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Monday, January 3, 2011

Monkey In The Middle (A Divorce Post)

Monkey In The Middle is a game that my husband and I play with our youngest, Skyler, who is six years old. If he and I are sitting on the couch or the floor, or laying in the bed and she wants to "snuggle-buggle", then she always says she is the "monkey in the middle". Skyler sometimes is, and other times is not the proverbial monkey. Sometimes, just to get her goat Scott or myself would be the monkey.

Sadly, I have had my oldest playing this game as well. She is the monkey in the middle that must go between her two parent's homes. I have full physical cusody, and always have. Her father gets visitations every other weekend and we alternate (major) holidays. Plus I personally set out three week blocks where she stays with him in one-week increments during the summer while school is out.

Plus, I give extra time even on their "off" weekends where I can and feel it's appropriate (to go to the movies, park, etc.).

No matter how bad he has been known to talk about me, cuss me and even go as far as calling me a slave driver (because in MY home she has chores, rules and consequences, whereas in HIS home, they don't exist), I still bend over backwards to give him more time with our daughter. Even when it is NOT stipulated to do so in our still-standing court order.

How Hayley has grown in to the young lady she has thus far, without resentment towards either of us has just blown me away.

For one thing, I NEVER talk ill of her father in front of her or to her.

Two, I don't make her go on those "off" days unless SHE wants to (at 11, she can now make her own mind up about extended stays and other 'extra' days to spend time with him).

Thirdly, she knows clearly what her expectations are in MY home.

Fourth, I don't pick fights with her father (in person or over the phone) over trivial things (i.e. the having/not having a TV in the bedroom debacle over the phone..I do *not* allow one in my kids' rooms, he says she has one there and that I am a bitchy, mean mom {in so many words} for not letting the kids, including HIS "kid" to have one in their rooms in *MY* home).

Fifth, I do my very best (most of the time) to be civil towards her father. Especially when Hayley is present.

Children of divorce are fragile on some levels. But are much more thick-skinned than most people realize and give these kids credit for. Look at all that THEY must put up with. Especially if the parents, for whatever reason cannot seem to get along on ANY level.

She's been going between myself and my ex-husband like this (for the most part over the years) since she was about two years old (was one-day visits from infancy until two years due to some legal issues and other things I cannot get in to here; maybe a later post).

We split (as in I walked out with a few things we needed in hand and never looked back) when she was five months old. By then I had a "friend" in my life that treated me RIGHT, the way I should have been treated all along and this person cared enough about me and my daughter that the sister even helped me get out and let me and my then-five-month old daughter stay with her and her family.

Yes, there are times that Hayley does the "I want to live with my daddy!" routine. As soon as I say that I know it's because he is the "no-rules-do whatever you want-without consequences" parent, she hushes up and walks off.

I guess he has yet to learn, especially now that she is a preteen (or shall we say Tween, seeing that's the 'norm' these days), he cannot be her friend. Not now. She needs PARENTS that will lay down the law and set those morals and values to solidly cement within before it's too late.

Sure! She will at some point (more than likely) try to experiment with drugs and alcohol, or even cigarettes. And (God forbid) seriously think of having sex. But all I can do now is try my best up until those years NOW to lay the foundation to keep away from those types of things and avoid problems down the road with them.

But then again, when you are the "Monkey In The Middle" with two parenting styles within two different home environments, it can get confusing of which way to turn. So I am planning to just keep doing what I'm doing and hope for the best down the road.

No one said being the parent of a "divorce" child was easy!


singedwingangel said...

I don't think divorce is the only way that can happen. I had similar issues with Doug and his bio dad. Heartbreaking for me to find out this last month that many of their visits were spent drinking and smoking dope, cause he thought Doug needed to do it and it was the only thing David knew. Now he is dead and I am trying to break the habits that David instilled in him as normal.

Shell said...

I think you are doing a wonderful job. My parents were constantly saying nasty things to and about each other in front of us kids and it made it really difficult.

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VedetteTX said...

I know how your daughter feels, I was there once. I am sure you are a better mom than mine, however. :) It is good that you refrain from talking bad about her dad. Stick to your guns and one day she will understand all that you went through for her.

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