My New Friends over at the New Wife Revolution have been posting about Ex-wives with borderline personality disorders. I urge you to go check it out (it's not as depressing as it sounds). Any readers of Trooper Thorn here on Hot Dads or over on Dogs & Jeans are aware of the hell I've gone through with my Ex, particularly her influence in turning the kids against me.
My time with my kids (14 & 15) has been spotty through the fall, partly because they have their own lives and friends and don't want to come see me on the weekends (which I understand) but also because their mother keeps telling them that my girlfriend and her kids are now my priority, which couldn't be further from the truth. I understand that they don't want to spend anytime with her and her kids (even though my ex left me nearly 4 years ago for somebody else) so I make sure our time together is ours alone. But if they want to see me during my non-access time, my girlfriend has bent over backwards to make them welcome.
What I won't do is cancel plans when my kids try and see me during non-access time. Unfortunately, this is most frequently when I hear from them, as though I am being tested.
Anyway, I hadn't seen or heard from my kids since the middle of November. All calls and emails asking to see them were ignored and I was not given any time with them over Christmas as was guaranteed in our separation agreement. In fact during the last visit, my 15 year old was calling me an a**hole for making their mother move. (The courts split the assets and she is supposed to buy out my interest in the house. 8 months later there has been no movement on this).
So now I was faced with the issue of what to do about Xmas presents. At their age, I would expect the kids to accept some responsibility for their own behavior. They were making no effort to communicate what they wanted for gifts and I didn't feel motivated to give them an envelope of cash in hopes that they would "love me again".
I decided to make a $50 donation in each child's name to an organization called SmileTrain who performs cleft palate surgery for children in 3rd world countries. I got each kid a card, included the information about the charity saying "I didn't know what you wanted for Christmas, but since you have the capacity to smile I thought you'd like to help out some kids who can't". As well, I offered to pay for lessons in their respective activities in the New Year.
On Boxing Day I received emails from each of my kids telling me I'd "blown it" and to "get help or else". My Ex sent the following email:
"You must have some understanding how your teenage children would respond. They had been surprised that you would send them gifts at all and the hope on their faces before they saw what you had sent, followed by their response to what you did send was a terrible thing to witness. Your daughter was sobbing, your son said he had no father and his whole life sucked. Cards from the hare lip foundation arrived for the children. I have not given them to the kids because I thought it would just make things even worse."
While I understood that such a gift would be provocative (and I wouldn't have been happy when I was a selfish teenager) the thing I think is most sad is that they have no adults around them to say "Did you call you Dad about seeing him at Christmas? Did you tell him what you'd like. Don't you think helping less fortunate kids at Christmas is a good thing?"
Needless to say, it's now the end of January and my ex refuses to require the kids spend any time with me.
Who else thinks I'm a terrible father?
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