian. Bob trusts you’ll manage. Within a year, you’ve filed for bankruptcy.

Boy, Bob and Mildred! What swell people. Wouldn’t you love to have them over for dinner? Or host a birthday party with them? FOR THE CHILDREN?

What? You don’t find decorating cupcakes with the architects of your family’s destruction FUN? I don’t think you’re very moved on. Don’t poison your children with your bitterness! Make some room at your family table for Bob and Mildred. Open presents with them on Christmas FOR THE CHILDREN. Co-host a bar mitzvah FOR THE CHILDREN. Heck, don’t bother to hand the kids over to them on their weekend, why not let Bob or Mildred visit the children at YOUR place! I hope you stocked up on frozen pizza! Family togetherness is best FOR THE CHILDREN.

Sure, Bob and Mildred made a few “mistakes.” But don’t let your jealousy cloud your vision of what is best FOR THE CHILDREN.

Hey, Chump Lady here, putting the sarcasm down for a moment. Could we please stop using  “FOR THE CHILDREN” as a cudgel with which to bludgeon chumps?

There is no more grotesque form of cake-eating than the cake-eating of playing family with the person you divorced. If these cheaters valued “The Children” they wouldn’t abandon them for fuck buddies. They wouldn’t welch out on their financial obligations to raise them. And they wouldn’t presume friendship with the exes they humiliated and disrespected.

If you’re the chump left doing the Sane Parent gig — listen to me — you do not need to feign friendship with your ex FOR THE CHILDREN. You need to preserve that sanity with no contact. (Or as much that is permitted within the confines of a custody order.)

When chumps allow cake-eating — letting the cheater waltz into their lives for the fun bits of whatever (child celebrations, impression management as Family Person, holidays) — it’s a form of the pick me dance. You want something out of this person. Tragically, what you’re probably trying to achieve is this person giving a shit about your children. YOU DON’T CONTROL THAT.

You only control you. Make your own family traditions. Have your children’s back and let the ex figure out his or her relationship with the kids. Your only obligation is to abide by the order. If the cheater fails your kids — your kids have to figure out that parenting relationship for themselves. Keep being the sane parent.

And don’t invite exes to your birthday parties. Thank you.

 

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  • Chump Lady, Thank you for this post. It is so needed for me. But how do we do this with a legal system that (at least here in NY) pushes the getting along FOR THE CHILDREN narrative? I’ve had great responses from my peers here in CN and would love your thoughts as well. Many thanks for your hard work.

    • MMW–the legal system can’t make you “get along” for the children, except to encourage that relations be free of strife (obviously can’t have fist fights at dropoffs). Research does support that low-strife is best for children, but does not support the “be friends” scenario. As for LIKING the other spouse, making small talk, giving the cheater-X hugs–Nope, not a policemen or social worker in the world who can reasonably make you do any of those things.

      Attend the parenting classes, selectively un-attend to the bullshit (“Be FRIENDS for the children),and then have your boundaries firmly in place. I have taught Parenting & the Family for over 2 decades, and do not advocate that chumps be friends with cheater-Xs; I advocate that parents model moral standards, which includes not giving your valuable friendship to someone who drove a machete in your back. Kids learn best by modeling, and the best way to ensure that they are not victims and set healthy emotional boundaries themselves is for US to model them.

      • It’s fine to get along with the ex for the children, as long as one spouse didn’t end the marriage by being a lying, cheating whore and they aren’t character disorderd. That’s really the key issue. Some divorced couples get along great. Cheaters throw that opportunity out, along with everything else.

        • Yeah, but then when you don’t kiss their ass, or take stinky bait, they will scream “you can’t be civilized”… They also like to start shit in front of the kids, then back off, feeding you constant shit sandwiches in the process, trying to make you look like the crazy parent… These sick SOB’s are total scum; how the hell can you use your own children as disposable pawns for selfish gains??? Funny thing is, as I found out, my ex POS wife was fully capable of turning on my daughter, when she would not dance to the psychosis polka.

          Then she really turned on the heat, using fear based financial leverage to try and get her back in rhythm… “You don’t like the way things are (having a unrepentant, unapologetic slut for a mom), go live with your bum dad.” Nothing like instilling a little terror, having her have to choose between her own beliefs and pain, or believe that she would live in poverty with her dad, which was bullshit. That’s the tip of the iceberg, and I wish the ex would take up not breathing, as a new, permanent hobby.

          • “psychosis polka”–love it, 5jc!

            Mine did the same thing; when I started a recent grey rock email with “Hello,” instead of his name, he freaked out, said he did not like the tone of my email, and his name is _______ so I should use it. It reminded me of this:

            • Nice… Disordered freaks hate gray rocks; not enough Cubic Zirconia sparkle, or drama… Be it positive or negative, they need drama or you *WILL* pay. Fuck that Putz and its inflated ego. BTW, I love that scene. Walter was developed, nuanced, brilliant, 10 steps ahead. Cheaters, not so much, despite their delusions of grandeur, crammed into a nice cluster-B box…. Yep, your goddamned right they are.

            • My daughter flies (for years) to and from where he and I live. He once called her my meal ticket. I am still laughing. I see your idea in all variables. My advice to all of you for your own self empowerment (I am just another joe). I did put my daughter first. I am a satisfied person. However were and if I knew or felt my child/children (I have 5 nephews…one is a son really) The disordered can dream away… My life is based on that and what I have to show for it is the harmony that exists after 20 something years. I may be a bitch but it is sir bitch to you. My home functions and we laugh and we will. Do not let any one be your focus. Focus on you. Tell your mind it may not tell you things but it can ask questions. If you get honest you will want to kill tnlhem. But you are not an ape. You do have higher thought and principle. For the love of St.. Pete(er). Make magick of yourself. xo

          • This “I wish the ex would take up not breathing.” I am so tired, GD fed up with his themed revenge schemes over…what now? God! He acts like a high school girl, waiting for any slight, with his constant fuck you running mini-series. Take Midol, get a tampon, something.

            5JC, I had delicious moments in the hospital after X called at 2am, mild heart attack, blood thinners and nitro oddly not working. Flying him to better hosp. I wasn’t going. Are you fucking kidding me? He had his mom’s bankcard, take it back to her and pay the phone bill. Shit. I wish he would die already, dosing steroids and lifting for the 1st time in his life, find a pond already. But, no, he found a jeep he thinks looks rugged and sexy to go with himself. I just threw up a little in my mouth.

            Owes me thousands and thousands. And the Colorado Cornhole destroyed my car, that’s why he gets a new one. Where is my point…

            MY POINT? While waiting for the copter, we got to watch him text whomevers. Wow, Dad, you’re the Best! I glanced down at the outlet, heard that IV with life saving blood thinner beep. Thank you, God! I fantasized about pulling the plug, tripping on the plug, wrapping the plug…It was quite relaxing. I heard you anger over using the kids. Am so there. He pushed to far, I’m turning him in to tax board, with all kinds of lovely supporting proof.

      • There really is no harm in politely saying ‘no thank you’ and …’that is a very generous offer but in the morning I will be doing x thing’. The first few years post divorce helped me learn how to set and reinforce — and reinforce — healthy boundaries with my EX and our Switzerland friends. (No kids.) It took me a very long time to figure that you can say ‘no’ politely. I stayed with the ‘we are still good friends’ thinking for a long time because, frankly, I was more than a little concerned what he might do as my enemy.

        Listen, kids know if there is conflict or dysfunction in your household. No one is fooled. Usually the kids are more aware than the parents. I am a kid of divorce and I will tell anyone — I’d rather have two happy parents living separately (and figuring their sh** out) then two unhappy parents living together.

        Seriously, how can anyone argue that it is damaging for a kid to have multiple birthday celebrations?

      • Great points Tempest!!

        Also, a comment from Portia in a previous post on being the marriage police (http://www.chumplady.com/2015/02/marriage-police/) keeps coming to me when I deal with my X:
        “But the good news is that once I ACCEPTED that he was not worthy of my love and attention, I started healing. The evidence produced by being the marriage police helped me convict him in the court of my heart. No appeal. The court showed no mercy. Banished from the home, cold civility dealing with business and child related matters. Once he had a hero’s welcome home, now he was a Zero without a home.”

        Cold civility FOR THE SAKE OF THE CHILDREN is the best way to model how to behave towards lying cheating cowards.

      • Preach it, Tempest! I’m a firm believer of setting an example for your kids by sticking to your morals! We don’t condone or accept cheap, scandalous hookers in our family. No sir. You can’t turn a whore into a housewife! Sorry homewreckers, nobody ever forgets that you’re a pig. Never. Going. Away.

      • I agree with you, CL – A big ‘ol NO to any activity, event, etc. that will have us together with our daughter!!!

        The ONLY time in the last 8 months since The Evil One left I suggested we do anything together was trick-or-treating Halloween together, even though it was my weekend. He refused to come to my neighborhood, so when I said we could go to his, he told me his OWhore and her two kids would be there, so I said to forget it…He never even asked to see her at all, but then blew up on me the next day for not sending him any pictures of her dressed up in her costume so I reminded him of my offer, and his response was “Whatever”.

        The other time was her birthday and we met at her school with treats for her class, but that was brief, so it wasn’t too bad.

        I can only imagine the “good Daddy” show he puts on every other weekend, but I don’t care. He sucks and is an asshole, so let him enjoy his every other weekend show, it won’t last much longer I’m sure.

      • YES!! I am dealing with this sort of crap right now. I have been NC for over a year with EX who is currently working out of state. Every now and then I get the ” you need to let the kids spend time with my side of the family while I’m gone” text, which I enjoy ignoring completely. But now I’m running into this from my kids. My son’s 8th birthday is this weekend and he wants his cousins there. I don’t have an issue with the cousins, but I DO have a major issue with their toxic parent and grandmother ( which is EX’s sister and his mother). These freaks were over at his ” new house” a few weeks after he left his family, just hanging out having a good ole’ time having BBQ’s etc with the Skank he moved in with, before I even filed for divorce. If I invite the cousins, then they have to bring them. I am choosing not to invite the cousins. Hopefully my son will understand when he’s older that I don’t want him involved with people who could care less about him or his brothers.

        • You Ex needs to let the kids spend time with his family on HIS dime. It’s not your problem. I’ll be damn if I’d spend time with ex’s family after divorce. Never seeing those losers is one of the best benefits of divorce.

    • I get along with LOTS of people. The aloof Haitian cashier at Tops, who regularly yelled at me in Spanish to appeal for the store to bring Bustelo back their shelves. (Did it – she woke me up. Mutually beneficial.) The grumpy old man at the gas station we’ve nicknamed Peaches (because when you ask him how he is, he’ll gruffly and flatly say, “Just Peachy.”) The bitchy new elementary-school secretary who looks and dresses like Kim from How Clean is your House… and is even more brutally condescending but without actually saying anything mean. The bus driver who changes where the bus stop is by 20 ft. every 3rd week and acts like I’m an idiot for not knowing. We get along just fine. We each know where the other stands… we have boundaries.

      But we’re not friends. I’m not about to invite them over.

      The court can say what it WANTS all it likes (to never have either of you darken their halls again lol) but until they start mandating intrusive specifics, you draw and keep your boundaries and let your actions show that everyone else can go fuck themselves.

    • Limiting contact works for me. Of course my daughter is now 17 and lives with me Sun Night-Thursday Night and spends most, but not all weekends with her mother.

      After my XW tried some nonsense about daughter’s anxiety and it wouldn’t be good for her to attend High School in my school district, I finally told her that I don’t trust her. She lied about her vows (apparently) she lied about her affair and other things. I reminded her she’s done nothing to rebuild that trust, so if our daughter is having issues, she needed to step up and tell me.

      No issues. We are in the 3rd year of her living with me and she’s in a gifted program where she is spending her Jr and Sr years of high school going to the local community college. She’ll graduate high school with her diploma AND an Associate of Sciences degree.

      I don’t doubt that our child has some anxiety. But it’s not from living with me. Perhaps it’s the parade of men living with her?

      My daughter is well adjusted and successful from what I see. Socially, academically, and fiscally. She’s managed to save money while working and can cook, do her laundry, change the oil in her car, etc.

      The time since I’ve said a word to my ex-wife can be measured in years.

      I’ve texted her to make sure the 17 year old isn’t playing me. I.E. did she spend the night with you? (or is she at her boyfriends?) Not sure I can trust the answer. I can check with his parents too, but they are also divorced, so there’s a bit of running that down as well…

      But as little contact as possible is the best bet.

      After all, why would I want to engage in conversation with someone who has proven then cannot be trusted to be open and honest?

      • Uniballer, I think this is the answer. Of course they cannot be trusted, and for the most part the children will be exposed to a toxic environment by spending any amount of time with those idiots to whom we were once married.

    • There’s “getting along with” as in “I won’t call the police and I won’t beat you in front of the kids, you get this area and I get mine” and there’s “I’m being fake and we all know you’re a peice of shit, smile for the cameras and let’s hug” … You can choose the first, but the second usually turns into the part where the police get called because cheaters have no boundaries. You need to make them and enforce them regardless of if other people think you’re being petty or silly or over reacting. That’s not their story, it’s yours, and you know the consequences. Stick to your guns. You’ll be great.

