|David Tennent in his role|
for the movie "Single Father"
...I'll just leave this here.
Don't let this title mislead you. There is a reason for it and I'm not just saying "ALL PARENTS: ABANDON SHIP!" I will not be posting any other pics to make reading this any easier. It's just that in regards to a friend of mine (if not several) who are single parents, both mothers & fathers. In this instance, I'm singling out the most recent of these friends, whom I will call "Tyler" since I do not want to reveal which single-parent role they are.
My buddy Tyler is the parent of 3 young children. They are about to put the final nail in their marriage come this month. Tyler's story is this: Tyler married an older spouse about 10+ years more than themselves. Right out of the gate, they had children. Tyler's marriage was a severely abusive one albeit not physically as much as mentally, emotionally, and psychologically. A year ago, Tyler found the strength to take their 3 children and got away from California to here in Spokane, WA. As a matter of fact, I met Tyler while we were having our hard-times last summer. While Ty's year went by with ups & downs, they did better & better in life. Ty got their NA-C for the state of Washington, got a great job, has fantastic childcare for the kids, and even had a relationship or two and still not hurting for options. Well, Tyler's soon to be ex-spouse decided it would be a STELLAR idea to move up closer to the family and recently came-up here "for the sake of the children" and was caught on Skype telling the youngest "We're going to be a family again!" Now, Tyler's friends and myself are trying to tell them "You need to cut this person off!" The almost-ex is, once again, trying to weasel themselves back into their lives and starting the emotional side of the abuse all over.
I've had chats with Tyler about this but Ty is just so set in the phrase "...but the kids need their [other parent]" Well, I've been thinking about that. Just now, I finally had an epiphany for this:
How badly do children need both parents if one or both are proving to be a bad example?
Think about that for a bit. Let it marinate. Say it out loud if it helps you process. How bad do they need both if one of them constantly and without sincere regret acts like an asshole? bully? thug? douche bag? bitch? warden?
Let's put some qualifiers to this.
Step 1: Congrats! You just separated from your insig. other. You have decided to take the kids with you. Proceed to step 2.
Step 2: You now have a choice. Do you
A. Let the kids visit or chat/video chat/call the other parent?
B. Cut-off all communications until legal court-approved parenting plans are in place?
You see, my generation (us 80's kids) grew-up as the divorce rate was on the steep incline. Most of them shared some kind of split-custody whether they liked it or not. It was a given. When the 90's hit, was all about what state you lived in depending who got ya: Mommy or Daddy. I hear Washington is a Mommy state while Oregon is a Daddy State. But in the '00s, there came the propaganda where "Children need both parents in their lives." Now, it was kind of sexist advertising since the exact phrase used the word "Daddies", but honestly, it works both ways. But you gotta think, what were the circumstances in which the relationship broke?
This is what I want people to start considering when debating whether it's worth it or not to have the other parent in the children's lives. Yeah, things got kind of fucked up there in the end. I get that. But why would you want your children's other parent around if they called you names. Especially in front of them? Why would you want a person who treated you as a slave (either labor or sexually) in your kids' lives? How does this make your kids better people in the future having someone who is a consistent bad example to the human experience showing your kids how to function as an adult? The short answer: You don't. There are ways you can ban a bad parent from being a major part of your children's lives if they are abusive. If you can prove abuse, then go out there and prove it. If you can move far far away without fear of the other parent trying to find you...RUN! But don't just dial in their number to Skype with them just because "the kids need this person in their lives because their DNA matches."
The same goes the other way around. You separate the relationship NOT because things got hairy, or because the relationship was toxic. You leave with the kids because the other cheated, or because you fell in love with someone else (or vice versa), or just because you fell OUT of love. Is that grounds to keep the kids away? Not even close. In that instance, YES! The other parent SHOULD be a part of the kid's lives! If they still love the kids, was at least a good parent, and still respects you, or at least can be civil without ultimatum, then please for the love of all things good, let that person still be in the kids' lives. They are still your team-mate in regards to raising the little monsters. Heck, you won't even have to pay them to babysit! (and if they do, then they're just a douche bag. Still not a good enough reason to keep the kids from them.)
Anyway, if you are a single parent and pulled a TL;DR on this, that's your prerogative. But if you read this and decided "The fuck does she know? She's still married to her baby daddy and happy" then so be it. But I do have lots of single parent friends & family and I have heard all their stories. I may not be personally experience in their parenting foibles, but I DO get it. It's hard. It sometimes feels completely unrewarding. Dealing with the other parent is like choosing to pull perfectly healthy teeth, and preferring to do that instead. But when it comes to your children, here's the best advice for ANYTHING I've ever heard.
"How's that workin' for ya?"