I Got Time

Time

I went to court, and learned that basically the GAL is a hired gun. The opposing counsel proposed a schedule that takes one half of a day away a week. I have had my kids 7/14 days, and now will have them 6/14 days. Not so bad, right. I can’t call this a full on victory, or even a victory at all. You see, it was opposing counsel who told my ex to accept this. I don’t know why. I like to think its because she really knows what she is doing is evil, and doesn’t want to make it worse. I do believe that people answer after death for what they didn’t suffer/pay for in life. I feel sorry for divorce attorneys. I am pretty sure the evils they have participated in will make for some rather horrible answering in the afterlife. The GAL had no objection, even though there was so many problems with me as a father, and he was ready to strip me of most of my rights. This ultimately came down to child support.

The child support system in my state requires that we have near equal time, like 49% and 51% or totally equal to use the equal parenting time numbers. Taking one half a day a week away puts me back into the standard child support calculations. It nearly doubles my child support. There is nothing I can do about it. We will have to tighten our budget. Its sad that nothing matters, but the child support in the grand scheme of things, but its the truth. I am ultimately a paycheck. What’s even worse is its okay to berate me for not wanting to pay as much child support as possible, but its not okay for me to argue that keeping the money makes me a better father. If it were about the kids, the court would punish the parent unwilling to work with the other parent on the issues that matter.

I keep seeing how things are changing. How the laws are becoming friendlier. I don’t benefit from these. The system still hasn’t taken those views. The system has ways to ensure that you get back in line. I make a good living. I am for lack of a better term, middle aged. In a few years, I will be half way to retirement from when I entered the work force. I will be taking home less money than I did in my first full time job. A time when I lived in a cheap midtown apartment, and still cooked most of my meals at home. I had just enough money to eat my lunches out, but on a budget. I am required to maintain a home for me and my three or four kids on what I earned when I didn’t know anything. I earn a little more than triple what I earned then, but will be taking home the same amount of money. None of this accounts for the differences in cost of living that has happened in the last 20 years.

So here is the challenge. To win my kids hearts and minds while their mother tries to buy them using the money I earned. To find activities that will excite them, entertain them, and teach them without spending much dough. I have to do so with all the extra restrictions they are putting on me to. I am being chastised that I shouldn’t leave the kids home alone, ever. Mom does this more than I do, but that doesn’t seem to matter. Remember the kids are 13.12. and 10. We aren’t talking about little ones, but ones that are soon going to be in the 5th, 7th, and 8th grade. They aren’t allowed to babysit the stepkids at all either, even though my daughter is going to start babysitting for other people, but won’t be allowed to sit at my house for a run to the store. My ex is going to run a sabotaging campaign against me, but there isn’t much I can do about that. My kids need to find their own voices, and stop parroting what their mother says about me.

There will come a time that if I haven’t won my kids time, and I am not allowed to parent freely, that I will just have to quit. I hate the idea. I have thrown up at the thought of it, but there are limits to what I can do. Any fathers with words of encouragement, please share them. I see the end being closer than I had hoped. Its a terrible thing to wish for your kids to grow up quickly, but that is where I am. It is where I can have a relationship with them without constant interference by their mother. I played nice. I didn’t want to make her out to be a bad person, because that would be telling my kids the same thing. I should have know that none of that would matter to her. She wants them to believe that I am a bad person.

I will be telling my son that marriage can be a wonderful thing. I will also tell him to never have a child with a woman. To go get a vasectomy, and adopt a child if he wants one, and do so without a partner. By no means let a wife adopt them as well. This way, you will actually get to raise your child. You won’t be faced with someone stopping you from being able to love your child everyday. Trust me I understand how my ex feels when the kids are gone. I understand that she doesn’t want them to go. I also understand that my kids deserve a mother and a father, even if we aren’t very good at it. Time and time again studies show that the relationship matters more than the quality of the person. What my ex is doing to the kids is evil, and she has made them a party to it unwittingly.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

Being Non-Custodial

DV Benes

What does it mean to be non-custodial? It can mean a lot of things. The term is used to apply to anyone who pays child support. Lets look at my situation. Its a modern example of how the system is dysfunctional, and that the system isn’t at all about taking care of the children involved, but it is about taking care of the women. There has been a big shift in my state in the last few years. The legislature has recognized that the modern family has two involved parents and they are encouraging judgments that are in favor of shared parenting. This is a 50/50 timeshare of the kids or some approximating this. To get this, the parents need to be intentional when the process starts, because a judge isn’t going to change things much once a pattern has been established. If the mother is trying to hoard the kids time, then the father needs to take action right away to change things, or he will be stuck with what has been established. To go along with this new understanding of family, they have changed the child support calculators to include provisions for shared parenting. I give them credit for this move, but it is not nearly enough, but it does clearly demonstrate the overall problem with the child support calculators in most states. The truth is child support is too high in every case that I have seen. I know that is a small sampling, but I have played with the numbers from more than a few states to see how things could have been different, and they are high everywhere I have checked things out.