    • Very true. I am struggling like hell to cope alone with my three kids, and it’s tempting to have him still in my life for the help when I am emotionally and physically so drained. But “help” from him always comes with strings attached.

    • Yes– I keep expecting my ex-cheater to do what is right by the kids. I keep getting disappointed every time. I’m hoping that it’s going to sink in and stick this time after the most recent stupidity I’ve had to deal with.

  • Thanks you for this post, I had not yet occurred to me (because Cheater still in my house) that the “for the children” mantra is another form of cake-eating. I had the most awkward X-mas ever this year as I TRIED to make like things were normal, after I’d just discovered the most recent affair and strong evidence of 2-3 others. Thank you chump lady for letting me off this hook – that I don’t have to do the pick me dance “for the children”.

  • On the penultimate day before filing, I needed to read this. I’m prepared for Asshat’s anger and anticipate lots of it. What i have no feel for is how to navigate the divorce for my 8 year old with ASD. It’s his birthday today. After I get done making the special dinner he requested, I will need to re-read every post about the kids. And remember to point his therapist to CL so she can see why I refuse to suck it up for anyone’s sake ;|

    • Happy Birthday to Little Elf! (And yes–fight your therapist when they argue you should violate your personal boundaries!)

      • I’d say a therapist who doesn’t encourage you to set and maintain healthy boundaries is not what any of us should tolerate. My own therapist helps me sort out things I can’t change (e.g., someone’s unreasonable demands) from what I can change (how I respond).

    • Happy Birthday Little Elf.
      May you provide him with the gift of modeling strength, self-respect and healthy boundaries.

  • My permissive “Pick me Dance” of letting him waltz into the kids lives and waltz out (back to his apartment 3000 miles away where God-knows-what was happening) was legendary. Any contact with their dad was “good”, right?

    During this time, I actually perceived that I had an “intact family”…my definition of “intact” was pretty fucked.

    • I played this game with the Biohazard for over a decade. He wasn’t a cheater, but he was verbally and emotionally abusive. The first few years I attempted to do the cordial co parent thing and got contempt, scorn, constant criticism of my parenting of our special needs son, and flat out rudeness.

      Then he bailed on our son for 8 months claiming he had medical issues and needed surgery. When he came back, with no surgery having been done, he resumed visitation and within a month has our son staying in a house with no electricity, sent him into school in dirty clothes and unwashed, and neglected his homework.

      I filed for sole custody, won, and he spent 15 days in jail for contempt since he never bothered to show up for any of the custody hearings.

      My son and I haven’t seen or heard from him since then.

      He loved to trot out my son, make a huge deal about him being autistic, all to show people what a good concerned daddy he is. And it was all for show. Behind the scenes he was the same selfish Bastard he’s always been.
      I learned very quickly to deal with him by giving yes/no answers and not engaging in his name calling and manipulations. Its the only way to handle these losers.

      • Yes– they really enjoy those “show off, I’m a great parent” moments. My ex is spectacular at capitalizing on those moments. He never goes to a single, solitary doctor’s appointment for any of my kids, but boy will he be at every concert, open house, or any function for my kids that has a built-in audience so that he can trot around with the Owife like they are wonderful parents who care so deeply for their blended family. I wish they did, to be honest. The fact that she is mean to my kids and that he is whipped and won’t do anything about it totally sucks.

  • My kids are all over thirty but he still tries to get me to get on his side to parent them. I said no, fuck you. He was a god provider and mostly always around them but devoid of emotionally being there for them not much interaction and talking heaven forbid he is busy throw the ball for me dad, nope too tired, watching tv whatever. Dad can i talk to you sorry too busy ask your mom. He doesnt listen to dribble. Wait what lady, spread your legs for me? How you doing? Wait your giving me money? Wow whats your name honey? But talk to the kids or interact when they need dads help or advice. Nope he pays attention only to tiny kids who have to adote them but when they get minds of their own he loses intetest.Growing up he didnt happen for them then and now big daddy wants to be the big cheese to show off to the new family. The kids no longer ask for nor listen to him or his advice. And neither do it. He wasnt there before they dont want it now. Now he wants to advise or counsel them and they aint having it not after what he did to mom.

    • I wish my adult kids would hold X accountable for what he did to me. At this point, and it is early I know, they are pretty much giving him a pass and acting like nothing. Especially the son. He inherited the non-empathy and lack of emotional maturity gene.

      • Happily never after, same. My oldest has traits of narcissism that scare me. Her dad can do no wrong. She has little to no empathy, is rejecting me, calling me names, treating me much in the same fashion as ex. I understand the repeat of the pattern psychologically, it’s what she saw, it’s what was modeled, however, this doesn’t make it any less painful.

        Update to CN: I reported a positive outcome from having a lawyer and a mediation meeting. Yes, we all left with an agreement. But guess what? (Only CL and CN will get this) Ex is bringing up new issues, stalling on signing the modified divorce decree, haggling over minor and stupid things, delaying, creating drama and chaos. The primary issue is that he deducted our college age child on his return despite the original divorce decree ordering it was my year and despite my many contacts of me reminding him of this (you know he is just so special and entitled and does not follow the rules). Now my daughter’s college is saying get this fixed, even the IRS has sent us both a letter. So I agreed to amend my taxes as a way to resolve this quickly, but ex is being an absolute ass about other issues that are hanging it up.

        Do these narcs ever tire? I know the answer is no but damn the destruction in their wake is truly mind-boggling.

        • ChumpB–yes, we all understand your X’s “no one is the boss of me,” and stalling settlement with new issues, all too well!

          Set boundaries with your daughter, too. She does not deserve to treat you like that and still get reinforced with your $$, time, and consideration of her needs.

      • My son inhierted the same but my daughter let him have it. She will see her father occasionally and get along fine shes that way but he knows she wont take sides and understands how i feel and when he tries to convince her to convince me of something she tells him to stick it. She told him mom refuses to come between you and me dad so dont ever come between me and mom. If you make me choose sides im taking moms so back the hell off. She agrees with me its no longer any of his business how i am and what i do and she will not be his portal of information she told him if he had just been honest instead of a lying cheating lowdown dirty bastard and ended the marriage the right way instead of starting a new relationship with a whore of no moral character things might have been different and you we could have remained somewhat friends but no you showed who you truly are and i dont want mom near you so you can keep right on hurting her! Ya gotta love adult children who finally get their voice to call out the bullshit. She wil no longer walk eggshells around her dad. Told the whore too told her flat out i will not discuss my mother with you. We can visit cause i want to see my dad but theres no love here for you. My son who does loves me but is indifferent and like dad with relationships another man whore would sit on the whores lap and call her mommy if she gave him money. Sadly he inhierted dads bad behavior.

        • Good for your daughter! My son-in-law is the one who will do that call out if the chance ever comes. It won’t, Sad Sausage is scared to death of all of us, especially me as I have all the papers with a copy for each of the kids. He can never white-wash himself no matter how hard he tries and what lies he tells himself or others. He lost everything–home, furnishings, money, real relationship with kids, grandkids, future plans of lake house, etc.
          All for a 25 year old…….how’s that workin out for ya now, stoooopid?

        • This is what I just don’t understand. Why do adult children have anything to do with the fuckwit cheaters at all? There’s really no need for it. If they can’t call out disorder or even that cheating is a shitty thing to do – they have their own issues. I see it as a pathetic copout.
          I speak as being an adult child of a cheater, and I wouldn’t want my father within 50 paces of me, let alone ‘in my life’.

  • Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Birthday party for my daughter with my ex wife and her affair partner. Bar Mitzvah for my son and those fucktards in tow. Yes – I sucked it up for the kids. And it was hard, really hard.

    No contact isn’t always possible – you can’t really have two Bar Mitzvahs (or Weddings)
    My only option (other than not to attend) was to smile and breathe deeply, knowing that I’m better than them.
    What a happy couple they make. But the karma bus will catch up, someday.

    • The Bar Mitzah I get, but why attend the birthday party? You could just agree to alternate who throws kids the birthday parties each year.

    • I think weddings — yes, you need to show. Bar/Bat mitzvahs? Can’t you divide expenses and responsibilities like a wedding? It’s the whole letting them in your house, hosting together scenario that I find nuts.

      • I have a few friends that have had two weddings. Just because of divorce issues. They worked out great. And birthday parties – really hold one of your own if you want to celebrate your child’s birthday.

  • My children were grown but it was amazing to me the number of people who tried to guilt trip me because I immediately determined that I was not interested in any sort of “amicable” contact with my now ex-husband. It’s as if the whole world thinks you simply must be best buds with your ex. I’m sorry…well, no I’m not…I have no desire to even be in the same city that he’s in. If we cross paths, I fully expect him to stay at least 25 feet away from me, and preferably more. I don’t want to greet him and I don’t want him trying to talk to me. His family needs to leave me alone also. The kids feel the same way. It’s not about bitterness or hate, of any inability to forgive or play nice. It’s just the way we want it. I don’t make nice with anyone who treats me like a piece of shit and goes out of their way to hurt me. To me, it’s the only sane response to what happened. If I never saw him again, it would be too soon.

  • I’d appreciate some posts from chump veterans today. Tell us how you navigated the “co-parenting” waters.

    I did my own traditions and spent a lot of time with my family in the Midwest (especially summers). So my son was surrounded by cousins and other family.

    I just want to say, as someone who did many years of single parenting — my son turned out fine. Good grades, athlete, got an academic scholarship to college, and is a pretty nice kid. (When he’s not eating me out of house and home.) Not a perfect kid, but pretty awesome.

    I was sued (mostly pro se) by his mentally ill father for years. I’ve had the guy show up in Texas unannounced. There’s been drama. And dead beat issues.

    I’ve never accepted the narrative that I have to eat the shit sandwich of “friendship” with someone who has actively tried to traumatize me for years. I’m not overstating that. Especially now that I don’t co-parent, and we’ve been mostly left alone, I can see how horrific those trials were and how lonely that single parenting time was. Infidelity is a blip on my nightmare radar compared to being expected to “co-parent” with a profoundly ill and disordered man. If I keep this blog going, it’s probably because of that — to let people know you can survive single parenting and come out okay. And your kid will thrive. And isn’t DOOMED.

    We need to change the narrative, folks.

      • I should add — I’m not in favor of being uncivil. I am NOT saying keep hostilities going. I advocate for “meh” about exes.

        Meh is not the same as intimacy. Yes, you were once intimate with this person. You aren’t any longer.

        Meh recognizes new realities.

        I’m not saying fight with this person or even snub them. I’m saying don’t allow them to bully you into letting them eat cake (maintain their family image) for The Children.

        I think cake eating is confusing to children. If you can pretend to be family at holidays, why can’t you always be family? It blurs boundaries.

        I’m also NOT saying deny children a relationship with their other parent because you are hurt.

        I’m saying let the kids figure out that relationship for themselves.

        Frankly, I think it’s easier to be civil and friendly when you’re respecting yourself and maintaining your boundaries. I have a lot more tolerance for others when I practice self respect.

        • “If you can pretend to be family at holidays, why can’t you always be family? It blurs boundaries.” This is a really good point, CL, one I hadn’t thought of before. I did make an exception during the holidays this year (first year separated) thinking that it would ease the transition into having separate holidays next year. And while establishing ground rules, enforcing them, and staying gray rock with STBX helped (and definitely thwarted his attempts at image management), it was still stressful.

        • I don’t get the “be friendly” thing. I don’t even want my ex around me. I want him to stay away from me. He profoundly hurt me and he’s never apologized. I don’t want to stand near him and if he started to approach me, I’d have to walk away. I don’t want to make a scene or be mean, I simply do not want the trauma of being around him. I feel I have to protect my well-being. My kids share that they feel similarly, and they long ago chose not to have further contact with him. He’s their step-father but he raised them, but they were profoundly hurt by his duplicity and he destroyed the basis for their love and respect, which was that he cared for their mother.

      • Just bought a copy. Thanks Tempest, and Tracy. Hope to be out at sea Tuna fishing when it arrives. Will give the exslut some time to read it before I get back. Hope to God she is not still living with me that long!

        Tempest could you please post the link to help out the chump who needs moola? I need to donate, selfish reasons of course.

        • CCBB–In the forums, the thread “Irish needs help” is where you can find her email for Paypal (didn’t want to post it on a public page), or you can email me at my CN email tempest.ariel2014@gmail.com

          I’ll try to bump up Irish’s thread in the forums.

          And a HUGE thanks to everyone who contributed; even small donations helped Irish get over $1000 toward her $1500 copay for heart tests (which it turns out were very necessary). Chumps are the absolute best!!

      • Yay, I just went ahead and ordered it from Book Depository – they have free shipping to New Zealand so that is really helpful. They say there’s 61 days to go for the pre-order. I’m a bit intimidated by Amazon I think, I can’t figure out their shipping costs or who the heck I’m actually buying from.

    • I am sure that a lot of us were single parenting while married. He repeated, “you wanted em, you raise em.” I did that alone and they are great kids! One of his complaints when raging was that I put the kids first. DUH???? My last reply to that was,” if I behaved like you, social service or family members would be taking care of them because they would be neglected.” What the hell do they think??

