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“Our children deserved…”

Dear Chump Lady,

It’s been a difficult time. I’ve been coming to the site often over the past two years. Many of you have similar stories. My husband of 26 years texted from a business trip, and said he wasn’t coming home. He had a long military career and we have three children in various stages of leaving the nest. In cleaning out the house and garage we found all the usual trophies. The house is sold, the divorce is final, and he remarried just a few days later. She’s just the latest of many. Whatever.

The hardest part now has been trying to be the sane parent through graduations, weddings, commissioning,etc.

After another difficult time, where he gives the kids another ultimatum regarding their treatment of his new wife (he’s 52 and she’s 32), and I feel inadequate (an understatement) for not being able to rise above, I have spent days in tears. This finally poured out…….The mother our children deserved:

Our children deserved a mother that didn’t unknowingly lie to them for years about where their father was and what he was doing.

Our children deserved a mother who wasn’t so afraid of their fathers disapproval that she told them “no” way, WAY more than she wanted to.

Our children deserved a mother who didn’t pass their father’s low opinion of her down to her children.

Our children deserved a mother who was strong enough to say “stop” when the adults in the room failed to protect the children.

Our children deserved a mother who didn’t allow a selfish father to constantly put his needs above their own.

Our children deserved a mother who thought she was worth more, and could show her children they were worth everything.

Our children deserved a mother that wasn’t so afraid of their father’s anger that she was able to let them fly, and crash, and fly again.

Our children deserved a mother so confident in their father’s love that she was confident enough in their love to let them go.

My children deserve a mother that can somehow find a way to believe that she is enough.

I’ll never quit trying. For them. They’re worth it.

Hope Springs

Dear Hope Springs,

You’ve written an eloquent, heart-breaking testament to why you don’t Stay For The Children. None of us are perfect parents, but dear God woman, you’re there in the ring trying. Love shows up. Love doesn’t text its regrets and abandon.

Okay, you modeled chumpdom to them. You weren’t as strong as you wish you’d been. Well, YOU ARE STRONG NOW.  You didn’t know your worth? You aren’t measuring yourself by the fuckwit stick any longer. Who cares about his anger and disapproval? He’s GONE. And with it goes his centrality.

You know what confidence is? Showing up. Doing the hard thing. Being resilient even though you feel like breaking. You go to the graduation/wedding/sports banquet. You find the last-minute pressed shirt for the surly teenager. You iron the pants. You find the ride. You have a nice sob in the shower. You go forward anyway. THAT IS MIGHTY.

And so many single parents are committing acts of superhuman mightiness every day and feeling like shit about themselves, I just want to give you all a hug. And my deep, deep admiration. You endure. You’re there for your kids in a way that fuckwits and Schmoopies can never be, what with their new boats and boobs, yachting together off into the sunset.

Does the sparkle turn their heads? Sure. Sometimes it does. But what kids care about is where their shirt is and who’s showing up for that sports banquet and do they have a ride? They KNOW who is there for them and who is not. It MATTERS. And while it may not pay dividends now, parenting is a very long game.

And forgive me for saying this, but if the very worst happens and your children grow up to be shitty, ungrateful people and raging narco-paths — well, shared DNA is often overrated. You did your best. You survived and you learned and you will NEVER measure yourself by ANY fuckwit’s stick, even if that fuckwit is your child.

But really, Hope Springs, I’m optimistic — for you and your kids. Getting a fuckwit out of your life, improving the dynamics, embracing peace — this is the stuff that makes walls sing. Go be happy. Go fucking matter.

I’m not saying that in a flippant Facebook treacle meme kind of way — I mean, go be radically HAPPY. Do the forbidden thing! Eat in front of the television! Have cookies for dinner! Say YES! Create a new tradition. Embrace something that’s just yours and the kids’ (Will Ferrell movies? Popcorn? Pinecone elves?)

I know the responsibility is crushing. God, I know it — I lived it. But right now in this moment, hug that surly young adult. As they wriggle out of your embrace and tell you how utterly mortifying you are — pull them tighter. You won what matters. You showed up and you’re still there.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • A sign of a good parent is someone who always wants to improve and do better. No matter how hard we try, we all do things on occasion that are less than optimal. But we care enough to recognize that fact, grow and learn from it, and resist defensiveness and placing blame elsewhere. I am willing to bet that Hope is an amazing mom and her kids know it. Cheers to all the great parents here.

    • Funny how they always have a list of things that were wrong with the chump, as if they’re perfect themselves and were due no less than a perfect spouse if they were EVER to be expected to actually honor their vows. You don’t deserve fidelity unless you’re perfect and since no one’s perfect, except for them, they’ll always have a justified reason. Including with their affair partners.

      • …above is a glitch…copied and pasted the wrong thing from my iPhone notes…sorry!

    • Your children deserve to have an upstanding parent who doesn’t lie and cheat, who has an observing conscience, who SHOWS love by wanting to be the parent they deserve. They already have that awesome parent….YOU. No one can be a perfect parent….the point is to be accountable (John Bradshaw) and it looks to me like you are and your X isn’t. Thank goodness!!!! The other day my STBXH and I had a conversation with our daughter who knows he cheated, is super angry, and doesn’t trust him, which she has every right and reason to feel. She wants something but hasn’t been helping out around the house. But before we all talked, I told him in private that he has blown his credibility and authority as a parent and is not really in the position of telling her how to act. He has a lifetime of repair work with her to do.
      When we had the family discussion I pointed out that she and I are going through a horrific and painful time and it’s normal to not feel like doing things but it will help us to feel better. I ended by telling her that all three of us are works in progress; that we all have to continue to work on ourselves, that we have to point it out to her because she is still a child and we are the parents. Being TRUTHFUL, AUTHENTIC and IN SOLUTION is being a good parent. We don’t get to control what happens to us; only how we respond to it.
      You have my vote as a good parent!

      • Clarification…
        Your children deserved a FATHER who isn’t a d**k….thank goodness they have a mother who IS the mother they deserve.

          • My therapist said an interesting thing …that my daughter now has the parent she needs…
            meaning that while I farcically thought i was in a happy marriage with lovely home and happy kids and two solid parents (reality I would suffer from depression from his first slip, he was a controlling bastard that always said no to the kids, the “play acting” that was my life) but our youngest daughter was quiet and had no self confidence …
            Once he was gone her confidence soared ..she is 13 years old and sings dances marched at pride expresses opinions does acting classes and so much more. …she has cut him out of her life – so now has one parent – knowing that I love her, will never leave her, will hug her will chastise her, never lie to her, turn up for her – sometimes one parent is better than one tap dancing one and one that is a wanker …

  • Hope Springs, odds are you are that Mother, you had an asshole telling you/convincing you that you weren’t but she’s in there ready to bloom again….its now your Spring! (See what I did there)

    What about what you deserve? You deserved a partner in life that showed up, that respected you, that was loving to his family.

    Learn from your past, but don’t dwell in it. You have so many years still to show your kids who you are, and how to act when life sucks. Move forward, you got this!

  • Thank you so much for this. This needs to be given to every chump parent and to the counselors helping them.

    • An I really needed to read this today…despite the fact that it has been almost 9 years since fuckwit has been gone. I am really at MEH but reading this somehow reinforced it. Especially the sentence “You did your best. You survived and you learned and you will NEVER measure yourself by ANY fuckwit’s stick, even if that fuckwit is your child”.

      • I have never read something here quite as resonating with me as this post. My x sent our children his “terms going forward” including that they must be kind and respectful to HIM and to his new Schmoopie wife and HER daughter, whom he flew around the country after cutting off the tuition of our youngest child. They must also not bring up the past or what he did or counter his narrative and they still have not met the new OW/Wife and her child.

        He has not seen our children in 2 years now, and appears to care very little about that. After 35 years of marriage, I admit I’m still shocked by how little our life and family and marriage meant to him b/c I was truly ALL IN.

        I failed my children in some big ways, but they say they always knew I loved them and that I was trying. And I show up.

        I have invited them to start a conversation about how they feel and how WE can best go forward. But they DO KNOW I’m there for them, flawed as I am.

        I showed up and I always will. My ex is a selfish entitled fool who has ruined his life. And in some ways he has liberated me and our children.

        Thanks for the post today, CL.

        • I have read your story before and my blood boils for you. I hope hope hope. you and your children are setting your OWN terms….and he can take a long walk on a short pier over shark infested waters.

        • Doc’s Wife,
          I wonder if your EX has told Shmoopie some BIG lies and knows the truth will come out if his two lives collide. I know NotAPilot and JustANumber have some “serious misconceptions” about each other before they met. Imagine that! Dishonesty!………HS

        • First Wife (removing doctor cos you define yourself girlfriend):
          Genius idea for alt Father’s Day Mug.