How does my state modify things for a parent in shared parenting? Sorry, I am not going to reveal which state I am in, but just understand that other states are doing similar things, and that the concepts are not unique. The new calculators for shared parenting kick in when you have near equal time share with the kids. It does not make it clear what is near enough, so the judge gets to decide. For some courts this is good, and others it is bad for the fathers seeking this arrangement. Its not really different than the old arrangement with liberal visitation. Its been common for a long time that men with liberal visitation has had near equal time with the kids, but the mother has had significant control over whether that is allowed or not. Now basically they apply a 20% discount for the non-custodial parent, and the custodial parent is responsible for direct expenses. No where is direct expenses explained. If the parents agree to each supply clothing, then there is another discount of about 4% applied to the child support. Direct expenses do not include medical, dental, or other health care costs. They do not include extra-curricular activities outside of school, and maybe inside of school. These are listed strangely under special needs expenses which are also not considered direct expenses. Medical expenses are expected to be divided based at the same proportion as the gross income of the parents differ. The non-custodial parent is defined in my states law as the parent who earns more money. That is it. Nothing else is used to determine this.

The end result is I get to pay for things twice. Pretty much everything. My child support didn’t go down, because under the old arrangement men would pay child support, and usually the court wouldn’t require any other payment from him unless there was an extraordinary expense involved. I pay $1000/month in child support for kids. I then pay 64% of health related costs and 50% of sports and extra-curricular costs. She pays the school expenses and the other portions of these costs. Before I was responsible for child support, I paid for all the kids expenses at 100%. Sometimes these reached the $1000 mark, but usually not. Typical expenses in a month are close though. So I pay her $1000 and then pay my proportions, which are about another $500-$600. If you do the rest of the math, this leaves her with about $500-$600 in her pocket even after paying for lunches for the kids, which she could decide to only do for the days they are with her. After paying taxes, child support, retirement loan for marital debt, and health insurance is I have about $3500 dollars a month to pay for my rent utilities and these kids expenses. To put in perspective to her income, she takes home about the same amount from her pay checks, and then gets another $2400 tax free between CS and other government checks.

As I have laid out above, there is an extreme imbalance in the reality of CS and the actual costs of raising the children. I might be able to accept this. We have certainly made some strides in the right direction for men protecting their rights with their children, but there is just one huge problem with this experience. I am under constant threat of court order to pay this amount. It doesn’t matter what my job situation is. I have lost my freedom to decide on these things. The activities that my kids are involved in are somewhat locked into place. I can’t decide that I can no longer afford them. I have can be sent to jail for having a budget change. I can lose my drivers license or have money removed directly from my checking and savings accounts. I am in fact indentured to my ex-wife through my children. I am her servant. I am required to work to ensure she is paid. I have less freedom than I had when married to her for the next decade, and she has greater freedom. She can continue to choose to work at a job that for all practical purposes is a part time job. There is no pressure on her to improve her financial condition. If I choose to improve mine, then I am then obligated to improve hes. This is a major disincentive to move up in my career. The only thing that is a driver to do better in my career right now, is that I need to make some moves or I will be the guy who gets overlooked forever.

As a father, I live with the constant threat of the court over my head. I live with the fear that she may win the battle for more time, and take even more of my paycheck. The slippery slope that will lead to me not being able to maintain a home large enough for them to visit me, and thus give her more ammunition to further reduce my time, and further tap my paycheck. I have to continue the fight for my kids. A fight that no father should have to fight. I have to pretend with my kids that everything is okay. That me and their mom don’t have problems. I can’t tell them how she has treated me, because that would be alienation of affection. I can’t do a lot of things. When people look at divorce and wonder why men are bitter, they need to understand that men are effectively slaves to their ex-wives for the time their children are growing up. This is why men are bitter. Ask a black man what the legacy of slavery has done to his life, and then understand that in the modern world, all men are subject to slavery through their children to the mothers of their children. This is why men are so bitter. This is why men can’t get over their divorce. It isn’t because women are emotionally stronger and more capable of dealing with the loss of divorce. Its because for the men it is never ending until their children are 18 years old.

Being non-custodial means being a second class citizen. Your children and their mother are superior to you under the law. People can argue this case otherwise, but the fact is proven in the number of men that are subject to this system. I will recommend to my sons that they don’t have children. That they don’t subject themselves to this burden of slavery that we call fatherhood. I love my children very much, and I would not like to imagine a life without them, but I would be free to make my own decisions if I had never had them. I would not turn back time, but I would protect those I love from this fate. I hope to change things before that time comes for them, but if things do not change, then I will recommend they choose freedom from slavery over this. I am not as good of a father as I might be without this burden.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

Charitable Organization for Men

Charity Tuesday banner, Tintagel

I am contemplating what it would take to set up a foundation or organization that’s purpose is to help men recover from the economic desolation from divorce. I am not sure how to go about it yet, but I am doing my research. My hope would be to be reimburse legal expenses and other expenses related to protecting their rights in court. Paying off debt and tax bills that accumulate because of divorce. I would also like to start to put together an army of lawyers that will take on these cases and understand the sensitivity of the cases. There are men’s divorce law firms, and some of them actually get what’s going on. Others just pay lip service to men’s issues to increase client contacts. My own case is inspiration for this, and I am still going through it. I know that I will be broke for a long time, because of my divorce. There isn’t much I can do about it, but I do want to help change things for other men. The long term goal would be to change the laws in the USA to favor a system of divorce that doesn’t include court room combat, or the threat thereof, but establishes fair baselines for couples to agree to and firm defaults when the couple cannot agree on things. The system is out of control, and encourages fighting that just isn’t necessary. Most of us have had bad breakups before we were married, and somehow we managed to figure things out mostly on our own. The needs of a divorcing couple aren’t that much higher, except in system where winner can take all.