    • I found the article in the link below very encouraging when I was tempted to fear for my kids’ futures without a father. Ex never really parented in the 20 years we were together. He was here, but he really wasn’t — too involved with his drinking and self-absorption. When he left, so did the chaos and disorder. We have peace in our home, financial security, the kids are navigating early adulthood and teen years and I’m sane (at last). He sees them less and less (certainly not in keeping with the ‘recommended’ one overnight a week, one dinner a week and a shared activity in the divorce decree). And it’s not my job to see that he keeps up with that. The boys (nearly 18 and 14 now) have their own friends, priorities and activities and aren’t really interested in that much time with him. I think Ex has finally realized there isn’t much of a relationship to be had with them, and as a result, is less inclined to pursue it. No kibbles, I guess.

      http://www.thelizlibrary.org/site-index/site-index-frame.html#soulhttp://www.thelizlibrary.org/site-index/site-index-body.html#Research%20Myths%20and%20Facts

  • Yeah, I used to let my ex visit *his* child at my house. It was because we moved 300 miles away to get away from that psycho, then I felt guilty for “taking my daughter away from her father” or some other gaslighting, blame-shifting shit like that (which had of course been force fed to me by others). Anyway, he would come down to spend the weekend, I would pick him up at the airport and then he wouldn’t lift a finger the entire time he was here. In fact he even went so far as to say to me one time “come on, this is my vacation”…!! Can you believe that?! He expected me to drive his ass all over the place, plan out the entire weekend while he changed a diaper or two.

    The absolute best (sarcasm) part was that he really spent all of his time talking to me – not his kid. It became very apparent that he was coming down to visit me, not her. After that I stopped facilitating/enabling this insanity. I have always maintained that he can come and visit and I won’t stand in his way but I am not going to organize it for him. Needless to say, he hasn’t been down to visit in years…pretty much coinciding with when I stopped enabling.

  • Oh, the timeliness of this piece. The timeliness. I’ve never had so much as a tiny inkling to include my ex in our lives. I know that I don’t need to say anything or explain anything to my child — one day she will be big enough to see for herself what the lay of the land is. All I need to do is keep being there for her, keep abiding by the court order, and keep being the Sane Parent. Providing my child with a warm and nurturing environment, at least at our house, is the best thing I can do. Don’t get my wrong, I absolutely HATE that the child has to spend any time at all with that sociopath, and that he will likely try to suck money and resources and kibbles out of her until he dies. But at least she has one parent she can count on — that’s more than some have. I try to focus on that. Any attempts to show up at my door with casual chit-chat and alluding to doing birthday parties together or something will be met with my usual chirpy laugh, polite goodbye, and closing the door in his face.

  • I just want to say, as someone who did many years of single parenting — my son turned out fine. Good grades, athlete, got an academic scholarship to college, and is a pretty nice kid. (When he’s not eating me out of house and home.) Not a perfect kid, but pretty awesome.
    my boys too… me who wasn’t good enough ever, managed to get my son recruited and two in college and one on his way. HMMMM maybe it wasn’t me after all…

  • Coparenting? I dont. I didnt coparent when I was married either. I was the parent. It was only after the divorce that I was forced to ‘ coparent ‘ and my ex attempted to rewrite of every syllable in the parenting contract…. His interpretation of the contract that is. I heard ‘ A judge and a piece of paper are not going to tell me how to spend time with my daughter.’ And …. ‘ if you think I am going to follow this you are wrong’
    A year and a half out the guy who so vehemently claimed nothing would come between he and his daughter has now extended times between vistation and at times skipped visitation all together( mostly when he thinks I have plans). He sees her when convenient. When are children convenient?
    You know what was hard for my kid? Watching her father check out and worse watching me check out cause he left. I admitt I was not a great parent then. I was absorbed with my pain and hers. Trying so hard to maintain the image of family and preserve his image to her. When that fog lifted I was able to see the damage I was doing. It took every ounce of strength to plaster on the fake smile some days but I did it for her.
    When My child looks back on her childhood I dont want her to remember the family falling a part… I want her to remember that we were strong enough to keep going even without her dad. We are a family…. A small one… But a family.

    • Yeah, co-parenting with a narc even when they are still in the house. hahahaha

      You should have seen the therapist’s face when my daughter admitted that my X used to take her side against me when we were still living together. Not only do the narcs not do much parenting, they undermine the real parenting that we do. Good riddance.

    • Thanks Clip, you mentioned “I don’t co-parent” a few months back and it hit me like a brick. I made it my new motto and used a label maker to put it on a few things where I can look at it and the kids won’t see it and ask for an explanation.

      As for this post, thank Chump Lady. I intend to keep it as a bookmark on my phone so I can remind myself and show other people when they give me that tired old crap about being best friends for the kids. I had enough this past weekend when someone said it and I flat out said, no, I can’t be friends with someone who tried to kill me. And, cue the silence!

  • I am co-parenting with my ex, but *only* because he’s not a dick to me anymore. It’s conditional on that.

    In my situation, I think it’s best for my kids…the exchanges are cordial, my kids don’t have to deal with the acrimonious back-and-forth. My ex doesn’t trash-talk me to the kids, and neither do I (although I do tell the truth, just don’t editorialize). In the event that my ex starts acting like a dick again, I will stop coparenting. Every once in a while, my ex will do something that triggers me….and I get stressed out, which sucks. But it’s been a good exercise for me in asserting my boundaries with him.

    Another reason this works for me is because I have *no* romantic feelings whatsoever for my ex (none, zero, zilch). Any chump who does should definitely not try this.

    • Just want to clarify that this might not be a good way to go, even for me….time will tell. I’ve only been divorced for 2 years (although separated for longer). Still a work in progress.

  • I’d like to offer up something that’s useful, for me, in being fair, polite, and professional with people I ONLY “get along with” but don’t like. When speaking to them directly, I address them by their title and last name. It reminds me that they are not an important part of my life; I just need to handle the situation at hand as respectfully as possible, even when I have absolutely no respect for them. (Maybe it’s an old habit from being on the debate team?) It’s also a great way to inflect the tone of name-calling without actually name calling… enunciating their title/name to perfection is satisfying. Doing this allows me to draw my boundaries firmly and respectfully without getting emotional and seeming as unhinged as they hoped I would be.

    As in, “Mr. Smith, I understand that you feel my son would benefit from private counseling sessions at school, during lunch, and would like him to participate in a Boys Friendship Group for x-grade that you’re starting. However, my son doesn’t have difficulty in making friends. His friends, Mr. Smith, just happen to be girls. There isn’t an actual problem to address, much less one that requires weekly individual counseling and what amounts to group therapy sessions.”

    I think Mr. Smith will one day be found to have been inappropriate with children at times during his career. Especially as a victim of molestation as a child, my red flags flew up the first time I met, years ago in K orientation. His affect toward me is one of covert rage/embarrassment. My heckles went up and will remain up.

    Obviously, this is not his real name. His real name has more consonants… PERFECT for absolutely brutal enunciation during polite, productive conversations. 😛

  • Last week, X made me angry again, and I was tempted to remove him from my phone for good. I know that you all advise me to cut contact completely, and suggest that he gets his own rescue dogs instead of asking every weekend if he can hike with them.
    As a result, the next time I saw my therapist, I told her: “my favorite infidelity website recommends no contact; my Ex played with my emotions again by sending incomplete messages or no answer at all, are you positively sure that it is better in my case to maintain contact ?”
    The therapist looked all pissy, her body became stiff and she said: “I am thinking of quitting my job. I am tired of people coming into my office with crap they found on the web. This society encourages us to throw away relationships, but a breakup is a complicated process, and people see each other now and then; there is no rule, it is stupid to set a general rule, each case is different. Why not declare that your Ex is a narcissist while you’re at it ? Do you know what a narcissist is ? The latest obsession of the web !” She sighed. During the rest of the hour, she ranted about her other customers who seek advice elsewhere, and seem to not trust her, and do not accept the time it takes to get healed.

    I paid, but I felt like the chump that I am.

    • ChumpFromF–I can’t say this loudly enough, get a new therapist (for all kinds of reasons, not least of which is that you don’t interject your agenda into the therapy session of someone who has suffered a trauma).

      Tell your X to get his own pet and let him go. You cannot heal a wound that a scalpel is still stuck into.

      • ChumpFromF–Tempest is right. Tell your X to get his own rescue dogs.

        Why doesn’t he get his own dogs? 1) He knows that he’s pushing your buttons, so asking you is fun in a really passive-aggressive way, and 2) he likes having part-time pets as accessories, just as he liked having a part-time family as an accessory.

    • I think it is time for you to find a new therapist. Yours sounds like she needs therapy. Imagine if she had said,”I’m so tired of people coming and talking about being the victims of rape. There is so much talk of it on the internet now.” You would run for the hills. Some relationships are toxic and should not continue. If she does’t understand this very obvious fact, I am not sure of her effectiveness.

    • Your therapist should be supporting you. And anyone who gets mad because you are seeking input and support from multiple sources is insecure and controlling. My STBX was very upset that I was seeking support and telling other people about what was going on. I get that we shouldn’t believe everything we see on the InterWebs, but we are smart, discerning people. I can recognize bullshit. This site does not smell like bullshit. Regarding her comment about narcissism – yes, those who would actually be clinically labeled as narcissists is a small portion of the population. However, narcissistic tendencies seem to run wild in people who are capable of cheating, and frankly, it was research on narcissistic abuse that helped me recognize what he was doing to me. So much emotional abuse, that I thought was my fault.

    • Please get a new therapist. She smells Esther Perel shit kind of therapy. “Relationships are complicated things.” Hell yeah, they are. Cheating however is another story. Cheating is simple and there is one victim: you. She should focus on how she can support YOU navigate this shit storm best. And go no contact with your ex, too.

      • In the dark days of the divorce, I told my therapist about the Chumplady site. He loved the advice I received here – it had him in stitches. He told me to keep reading Chumplady every time I saw him. He is a good therapist.

        • My therapist also loves Chump Lady. He especially loved the monkey love article. In direct opposite to Chump from F, he lost his temper with me and said: HE IS A NARCISSIST! HE IS NEVER GOING TO CHANGE!
          He has my back.

          • Mine did too! And he sure as hell wasn’t threatened by outside support I got on the internet! Half of the stuff we talked about was in the same tone as what I found on CL. And finding like-minded people was absolutely instrumental in getting past this shit.

      • ChumpFromF, if I remember correctly, that F stands for France. You may be fighting two different problems in finding a better therapist;

        a) there is a belief that ‘culturally’ the French are ‘more OK’ with cheating. It’s not actually true (still the #1 reason for divorce in France), but a lot of people feel that, to be superior and cool, they have to act like cheating is pretty normal and not such a big deal. WE KNOW how not-normal it is, and how big a deal!

        b) requirements for registering as a professional psychologist or psychotherapist in France are pretty low, so a lot of half-trained or poorly trained people are therapists there. Therapists may not actually know that much about personality disorders, they may have flakey theories about psychological health and healing …. It’s already bad over here in North America – it’s worse in France.

        You may have to ask around to find somebody really good and really well informed, and you may have to interview a few therapists, at least on the phone, to see what their training and their attitudes are.

        Because even if a therapist is not that well informed, they should be LISTENING to what’s happening for YOU, and responding to that. Clearly your on-going contact with the ex is hurtful to you, and holds you back. I think you have no children together, no? If that’s the case, you should be 100% No Contact.

        Of course, the other explanation is that your therapist is a cake-eating cheater herself, and has been accused of being a narcissist, based on some info off the Internet! It happens! In which case, all the more reason she’s not the right one for you!

      • And I would also add that your therapist should go with her instincts and quit her fucking job.

        ChumpFromF I am sure that there are good therapist where you live. Please do some research, see one who understands personality disorders. Keep your faith that you will find just the right one. Fourth may be a charm.

        We have shitty ones where I live too, but I was lucky with mine. I am especially weary of those who love publicity and are all over the place (TV, Facebook, Twitter, Psychologies magazine). From my very own experience the best ones are those you find out about through word of mouth from people who have gone through a similar experience as yourself and have come back through into the light. I am keeping my fingers crossed for you.

    • He is contacting you every week (or so) to take your dogs hiking? Tell him to get his own dogs. There are plenty that need homes. Or hike on his own.

      You can answer this question for yourself. Do you want to have contact with this guy? Do you want him in your life? Do you want him calling you for favors, like taking your pet somewhere without you? If the answer is “No,” go no contact. If the answer is “Yes,” then understand you are inviting chaos into your life by staying attached to this person. If you just feel guilty for not addressing his every need, you can find a therapist who is good at helping people set strong and healthy boundaries.

      That would not be the therapist you have now. Your therapist’s behavior is not normal. I cannot imagine my therapist going on a rant about OTHER PATIENTS. I would have great suspicion that her own boundaries are not good.

    • Thank you all, for your answers that are perfectly sensible, logical, rational and wise, as usual.
      I really love this community, too bad that I live so far from most of you (yes the F stands for France).

      I have to tell you what happened next.