          Selfish Entitled Fool.

          The fuckers obviously can’t drink their morning cup of joe from a “World’s Best Dad”.

      • Wow, these posts are so timely. My heart breaks for my children because of the situation and try as I might, some things get left behind because it is not two parents anymore bearing the responsibility, just the one. On the bright side, we have grown closely because where I would arrange family times on the rare occasions stbx would spend with us, now I do my thing, no need to wait in vain anymore. Family is the most important thing, we know that, why don’t they get it???

  • Forget the mother your children deserved. Tell them about the mother they HAVE. Tell them about the mistakes their mother feels she made. You might be surprised that they don’t see it the same way you do.
    Tell them about the mother you plan to be and about the family you’re going to be in the future. Then go model the new mother and build that new family!
    Make a new list about everything the mother of your children is now. And leave off the “our” children. He threw the our out the window.
    I made mistakes too because I didn’t have all the facts about the reality of my marriage.
    But I am now the BEST mother my children could ever ask for (note: not perfect). They are adults so it is never too late to become the mother you want to be. I created a whole new family with new memories and we have values and honesty.

    • Agree, this is a great response Rebecca. It turned my life around when I finally accepted that the fuckwit was gone, and started to enjoy my life the way I wanted to enjoy it. No more eggshells, no more stupid rules, no more isolation from other people. I am happier, and my son is happier now that we’ve gotten over the abandonment. Fuckwit is a hot mess. Thanks Chump Nation and Chumplady. We are mighty.

    • Awesome reply, Rebecca!! It is surprising how young adults see things and, in my case, with much clarity. My children knew their father “sucked” way before I could admit it. I love how open and honest they are with me, now that I am honest with myself.

      • My kids knew their father sucked too. When I told them of the affair, they weren’t surprised that he would do it, they said, “God, who’d want him?!”

    • Great advice Rebecca. Perhaps Hope Springs should just print out his beautiful letter and let them read it. I can’t imagine anything more powerful that reading these eloquent words right in front of their mother.

      • These word show that they have that mother they deserve- the one who takes responsibility for her actions and apologizes for her shortcomings and keeps moving forward trying to do the right this.

        Do not be hard on yourself. You are the sane parent and your kids are very lucky to have you!!!

  • Your children deserved a dad who wasn’t a selfish, narcissistic, self centered a-hole. You need to forgive yourself for your perceived short comings. No one is perfect! You have shown your children moral fortitude. You have been present and involved. You have made difficult divisions and you are staying strong! Where is the lament of their father? He is too self centered to self examine and own any responsibility. Look forward and stay fierce!

  • Single parenting is the 6-foot long shit submarine sandwich on which I feast daily.
    I’m sick of every platitude. I’m treading water – my kids are losing.
    Fuck dignity.
    I want the scalps of my betrayers.

    • I get it.

      Cue the “fuck dignity” memes.

      Problem is you can’t have the scalps of your betrayers. That’s karma’s (or the natural laws of consequences’s) job.

      Which just leaves you. That’s all you control. You.

    • JerseyChump, I often feel the same way. Stay strong and BE strong. The worst will be behind you soon enough. I spend most of my days angry but I am trying to learn how to let that go. Because no one else is going to know why I’m angry, I’m just going to be Angry Guy that no one wants to be around. And even if you yell from the rooftops about all of the injustices of your situation, chances are only a few people will really care.
      I’m not telling you I’m in a different place or I’m any better. I’m not. I’m in the same place you are. But I’ve set my sails and I’m trying to get to a different place. I think time, mostly, will help me figure that out. Best wishes. Be strong for your kids.

      • Good point Daddypants, and thank you. I too am like jerseychump and yourself… like a meshed up version… I wanted scalps too, sometimes I’ve felt like I’ve let the anger go, some days I can feel happy and joyous again, I can see me moving through forward only to want their scalps the next day. I’ve screamed from roof tops, you’re right …very few cared. I became the angry woman, people left. I stand alone in my pain. I am pulling through this gut wrenching shit storm tho, slowly…. but I can see that all the ebbs and flows of back and forth are signs of progression…. one day I will have moved beyond all this and be surprised that it snuck up on me.
        CN are my people, you are my refuse, I feel normal here, I need each of you. Every single day.

        • Just recognize that you are grieving. Feeling angry is not wrong. Anger recognizes that you have been treated poorly and will move you forward. I used it to begin my new life.

      • Hey, all……

        What I have found about anger (many others here have helped me with this) during my journey thru this poop:

        Anger is often confused with being violent. One can be VERY angry and NEVER be violent. I believe this is the main reason anger gets a bad rap & people who are angry are avoided.

        Sometimes we also think we are bad people because we feel so angry, because of this confusion. As Drew mentioned above & all of us chumps know, anger is the correct response to being so horrifically mistreated. It is what we do with the anger that matters.

        I finally learned to just ‘sit’ with my emotions / feelings, examining them, even consoling them like a friend in need. No need to reject any feeling, even anger. Or be afraid of those feelings & emotions. Just do NOT react in an inappropriate way to any of the feelings.

        Love all ya all and thanks for all the words of wisdom today…..And every day!

    • I feel you Jersey Chump. I’m on round two of single parenthood. Oldest is now in graduate school and youngest is in kindergarten. Raising my daughter on my own was hard, rewarding at times and miserable at times too. I vowed not to be a single parent again. So what do I do with my broken picker? Pick a completely evil distorted partner! So here I am again, raising a child alone. Its lousy not having help. It’s hard working 10 hrs a day to come home to cooking, cleaning, and now homework. I feel disappointed in myself all the time. I barely have a social life, with no family support either. I don’t go out and do adult things. But then when they tell you they love you it makes it all worth it. I remind myself daily that I raised my daughter all by myself, so I can raise my son too. If I can do it, you can do it too. Big hugs to you and all the single parents showing up for their kids every single day.

    • JerseyChump… I feel ya… we all do here. Every day it is a choice to NOT make Mr. Sparkles and his current GF central as they buy a new house with a pool, entertain my son every other weekend with no rules, and I’m the one at home doing laundry and saying “no, do you homework”.

      I got my scalps. I found proof that Mr. Sparkles was cheating on the OW he left me for (because lets face it… they never stop cheating regardless of who they are with). When the OW saw the proof, she dumped him and she apologized to me 8 months later. The whole thing was surreal. And I felt nothing. No vindication. No freedom from my anger. And he had a new victim on the hook within days. (And yes, I found proof yet again that he is cheating on this one too.)

      You’ve got to do everything you can to not continue to give these fuckwits centrality in your life. I know it sucks… but it is the only way through this shit storm. You have to choose it until it becomes natural. It has taken me four years, but I think I’m almost there… where I’m done… I’m through it. What fucking slog… four years… but I’m here… co-parenting with a fuckwit and raising a great kid.

      I’m glad you’re here. I’m grateful for your honesty and courage. You will move through this. Find some joy today, rinse, repeat. {{{Hugs}}

    • There is a country song on the radio now that has a line in it about most mothers should be nominated for saint hood or something of that sort. I have heard it several times (spent a lot of time in the car on vacation) and at first I thought, I’m no saint, but the more I thought about it, I thought it is true. I thought, we all make mistakes, most saints made plenty, but the key was that in the end they did what was right and that was what counted.

      All moms make mistakes and have regrets and parenting is HARD (biggest understatement ever). You are right in the middle of what I hope is the hardest time you will ever face Jersey Chump but if you stick with it and keep doing your best and modeling for your kids, you will be a saint so to speak. It is about modeling, teaching and forgiving both yourself and your kids.

      Sticking with it is what counts and Fuckwits don’t do that but saint moms do.

    • I read a quote from the Art of War a few months ago that I loved so much I had a bracelet made with it. The quote is: “If you sit by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by.”

      Now when I’m angry (which is OFTEN, the asshole finds daily ways to torment me despite the divorce being final 4 years ago), I read my bracelet, close my eyes, and imagine sitting and meditating by a peaceful river…birds singing…water gurgling…and then seeing his bloody, bloated body floating by. 😈

      Karma is slow as fuck but she’s a bitch when she arrives. I have faith. She’s coming.

      • I love this. The image of both fuckwit’s and Owhore’s twisted, bloated, ashen, water logged corpses floating blithely down the river while I sit dangling my feet in from the banks – well….it’s just awesome!

      • THANK YOU!!

