Used to be that kids whose parents divorced came from a ‘broken home,’ from a ‘broken family.’ Thankfully, I hear those terms less and less because we’re all realizing that divorce doesn’t break a family. It rearranges it. So today’s post-divorce family looks and behaves very differently.
INRIS has been divorced now for about three years. He and his ex committed to doing what was best for their kids. They stayed living in the same town and are both actively involved with their kids. Here’s how INRIS says that looks:
Our relationship has not fundamentally changed since our divorce.
We no longer do things together separately. We do get together for things that have to do with the kids. If there’s a sporting event that the kids are participating in, we will both go. We get together for Thanksgiving and until there’s a blended family situation, that’s probably going to continue. We get together for Christmas. We do Christmas things together.
When it comes to figuring out things like, what sports, what teams, what activities do we want to encourage our kids to participate in or discourage them from participating in, we function exactly the same way as if we were still living in the same house. It actually hasn’t changed and we don’t use the kids as a bludgeon to try to get our way over certain things.
Because the business that we have together still has of its debt in my name, we remain financially intertwined and we’re working as quickly as we can to disentangle ourselves from that. But that means I still have some involvement with the business and when we talk about the business, it’s business and it’s only business. It does carry with it the same emotional attachments that it ever did but those are separate from issues that have to do with the kids.
But as to how people use the, “It’s in the best interest of the kids” as a bludgeon, I know it’s done. I know friends of mine have been in situations where that has happened. A lot of people seem very surprised at the relationship that Penny and I have.
Just the other day, there was a school event at one of the kids’ schools. It’s clear that he would like us to go, so we both go. It’s her weekend with the kids, but it’s Friday night, I don’t have any other plans, so we go. People are very clearly surprised when they see us together with the kids, doing kid stuff, where we see our friends at the same school who are divorced and it’s like, “Oh, that’s right. She doesn’t have the kids this weekend, he does,” and so we’re only going to see one of the parents there, because that’s the nature of their relationship.
We don’t have a problem going to these events together, because first of all, there’s not a ton of animosity. We didn’t get divorced because we hate each other. Now that said, on a normal Friday night if I’ve got nothing to do and I’ve got no plans, I wouldn’t be calling her up as, “Hey, you want to go see a movie?” That’s no longer the relationship we have. But when it comes to going and doing family stuff, we are in our own weird way, still a family.
I understand why other families come up with different arrangements. It makes complete sense to me. Certainly, I’ve gone through periods where I’m like, “If I don’t see her for a little while, that’s just fine with me.” Actually, I’m sure married people also go through that. I am sensing more and more how unusual we are or at least it seems that way and it seems that way because of the reactions we get from other people.
I do know other people who have gotten divorced and even though it was bitter at the time, they have found a peace in their relationship to each other, but there’s no way they would ever go to the same event at the same time. Whereas, if one of my kids is in a track meet or a gym meet or something like that, I’d like to go see it and when I go and she insists she’s going — she really wants to go to every meet that every kid is ever in and that’s awesome. We go and it’s like, “Oh, okay. Did you pack the snacks? I’ll go get the water,” and work it out.
There was a period of time where one of our kids was heavily involved in gymnastics and that involved a regular practice schedule, but it also involved a regular meet schedule. The meets would intend to involve a lot of driving. As a general rule, if both of us are going to a meet, we would travel in the same car, it saves on gas. It’s easier when you have two parents who are helping to martial multiple kids than it is to have one handling all of the heavy lifting. Again, it’s not a problem.
We have things we talk about, so the kids are doing their thing in the back of the van and we’ll be talking up front about politics or how the business is going or whatever. We travel like that frequently. We do it less frequently now that we’ve made the decision that gymnastics isn’t necessarily the best for our kid. But I’m sure it will happen again.
The Divorce Coach Says
I don’t think it has ever occurred to either my ex or I to restrict the other’s access to an event one of the kids was in based on scheduled parenting time. The events have gone on the calendar and we’re both free to attend. In the early days, we didn’t used to sit together. After a couple of years that changed and we did start sitting next to each other. We still do. But we don’t travel together.
My daughter was in gymnastics and her meets were often some distance from home. I would typically take her and my son would be with his dad … gymnastic meets are L.O.N.G., much longer than a soccer or baseball game and my son never wanted to come to a meet so we decided a ‘divide and conquer’ approach was best.
I do remember it getting sticky when there was an event at the school that one of the kids wanted to attend and needed to be with a parent to attend. They wouldn’t necessarily want the parent who had the parenting time to be the parent they went with so that involved some negotiation. My ex may not have liked it or may even have felt slighted when my daughter wanted me to take her but he never insisted on going himself. He was always willing to listen to their wishes. I hope he can say the same about me.
I will say that I think the sex of your children can make a difference – I have a son and a daughter so there were activities my son did that she wasn’t a bit interested in and vice versa. I suspect if you have all boys or all girls it makes it easier for them to attend the same events. It also makes a difference for parents … I tended to do the girl scouting events, my ex did the boy scout ones. As I said, divide and conquer.
Like INRIS, I also think that my relationship with my ex didn’t change much after divorce which I think says more about what had happened to our marriage than yhr divorce.
INRIS blogged about his divorce while it was in progress over at It Never Rains In Seattle … that’s how I first connected with him. It’s definitely worth visiting and looking through the archives.
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