      Therapist called me 10 minutes ago. “Hello… could we change the time of the appointment ? Would 02:30PM be okay ?”
      (me) – I am sorry but 02:30 is in the middle of the afternoon, I have to be at work, I am not allowed to leave
      (her) – All right, what about… noon ?
      – Noon would be okay..
      – Wait, no, I am confused, noon is not possible… 01:30 ?
      – 01:30 is the current time of the appointment
      – Ah… then 12:40 ?
      – Okay, but now I am a bit worried that my session will be crammed between clients, with little time for lunch, and you will not be focused…
      – [Silence]
      – Hello ?
      – [Cold voice] I don’t understand what you are saying.
      – Well, last time we spent the hour discussing some problems you have with other customers
      – My mindset is none of your business, you are not trusting MY WORK ???
      – We had three excellent sessions, but the last one was weird, this is why I am concerned about your stress
      – We are going to stop there.
      – But the first sessions were great
      – Goodbye [hangs up].

      Man, is she weird !!! She doesn’t care at all that by rejecting me, she could trigger negative thoughts of despair ?! I am glad that in fact I see the money that I am saving.
      To think that I chose her based on her serious diplomas…

      Again, thank you people for pointing out what is wrong with her and what is wrong with X !

      • @ChumpFromF, I decided to post my first reply on CL because of this situation you described. Please, immediately terminate your relationship with this counselor/therapist/psychologist. Any competent professional with these job titles is supposed to be able to model empathy, good boundaries, secure attachment, and offer reasoned solutions to interactions with difficult people. The two interactions you describe are very manipulative and self-absorbed on her part. They undermine and subtly gaslight your own agency, analytical reasoning skills, and own process of finding your way to healthy interpersonal behaviour and interactions. Those are FUNDAMENTAL GOALS of any therapeutic process with any mental health professional.

        When leaving my cheater ex four years ago, I actually fired a toxic therapist with whom I had a very long term relationship BEFORE I left my ex (I think she was both cheater and narcissistic in retrospect). Today I realized I fired her four years ago. It was the best decision I ever made for my mental health. I had two therapeutic relationships following it that provided me the best care I have ever had in my years of counseling. I grew and healed immensely in ways that I did not know were in need of healing. When I reached a point that I could not afford counseling, I stumbled upon ChumpLady and herein found great wisdom, and hilarious reality checks.

        You are emotionally and psychologically vulnerable. She does not have your back or your best interests at heart.There are bad people in all professions. Her professional burnout is not your problem. And her lack of competence is not your fault. Its really hard to start over again with a new therapist, go through history, etc. I have done it five times, and it sucks every time. But you will find something really beautiful in a strong therapeutic relationship. It modeled for me what a truly healthy relationship might include! I wish for you something strong and beautiful. Kick this money sucking, manipulative fraud to the curb. You are mighty.

    • You need to kick your therapist to the curb. she turned that conversation on you like a Narc would…. Because you took initiative to research and ask question her response was to make you feel bad for doing so instead of saying ‘ do you want to explore that ? ‘ or being honest with her own limits and say ‘ let ME do some research so I can speak to this’
      She knew exactly how to shut down that conversation with u and played on your chumpiness…. What a manipulative bitch.

  • My porn addict, prostitute visiting xh went to court to get 50-50 care for the kids and won. The kids go back and forth from house to house like a spinning wheel – I hate it. I have gone no contact except for discussion regarding the kids. It has been a nightmare – my xh tries to bully me into ‘joint’ activities ‘for the kids’ and at every turn tries to dominate and control. He even went to a social worker to get her to agree that I must use him as my babysitter in my house. Thankfully she didn’t agree.

    Every month he creates some new controversy by requiring some ridiculous thing for the children to do which isn’t age appropriate or reasonable but mostly he demands these things as he knows I won’t agree and therefore keeps us in conflict. I have spent a 1 1/2 years fearing going to my email (made a separate account just for his emails thankfully) because I know it is going to be another hate filled email. But I keep having to pull up my big girl pants and fight for sanity to reign, for the children, and not collapse under the bullying.

    It is exhausting and tiring and it feels endless.

    • I am so sorry you are stuck in this kind of custody situation, Free. It is not endless, but it might as well be while you are in it. I left my marriage more than four years ago, and the problems with the kind of EX you are describing have declined (without going away).

      As my kids got older, they became less interested in participating in the drama, so the EX succeeds in creating it less often. He still enables the kids to do age-inappropriate things, and there is nothing I can do to stop it, but they don’t come home excited to tell me about it any more. They recognize that their father wants to goad me, and while they are happy to take advantage of the co-parenting thing when it benefits them (at least in their minds), they don’t want to be their father’s puppets any longer. He still lies and tells them I’m breaking the agreement when I’m not, but they know I’m not going to use him as a sitter regardless of what they parrot from him about “it being his right”, so they don’t try any more.

      Hold fast to your boundaries. Your stability and integrity will remain an anchor for your kids even as they do dumb things under the “supervision” of their father. You deserve medals.

    • Free–use Family Wizard or talkingparents.com to make sure you have a record of his correspondence should you even need it for court (this will also dissuade him from nuttier suggestions). Don’t just use a separate email; cheaters feel they have less accountability that way.

      • I’m facing the same situation. My ex is taking me to court to get 50/50 despite the fact it was probably 95/5 when he actually lived here. I don’t want the kids to be that rootless. We can not communicate at all and I can not see how we can manage three children in primary schools complex lives when even basic things like organising dance class or leaving something he asked for that the kids need for school in his letterbox is a major issue.
        On top of this he is with daying his affair partner whom I have never met, who has no children herself, so is slithering all over my children trying to impress ex with her awesome mothering skills. They are running the line they just started dating 4 months after he left despite mountains of text message I found to the contrary. He is keeping her on her toes by “putting the children first” (I don’t know what that means) so there fore she can’t live with him etc etc.
        anyway these holidays the two of them took the children overseas (I learnt about this plan from a court order). I was meant to meet her before she travelled with the kids but she called the day before they left – all breezy and “dying to meet me” but “too busy packing to catch up”.
        Anyway now I have a family report writer in our lives to tell me what is in the children’s best interest – according to him then waiting at his house while he of pfaffs around at work. This court writer is so insulting to me as I have only ever done anything in their interests.- not in the interests of my career, making time to have an affair, pursuing long solo expensive weekend hobbies, spending family money etc etc. I can not believe I know have a stranger deciding what is best for the kids. The worst bit is the court seems to live lane fathers improving at all and are so quick to reward them. He is definitely a better father now than before but that is not saying much, I do not believe its sustainable and it’s too little too late. Sorry this is a rant- I’m frustrated. Rverything he dies is lame but legal. He and the affair woman flew first class on this vacation. The kids were in coach. Legal but lame.

        • Just want to express my sympathy with chimps whose spouses are demanding custody ( to avoid paying chumps even a pittance). I’ve lived this nightmare for 1.5 years. I see few signs of the nightmare abating, although, based on recent tests, I may have cancer, which may shorten my life, possibly ending it before my kids reach adulthood. My abusive STBX decided to harass me (threatening not to pay what is mandated by law and very little) the day I witnessed a fatality and found out that a young relative was terminally ill. Sociopathic STBX did this knowing I had been traumatized by these deaths/impending deaths.

  • When I finally got that hazardous waste out of my house, I wished to never see him again. So now I refuse to look at him, even when we run into each other at school functions.

    When I came home from work one day and found him in my house with the kids I made it clear that he did not belong there anymore (not with the kids present). Yeah he’s bitching about it but I no longer care what he thinks or says. Luckily people know he’s the crazy one.
    I am still close with his family so I see him when he bothers to show up, but I pretend he doesn’t exist.

    Never no never will I invite him to anything I organize, but I also do not place expectations on other people to exclude him for my sake. I carry on with my life and keep him distanced every way I can.

  • Unfortunately, my ex Black Widow spider and I are entangled in marital assets and property division disputes. We both still own the house and legally I cant even change the lock! 🙁 He loves coming over eating dinner with the kids, putting up Christmas decorations etc. Thankfully Im never home when he does these things. My kids always want their dad to come over for birthday cake and presents even though he usually takes them out for birthday dinner the following weekend. Ive also had to stomach and co-host my daughters graduation bbq, etc. Ohhhhhh the agony. After reading this post? Never AGAIN unless its a wedding, etc. Im not co-hosting shyt with him!!! Thank you CL

    • Nutmegpixy, not sure where you live but in Pennsylvania, when my ex moved out my lawyer got an order from a judge allowing me to change the locks even though both ex and my names were on the deed. The reasoning was that now only my things were in the house and her having access put them at risk of being taken. Funny thing is she took anything of value when she moved out while I was at work. But as my sister said, “hey, her taking stuff just saves you the time of taking it down to a donation center”. And i got to buy all new things too. Ex was furious about the lock change, but nothing she could do about it. She can still come in, but only if I am there to escort her.

  • Fuck Bob and Mildred.! Fuck all cheaters for that matter. I feel for anyone who has children with these losers. I have one with the fucktard, and that is the only reason I ever spoke one word to him after the whoring was exposed. I can’t understand why people who don’t have children with these skunks don’t dump them immediately. I’m so envious of those who can cut these pricks out of their lives forever.

  • Ughhhh, after I showed the cheating, loser turd the door he started coming over every night just about to cook ” for our child”, watch TV, etc. I put an end to that in short order. I don’t want that jerk in my house, ever. You’d think he could use all that spare time for Whore Chasing, like he was so fond of when we were married. He didn’t give a shit about his child then. It’s all for show.

    • That’s a thing that baffles me. They are so heavily into chasing women while we are here to watch and suffer, and once on their own, when they have all the freedom, they stop the chase, and choose to come back and spend time with us. (??????????????????????!!!!!!!!!)

      • I hear you, chumo from F! I think the chase that they are really into is the one where someone is chasing THEM, lol. Attention to whores is merely done in the hope for reprocicity. I hope that is a word….

  • I am coparenting though I have full custody. The first year of separation while the divorce came out we tried a Christmas eve and a birthday party together “for the girls.” Though the OW was not present, on both occasions I felt miserable and humiliated because everything was so fresh, and I couldn´t stop thinking about how I was replaced with someone who didn´t care about my family. So I stopped accepting those situations, and never had any event together except for mandatory meetings at school (but even with those I try to schedule separately, if possible).

    However, my cheater wants to be a role model dad (probably is a great pick up story) so we each have the girls for two weeks at a time, and each of us pays one school tuition. I have told my daughters if they ever feel uncomfortable with this situation we can change it back to one week or for him to have them only on weekends every 15 days, but so far they prefer to have the opportunity to spend more time with each parent and to not have to move so often from one home to the other, and they really love their dad. But the circumstances changed this week when a new woman (not the OW) who they barely know, came to live with him while my daughters were there! We´ll see what happens with this new scenario after the love bombing period is over…

    • I agree SAC. My stbxh wasn’t “working late” he spent most of his time zoned out in front of the tv or glued to his computer (sexting whores, and watching porn). Now that we’re separated he’s insisted that he should be 50% dad. He was NEVER a 50% parent! He’s with one of his original whores now, and I think he’s trying to impress her with his parenting skills.

      • Amen, I was floored when ex announced he wanted 50% custody. Hell, he’d done about 1% since our child’s birth. And bitched about that tiny amount to the whore. What a stellar excuse for a human. They deserve each other. Any normal woman would be repulsed by someone complaining about caring for their own child.

        I later realized the custody thing was all about the Benjamins. And he would have been continuously wanting me to do extra, i guarantee it. Whore ignored her own kid, so yeah, she would be a wonderful caregiver to mine….

  • No joint birthday parties for this redneck, not going to fucking happen. My getting along for the “kids sake” is me not ending up in prison end of fucking story

  • Off topic but……

    Anyone see the University of Chicago scientist forced to resign due to sexually harrassing students ( and sexual contact with a student passed out drunk – thought that was rape)? Had to leave Princeton in a hurry and there was some question about his conduct at the U of S Carolina. Said to have admitted to “one affair with a grad student”.

    Google it, check out his picture – wedding ring.

    Tempest – aren’t you saying that academia is a hotbed of this stuff?

  • Initially post D-Day, I tried periodically to manage my ex’s relationship with our children. I had always been the lynch-pin between him and the children during the marriage. I felt like I had to continue in that role despite ex’s stunning double life and betrayals.

    Then I realized ex really was not willing to try very hard. He expected the children to pretty much come to him without judgment (despite the fact that he was marrying one of his long term AP’s, one of the “family friends” and co-workers ex brought to our home). I also had to realize I really did not have that much control, nor should I. A couple years post divorce, I decided that I had to leave it up to ex to do the work if he wanted to re-establish a relationship with our children. Not surprisingly, once left up to ex, it was an epic fail. Our three children have no relationship with him whatsoever. He has missed college and law school graduations, he will miss future high school graduation of our youngest son, future weddings, and I expect he will never lay eyes on any grandchildren or even know he has them when that occurs. This is the life he has chosen.

