December 22

Time Is Love

where is the love?

This is something I learned while working in ministry. That’s far in my past, but the lessons learned about relationships still ring true. Time is love. I talk a lot about child support, and the harm it does. This is the flip side of the argument. This is where things hurt worse. Losing authority in my kids life through child support is something I can’t stand, but it is how the system works. A system that needs to change. This is the less tangible side of the problem.

If you have ever been involved with youth ministry, there is the idea that is passed on to the leaders that “Time = Love.” I used to think it was just a phrase to motivate you, but as I saw it at work, its true. People feel loved by you being available to them with your time, and choosing to spend time with them, when there isn’t anything in particular to do together. Just hanging out. Young men do this naturally with each other. As we grow into adults we don’t continue to do this as well. We get busy, and doing “important” things becomes more pressing than just spending time with people. Friendships become less important than colleagues, we even pretend that our colleagues are our friends to try and fill the gap, but it doesn’t work. In the end we all become a little lonelier.

Our kids need time. That is the only thing that matters. They will remember hanging out while you work on the car or fixing a bike or even cleaning the kitchen. These are the times that you talk about life. These are the times that you transfer your knowledge not just about the thing you are doing, but you get to talk about your experiences from the past that can help train them, and they get to tell you their stories that explain how they are being shaped for life. This can’t be replaced by the car rides to practice or games. The conversations just aren’t as organic as they are when you are just doing life. I think this is especially true for men and their children.

The same attitude gives mothers the advantage in custody. The tasks are more important than anything. Mothers tend to be more attentive to the tasks of child raising, especially when there are two parents involved. All custody cases really seem to focus on the kids in such a way that if you read the documents involved, you would think that that all children function at the same level as toddlers. The basic care and feeding of the children is the focus. The end result of mother centered custody is the kids don’t get the benefit of a father who forces them to care for themselves while being the safety net. A father who draws them alongside them instead of just ordering them around or just taking care of them. Children deserve a mother and father because they balance out each other. Yes a man has usually acted as provider, but he should be allowed to do that on his terms. The current system reduced him to a wage slave, and that isn’t the role of father. He is a provider, and in that role he also gets to train his kids about providing for themselves.

I have yet to see a man who is an active father who doesn’t provide for the needs of his kids. These are things that when raised to the challenge of being a single or divorced dad that most men just do. All of the things that the court make all important about the kids are taken care of. I have also seen very few mothers who are very good at teaching kids to leave the nest. I don’t know how many kids from single mothers who don’t learn to ride a bike until they are much older than the kids raised with an active dad. This might sound stupid, but allowing the kids to crash is part of teaching them to ride a bike, and mom’s aren’t very good at that. The pictures you see of men tossing babies in the air that so many people like to make fun of, but the truth is this is part of men teaching their kids to fly. In healthy families kids look to their mom for comfort, and their dad for security. Even as a baby they learn that their dad isn’t going to let bad things happen to them, even when something scary is happening.

Kids are being robbed of their security through divorce and the courts. Men have to figure out how to put the wrongs away, and do their best to still be fathers with only 1/3 or less the time they had before. Any justification for this falls on deaf ears with me, because divorce changes everything. The idea of keeping this normal for the kids is lost in divorce. Pretending that you can come close is absolute bullshit. Women are being rewarded with money and power for keeping the fathers at arms length and limiting their time. Kids suffer for this. The become unsure of themselves. The person who was their security is struggling to care for himself now. He no longer can pay for the things he used to, and their mother can, but she can only because she receives money that the father cannot talk about. None of this makes the children feel secure.

Relationships are not about quality time. They are about time. The children deserve the most time they can get with both parents. They need the comfort from mom, but just as much they need the security of dad. This is something the court doesn’t recognize. The long term ramifications of kids who fail to launch don’t seem to matter. All that matters is that the kids succeed in school, and don’t go to jail. The system is broken. It doesn’t account for all the intangibles that ultimately matter. The court can’t account for them, but it can take a more neutral stance. One that says that parents are required to take care certain aspects of the kids needs, and each should have to do it.

