Moms vs. Dads

My apologies to any male readers I may have. This is going to be very general and I readily admit the sample size is extremely limited.

I’ve talked before about a board I read regularly that consists of primarily moms and step moms. One of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that a few of the step moms married men who traveled extensively for work and left the new wife (or not so new wife) in charge of the household and kids. Generally speaking, in most of these cases the mom ran off and basically left dad with the kids. In one instance the youngest kid is a complete mess- defiant, on drugs off and on, doing poorly in school, abuse issues from the mother, probably has some educational issues, as well. And yet, Dad travels and lets stepmom handle it. Stepmom has stepped up to the point where she feels that he is her kid now. This happens to be the situation where Mom originally had custody and Dad fought like hell and spent a small fortune to gain 60% physical custody. It eventually ended up where none of the boys actually spent a weekend or an overnight with their mom. They would go over and visit, or they would have dinner together.

What did the dads in these situations do before they got a new wife? Nannies, I believe. They hired full-time live-in childcare so they could continue to travel for work.

Again, this is a very small sample size- I’m talking probably 3 or 4 instances where Dad travels all the time and the stepmom raises the kids for him.

On the other hand, there were several single moms on that board. They weren’t remarried. They managed to raise their kids with very little outside help. They would frequently mention that they could make more money if they were willing to travel but because they had kids they chose not to. After all, who would watch the kids? The moms seemed to focus more on what kinds of hours they were going to have to work and what kind of a commute they were looking at in order to ensure that they were available for their minor children.

Now I know that there are women out there who work constantly. I know there are women who are more focused on their career than on their kids and who leave the bulk of the caregiving up to their husbands; however, I think it’s much more common the other way around.

If I haven’t been clear, I have two brothers. One of them is divorced and remarried. He works an odd schedule for his main job and he also owns his own business that he works when he’s not working his main job. His main job also requires him to be on site for 24 hours at a time. When he first divorced his wife he desperately wanted his daughter to come live with him. He impressed me with the plans he had, knowing that it was going to take some creative scheduling to make everything work. He was going to hire a local college student to be a sort of nanny for her (his daughter was already 12 at that point so she didn’t need a whole lot of babysitting, just someone to be there and get her where she needed to be). His main job had a schedule of 1 on, 1 off, 1 on, 1 off, 1 on, 3 off so he actually had quite a bit of time off from that position; his second job would allow him to go in after he got his daughter off to school and to be home in the evenings. He was the owner so he made his schedule. And then he got married again. His daughter did come live with him and he turned around and he handed over almost all responsibilities for his daughter to his new wife. He was busy working.

Cousinfucker never had to juggle raising kids with climbing the corporate ladder. I’m not even on a corporate ladder (it’s more like one of those flat walking escalators like you see in airports) but I’m working and raising kids. My schedule is set around my kids and their needs to a certain extent. And if something is going on within those working hours then I have to figure out how to get the kid from Point A to Point B.

I work most Saturdays. It is the one day during the week that I can stay later and pick up a few additional hours since I leave at 7 most mornings. But anytime my daughter needs to be up at the school on a Saturday (and she seems to always need to be up there!) I end up rearranging my schedule. Sometimes I leave at 7. Sometimes 8. Sometimes I make it until 9 or 9:30. I do this because I love her and I feel it’s my responsibility as her mother to get her where she needs to be. I don’t want her missing out on things because I work, but every time I have to leave early it means I miss out on 2-3 hours of additional work.  Granted, it comes out to less than $33 but over the course of a month that adds up.

I’ve often thought about seeing if Jezebel’s discarded Husband #2 could possibly get me a job working at his company but his job requires him to travel. I wouldn’t mind traveling actually but I have two kids to raise. And this isn’t a job where you occasionally travel. It is pretty much Monday-Friday you’re in a different state.

Cousinfucker never had to worry about what was going to happen to the kids when he was away on business. He never had to make arrangements for his annual meeting. He just told me the dates and off he went. I handled everything and he was free to concentrate on impressing the VPs.

I find it interesting that moms tend to concentrate on the kids while dads tend to concentrate on their jobs. I wonder if that’s because we’re so socialized to see men as the providers and women as the nurturers. Nevertheless, it’s disturbing to see so many men so eager to hand over the rearing of their children to their current partner.

Recently a co-worker was telling me about a fight she was having with her husband. His son had messed up and now wanted to go out with friends. Dad’s response? Ask your stepmom. And then he gets upset because he feels like he doesn’t have a voice in his household.

I’m sitting there thinking, “Well, yeah, you’re correct and he should have consequences for what he’s done. But it’s not up to you to impose them; it’s on his father.” I find it amazing that a grown man can’t make parenting decisions about his own child and instead asks his wife, who is not the mother of this child, to make the decision.

I suppose it’s possible that he just didn’t want to be seen as the bad guy. It’s also possible that the kid’s mom is completely out of the picture and my co-worker has stepped up as his other parent. It’s not a model I wish to employ and it’s also one of the reasons I have no desire to date.

I don’t need a man coming in and telling me how to raise my kids. I don’t need a man who has known them for all of five minutes coming in and pointing out all of my mistakes and trying to take the reins. No thank you! I’ve been doing this for sixteen years. I’ve got it.