  • My boys were 9 and 12 when I finally divorced their dad. 20 years married. I bit my tongue and locked my jaw many times while we were married, and for another 10 years after we divorced, so that I would not be guilty of saying inappropriate things about their dad to the boys. I also really hoped he would continue to pay child support until they were 18 and would help with college expenses. So yes, I wanted something from him — I wanted him to help support our children. I felt that money was something he could provide, since I did virtually everything else to parent them. He was always Good Time Charlie — showing up for anything fun, avoiding anything hard or messy or “not fun”.

    I am not going to tell you I was able to control my temper or my tongue at all times — because sometimes my mouth got started before my brain could put the brakes on. But for the most part, I did what I thought was right. I really wanted to know if my children would be able to see their father as he really was. They did. In fact, they were better at spotting his crap than I was, considering their ages and that they had not had much “dating” experience. But they still loved their dad, warts and all.

    I had to accept that no matter how inept he was at being a father, he was still their father. They wanted a relationship with him. I am sure they didn’t get the relationship they wanted, but they got what they had grown familiar with. I am sure it hurt them to see a different relationship between their friends and their fathers, and I am sure they wondered why they couldn’t have that. Ask me how I know. I had the same yearnings about my own father. I am a grown woman, and I still have those yearnings. I haven’t figured out a way to stop wondering what my life would have been like, “IF”. But I have accepted that what I got was all I am ever going to have — and my son’s had to accept the same thing. Because you cannot change another person, no matter how much you dream of doing so.

    I also had to accept that when I tried to do the “right” thing, according to me, that I would not be popular. I might even be wrong. I tried to explain to the boys why I did what I did, so that they did not wonder if I was making arbitrary decisions with no basis in the reality of our lives. I wondered if they would love their dad more than me because he was almost always Yes and I had to say No many times. In my opinion, no one can understand how devastating this feeling is unless they have experienced it. When I have received support from other single parents, or my own family and friends, I drew strength from that support like a starving dog who stands at the door of the meat factory and smells the food inside.

    Now that my son’s are 25 and 28, they continue to maintain a relationship with both parents. They love us both, and they turned out well (not perfect, who gets perfect?). They both graduated from college, they work and support themselves, and live independently. They are kind to animals, they have friends. Neither has had an engagement, and neither seems anxious to marry — but they both say they intend to “one day.” I hope for their sake that they are very cautious, and follow their heads more than their hormones, but whatever else they learned from growing up as the children of divorce, they learned to survive. Happily ever after belongs in fairy tales, real life is hard and takes constant work. Hopefully, this will sustain them, long after I am gone.

    My life was much better after the transition was over from being in a bad marriage to being a successful divorced single mother. The transition was scary and hard and heartbreaking. The payoff for hanging in there was worth all the trouble, for me. I hope that the folks who are going thru this and who have found their way to Chump Nation get encouragement from those of us who survived (dog/meat factory). Good Luck in your new life!

  • My cheating axe an I share 50/50 custody with our 3 kids. I practice No Contact – period! For me no contact feels as the instinctive thing to do in addition to CL/CN advice on that matter.

    What I do for the regular/daily/weekly/monthly/yearly events (sports, school events, open houses, parent/teacher conferences, etc.), I don’t make plans with the cheating axe on where and when to meet at these events nor do I even sit by her (only for P/T conferences). I just keep organized and I just show up with zero knowledge if she will be there or not. If I have the kids on that day, I just show up with the kids or vice-versa if she has kids

    This inept cruel turd finally just accepted it. She still tries small talk but I continue to enforce my boundaries. I just don’t want to talk to her plus she repulses me. Besides, if I was to engage in a conversation with her, I would most likely have a more interesting conversation talking to a shoe box.

  • Okay. Two divorces, two different co-parenting skills. HB#1 was pretty reasonable. We never had birthdays or any other event together after the divorce, but we could communicate. My kids had two lives. One with me and one with their father. That is their shit sandwich. I tried very hard not to disparaged their father and sometimes would chew the insides of my cheeks out keeping quiet, when they came home with their stories.

    I LEARNED to ask them how they felt about whatever shit storm happened while they were at the “other” home, instead of spackling the situation or calling them (HB#1 & GF) names. I believe, because of this, the girls would continue to confide in me. I tried to be their safe home. It doesn’t mean that I escaped the normal bullshit of growing teenagers who love to throw guilt whether you are with or without their dad (mother). My siblings, who were still WITH the father, had the same teenage problems as me. I always felt I had to try harder, because of my own issues of being a single mom.

    Both girls are grown, married, educated and have their own relationship with their dad. The DO GET IT. They both know, without me telling them, their dad was a shit for doing what he did. Kids, like us, grow up and figure it out for themselves.

    HB#2 was like dealing with a nuclear warhead. Anything would set him off blasting craters and bodies for miles. No contact was best. Again, same scenario with him as with HB#1. Only exception, absolutely NO CONTACT except for drop off dates.

    Kids from HB#2 are doing well, both graduates, but emotionally, they have had way more to deal with than their two older siblings. Still do. My greatest sorrow is I mated with an arctic ice cap, but I have no regrets of the children we had together.

    Giving them over to their dads damn near killed me in the beginning. But, I learned to live with it and them for the two days after they came back. The horrid attitude that returned with them usually dissipated in that time frame.

    Later as they grew, I grew, time passed and meh came, I didn’t care who was at the graduation or wedding. The only thing that mattered was my children’s successes. That is a wonderful place to be.

    Being civil, NOT best friends, is the gift you give to your children, not the asshole.
    .
    God bless anyone with children. You can do it.

    • My civil response and this is just for me is i completely and totally ignor ex and his ho. I walk right past him wether hes with the ho or not. Hes the type for image management and wants to hug kiss make small talk. Uh, hell to the no! My kids are fine with me ignoring them both. No notice of them no stress. They are both dead to me.

  • Thank you, CL!! That first paragraph sounded so hauntingly familiar to me. I’ve been bludgeoned with this “FOR THE CHILDREN” drivel for almost four years now from the EXpletive and her family. Weekly texts from her requesting, or more often demanding, to know the most trivial bits of information about the kids. The kids she abandoned for her fuck buddies (3 to be exact). The kids she hasn’t seen or spoken to in over two years. The kids she hasn’t contributed a nickel to in four years. All the while, insisting that I maintain contact with her or risk an MSA violation. The depths to which they sink to maintain a fresh cake supply is truly revolting.

    • Chumpty: Of course some contact is necessary if coparenting, but plenty of CN makes due with Family Wizard (also allows kids’ schedules to be posted, around $100/year), or if only messages need be sent, I found talkingparents.com the other day (free).

      • Thanks Tempest! I’m sure those would be highly beneficial to use if there was actually coparenting taking place… there is none of that in my case. Coparenting would infer that the other parent was actually participating in ANY of the parenting responsibilities of the kids… that hasn’t occurred in over two years in my case. A weekly text requesting a status update doesn’t qualify as responsible parenting in my humble opinion.

        • Chumpty Dumpty – IMO, the less co-parenting is taking place, the more useful FamilyWizard to the chump!

          It is key for us chumps to document our activities with our kids, as well as all the no-shows, changed plans and abandoned plans cheaters might do. Use these types of interface to document what you are doing for your kids (facilitating their social activities, which expenses you are covering, as well as what medical, scholarly, tutoring, therapy, extra-curricular and camp activities you are taking care of for them, etc). Focus on what you do for your kids, record broken promises, missed pick ups and any other disappointing behaviors from your Ex. You can choose which records are viewable by your Ex, and which ones are privately entered and viewable by external sources (e.g. judges, family coordinators).

          Don’t spackle and let your Ex enter what she does for them (meaning little to nothing given your description).

          The record of your entries and her can be taking as evidence in court in future custody and child support court hearing.

          And another nice benefit is that those interfaces enable both parents to be updated about their kids activities, immunization, schedule, and therefore will eliminate the need for weekly texts or contacts with your Ex.

          Longer reply than I had anticipated, ah triggers :)!… I hope this helps you minimize contacts with your Ex.

          • Thanks for your helpful insight, Chumptitude! I do maintain all texts and emails for such instances, but I guess having all that in a central repository would be useful. I also never really considered the benefits of a product like this as far as filtering or reducing the amount of extraneous contact from the EXpletive. Appreciate the info!

  • I need to read this 1,000 times. “i hope we can be friends and co parent for the kids’ sake”? Really? Bc I would choose to be friends with a pathological liar and fucked up person? Nope. There are no favors being handed out from here on out and don’t expect us to be throwing fucking birthday parties together in the future. You do what you do and I will do what I do. I don’t want to be intermingled into the fucked upness of that asshole’s life. I want to be separate so my kids can see chaos at one end and have the safety of normality at my end……if we start trying to mix it up….asshat’s chaos can impact the normalcy that I provide. I. Choose. Us. As in me and my boys….we are a family.

    • In a way, since the divorce I feel like I’ve been able to be closer to my children and they have been able to know me better. When I was still married, I was always in the background, keeping the household running smoothly and making Ex look good. Now that we’re apart, the kids can see who really was handling things all along.

  • I can’t speak to co-parenting as my children are adults. However, my granddaughter does live with me two and a half days a week (since birth). Our relationship is a mother-daughter one due to circumstances in her life.
    After the discard the Limited abandoned her for four complete months. After that he picked her up after school and met for an exchange at a restaurant so I would not have contact. My granddaughter was very uncomfortable with his personality changes and said he was very angry and swore a lot. Soon he found an excuse to stop picking her up, evidently I did something wrong.

    Right from the start I set clear boundaries with my granddaughter and her dad, that I would have her the same time every weekend and if he wanted to make plans he would have to pick other days/times. I was not going to jerked around by the asshole. He basically dropped out of the picture and rages because he is for the most part ignored.

    We continue to celebrate every birthday, holiday, and other events as a family. The Limited is no longer part of our family unit. Do it for the children, have NO CONTACT and keep boundaries consistently. We do not have to make them look good to our children. Its not our job any longer. I tell my granddaughter, sometimes people make bad choices and/or are selfish.

  • CL, ^^THIS^^ Everything you mentioned today is exactly the crap my ex and his family shoved down my throat. That I needed to get over it for the sake of the kids. That I needed to be friendly and participate in (and, most importantly, PAY HALF for) any celebratory event involving the kids for the sake of the kids…. AND, mind you, ALL of such events were comprised of several of HIS family members and then just me. Both of my parents are deceased. I don’t have brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews in close proximity to attend such functions. Initially, I did “suck it up” and put on my brave face, but it was devastating for me and would put me into a tailspin immediately afterward. So very damaging to my psyche. Then I finally started politely saying “No.” I was paying half for his family to eat, drink and be merry “for the sake of the children?!?!” No, it was just another BS tactic to present a false image of camaraderie to the public… “Look how great we are that we can break bread with Golden Boy’s ex-wife!” (a.k.a. Bitch, behind closed doors).

  • Thanks for this today CL, I really needed this…I was married to Mildred (not real name), we have 2 kids under 10…and I get guilt tripped because I don’t want to sit with Mildred and her BF at school functions or attend the extravagant birthday parties they throw…I celebrate with them in my own ways and attend as many school functions as I can given work…but alas I am the bad guy because I want as much space as I can get from Mildred and her BF…SMH

    • It no longer matters what your X thinks; she thrives on the drama and trying to blameshift to make you the bad guy. We have your back!

  • My husband is moving out with his son this weekend after our ten year marriage ended. He asked if he could continue to come to my house to host the weekly Wed night Bible studies that he has been leading for the last three years in our home for our adult son’s and a couple of their friends. WHAT??!!! So let’s get this straight…you want to keep the Christian Leader image intact after you took up with a ho…decided to divorce…and move away to fulfill your fantasies? THIS is what Christian married men do to show love and moral leadership huh…abandon their wives for a better chance of getting “strange”?! NO.

    I can do a better job of showing grown men how to be godly simply by my example…no “study” needed.

    • Sweetz, I think you should let those guys come over to your place just one more time, without your ex knowing, so you can fill them in, briefly and calmly, on that asshole’s recent behaviours. Or just call a few of them and let them know why you’re divorcing. He sucks as a Christian, and shouldn’t be pulling the wool over the eyes of people who might be taking that Bible study seriously.

      • KarenE, they already know…all of them…I went to them individually and told them ALL the truth. This is why they are circling their wagons in support of me regardless of Ex’s “fine Biblical example”. My Ex seriously entangled HIS OWN SON in one of his “ho at the work place escapades”…so he knows first hand. I shudder to think how this young man will turn out. My other son’s would properly disown me if Ex stepped foot on the property once he leaves. Tonight is the last “study”…they are all putting up with him for my sake…and for the great dinner I cook. They know that UNTIL he leaves, he is capable of creating a horrible backlash. But once he is gone this weekend…they will shun him.

        • LOVE that, Sweetz! He can bully for a bit, but in the end, most people know what’s right and what’s not.

          He must have loved the kibbles he used to get as the ‘Christian Leader’. Idiot.

    • Fear not, Sweetz. It won’t take long for those well-raised young adults to figure out the H isn’t demonstrating Christ-like character. Keep on being your mighty, ethical self. Hugs to you.

  • Actually, the more I think of it, the more I realize that besides trying to keep up his “image”, he probably just wants to hoover around for sex after everyone leaves….at least until he finds himself a new hook up. However, two of my sons are moving into my house when he makes his exit to help me with taking care of the property and giving some financial support…no way in Hell will they want him around, even to pick up the dog poop. It will be a wonderful full house minus that 240lb lost soul. Sheesh!