I am going to continue to blog on my life, but I am going to start talking through how to start this thing. I hope that I can get some sound advice from others about not only how to start this thing, but also in setting the direction as I move forward. It may take me years to get this off the ground, but I feel like it is important, and needed by too many men. Its time to start making some changes. Time to stop complaining, and start taking action. The status quot sucks. This is for men. This is for the children. And this is for our society. Everyone suffers when there is an underclass in society. It was true with slavery, indentured servitude, and its true in the modern cultural shift of indenturing men by proxy through their children.

I am hopeful that there are actually men out there that care, and will start to support this cause and get it off the ground. I am especially hopeful that there are some lawyers out there that see past the profits and care about what is right and wrong. I know there are lawyers that went into law to help find justice. This is a call to these men and women. Right now, I am planning. When my own mess is somewhat behind me, I will be wanting to take action, and I hope that there are some lawyers who are willing to help create the legal entity that will be required to do this work.

Comments and opinions please.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

The Good Son

the good son

As this blog has covered in varying amounts of detail, my oldest son has been trouble waiting to happen. I can honestly say that I had always thought that one day he would be in serious trouble, but I had hoped that it would happen in a few years when he was an adult. I have struggled to parent him for many years. I have wavered from sympathy for him and his relationship problems with his mother and absolute frustration with his seeming inability to follow the simplest rules. I have been terrified of what call would come at a time when I wasn’t able to protect him from his own actions. Not in the sense of covering them up, but that I wouldn’t be there to stop him. I never imagined that this would be what it was though. My fears revolved around him getting in trouble because of his anger or stealing something. I never imagined that he would do these things.

I should offer a little background. For a few months we had a family live with us, who’s father moved out and abandoned them. The mom and her 3 kids lived in my walkout basement for most of the fall semester of school. She moved out during winter break before Christmas. This was when my oldest was in first grade. When they moved out, I set up the basement for our use again. I forgot to turn on the parental controls on the cable box, and my oldest managed to start watching a porn movie with the other kids. He then began acting out what he saw on one of my daughters. We found out what was going on because my other son told us. We did everything we knew to do, and had the support of many professionals who were telling us that this was likely normal curiosity fueled by the imagery of the porn they saw. He remained in counseling from then on for one thing or other relating to his behavior. We moved a about a year later into a much larger house in a small town. My son has admitted to doing things to his brother while we lived there. I was still on alert for things, and I never knew it happened until he admitted it during a police interview.

This blog has many instances of the problems that he has had with my ex. The extreme behaviors of both of them, and the pain that it has caused me to watch things unfold over the last few years. I realize that I was fully distracted by their dysfunction, and I missed the significant problems that were brewing with my son. His aggressiveness has been increasing and yet he never seems to mature in his thinking and emotional reactions to things.

Fast forward to this summer. I moved in with my fiance’ in May. We rented a place together that was big enough for all of us. There has been some struggles with my ex related to this, but that is for another post. I worked my schedule out over the summer, so that I was working from home two days a week, and going into work early the rest of the week. My fiance’ went in late two days a week as well. This made it work out that my kids were only left home alone for a couple hours two days a week, and one day a week I had it so I was home before 2 PM. I kept returning to angry kids. My son had been causing trouble with the other kids. There are 6 kids total between us. My four and her two. Her two are younger than mine. Early elementary school. I was trying to figure out how to make things work. My oldest was nearly 14 and the others were 12 1/2, 11, and 9. There shouldn’t have been a problem leaving them home alone for a while.

My oldest was sneaking food at every moment. It was accumulating in his room, and beginning to stink. I cleared his room of all furniture except his bed. He continued to find ways to sneak food. I did not know what to do. We were at our wits end. I could not get him to follow the simplest of rules. I never limited how much they could eat. I did limit the food they could eat to healthier choices. He was eating frosting and whipped topping. He would eat an entire box of ice cream treats or popsicles in one sitting. He was getting physically aggressive with the other kids. Towards the end of the summer I got a phone call from my daughter as I was pulling into the neighborhood that he had hit my fiance’s daughter hard and that I needed to come home. I was a minute away and told her I would be there soon. When I got there, he clearly was intimidating them all into changing their story about what happened. I lost my temper and smacked him hard. I knew it was a futile. I just had no idea how to get the message through to him. In my gut I knew something more was going on, but I couldn’t figure it out.

