The side effects of sole custody

Don’t give up and don’t get discouraged. We finally won joint custody last Spring after the ex had fought my husband on it for months. I am not going to pretend that our situation was or is as dire as yours but we saw some behavioral and attitude issues that needed addressing. Between identifying behavior and explaining how it wasn’t acceptable to getting outside with him and playing sports and games and taking walks…We began to see a postive change in about 4 months. Better attitude and weight loss.
One thing that you do mention is that you “prod him to go outside” but he won’t go. How about going with him? Does he have friends in your neighborhood? Some kids are too shy or reluctant to try and seek out kids. My stepson is very active but he won’t play outside by himself either. We take him for walks and hikes and my husband throws the football or basketball with him. We do these types of things just about every night.
It seems that you are getting bogged down in pointing out how bad your ex is/was and the negative effect on your child. I would start really looking for ways to bond with him. You are his dad and it is natural that he will look to you as a role model. Think of fun activities that the two of you can do together to spend time…fishing, bowling, cub scouts, church, teaching him sports, going to games. Instead of working so hard to undue the bad example she has set, try and set an example of your own that is positive and helps this child’s self image and makes him see you as a positive role model.

As absurd and as absurdly infuriating as this all is to you, it appears that you remain hooked on the illusion, however, false that if you parent just right you can spare your son from the contingencies of life as a broken human being amidst broken beings. I too get hooked on the heresy of the perfect parent. Our desire for our children’s happiness and growth is good (Who can argue that a calm, loving, and devoted family is not precisely what every child needs and deserves?). But the promise of a child who never feels angry, gets sick, or does not whine is patently false. And living as though I am my child’s ticket to success allows little room for grace or resiliency when something bad or simply human happens. It frames his or her existence with the perpetual threat of being forever stunted or at least diminished by every missed opportunity or crappy moment in his/her parents’ lives.

My children pull me out of myself and shake my sense of competence on a daily basis. And in this, they offer an almost constant opportunity to divest myself of the illusion that I am in control–an opportunity I greet with exasperation more often than not, but an opening to grace still and all. May you and your Ex find such grace through the community of your family.

Children deserve the love, care, nuture and companionship of both parents. No fit parent should ever be deprived of the right to be in their child’s life. Fight for your children by seeking shared custody. Also help your child by helping yourself… develop your own mental and physical health, read books on good parenting, never speak ill of your ex to your children and give them as much of your time as you can.

If you ever need to talk to a fellow father who is going through similar experiences, let me know and I’ll send you my contact info.

I’m so very glad that you have your son in your life now. While our situation is not nearly so drastic, my youngest stepson is very similar. His mother is one that thrives on chaos and has her mother to “bail” her out of any finacial situation that she finds herself in. She has no real resposibility or what she does have there’s always a “safety net” for it. He has watched his mother sleep all day and stay up all night, working or partying, and can’t understand why we won’t let him be lazy. He has lost 2 PSP’s. His mother bought one and her mother, his grandmother bought the second one. And he expects to us to buy him another…

Make no mistake, you ARE trying to deprogram him. (We do this almost weekly) You have to start with sitting down to explain that you don’t like where his attitude on life is going to take him and that together you are going to change that. Ask him what he will be willing to do, physically to get out. Would he like to try hiking, walking around the neighborhood, riding bikes…see what he would be willing to do. Some children are indoor kids, no matter what you do. I was one. I love being outdoors now but for the most part, even if I’m outside I’m reading. Now, during the winter, try a computer games or cards. Get him involved in something so that you can start pinpointing where he needs the most guidance.

Give him an allowance for his report card or small household chores. This may be a way to teach him about the value of money. Don’t ever tell him that you don’t have the money for something he asks for because he will be upset when you have money for something that you want. Instead, just tell him you aren’t buying it for him. You are the adult and don’t need to make excuses. We made this same mistake.

Make sure that he knows that there will be punishment and rewards for what he does or does not do and make sure he understands what those things are. Maybe a list of “House rules” and “Weekend fun”. My stepsons have learned that if they get up and get ready to work, clean their rooms and get everything done on Sat. then Sunday they can pretty much do as they wish.

The best thing to do is to be consistent and remember that this will take time. You can not expect to see results overnight (8 months after 8 years is “overnight”). Live your life how you would want them to live theirs. The years that you had limited contact with your son was a very impressionable time but it can be changed. I don’t believe it’s ever too late to change a behavior. My husband and I wonder how the boys will be as adults all the time. All we can do is provide the best role models we can, try to instill in them the values that we have and the importance of being honest and responsible for yourself and your actions, and pray that it has more influence in their minds than their mother’s … easier lifestyle.

On a side note, are your daughters still with their mother? The lifestyle that they grow up in will likely be the lifestyle that they lead, if there is no other influence in their lives. My oldest stepson has started in the last year telling us that he knows his mother will never be happy because she can’t be without a man but she runs off every man in her life. He’s 12 and no one has ever said this to him that I know of…he came up with this by seeing how we live vs. how she lives.

I am not trying to rub salt into these wounds, but were you involved in the child’s life before he was sent to you? I do not advocate for the parenting at the excusion of the other parent, but to have a stable location for home. My ex is welcome to participate at school activities, sporting events, or even out to dinner anytime. I would like advance notice in case we have something else scheduled. My son goes to his father’s every weekend, I do not stand in their way. BUT I am the one who makes desicions when it comes to punishments, camps, school work, med/dental care. He has every oppritunity to be with his father, but I am home, rues, stability. I have sole custody. I see the “damage” when my son comes back from his father’s… he has an ora of BO, he is lazy and insulent… If I had to “deprorgam” after a week… every other week, I’d go nuts. This is why I have full custody. Not because I am trying to spite the other parent, but because I want what is best for my son.

