Friday, July 5, 2013
I am so unbelievably relieved to say that, for me, my battle is over. After being in an extremely unhealthy, and at times violent, marriage for years I was divorced 5 1/2 years ago. It has been a long five years, but I can say it is over. The last 5 years have been ongoing battles for child support and issues dealing with business and me being left with all debts and payments just to "get the divorce over with."
My ex has not spent time with his kids over the last five years, but living in the same area and him even owning a bar between our home and school for a little while, it was very stressful for them and me. With a lot of time, patience (honestly I struggled with being patient), family support, and most of all our faith, it has come to an end. In March, my kids changed their last name to my maiden name and my older son even changed his first name because he was a junior named after his dad. I will go into how that finally was accomplished later.
I don't like reliving everything. I can't tell you the relief and peace I feel knowing it is over, but it was a long, long, rough road and I know it is still going on and/or just beginning for a lot of women in my shoes. That is why I will talk about some of this issues on here because, unfortunately I have learned more about what NOT to do than what to do, but I have learned some things and formed very strong opinions about many issues along the way. I felt like writing about it today because I have a family member going through a similar situation and I just don't believe our court system is using common sense at all.
In my situation, my ex didn't even try to have a relationship with his kids. I didn't have to deal with two sets of rules, sharing my kids for holidays, or even having to be in the same room with him for events. I stuck it out being married until I knew my kids would have a say so whether or not to be with their dad. In the first couple of months both of my boys went with him (I think my daughter went twice), but it wasn't a healthy or safe environment and after them throwing up before having to go and me feeling like I was the worst mom in the world for handing them over to a risky situation and poor example I said they didn't have to go back. My ex didn't fight for them at all, in fact he got angry with them for not going on visitation so he has just left them alone since.
Most of my battles were about money. Child support was a big issue, but some tax and business dealings from our divorce settlement were the biggest battles. Even though I didn't have a big custody fight, the way the system deals with irresponsible parents is my main issue with the courts. They are so worried about parental rights and if a parent is being alienated, the kids completely lose all rights in the process. Just like the name change. If you have a parent who refuses to see his kids or pay child support and the kids are over 12 and can explain why they want the name of the parent raising them in every way, what is your problem with it??!?? I know the judges have a tough job of making decisions for families that they see briefly in their courtroom, but that is part of the problem. Maybe that somehow needs to be changed. Perhaps having more than one judge hear a case. I am aware we have social workers and people in place for abusive parents, but there are a lot of "fine line" situations that are falling through the cracks. There are times I should have called the police during my marriage, but I called my parents instead. I was afraid of my kids getting taken because of my call. A lot of times the person who needs to be removed isn't and the kids are sent somewhere considered safer. I realize divorce is all over the place and it is hard to get to the bottom of each and every situation, but my main issue is how the courts are so determined to defend parental rights they just don't use common sense.
In the situation of my family member, there are three children. In this case, the mom has decided it is too hard for her to take care of them and they are better off with the dad. (She isn't sick or has any legitimate reason in putting her kids' needs before her own, she is simply being selfish and enjoying her independence) There are so many cases like this. It isn't always the dad who is the deadbeat, but I am sorry, I just have no patience with this kind of immaturity. If a parent can't be consistent and responsible, then back off and stay away until you can be good for your kids. I hear people say, but that's their mom, but that's their dad, they need to see them. I agree 200%! However, if you are a parent who is going to show up when it suits you or to just piss the other parent off then you need to go spend some time growing up and get your crap together then come back and be a positive influence in your childrens' lives. The inconsistency does way more harm than good. Courts are so worried that a parent is being kept from children that they don't stop to think about the kids.
I had to take a one day parenting class before my divorce was granted. In one day they went over how to co parent and get along. Well, first of all, these parents are in this class because they can't get along so do you really think in one day they will call a truce? (On a funny and ironic note, I had to spend Valentine's Day in this class with my ex. That was just cruel!)
We (parents, judges, and anyone else involved in the decision making) are the adults. We are the ones in power and in control of making sure these innocent little people have the best life possible despite the bum deal they are getting being from a broken home. We have to stop and think about how they are perceiving everything. It is beyond unfair and downright cruel to allow a parent to come in and out of a child's life and have so called adults think "well, they need some kind of relationship." That is a load of bull. All we are teaching these children is it is okay if you can't get your shit together long enough to get your priorities in order. It is okay not to expect the person you should trust the most to be there when you need them. It is okay to allow yourself to be disappointed.
I know I can't be the only one who sees how damaging this is to the emotional development of a child. These kids will grow up with a lowered self esteem and won't think they are worthy of being a priority. They will choose spouses who may not be loyal or even kind to them because they don't know to expect any more from a person who is supposed to love them. These kids will have lowered expectations for themselves and everyone else around them. And you know what? They will end up with a broken home for their children as well because they have not learned anything better.
I know it is harsh, but we have to think of the kids and give them rights. No wonder so many of them end up back in the court system. They have no respect for law or the court system because they have been let down by it. This sounds cold, but the courts have to step up and force parents to do right or have no rights. There is too much at stake and these innocent, sweet kids are paying enough as it is by being from a broken home, we owe it to them to give them a voice and the message that they are worth it. We will also be sending them the message that you have to be responsible or else there are consequences. I am just afraid that the way things are going our society as a whole is going to pay for the system letting these kids down.