After Labor Day, we were driving back from a family dinner with my fiance’s two kids. We were talking about things, and it was announced to us that her son had been having sex with my oldest. At the time we are talking about a 13 year old and a 7 year old. We were shocked. I had told her about his history before her kids spent anytime with him. I wanted her to be fully aware before she went any further with me. We reported the incident through the county mental health organization that we were already engaged with regarding my son, and to the local police department. Through the process, I found out that my other son had caught them, and thought he had stopped things. He was trying to be the protector, but he failed to tell us what was going on. This is another pattern that I have to deal with now. My younger son has decided that he can protect both his brother and people from his brother all by himself. I fear that he is going to get really hurt soon. Charges against my son have been filed and he is currently being adjudicated through the juvenile justice system.

My ex and I have placed my son in a residential treatment facility for the time being. His time there is almost up. He will be returning to my ex’s house. He cannot return to mine at this time, and I honestly don’t see a time that he will be able to in the future. A lot has to happen before that is something that I will consider. A lot more has to happen before my fiance’ would consider it. Right now she doesn’t see that it could ever happen. He only has four and a half years of school left. I suspect that he will be allowed back for family events over time, but he won’t ever live with me again. My ex asks why I am so aggressively angry about this, when I wasn’t when it happened to our daughter. She doesn’t understand that it is the new understanding I have through the recent events combined with what happened in the past that has me so angry.

I have talked very little with him over the last couple of months. My heart aches at the thought of it. I am sad and angry. When I have talked with him, he lays blame with me for what he did. He blames the kids of my fiance’ for what he did. We did find out later that he had done things with her daughter as well, but she pushed him away and avoided him. Tonight I will have dinner with him and my mom. It will be a hard dinner to get through. He will be hurt by what we have to say, and he will be defensive. I need him to understand that his actions have changed his and other’s lives forever. I don’t know how it will go. I imagine it going so many ways. If he is truly working on changing, then it will end better than it starts. I love him, and hope that he gets the help he needs, but I see my job now as protecting others from him as much as I can.

For the coming years, I will struggle with how to be a father to my son. Many are going to judge me for my actions. Almost none of those people will have been through anything like this. I feel like I am writing the book on how to get through this all by myself. Maybe when the dust clears, I will write that book. My life has not turned out as I expected at all. It is now time to make my hand work from the cards that have been dealt to me. I am not a quitter, though there have been many times through this process that all I want to do is quit, but I keep plugging along. I have to search and see what part I play in the things that have happened to me, because life does not just happen to me, I am a part of the results. It is going to take some time and introspection to get there.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

I Won’t Live Alone In A Cave

The Cliff Dwellers (1906)

All too often the suggestions I hear come down to two things. One is go fuck as many women as you can. That is fun for about a minute. I am not that guy. Never have been. The other is to go my own way. Now this is appealing in some ways, it doesn’t solve the problems that I have in my life. If I were a young man without kids, I would consider this the way to go now. Make sure I can’t have kids, and disengage from the life chosen for me, and do whatever the fuck I want to.

The problem is, I do have kids, and I like the companionship of a woman. I do have a red pill view of these relationships, but I don’t see them as being something I can’t have. I just have to understand the risks that I face as I enter into these relationships. The big solution to the problem is that I could crawl into a cave and spend my time with my kids and hang out alone when they aren’t around. This is depressing. I might get some reading and writing done, but I would be unsatisfied. I do plan on doing these things, but I want a partner.

So now I am faced with building a relationship and knowing the score. I know the female nature. I also know what I am willing to accept from a woman, and what I want. All woman in my life will demonstrate jealousy of the time I spend with my kids when they aren’t “mine”. This manifests itself usually as jealousy towards my ex. It really is jealousy of the time and that I sometimes have to get up and leave. My ex uses this to cause problems, and I do have to learn better ways to mitigate the situations. She is a manipulator and likes to create strife. There isn’t much I can do about that, because she is willing to use the kids to get her way. This is not good for anyone involved. All it does is score her a win. Its not even good for her.

I understand how men walk away from their kids. Its not fair to the kids, but there is a limit to how much a man can take. There is a limit to how beneficial his presence is, when a vindictive woman is manipulating things on the other end. When the kids come to you and are treating you like crap, what do you do. When no amount of discipline teaches them what they need to know, because the other parent is working against you, there is a time where you have to say that I can’t fix the damage under these circumstances. Its the heart wrenching decision that has to be made sometimes. These men are broken and torn apart, and society will heap more and more shame on them for this decision. As I have gone through this process of divorce in my life, I have developed a new compassion for these men. Most of them are not the man who drops a litter and runs from town to town. Most are good men, who want nothing more than to be with their kids.

I have a lot more on my mind, but for now.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

Child Support Power Shift

I used to have Super Human Powers

Now lets understand that I am speaking from a perspective of equal or nearly equal parenting time. I do believe that these principles apply in a larger context, but I know that they apply in this context. I think it is a pretty simple idea that money does equate to power. All other arguments aside child support is a shift in power in the parenting relationship. Some might say that it is a fair one, because neither parent should have greater power. There might be some truth to this, but not really. Its a surface argument that really doesn’t hold much water, because of human nature. The relationship already had some power boundary lines, and thus this is a change in power not maintaining marital power structures when dealing with children. Lets not pretend that a father who is actively engaged with his children is going to actively avoid his financial responsibilities without the weight of the court making him. This just isn’t the case for most men.