        Also from Art of War…
        “Never give up the moral high ground”

        So now I have the visual of sitting on the moral high ground waiting for the bodies of my enemies to float by…

        ❤️ to you…

    • JerseyChump – I hear your roar. I feel the way you do.
      I’m raising 2 young children (8yrs and 21 months – yep he cheated while I was pregnant but was kind enough to wait until my DD was 3 months old to leave…yeah fuck him), I am treading water and trying to stay a sane and kind person. I swing between being happier and being very angry. Only 17 months out. I do 100% of the parenting. He shows up 1x a month and still can’t pass a fucking hair follicle test (meth). He does send CS but guess what he still sucks! He has 0 responsibility and gets to do whatever the fuck he wants and has Howorker (the he still denies cheating on me with her). I have my kids and the promises I keep to myself (and them). It’s enough for now. Some days I’m ok and other days I wonder how he can look at himself in the mirror. I ask myself if I could have done what he did and the answer is a resounding “No.” I keep fucking going. You will too because of who you are. Hugs and love to you JerseyChump. At least we are both on the east coast:) Hit up Tempest if you want someone to vent to more outside of CN and I’m happy to have her share my email with you. I am at a place now (because further out) where there are not many that understand I’m still healing and fucking exhausted. This is about the only safe haven I have most days from the horrible thoughts in my head and feeling like I’m the only one. Thanks CL and CN. I can never say thank you enough.

    • My ex brainwashed our kids and they live with him. They believed every lie he told them. I WISH I was a solo parent!. I know it must be damn hard, but to have my kids side with the creep was almost more than I could bear.

      • My heart breaks for you dear Mitz. I hope and pray that someday your children will see that their POS father is rotten to the core.

        Remember Chumplady’s wise words,
        “You did your best. You survived and you learned and you will NEVER measure yourself by ANY fuckwit’s stick, even if that fuckwit is your child.”

      • Mitz, I’m in the same boat, it truly sux.

        In my case 12 years of heartbreak (he skipped abroad with our 2 babies under 2 and married the ho they call mum) … so they’re totally brainwashed and hate me.

        I find platitudes to be void and I don’t believe in ‘karma’, but I do believe in and look forward to the after life.

        Best wishes

  • What your children needed was a father that did not lie and cheat on their mother. Your ex cheating put you in the situation where you thought you had to shield your children from his cheating. You were and are the better parent. You are in a new chapter in your life. You lost a cheating pos who showed no reward for you and his children. It will take time. But you will heal and you will have a stronger closer relationship with your children.

  • Dearest Hope
    YOUR children HAVE AN EXCELLENT MOTHER who did her best in unimaginably difficult circumstances — a Mother who believed that protecting her children from the ugliness of their father was best. Many of us have done the same – and we will never know whether different choices would have led us to a different place – so we must always look forward — Be kind to yourself and focus on loving yourself even more than your kids!
    Hugs

  • Your ex put his needs first, and probably always did, its time you started living your life for you. The children know what he’s really like, he’s a coward, telling you like that. The new wife hasn’t won a prize has she.

  • You just had to stick the pinecone elves in there, didn’t you? 😂

    But seriously, I teared up. Really, really good stuff, Hope Springs. I feel this deeply.

  • True, love shows up. It doesn’t text, intermittently. Most cheaters who are guilty conscience do that. But, what about manipulator cheater… What if cheater denies Schmoopie even exists to his kids? That he is “all alone”? But, everyone in the small community knows they are together and sees they are together and reports back that they are together.

    or…

    What if the cheater who denied Schmmopie exists, then after the divorce says like Bob Barker in Price is Right, “Here’s Schmoopie! We just got together again AFTER the divorce. We were ‘just’ friends then…” But, now Schmoopie and Cheater do a love bombing and Disney Dad tactics to buy off the teenager? Including buying the teenager an expensive European car . . .

    • What a douch bag! Your kid will figure out who he is. So try not to stress about it. My now 22 yr figured it out finally. She used to put her father on a pedestal and it drove me nut. He never helped out financially. He never showed when it was his visitation. You name it. Selfish price of crap. But I kept my mouth shut. I never said a bad thing about her father. Even today and with her fully “getting it” I don’t talk bad about him. Just sit tight and you kid will figure it out. Promise.

    • I am oddly thankful that he left behind so much “hard copy” proof of who he really is. I didn’t find it on my own. He can’t tell me it’s all in my head, and pretend to the kids. Before he knew we had all the evidence that was jerks game…….play the martyr, joe cool, “I deserve to be happy now”. Tried to bully me re: support, mediation,and assets. Called me a horrendous, miserable person. He got quiet pretty quickly once it was time to tell him what we had. Wish I could have been in that room….but NC as much as possible.
      Re-read Chump Lady’s response to my letter above. My kids say I have to trust them….we can get there.

  • Choosing to be happy is difficult but it is possible. At first I though my emotions were not something I had any choice about. I remember complaining, “I just want to be happy again,” to my mom who promptly said, “then act like it.” So damned if I didn’t start. I pretended like a child: singing in the car, dancing around the house like a nut, playing with my dog, watched all the British shows I love, ate popcorn for dinner and painted my toenails purple and started taking myself out on fabulous dates to do exactly the things I love like seeing old movies and visiting botanical gardens and eating at tiny family owned restaurants where the menus were full of dishes I’d never heard of before.

    Now during the beginning of that time- let’s say a year or so- I wasn’t happy. A lot of time I’d fall apart in the middle of a song or find myself crying during a movie or feel crushed by loneliness at dinner, but as time wore on I began to actually feel happy occasionally. And that feeling was a revelation! Because it had been YEARS!! When I actually started feeling happy, I was astonished and grateful and a part of me also felt very sad at the same time because THIS happy was REAL and when I thought I’d been happy before I realized that I had not been. I’d been calling my life with my cheater “happy” when it was really more like a dulling slog punctuated with intermittent periods of severe anxiety and a constant undercurrent of worry much like a low grade fever that wouldn’t go away. But this new happiness- it lasted! Not all the time, of course, but long enough to begin to change me into a person I was much happier with being. Misery over my past and divorce started being like a condition that itched; if I scratched it, I knew it would grow worse so I left it alone and went into the kitchen and made Chex mix (I developed a huge dependence on crunchy snacks as meal replacements).

    All this to say I believe that making the choice to be happy is one of the bravest, most empowering choices a person can make in the midst of suffering. It’s radical. The power of choosing to be happy – and I don’t mean experiencing selfish pleasure at someone else’s expense like cheaters do – is the power to thrive “in spite of”. In spite of the abuse, I choose. No one else chooses for me. Not my ex and his trollop, not my kids and their behavior, not members of the community who judge – they do not get a vote because I’m in charge now. I’m the mighty. And you are the mighty. And we must all move forward with grit and the determination to live our best lives because our lives and our happiness matter. If not now, when?

    • Thank you @NoRainNoFlowers for your post. I’m now at the beginning of my journey. I keep hearing that I’ll feel better and logically I think I eventually will be. But your decision to “act happy” and then get there gives me hope to march on a little more confidently.

      I deserve, as especially all chumps do, REAL happiness.

  • This is the thing I feel most guilty aboit because my kids were in that situation with me. I should have left much much sooner. Both of my adult children suffer from anxiety. My son won’t even talk about it. My daughter comes to me as her port in the storm and I spend many hours on the phone with her just replaying small incidents and things she thinks happened that didn’t . She won’t go to counselling though i have gently urged it many times. She sees her sociopathic dad regularly which I think makes it worse. I am trying to be the same parent after appearing as an insane parent due to his abuse and my reaction to it( years worth). It’s the shit sandwich that keeps being served..

    • I so understand this. My oldest sees his dad from time to time and for three days after he becomes an emotional wreck. It’s a sick dynamic where he needs something and his Dad dangles it in front of him. Son is addicted to marijuana, already did time in rehab. I refuse to give him money. He has a safe place to live and food to eat. I will put gas in his car but I will not give him cash.
      His Dad waits like a vulture until he needs something, just bought him a new cell phone and his fourth car. My son suffers some kind of ptsd afterwards. I have no say because he is 21.
      If you are reading this and staying for the children, please leave ASAP!

  • Anyone else watch Neil Brennen’s “Three Mikes” on Netflix? He talks about his father. Pretty powerful stuff which I won’t spoil, but will share that it wasn’t a loving childhood.

    My two kids are teenagers moving away or into high school. Their “home” since the split is w/ their mom. Sure I see them neatly 50%, but my house is not yet a home—and will never be to the older one.

    Crushing to me, yet I’m learning to play the long game. To be there at the ready for when my love is needed.

    I took (some) fathering for granted; so I have skills to learn. I text and not often when it’s not my weekend, typical fathering mistakes.

    But I’m better than other fathers for simply wanting and working towards a better day.

      • And thank you for bringing up the injustice of chumps getting 50/50 — especially chump dads. I would think the position of having your kids 100 percent, even if abandoned, could seem enviable.

        • Anyone know of parental alienation conversations on here? I’m in Canada 🇨🇦
          He and his gf are trying to manipulate my kids(already worked on one 😔) and almost has my 13yo convinced (bought).
          Settlement hearing next month.

