Being honest and raw. On a soapbox. And needing your advice…

So we’re having our wedding party this weekend (more on that later.) But the synopsis of it is this: We were officially married on January 29, 2010. We have planned all along to spend our money on a party; and not on veils and altar candles.

Primarily, we wanted to have a laid-back celebration OF our family and friends. An appreciation to them for their support and love throughout the years. Then a short time of blessing for our marriage from our pastor, Eric. A prayer for us and a prayer for our children. That was very important to us – to publicly demonstrate our commitment to each other, before friends, family and God.

Scott’s entire family will be there. Aunts, uncles, brother, nieces, nephews, his daughter and her 3-year-old son. My family. My kids. Our friends. Everyone will be there…except Scott’s 13-year-old son.

I have absolutely no point of reference in this.
I am dumb-founded (not using that phrase lightly; I truly am.)
So I come to you. So often you teach me things.
I’m anxiously listening…

First, (before someone else says it first) divorce is not the perfect plan for this very reason. Especially when children are involved. This is why God talked about marriage and the importance of its sanctity.

That said, here is the situation:

Scott’s son is very involved in sports. Baseball, football, basketball…you name it.

Practice.
Games.
Every weekend and during the week.

Meaning, Scott never gets to see him. Very rarely.

According to the divorce decree Scott was to request his vacation time with his kids and this year, his ex-wife had first choice. She chose July 31. So he chose the July 24th weekend. He was to put this in request before April-something. He did that.

She has sent repeated guilt texts to him telling him that he is denying his son his dream. That because of this weekend his son’s (13, remember…) coach will kick him off the team and he might not get a college scholarship if that happens……

Again, I have no point of reference. My kids were involved in a lot of things; but family was a huge priority. Not any one thing exclusively.

And who are these leagues/teams/coaches that have total control over a kid’s schedule?
Happens in the summer AND during the schoolyear.

This situation makes me:
* immeasurably angry
* immensely sad

I can’t fight it. I can’t contribute to the resolution of it. My hands are completely tied.
I just have to sit by and watch Scott’s anguish over the entire situation.

He misses his son.
Terribly.

When he requests the right to see him, (a 50/50 custody situation, mind you) he is continually denied the right because his son has practice. Or a game. Or, he’s told he can have him for just a few hours. The July 4th weekend is the only weekend this year Scott’s been able to have his son overnight. And he had to have them back by 6pm (ON THE 4TH OF JULY!!!…fireworks, anyone?!)

And let’s not talk about the amount Scott pays each month for child support…

It is the most unreal situation I have ever seen (just short of that time period when I watched soap operas back in the 90’s…it’s very similar to every cheesy soap scenario I’ve ever seen.)

Through this I have become aware of the HUUUUGE disparity between men and women in divorce situations. WHEN did we decide as a society that fathers are ‘less’ of a parental unit than mothers?! And when did we decide that fathers can pay for their offspring – but not have the chance to love on them as much and often as their mothers get to?! Is a father considered to have strong feelings for his child? Just as a mother has a need to care for and love her children, so does a father!!

I’m not really even talking about legal issues, as much as implied feelings. Do you know what I mean?

It’s unreal.
I’m sorry; I keep saying that…

In the end Scott has to make the decision to “ruin his son’s dream” (as his ex-wife calls it) and force his son to attend a once-in-a-lifetime family event and the blessing of his marriage – or let him go to his baseball game.

Scott’s upset about it. As he continues to be every time he wonders about his son during the day or wants to just hang out with his kids. He texts them. And that’s been the primarily extent of the relationship he’s been allowed.

I know, I know…take it to court, right?
And he is recording it with his lawyer.

But legal matters don’t change the things parents tell their children in anger.

It’s so unfair.
So immensely unfair.

I am at a total loss about it or how to support Scott through it.

I’m wondering what you’re experience and/or thoughts are about it.

Mostly, as much as I have always believed God was able to do immeasurably more than we are able to ask or think……it’s even hard for me to fathom a hard heart being softened. Ever.

I pray.
But I am struggling with the belief……

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6 thoughts on “Being honest and raw. On a soapbox. And needing your advice…

  1. Oh, Greta! What a challenging situation, especially so early in your marriage

    No experience here, but I do have some questions and thoughts.

    I do agree with you that men seem to be slighted in a divorce/custody situation. They are not automatons, and many want more of their kids’ lives than just paying child support.

    You have mentioned that Scott’s ex-wife is saying all of this. Does his son have an opinion? Is he allowed to say when and where he is at any given time? If not, that will change in the very near future, whether the parents want it or not.

    At 13, he’s on the knife-edge of adolescence (and possibly on the downhill slide into it). If he is not allowed to voice his own opinions, there could be trouble in the future (and baseball will be the least of your worries).

    It could be that Scott’s ex-wife is using the son as a tool for manipulation. Or it could be that Scott’s son may not want to attend (for whatever reason) and is allowing his mom to speak for him.