The System

We understand that as a rule men pay women child support. There are few exceptions to this rule, but statistically they are insignificant for what we are talking about. So the man is required to shift his power to this woman that he already is in a contentious relationship with. Now the system is set up such that the father doesn’t pay the mother, but he pays the state, and the state pays the mother, and if the father fails to pay, then there will be severe consequences down the road. Now the system has chosen sides. They are on the side of the other. They don’t care if the father can sustain a house for his family, they only care for whether the mother can. The court may not agree, but you have to get to court to fix it. The system is transparently anti-father. The only protection the father has, is the mother cannot claim that he is not paying when he does pay, but in most cases he doesn’t have a choice, because it is taken straight out of his paycheck before he ever gets to see it.

Right to Determine Your Financial Future

Lets say a father loses his job or has a reduction in pay. It is his responsibility to take that to court and get a change in support orders. He won’t have as much money to do this, and is in a position where any savings he has is precious to make it through the income change. Until such time that there is a change, he still has to pay the previous order. If the judge decides that he is lazy or shirking his responsibilities to his children then he might be ordered to maintain support at current levels. He does not have a choice to seek lesser employment to have more time with his kids, because the payments will surely not change. He no longer has the right to work as much or as little as he pleases, because it was established that he is required to support his kids at a minimum level determined by the court when the child support order was originally issued. This of course was a freedom that he had when he was married to the mother. To be clear, once a child support order is in place, the man loses his right to determine his lifestyle unless he chooses to improve his financial position. He must also understand that every time that he chooses to improve his financial position, he also chooses to improve the mother of his children’s position, because she will go after more child support. The child support guidelines state that they are seeking to maintain the children’s lifestyle after divorce, but if that were merely the case, then increased income would have no bearing on future child support orders. All orders would be based on the income levels of the father at the time of separation of the parents.

Now lets reverse things. The mother decides to work less or earn less or is fired or has a forced reduction in pay, what happens? Well in many cases, the system will increase the father’s child support. In some cases it will have to go to court, but it is rare that they impute income on the mother and maintain support at the current levels. There are cases where she remarries a man who can provide for her to stay at home, and the father is then required to pay child support as if she has no earnings. I do believe that these cases are becoming rarer and rarer, but they do exist. The thing is, if she doesn’t take it to court or the system, she just chooses to stop working, then she is magically no longer required to provide her portion of the child’s support. There is no government agency charged with ensuring that she is earning the money and providing it to the children’s benefit. She is free to make these decisions in her life, and even if the court imputes income on her, she can simply adjust her budget based on the loss of income. So in the worst cases the father pays if the mother has a change in income, and in the best cases she is not penalized by her behavior any further than she has to herself.

The Children’s Perception

There are two ways that this goes. The first is this. Mom provide everything. The father has paid for not only the kids needs but a chunk of the mother’s lifestyle through child support. He has provided on top of that things the children don’t see, but the child sees mom providing everything. She pays for school fees, she pays for activities, she pays for all the tangible things that the children see. They don’t know or understand that their dad is paying for these things through their mother. Depending on the mother involved, she may or may not leverage this to her advantage, but very few will correct their children’s perspective on the issue.

The other way goes like this. The mother constantly informs the kids that their father isn’t paying enough in child support. That they cannot do the things they want to, because dad doesn’t pay enough. She creates a constant divide between the father and the child using child support as the tool. This is direct manipulation and it is cruel to all involved. It is also a tool that the father is not able to use with the children. This is a tool that only the person paid child support has.

Justice

The only justice is a natural one. Men have to figure out how to live on less than they actually earn. They have to find a way to make ends meet, and over time develop better spending habits. They get their life together, and over time make do with this new life. As the children grow up and leave the house, the father will no longer have to pay child support, but now have a lifestyle that doesn’t require that money. At that point they can start to use that money to bolster retirement and other savings that they had neglected to support the mother of their children.

The flip side of this, is the mother has this money coming in, and it abruptly stops as the kids grow into adults. They have a lifestyle that required this money, but they no longer have a legal right to that money. They go deep into debt and have an end result of them not being able to make ends meet. Her cushy life living off her ex has come to an end. Not all women fall to this plight. The few good ones actually use the money for their children only and don’t bolster their lifestyle using the money at all. They come out alright, but in truth these women tend to take different routes like the one I will mention next in the modern divorce paradigm.

