My D-day was over 3 years ago now and the divorce has been final for over a year. I have taken your advice and other than the “when and where” of our child exchange I do not engage in contact with the ex at all.
Unfortunately that does not stop him from contacting me. By e-mail only — I won’t answer a call or text unless my son is with him and he knows by now if it is not specifically about my son I’ll hang up.
Unfortunately his daughter / my step daughter just graduated high school and has moved out of his house. All the schmoopies have dumped him and since we live in a small town he’s having trouble finding a new one. Which means he’s bored and lonely. I have no worries for myself. There’s not a shot in hell of him ever getting near me again. I avoid him like I would a toxic waste dump. But he’s all about using his son to fill in his empty life now. In 13 years he never attended a doctors appointment (of which there are literally millions since my son is disabled) teachers conference, school concert or play, sports game, even a surgery (there have been multiple) — you get the picture.
Now he wants to be told of every move the boy makes so he can decide if he wants to attend — and he has been attending way more than before. Not all of them mind — just when there isn’t something more interesting to do. This will not last. This is the guy who didn’t show when his son as having surgery because “Well, you’ll be there and it’s not like I’ll be doing anything” even when we were married and skipped his kid’s ball games to go to Schmoopy’s kid’s game — because they were playing “real baseball” and my son’s was “just for disabled kids.”
How do I protect my boy? Both from getting his heart broke when he goes back to being unimportant and from the terrible influence the ex is. (Drinking, smoking, snuff, filthy mouth, porn, zero respect for others — I could go on and on but you get my drift.)
My ex calls even statements of fact like “tobacco is bad for you” or “swearing is rude” parental alienation. I never call the ex names (out loud) lest my son overhear. I never say HE is doing something wrong. But I’m sorry — tobacco IS bad for you, Promiscuous unprotected sex CAN cause disease. Excessive alcohol consumption or drinking and driving ARE dangerous. I’m not going to tell my ds otherwise. I do not bring these topics up in the context of the ex but they do come up — especially when ds starts asking the meaning of song lyrics. Besides responsible parents have these conversations with their teens.
If you can’t tell, I’m frustrated. Any “parenting when you’ve bred with a fuckwit” advice? (I won’t call it parenting with because there is no “with” going on.)
Don’t defend your sane parenting. Not to me, and especially not to a fuckwit. You are the show-up parent. The mighty mom who is caring for her disabled son. Not only are you parenting without support, you’re parenting while being actively, obnoxiously disrespected. This shit is HARD. He’s making it much harder.
That’s tragic. Because you deserve a medal for heroism and your son deserves a consistent, loving, invested parent.
And if you’re NOT going to get those things, fine. You’ll learn to manage without them. Instead, he’s doing the worst thing — showing up sporadically (intermittent kibbles for your son) — and trying to micromanage you.
This is the crux of the co-parenting with a fuckwit dilemma. You can’t “co” anything with them. It’s all about them. Your ex’s boredom. His schedule. His whims. His impression management.
As you’ve rightly surmised, if he were actually interested in responsible parenting, he would SHOW THE FUCK UP for the unglamorous shit — 13 years of doctor’s appointments, book reports, stomach flu, play dates, packed lunches, signed permission slips, or midnight runs for posterboard.
Now he’s indicating he might attend? If he finds it sufficiently interesting? Who made him Caesar?
This isn’t discussing the evening’s menu specials with a disgruntled patron. Your child isn’t an option. A child is a responsibility. An HONOR. A GIFT. It’s not your job to cajole a fuckwit into showing up. Shut. That. Shit. Down.
We live in a modern age with parenting software. Use it. Whatever your child’s schedule is that month, load it on that Family Wizard (or whatever you choose) and be done with it. Go about your life. Give your ex what the custody order decrees and nothing more.
He doesn’t show? Document it. He flakes out again, or wants another accommodation after the last 15 accommodations? NO. Then you go back to doing it all yourself. Expect nothing. He wails BUT MY ORDER SAYS I GET THIS! Crickets. Or you reply, (perhaps by attorney letter), “Your order also said you were supposed to show up the last 15 times and didn’t.” He wails PARENTAL ALIENATION! Ignore. Because you are the SHOW UP PARENT and he IS NOT. And you’ve documented that shit on your software.
He alienated his goddamn self by being a no-show fuckwit.
Smart, what’s he going to do? Seriously? Sue you for more time with a disabled child he can barely bother to see? Call that fucking bluff. Ignore his bleating. I don’t take fashion advice from hobos. You don’t take parenting advice from him.
If he’d like to escalate this with a letter from his attorney — that costs money. Remind yourself who is in the power seat doing the showing up — you are. Can you really imagine him going to court to complain that you said smoking is bad for your health? “But Your Honor, it IMPLIED my client was a Bad Person because he smokes!”
No. Just no. Judges see real shit. Terrible cases of abuse and neglect. Do you really think if a fuckwit managed to get on a docket with this kind of pissy stuff, it would end well? Don’t let your ex intimidate you. The days of you dancing to please him are GONE.
How do I protect my boy? Both from getting his heart broke when he goes back to being unimportant and from the terrible influence the ex is.
That’s your real problem — your son’s heart. Because you’re a loving mom, you would throw yourself on any grenade to keep your child safe. I get it. It’s one thing for your ex to devalue you, it’s another thing for him to devalue your son. Again and again. On your watch. That’s your heartbreak.
You don’t control the quality of your ex’s parenting. And to a lesser degree, we don’t control family court and the orders that force us to endure no-show fuckwits for 18 years. That leaves controlling yourself.
Your son is important to YOU. And you show him every day. You’re a GOOD influence. You influence him every day.
The world is full of dangers — cigarette smoke, drinking and driving, lead in the water supply — and unloving fuckwits. We parent our children anyway. In spite of. We navigate danger and mop up heartbreak.
The kids know it. They don’t always show it, because they’re kids. But they know who shows up. Sometimes the harder struggle is to know it ourselves — that we’re enough. That our sane parenting game is strong and that our cause is just.
Know it. (((Hugs))) You’re doing a great job.