          • Bel, a lot of these cheating narcs use manipulation on the kids. It helped tremendously to have my daughter see a child therapist who specializes in parents with narcissism, BPD, cheating, etc. —the therapist helps support my child, teach her boundary setting, and is a neutral third-party to the madness, which has been an invaluable asset.

            Sending love and strength.

  • This is heartbreaking, and I get it, but I’d put a spin on this (maybe a Friday challenge). Your children deserved a better FATHER!! They deserved someone who didn’t cheat, lie, rage, deflect, abandon etc.

    My daughter deserved:
    To be born normal. To be able to speak and not have seizures. She deserves to function at a normal 10 year old.

    My daughter deserved:
    A father, who once he knew how hard it was going to be, decided to stay and not abandon because it was too hard.

    My daughter deserved:
    Love from a father, not a lying, cheating asshole whose decisions landed her mother in the hospital and nearly took her from this world.

    Well you know what Hope Springs, you’re a warrior! Fuck him and how he’s made you feel. Like CL said, you win what matters. Our love for our children IS enough!! He can’t hurt you again! Bravo for pushing on, surviving and being mighty!!! There’s NOTHING wrong with you!!!

  • Hope

    Children lived in that very home through the chaos. Dad ended the relationship with his wife, the very mother of his children via text.

    You tolerated abuse. Chumps don’t need to bully through ultimatums. We are supportive in the ways that matter, ironing that shirt or giving a ride as CL stated.

    Do you want to know what your children deserve? The mom who takes care of herself, sets boundaries and takes care of her own needs.

    You make your home a place where respect and honesty are expected on a daily basis. You reject being guilted into giving or doing things that make you accountable for his behavior. Above all you forgive yourself for every act of abuse you tolerated living with an asshole and stop beating yourself up.

    Detaching requires not caring about what dad says or does. You get to make that clear without shifting your expectations or boundaries with kids.

  • The thing about being a parent… it is a full-time, life-time job (#blessing). I was still learning things from my Mom well into my 40’s… and even with her gone now, I can still hear her voice in my head helping me and guiding me.

    You don’t need to rewrite history or apologize to your children for the past. But, if you see an opportunity to change for the better, you do have a responsibility to do the hard work to change. A child never stops watching and learning from their parent. Be who they need NOW… don’t look back, you’re not going that way.

    I am more fun and more badass now than I ever was during my marriage. In the end, Mr. Sparkles did me a favor by leaving me for the OW. My true self is finally shining through… yours will too.

    #journey #dontstopbelieving

  • I’m in tears. You just need someone to say it’s okay. You’re doing you best. Yeah practice doing this for yourself but when everything is a battle and a thorny situation that is breaking your heart and you still have to be three steps ahead because Wednesday they need a white shirt for concert and my god the shed doors have fallen off and I am so alone. This group of Chumps gives solace.

  • Chump Lady addresses cheaters as fuckwit parents twice in a row? Love it!! The absolute one thing I hate is people telling me that even though he may have been a shitty husband, he can be a good father… or that he is still their father… AAARRRRGGGGHHH! I want to scream each time. Any good come back?
    The narrative also needs to change around this fallacy. Please help…

    • Yes, this.

      Per yesterday’s post, for some (many) reasons the world wants to paint the cheater in a positive light. Ok, he was a shitty husband (if they are even willing to go that far – I mean really, I’ve gained 10 pounds since my wedding, what can I expect?), but he’s a good parent, nice guy, etc.

      My cheater might have image control down for the “nice guy” part, but moving 1 hour away to be near Schmoopie supply, seeing the kids most Tuesdays for 2 hours, child support, and an occasional text to the kids does not make him a good parent. Ask my kids who shows up at their games, drives them everywhere, and tries to give them a fun happy life.

      I’d love to have a response for the “he’s still a good father” folks too that doesn’t make me look like a bitter hag. As I get to meh, the things that still bug me most are the Switzerland people and the positive regard cheater still enjoys. (And my blood boils when politicians and public figures do and say horrible things but get elected/keep their jobs anyways). Wtf is wrong with people who accept bad behavior like it’s nothing and instead blame the victims?

    • Better Alone, my mantra is: if I have to “tell” someone that it’s abuse, that relationship gets put in the outer circle of my life. Inner circle people get it and don’t need me to “educate” them about any of this. Kind of like what I did when I stopped pick-me dancing. I told myself: “if I have to tell someone how to love/treat me, I’m wasting my breath- it’s over.”

      My inner circle is there for me— the outer circle? I really don’t care— what they think is not my business.

      • “if I have to tell someone how to love/treat me, I’m wasting my breath- it’s over.”
        THIS^^^^^^^

        Thanks MC99!

      • There is no such thing as a good parent in a vacuum. A good parent is a good person/father/husband/friend/man. A good parent is in alignment with his parenting partner because 2 (on the same team of course) are better than one. You had a carcass for a parenting partner.

        Try this on for size: “Oh, ya think so? Then YOU can marry him and see how well he treats YOUR children or you as their mother.” If that doesn’t shut them up, you have my blessing to flick them on the forehead and walk away. (Extra credit for an almost audible “fucking loser” as you walk away)

    • I think I would say that if they think abuse of the mother isn’t also abusive to the kids, they are living in la-la land. That says it all in my opinion.

      • Agreed!
        Cheaters don’t love or prioritize their spouse OR children. If they loved their kids as a parent should, they’d be investing in them rather than spending time, money and seeking personal gratification through affairs, prostitutes …

    • Good fathers don’t lie and cheat and betray their wives. Good fathers model healthy relationship behavior. Good fathers are trustworthy and live with integrity. I would have said my husband was a great father before I found out about his double life. Character counts and is first on my Good Father list of qualifications.

    • Better Alone,

      My STBX is one of those “good dads”. My reply is simply, “Good dads don’t dynamite their kids’ home and family over some strange.”

      I’ll never forget meeting this really great guy when I was in grad school. He was warm and sweet and smart as a whip, and there was a real chemistry there. I got offered a job where I would be in a research lab with him, and turned it down. I remember thinking, “I could see myself with him, but I’m married and that would break up my daughter’s whole world.” So, I redoubled my efforts to connect with STBX, to no avail.

      He, in the same situation, lit the match and threw on the gasoline. That’s not being a good dad. Period. End stop.

  • I needed this today. I had to hold back tears as I transferred my kids to my former in-laws to watch them while I went to work. They were once a second set of parents and now we don’t talk unless it’s for logistical purposes. Wonderful grandparents but man did they ice me out in the most painful way and adopted side piece as their new daughter-in-law to be.

    But you know what, I remind myself how mighty I am everyday. I’m the one that packed my eldest for overnight camp, picked her up and then did 5 loads of disgusting camp laundry without her dad even texting to see if she made it home safely. I’m the one who makes the dr appointments, play dates, fills out the camp and school forms, gets the Halloween costumes, takes both kids to therapy on separate days, gives the hugs, all while handling a high stress, badass job.

    It doesn’t matter when you say enough is enough. You did it now. Don’t beat yourself up that you didn’t do it sooner. We chumps are so hard on ourselves.

    And Chumplady is right—come up with new traditions. My girls are still little so we now celebrate half birthdays with half cakes (they pick the toppings to decorate, always interesting), I have a wall of proudness I created for them to put up artwork or writings or anything we are proud of. I took them on a plane by myself for a vacation, all by myself…and I know I’m fortunate to be able to have this luxury but wow did it make me feel mighty!

    I came here a little over 3 years ago, drowning in the fetal position. Chumplady threw me a life preserver, then my village brought me the f-ing coast guard. You will survive this. I promise.

    • Did first vacation with just daughter and I this summer (divorce finalized in June). I kept telling myself how weird it would be to “not be on a family vacation” together for the first time in 17 years. Well you know what- daughter and I had a marvelous time without cheater XW around. It’s a different experience but it’s our experience and I know she will remember her time with dad forever.

      When we begin all this we think things aren’t possible because we are so used to certain things. It’s amazing how possible things become when you have no choice but to live again.

      • I have taken vacations several times with my kids. It is a great way to feel better. I have twice driven cross country with them to the family property where we used to all go when ex was still in the picture. It was validating to know that we could still get there, do all of the things we used to do and generally have a good time without ex along.

        I also took them to see the eclipse that came through about a year ago. I found the hotel, I found the viewing venue, I got them there and I even got them home again through the hours long post eclipse traffic jam. It was a magical experience that I shared with my kids that will always be a good memory (in spite of the hours long traffic jam going which was just another part of the bonding experience). Meanwhile ex had planned to fly Schmoopie down in his plane but then his plane engine died so he rented a plane only to discover that all airports in the zone were requiring advance landing permission and they were all full. As a result, he was going to just fly around through the zone during totality but then storms cropped up between where he lives and the eclipse band. They ended up watching a partial through the clouds at home. Ha! It was completely clear during totality where we were watching. He totally missed out (on a lot of things).