    More than Scott *saying* what his son should do, he needs to be able to *hear* what the son wants and then make a decision. If the son wants to be at the celebration, he will resent being made to play baseball, even if it means a college scholarship. If he wants to play ball, Scott will be at the receiving end of the resentment if his son feels he *has* to be at the celebration.

    Just some thoughts from someone who was a headstrong teenager. 🙂

  2. You don’t want to get me started G!!! But if his son has a coach dangling “professional ball player” at thirteen? he needs a different coach. That is a quick way for a teenager to think he doesn’t need school, trust me been there done that!! Should of seen my grades!!! lol sp

  3. You can’t tell me that every kid on that team has made EVERY game!
    We have had kids miss on our team due to vacation, and these are kids in high school that could be professional. If I were Scott I would call the coach and talk to him. If that coach didn’t understand then maybe he does need a new coach. I think someone is just trying to lay a guilt trip on Scott to have her way. GRRR
    – Paula

  4. Greta, just what you DONT need right now, drama and stress! =( I know that my brother, who is divorced with 2 teenagers, struggles with this sort of thing too. He gets weekends and days switched because the kids want to go somewhere else with friends, have sporting events, etc. I think it only gets worse the older the kids get, sadly. I do know how important sports are to a 13 yr old too. But I honestly do NOT believe that missing one game/practice will decide whether or not he will play professional ball in the future. From my experience it was college scouts that come to the games in high school that determine that…anyways, I think Scott should talk directly to his son (if this is possible) and ask him what he would like to do. Maybe he doesnt want to go because he knows it would make his mother upset and then he would have to live with the repercussions from going? Also at that age they are not thinking how important this day is to their father…he’s a kid for crying out loud and doesn’t think of things like that! =) But whatever the outcome it should be decided between the son and the father. Good luck! xo

  5. Well having been a step-mama once myself the mothers do ALOT of talking for their kiddos without the kiddos knowing it . . . Scott needs to sit and talk directly with his son. Second of all Scott needs to talk to the coach – has the coach said this directly to Scott or is all of this “information” being filtered through the ex? Yes his lawyer needs to either get visitation enforced “OR” the child-support ammended – I know this sounds terrible but it has nothing to do with his son directly and more about hitting the ex where it seems to hurt her worse (if I remember she could be quite materialistic?) trust me having been in your shoes the best way to “manipulate” an ex-wife is with $$ and I don’t mean throwing more money at the problem. It might just be that while he’s a teen Scott is doing b-state visitation and attending every game possible and meeting his son on his turf. Quite frankly with a drama queen mother he probably does throw himself into sports as an escape and it’s not something I would pick a battle over but meet him where he’s at

  6. Greta,
    I am so so sorry for the added stress of a bitter ex-wife. The power of a Mother to influence her children directly or indirectly is imeasurable. I feel nothing but complete sorrow for Scott’s son. He has NO IDEA of what is being put in his head with what a 13 year old child would consider a passing comment about his father.

    Children of any age don’t have a clear, unfiltered opinion. They have very skewed memories and feelings of personal guilt, when they never have anything to do with the divorce itself. This Mother is like about 95% of other divorced Mom’s in America who are so unhappy, they actually thrive on the constant drama and want everyone else to suffer too.

    This is NOT about a stupid baseball game, but you know that. It is all in an effort to punish Scott for finding his truth, his happiness, his true love. I know you, it might have been a while since we have been together, but you are a kind, giving person. And, when you have a cause you believe in, watch out!!!

    Ive read the other posts and agree with some comments, but disagree with others. For the first time in this child’s life he is seeing, NOT hearing love, acceptance, happiness, and two people that really want the best for him. This speaks far more than Scott’s words at this very moment ever will. Children soak in every bit of their surroundings, the moods, the things we as adults often miss. Children damaged from an unhealthy marriage need all the support emotionally they can get. They internalize so much more than we ever know or they will tell. (Side note, spelling is not my strong suit… please excuse…)

    Im sorry I keep referring to him as “this child” but Im not sure of his name. Believe me Im NO expert on marriage, divorce, or anything inbetween, but I do know that when with the two of you he will learn what a healthy, loving relationship is. To this point “normal” to him is a whole different world than what he knew for 11 or 12 years as his core truth. Now, he has a whole new set of NORMAL, functioning, loving people that only want what is best for him. It is sinking into his sweet brain. I know it can make you want to explode in anger because you and Scott both see the damage she continues to impart.

