The gold standard for parenting after divorce is the co-parenting model where both parents collaborate and are actively involved in raising their children but this is at the far end of the parenting spectrum and I suspect definitely not the norm. While there are some couples who are able to shift to more of a co-parenting style after divorce, parenting styles are often set early in the marriage and divorce doesn’t change them.
My current guest, RMJ shares that her children, now aged fourteen and six rarely see their father who lives in another country. However, he moved overseas a long time before their divorce so his distant parenting is not new. Here’s RMJ:
The children don’t go back to visit him and I feel they’re too young for me to just send them over without me.
One of the main reasons is that his life in Nigeria has not been organized in a way as to be able to receive children. So if I were to send my children to Nigeria I would have to think about accommodation and where they’re going to sleep, where are they going to eat and so on and so forth. It’s not like there’s a home waiting for them.
I could send them to my in-laws, but I’m just the mother hen. I feel like they will go, but not until they’re old enough for me to send them off on their own.
They have a comfortable life here and it seems fine for them to just remain here. For the last probably dozen years now, he’s largely been absent because he had this dream of moving back to Nigeria and starting a business there. Unfortunately things didn’t work out well and it’s been a never-ending dream.
Even before we separated they hardly ever saw him anyway. Maybe they saw their dad for a couple of months out of the year so the divorce hasn’t really made much of an impact in terms of their father being present although now the absence is even longer.
They do talk on the phone. Their dad actually bought them each a special phone, a Nigerian line so they can call and it’s less expensive. He calls from time to time and they can call if they want to talk to their dad but they don’t call much. For my daughter it’s not out of any sort of resentment or anything. She thinks it’s more fun to talk to friends. For my son it’s more out of showing he’s not a seven-year-old anymore, “I’m someone who’s interesting and you don’t even know me and so we don’t have much to talk about.”
It’s probably been harder on my son because he remembers what it was like to see his dad more frequently. He remembers having his dad in the house most of the time when he was small. He’s a teenager now and I think it’s hard for him not to have his father around. It’s hard for him to understand why, but we talk about it a lot. I always try to make opportunities for us to talk if he needs to. I think he’s just getting resentful now that things haven’t changed and half of him wants to be there. But with school and everything they’re pretty occupied. So that’s how it is now.
Any significant geographical distance between parents will make parenting visits more challenging and that’s obviously something that parents need to consider when deciding where to live after divorce. The other major consideration is making sure your new home is child-friendly because quite apart from what your STBX thinks, this has a major impact on whether your children will want to visit.
When my ex moved out he rented a condo nearby. The condo had two bedrooms one of which had a loft. The kids had the room with the loft. My daughter was about fourteen at the time and quickly discovered the loft offer her little to no privacy and there was no way of shutting out the noise from the rest of the house. The end result was she didn’t want to spend much time there and sleepovers with friends were always at her friends’ homes.
Differences between mom’s home and dad’s home are magnified when one parent stays in the marital home, even if it is temporary and most of the time the children are more comfortable in the marital home. Whoever moves out may look to rent a home temporarily until the financial settlement is resolved and the mindset then can be to spend as little as possible on the rent coupled with limited housing choices.
Do you think a nesting arrangement could work for you? How do you make your children comfortable visiting your home?
RMJ blogs at Remembering My Journey were she writes, beautifully about being an African, a Christian and divorced.
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