I received this email from a divorced dad whose ex is making it difficult for him to have a relationship with his kids.
My ex mother in law let me have dinner with my kids while my ex-wife was working. She found out and told me her feelings were hurt that we did this behind her back. I told her I'm sorry, but it hurts me that she doesn't answer the phone when I call to speak to our kids. I get to talk to them once or twice every three weeks. It's rough during the school year and with my work schedule seeing my kids is difficult. Except for attorneys getting involved, how do I get her to realize, I just want to talk to my kids?
My initial reaction to reading this is that I feel an enormous amount of sadness for both you and your kids, and want to give your ex a few upper cuts to knock some sense into her.
The first thing that made me sad for you is "My ex mother-in-law LET me have dinner with my kids." No one should have to LET you do anything with YOUR kids. Did someone forget that they are YOUR kids?! It's infuriating. (Nothing against your ex-mother-in-law by the way. She actually sounds like she cares about the well-being of her grandchildren, and probably got a slap on the wrist from her selfish daughter.)
You then go on to say that your wife was HURT because "we did this behind her back?!" Well maybe if she let you see YOUR kids, you wouldn't have to do anything behind her back!!
A man or woman who doesn't answer the phone and tries to alienate the kids against the other is very very disgusting to me. No matter how much at odds the two of you are, your biggest priority should be making sure you are both raising those kids. Kids need their father 100% as much as they need their mother, and unless one of the parents is unfit in any way, there shouldn't even be an issue in regards to visitation and communicating over the phone as much as the kids want, and as much as you want (within reason.)
I understand that when a person gets divorced, he or she signs an agreement that states the times you are seeing the kids. I get it. It's the law. But what is really beautiful is when divorced couples can bend the rules for the benefit of the kids, by switching nights and accommodating each other's schedules when necessary. After all, aren't the kids better off with the other parent (versus a babysitter) if their scheduled parent has to work or wants or needs to go out of town?
The way I see it, you have two choices. You can sit and talk with your wife and try to explain what I just did in the above paragraph. It isn't easy. You might have to listen to her rant and rave, call you names, bring up your past shortcomings, (not that I think you have any, just being hypothetical) and other unpleasantries that go with communicating with an ex when your relationship isn't great. But, you might get to see and talk to your kids more. Maybe just sit her down and tell her how much you love and want to talk to the kids more, and how you would appreciate her flexibility and sensitivity to this issue.
Your other choice is to go to your attorney and have your schedule switched, or put together a request in writing to speak with your kids over the phone since you are out of town and working a lot. That to me is so pitiful, that a woman would let her ex take her to court for some extra phone calls, but if that's what has to happen for you to see the loves of your life, then so be it.
Since you don't talk to your kids as much as you'd like, here are 7 things you can say to them whenever you talk:
1. I hope you know how much I love and miss you.
2. I am so looking forward to seeing your pretty face.
3. You mean everything to me.
4. Seeing your little face makes my whole life make sense.
5. If I were there I would hug you very tight and kiss your cheek 25 times.
6. You are beautiful, kind and smart.
7. Even though I'm not seeing you until next week, my heart is with you all the time.
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of her blog, Divorced Girl Smiling, and the comedic divorce novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase. She also writes feature stories, along with the weekly dating and relationships column, Love Essentially" for Chicago Tribune Media Group local publications. Pilossoph lives in Chicago. Oh, and she's divorced.