My daughter divorced her husband several years ago. They share a young teen and an older one, 50-50. It’s worked surprisingly well for all concerned.
The older child, studying at university, had been home infrequently. With the virus situation, she’s returned.
Now, both daughters do not want to spend that time with their father. He’s not been maligned by my daughter. The trouble is that he’s extremely lazy.
He has social issues, is close to being a recluse, and tends to flare up when the kids do something that displeases him.
He goes to his job and returns home. When the girls visit, they do grocery shopping, return to his house and stay there all the days allocated to him.
They watch TV and movies. Any suggestion of another activity is rejected - no games, cooking, walking, skating, etc.
He won’t see a counsellor (suggested many times when my daughter was attempting to save their marriage).
The situation is worse now. The older girl will be returning to university when the virus situation changes, but my younger granddaughter will still be dealing with her father for the next four years.
They’ve talked together and with their mother about speaking to their dad but, haven’t worked up the courage to do so.
My daughter would be relieved if she had total custody but is reluctant to interfere with her daughters’ relationship with their father.
She can’t discuss things with him as he cut her off, and all of her family, the day she left.
We know that he loves his daughters. But he’s a negative person, always has been.
If she and the girls decide they want to live with her, how does she go about it? She never used a lawyer but had a mediator finalize the divorce and financial arrangements.
Reality check: The 50-50 shared living arrangement between the divorced parents and their daughters is not “working well”… or both daughters wouldn’t be crying to change it.
Also, the father has both social issues and anger issues, especially when his daughters want to change what activities are allowed in his space.
This isn’t a healthy situation for anyone involved.
Since you’re the one who’s written, I suspect your daughter is uncomfortable rocking the boat. Besides, he’s ended contact with her, which, again, is not a healthy situation in shared custody cases.
She needs legal advice. It may be that mediation services through family court can again be the answer to resolving this issue.
But there will still be counselling needs for the two daughters who are 1) upset now and 2) may feel later guilt about abandoning their father, or 3) have feelings of alienation that he effectively abandoned them by his disinterest in their social needs.
Show this to your daughter and support her in facing up to this situation as soon as possible.
FEEDBACK - Regarding parents who take separate vacations and have young children (March 30):
Reader – “I became a widow at 23, with a two-and-a-half-year-old son. When I decided to take driving lessons, my son made a fuss.
After this happened a few times, I figured out the problem. Once I reassured him that I would be coming back home, he was fine.
So, whenever one leaves on vacation, that parent should take some time beforehand to reassure the children that he/she will be returning, and perhaps have a countdown calendar for them.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding friendships across age lines:
“I’m 67 and bought my first sports car six years ago - a Mazda Miata. Through that ownership I became involved in three car clubs locally and a sport called autocross.
“Through the clubs and the league, I met and became friends with people of all ages and all viewpoints.
“It’s enriched my life.
“I made friends with people in Canada and the US from Massachusetts to Georgia. That involvement has been both in person from road trips to events in their area, and online via forums and discussion groups.
“It doesn't have to be car-related.
“I encourage everyone who wants to expand their social interaction to get involved in a sport or activity with a widespread following among all age groups plus an active online and physical presence socially.
“You meet a lot of amazing people through this and it keeps your viewpoint young and diverse.
Tip of the day:
When shared custody issues cause grief to older children, get legal/mediator help to change the agreement.