[i]Originally posted by trbotina[/i] [br]My ex is welcome to participate... BUT I am the one who makes desicions when it comes to punishments, camps, school work, med/dental care. He has every oppritunity to be with his father, but I am home, rues, stability. I have sole custody. when my son comes back from his father's... he is lazy and insulent....

You let your child’s father participate in his son’s life? How generous of you. But have you ever considered that perhaps it is your own controlling nature that elicits a rebellious response from your son? Your need to dominate is very evident in the way you write about how much power you have over your ex. Could it be that you exert similar, stiffling control over your son? That might explain why, after only 2 days of freedom with his father, that he returns home and is slow to relinquish his autonomy. This is only a guess on my part - so please don’t take offense. I don’t know you, your ex or your child. You just seem to relish the fact that you are “in control” and are kindly dropping a few crumbs of involvment to your ex.

hawkman was denied by his ex any contact with his children for quite a while. This isn’t a case of a father not wanting to be involved, it’s a case of a lunatic ex trying to control him through the children. He was not ALLOWED to be involved, visit or even speak with his children and when he tried, she moved without notifying him. This was his ex doing this, not the courts.
The children are the ones that always lose in divorce, regardless of who the courts say wins.

I’d like to restate my belief that everyone who posts on this forum is going through their own personal hell with separation/custody/divorce. They come here for moral, emotional support and legal advice, not to be badgered by others who do not believe as they do. Your situation may be bad, but to some this is the most crippling painful thing they have ever gone through.
Every ex-wife is a psychotic, lying, manipulative, gold digging b*tch and every ex-husband is a sneaky, cheating, lazy, unreliable backstabbing b**tard. Present company excluded [;)] Your ex is this or worse and so is mine. Every one of us has an ex and is an ex to someone else. What you believe about your ex is probably what your ex believes about you. So, unless the poster on this board IS your ex, please be kind and supportive in your responses.

Hawkman, I apologize. I was unaware that the children were hidden form you. That is not right, except in the case od domestic violence. I can only imagine the hell this put you through. I pray you two’ll find common ground to build a realtionship on.

It’s amazing how quickly and (possibly) unknowingly a parent can destroy their own child. My son has been with us for over 8 months now, after living with “mom” for the last 8 years, and having limited contact with me. Every day that passes we see more and more the damage one bad parent can cause.
The current way our legal system handles custody issues only plays into damaging our children, and sets them up for failure in the future. Because our courts condone, and even encourage, alienating the non-custodial parent, our children are becoming the next welfare recipients, the next career criminals, the next victims of drug and alcohol abuse.
When one parent is allowed to be the only “role model” in a child’s life, our children begin to emulate and accept the behavior of that one parent, wrong or right, as the acceptable norm in society. Will my daughters grow up to think that it’s acceptable to have multiple “partners”, and move in with whatever man she can manipulate to her benefit? Will they think that they are supposed to “go out” until the next day every weekend? How are they going to be able to recognize when they are in a good relationship versus a destructive one if they’ve never been able to experience the former?
My son has learned from his mother that money is no issue. He’s asked me for things, repeatedly, but never even considered how much it costs. In the eight years with his mother, he’s come to live in a fantasy world. Money is no object, because he believes that once a month, a check magically appears that is nothing but disposable income. The concept of your word is your bond is totally forei[:(!]gn to him. As much as I pry and prod him to go outside, he won’t, because he spent so many years as a latch key kid while mom went out looking for her next victim. He has low self esteem because no one’s taken the time to praise him for his successes and no one’s ever taught him how to deal with failure.
He’s just going through life on cruise control, waiting for the things he wants and needs to magically drop in his lap, because he’s seen this example over and over thanks to the one parent system our courts allow. He has no motivation, no desire to improve himself, and no sense of responsibility or honor. His only concerns are what he wants and how soon can he get it.
How many of us have watched the nightly news in disgust or amazement at how quickly it seems our society in this country is falling apart? We see the acts of the younger generation becoming more and more outrageous and disturbing, but our courts continue to ignore the hundreds of studies that show the negative effects on children that are alienated from one parent.
Here at home, we’re trying everyday. At times, it almost feels like I’m trying to de-program a cult member. Nothing seems to work. I literally spend hours every day trying to undo the damage that has been done by his mother. My nights are spent wondering if I can actually undo what has been done to him, and how I can do it. The one thing that is most disturbing to me about this is the realization that it is very possible that my one and only son, may very well grow up to be nothing like his Father, despite my best efforts.

I have uncontested sole custody of my son. So I will only be able to speak on obervances of my husbands experience with joint custody. For the most part it has boiled down to when they are with the ex she has control, when theyre with us we have control. Control meaning over what they do, who they see, what they eat, what they wear. She lives in another state moved last year and there were issues with her wanting him us pay her travel and hotel in order to keep her allotted nights. She put out the option of spliting the kids up. Obviously this was not something we wanted to do. We were able to work it out without the courts after many emails and threats from her to take us to court. In essence, there must be communication between all parties, the best intrests of the children, and knowing the childrens needs are first and formost. The kids were young when she left so they dont know any different. I do not believe this arrangement would work for my ex and I because he is irrsponsible and honestly has no desire to be held accountable for the seriousness of raising a kid. I wonder somethimes what it will be like when they are teenagers. They go to school here, what will happen when they want to go to the football game instead of driving three hours to Virginia? As it stands now we keep their activities during our time so they dont miss out on games / competitions.