  • Here’s a doozy that I’m about to have to deal with, and I could use some Chump Nation advice. My ex just told me that he’s bringing his OW and moving across the country to move to my small rural town of 10K so that it doesn’t cost him as much to fly here to visit our son. He and his OW are planning to apply for jobs at my place of employment. I’ve maintained pretty strong boundaries so far, but GAH!!! I moved here less than a year ago and have managed to establish a pretty good new life for myself, and now this. How the hell do I deal with this level of co-parenting cake???

    • Holy shit batman! Apply to where you work?! The audacity of some of these cheaters is mind blowing. Of course you started anew and that shithead and whore are now crowding you! Damn damn and double triple damn. Guess they dont understand the meaning of taint. You moved to start over and they have to come taint up the place. Wow id have to think about that one. Damn!

    • Free Vixen – Definitely tell your manager and the HR dept at your job about the situation. The guy is definitely crossing boundaries. It’s a borderline stalker move if you ask me. I possibly could understand wanting to live closer to your son (IF your ex was an involved parent before). However, plopping himself in your small town and announcing he and OW want to work at the same place as you is too much. I’m sure there are other towns and places of employment within a reasonable distance of your town. Was there ever any history of abuse in your relationship? If so, perhaps look into a court protective order…

    • Free Vixen: What a total arsehole. These jerks know no boundaries. Definitely inform your employer (I know I would find it hard to work alongside X; we do share an employer, but at a large campus & I have not run into him once by accident in 14 years). You could also tell your X that you will move if he moves to be closer to you–say anything necessary to prevent this. It can only lead to increased mindfuckery (of which you’ve already had enough).

      • Yes i would tell supervisors or people who hire hell i think id even lie to prevent this. Im sure uprooting your kid and moving again isnt really an option tell the ex everyone will know who he is if he and ow get hired. Cant believe the bastard cant move to another town and work elsewhere amazing how the chumps continue to be punished long after discard. What an effing bastard!

    • FreeVixen, Dealing with this“ co-parenting cake” FV is more like dealing with an endless amount of shit sandwiches.

      None the less, I would imagine a lot of chumps live in the same town as their exes assuming they have kids and some sort of joint custody. It sounds like he is telling you not asking you. As un-fair as this must be, this rat is allowed to migrate closer to your kid unless there is any types of physical abuse, etc.and that includes choosing employment wherever he chooses. I know that sucks and lots of mindfuckery!!!!!!!

      Golly, I couldn’t imagine working in the same company as my ex. That is abusive right there. Before you talk to your employer, do you think it would be a good idea to try and negotiate other options with your ex like a town 50 miles away? Also are you completely sure he is going to do this or is it his cake feeding time?

      Regardless of the results, please stay on your path of Meh as you have been doing so rightfully so.

    • Wow, Free Vixen, my heart breaks for you. How central to their life do you need to be. Apparently pretty freakin central. They probably can’t function without talking about you. Please talk to your HR person and ask about your situation. This is worrisome.

    • I’m still processing this. The OW (my ex) is in need of constant stimulation and novelty. I just don’t see her being happy in a small, isolated town.

      But then again, that’s the point of cheaters: they are never happy. Deep down, she’ll be as unhappy there as anywhere else.

    • Free Vixen– so sorry about this added stress! I know you got your dream job, and it would suck to have your ex mar it for you.
      I would think positions would be difficult to obtain at your particular workplace, though I guess folks transfer around. I would just tell folks in HR and other supervisory roles who he is/what the relationship is, and hopefully others can interact with him in place of you.
      Hugs– try not to stress about it (I know , I know…), as it has not happened yet.
      If he does, then you modify visitation, but given you have been the primary caregiver to your child, the majority of the custody should remain with you.

      • Thanks, and you’re right that he and the OW would have a difficult time getting a job where I work. Actually his exact job did open up a couple of months ago and I had a talk with the hiring official to let the person know who my ex is since we don’t share the same last name. (I didn’t say whether or not he should be hired, just identified that he is my ex.) I also have a meeting with the head of HR (who knows a little about my situation) to ask her how to best navigate this. There are also partner organizations in the area where they (especially OW) could apply and I’d still have to work with her. Ugh. Overall you’re right that the job options are extremely limited in this area and the cost of living is very high, so they’d have a tough go of it on one salary even if one of them managed to land a job. The only other place they could move is a couple of hours north of here (you and JC can extrapolate since you both know where I live), but it’s even more isolated and there is not a yoga studio or organic cafe for hours (sorry OW!).

        On another note, sorry I haven’t been able to get back to you via email. It’s been a crazy winter and I’m behind on everything. Hope you’re hanging in there too!!

    • Oh dear God, seriously?!?!?!?! Do you think he’s actually going to do it though?!?!

      If it were TEO, I’d believe it when I see it, but that’s my case.

    • That’s bananas! If you were my employee & told me that, I would be GRATEFUL to you for warning me of the crazy train approaching.

  • When my exh and I came up with a parenting plan we told our lawyers we were going to celebrate holidays and birthdays in as much as the same way as we always had. My family always celebrates holidays early in the day and his side always had late in the day celebrations. So we would see one side of the family and then the other most of the time. Celebrating holidays so far after the divorce is not a problem. To be clear, I don’t go to his family holiday celebrations, only my children do. It stayed the same for my children.
    Every time since the divorce whenever I have seen my exh’s parents or siblings, we have always talked and it seemed like everything was fine and there was no difference in our relationships. Ex’s side of the family knows about his adultery. They know why we are divorced.
    Well, when it came time to have our daughter’s birthday party a few weeks ago, it was going to be like we always celebrated it. The party was going to be at my house and both sides were to be invited. Then exh calls and says he’s having his own party for her. I bitched him out for changing the plan after telling me something different and for not going along with what is in the parenting plan which had to be approved by the court.
    It turns out that my ex mother-in-law told him “people will be uncomfortable” being in my house and with me.
    I don’t know why she thinks that, but I have to figure one or more of ex’s sisters or brother said something to her. It really got to me. I would love to say it didn’t bother me, but it did. They all know the reason for the divorce but they say I make them uncomfortable. Whatever that means. Also, other family members are divorced and they have no problem being with around all those broken but extended families. For me though, they divide.
    They showed me who they are and they showed me what I mean to them.

  • Ugh! Well, this is a very timely post for me and is making me think now…
    My daughter’s 5th birthday is coming up in a month and she wants her dad (my cheating STBX) to come to the birthday party. I was not going to host at my house. This is her first birthday since we separated and I already told her we’d invite him. At least we didn’t spend Christmas with him. What should I do? He lives a 5 hour drive away.

    • Tomato–if you explain to your 5 year old that this is very problematic for you, and that you & fucktard, um, daddy, are not friends, she will be able understand that you have changed your mind. Either HE can host her birthday party at the local zoo, or Chuck E Cheese, or he can get a cheap hotel and have her for the entire day except for the 2 hours you are hosting her birthday party.

      Give the disordered an inch, they will take 2 more inches, then 2 more. Kids function quite well with predictable rules, especially if the rules are explained.

        • I agree with Tempest’s excellent advice tomato, offer for your Ex to have your daughter for a fun dad/daughter time outside of the birthday party.

          Enjoy your daughter’s birthday party mighty you :)!!

    • Meet halfway and mostly ignore him or hell let him drive to somewhere nutural for the party. Five hour drive should be nothing if he loves his daughter.

  • For those of you in the trenches, I can tell you that as the years go by it gets easier and most but the malignant narcissists get distracted by shiny ballz and the prospect of Peter Pan weekends, and their interest in their children wanes. This is actually the second best scenario when coparenting isn’t possible.

    I didn’t breed with Cold Slab O’ Meat, but do still have a tween child from a previous marriage. My ex did not I believe have PAs, but was a chronic sexter and seeker of EAs. Also, batshit crazy and physically abusive to me. He spent almost a year fighting for 50/50 custody purely for impression management and despite having a domestic violence conviction, WON. Did you hear that? He won 50/50 custody after beating his wife.

    I decided to wait him out. He proceeded to have a baby out of wedlock, became consumed with that relationship instead. I proceeded to commit myself to my career and parenting, doubled my income over the next three years. As I became the stable parent, he became more unstable. He and the GF moved to three different apartments. He wrecked a car with no insurance. He stopped paying child support as it suited him, and would start back only when pressured by CSEA. He couldn’t tell you who his daughter’s pediatrician or dentist was. Stopped coming to her appointments. Never paid a penny for them. Tossed a twenty at his leisure for lunches and school supplies.

    I was probably 90% Grey Rock and 10% Vengeful Harpy during this time. I stumble! Now? Daughter has informed him of her own volition unless he gets his own place away from Angry Corporal Punishment Baby Mama, she only wants to see him at Grandma’s for 4 days a month. he’s still 400 dollars behind on the 35.00 a week CS.

    And here is the kicker. Ten years have passed but fuckers like this never lose the insatiable need to have others perceive they are a GREAT PARENT, no matter how bad they suck. Last month daughter had to be tested for a genetic heart defect both Dad and the New Baby have. I have never missed an appointment her whole life, but I had to present a webinar when the EKG was available. So Dad took her to her EKG.

    I got a call from the hospital asking to confirm that Dad had rights to medical determination, I could hear the ex grumbling and huffing in the background. I said with the biggest grin of satisfaction, “Oh, we have full 50/50 shared custody. Dad can definitely give medical consent. Thanks for verifying!”

    Hahahahaha. Don’t do the heavy lifting? You don’t get the muscles, bitch!

    FOR THE CHILDREN!!!

  • I too never bought into the “for the children’s sake” bullshit. My sanity would not allow it. Walk out on your marriage and family and financial responsibilities, stop paying the mortgage for the family home, dissipate assets, steal money from our savings and the kids’ college funds, intimidate and bully me before and during divorce proceedings, walk out on our children financially, leave me with an old HIV test, and vandalize our foreclosed home two years after you have moved out…and then Cheat and lie about who you are… NO. I need crap people in my life like I need a bullet in the head. I consider my ex a dead man, his whore as invisible in real life as she was when I was married to that fuckstick Cheater, and behave accordingly. No contact. POS loser shows up at graduations (kids scrambled to attend college all while dealing with the clusterfuck that goes with imploding families and those precious moments) and spends time with the children on one holiday ONLY to show his new love what a great father he is. He for the most part has been the typical disengaged unhappily married Sparkley cheater, the chameleon, not the best parent ever and over the years has not spent any appreciable time with them without skank being a part of the illusion of “New Happy.” This is the same guy who went crazy after our son’s accident. Who has rewritten our history and placed it for generations to see. Who talks to everyone we knew and states how “unhappily married” he was. Yeah. Who still drags his feet to complete the QDRO after. six. Fucking. years. What a fucking loser. Disordered for sure.

  • I have tried doing the “for the children” bit, i only have one who is 18. He “sperm donor” left when she was 16 for a Chinese girl in his cafeteria. He is in love and never felt that way before, even last year he couldn’t see our daughter for Christmas because the whores father was dying in China and my ex had to meet him. I am so curious if he told him that he left his own daughter and was still not divorced?

    I have always told the truth; it was actually hard not too when she was the one dealing with all my emotions. The problem with my daughter is that she made herself believe her father would not stay with this women. Well 2 weeks ago he finally invited her to his place in city, and i get a phone call from her crying and asking me to take her home. The whore lives with him, and he never told my daughter. He thought she would just be happy for him and he laid the line ” I hope someday you feel the way i do” OMG that is how he dealt with it.

    Now ever since, she has gotten sick from being upset. Both her and I have finally after 2 years of hell, are in school and trying to move on. For 2 years he lied or just never came out with it. He still says he never lied and he still says he didn’t cheat!

    The chump in me felt bad when she moved to school so i asked him to help us so he could be part of it “for the child” All this time he hid this whore, and now expects her to be happy for him.
    I am also sick of people saying “get over it” because i think the only way we will get over it, is the both of them fall off the balcony into the pits of hell. It took 2 years to stop thinking for the child, in the end they still get hurt.

    • The hardest part is dealing with the fallout. My kids are still hurting. Still wanting what we thought we had. They had a great childhood, then all that crap happened, and they are all struggling now. They don’t trust as fully. They felt safe but then it all came crashing down. Losing their father (he is a different man now), losing their home, losing their history, has had a profound impact on them and I worry….

  • I compare my ex to the people in prison who’ve done wrong but are INNOCENT, by God. He was, after all, just a poor unsuspecting sod when he met me and hell he didn’t know what else to do so we got married. Dating for eight years off and on long distance, then married for twenty, and the poor guy was unhappy. that. entire. time. Sarcasm font here. I think when his world blew up–who knew one of his APs would call his bluff?!?– He just went with that. Adios Cheater! Whatthefuckevermakes you happy Bud. Good people don’t behave like this.

  • My “co-parenting” experience with my ex was that I did 100% of the parenting, and he occasionally took son to a movie or out to dinner. On Facebook, where kibble is plentiful, ex spent a huge amount of time crowing about being the dad of the year, this got him ENORMOUS supply.