I know there are women who hand over the reins of control to their new man as well. I don’t want to make it sound like I believe all women are saints who dote on their children and would never put a man before their own offspring. I know that’s not true. Additionally, I know there are some awesome dads out there as well. Ones who change diapers, go to parent-teacher conferences, make dinner and do the day to day tasks. But in just regular everyday situations where everyone is sane it does seem like more males quickly hand over the parenting duties to whichever woman with whom he happens to be living. She concentrates on the day to day tasks associated with raising kids while he concentrates on working and making money.

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6 thoughts on “Moms vs. Dads

  1. My only direct experience with this kind of situation was with my sister who married a divorced man with two boys and she brought three girls of her own to the marriage. Both were the cheated on spouse and not the cheater. He came to the marriage with a team approach to raising all of the kids together equally and must have trusted the character of my sister enough to seek our her guidance for issues with them. She was in all ways an authority figure to the boys. On the other hand my sister did not let her new husband have any role or influence over her children. She didn’t ask his opinion and even on minor issues countered whatever his potential solution was. I witnessed this first hand on numerous family holidays and shared vacations. Consequently, her girls learned they could get away with murder by ignoring their stepfathers wished (mind you – IN HIS OWN HOUSE – they moved into his home) and ran roughshod over their new, younger brothers. The man was not an ogre and tried to love my sister until he couldn’t take any more attitude from the girls and lack of respect. I love my sister but I heard her say the exact words from your post so many times almost to the letter “I don’t need a man coming in and telling me how to raise my kids. I don’t need a man who has known them for all of five minutes coming in and pointing out all of my mistakes and trying to take the reins.” That attitude cost her that marriage after her first husband had cheated on her repeatedly for their entire 15 year marriage. She was sure no man was going to tell her or her girls anything. I felt she needed to compromise, saying “You moved into his home of ten years and are a family so you’re both in charge. Don’t be married roommates and think your kids are separate entities.” I liked him, he adored her, worshiped her, loved her daughters, but was told he had no right to place expectations on three of the children growing up in their blended family. They’ve been divorced 3 years now and she deeply regrets it now that her girls are out of the house. She wishes she had a loving, reasonable, stable husband. I told her – “I believe you did have that and you pushed it away because you were angry at husband #1. You should have saved everyone the time and trouble by just staying divorced until they grew up.”

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    1. To be fair I did say that’s why I have no interest in dating. And for the record there is no way I would ever let my kids ride roughshod over my fictitious new husband or his fictitious kids. When I say I don’t need anyone coming in and telling me how to parent I am talking about not needing someone coming in and telling me I shouldn’t let my kids do X or I should make them do Z. I’m taking about someone coming in and deciding that they’ve set the gold standard in child rearing and I need to change everything I’m doing to suit them. I’m talking about someone deciding he doesn’t like how I’ve raised them this far, at ages 14 and 16, and he’s going to impose a whole new set of rules. I’m not talking about letting them rummage through his crap, breaking his stuff, torturing his kids, or being mouthy disrespectful brats to him. I would never allow that.

      Honestly there’s not much about blended family life that I like. I think the kids usually get screwed over in these situations, one way or another. I don’t see it ever being “my thing”. I’m good with that.

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  2. To clarify, my sister had every right to be angry at husband #1, the cheater. He was a monster and no one in my family forgives one scintilla of his behavior. However, I fell that someone who comes along afterward and didn’t cheat on you doesn’t deserve to be the target of anger, lack of trust, or deemed unqualified to possess opinions about child rearing.

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    1. Sorry, I was typing on my phone and I hate typing long replies on my phone.

      You seem to be under the impression that the only reason I don’t want someone coming in and taking over is because I’m angry at CF. That’s not accurate. I’ve *always* had this point of view. I think the people who are responsible for bringing the kids into this world should be the ones raising them. I believed that even when I was married. I’ve seen way too many new spouses come along and control the relationship between parent and child. It is rarely to the child’s advantage.

      My views have nothing to do with the new husband being untrustworthy or incapable of having an opinion on childrearing. I’m sure he’s quite capable of raising his own children. My children aren’t his. And I will point out again that my kids are already more than halfway to adulthood. By the time my divorce is final they will be almost 17 and 15. I don’t see a lot of blending going on in my situation even if I thought it was an amazing idea.

      Ironically, both of my kids tell me that they wouldn’t mind having a stepfather. I would be fine with someone who wanted to support them in their endeavors. Someone who could be a friend to them. Someone who was willing to take them out and do things with them that I have no interest in doing. Hell, I might even occasionally be willing to bounce ideas off of this imaginary fellow. But what I’m not going to do is hand over control of my kids to him. THAT was the main point of the post. It was about the observations I’ve made regarding people, mostly men, who seem to throw up their hands and let the new wife take complete control over their kids.

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  3. I don’t disagree at at all. Everyone is free to do as they wish. The shame of it was she wasn’t explicit as you are about her boundaries and expectations regarding her children. She said she was caught up in the romance and not the reality that would follow. I have the sense that wouldn’t be an issue with you.

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