      • Yep. I agree with you Zell. I took my son to Puerto Rico last month. I’d been there over 30 times with different people and this was the best time I ever had. He was so thrilled. We talked and bonded and had new experiences we’ll talk about forever. For a minute I wished his mother was there but she would’ve taken away a lot of that joy away. She was always hard to please. Like so many here have said , our kids will figure it out in time. Lucky for me my son was with me the night I caught her. So there’s no denying it. Thanks CN.

    • Chumplawyer, ditto here👆🏻 I’m a litigator with sole custody after lawyer-cheater dad of 25 years walked out for a copy delivery girl he met in a single elevator ride. This is also my life: “t you know what, I remind myself how mighty I am everyday. I’m the one that packed my eldest for overnight camp, picked her up and then did 5 loads of disgusting camp laundry without her dad even texting to see if she made it home safely. I’m the one who makes the dr appointments, play dates, fills out the camp and school forms, gets the Halloween costumes, takes both kids to therapy on separate days, gives the hugs, all while handling a high stress, badass job.”
      😘😘😘

  • @HopeSprings……You’re suffering the “why did I stay” syndrome. You stayed for all the same reasons the rest of us did. You thought it would be better for the kids. Ditto. You didn’t want your kids growing up with a revolving door of strange schmoopie love interests being brought in by selfish self centered cheater. Ditto. You thought you could police the cheater and stop it. Ditto. You knew you weren’t the problem but at the same time thought you were the problem crazy wirlwind inside your brain. Ditto.

    Stop now. Start anew. New life. If you feel you owe your children some sort of apology, then go ahead and give it to them, but then move on. Quit beating yourself up. Tell yourself “I escaped”. “I survived”. And now you will use such strength to build an enjoyable fulfilling life.

    • Exactly this, every word. I tried to keep my marriage together for all the reason above. Then I became angry at myself later for being such a door mat. Several years later though I have come to LOVE the person I was who tried so hard, who was so earnest in her desire to preserve her children’s home and try to mend whatever had turned her husband from best friend to worst enemy. I love that person that I was, I was showing up to my life every day even though I knew what was coming. I love that person and I am still that person. We have far more worth that sparkly cheaters and younger affair partners (or older in my case), we don’t give up. What is more valuable in life than that??

      • Absolutely. There is no reason to be upset with ourselves for being loving people who tried to follow through on our wedding vows. We promised “for better or for worse” we just didn’t realize how far “for worse” went and we didn’t understand that those vows only work if both partners are following through. We held up our end of the covenant and we have nothing to be ashamed of. We modeled dependability and loyalty for our kids and when it all fell apart anyway, we modeled resiliency and strength. HopeSprings, that is what you were/are doing too.

      • Nodancing, you have said exactly what I’ve been trying to find for me. I was so hurt and felt like a fool for spending 19 years with a man who could never fully love me. And I spent 6 years taking care of my stepkids when they came to live with us. I did all the sporting events, was the taxi service, did all the doctor appointments, did all the haircuts, cooked, laundered, clean and spent time as Dear Abby.

        I was good at what I did and I did it all out of love because that’s who I am. I don’t want to regret those years even though at the end, I’ve come away with empty hands. Sometimes I’m not sure I would do it all again but I probably would because I loved him and I loved my stepkids.

      • No dancing, I hope one day I can reach this point you describe. I stuck it out for 27 years for all the reasons you describe and three years out from D-day and separation, as I parent alone and do the graduations alone, medical appointments etc alone, I find myself devastated. I feel like such a loser for putting up with his suspected (now known) cheating, emotional abuse etc over and over again, and I just can’t get my head around why he would so coldly hurt me when I was trying so hard to love him through the hard stuff. I particularly relate to what you wrote about trying to fix whatever had turned your husband from best friend into worst enemy. I hope one day I can reach the point of being proud of who I was in the relationship and who I still am, rather than being bogged down in wondering why I couldn’t fix it.

        • Chumpful – you can’t fix what you didn’t break. Your love probably wasn’t going to fix the type of person your husband was or had become. You are not a loser or a fool. You were a woman who loved with her whole heart and there is no shame in that. The shame lies with him. You have good character and integrity – don’t doubt it.

  • I’ve made many parenting mistakes, but those mistakes don’t define me as a person or a parent. The fact that I showed up and continue to show up every day that I possibly can is what means something to my kids. It’s not quality, it’s quantity. Be there every day slogging through the crap, being grumpy, happy, cuddly, angry, sad….that’s where the bonds are built. Cheating assholes men and women both won’t ever know this and neither do their affair partners. They are out the door when shit gets real and while the kids might love their other parent, it’s the person that is there every day whose name is written on their hearts.

    Plus getting narcissistic people out of the house is a breath of fresh air. My kids and I are much closer and happier. We have all sorts of silly things we do now, and no interfering ass to ruin our fun because we aren’t orbiting him at that particular moment.

  • Sometimes the timing of CL’s posts blow my mind! My teen said, “fuck you” to me last night. And in that moment, it took all I had to not smack him.

    I have three sons (23, 21, 17) currently living here at the “Delta House.” The oldest is ten months in recovery and staying here until he can live independently. His sober house experiences were disasters; there’s was a lot of drug and emotional use by the other residents. My 21-year old is about to start his senior year of college, but knows everything already and is a bully to his brothers. The youngest is starting his senior year in high school and resents that his brothers are home again. He liked being top dog.

    They can’t stand each other. And lately, I can’t stand them. I walk in from work to dirty dishes in the sink, an EMPTY refrigerator, empty milk cartons on the counter (that I bought a day ago) crumbs on the counter, laundry on the floor, poop and pee from the dog they had to have but refuse to walk, etc. As soon as I walk in, one of them is up my ass complaining about the other two. Or the fact we have no food. Sorry guys, but a steak isn’t a “snack” at 11pm. And you all know where Market Basket is located. Ugh.

    My friends with kids the same age say my sons’ behavior is typical, and that it will click that you’re a human being with feelings when they get to about aged 28.

    My sons’ behavior is too close to their father’s laziness, disrespect and blame-shifting mentality. I got rid of him, but now have three mini-me loads in his stead. And as much as I am the parent who stuck around, I’d give my soul for a clean house, apples in the crisper and some harmony.

    Right now, my sons suck, too.

    • ChutesandLadders, I laughed at this! I can so relate! I have two daughter and my one son is so much like all three of yours. 😂 They all sometimes really struggle to understand why their Dad left 😢; as each year passes X grows more absent. Just remind them that living at home means they have to abide by one set of rules, yours. Even adolescents feel safe and taken care of when there are clear expectations and boundaries. After all the drama, my one requirement was that my children reciprocate. So we split chores up. Kids were old enough to draw up their own list and rotated chores weekly. My son always elects to cook, he’s much better at it! so I clean up afterwards. Not always, because we all need to “adult.” We share meals (and our phones are usually put away) as schedules allow because life is short. In addition to gaining new lives, we take little vacations. There is nothing more bonding than traveling together in a really small car. My kids in those early years were so hurt, so much of their behavior reflected their concerns. I continue to support them, in school, sport, social activities, and life in general. Be present, balance yourself out, and have faith. Keep being the sane parent. Engage in new experiences (bowling, art classes, learning to paddle board) and let them know they have the power to affect positive change. Groupon has great deals. My kids and I also love to just hang at home, and that is anywhere we are together.

    • Chutes:

      I can relate! My youngest, 18, currently thinks his dad is the shit! I think he is a shit, but… And why wouldn’t his dad be the shit? Living off Schmoopies salary with his two sports cars (cause every midlife crisis asshole needs to have a choice of douchewagons on a daily basis), his play job that he goes to 4 hours a day, no responsibilities of broken shit to fix at the house or cleaning it or yardwork because they can afford to pay people to do that. Oh! And the fact that he sees his kid for all the fun activities like taking him to the beach or having schmoops take him to get his drivers license or taking him out to eat. Meanwhile, here’s old Mom who slogs it to work everyday, is slouchy and non-shiny because I’m effing tired, who makes him do chores and schoolwork and nags him about getting a job and not being a turd like his dad. Needless to say, I’m not in a happy place of late. I love my kiddo more than anything, but sometimes I want to tell him, schmoopie and his dad where to go.

      I feel your pain. And it SUCKS.

  • Hope, you ARE and have always been a good mother. I think that in way, in the wake of chumpdom and divorce we end up being even better parents: as Tracy just wrote above: improved dynamics is the key for this. Our children see who turns into mighty or …. something else. And who shows up….