    Son is now 19 and ex is in another state across the country for months at a stretch, so their contact is less, thank God, although ex texts son several times a week. Still, son is clearly damaged by his dad. He has learned that to have a relationship with his father, he must smile, nod and agree with whatever his father says, no matter how crazy, how manipulative, how stupid or how untrue. Son has learned through brutal experience that to do otherwise is to unleash a barrage of manipulative, abusive, self-pitying and mind-fucking text messages, phone calls and voicemails, not only from ex, but also from his family. Although son frequently says he will eventually end contact with his dad, he chooses to remain in contact with him at this time, even though he does complain about his dad quite a bit.

    I hate seeing how my son has been damaged by his father, has learned to be a chump, basically. I’m always afraid ex will manage to move permanently back to my state — he works on this quite aggressively, looking for a new chump gullible enough to move him into her home. Eventually, I’m sure he’ll succeed, and then he will be nearby again, and spending lots more time with our son.

    I cannot tell you all how much I wish I could never, ever see my ex, hear from him or hear anything about him again.

    • Oh Glad… your poor sweet son. Your comment breaks my heart a little, having watched your story evolve over the years. I am so happy your son has you to balance the crazy. Big hugs to you and your son.

  • The more I found my worth, the more it became very, very clear to me that not having any contact with the cheater ex was the only way to exercise extreme self care. Every single contact, no matter how benign, set me back so it was time to cut the cord completely. And guess what? The healing process hastened once stopped all contact. My mantra nowadays is to ask myself: Does this person add value to my life? If the answer is no, then I’m not going to waste my time and energy on that person. Life’s too short and valuable. Cheater ex has already taken way too much time of my past; I sure as hell am not going to invite him to my future.

  • Uniquelyme : I think I’ll ass the same mantra; “Does this person add value to my life? If the answer is no, then I’m not going to waste my time and energy on that person”.

    Love it:)

  • I’m so glad I saw this. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has to endure guilt trips when he declines to endure joint festivities. We split custody for Christmas day, and she makes me out to be the bad guy to the kids because I don’t want to open presents with her. I agreed to have a small joint birthday thing (cake & presents, nobody else invited) on our daughter’s birthday, and she was furious when I had another party for her with her friends on my weekend. She asks if I want to drive together to some school function, and doesn’t understand why I don’t want to spend another forty minutes in the car with her.
    She was a serial cheater who broke up our family to go live with her latest paramour, yet she has no clue why I might not want to spend any of my time, especially a family holiday, in her presence.
    Why are cheaters so obtuse about the damage they’ve done?

    • Well, when they blow up the family, they don’t understand why you don’t want to pretend that the “old” family is still intact. It isn’t. Things changed when she destroyed the old family unit. Do not allow her to ruin what should be sweet memories with your child.

      When you have a cheating X who destroyed everything, you are not obligated to continue living the shit over and over again because you spawned with her.

      I don’t think she that it’s she doesn’t understand the damage she’s done. She just doesn’t want what she’s done to be a hardship on her now. Fuck her.

  • I was stalling on the divorce, maybe because a fast divorce was the only thing I had anymore that he wanted. There’s a two-year waiting period for a no-fault divorce in Illinois if your spouse won’t consent, so I had told him to go f*** himself and enjoy being married to me for two more years. He starts texting me one day: “You need to think about what’s best for the children.”

    Unbelievable. Was it “for the children” that he had an EA and effectively abandoned me during my pregnancy? Was it “for the children” that he kept on missing visitation to take the whore out on dates and making our daughter cry? Pure sacrilege, for him to invoke “for the children” because he wanted to be free to be with his whore.

    In the end though, in a way, he was right. It was the best thing “for the children” for their lying, cheating, manboy father to have as little role in their lives as possible. Life has been fantastic since I went NC with him and learned how to apply boundaries.

    • Both my kids are aware of daddys lack of attention except for his dick and his wallet. They are aware whore juice and her family means more to their father than they do. Because they dont crawl up his ass kissing ass like the whores family does. Its disgusting! I long tired of telling him call the kids, call your family, dont abandon them like you did me. Fell on deaf ears he would die for his kids? not bloody likely. Since hes gone back to the ho hes mostlu ignoring them again. Its up to him now to repair the damage and guess what he wont. Doesnt care unless they are standing in front of him and barely at best. These fucker no not what damage they do and dont care.

  • Thank you thank you thank you Chump Lady. I so needed this today. I am nearly 5 years out from the cheater ex running off aka Bob. I tried for a long time to play nice. To include him in things, outings, birthdays, dinners and he wanted me to be BFFs with the OW. All I got was abuse from both him and her. Text messages, abusing me when I went to pick the kids up. Doesn’t matter how much I tried. I stopped about 2 years ago now. Went totally no contact. Did not involve myself in any way in the kids relationship with their father. Stopped inviting him to anything. Surprisingly, he hasn’t bothered to be in their life. My son hasn’t seen him for over 2 years and my daughter for a year. When I stopped trying to make him have a relationship with his kids, he just didn’t. Of course I have heard through the grapevine that I am the wicked witch and am stopping him seeing his kids. After getting a text from the OW a few months ago about how I am putting my feelings of abandonment on my kids and that I am a poor mother (I have not spoken to her or him in a couple of years so don’t know where that came from) and that my ex has moved on and I need to as well blah blah blah. Our lives are so much better with him not in it.

  • I think a part of them does love us sometimes, but in their own little way of seeing our usefulness to them. My ex loser always took my daughters side. He tried to ruin every part of my life…example: I run a SPA and he came in yelling when I didn’t respond. OMFG!! Our daughter is turning 18. She is getting on with my reality. The problem is the disordered warp reality all around them. I say stay strong. Do your will. Say no often when you do not have the energy. Pain sucks but you will grow through it 10 fold. The ex maybe will. But he is not your problem any more is he? NO! Think of yourself first then you can bring the pieces of the “shipwreck” in a bottle, out in order of their importance. Put yourself first, then the kids, the cheaters can untangle their own skein and I think that sucks more than being a single parent. I made it through, and from the bottom of my heart..If I can do it so can you. Rock On CN ♡

  • When Fucktard ex and I divorced, he wanted shared custody of the pets. Then he wanted to split up twin 12 year old cats. I hate to even think of what a shithead he would have been had there been human children. So I totally empathize with any chump who can’t cut that zip line back into his or her life that cheaters with children so enjoy.

    But there is a flip side to the usual scenario of leaving the chump alone to raise the children. My current husband, another chump, had his ex run off to make a fabulous new life with an online love, taking their young daughter with her. He didn’t know about the already arranged new life, just that he was abandoned after 20 years. And in his chumpiness, he thought a young girl should not be taken from her mother. So he reached an agreement for lots of visitation and weekends and every other holiday and birthdays and fathers days and such, all of which was ignored because his ex made plans with her family and that was that. In the end, he has an adult daughter who hasn’t spent a holiday with her Dad since age 10 and calls only when she wants money and visits only when she needs a place to invite her friends for free food and lodging. “Merry Christmas, Dad” was a text message. And she is still living with her Mom even after marriage. So for any of you chumps out there who think you should play nice with a difficult ex instead of enforcing those custody orders, go get your kids back.

  • I skipped one family wedding to avoid him. Went to the bridal shower instead. My main struggle is kiddos soccer games where I am civil, but barely look him in the eye. Fortunately, there are two other divorced mom’s (one from another cheater, the other a raging alcoholic) with kids on the team and we are able to commiserate. Birthdays – I do my own special thing with my son and let his asshole dad deal with the birthday party mania. He loves the attention of looking like a great father at all these events. I know the truth.

  • i really did try to “DO it for the children” but he was such a jerk about everything i just couldnt do it anymore. i used to call to try to schedule visitations every other weekend for him. he worked on sat and the littlest had church classes on sun but i would schedule a few hours every other sun. his oompa loompa hood rat would always throw such a fuss about whatever i scheduled. Diablo would come in late, and try to drop the boys off late. his TroLL would not let him talk to his sons, she would always interrupt and answer for him (huh, because she KNEW him so well after 3 months?) and she would throw her body on top of and in between Diablo and the boys any time they tried to play basketball, football, soccer, tag, or just throw the ball. (who the f*ck does that!?!?!) on top of all that, she started lying to my boys, telling them bad things about mom to make dad and girlfriend look better or telling them things that never even happened just to start trouble… like she told my boys “me and your dad REALLY wanted to see you last weekend, we did all this fun stuff but your MOM never called us. so of course they came home all mad at mom because they missed the fun stuff, and i was like wait, first it is every OTHER weekend, so that means it was not dads weekend. second, if your dad had wanted you he could have called and i would have let you go.

    of course whatever i scheduled was never good enough either. but when i would try to talk to him about sitting down and writting out a schedule that would soot him (her) he never had the time. he was more interesting in blaming me for crap, and saying cruel things (that she told him to say because i could hear her whispering to him) to make me hurt more. so i gave up. he never called or texted for 11 months. so my silly little heart told me that i was better then this, that i could suck it up and handle this better “FOR THE BOYS” so i tried one more time…. it was a train wreck from the very beginning. first he yells at me for using his sister since i did not have his phone number, then he tries to say i never let the boys see him on fathers day last year when we not only let him see him on my weekend but we cooked dinner, got a movie AND i made a cake. the boys did not want to be anywhere his troll was so i TRIED to get him to come to our house. and of course SHE did not like that for a second. so there was world war 3. SHE gets on the phoen and tells me that i am only hurting my boys. and that “HE IS MINE NOW” whatever that has to do with visitations? finally i told him forget it only to have him show up at the door, twisting my words against me. i let him visit the boys, i did not even put a time limit on it. he shows up with all sorts of store bought gifts (that he bought 30 minutes before he showed up, left the receipt in the bag), keeps giving the boys money out of his pocket, tells them that he will buy them shoes next weekend (never showed up or told me), tells the boys that his boat is better and faster then ours (he doesnt have a boat, nor has he ever been in mine) stays 3 hours and then bails after taking a few pictures with him and the boys. i told him again that i would NEVER call him to see the boys, that i was not going to beg him to visit his sons. i told him if he wanted to see his children he would have to call me to make the arrangements since nothing i do is satisfactory to him. and that was the last time we heard from him.

    it hurts knowing we could be so easily forgotten and replaced but at least i dont have to deal with all that crazy from his troll or having him try to poison my children with his and her hate. it was one of the hardest things i had to do. but i tell myself THIS is what HE wanted. it was HIS choice to make. so now my boys will have to figure out what kind of relationship they will have with their dad when they get older. i pray they are strong enough to see thru his “poor me” stories and lying attitude. but that is a bridge we will have to cross in the future. right now, i just focus on raising my boys.

    as for Christmas, holidays and birthdays. i do not include him. i mean come on, if he cant think to buy gifts for his own flesh and blood and has to be told. then it is not worth it. my boys already know he will not bother. my littlest had his First Holy Communion last year. he asked if dear old dad could be invited. i said that i would IF i could find a phone number for him ( i have his girlfriends but i refuse to call her to ask if he can talk to his son) and then i reminded him that if dear old dad comes he will bring his troll (ok i didnt call her that to the boy) with him. and the boy asked if i could tell dad not to bring her, i said i doubt it because the boy knows how crazy she gets and how dad will just do what she wants. the day before the ceremony, i told the boy that i couldnt find a number but if he still wanted i could call dads sister. the boy said never mind. it is ok if dad is not there. anyways, its not like dad is there now. THANK GOD for small blessings. we had a wonderful time without having to deal with the uncomfortable situation of having his troll there and having to “play nice” or pretend it isnt bother us while she stands there. we made a wonderful new memory without noticing his absence. i think my boys understand it better then i do sometimes but we are doing good, are healthy and HAPPY and SAFE!!! His loss, not mine.

    • Now i worry that he will “remember” one day that he has sons and want to see them. it is like i am still waiting for that other shoe to drop. the last time i got this feeling he dropped by my sons school and tried to check him out for lunch. only i have the boys on lock down and red tagged (the school literally has a red tag on the boys papers) so they have to call me if anyone (even my mom) tries to check the boys out.

      i have this feeling that i will be hearing from him soon. i no longer have the same cell number. and i have no home phone. the only way he can contact me is my work phone and going to my work. unless he just randomly shows up here.

      i pray that i am wrong and he continues living his happy and exciting. (if not drug and drunk ) life with his manipulating and evil oompa loompa street rat troll. But it is HELL waiting

      • I think you oompa loompa rat troll and mine are related. Keep your head up. I trust that God’s vengeance will be a greater blow one day than anything I could conjure up. Still, I hate dealing with idiots that are always trying to mess with you. Life is hard enough without their added shenanigans (on TOP of all the pain they’ve already inflicted on innocent people). I always tell myself, “Happy people don’t behave in such a way”, no matter how much “we’re soooo happy” propaganda is smeared by these pigs via social media. It’s all a facade.