Kids need time with each parent, and lots of it. When the parents are thinking of the kids, then they will do this naturally, and ultimately when the parents are left on equal footing with equal time and responsibility for the kids, then this is much more likely to happen. The parents are more likely to work together. It doesn’t matter how many words are used to say that should occur, it wont’ occur so long as the parents aren’t operating from equal footing. The courts do a huge diservice to the kids by not working for the parents to have equal footing in most cases, especially cases where the parents are both able, willing, and in close proximity to each other. This is something to fight for. This is the case to make to our legal overlords.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

December 15

Income Based Child Support – Defacto Alimony

Buffalo Bills - Alimony Ale

The more I think about this, the more it is true. Any form of child support that is based on someone’s income is defacto alimony. Alimony is based on the principle that a man’s ex-wife deserves to be supported near the same level she was in the marriage. That she has become accustomed to the lifestyle, and thus deserves it. This is one of those ideas that drives me nuts. Its not a right she had in the marriage. Its a principle that encourages divorce if the man is losing his income earning potential. If his income is dropping, then so will her lifestyle, but if she divorces him before or at least early in the fall, then she can get herself a guarantee of the lifestyle they have, even if he falls to a point where that is unsustainable. Sounds ridiculous, but it is how things work, or worked. Since most states have limited alimony now instead of lifetime alimony.

Anytime a there is a new right gained through divorce that didn’t exist in marriage, there are going to be issues. The principle of alimony is based on rights that don’t actually exist in marriage. She is a guaranteed beneficiary of his income through divorce and alimony, even though in marriage she was not guaranteed this, but naturally received something similar. As the wife of this man, his income naturally benefited her as it did him. Other than the fact that alimony indentures or enslaves a man to his ex-wife, the further problem is it only looks at income to determine what is the correct amount. If we were to ignore the first problem, and its hard to ignore, then it would be more reasonable to determine what was spent on the lifestyle, and then determine the amount that should be paid for alimony. Most high income earners don’t spend anywhere near the totality of their income for their lifestyle. Alimony was a treat for the rich in divorce that has been extended to the rest of the population. When the rich paid alimony, they often had the resources to continue living their lifestyle as they always had, at least when they only had one ex-wife. The middle class on the other hand are struggling to save a little and maintain their lifestyle. There simply isn’t enough income for both parties to live a similar lifestyle as before. This has taken time, but it has made alimony look like a bad deal.

Now all the same arguments about lifestyle have been applied to the child support calculators. The children suddenly have a right to a lifestyle. Most children are granted primary residency with the mother, so the father has to pay child support to her. There is a practical aspect that says that one parent needs to pay for all the needs of the child. Its too difficult to manage otherwise. I am not a big fan of the law being practical, because whenever it is people’s rights are stomped on. This is no different. Children have been given the right to a lifestyle that the parents provided. This benefits the parent, usually the mother, that has the primary residency of the children. She gets the money to spend as she wishes. If she isn’t taking care of the kids basic needs is the only way that how she spends this money gets scrutinized. Effectively alimony has been rolled into child support. Giving the children a right to lifestyle and building it into child support does this.

Since half the population stands to gain from this system, its hard to fight against it. Fathers have been made into indentured servants for their children. They are forced to work at certain level to maintain their children’s lifestyles. Both alimony and child support have many means to freeze the current state as they see fit. You must go back to court and get approval to lower the amounts. The court is under no obligation to lower the amounts, even in cases where the payer has lost income earning potential, but they are obligated to further raise child support if the earning of the payer increase. The payer will not be allowed to go to school to better their ability to earn if it means earning less. Many men become trapped in jobs that have no upward mobility, because they would have to change jobs and accept a lower salary for the time being to regain headroom in their ability to earn again, and they cannot afford the support payments and earn less.

I hear the arguments for this type of child support and the means for enforcing it. Many come down to the idea of why should the children suffer because the father has made bad career choices. the constant drone of he is obligated to pay for his children. The seemingly irrefutable argument that children cost way more than the child support that any man pays, and that the mother is shouldering the majority of the burden. The first idea is flawed. If the parent suffers financially, it is natural the children will suffer as well. When married parents have financial difficulties, the children feel them directly. A false dichotomy has been created when the parents aren’t married, where the only parent’s financial problems felt by the children is the residential parent. The second argument seems to assume that the only way a father can pay for his children’s needs is through child support. I have argued before that most of these problems are already solved with criminal neglect laws. If the father is not supporting his children, and they are neglected, then prosecute him. Most fathers will spend what is necessary to care for their children without ever having to see a court room. The third argument really depends on the financial status of the parents. Most middle class and above situations don’t fall in this category. The father’s child support pays for 100% of the kids expenses, including the extras-curricular and luxuries. There is enough left over for the mother to better her lifestyle as well. In most cases the mother is not required to expend any of her resources to care for the children. This includes the costs of a larger home and vehicle to use for the children.

