I like Facebook. I believe I have recounted how it allows me to stay in contact with the various people I have met throughout my life. I’ve moved a lot, supporting CF’s climb up the ladder, and it’s a wonderful way to keep up with people I would have otherwise lost touch. Currently, I don’t post a whole lot on Facebook. My first attorney advised me to keep most stuff off of there (I’m guessing he was speaking about divorce matters, not whether or not I went cherry picking or bought a new dress) and my life hasn’t exactly been a good kind of exciting lately so I don’t post a lot. I do, however, try to keep up with others. I’m frequently wishing people a happy birthday or happy anniversary. I’m liking things and commenting. Anyway, I came across a post yesterday that really stuck in my craw. It was from someone I went to elementary school with before my parents divorced and we moved.
The post was giving a shout out to her ex and his family for hosting a going away party for their shared son. That part was fine. But she goes on to say that the best gift you can give your children after a divorce is to “get along” with the other parent and their spouse. She also adds in how sad it makes her when people don’t remember the positives from their relationship, despite the blessings that resulted from them (i.e. the children). She warns that your children will remember how you handled the early years and that you will see this person many times over the coming years- graduations, weddings, births, birthday parties…
Some of the comments were just as infuriating. One person said that the best attitude is to realize that it’s not a “broken” home it’s only a “change” in living arrangements. Another said that even as they negotiate this “new change” in their relationship that they continue to be family. Someone else said she always feels sorry for the kids caught between fighting parents and that her friend feels whenever she puts her child’s father down she is putting the child down as well.
I haven’t replied to any of this because I don’t think my comments would be very helpful; it is obvious to see that many people think this is a wonderful thing and fully support the whole “let’s be buddies for the sake of our kids” philosophy. If I did reply I think it would go a little like this: I think the best gift you can give to your kids is to love their mother or father and not get a divorce. I suppose getting along would be the next best thing you could do for your kids but sometimes that is not possible, especially when dealing with adultery, abandonment, addiction, and/or abuse.
I will be honest. I’ve always wondered if two people were able to get along so well “for the sake of the children” why they couldn’t make their marriage work. If you’re going to hold joint birthday parties and graduation parties, go out to dinner, vacation together, hang out with one another, why not cut out the middleman and just stay married? Perhaps these are the divorces that so-called conservative Christians rail against, the ones where someone is simply not happy or they have fallen out of love or it’s just not exciting or “working” anymore (Oh, believe me, I’ve got a separate post coming about that very thing.). I suppose if my husband had come to me and said, “Sam, this isn’t working anymore; we’re both miserable. I want out,” and we had divorced with no other parties involved, I might feel a little more generous. I might be willing to put aside my hurt and go out to dinner with him and the kids to show them that “we’re still family!”. Might. Not a definite.
Unfortunately, sometimes it’s just not possible. I’m thinking of the woman who had a gun shoved in her face when she tried to leave. That man will never be welcome in her home. He’s not even welcome to know anything about her. I’m thinking about the person whose husband left with his cup of hot coffee still sitting on the counter, abandoning her and their two small children to go live with his stripper girlfriend on the other side of the country. I doubt she wants to discuss party arrangements with him. I’m thinking about the man who had to pay alimony to his cheating wife and had to fight for 50/50 custody of his kids. I don’t see him and the ex sitting together at school functions. Ultimately, I’m thinking about me.
My husband has done his level best to destroy our lives. He started out by moving us across the country and uprooting us from lives that we loved- all of us! Our kids were happy where we were. I was happy. The only person not happy was him. So we moved. To make him happy. And then once we began to adjust and adapt to our new lives he threw a grenade right into our laps. Surprise! I’m fucking my cousin! If that’s not bad enough he moves out of the damn state he moved us to without saying a word to even his children. And now… well, this has been the best trick of them all. He resigned from yet another job and isn’t paying a dime in child or spousal support, forcing us to move another 600 miles, forcing us to leave our home and move in with my mother. I swear to God, I think if the man thought he could get away with killing me he would.
He has lied; he has handed over thousands of dollars to the whore. While lying to me, of course. He has abandoned his children. I assure you he is not the type of person with whom I want to celebrate anything. He isn’t welcome in my home; he isn’t welcome in my life. Remaining friends with him would be akin to someone kidnapping one of my kids and then wanting to stay in touch with us after they were apprehended. Not gonna happen! Don’t betray me, stab me in the back and fuck me over and then act all shocked when I have no desire to remain friends with you.
The best attitude is to realize that it’s not a “broken” home it’s only a “change” in living arrangements? Oh, you are closer than you think, Mr. Commenter. Yeah, my kids have definitely experienced a change in living arrangements. Their dear old dad has blown up their lives spectacularly once again and their living arrangements are now 600 miles from where they were living. Their original home is definitely broken. I do a damn fine job of raising and loving these kids, but I never intended to be a single parent. I waited until I was married to have children for a reason; I fully intended to raise these children in an intact home with my husband. Their lives as they knew them are over.