A Better Way

The modern world is not so harsh to women in the work place. When they put in the work, they will achieve like the men or better. The system should assume that people who are parenting together can figure out the day to day expenses together. It should assume that unless the parents agree to something different, that all expenses for school, activities and healthcare is going to be split 50/50. No power shift here. Most men who do earn more than the other parent will pay more to ensure their kids are taken care of. Remember we are talking about men who are involved in their children’s life. I would further suggest that the proportion should be based on the time you spend with the kids. A deadbeat dad would be a dad who spends no time with his kids. Mom foots the bill for everything in this case. There currently is a financial advantage to having the kids more, so mother’s will argue for more time, knowing that more money will come their way. A mother who has the kids 80% of the time should have to pay 80% of the expenses. Allow social pressures of fathers who want less involvement to get them to support their children. In my opinion, the time with the children is much more valuable than the money. The system should assume that time is 50/50, and in turn that expenses are 50/50. This would be a fair result. This allows for both parents to determine their futures without influence from the other parent by using the courts and the system against them.

I know this is not perfect, and it would mean that in the cases where a woman is truly abandoned with her children the system would have be more involved in providing for them. I think the freedom that the average guy would have in this is so much more important. Right now divorce equates to loss of freedom for the man in most cases. He no longer has complete freedom in determining his future. This is not good for society, and it is leading to the the upcoming generation of men choosing to not engage in productive activities that lead to having families. Not only is this not good for society, but it ultimately is not good for them. I can’t argue that they should make a different decision in this culture.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

When 1/2=6+

Happy Pi Day - P versus NP

No this is not a math problem. Its the dynamics of what happens to the family after divorce. When parents of kids split, there is not two families created. There are at least 6. Some of them are created by how the kids interpret what is going on, and how they decide to handle it, but there are some patterns that I have seen as this has happened in my life. I will use my family as an example throughout, but I have observed this from the sidelines of a lot of families that I interact with. I will touch on each of the six individually, but then I will explain the plus side of this.

The Families Created

Mom’s Family With The Kids

This is an obvious one. Mom interacting with her kids as a mom. Dad is gone, but most times its not a lot different than the life of a family with a dad that that travels for a living. Mom may have to work more than she did before, and fix things around the house she didn’t before, but the care of the children doesn’t change as much. Where it becomes different is when mom needs a dad moment. Does she call dad or does she try to be dad. This choice is critical to how the children handle the split up. Super mom trying to be the dad when he isn’t there makes things hard on the kids. There are really three ways to handle this. Moms are much more likely to hover and supervise than fathers. Its is harder for the kids to get some freedom to grow up in a mothers house.

  1. Mom tries to fill the role of the dad. This is problematic because she isn’t masculine. There is more to being a dad than acting like a dad. Dads are better at it, because they are masculine, and the things that need a dad truly need the masculinity. This is the case in comforting and disciplining. Dads and moms are different.
  2. Mom explains to the children that she is not the dad, and she is not willing to be the dad, because their dad does that for them. She can then go on to allow them to call their dad, or tell them to wait until they see their dad,
  3. Mom can call their dad and ask him to come over to help or take the child to him. If mom and dad are really working for the best interest of their children, they will figure out how to do this for any big issue. Big being defined by the child’s emotional state and age at the time as much as the issue itself.

Dad’s Family With The Kids

This is similar to the one above, but it is different. Its different in the fact there are a lot of things dad may not have done on a daily basis that he does now. This does depend on how involved dad was in the mundane things of their kids life before. I pass no judgement on what worked in the marriage partnership to parent. I am sorry that the courts do. Dads are much less likely to try to be mom. They have the same resolutions as stated above. Dads will tend to play more with their kids, and encourage independence as they grow older. Dads do less to protect their kids from themselves, though they are very protective from others. This is the balance that is lost in a split household, and the parents working together to ensure that when one is not resident, they are not absent. This is hard, and both parents out of pride may struggle with this.

Dad’s Family Without Kids

Dads will tend to find distractions. They go out with friends and work more. They get back into hobbies and sports that they had abandoned for the sake of their marriage. Things that probably weren’t really healthy for the marriage, but the stresses of time management made them think so. Once the kids are a bit older, dads are much more likely to wait for the mother to call if there is something that needs talking about, and to wait for their kids to call if they need or want to talk. Part of this, is they don’t need the constant contact for the closeness to be there. Again we are dealing with the masculine vs the feminine in how things are handled. There is often a renewed connection to the dad’s family(parents, brothers, sisters, etc). It is al too common that a married couple spends more time with the wife’s family than the husband’s this is often the case, because she is the one that is scheduling things, not some evil plot.

Mom’s Family Without Kids

I don’t have the insight for mom’s family that is required to go into great detail. What my experience tells me from being the dad with the kids on the other end. She calls me two to three times a day. In the morning to check on the kids. During the day about school stuff. After school about activities. The only necessary call is the last. She may or may not call them during these times. There is a part of the mom that can’t let go of the things she used to own in the marriage as the care giver. She knows that she doesn’t have the control over these things, nor does she have the right to try, but she has to touch base with it. I think this will become less as time goes on, but I doubt it will completely go away. Moms are much more likely to make extra contacts to the school when she doesn’t have the kids as well.

Mom Has The Kids At An Event Dad Is At

There is a tendency for the mother to hold tight. To keep them close. Its almost like they are afraid at some baser level that the father will take them away from her. There is also a tendency to return to requesting the father to do things that she would have expected when they were married. In the more mild cases, it is just things for the kids, but in more extreme cases it is things that he would have done for his wife not his kids. The Dad has a tendency to absolve himself of disciplining the kids. In his mind they are in her care, and whether its a detachment or avoiding stepping on her toes, I don’t know. I am intentional about not being her husband, but being their father, so the balance works out for me without too much stress or inconsistency for the kids.