    When Connor’s father and I parted ways, Dad was given the choice to live in KC or move back to St Louis. As he stood in our living room he looked at me and said, “Im moving back home to my family.” I tried to tell him HIS family was asleep in his crib upstairs. It fell on deaf ears though. Dad remarried, had more children, and Connor has been nothing but a support check I receive, if I receive it at all. Dad calls, maybe 4 times a year, and see’s him once or twice a year since he was 3. All of the visits have been at my instigation, getting him to St Louis and trying to not throddle Dad when I would see him. But, Connor is 16 now and will tell you himself he loves his Dad out of respect, but has no personal respect for him at all. Connor will occasionally ask about memories. I CHOOSE to tell him the funny stories, the events that brought us together, and the way his Dad made me laugh. I continue to tell Connor I wouldn’t change a thing, because I got a wonderful, caring, kind, empathetic son that is able to rise above most of the hurt and bitterness he really feels inside. PLEASE hear me, Im NOT trying to say Im even close to a perfect Mom, but I do not say anything negative to Connor in front of him or to him about his Father’s horrid behavior. It is wrong, and the price that your step-son’s Mom will pay later in life will not be something that she will ever be prepared to pay. He will become more and more aware as he matures of where NORMAL is. Kids would rather come from a broken home than live in one anyday of the week. And, I have always stood on the fact that the truth needs NO defense. Scott should continue to listen to the verbal and non verbal things that come from his son. Hard to do when he is being withheld. The court system is so unhelpful and father’s are for the most part not treated as an equal parent. Document everything, enforce the joint custody agreement to the best of your ability. If Scott’s son is being with held(is that one word?) You can always file contempt of the parenting agreement. But, the court system is SO desensitized to the children that are “Just withheld” from other parent that it doesnt even register on their radar. They don’t care! (from my experience) if the child is being neglected while with mom or Dad, told lies about Mom or Dad, not fed, clothed, treated with respect, and every penny of Scott’s money for his children is spent on Mom’s breast augmentation (just an example). They don’t care. Carter’s Father got a DUI on Wednesday and the mediator looked at me and said she could not make a connection how that would effect the visitation where Carter’s father would pick him up at the Safe Exchange and drive him 35 miles home. We have all become so desensitized with the horrible stories you hear where parents have killed, molested, and everything you can imagine that the emotional well being of our children by “simple” neglect is not even recognized, but rather scoffed at as petty problems the parents should work out. But, Scott does not have that oppourtunity due to the fact she is withholding. Has Scott requested a mediator? Sometimes,not always helpful. Then, she is held accountable to the mediator for allowing visits to happen and making the time available with NO EXCUSE. Also, what about reducing activities, so Dad’s time is not always “interupted”.

    I confirmed abuse was continuing during Safe Exchange visitations where the alleged, and proven abuser has a 15 minute interaction with the child in front of the Safe Exchange staff. This meant I had to wait in the car for 15 minutes while a 22 year old college intern would watch my diagnosed Bi-Polar ex husband charm everyone and she then deemed it safe for Carter to travel with his dad. After more abuse was confirmed and his dad never showing on time and returning Carter and Connor one day early every visit because he really did not want to see the children, but rather just emotionally and physically abuse them more. I made the choice to withold my 3 year old from 3 visits after Carter’s father didn’t call or ask for him for 6 months. We had no safe exchange to use, and he filed I was with holding. I was HELD in contempt for keeping Carter from his Father. It was dropped immediately, and his father terminated all legal rights to Carter and his name was literally erased from the birth certificate. The blessing out of that is that we have not seen, nor heard from him in years. But, in no way is the damage erased, forgotten, or the fears of abandonment far from Carter’s thoughts. He has been in regular weekly counseling for 3 years and is doing so good. But, we have the occasional setbacks, and we start over again. I just keep reminding both my boys we are not victims, we are in control through the power of the Lord to determine if we are going to dwell in the past or push forward with grace and dignity. We chose to look forward with no guaruntee of what we might face tomorrow, but I tell them we are WILLIAMS’S and we will not be defeated. I love my boys as you do all your children biological or not and you are a powerful, strong, good woman. I know you will overcome this obstical and you and Scott will be closer than ever and all your children will benefit for the rest of their lives from your determination and love.

    Greta, I have talked probably much longer than you wanted to read, but ultimately your love, open communication with Scott, and unconditional commitment to him is all you have to offer and is certainly enough. I have questioned my faith in miracles so many times over my childrens’ pain, but God has not forgotten, nor will He ever forsake either of us. Things with the ex will probably get worse before they ever get better if that ever happens. Im so sorry you have been put in such a delicate position always trying to weigh everyone’s feelings and managing your own health issues.

    So many parents literally ruin the chance of their children ever recognizing what true love is and end up repeating the patterns of their parents. I pray that you and your husband will continue to show his son a whole new beautiful, hopeful, PEACEFUL world. The smallest act of kindness to a child I have been reminded by them years later. They (He) will notice and remember your consistency, love, and things you didn’t even realize you were doing that really meant something to make him feel signifigant in this big, crazy world.

    And, on a much lighter note, please forgive my spelling and punctuation mistakes….. You, your Dad, and A-M are certainly disgusted…lol And, I sure would like to see your sister. I have deeply missed her over the years.

    Blessing and prayers to you and Scott,
    Sincerely,
    Lisa

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