The natural way of economics in familial structures is very different than what the family court imposes on people on a regular basis. Children and others benefit from the income of those they live with. No one has any obligation to care for those who don’t live with them. Children really aren’t much different. So long as the children are properly cared for, it should not be the business of the court how this happens. Shared parenting would allow the children to benefit from both parents and their abilities. The system now allows the children to benefit from both parents, but they never see the reality of this. They see one parent providing, while the other parent does not. Often the parent they see provide for them isn’t shouldering the burden, because they have taken the resources from the other parent to do so. It would be natural for the children to have to pull out of sports or other activities during a financial crisis, and for most families a divorce constitutes a financial crisis. The family would eliminate unnecessary expenditures to free up the money to pay for the crisis. With support, the residential parent is allowed to do this. They can even use the support to do so. The payer is often left with so little discretionary income left that they are unable to dig out of the crisis until such time that they are no longer obligated to pay support.

I have seen this play out in my life. It hurts to see her be able to eliminate the debt in her life, while I am called by creditors. She has a newer car, and can afford to repair it on a regular basis. She can provide the things I would want to provide for my children. I am left with debt that I won’t be able to pay off for years to come. I have to shop for gifts that I hope they see the meaning in, because they are of little real value. I am not able to provide the luxuries that I would like, while they have them at their mothers. Many would tell me to be happy that my children have these things, but when their mother is able to gain credibility in their lives through these things, and I cannot provide the things I would choose. My income is used to provide things for them that I may not choose to do so. Simple things like TVs in their rooms. I would not approve of, but they have them at their mothers, and my income paid for it. i Phones; I would never purchase these for my children, but they have them using my income. These are just a couple of things that I have lost say in, but am required through support to pay for. My children benefit from my income while I do not.

The only thing that most women lose by leaving the fathers of their children is access to the man and his skills. The man is often shamed for not providing these things. If there are boy children, they often take advantage of them for these things. The man loses so much more. He loses his income, significant time with his children, his authority in his children’s life, and his ability to be seen providing for his children. The children only see their mother providing, even though the resources she uses came from their father. The cost of divorce lies squarely on a father’s shoulders, and all too often they aren’t the ones who initiated the divorce. Many like to say the cost is bore by the children, but that is only true because of the losses that happen to the father, or in rare case the mother. The children would be much better off if the parents were told to figure things out, and take care of your kids together. Let nature takes its course with the parents, and there will be less animosity and fighting. We need to stop using the worst examples to set how we are going to handle the average cases for everyone.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

December 1

Letting Go

10 of 365 - Let Go

This is something I am not good at. When I take a Meyer’s-Brigg’s personality test, I always get INTJ. I have found this tool to be very accurate in describing how I think and react to things. This type is rare, and struggles finding people to associate with. We are not understood well, and though we understand others, we don’t see value in acting on things that fit right, so we easily discount others. This makes relationships hard, but one of the things often associated with an INTJ is loyalty, so once a relationship is established we will fight for them. I think my story shows how willing I am to do this. Lets break down my personal perspective on being INTJ before we get to far.

I – Introversion preferred to Extroversion: This means that social interaction costs something. It can be tiring. This does not mean that I am not social. I am very social. I am not energizes by being social I seek time alone to recharge my batteries. A relationship that cannot respect this about me will not be valued.

N – Intuition preferred to sensing: I see the big picture, and tend to focus on that. When I get into the details, I am very good at figuring them out with my sights on the big picture. The problems tend to come when I allow perfectionism to blind me to finishing the goal. I can get mired in the details, and fail to ever reach my goal. This has happened in my divorce, and it happens a lot at work. Its a constant topic with my boss. He gets it, and its his job to kick me in the head to shake things up. We have a good relationship in that way.

T – Thinking preferred to feeling: Logic is the greatest thing for making decisions. Social constructs don’t matter much to me. I will try to reason my way through the world. This works great at building and designing things, but it doesn’t always work well in dealing with people. People don’t make sense. They are illogical. I often can predict what someone will do like I am living in a video game, but I fail to find the capacity to act on that knowledge because it doesn’t make sense. This is something that I am working on.

