Submitted by Delaine
Does this scenario rings any bells?
Sue is the primary caregiver of her two children. Her ex, Brian, is a part-time dad who pays child support and takes the kids every second weekend and one evening/week.
When they first got separated, Brian was very concerned about his limited access to the kids; he wanted them as much as possible. He also requested the ‘right of first refusal’ – that is, if Sue ever needed a babysitter, she would be required to call him first.
Six months into the divorce. Things have started to change. Not once has Brian acted on his right of first refusal. And he’s often late or changing his scheduled time with the kids. Sue hears about “important work commitments” and “bad traffic” and “a sudden business trip out of town.” She accommodates him – after all, life happens and plans sometimes have to be broken. Moreover, she feels a bit indebted to him – he’s paying her child and spousal support after all…
A few months later, it dawns on Sue that the only ‘constant’ is Brian’s ‘inconsistency’ with adhering to his time with the kids. She’s tired of constantly cancelling plans and not being able to make them. She’s also feeling burnt out – she hasn’t had down town in ages! She’s beginning to wonder if he’s taking advantage of her. Is he ever going to fulfill his parenting responsibilities or is she inadvertently enabling him not to? When is enough, ENOUGH?
Finally, The Moment of Revelation arrives. He calls her a few days before a weekend he’s to take the kids. “I need to get my brakes fixed on my truck,” he says. “So I’ll need to take the kids Friday night only and return them Saturday morning at 8 a.m.”
“Alright,” says Sue. “And when will you be back to get them?”
“I won’t,” he says irritated. “It’s going to take the rest of the weekend for me to fix them.”
Anger boils in Sue’s stomach. As if he’s going to work on his brakes all day Saturday, Saturday night AND all day Sunday till 7 p.m.! He IS taking advantage of her!
“No,” she responds. “I have plans and you’ll have to find a babysitter.”
“Sue, do you have any idea how boring it will be for the kids while I get my brakes fixed?”
“Brian, I haul the kids around to do errands too – all the time in fact. It’s part of being a parent.”
“Don’t tell ME what’s involved in being a parent,” Brian responds angrily. “You don’t know what it’s like to have to WORK full-time too. You’re just a mom. I PAY you to look after the kids.”
And there we have it. Apparently, because Brian pays Sue support, she is his 24–hour employee. And as for his parenting responsibilities and his relationships with his kids – well, I guess ensuring Sue is his workhorse is more important.
Have you been in a similar situation? What did it take for you to put your foot down? How do you manage an ex with such a disrespectful belief system?