Relationships, Kids, and Fluff 'n Stuff

Relationships, Kids, and Fluff 'n Stuff

Being a twice-divorced Catholic with four kids, I’ve had plenty of time to take pause and reflect on the world around me, and it’s left me wondering – does anyone truly think about anything or anyone anymore before they act?
I’ve always believed that you could make a marriage work if only both parties are willing to WORK at it. The same goes for parenting. Yet we have higher divorce statistics than ever, and more parents fighting to the detriment of the kids post-divorce in ways that were unimaginable just decades ago. We have become a selfish society who thinks nothing of walking down an aisle in a church and declaring our everlasting love before God, family, and friends, and then not even making the slightest attempt to live up to those commitments when it’s no longer convenient.
And now we have kids who think they rule the world. Last week, as I was bringing my young child to Cubs, two tweens were throwing a basketball recklessly down the hallway, narrowly missing us repeatedly, and using the ‘Eff’ word as though it were a verb. I turned to them and politely asked them to curb their language, as stunned Beavers were dodging their basketball and their parents were trying to rush them past the onslaught of Eff words. One of the kids turned to me and said ‘EFF you, lady, who the Eff do you think you are?’ My simple response was ‘someone who knows that you should know better than to behave that way in front of six-year-olds.’ The other kid began a diatribe with him extolling the benefits of using the eff word and the audacity of ‘some people’ to try to tell them what to do. I was then called a C—t before they finally (thankfully) left the school.
Divorce is an ugly, nasty, beast that decays everything that touches it when the parents involved are focused only on who can hurt whom the most, and kids/teens/young adults today are mouthier, more self-absorbed, and demanding when it comes to their ‘rights’ in this world. Makes me truly wonder what exactly our parents did so differently that we listened, did our chores, and spoke respectfully to our elders, because these days, it seems that kids have to be forced to even lift a finger at home, even if that has long been the expectation. I wonder why kids can have the audacity to talk back to teachers and other members of authority in the manner that they do these days. Yes, every teen has always had their moments, even when I was a (terrible) teen, but certainly not this pervasively and with such a lack of remorse for their behavior.
Top all of those attitude problems of today off with being forced to share households, adhere to court-ordered ‘visitation’ schedules (I hate the word ‘visitation’) and have to watch and listen while parents do their damnedest to make each other look bad, and we have a bunch of self-centered, confused, neglected, rude, hateful, and retaliatory kids who just don’t give a damn anymore.
Without going into details I’m going to share with you a rant that’s been a long time in coming that I think some of you can relate to.
Everything was more or less fine between my ex and I until about September of last year, about the time my ex got serious with a girl. The kids loved her initially, but then my ex started demonstrating his disdain towards me openly in front of the kids, and not long after, his girlfriend began to inject herself into our custodial exchanges, shouting legal advice to him up the driveway even after I had banned her from my property, and drilling the kids every time they went to visit. So the children obviously overheard these verbal exchanges, got sick of the drilling, and a few times refused to go with him because they didn’t like ‘the way they were treating Mommy.’ Whose shoulders did it fall on to fix these refusals to go with him? Mine. Squarely onto mine.
From arranging a visit in a neutral location to resolve incidents that had set the kids off, sparking their refusal to visit with him, to having long diatribes with them about their attitude and language towards their father in his absence, to forcing them to call him/email him/go to counseling to try to work things out, I’ve become his advocate and their mediator, and I am downright sick of it, particularly when he keeps ostracizing himself from his kids. His refusals to take them to their lessons, neglecting to pick them up from school, or taking them to fulfill their weekend commitments, despite his insistence upon them and his mistreatment of them in his care have all contributed to his own self-alienation, which seems to fall on me to fix.
And it’s rubbing off on other areas of their lives.
If you’ve never experienced this before, for a parent to hear their child call their other parent an ‘asshole,’ a ‘shithead,’ or a ‘cocksucker’ at the age of…well, we’ll say as a tween, is nothing less than shocking. The first time it happened I pulled the car over, turned around and looked at my once-angelic child, and ripped into him like a stereotypical movie sergeant into a private who had not polished his boots to a mirror shine while on basic training (minus the swearing). I thought that would be the end of it, but no.
I thought my lawyer, counselors, and others involved in the chidlren’s lives would fully support my efforts to push them to reconnect with my ex, but was shocked when the opposite was demonstrated to be true. “DON’T tell them to talk to him! He is using it against you!” or “Don’t get involved! It’s not your problem!” Or counselors, telling the kids, “you have the right to refuse to go to his place for visits,” and “you don’t have to talk to him if you don’t want to.”
Then I have the “Children’s Aid Society”, who claim to care, but refuse to give any direction, insist on a ‘family plan’ that requires counseling for the children, and then not only doesn’t enforce it, but ignores a concussion caused to one of my kids by my ex, and an incident involving his girlfriend that resulted in her slapping my youngest during a visit. A parent who fills the children’s prescriptions, including controlled substances, month after month, and refusing to give them to the children for their use, all the while CAS saying ‘sorry, that’s not a child protection matter,” despite the severe, potentially life-threatening withdrawal effects of stopping their meds cold turkey.
And yet it’s my fault that the kids have so much anger and refuse to visit with him, and it’s still my job, whatever the lawyers/counselors/others say to make sure that they know that I will NOT tolerate any parent-bashing in my home, and that I expect them to try to reconcile with the overgrown child who was once the love of my life.
I’m afraid that the last 5-8 years I have with my kids before they go to University will be spent playing advocate to a man-child, with two bullheaded children who have no respect for their elders. If I have to listen to one more argument between them over how to properly put a spoon in the dishwasher, or tolerate another tantrum because my man-child of an ex refuses to talk to or listen to them, I think I may just need to be put in a nut-house.
Despite their best efforts, I think that even psychologists haven’t written the book on what the hell has happened to our society that kids are so disrespectful these days that they believe that THEY are the ones who rule the roost, and are offended when parents have the audacity to discipline them. But I will say that society has evolved to allow CHILDREN more rights than parents, and this appears to be the result.
Shalom in the home? I can only pray.

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