J – Judgement preferred to perception: Predictability is the core of this trait. Decisions that I will make are not hard to figure out. I have given you all you need to know to know how I will react to something. Most often this trait is one that drives early decision making. I don’t tend to this. This is also in the more comprehensive tests for me the lower case version. It is my weakest trait in the INTJ or INTj. I come close to the middle on this one, but always have fallen to the J not the P.

I explain all this, because what I have been going through has really torn at my core. The person I chose as my mate has turned against me in the ways that hurt the most. I struggle to show emotion. I don’t always process emotion in the moment. When I do, I am surprised by it. My family has changed a lot since I started this process, and that is where things have gotten messy.

My Dad died two years ago. I miss him everyday. He was very different than me, and we had great arguments. The best kind. I never doubted I was loved by that man. He and I didn’t always see eye to eye, but we knew we could count on each other. I know he had brain cancer, but he died not believing in me. I struggle with that every day. I don’t know how to resolve the feeling that go with that. He saw me as a failure for the first time in my life. I know that his cancer affected how he perceived things, but it still hurts like a son of a bitch to think about it.

While my Dad was sick, my sister pushed me out of my mom’s circle. I was no longer someone she called. I didn’t see at the time, that my sister was doing this, but as I look back, I see that she was actively pushing me out of my mom’s life. A little less than a year ago, she stopped talking to me. I don’t know why. She withdrew almost completely. At family events, she talked around me, but almost never to me. She began talking to my ex at events more and more, and now openly treats her like a sister while ignoring me, and insisting that my nieces and brother-in-law do the same. I haven’t had any significant time with any of them in quite a long time. My sister gets my kids together with hers by going through my ex. She actively rejects my step-kids. My step-son cried to his mom why his aunt doesn’t love him anymore.

My mom recently decided to make a huge issue out of a small issue. It revolved around my current wife. She has tried to force me to push her out. She is looking at things as if the marriage ceremony and vows don’t mean anything, because there is no legal license to go along with it. She wants me to choose her over my wife. That isn’t going to happen, as anyone who understand me or any other INTJ for that matter should know. My mom remarried on the day before my birthday. She did so on the down low. She didn’t want to be judged for living in sin.

My new step-father, a man I thought was going to be a good thing in my life has chosen a very poor course with me. He decided to step into this fight between my wife and my mother, and even my and my sister. He challenged me by emasculating me. He became the great white knight. He tried to cut me down before them, and insult my manhood. Its something he doesn’t belong in, but he put himself into the middle of and made it between me and him.

I will write about the details of all these things next. I am writing this because the results are hard for me. I have told my step-father that I am done with him. Those were the words he told me if I didn’t do what he expected. My sister doesn’t talk to me. I told my mom that we needed to take a break, because she isn’t hearing anything I have to say. I have to let go. Its time to let go.

Letting go is not something that I do well. I have to let go of the things I can’t control. I have to let go of what is right, at least in my case, when it comes to the family court process. I have to let go, because I will be called on to help others who are going through what I have gone through. I have to let go of the fatherly relationship that I desire. Mine is gone, and this man who married my mom isn’t going to fill his shoes. From what I can tell he already has a son like me, and isn’t interested in him either. I have to let go of my sister. I don’t have the emotional cycles to deal with whatever she isn’t talking about. I am not going to pretend that I am innocent. I just don’t know what is bothering her. My mom has chosen to be more selfish than I have ever known her to be. I have to let that go. She isn’t hearing me right now. She may never hear me again. My father may have been more the translator than I ever thought he was for us. What I can hold on to is the fact that my father and his father are the only men who loved me for who I am, and accepted who I am as well. That is enough.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

October 9

People Don’t Like Change

changing fate

It seems that I have been a too go with the flow for too long now. I have done what others want far too often. Generally, I don’t care. I am the last to do something in the crowd, and often miss out because time has run out. I am the one that takes the kids, so the adults can spend time together. At least I used to be that guy. Recently I have asserted myself in many ways. Its the only way I can break the chains that held me in my marriage. The people in my life don’t seem to like it.