Dad Has The Kids At an Event Mom Is At

There is a tendency to let mom take over parenting at these things, which often leaves the kids without a parent, because mom thinks she is there to just see the event and get some hugs from the other kids. Again I am intentional about not letting this happen. Little kids are drawn to their mothers anytime she is around, so its easy for a dad to let them go and absolve himself of responsibility. The situation tends to resolve itself as the kids get older. The kids are more autonomous, and it is easier for the dad to assert his rules.

Increasing The Multiples

There are many things that can increase the multiples. Stepparents with kids can change things a lot. Imagine that sometimes the step-siblings are there together and other times they are not. The dynamics of whose house it was if the family moves into a house one of them owned already.

One child has special emotional needs that has them living with one parent or the other or following a different schedule than the other kids. This can create distance and closeness that doesn’t exist for the other kids. And affect how the kids respond to each other.

God forbid that a parent get married more than once again, because this just continues to extend the family and its complicated interconnections.

The Effects On The Children

Its stressful. Their little minds are not mature. Their emotions aren’t in check with their logic centers. They are going to be stressed by even the best situations They don’t like change. Children do better when the parents stay together, even in the worst marriages. People can judge the break-up all they want, and whether it was good or not. Many will use the children as the filter. The problem is that it is too late for that. The decisions are made, and action has already been taken. I hate the argument that children are resilient. They really aren’t. They are pliable, and it takes time to bend around their new world. Much longer than it takes an adult. Part of this is the adult has much more control over what is happening than the child does. The best the parents can do along the way is ensure to the kids that their mom or dad is not being replaced or leaving, and neither are they. Reinforce, reinforce, reinforce this idea to them all the time. Their dad, even a bad dad, is their dad, and is irreplaceable. Their mom, even a bad mom, is their mom, and is irreplaceable. Don’t let your feelings get in the way of whatever relationship the kids can have with them. If they are flakes, then be their to catch them, and cry with them. Save your tears for them that are tainted by your anger and hurt until they are out of sight.

Ten Foured,

JeD

Gladiators

#10: Gladiator

This is phenomena that I have been following the last few weeks. I haven’t done any studying, but have used the experience of having 4 kids who play on 8 different sports teams right now. Moms are treating their children as their personal gladiators. They push and push their kids to do better and better. This doesn’t sound bad on the surface. We should all like our children to pursue excellence. The problem is that it seems to be very comparative in nature. Women are constantly looking for their hero. Go out to any dating sight and you will see headlines referring to knights and heroes. Now this is a phenomena that seems to exist in all women and their children, but it is decidedly stronger in the single or divorced mother. What I have seen is women, particularly those with weak husbands or no husband begin to drive their children to perform better and better. This doesn’t only apply to sports. You will see this in school, the arts, and other areas where kids can be compared. This also isn’t just their male children. There are plenty of women driving their daughters to perform for the sake of being the best. All you have to do is turn on TLC and watch some of those _______ Mom’s shows. I don’t think this is a new phenomena. My reading of history tells me that any society that life has become to easy, and that the wars that are fought are far away begins to have this. Just as women used to give men something of theirs to have when they fought as knights, mothers see their children as fighting for them on the pitch or grid-iron. Somehow they feel like they are a part of it. Language can give this away in some nuanced ways. I used to get caught up in saying we had a bad game like I played. I never was that emotionally involved, but the language was there. I have realized over the last year of separation that my language has changed. Hers hasn’t. Its like she is a part of the game through them. I do think that this is worse in a world where these women don’t have men as heroes. Dads and husbands are not important in their life, or don’t exist. These women have displaced the adult masculine archetype with their little gladiators.

Another driver is the constant comparison that women do. They compare husbands or boyfriends. They compare houses and schools. They compare kids. They want their kids to be the smartest, fastest, strongest of all their friends. They will get angry, actually angry when their little one gets beat by another kid on the field. They aren’t just being overly critical, but are having a visceral emotional reaction to the event as if they experienced it themselves. Their champion isn’t the best. I see this as my wife isn’t happy unless my kids play on the best teams. They are good athletes and normally can play with whomever they like, but I have no desire for them to constantly be seeking the next best team. I was an athlete, and the relationships with teammates and coaches ultimately is far more important to me than being the best. I want the kids to learn and develop not only in their sport, but through their sport. I see very little of this from the moms. They seem to be looking for wins. An example that I see right now in my life is my oldest daughter. Her coach has pushed the team up a division. She wanted to test them, and see some different competition than the last season. They were a .500 team in the lower division. They haven’t won a game yet. The testing is working though. The division is small, and so they get to play most of the teams twice. So far they have played better games against each team they have played twice. They are becoming stronger and more skilled. They are also learning to overcome adversity of a stronger opponent, and get to see the results by playing the same teams again. I think it was a good choice. My STBEW does not. She was furious last week when my daughter was asked by her coach to help with a lower division team right before her game. She said something along the lines of “She is one of her best players, what is she thinking wearing her out before her own game.” I like that if my daughter wants to play she gets to. She is a good player, but at this level of play the best player changes from week to week, and that is how it should be. That is how they get better.