And you? The person who believes that despite your divorce, this new change in your relationship as you call it, you are still family with the ex? Yes, you! You are not family anymore. Divorce ends families; it doesn’t create them or make them better. Please don’t get me wrong. I think you can probably end up with a much better situation overall in certain cases, but to act as though divorce is some wonderful thing is just, well, just ridiculous. You and your ex are no longer related. You are no longer family. You may certainly choose to spend copious amounts of time with a lying, cheating sonofabitch if you wish, but you don’t have to. And if your ex isn’t a lying, cheating sonofabitch, well maybe that right there is why you don’t have a problem hanging around with him.
To the person who thinks it’s so sad when kids are caught between fighting parents: I agree that if the parents really are forcing the kids to choose sides or preventing a relationship with the other parent that is terrible. However, not every child is in that situation and just because mommy and daddy don’t have joint birthday parties and sit next to each other at ball games doesn’t mean that little Emily or little Aiden will be psychologically damaged. Again, divorce ends families. If you’re so worried about Emily or Aiden and their need to see their parents getting along try not getting a fucking divorce! That might help.
And as for your friend who feels that if she ever puts her child’s father down she is putting him down? Get a grip! Your spouse and your child do not morph into the same person because they share half of their DNA. In my case my husband is a lying, cheating, cousin fucking, jobless waste of skin who is constantly playing the victim card and really expects people to feel sorry for him. He is what he is. My denying that reality doesn’t protect my kids. Accepting that reality doesn’t mean that I think either of my kids are lying, cheating, cousin fucking, jobless wastes of skin who are constantly playing the victim card and really expect people to feel sorry for them. Believe it or not, they are actually two separate people from me and their father!
I will say I don’t think it’s a good idea to tear down your child’s other parent. I also don’t feel that a person does anything wrong by telling the truth, even if the truth isn’t always flattering. I think there is a big difference between, “You know that your mother does not accept any differences in opinion,” or “You are obviously aware that your father has difficulty with the truth,” and “Your mom is a lying, cheating whore and she’s fucked the entire neighborhood. She never wanted you and I had to promise her I would take care of you so she wouldn’t place you for adoption!” or “Your dad is a horrible person who has never loved you! He walked away without a moment of regret. He’s replacing you with the whore and her kids and don’t you ever forget that!”
As for the milestones- the graduations, weddings, births, grandchildren’s birthday parties… In my case I don’t think I will even have to worry about it. But even if I thought he’d be around it’s not necessary to celebrate those occasions “with” him. I can attend a graduation without ever setting eyes on him. I’m sure there will be lots of people at their graduations that I don’t ever see. Why make an exception for him? The actual graduation party? Eh, that might be a little more difficult but I bet I could throw a party for either kid and not ever interact with him or anyone in his family if they bothered to show up. It wouldn’t even be awkward; it would simply be the way things worked out what with me being so busy and tending to other guests (you know, the ones I actually like and want to see). Weddings? If he’s there I’ll deal with it but I don’t see a need to speak to him. I don’t have to sit with him and we won’t be taking pictures together. I’m almost positive neither of my kids are going to want a picture with us together. He kind of ruined that with the whole “cheating on their mom” thing. I don’t foresee us needing to eat the wedding meal together so hooray for separate tables. We won’t be dancing together. There is absolutely nothing that the parents of the bride (or groom) are expected to do together. Birth of the grandchildren should I be so lucky? I’ll just come when he’s not there. Easy peasy. The only one that might be tricky would be grandkids’ birthday parties but I’m fairly certain I could find plenty of people to interact with instead of trying to act all chummy with him.
Finally, this idea that the best gift I can give my kids includes getting along with his new spouse is hilarious! That whore is not welcome anywhere around me or my children. Period. If, one day, my kids decide they want to give her a chance, fine. I hope they are both wise enough to realize that I will never give her a chance. I will never be friends with her. I will never be gracious to her. I will never go out of my way to make her feel comfortable. I will never co-host a shower or any kind of event with her. I will never ask her opinion on any such matters. That bitch had better be satisfied with me not trying to shank her at the graduation ceremony!
I think it’s a lovely idea my friend has; I just don’t think it works for too many people. I think whenever you’re dealing with what I like to call The Four Big A’s- Addiction, Adultery, Abuse, Abandonment, you are dealing with many complicated issues that go far beyond slapping a smile on your face and pretending that everything is okay, as though sitting side by side at a graduation is going to make everything all better. I also think this push to be friendly and to put aside all of our differences for the sake of the children is hurtful to all of us out there who have been traumatized and/or victimized by our exes. Maybe it’s easy for me to say that because I know how my kids feel about their dad right now. Maybe I would feel differently if they felt differently towards him. Maybe not. I don’t believe that cheaters are entitled to your forgiveness or to your friendship after a divorce.