My sister has been moving farther and farther away from me. The excuses I hear are far more recent than the the actions she has taken. I still believe that my ex has put herself in the middle. I don’t know exactly to what end. In the past I would be be asking forgiveness for the wrongs that are perceived. I don’t have it in me. Preserving the relationship would have been the choice I always made in the past, but I spent too many years doing that everyday for my ex. Trying to figure out what I did wrong. Hoping I never did anything so wrong again that she would cheat again or worse leave. I shouldered the blame for everything that was wrong. I started to believe that I was solely responsible for all my relationships. I understand that this is crazy thinking. As it applies to my sister, this change has not sat well with her. She views me as a taker in her life, though I haven’t asked or taken anything from her. I do believe that as I look back. The only thing I got help from her family on, was my daughter needed a ride for soccer practice. I always offered to take one way, but they never took me up on this. For most of the year, I have invited her family to things we were doing. They chosen to do other things over this time every time.

My mom has been a sideline player in my life since I have been an adult. I don’t understand why this is. I thought that we were getting somewhere new over the past few years, but it seems that this is not the case. She is pushing me back. She has assisted with financial things over the past few years, and I am grateful for this. I don’t know where I would be without that help. It seems that the financial help has been a substitute for the other affection that I could have used. I don’t understand her reactions to things. For a while I gave her grace. My father was dying, and my circumstances were changing all at the same time. I wasn’t sure she had much to give. She was a sounding board for me. She heard some of the crazy thinking that I had through all of this. Some of which is in this blog, but much of it simply needed to be talked out. She largely doesn’t understand what I am going through. She knows a piece of the pain, but she can’t fathom the fullness of it, and I hope she never has to.

I am not the same person that I used to be. I know this. I am harder. I am slowly learning that there is no justice. I am also learning that everyone has to take care of themselves first. This is not something I like about human nature. I thought that somehow I had managed to build a network around me that was different. Mostly because I was always willing to go out of my way for others. I didn’t realize that those others aren’t there for me. They never were. I don’t know that I want to change so much that I don’t look out for others, but I do need to start taking care of myself first. Letting things go to take care of others is only going to kill me sooner than I have to die. I can say that my thinking has gone from “What would they do if I were gone” to “They wouldn’t miss me if I were gone.” Its sad to think that way. I think its true for my kids as well as almost everyone else I know. They might be sad for a minute or two, but life would simply go on. At this point, I am not even sure how many great stories would be told about me. I hope to find a better outlook on life soon. Its time to shift my thinking.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

June 9

To Fight the Fight, or Not

Clint Hester Finishes his Opponent at Wild Bills Fight Night

This question is one that I have struggled with. I have a real problem with the fairness of things, or more the unfairness. The system ultimately stands on these three principles. One, the children’s best interest is the underlying right that trumps all other rights. I have seen this through the process, and its is the giant hammer to smash all problems. Two, the mother is generally considered a better arbiter of the children’s best interest than anyone else involved, and the experts will back this up. Three, it is all actually about child support.

My first point is this. The children’t best interest is strong enough to strip everyone else of their rights. You may not know it, because it only becomes an issue in divorce and a few other more obscure child welfare type cases, but the children have a right to a portion of your income. That’s right, they don’t just have a right to the benefits that you bestow upon them as a parent, but a right to the actual income. This of course is child support. The child’s best interest determines whether a father or mother are allowed to be involved in the child’s life. Some might say this is right and correct. With what I have seen in the system, and I have seen a lot. I have adopted kids through foster care. The bar needs to be raised. The bar should require criminal negligence of some sort to remove kids from a parent. I am sorry, but children are raised in imperfect circumstances all the time all over the world, and guess what. Many of them grow up through those circumstances to be great leaders. You might even argue that they grow up to be great leaders because of those circumstances. Another right your children are bestowed, but you may not about is lifestyle. The kids have a right to maintain a certain lifestyle. Without divorce, you wouldn’t know this, because most kids don’t know how to advocate for themselves through the system, but the principle comes into play during divorce. One parent is deemed the keeper of the kids lifestyle, and thus they get all the benefits after divorce of maintaining that lifestyle, while the other parent is required to continue to fund a lifestyle they are not able to maintain for themselves. I read comments on blogs a lot, and the underlying argument used by many, is that we, NCPs (generally fathers), should be happy our children our being taken care of. The truth is, I expect no less. My children deserve to be taken care of. I am also fully capable of doing so. I am not only capable of doing so, but capable of doing so with my own income and resources all by myself. The system generally punishes the parent who can say that. The other parent will receive control of the kids, and get the benefits of the children’s lifestyle. In the name of the children’s best interest, one parent is chosen to outrank the other, and the other parent is quite literally indentured to the other parent until such time the children are considered legally emancipated from their parents. The court does so very pragmatically. They seem to be looking out for the children on the surface. The truth is the court is actually trying to limit whether or how often the parties return. When one parent is so substantially limited in their spending abilities and power over the children as an authority in their life, then it less likely that disputes will return to court. This is at least the theory that they operate on. The truth is that a few years after divorce the parenting time and arguments have usually subsided when both parents are granted equal access and control or authority in the children’s lives. This does not mean that each parent takes equal responsibility, but that things work themselves out in a way both parents are happy with the resolution. This leads to better outcomes for the kids. When the court chooses sides, the parents are more likely to spend more time in court, and ultimately this is money in the bank for lawyers and court systems, so they aren’t really motivated to limit conflict.

