Raising kids is tough at the best of times. When you’re parenting apart, it’s even harder, especially when one of the main reasons for the truncation of your marriage is due to differences over that very subject.
By leaving, I improved my standing as far as respect from my children was concerned but I lost any semblance of hands-on control. My innate maternal instincts do not have the same triggers that come from living with my offspring because I no longer get to see the cues – the changes in daily behaviour, the nuances in tone or body language. This means that I can no longer pre-empt situations but have to deal with problems once they have arisen… when they are established.
I find myself, yet again, embroiled in fighting a war on two fronts. Trying to do the best for these child-adults who look so mature and yet whose mental faculties are still quite embryonic, whilst dealing with a rearguard action from their father, who insists on trying to be their mate and acting accordingly. It’s the equivalent of having another child, but one who is equal to you in terms of authority.
All children will go through phases where they need to learn from their own mistakes and if they don’t the lesson needs to be brought home with a short sharp shock – refusing to bale them out and letting them endure the consequences of their (in)actions. However, if you attempt to administer such a lesson and then have the other authority figure in their life refuse to agree with you and put everything right for them, you are left with the situation that they learn nothing whilst preferring one parent over another.
And so I have to parent with this knowledge always at the back of my mind. It has always been so and has interfered with my children’s upbringing at every crucial moment. I would say that his inconsistency has been a major contributor to many of the problems our children have faced and yet, in many ways, he is always consistent – in that he will side with the children rather than taking into account the bigger picture and the effects of real life. Short term stop gaps that paper over the cracks rather than providing long term solutions which develop their character and help them to deal with the world as adults.