A little background...
My husband has been a dedicated father...he pays his support on time, he always talks to the kids daily. He drove 2.5 hours each way on Wednesdays to have dinner and do homework with his kids, also for school sports etc. Never passed on any visitations and he never pawned his kids off on babysitters. He takes fatherhood seriously.
After a nasty court battle, she was allowed to move the kids 2,000 miles away. The judge awarded him 8 weeks of visitation in the summer, plus a week at Christmas, & Easter. It has been very hard for him to handle this kind of parenting.
The kids are now 11 yo girl & 13 yo boy and they are very close. When the ex will let them, they skype. Maybe twice a month she allows it. They talk 4-5 times a week although he calls daily. He wanted to go to them at Thanksgiving so he could see their schools and get familiar with their new world. But the ex bought plane tickets to send the kids here just to thwart his involvement. She interferes and gets away with it often.
My question...How can a long distance Dad stay close? Any suggestions? I am hoping there are some creative options we just haven't discovered yet.
I can feel the pain in you for you husband and the travails he has to go through. But i can tell you, all this is only for some two or three years by which time, the children will be good and proper adolescents. And, the natural progression of life's changes will overtake present preoccupations and a different set of values and a relationship far different from what it is now will emerge. He would not have to visit them like a clockwork that is now in place. All will be fine then, believe me
Why would a judge allow the mother to take the kids 2000 miles away? that seems really unfair. I just can't imagine how difficult that must be. Whats the story with that?
The facts...His ex cheated for a year before he knew about it. The ex waited to file for divorce until his father died of brain cancer, then she took him for the parents estate.
She married the guy she cheated with, and wants him to be the Daddy. She is a diagnosed narcissist, and is true to form. Her parents and sister even testified the move was bad for the kids. The judge apologised that he had to allow it, and the judge also said he has never awarded so much visitation. It is just maddening.
I should note - the boy told the judge he would rather live with his dad. The judge told the son he won't seperate the kids and that the boy will adjust to the move in time.
It is unfair, especially to the kids. And hubby is devastated. We have done things to try to keep him present in their daily lives...We engraved "Good Morning, (their name), Daddy loves you" on a cereal bowl for them to use at home. We make matching photo frames and remind them we think of them often. We text and send photos. But it feels hollow for him.
Her family mails things to our house for the kids. If they mail to her she won't give cards, etc to the kids. So we don't mail much either. She threatens to not allow visitations until the last minute, then shorts the visits a few days out of spite. It is horrible for the kids too.
The laws are not common sense anymore, we didn't think it could be allowed until it was.
We just want to stay close and need ideas how to do that under such circumstances. Thanks, Holly
Maybe create a website for communication purposes. One way or another the kids will have access to computers and thus to the website.
Great idea He emails them, but he has to send it to the ex's email so he wonders when and how chopped up his emails are when they get to the kids. But a website could be so cool Thanks!
Some of the things you said appear indicative of the kids need to maintain a relationship with their father.
You said that 'when she will let them, they will skype'. That's a good point in your husbands favor and one you should note. If the kids weren't interested, they wouldn't bother to talk, whether they were allowed or not.
And children aren't completely lacking in thoughts and opinions of their own. They will be aware of what mom does. Most will simply accept and get on with it, adapting to suit the parameters.
It seems that he's doing all he can, given the present situation. I know it's not easy (and trust me - I really do know) but time changes many things, often for the better.
From what I can see, the kids want dad in their lives and appear to acknowledge his interest and input. They 'include' him.
I sincerely hope it continues and that a few more years down the line, many things will have changed for the better
They are very close and he has always been a hands on parent.
we have a small boat and they love fishing and camping all summer long:) They have strong communications when in person, but the phone is different. The ex will force them to be on speaker just to interfere.
My hubby has never bad mouthed her to the kids either. He just focus's on the kids. He knows the window of time that they are so open to him as a parent is getting smaller just because they are hitting teen years.
When the kids were a few hours away - she would regularly interfere. He just dealt with it knowing he would have contact soon. And she gets warnings on interfering, but has a so what attitude.
Thank you, Holly
I am just amazed that the mother was allowed to do that. It just goes to show how unjust the system can be at times. It is almost a certainty that a father would not be allowed to move his kids that far away from the mother.
I feel for you. It must be unbearable. Is there any way to move closer to them? I mean, not in the same town or anything, but at least closer so that visitation could be more frequent? I guess I'm just grasping at straws here, but I just don't know really what else to say.
Well, actually, if nothing else, all you can do is continue to be a presence in his children's lives so that they know they are always loved and that you will always be there for them when they need you. I imagine this cannot be any easier for the kiddies.
Hope things get a little easier for you. Take care,
Life is complicated outside of the long distance parenting...
I have cancer and will likely not win my battle. My mom and son are near us, and give help I couldn't do without. I have encouraged hubby to be open to moving there and visiting me, but he will not abandond the marriage in any way.
We are moving to a lesser home so hubby can afford to fly to them more often. He pays alot of support, about $400 a week. She makes over 85 k a year and her hubby makes 130 k a year. And my husband doesn't make as much as her My medical needs are way up there too.
