I just had a visit with my son. He is so much like me. He is so kind hearted I’m afraid it will get him hurt one day. He had a hard life growing up. It’s partly my fault. His dad and I split up when Josh was 4 and after fighting for custody and trying to get an extra weekend here and there I gave up. I had custody through the week and his father got every weekend, but that’s not how it always happened. His dad would bring him home right before school on Monday morning, he kept Josh extra days over the holidays and at first I would argue with my ex. Then I saw what it did to Josh whenever he saw his dad and I argue. Josh seemed to want to spend the extra time with his dad and grandparents on his dads’side and I had major issues going on in my life at the time so I quit fighting.
Here we are, 16 years later. What’s the saying? “If I knew then what I know now.” I missed some of the most important moments in my sons life. I mean sure he knows how to put brakes on a car, fix the kitchen sink, and get the lawn mower running but he doesn’t know how to express his feelings or state his opinions. He is so scared to hurt someones feelings so when you ask him what he thinks about something or ask what movie he’d like to watch he freezes up and mumbles that it’s up to you, he’s fine with whatever you want. He was given absolutely zero encouragement or praise concerning things he was interested in. What I’m trying to say is when adults split up and kids are involved both parents are equally important and responsible to raise that kid. I don’t care that you can’t stand the sight of your ex, you have to put that aside and do what’s best for the kids.
Another problem I encountered was the new girlfriend/boyfriend. My new boyfriend tried to tell me how things should be regarding my son and you know what?, he wasn’t raising his own daughter. Then my ex’s new girlfriend starting butting in. She had a daughter and son, the son was my sons age so everything he did (such as soccer) the new girlfriend thought my son should do too. Let me tell you, my son hates soccer. Now my son barely speaks to his dad, the grandparents have passed away and my son seems lost. He is so used to his controlling father and grandfather telling him how and when to do something that now that he doesn’t have that he doesn’t seem to know what to do.
I just want to remind everyone that both sides of the family are equally important. You don’t have to like each other’s opinions, way of life etc., but please keep your opinions to yourself (at least when the young ones are around) because you don’t realize how guilty they can feel for wanting to stay with one parent one weekend or do something with an uncle the next. Encourage them to voice what they want, and don’t be mad when they’re honest with you. My son carries a tremendous amount of guilt around and I’m trying hard to help him to let go of it.
The next time you raise your voice on the phone with your ex, please be aware of the little ears that may be listening and include them on decisions. They may be too young to make their own decisions but it will help their self-esteem and when the time comes to make their own decisions you can rest assured that you taught them well.