Dear Ex Wife

I am disappointed by how things are going for your child.  Surely he has food to eat, a place to live, clothes, medical care, so on the surface everything looks acceptable.  I wish you could see past that veneer and understand that the longer his emotional needs are ignored, the worse it’s going to get.  He is afraid of you.  He is insecure.  He has anger and shame issues.  That is why he is not doing well in school.  Tutoring will not fix this.  Please stop looking for people to take care of his problems for you.  It’s not comfortable to realize when we’ve messed up as parents but we have to do this self-evaluation every so often so that we make an honest attempt to be at our best.  It’s more convenient to emotionally blackmail and scare him into compliance to ensure things are done your way.  It’s convenient to leave him with his step dad and daycare most of the time because of your career pursuits.  It’s a time-saver to punish him for whatever infraction he had at school without exploring the circumstances in order to gage the cause and level of culpability.   Your convenience has come at a cost.  The school sees it, his father sees it, I see it, and I am sure there are more that see it.  I know you are trying to do the best you can.  I know that this is all you know.  I know that your childhood sucked and your mother was cold and emotionally neglectful.  It’s sometimes hard to fight the patterns that sneak up on us as parents.  I am not a perfect mother, but I am committed to giving my child a better life than I had and I wish you would too.  When his teachers are saying that he needs constant affirmation from an adult, I invite you to ask yourself if he should be getting it from you instead.  When he says he’s a bad kid, I invite you to ask yourself if that’s because he is treated like one.  When he loses control of himself in rage, I would invite you to ask yourself if he has learned it from you and why he is so frustrated.  I’d like you to make time for your son and invest in his future by giving him a good foundation.  He is set up for failure when his self-esteem and emotional state should remain in this status.

I am aware that divorced parents have a tendency to be unaware of how their prerogatives affect their children in a negative way.  You are not the only one, but you could be the exception if you wanted to be.  The court gives you a lot of rights that are enforceable and your son’s father a few rights that are UNenforceable.  I know that gives you an impression that your son belongs to you and dad is only good for money.  You have expressed this attitude yourself.  For example, when you thanked his dad for “helping” you with his son when you needed someone to watch him, as if dad was a sitter and not a parent who should be seeing his child as much as possible.  The representatives of our state and the courts could change things to help bring an end to this abuse of power, but why should they?  Mothers should be competent and mature enough to know what is in her child’s best interest and she should respect his father and allow him to have a say in how the child is reared.  The court takes for granted that the adults will do what’s best for their children.  Let it be known that the law has trivialized dad’s role which is particularly unfortunate for the SONS of divorce.  Just because it is that way, that does not mean that it is right or what is best for a child already having to deal with a broken family.  When you try and cut back your son’s time with his dad you are hurting dad if that is your wish.  But how often do you consider that you are hurting your son and he hurts more than his dad hurts?  He’s fed and cared for physically so I guess as long as he looks okay, he is okay.  I can’t see how he would not feel rejected when dad isn’t around as much anymore.  Dad used to come around a lot, things changed and now he’s not.  A kid is going to internalize that.  He is going to think something is wrong with him and that daddy has abandoned him.  That will create life long scars.  Although the current system gives some moms the impression that a little bit of time with dad here and there is what’s best for the child and that time with dad is unimportant, I wonder what the child would have to say about this?  The most devastating visitation decrease happened when you demanded that the decree be followed to the letter.  That made any extra time with dad impossible.  This change happened around the time that you were to remarry.  Your child said amazingly flattering things about your new husband that I have never heard him say about anyone as if he werw brainwashed.  I guess this was part of phasing out Old Dad and phasing in New Dad.  Are you that drunk with power that you think you actually can replace a child’s alive and kicking father with another man?   I also don’t understand why it seems all the major educational and rearing decisions are made solely by you when you agreed to be joint managing conservators.  You’ve broken that contract to the point that his father is completely excluded.  Every once in a while you’ll throw a report card dad’s way but for the most part choices are made between you and the teacher unbeknownst to dad.  I know that it’s more convenient to call all the shots yourself but that doesn’t make it right.

I’ll close this letter by telling you about two men I know.  One is your ex-husband and the other is his stepbrother.  Your ex-husband was taken away from his father at the age of 5.  He was moved 4 hours away by his mother without notice; what I call legal kidnapping.  His mother tried everything she could to keep visitation to a bare minimum.  She even moved apartments in the new city without telling his father where she was going.  She denied his father telephone access.  She had his temporarily disabled father thrown in jail for unpaid child support during visitation with his dad.  She bad mouthed his father to the point that he thought his dad didn’t love him.  At the age of 29, he reunited with his dad after years of estrangement.  His stepmother lamented over all the time that was lost over the years, how his father so desperately wanted to be with his son more often but he couldn’t.  After this discussion he was tearfully despondent for the rest of the night.  He was devastated.  His step brother had parents that acted in a similar fashion for a time.  Constant conflict and power plays persisted until one day his mom was willing to listen to a voice of reason and try and work with her ex.  She still disliked her ex, but was willing to put that aside for the sake of their child.  She even went so far as to share some holidays with his dad.  To this day she even has her ex and his wife over for dinner.

So how it ends is this.  I don’t know if you are aware of this, but your ex-husband wants very little to do with his mom at this point.  He won’t call, not even on Mother’s Day.  He is very angry with her and what she chose to do to undermine his dad’s role in his life.  On the other side, his step-brother comes with his wife and the grandbaby on a regular basis to come see his mom.  Am I saying that this is the result that will absolutely happen?  No.  I have no crystal ball.  What I am saying is that when your son begins to put all the pieces together as a grown man, he will be upset and he may take it out on you.  Do you want to take that risk?  Having to share a child with a foe that divorce has failed to dispel from your life can’t be easy.  I won’t ever say that I exactly know what it’s like to be in your shoes.  What I will say is that it’s not your son’s fault that his parents failed to have a great relationship.  You and his father chose to come together in an amorous relationship despite the glaring incompatibilities and a child was born of this.  He did not ask to be born to foolish people, therefore you and his father should be the ones to minimize the impact on your son (the real victim here). Each of us has a choice, everyday, to answer a higher calling and put aside our desires and personal vindication for our children.  Your son deserves better.

The Stepmom

~ by Stepfamily Letter Project on July 20, 2010.

One Response to “Dear Ex Wife”

  1. thanks for sharing. My husbands ex-wife does not want the kids to have anything to do with him. All she wants is money and moving in one men after the other and the kids have now the thirth stepfather in 4 years. They are upset and starting to ask questions. The only contact my husband is having is phone onversations, if his daughter has her phone on. Even we have all the legal visitation right she refusses to let him see the kids. She said she never needed her own father and her stepfather was good enough and his is what she wants for the kids. We have had his daughter (now 14) one year living with us but she missed her mom…which I completly understand. After the daughter and the 2 sons made clear to their mother they liked me and our life style the mom completly went the other way…with a result the kids cannot see us anymore…and as a result of this there are problems in school (attending problems….and she doesnt care since she has no education at all)….sorry for this long reply…maybe I should sent my onw letter (even english is not my mother tongue and I live in europe)….I wish you strenght with your situations

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