My ten-year-old son stole money the other day from his father. He was spending the weekend with his dad, and he was playing Fortnight. His dad put his credit card in to allow him to buy more supplies. My ex did not log off, and our son, seeing he still had access, charged another $60. When asked why he did it, he answered that he wanted to get the same things he friends had. He saw an opportunity and he took it. My ex was devastated. They had always been buddies, pals. My ex called me right away, and he confessed that my son’s behavior was getting out of control there. He was being disrespectful to him and to my ex’s girlfriend. I tried to be sympathetic and part of me just wanted to say, “Well, this was on your watch…”, but I know none of those things will help our son.
“I just feel like he doesn’t respect me,” he said sadly. Again, I tried to feel bad, but here is a man who stole money from me, refused to get a job, secretly ran up $30,000 in credit card debt, does not provide me with child support, foreclosed on a home that was still in my name, and just recently told me that spending every weekend with the boys was just too much for him. It took every fiber of my being to stay silent. Now is not the time for finger pointing and name calling, I thought.
This is such a tough job, and it is even more difficult to co-parent with an ex, his girlfriend, and my boyfriend. No one ever talks about that. Divorces happen all of the time, and I never read anything about the trials and tribulations of trying to meld a new family together. As a child of divorce, I try not to do what my parents did. My dad remarried and had two more children. My brother and I were the step-kids from a previous marriage and we were treated as outsiders. We did chores every week, while my two new brothers did nothing. We had strict rules and regulations, while they were allowed to do more. We felt unloved and we watched through a fishbowl while my father moved on with his new life. Our mom, on the other had, married a man who did not have children. They also chose to not have children of their own. Instead they saw us when it was convenient as they traveled throughout the world. We were secondary in their lives, the thing they did one weekend a month or that special week down the shore every year. We did not belong there either.
Now I am trying to navigate through these same waters and I don’t want to make the same mistakes. My ex’s girlfriend has two children from a previous marriage. My boyfriend does not have any children. I have a great relationship with my ex’s girlfriend, so as soon as I was told about my son’s behavior, I called a team meeting. I sent out a text to her, my boyfriend, and my ex saying that we needed to meet to discuss these recent events. My ex’s girlfriend is totally on board and so is my boyfriend. Radio silence from my ex. We are all meeting for dinner on Wednesday to talk about how we are going to proceed as a blended family. We are going to have to discuss how we are going to co-parent these boys through these trying times, and we are on on board except for him. His silence in all of this is deafening to me. I am not sure how Wednesday will go, but it should be interesting to say the least…