    My youngest son moved to the Netherlands and when he found a place to rent his father went over to buy the furnishings. A week later my son is expelled from the apartament (NL has strict zoning regulations) and has to move his things in the Winter with his bike! It turns out his father was with son when the Chinese broker was instructing son to LIE to the municipal authorities that he was “married, but his wife was still at work” (rental was only for married couples with no children; son was single). What kind of father does that?! A cheater asshole one. I told my son he was a guest of the country, had a scholarship at Dutch taxpayers’ expense and that I would have never let him do this. His father really is an entitled SOB.

    • Sounds like something my ex would do because entitlement. the rules don’t apply to these wackjobs. I’m sorry that happened to your son, but it is also a gift so he can see what his dad is like and hopefully not trust too much of what he says.

  • Hope Springs,
    You aren’t the only one that didn’t know your worth at the time. I’m sure many would say the same. It took me over a year and two DDays to know I’m worth more than how I’ve been treated. I never thought I would be chumped so I never mentally prepared for how I would react (then I never thought I’d get chumped a second time in the same year). I now know my worth.

    This line resonated with me and I needed this reinforcement:

    >>> “Well, YOU ARE STRONG NOW. You didn’t know your worth?”

    I do now.

    My second take away and proud moment is I endured….I showed up….I won. How do I know this? Less than 2 weeks after DDay#1, my wife skipped my 4 year old daughter’s dance recital to run a race (AP#2 ran races too). I woke up early and styled my daughter’s hair for her recital. I also put on her makeup. And you know what? She looked beautiful because I showed up and endured even though I was crying on the inside. I am the father that did her hair and makeup. I’m the sane parent in the post-recital photos. That’s a memory I will have forever. I won. You won too.

    • This is so beautiful! You rock to the power of a million and your daughter will feel it, know it and appreciate if forever.

    • You rock. You are mighty. You are awesome. This is what memories are made of and this is how your daughter will remember you. Just so you know, it will also make you very attractive to any single woman who might have been there. 😉

  • Self-blame can raise anger and hate towards the self. Anger rises due to the thought that one could have done something to prevent the situation and yet did nothing. Get some comfort from knowing that many of us here also modeled chumpiness to our children. Do I wish I had been a pillar of strength he entire time, not really. I’ve learned so much throughout this ordeal; lessons I couldn’t have known any other way, other than to crawl my way through them. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have chosen this shit if I had a choice, but I didn’t. I stopped “shoulding” myself… I should have__________ (fill in the blank) and deal with what is in front of me.

    For guilt to occur, it is not necessary to feel personally responsible for an event, only for someone else to have been affected badly. We’d all love for our children to not have to suffer because of fuckwits, but we don’t get to control that.

    Assess your behavior toward yourself. When you feel anxious, depressed or stressed-out your self-talk is likely to become extreme, you’ll be more likely to expect the worst and focus on the most negative aspects of things you’ve done in the past. If you chase perfection in yourself you will never find it, because your perceived imperfections of the past will be the flaw you can never make different – forgive yourself! Not to sound cliche but, Hindsight is 20/20. If you knew then what you know now, you would have done things differently, now is your chance.

    • There is only ever “now”. I agree about the negative self talk. It takes practice to stop it. Think of it as the 5 second rule, when you catch a bad thought change it before it becomes a whole episode. It helped me to tell my mind it can only ask questions about me moving forward. That way “I” was able to stay in the now and not listen to all the bs my mind was thinking.

  • Looking on the bright side, with your fuckwit ex out of the way you can parent however you want without needing to consult him or get his approval or suffer his complaints when he thinks you aren’t doing it right or be accused of undermining him when you fail to enforce his rules. You do what you think is best. You have been liberated to be the best parent you know how to be. Don’t get me wrong, your ex is a shitty person and you have been left holding the bag. Your situation is difficult, but the bag you are holding contains wonderful things. You will make them even more wonderful because you care, because you are a good person, and because you are mighty. Someday your kids will most likely recognize and appreciate your greatness, especially if they ever become parents themselves. It isn’t easy, it is difficult, but you will do it because you love your children. You have been doing well so far. You got this.

    Even when the kids are not also abandoned by the wandering spouse, no situation is really a happy one when infidelity rears its ugly head within a marriage. My ex does still care about the kids. This is generally a good thing and I wouldn’t want it to be otherwise. Certainly it is good for the kids to know that both parents care about them, but it does mean that I still have to co-parent with him. I still have to consult with him about big decisions regarding the kids. I always dread this when I know our opinions may differ on what is best. Sometimes I also still get the subtle implications that my parenting methods are not adequately effective for turning out perfect children although that isn’t a constant daily thing now that he is out of the house. We generally want the same things for the kids, but we sometimes differ on the best way to make that happen. It can be anxiety inducing to try and discuss/compromise on anything, especially parenting, with someone who has betrayed you and made it clear that he/she doesn’t really respect you or your opinions/priorities/values. In all fairness, I supposed it is difficult for the other side as well when they know they have lost a lot of their moral authority (some cheaters get this better than others).

    When a parent abandons his/her children society generally condemns that and most normal thinking people will have a lot of respect for the parent who stays. This is especially true when they know the circumstances and know that you didn’t chose or have reason to believe you would end up as a single parent. Anyone who is a parent knows how much work it is when there are two of you and will at least have some empathy for how much effort it must take to do it solo. You may have doubts sometimes as all parents do, but others will recognize you for the hero you are for being the loving parent who picks up the pieces, moves forward and is present in spite of how difficult it is. Very little thought, however, is given for the parent that has to continue parenting, negotiating and compromising with someone they don’t really trust and who may instill values in the children that are not in line with theirs.

    This isn’t the pain Olympics, but the parents I have the most sympathy for, are the ones who’s ex’s left, moved in with some idiot Schmoopie and took the kids with them. This should not even be allowed to happen in our society but unfortunately it often does, especially to abandoned Dads. I can’t imagine the pain of losing my kids and what I thought was a loving spouse all at the same time. I would agonize over how my kids were being treated, how they were being raised, and what shitty values they would be learning. I would agonize over what lies my kids were being told about me, if they would ever know that I loved them and if we would ever reconnect. I have heard heartbreaking stories of chumps who’s children were ripped away from them. Many have worked very hard to reconnect to their children, some with more success than others. These parents are mighty too just for surviving and not giving into despair. They are mighty for continuing to do the best they can for their children in the face of such helplessness. Their abandoning spouses are, in my opinion, the most vile of the vile.

  • Hope, your kids know that you are the sane and loving parent who is there for them. I also was very emotional when the ex and I first separated, and when he brought his OW into our kids’ lives before our divorce was even final, there were times when I lost it. I hid it as best I could from my kids, but they saw how angry and full of pain I was at times. I finally got some counseling so that I had a safe place for my emotional outbursts.

    My point is, though, I wasn’t perfect. I made mistakes. I have been divorced for over five years now, and my ex has been married to his Schmoopie for that same amount of time. Five years later, my younger son no longer visits his dad because Schmoopie doesn’t like him, and my ex does whatever Schmoopie tells him to do. She is hostile and has an ugly temper, and my other two kids don’t enjoy visitation because they never know when she’s going to have a meltdown. They enjoy being with me; they are uncomfortable about being with him.

    When I took my three kids on vacation this summer, we were all excited about it and had a great time. My two kids who still visit their dad are on vacation with him right now, and there was ZERO excitement about going on this trip with my ex, his crazy Schmoopie, and her kids. ZERO. My eldest was even worried about it; he hoped that “everything would go okay.” He wasn’t even excited about going on what should have been a fun vacation! My younger son, who stayed with me, also thanked me out of the blue last night for taking care of him all the time even though he knew that I no longer had very much free time to go to the movies, hang out with friends, and enjoy a social life. I told him that he was more important than any movie and that I was happy that I could be here for him.

    So, please take it from me, who has a toxic, awful ex that only cares about himself and has deliberately forced a toxic person into his children’s lives– your kids know that you are the parent they can count on.

  • Now write us the list of all the things you have done well as a mother. I know for sure we are looking at a loooong list.

    Being chumped is crushing for your self esteem for obvious reasons but it’s not a reflection on you actually as everyone says.

    Start that list now – you will soon see that the good outweighs the bad and what you perceive as bad is just you carrying the burden of responsibility which is what a good parent does, not act like nothing happened x

  • Hope Springs

    I hope you got a good settlement and can attach to his salary. He must have been an officer that didn’t follow the code they’re required to model to not bring dishonor to the service they are in. Be glad that your kids are grown. They will make their own decisions. You will enter a new life you never dreamed you could have. A Better Life.

