father's day 2019

The Last Battle of My Divorce: Teenaged Children in the Crossfire

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Dear Ex-wife,

I sincerely hope you are happy in your new life without me. I am happy you are remarried, I am happy you no longer have any money concerns, and I’m happy you have done such a great job at being the mother of our children together.

(Wait, there’s a lie in there somewhere.)

She’s Not As Good a Mom As She Thinks She Is

Let’s count up a few of the facts of my divorce

My then-wife was in couples threapy for the second run at saving our marriage when she went to meet with a lawyer to hear about her “options” – what would’ve been the honest thing to do was bring that shit into the marriage therapy BEFORE you asked an attorney for the “divorce brochure.”

When we had parented 50/50 for seven years, my ex ignored my 50/50 parenting request and went for the jugular. She knew from reading the divorce brochure with her lawyer, that in Texas she would get everything she wanted

  • My ex got the house
  • My ex got a $1,500 per month child support check (equating to $2,300 per month in pre-tax income)
  • My ex got 70% of the kids time (The Standard Possession Order [SPO] is not fair or balanced)
  • My ex was able to continue along with her life, with our kids, without much interruption in her routine, she simply got rid of me and kept the kids, the house, and the money — she no longer had to deal with me at all
  • My ex filed against me with the Attorney General’s Office when I was five weeks late with one child support payment, even when she knew pressing charges would prevent me from refinancing my mortgage and keeping my house – she didn’t care how losing my house would affect my kids
  • My ex has continued to act against the best interest of our kids from the first moment she asked the attorney for her “options.”

Even today, when my ex has money and a new husband, she attacks, belittles, and acts against me and my survival – I’m not sure what this is about, but it might be about this blog (eventually the kids will find out she sabotaged the marriage and asked for the divorce solely for her selfish reasons

My ex made decisions to stop co-parenting with me when she no longer felt my opinion, my parenting skills, or my connection with our kids, mattered – she has made unilateral decisions for about 5 years now, despite my continued requests to be part of the decisions of our kids’ lives

My ex will see the consequences of her angry and hurtful actions towards me – eventually, the kids will know the truth

What Could Still Be Making My Ex-wife So Mad?

I think this blog might be a big part of my ex-wife’s anger and animosity towards me. While my kids have never asked about the divorce, they do know I write about it as part of my healing process – I don’t believe either of them have ever Googled me or read this blog (Why would they want to know about dad’s divorce? At this point, as teenagers in high school, they could care less about the divorce.) But it won’t always be this way, and I think my ex-wife knows at some point she will pay the piper for her transgressions and aggression towards me.

Every action to take AGAINST your EX-partner are actions against the best interests of your children. Regardless of how you feel about the other parent, you cannot attack or demean them without severe consequences. Sure, my ex-wife has never had to answer the critical questions about why we got a divorce, but I believe she will have to answer these questions. I believe my kids will get curious at some point about what disrupted their lives at 5 and 7 years old. And at some point, in the future, I believe they will understand the truth: the divorce was NOT a mutually agreed upon solution to a failing marriage, the divorce was 100% their mom’s idea.

You Cannot Attack Your Ex-partner, Ever

Okay, so while I set an intention about this blog being 100% positive, that is simply not the reality we live in. I’ve tried. I’ve tried to maintain a positive and forward-looking attitude towards my ex-wife for nine years this August. And I have failed from time to time, as I am failing in this post, in this moment, to keep things 100% positive. The truth is, divorce is both positive and negative. And my ex-wife’s actions have been both positive and negative since she consulted with a lawyer about “what she was going to get.”

And as we’ve moved forward as divorced parents of two kids over the last nine years, I have never publicly attacked or blamed their mom for any part of the divorce. As far as the kids know, our divorce was an agreement between both of their parents. That is simply not true. I fought for two months, asking my now-ex-wife to reconsider the divorce. She did not. And the day I moved out of the house for the last time, she has maintained a higher-than-thou perspective around the failure of our marriage.

To be fair, she has done many things right in her mom role. But she has also done things that are not acceptable. And even at this moment, this week, her actions are affecting our children in adverse ways. For example, my ex-wife and her husband take weekend getaways all the time, during the school year, and leave 16 – 18 kids behind with a credit card (for food) and zero supervision. Let that sink in for a moment: ZERO SUPERVISION for 3 – 4 days. I do not think this is normal parenting behavior. I do not think this is okay for my kids. And I do not think my ex sees anything wrong with this decision she and her husband are making about the management and care of our teenaged children.

But who am I to judge?

Oh wait, I am also their dad. While I have not been allowed to affect her parenting decisions for some time, and while I don’t have a say in this matter, even today, I am able to say unequivocally, THIS IS NOT AN ACCEPTABLE PARENTING DECISION.

Dear Ex-wife, You continue to amaze me with your brazen shunning of me and our parenting agreement (designed and signed by both of us, nine years ago) and your awful parenting decisions. In this moment you are failing our 16-year-old daughter in ways I do not comprehend. When our children need to reach you on your phone (in case of emergency, or just as a human courtesy) it is NOT OKAY for you not to answer, not respond to texts, and essentially ignore your parenting duties. It is not acceptable. It has never been acceptable. And today, my daughter struggles with your decision to ignore her 20 – 30 times a week.

Wake Up, Divorced Parents

Today, there is not much I can do to affect my ex-wife’s poor decision making. I can support my daughter. I can agree with her when she says she’s angry with her mom. And eventually, I can tell her my experience of the divorce. But my real plea is to my ex-wife, and mother of my 16-year-old daughter, and 18-year-old son: WAKE THE FK UP, your children are suffering from your egregious parenting errors.

  • Never ignore your children (take their calls unless you are having an emergency, always respond to their texts within 15 – 30 minutes)
  • Co-parenting is an obligation, not a choice. You agreed with me to have children and to raise them as best was WE could. It’s still a WE no matter how you feel about me, or how you’d like to vanish into your new husband’s arm and make up for lost time when you were an unhappy single parent
  • Support your co-parent with courtesy, check-ins, and mutual parenting decisions (They are not YOUR kids they are OUR kids)

Let’s get this together, shall we? Please be kind and courteous to your co-parent, and above all else, be a good co-parent (your kids need BOTH parents). I hope my ex-wife and her husband wake up and realize the error of their selfish and reckless decisions to leave our kids unchaperoned. I am not very optimistic about a positive change in her behavior after nine years. But, perhaps one of our mutual friends reads this blog and will tell her, “Oh my goodness, he’s writing about you again.”

Yep, I am. And, yep, I think you are sucking right now as a co-parent and as a responsible adult with children. Don’t be Modern Family, and don’t be Married with Children, please. Let’s be more Parenthood and This Is Us. That would be great. Thanks.


John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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Peter Gabriel with Paula Cole doing “In Your Eyes” please listen:

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