Ten years ago Carlos and his wife of seven years ended their marriage. Their two boys were just six and two. Carlos became the primary custodial parent, an arrangement that even today is unusual. I asked Carlos to talk about what it meant as a father. Here’s Carlos:
Our very first run at the splitting of the schedule, the boys were there at their mom’s house one school week, then with me, but I was having more of their time with me and then eventually, as their school week was becoming more and more disruptive between two houses, I said,
“Listen, this is just not working. Let’s just have the boys here during the school week and with you on the weekends.”
So the hardest adjustment wasn’t necessarily the work schedule. The hardest adjustment was doing what was right for the boys so that they could be consistent and do as well as possible in school. I was a schoolteacher at that time, so my schedule was the same as the boys’ schedule. That worked out great.
People were extremely surprised at the fact that I was the primary custodian of the boys. They treated me in such a way that I almost got a rock-star treatment a little bit, to be honest, just because that was so unusual.
My ex didn’t mind me being the primary custodian. It was definitely easier for me with my work schedule than for her but it was also a case of allowing my ex-wife the space that she needed at that time to find herself. That’s really what she said she was looking for and what she needed to do, so we accommodated that to the best of our abilities.
The Divorce Coach Says
What I love about this is that Carlos and his ex came to their parenting arrangement based on what would work best for the children rather than ensuring equal time with each parent. Obviously, it doesn’t always align that well with parents’ work schedules but this was a win-win-win.
Writing this post got me thinking about all the stereotypes I carry about moms and dads. I can picture all this attention Carlos got from the moms at school who’d all be thinking , “Wow, Carlos is a great dad.” They’d make allowances for the forgotten items for the classroom party or maybe not even ask “because he’s a single dad and is juggling a lot.”
The plus side of that is that his kids would see that and maybe that was a positive reinforcement of their new living arrangement. They would see that somehow the end of their parents marriage made them different in a special way.
I know I would treat a dad who was the primary custodial parent like a rock star but why wouldn’t I treat a mom as a rock star? Don’t think I can be the only one, am I? Is it because my ex isn’t as actively involved as I would have hoped? Is it because I feel that they must somehow be missing out on something because there isn’t the traditional mom role? Is it because I think men have a harder time adjusting to being a single parent than women? Definitely food for thought …
Carlos’s eldest son decided last August that he wanted to spend more time with his mother and so since then Carlos and his ex have switched schedules. In my next post, Carlos talks about why they switched the arrangement and how hard it’s been for him to adjust