    I’ll speak now from a Dad’s point of view. I had one daughter from my previous marriage. She’s mine and I know it intrinsically. She has my DNA and a tiny amount of her (alcoholic) mother’s traits. I got custody of her when she was 13 after my first divorce. I raised her (with the help?) of my serial cheater wife #2. I no longer have to suffer her either. Divorce was finalized on 29 June this year. BUT TODAY. TODAY let me tell you about my DD. She’s almost through college. She’ll graduate next year. She works out 6 times a week, has a loving husband that does not cheat, has bought a home and is working on getting another after graduating. SHE IS MIGHTY!!!! She always tells me how I’m the Best Dad anyone could have.

    I am so proud of who she is Becoming even given the ADVERSITY she faced with 2 fucked up “Moms”. So your kids will develop and analyze their pasts in the light of WHAT YOU DID.

    Now, Hope… You must saddle up, and move out to your New Horizon. Your youngins’ will be out there navigating the Big Shiny World while you sit back and watch & guide them.

    The second half of this movie has yet to be made. You’re the Director. AND ACTION!!!

  • I don’t know what I would do without advice and support from people who GET IT! Ex NotAPilot has been working super hard at damage control with the Kids and JustANumber. (You all give such great nicknames!). He is so used to being the star of the show. I picture him as a clown in the uniform he has dishonored for years(can you say”coworker/Admirals’s wife”?).I had no idea. I was so proud to be a Navy wife. Now I am proud to be a Navy/Marine Corps Mom. I desperately want to be able to say”whatever” when he becomes the costar of the latest event. I’m trying so hard to get there…..But finding my own identity and respect has been painful for us all. I’m right there with many of you wishing for the Karma Bomb to drop on the jerks, and feeling like less of a person for it. Thank you Chump Lady and Chump Nation.

    • There is nothing wrong with wishing for the karma bus, just don’t sit around waiting for it. You have better things to do.

    • “Never abandon the moral high ground”
      (The Art of War). You deserve the rank…he needs a dishonorable discharge. He IS dishonorable discharge.

  • Thanks Chump Lady!
    The kid will find a worn copy of this in my night stand when I die.
    I know that sounds morose but this one will be with me for a long time.
    Truly appreciate the support.

  • Hope, you wrote, “Our children deserved a mother who didn’t pass their father’s low opinion of her down to her children.”

    This is a harsh example of what happens when chikdren identify with the abuser. I’ve been going through this now for months with adult children making me out as someone I am not.

    In a perfect world there would be no victims. I’d suggest you see a therapist to deal with your soon to be adult children. Anger needs to go somewhere as does blame.

    I spent a good amount of time thinking about the sacrifices I made to support my children. Then in pops the verbally abusive comments the limited made fir years, right out of the daughter who abandoned her child. They’ve learned what works and manipulate.

    It’s difficult to stay calm, however you need support to stop yourself from being put in the position of defending yourself. A good therapist is necessary. And you do have to let them go in order to change sometimes.

    Kids do what works for them. You need to do what works best for yourself. The rest will follow.

    • Yes, doingme…they learn by example. We all have to unlearn. Ironically I’ve raised a strong, independent DD(with a side of anxiety). Hate,hate,hate hearing their father’s pet phrases spoken by them. Starting to point them out gently. I am not the fun police trying to ruin the party like EX used to tell them. Hate that joke too…..

  • This is so beautiful. What an enormous and loving heart you carry with you every day.

    I don’t know how old they are (only have time to skim at work) and I don’t know if this actual text is the right way to do it, but I couldn’t help thinking that this beautiful “poem” would mean a lot to your children.

    A lot of times people think kids can’t handle things that they can. Yet, when we wear the shoes ourselves, we want to know that people understand why the thing they have been doing does not work, that they know why, and that we plan to work hard to do better/different, then it builds trust for them to see us do it.

    This is just food for thought. I will bet, though, that your kids know how loving you are AND know more than you might even realize about their father. It might deepen your intimacy with them if you tell them you wish you had done better for them in the past and you’re doing the work to be stronger in the future.

    Maybe you have already done that. If so, I hope it drew them close to you. It would be so sad if they felt apprehensive to run toward your beautiful heart for any reason.

    My best to you.

  • The SANE Parent. I was told by Chump Lady to be the sane parent. It was echoed by those of you in Chump Nation to be the sane parent. My lawyer told me to be the sane parent. Some of my family told me to be the sane parent. Being the sane parent is HARD! But the rewards far outweigh anything else you can do while raising kids with a dickhead.

    My EX Husband is the worst Narcissistic Sociopath my therapist has dealt with in her career. My EX ranks in the top 5 worst exes my lawyer has dealt with in over 30 years of practice. Be the sane parent I heard.

    My advice to all of you is be the SANE PARENT NO MATTER HOW HARD IT IS.
    When I left my EX, my sons were 9 and 12. My EX put them in the middle of just about anything he could. From my description above, you can only imagine the kind of shitstorm the boys and I have lived through. I was always there for the boys. Always there to handle their problems, their fights, their tears, their disappointments, everything. They trusted me, they believed me and they knew I would figure out some way to handle whatever situation arose.

    They are 20 and 17 now. My oldest has some of the EX’s traits – as my therapist says sometimes the Nature vs Nurture thing is hard to escape. But he’s still a good kid. I often wonder if I had taken them earlier if things would be different. My 17 year old has learned a lot. I have shown him that taking any kind of shit from anyone including a family member is wrong. That you need to stand up for yourself and demand respect. He’s a go – getter and works hard at his job and in school. He sees his dad for what he’s worth (which is not much) and treats him as such.

    One of the keys is to have a good support group – friends and family that will listen and advise. I am so fortunate to have friends that share my disdain for dickhead and we have happily plotted revenge plans against him – all in fun of course!

    Last July after 7 years, dickhead finally signed the divorce papers. Next year our youngest will be emancipated, so no more custody rules or child support. I am hoping that it will mean complete no contact as well.

    In the meantime I will continue to be the SANE Parent – and I will know in my heart that although some days it was the hardest thing to do, that it was the best thing I could have done for my kids.

    • I relate to this so much with my kid’s dad. It is so hard! Hugs to you. And congratulations for raising some adults.

  • I used to be a better father. Back when my first one was little, I did it all: trips, games, shuttling to school and doctors’ visits, reading to her every night; I was on the board of her afterschool, I chaperoned school trips; I used to have huge birthday parties with bouncy houses and made scavenger hunts for all the kids in the neighborhood. I did all the cooking, all the bill-keeping, all the household maintenance, most of the cleaning. Oh, and I had a full-time job as a university teacher. I just can’t do it any more. If I’m honest, my energy level dropped after the second kid; I couldn’t keep up with three kids and virtually no help from my wife. (To be fair, she did do clothes and birthday presents).

    I have more free time now that XW has them 50%, but I’m still reeling from the loss of identity during the devalue and discard. I don’t have my fathering mojo back. This is, in a way, what I blame her for the most: even when I have the kids, they’re not getting the father I used to be. My eldest is off to Harvard next week, so I guess I did right by her, but I really really don’t know how the next two are going to turn out. They deserve better from me, and they’re not getting it because I”m barely treading water. I get angry thinking of all the emotional effort I’ve put into trying to understand why she abandoned us, trying to rebuild a life in a new place with zero friends … all that energy should have been going to my kids, but instead it’s diverted to just trying to get some middle-aged guy’s head straight. My kids deserve better from me now, and it’s killing me that I can’t deliver it.

    • Reeling from the loss is understandable and finite. Be kind to yourself as you go lightly over the heavy ground. You will get your mojo back.

    • I hear you, InvolntaryGekrgian, loud and clear.
      With exh1, my sons were 9 and 3… Those early years my sons did not get the mom they knew and loved, I made it through, you will too!!!

    • Amen, brother! My story is eerily similar to yours except my physician ex spouse tricked me into moving to a different southern state and our kids were very young. Completely agree, I was an A+ mom who did all the things but have struggled to parent to my own very high standards for myself since being intentionally isolated in a new place by the fuckwit. Our spouses are terrible parents no matter what they do. They committed unspeakable acts by tricking us into these moves.

      • That happened to me too. I got tricked into moving to a different state together, then he left us there to move back to the original state with his adultery partner. So then I was here with the kids, no friends, no job, isolated. It took a long time to find my place here but I did eventually get involved in a church, got back job, found some good friends. Finding the friends was the hardest part.

    • Please don’t be so hard on yourself, Involuntary Georgian. It sounds like you were a super dad when you were younger. Not many can sustain the activity and energy level from our younger years. It totally sucks what your cheating ex did to you during the devalue and discard phase. Cheating is abusive. You are a great dad. Stay strong. You deserve so much better. May healing and validation and peace come your way.

  • You are the SANE parent. The one holding up the sky and being there – consistently trying to do right by them, yourself and the world at large.