The craziest thing I have seen happen, and its creeping into my STBEW’s arsenal, is punishing for poor performance. Not taking them out for a promised treat. Actually being angry at a kid for not being their best. Making them feel bad about having a bad game. They feel bad enough. The best kids already take on the weight of the entire game on themselves. Sports in my opinion serve many purposes, but ultimately the kids aren’t going to learn most of those if they aren’t having fun. I have only punished my kids for things that happened in sports when they disrespected a coach. The rest of what happens on the field is up to the coach. I will talk with and partner with the coach on solutions for ongoing issues. Poor performance in competitive sports is generally punished with less play time. The kids learn quickly that if they do what the coach wants then they get to play. Now my experience is competitive sports. My opinion about recreational sports is that the parent may have to discipline poor behavior more, because play time incentives are hard when every kid should have equal time. Performance should not be a big issue in recreational sports. Many of the same lessons can be learned, but the intensity is very different.

This is similar to the previous one. Women are always looking to climb. They are much more likely to push their kids to change teams to find a better opportunity. Men seem much less likely to do this. They understand the value of the camaraderie of a team. I like the idea of my kid being on the same team for a long time. They develop lifelong friendships there. They can be a part time mercenary, if they want more games, meaning they can go play with other teams anytime they want. Kids who change teams constantly may be better at the sport than the other kids, but they are mercenaries. Just like the military has very little respect for the mercenary, even when they need them, so does the team that brings on a mercenary for a season. That kid will not be accepted, because everyone knows that he will be gone next season or next year. My daughter is on a team with her cousin. It is a good team. There are some moms trying to convince everyone that the coach isn’t very good. They are disrupting what is a pretty good thing for most of these girls, and especially good for a couple of girls I love. She wants her to change teams to a more prestigious coach. She has never seen a team he has coached. He just has the right credentials to be impressive to her. All her arguments about the team my daughter is on now, and why it is bad, also apply to the group of girls this guy is supplying. The icing on the cake to try to convince me to let her move is that another coach is going to allow his superior athlete daughter to play on the team. She misses the point. Its not actually about winning more games. Winning more games when they are young demonstrates development. I like to push my kids. This daughter already plays on a top division with team an age group up with this same girl. The problem is all these moms are missing the reality of who their kids are and what they have right now as they look for the bigger and better deal.

The final thing I see moms do, and this one is particular to the broad category of “single moms” is the tendency to try to imitate fathers. A harsh word from a father is taken differently than the same harsh words from a mother. As much as the world wants to deny that men and women are different, and that we fill different roles in our kids lives, it is true. They end at screaming at the kids for every technical detail of their play. I know some dads do this, and coaches tend to have a chat with them. The truth is the coach may have different desires. I find that I have stepped back. Having been a player and a coach, I have insight. Its not insight he needs during the game. I cheer, I encourage, and sometimes I have something to say about general game play, but I let the coach do the details. I can always talk to him about details on another day. I hear moms literally threaten punishment for poor play. I know the the quintessential overbearing dad shown in movies does this kind of thing, but I rarely see him. There is no more than one per team, if that many. Now I see multiple moms doing this. They are almost always “single moms” that are imitating what they think a father brings to the game for the kids.

My words to any mother who is in a situation where the father is not there, whether its a co-parenting situation, dad travels, or a true single motherhood, you are never going to be dad. Don’t try to replace dad. When dad isn’t there, the kid needs his mom to be the best mom she can be, and she can’t be that while trying to be a good dad to. Sure throw or kick the ball around with them, but coaches, male teachers, and neighborhood dads are going to give him a better dad experience than you are. Don’t force who gets to do this for your kids, especially boys. Sure guide them, but let it happen. If you are truly being a great mom, they will choose wisely. Now I say this with a forked tounge, because I don’t find that most women end up without the fathers around by making the best choices for their kids. If they did, then the father would be there in most cases. I do hope there are a few women who have turned around, and recognized the past mistakes, and are trying to do things right from here on out. This message is for you. You are not a dad, and can’t do it any better than I can be a mom. Dads are important, but a mom cannot be the missing dad. Being the best mom will soften the blow of not having their dad. I say this as a man who constantly is telling his kids that I am not your mother. I will not try to be your mother. I am your father, and I will continue to be your father for as long as I live. Your mother is your mother, and if you need your mother right now, I will do everything I can to get you to her. I do this with an ache in my stomach mourning that my kids are not in a two parent home where mom and dad are there together. I then go on and act like a dad. I hope my STBEW does the same, but I know she doesn’t. She tries to act like a dad, and my sons respond to her in ridiculous ways. She then calls me in a panic to get me to handle the problem she has created, if only she had been the mom, and handled it like a mom, or called me as the dad in the beginning to handle a situation that required a dad.

Ten-Foured,

JeD