It is just a mess really. I know the kids will figure it out, but in the mean time I see them struggling to stay connected.
Holly and thank you
Wow, Holly, my goodness, I am just overwhelmed reading about your situation--I cannot imagine what it must be like to be living it. My heart and my prayers (if they would not be offensive) go out to you.
As to your question: I can't say I have very many ideas other than what you're doing. It occurs to me that the ex really shouldn't be able to limit Skyping (since it's free) and that it *may* be possible to get a court order regarding skype contact daily. Any court of law really shouldn't have any problem allowing Dad/forcing Mom to maintain daily phone contact; they would probably see his desire to do so as a plus. You may consider talking to a lawyer about that, if it's possible.
There is also, maybe, snail-mail. I would hope that the ex wouldn't be such a *words-I-can't-say-here* monster as to keep letters and cards away from the kids, but from the description I can't say I'd put it past her. If she is that sort, making it known to the whole family that letters/packages and such are in the mail may put pressure on her not to hide/steal them.
I'm surprised that with a diagnosis of narcissism (did I read that correctly) the court hasn't done more to limit *her* access to the children--*UNLESS* she's undergoing treatment. Was this issue thoroughly explored during the court proceedings? Those who suffer from narcissism can develop and engage in very maladaptive interpersonal behaviors; I believe that narcissism stems from the family of origin (in other words, the behaviors/schemas/coping mechanisms are taught and learned) and are very likely to impact the children. Is anybody receiving any counseling? It sounds like everyone involved could stand to have someone impartial to talk to.
If there doesn't seem to be any way to increase the *quantity* of contact, all I know to suggest is to try to maximize the *quality*. When the kids are around, make the best of it. Have fun; don't let this stuff get in the way of talking about other important issues, getting in touch with the kids emotionally and physically (through affection, conversation, concern, etc.). Make sure to create wonderful memories as much as possible--for all of you!
Finally, and I can't stress this enough, *never* bad-mouth the other parent, or let the kids hear a "grown-up conversation" that involves that sort of thing NO MATTER HOW EASY THE OTHER PARENT MAKES IT...Now, you guys don't really sound like the bad-mouthing type, it sounds like all you want is to stay in touch with the kids, but it's always good to say it anyway. Kids have amazing radars, they know *everything* that's going on--that's a blessing and a curse. The good thing is, they're going to be able to sort this all out, and they'll remember who spent the time loving them and who spent the time acting like an ass to the other parent. There will come a time when a court of law won't take the children's opinions/wishes as lightly as the judge did this time around.
Holly, I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that your situation really bothers me, and I am very concerned for you, your husband, the kids...even the ex-wife. It sounds like you guys have a lot of love, and that's great! It sounds like there's a tight knit support network around you, and I am glad of that. I wish I had more suggestions for contact for you, however. I am in my third year of graduate studies, and I'm earning my degree in mental health counseling; I *just* started my class on family counseling yesterday. If you would like, I could present your case to my professor, and maybe even the class...They may be able to come up with more suggestions than I can. Let me know what you think.
If you ever want to chat, please feel free to drop me a note. Hang in there, and best of luck! Keep loving those kids, and they'll know it!
Life is what it is. Far as I can see, my only choice is to deal with it
The ex was dx'd as a narcissist by the therapist who did the family evaluations for custody. She is in the nursing feild and is highly skilled at manipulating situations and people. Her direct violations of court orders does not seem to matter and we have taken it to the courts for contempt. Last years court battle and the thousands it cost was devastating.
We are however, asking the court to reconsider their decision as she has interfered so heavily with phone and video visitation. She also claimed she would be a stay at home mom out there, but is working and needs a nanny to even care for th kids on weekend all nighters. The nanny won't let them skype either. SHe sends certified mail to hubby at work which disturbs his employer. It goes on and on, but never ends or gets set right.
Snail mail, certified mail, it is a hit and miss if the kids receive it whether it is from her family or us. Her family sends things to us knowing the kids will get it.
She is not in treatment. The mediator who did initial evals even spoke against her tactics and hostile parenting but the judge just told her to stop it, which has only convinced her further nothing will happen to her.
We have done no bad mouthing nor would we tolerate the kids getting subjected to such. When they are older they will see the truth. She has no such scruples, again I think the kids will know the truth.
We have very healthy interactions. We have family traditions - game night... old maid wars for the family trophy THey help with keeping up the house, we have a green house and they love to garden, cooking, hobbies, etc. Dad is available and participating consistently - he is just that way. We have had a therapist involved since I was given the death sentence and she says our end is very healthy.
Feel free to present the case - we are looking to sustain the kids well being. We are open to suggestions andknow in a few years it will be too late to make the best of today.
Please do not get all bothered by my situation. I certainly don't have more to deal with than the next guy - he just may not know what he is in for yet. I have a good life, memories and the dearest of real friends. I share of me that I can make fewer regrets if I ask for help. That was tough to learn to do. Maybe I can encourage someone else facing these things. It is what it is and you are very kind to care so much. And yes - those kids are precious God Bless, Holly
PS Prayers are the best btw
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