    They deserve a better dad, but he can’t be bothered. That is not a problem of YOUR making.

    You’re doing better than you realize and hopefully they will appreciate it in the future, if not at the moment. That is an amazing accomplishment and I hope you can appreciate it sometimes too.

    Brie & wine for all! Or beer and pizza. Whatever you fancy.

  • Hope Springs,
    I will admit to not reading every response to your beautiful message. Putting my own chumpdom aside, I re-read your prose as a son hearing that. It moved me to tears. I WISH I had heard some of those things. My single mother was a bit detached, emotionally stunted, non-confrontational, etc. Despite years of self-inspection and work, I’m still unpacking a lot of her baggage.

    As a son, I want to give you a big and long hug until YOU let go. Any parent that can say that to a child is a parenting superhero. And assuming your kids are teen or older, they don’t owe the cunt step-mother a damm thing. He doesn’t get to dictate who they respect. I learned a long time ago that respect CANNOT be demanded. It must be EARNED. They should express something like “Dad, you can’t tell me how to feel. These are MY feelings and you need to honor them or I’ll text you a fuck-off message”. Let karma take over.

    You’re amazing and I wish you peace. Love yourself. You’re not his bitch anymore.

    • Preach Sax Daddy! Hope Springs, here’s the authority on How To Reapond to the pond scum X and the new Mrs. Pond Scum.

  • Hope Springs, the fact that you agonise over whether you have been a good mother shows that you definitely are a good mother. It doesn’t even occur to bad parents to evaluate their parenting.
    I hope that one day you might be able to show what you have written to your children. You might all cry together, but what you have written shows so beautifully the depth of your love for them. You may be surprised at how much they already understand about how much their father hurt you and you will be able to move on into a great new future together. You are a strong and mighty woman with enormous love for your kids. I wish you every happiness.

  • As I type I am riding away from my freshman DS with my parents and DS’s girlfriend after moving him into his dorm at a major university in my state…. I am proud , happy and sad all at once! He has been ghosted by his father but lucky to have had basic financial support. DS EARNED almost all his college finances through need base and scholarships his dads contributions 0 with the exception of intermittently calling and texts GREAT FOR ME ☹️HEARTBREAKING AND SAD FOR DS..💩
    I have not done everything perfect in the last few years but I have done the adulting , cajoling, cheerleading and Crying with DS & DD 🌟
    I GET The Amazing,Awful & Awesome to me it has been worth it all 🎉JUST PRICELESS 🌈
    I guess life without us has been perfect for
    💩Sucky McCheaterpants too 💩

  • Hope Springs, I am now a chump but many moons ago, I was a daughter of divorced parents. Believe me, as long as your are there to offer love and support, you will always be the parent your children will turn to in their time of need. You will be the parent they turn to when entering into their own long-term relationships and/or marriage. You will be the parent to share successes and defeats.

    You haven’t let them down – quite the opposite, you have been more there more than you realize. Hope is eternal, just as your love has been and always will be.

  • My children deserve a different father. I deserved a different husband. We’re stuck with this one.
    Your children deserve a different past, it’s true. And so do you. You’re stuck with this one.
    You did the best you could with the information you had at the time.Now you have more information, and you have Chump Nation. Now you know things you didn’t know before.
    Until time travel is invented, forwards is the only path. Courage, mon brave, my mother used to say, God knows why she dipped into French at such moments but she did. Onwards and upwards. Teach your children about joy, because that’s something that cheating fuckers have no concept of. They wouldn’t recognise bliss if it poked them in the eye. Travel towards bliss.

  • Wow, these posts are so timely. My heart breaks for my children because of the situation and try as I might, some things get left behind because it is not two parents anymore bearing the responsibility, just the one. On the bright side, we have grown closely because where I would arrange family times on the rare occasions stbx would spend with us, now I do my thing, no need to wait in vain anymore. Family is the most important thing, we know that, why don’t they get it???

  • I think of all the things that piss me off, one of the most disgusting is when a cheater wants his children to treat a whore who participated in destroying their home life “with respect”. Where was the respect when the cheaters were out fucking behind the Quicky Mart? It is just the ultimate in disrespect to even expose your children to these bottom feeding skanks.

  • This is timely. with my youngest graduating suddenly not only is there no more child support, he decided no more visitations, only an occasional dinner (maybe once a month).
    I’m struggling and in the trenches and there isn’t much thanks. Oldest just moved to campus and got yelled at by both dad and step mom about the way in which she handled it. Who came through at the last minute with a truck? Me. Who gets handled with kid gloves? Him. If he pays for something ( he make 3 times what i do) he gets serious bitch cookies. (and he does, but it comes with strings)
    Who gets told I’m not empathetic when he has a minor medical issue? Me. ( i mean, did he die? no he didn’t.)
    Its get ooooold. But i keep on trying. I think the kids know, but sometimes, they are pretty tough on me if i even hint at being un-meh or speaking a truth.
    *sigh* this just turned into a vent.

  • Bel,
    My Ex has tried to alienate me but my advice is to always take the high road no matter how difficult. At first the brain washing will work but if your ex is disordered (like most cheaters are), she will usually create the rope that will hang herself.
    Your kids will start noticing that what she says doesn’t match what she does or did. Meanwhile they can totally coulnt on you. She constantly bad mouths you but you never bad mouth anyone (this is very hard but critical — never bad mouth her or her family in front of them).

    In time, they will realize how she is and how you are and it will be OK. I’ve been there and I know that your kids believing her lies is a knife to your heart and makes you crazy with anger but stick to the high road and LONG TERM it will work out.

  • Dear Hope Springs

    I have (literally) written a book on Making Peace with Divorce, and I think that after 5 years, I have made peace with mine. I’m more or less meh with him qua husband. And I am (now) delighted that I am no longer married to that bollockhead.

    However your post resonated with me because my kids deserved a better mother, and, more than that, they deserved a better father.

    I still feel enormous regret that I allowed things to get as bad as they did during my marriage and separation. I suffer with all the ‘shoulds’. I feel I set a poor example to my kids and that they deserved better. But I much as I wish my kids had had a better mother, the failings of their father hurt much more. I was weak. He is a disaster. I am not meh about him qua father of my children.

    For their sakes I want them to have a good relationship with him, yet wonder how they can after what he has done and continues to do (or fail to – not only eg not paying court ordered child support, never taking them on holidays etc, but not even so much as remembering birthdays).

    And yet one of the three has left us to live with him. Yes, I cried non stop and that must have been unbearable. Yes, he has a pad in town while I have been forced to downsize to the arse of the universe. Yes it maybe is pretty cool, when you are a teenager, to live with someone who doesn’t give a shit whether you are eating well, or how you are getting home, and who can pay someone to do the laundry and cleaning so is neither dog-tired nor nagging. But my heart aches for her as well as for the two who live with me and know they have a dead beat dad.

    These responses above have inspired me. Reminded me to think of the ways in which I have been a good parent rather than my failings and his. Philip Larkin was right: ‘They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do. They fill you with all the faults they had and add some extra, just for you.’ So I tell myself it’s not just me, and I am a good enough parent. Sounds like you are too. Courage, mon brave, indeed.

  • That bit, in CL’s response, about your own child becoming entitled and narcissistic…just like his dad…this is my greatest fear.
    The kid is still young, but sometimes I wonder if he lacks the empathy gene. He works hard to emotionally manipulate me and has a hard time admitting to less-than behavior, or showing remorse for it. My future kid scares me.
    Considering family counseling with his fuckwit dad, after being minuscule contact for a good year. I’ve given up trying to coparent with him because he’s always distracted, dismissing, responsibility dodging, blaming,
    then tells you what he thinks you want to hear. Some days, I can’t hide my disgust about his dad from my kid and I feel it’s affecting him badly. That, and the traveling back and forth to the next town in the middle of the school week. My son has one of those ‘good dads,’ if you can look past the stupid things he does, like skipping the carseat frequently, or offering the kid constant gifts to get him to do anything. Basically he spends lots of time and money on him.
    But I have a hard time forgiving him over lying in custody mediation while pretending to want reconciliation; and forgiving me, for being a hot mess, not standing up for myself and hiring a shit lawyer. Our current arrangement allows OW more waking hours with my own child, and I will never forgive him for that.
    I’m working on being mighty finding the resources to go back to mediation cause I can’t keep goibg on like this, and my kid is suffering!
    I’m worried that if we end up going back to mediation (required,) or court, he will exploit my weaknesses and try to prove me unfit, to punish me for taking him to court. His immediate family are lawyers. Trying to have faith and bot sabotage my efforts.

  • Sending my hugs to you Hope Springs. Yes, our children deserve the best and I know that each one of us is struggling to achieve that. We may not be the best parent in the world but what’s important is that we are trying and doing our best for them.

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