The second point is that the mother is generally considered better at determining what is best for the children. I will agree on the principle, but not on the importance of the idea. Mother’s most definitely look out for the children’s needs as children. Father’s on the other hand take on the task of raising adults. It is the combination of the two ideals that benefit the children. Ours society is full of overgrown children. They are healthy and unproductive. They spend their time doing thing of no value. Our society has also neutered fathers in every family law case I know of. It is a father who divvies out the harsh punishments. It is a father who demands that a child participate in taking care of the business of the house. It is the father that children run to when they have made a major mistake and need the hard, and sometimes cold, solutions that a father provides. When the father is shutout, or limited in his authority in his kids lives, they lose this. I will talk about how this is true in my family later. The mother is the nurturer. She provides an important factor to raising kids, even older ones, but without the God designed balance in the kids lives, then they will be well nurtured and cared for, and totally incapable of taking on the world on their own. Like I said before, I struggle with the unfairness of it all. I also have to face the realities presented to me. I am not going to get a fair deal. I am still my kids father. I am going to live my life without a significant portion of my income. I will have to tell my kids no, when I should be able to say yes, but finances won’t allow it. I know plenty of people with less money, but it is terribly frustrating to have less income at my disposal than my ex earns, while she has more income at her disposal than I earn. The courts have more than reversed our incomes and granted her control. She will, even with her limited capacity, nurture my children. She won’t raise them into adults. That will probably happen when the kids are legally adults, and she becomes tired of them. They will run to me, and I will have to give them a serious dose of reality. I will care for them, but with heavy hand. I will be more the mentor than the father at that time. I will have to teach them how to be adults in a very short period of time. For some of them, this will be an easy challenge, and for others this will be miserably difficult.

The third point is the most true. All the rationalizing in the other two are really for the purpose of this one. Child support is king. The states earn money by collecting child support. They get money from the payors and payees for handling the transaction. In some states this is a pretty hefty percentage. In others, it is a flat fee. They get this for imposing themselves into the middle of the case. On top of that, they are being paid by the Federal government for collecting support. Child support falls in the category of welfare. Part of the legal underpinnings of child support is that the mother has been abandoned and the father is not taking responsibility for the children. The courts artificially create an abandonment scenario in most cases, just so long as one of the parents wants to push it. This allows them to impose child support. Child support is in part punitive for abandoning your children and wife. Modern divorce of course is driven by women. Women don’t want to be in the confines of their marriage, and thus step out. The courts allow them to do so, and yet maintain their lifestyle, so long as their are children involved to justify it. The actual and marginal expenses of my children do not equal what I pay in child support. This includes their lifestyle expenses. She is never called upon to use her income to fund the children. Yes the calculators make it appear that she does, but if you look at how the formulas work, then you will see that it has very little effect on the numbers how much she earns. The payor’s income is the primary determining factor of child support. I have my children nearly equal time, but not equal enough any more. I have to maintain a home and feed them, and all the other things that a parent does for their children. None of this matters. I have to figure out how to do that on what I have left. I am amazed at how many men figure this out. It is a testament to how men operate, that they figure this out. Statistics show time and time again that years out from divorce, men are winning, and women are not. How can this be. There is only one way that this can be. Men are stronger emotionally and intellectually. I am not making a judgement based on sex, but more on the fact that society does not save men from failing. This forces them to be stronger. In the same way that father’s make their children stronger. When people look at divorce reform, and how to make things better for everyone, they need to look at child support and alimony. These transfers of wealth are the single biggest drivers in frivolous divorce. They are also the primary drivers in most litigation in divorce. If child support is more clearly defined as to what it is supposed to fund, and then the calculations are based on funding those things, they numbers will go down. Men will be able to be active providers in their children’s lives, and they will tend to disappear less from their children’s lives.

