Distance Parenting and Selfishness

We had a heartbreaking conversation with my oldest stepson over the weekend. His mother told his father that he had been having some behavioral issues the past couple of weeks, and thus the topic came up with him.

He choked back tears and tried to bury his face as he explained to us that he frequently gets angry because he feels like he doesn’t get to see his dad enough. I feel you kid, I do. I felt the exact same way when I was a kid. Pair that with the fact that before my step kids will give me a hug goodbye when they have to leave us, they look over their shoulders to see if their mother is looking… It’s heartbreaking. They fear having a relationship with me out in the open because of her reactions, as could be seen by the first time my stepson gave me a hug in public in her presence at a hockey game.

This is not the first time the kids have complained that they miss dad, feel like they don’t see him enough, and have acted out in protest of leaving our home. My husband tried to raise these concerns, but was met with great resistance, per the usual. The suggestion to try to come up with a solution so that the kids would feel more balanced was denied. The kids’ concerns were passed off as attempts to pit one parent against the other. I feel like everything was just brushed off as if it were nothing, as if our home is treated as nothing more than miniature vacations for the kids.

Mom and Dad live about an hour’s distance from one another. While yes, that would make a week on / week off situation exceedingly difficult and stressful for the kids due to school and travel inconveniences, there are still ways to work around that. Unfortunately at the time of arrangements, our budget didn’t allow for an attorney to negotiate for the kids’ time to be more balanced between both of their parents. Because of that, they only get to spend every other weekend, some holidays, and two weeks in the summer, and two additional weeks upon request with their dad. (Only every other weekend because she stated she felt she couldn’t get enough quality time with them through the week while they’re in school, even though she hasn’t been back to work in a year and a half.) To date, all of aforementioned requests for extra days with the kids have been denied. The extra time they’re supposed to have here during Christmas and long weekends have cause many arguments between their biological parents thus far.

Why can’t something be arranged for the sake of the kids? Why? Because of anger and bitterness still? Because of jealousy? What is it? Why can’t they spend a few hours one evening each week with their dad? Why can’t they spend 3/4 of their weekends with their dad instead of once every two weeks? Why can’t they spend the majority of their time off from school with dad? I don’t understand it. Children are collateral damage when it comes to divorce. Divorce doesn’t mean that they have to suffer. Listen to your kids’ complaints and try to do something. Try to be there for them without making them feel like trash for loving someone in addition to you. Try to accommodate a balance in their lives instead of letting them continue to feel strung along.

I don’t understand selfish people.