  • I wanted to add that anything concerning our daughter he leaves up to me anyway, so her I.E.P. Meetings, her neurologist appointments, her other doctor appointments he is not entitled to know about. He CHOSE to leave. He chooses not to be a daddy to her except for every other weekend, so FUCK. HIM. He wants to be in the 100% know, he can start taking care of her day-to-day like I do – he can spare time “working 14-16 hours a day” to be with his OWife and her two kids [when they were dating], he can spare time each day for his own daughter.

  • CL, I normally think you are ‘spot on’ but I think you are missing a few major factors here. While I agree that people should not stay in a bad relationship or endure a ‘fake family’ for the children post D, I think there are many other factors that make having a decent co-parenting relationship with the X make sense. Right off the bat, you miss the mark by making the X and their ‘cake eating’ central. I made the same mistake initially. HE shouldn’t be able to come over and get to feel like he has his family intact or he hasn’t lost something or he shouldn’t be able to ‘eat cake’ he he he. Guess what? The entire point of ‘Meh’ is that it isn’t about HIM. It is in fact about the only people I care about which is me and the kids. When I started making all of my decisions based on that group regardless if he benefited all was good.

    So Yes, My X visits my kids in my house. And yes, he is in my house for all Holidays. In my state, If he wanted to, he could take the kids 50/50. I would only have them 3-4 days a week and miss half of their birthdays, halloweens, christmases, New Years, Thanksgivings, everything. As it stands, my X has the kids 4 days per month. They have one home, one closet, one place for all of their significant memories, one neighborhood with their friends, one place to look for their homework. I design and plan all of the holidays exactly as I want them. I carry on with the traditions I established with the kids and establish all of the routines that work well for the three of us.

    When he was drinking more, him visiting instead of taking them meant I had not only the additional time with them, I also had the peace of mind to know they were safe, that we all had a consistent routine etc. Now that he is doing well, I have free convenient child care built in any time I want it. If I want to enjoy the time with my kids, I can do so. If I want to go on a date or run errands I can do so with the confidence that my kids are being watched in their own home by someone who does care about them.

    My kids are old enough to not be confused and to understand that there are different kinds of relationships. They know 100% that as a woman and as a human being, you DO NOT stay in a marriage with someone who lies or disrespects you. That they should never treat anyone that way, and that if they are treated that way it is a ‘deal breaker’ and out of self-respect they should not stay in the marriage. We all have different relationships with neighbors simply because of where they live, with ‘friends’ from work because we have to see them on a daily basis, with a distant relative who we may not trust with our heart or want to have live in our house, but can certainly be welcome on a holiday. Kids understand that there are different types of relationships, and if they don’t then they should.

    My X was an incredibly shitty and unsafe husband for the past few years- which is why I fired him from that job. I will always reserve the option of going NC with him. But as long as he never does anything dangerous and is always respectful to me and the kids, my kids will know that their Dad is always a welcome guest who can visit the place where they have built their life…which is with me. It benefits them. It benefits me. Who cares if he gets cake out of it? He is irrelevant.

    • Dodge, if if works for you, great. You did the calculus and figured you’d rather spend holidays together with your ex than half-time with the kids. That’s your choice. And it’s a hard choice. It’s wonderful that your kids don’t shuttle and you have primary, majority custody.

      A couple things stand out — IMO, by having him at your home when he was drinking too much, sounds like you’re trying to manage his drinking. Like you still have the job of keeping an eye on him. Sounds kinda codependent to me.

      The other thing I wonder is — are you dating anyone? Do you foresee a partner having a problem spending every holiday with your ex?

      And finally — it’s great if your ex can co-exist with everyone and be good to the kids. Many of us, probably the majority of CL readers, don’t have that situation. They have exes who live to antagonize them. Who sue them. Who don’t pay support. Who want to include the affair partners in the family together time. All of those things make it much harder to be meh.

      At the end of the day, if you work out a situation that works for you and the kids, and no one is eating shit sandwiches? And everyone gets along? More power to you.

    • While I am really happy for you DodgedABullet that you can have a good relationship with your ex and I have friends who have been able to have an amicable relationship and I am truly pleased for them, I am not able to have this sort of relationship with mine. All I have ever received from both him and the OW was abuse. The OW would send me texts as well as to my kids, very abusive. The more I tried to be amicable the more he walked all over me. Yes they are totally irrelevant and my ex has no purpose in mine or my kids lives (his choice), I don’t think for my own sanity that I could reach out and provide the olive leaf. As much as I would like to “for the sake of the kids”. Being the biggest of chumps, I don’t like conflict and hate people to think bad of me but in this instance and in the instance of those Switzerland friends, I make a huge exception. They have no place in my life.

      • After all the evil sneaky underhanded crap my ex pulled (all in the name of pursuing “his” happiness) it’s a wonder I didn’t end up in the Sierras buried under a rock. Thank God we never purchased life insurance. My ex, a peace officer, meticulously planned his exit (even the local paper covered a narrative) and then did everything in his power to destroy me. He even vandalized our home, two years after moving out…. I no longer do toxic. Or Drama. Or Switzerland. Or people who treat others like crap. Or a scary cheating ex. I think modeling healthy boundaries to our children is important, as parents we pass on life lessons, good and bad. I will not forgive the evil done against me. I do not want my children to ignore red flags or to repeat my poor choices in their own relationships. I want them to realize behavior is all about character. That that action is WHO he is. Ex’s affair was the last straw, the last nail in the coffin, there were years of crap leading up to his crazy, I was just clueless about his double life. One night he sat on the couch watching Forensic Files and said he could easily get rid of somebody to get what he wanted… Yeah. When he walked out my gut screamed that being anywhere near him was unsafe. I listened. You can bet I took steps to protect myself. Looking back, I can also see things I missed, like that tire coming completely off my vehicle one day while driving home…and believe me when fight or flight is still your response to your Sparkley ex you need to pay attention. I will NOT be a statistic. He can pretend all he wants that he’s a great guy, I just know now he isn’t. Our children are all in their twenties now and it’s been a rough road, he’s been gone now for half their lives. Before that he was checked out when life threw us a few challenges. POS still doesn’t make plans to spend time with them, he is still selfish and self absorbed, and does what he wants. He treats his children like trophies. They want to believe their father is a good man and love him but ex continues to screw that up as well. He shows them every day what his priorities are and has made his bed.

  • I didn’t think I had much to add to this post today, especially since my children are all in their 20s. But on this day, my own mother managed to sneak in a “he will always be the father of your children, so you have to think about how that relationship will continue.” I moved 200 miles away to start over, and have been concerned about my parents well-being. He showed up yesterday to dig them out of 12 inches of snow. Granted, I am glad that he helped them out, but I DO NOT need to hear how I need to adjust MY attitude toward him. I rode that effing unicorn for three years. I understand that someday I may be more cordial, and may ease on the NC. But I will be damned if I am going to do it on someone else’s schedule because he is “the father of my children.”

    • ZMichelle–I heard the same thing from a friend–that eventually I will have to respect him as the father of my children. Barf. Was he respecting me as the mother of his children when he was boinking grad-whore in Mexico and let her stay in the room when he talked to me? When he posted my picture in lingerie on Adult Friend Finders so he could convince me to do someone while he watched? When he tickled graduate students on couches at parties in full view of our friends?

      Want respect? Earn it, I say.

  • That was my dilemma in my first marriage with my daughter’s dad. (Before the present Shit Show, I thought THAT experience was my life’s allotted nightmare (we only get one, right?)…but at least he was honest in his personality!

    STBX’s deliberate deception – when we’d been at least “friends,” laughing through ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ on TV, right up to 8:13 p.m., when, during a commercial about Viagra, I made an offhand joke about adultery and began to discover everything – is harder than the sexual betrayal for me – except my body image/age/menopause issues make that really tough, too).

    Anyway, in bio-dad marriage (he – an overwhelmed, immature – we both were – 28-year-old Mama’s boy) he was notable for passivity. I did all the birthdays, holidays, thank-yous, stuff. Post-divorce, I really struggled with how much to try to “make” his relationship with our daughter happen. If I facilitated it, he would do it. Or not. If I didn’t facilitate it, it didn’t happen (which is one of the main reasons he drove me crazy).

    I finally decided that he was a grown-up and her relationship with him would be exactly what he (the grown-up) wanted and prioritized. And it was nothing.

    AND SHE IS AMAZING. I know everyone’s children are amazing. I know that. But my daughter is AMAZING. And he missed all that.

    And STBX missed that, too. Because, while being literally present as the ‘father figure,’ he was mainly living a double life of sex and lies (and, in addition to the despair about all the potential red flags I now see in retrospect, knowing what I know about his “needs” for young women), and he totally missed appreciating her for the AMAZING woman she is.

    It’s a reversal of the MasterCard tagline: Cheaters: $Our Trust. Divorce: $Our Money. Finally Getting to Have What’s Truly Important : Priceless

  • I totally get and feel for those who have an X that is NPD, flaunting OW, or emotionally abusing them. I would not have a good co-parenting relationship or allow X in my house if that was the case and my heart goes out to those who are having to put up with that. I do not advocate doing anything ‘for the sake of the kids’ that is physically or emotionally unhealthy for the parent because an unhealthy parent is BAD for the kids.

    CL, you are spot on in terms of “managing his drinking”. Last few years of M and during first half of False R I was totally codependent. I had gotten to a point where I was so interested in covering up/fixing what he was doing that I was willing to let my kids get in the car with him after he had been drinking because I didn’t want to make a scene. I finally woke up and stopped covering for him, hiding it, pretending it was ok etc. But still, that means that in the end my first priority is keeping them safe. I have numerous friends who have had significantly more evidence and problems related to drugs and alcohol and they still had a very difficult time getting their kids into a safe situation. The court errors on the side of ‘you’ll do better’, and ‘they’re sorry, and said they won’t do that again”. My X has never even gotten a DUI (despite having wrecked a car while drunk).

    So I wasn’t so much interested in managing his drinking as I was in managing my kids safety in the only way I legally could. I got him to sign off on custody, visiting in my house, the holidays, in my home. Right from the start I let him know that I would not embarrass him in front of the kids, but under no circumstances would I allow him to take the kids if he has been drinking. I also let him know that if he came to my house he needed to be sober (he is not an angry drunk or anything…more like a third child I don’t need and don’t have interest in taking care of). He has stuck with that.

    It is not always easy but there definitely is an upside that far outweighs the occasional (and small) shit sandwich. And yes, I fully acknowledge that even if small, they are still on the plate.

    In terms of what it will be like as my kids get older. I’m assuming that as my kids move out of the ‘magical young years’ and land squarely into the teen years a few things will naturally happen.

    1. They will want to spend less time at their Dads simply because they want to spend most of their free time with their friends or in their own space
    2. Holidays will become less important. A few minor ones may be spent with him. Once they are deep into teen years….’hey we had a trip with Mom over Xmas one year and a trip with Dad over Xmas the next year’. I would be ok with that.

    If I meet someone before then, or if #2 never happens, then I have to believe that the right person for me would appreciate that I have done what worked best given the circumstances and tolerate my X the same way he would tolerate any other annoying relative as I would do for him.

    I look at it like a long-term chess match. I’ve sacrificed a few pawns (including the privacy of my space) to preserve my 2 rooks and the queen. If I end up with another important chess piece on my side of the board (or hey…he may come with some of his own rooks), I’ll have to reevaluate the strengths and moves possible for the most desirable outcome for everyone I consider part of my ‘team’ at that time.

    CL you do a service to remind of us our “chumpyness”, he importance of boundaries, and avoiding codependent tendencies most of us have. I just wanted to share that NOT being NC or having some sort of ‘co-parenting’ relationship with X is not always based on chump behavior or codependence. Sometimes its just the smart move. We all have to weigh our own circumstances. Sending strength to my fellow chumps– may you be mighty in figuring out what works best for you.

  • I’ve tried to make things better between me and ex a number of times, mainly because his continued inability to speak civilly towards me stresses out the kids. Most recently he flipped about one thing or another (which actually had nothing to do with me but whatever) and I asked him to try and keep things civil and calm, if only for the kids. He ignored me completely and I realised that his anger is more important to him than his kids. So I explained to the kids what the deal was and that I was done trying. I hadn’t given it much effort for a long time but the latest incident made me think it was time to give it the old college try one last time. Total waste of my energy. Don’t bother, everyone, they’ll remain who they are until the day they die.

  • The EK tied to do this in the beginning, and I did take some heat for refusing. Our children were 14. They had witnessed his lack of concern, his lies, his attempts to destroy me AND his refusal to even buy them a pair of shoes (because he was set on destroying me financially and each dollar he could force me to spend -and avoid spending himself- was one more dollar toward the things he purchased in an attempt to BUY their love. Shoes? NOPE! $600 IPhone? Sure!
    That first Xmas I told him (and my children) that I was declining to participate in his “act of normalcy”. I did not intend to exchange gifts “from the kids”. In order to impress his new victim and all his flying monkeys” he sent along a gift basket. Trapped…right? How could I refuse a gift that stated it was from my children? SO, I accepted the gift…looked up the price on the internet, sent him the $20, and advised him that he should NEVER do that again. I was no longer a prop in his play. Of course I was told I was “childish” “vindictive” “Unstable” and “Bitter”…but I ENJOYED bathing my dogs in that bath stuff! A Biatch I may be…but I am a FREE BIATCH!

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