As to the question posed in the title. To fight or not. Well that one is harder to address. I have lost a lot of money fighting. I have lost my time fighting. I have lost my authority fighting. I am not sure any of it was worth it. I was a bit delusional in believing that the the rules and legislation from the state government would give me a leg to stand on. The courts are still pretty autonomous, and they make their decisions as they see fit. Understanding that no one in the higher courts wants to deal with domestic issues helps to put in perspective that the family courts are given a tremendous amount of freedom in these cases. The other thing that rules the day, and allows for the courts to do as they please is the concept of “The Best Interest of the Child”. This is a concept that is self contained in your case,so it can’t include all children that are connected to the case. It can only involve the children of the parties that are sharing parenting. So a man with 3 kids by 3 mothers can end up in 3 different courts, with 3 different and possibly contradicting definitions being applied to the case under the guise of the “Best Interest of the Child.” In my case the best interest of one child is being held up above the best interests of the other children. He rules the day. This would be my oldest son, who without remorse sexually abused a kid half his age. My lack of warmth towards him is what matters most to the court. My desire to protect the other kids from his is deemed harmful by the court, because it hurts him. This is the standard that we are abiding by in family court. If we were married, we could petition the state to take him back into their care. He is demonstrating psychological disorders that we were not prepared to deal with. I might sound cold in saying this, and it doesn’t demonstrate the entirety of my feelings, but the state gave us a problem to deal with so they didn’t have to, and we are not well equipped to deal with that problem, so they should shoulder the responsibility of that problem. I love my son. A day doesn’t go by, where I don’t think about him, and grieve the loss of seeing him grow into the man who could be. I hope that he turns his life around, but all I see is patterns of him never taking responsibility for his actions. Life happens to him. I know how easy it is to fall into that trap. I have done it through the divorce process. I am now looking to take control of what I have control over, and move on. It pains me that so much control has been stripped from me, but these are the cards that I am dealt. Much of it is un-American, but that doesn’t change reality. I do my best. I am working at not taking pleasure in the idea that she will fail in the long run, because its not good for me. It will be even worse for me, if she doesn’t fail, and figures it out. The one thing, I will take from this is, I will not be friends with my ex when this is all done. I do not relish major events where I get pushed to the side, so the kids can please their mother. I know that their life is not as good as I could provide in my own home. I will not thank her for raising my kids, regardless of the responsibility she takes. I won’t because, I did not choose this. I would gladly raise my kids in my home. I would provide for them from my checkbook. Instead my kids don’t know or understand that I am still their provider. That I pay enough in child support to pay their mothers rent and utilities with money left over for the car payment. That all they have in their mothers home is in part paid for by me. This makes me sad, but there is nothing I can do about it.

I am done fighting. I will take what I can with my kids. I am not allowed to give them responsibilities in my house. I am relegated to a hotel to provide babysitting services, so their mom gets a break. A privilege I get to pay for. They won’t understand this for years, if ever. I can’t let them watch the step-sibling, even for a brief amount of time. I can’t leave them home alone, even though they are old enough to care for themselves for a few hours, and the autonomy teaches them responsibility. I cannot ask them to do chores, because they feel like servants in my home. The fight has cost me additional freedom beyond what divorce cost me to begin with. My only words of advice to men is they should go nuclear from the start. Don’t worry about your parenting relationship with the your ex. You can try and mend that later. She is unlikely to hold back, and you are likely to end up right where I am at. Women have the advantage, so don’t be afraid to paint the picture of her as a monster. Win the war, then be fair in your treatise. That is the only way to engage family court. I also want to scream at the top of my lungs for men to start fighting the fight before they are facing divorce. Get your representatives to change the standards for family court, and to put teeth in the laws they are writing. Get them to require that criminal actions that affect the children be involved to limit the time a dad has with his kids. With the most recent ruling. I have only seen my kids a few days in the last month and a half. This is not right, but it there is nothing I can do to change it. My only recourse is the courts, and they are not likely to defend my or my children, for they have taken the stand already on behalf of my children in favor of their mother. I will not fight. It hurts too much. I am working on creating ways to connect with my kids, so that they still come to me on their own. I will write about some of those next.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

February 25

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

March 25

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

May 10

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

April 27

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