I have my kids on Tuesday nights and every other weekend from Friday-Sunday. It's not enough. It's not enough to make me feel like I am holding up my responsibilities as a parent. My ex was always very domineering with me, at times disrespectful. I never felt respected by her. I don't know why I should expect that to change, now that we're divorced.

Anyway, I have them this coming weekend, and I get this email from her tonight:

"This Sunday, 20th, there is a special performance at church that S&G are really looking forward to. It's at 4 so could I please pick them up and early? They would like to get there for a closer seat this time so if I could pick them up at 3 that would be great. If you wanted to pick them up earlier on Friday that would be fine."

This happens fairly often. There's something at church that she'd: a) like them to go to, and b) already told them about before asking me. Then she asks me about it. At this point, I am painted into a corner, as it's either disappoint my kids by taking something away they want to attend or give up time with them. Granted, it's only an hour, but when you already don't spend enough time with them, every hour is precious. The fact that it's a church thing makes me even less inclined to sacrifice the time. My ex has turned into one of those born-again evangelical zealots who capitalizes the "H" in "He" and "Him," and I see signs of it in my 5-year old girl. Which scares the crap out of me.

I emailed her back and told her that she'd need to give me more information and that she should have asked me about this first. I should have just said "No." Standing up to my ex has never been one of my strong suits. I'm better than I used to be, but still sorely lacking. It frustrates me that I am strong enough to change my physical gender, but apparently, I seem to be unable to summon the strength to stand up to this woman.

I always try to come back to what is best for my kids in situations like these. It's not best for them to be constantly giving in on stuff like this, right?


Presenting you with a fait accompli is not a reasonable way to behave. Seems rather passive-aggressive to me.

Sounds like your email was pretty good. But maybe you need to say something like, From now on you need to talk with me about something like this first. I can imagine it's difficult to break a pattern that's been going on for many years. And if you do stand up to her (or should I say "when"), she might not like it. So you'll have to be strong.

I might add something like....sounds great, and I've got a special cookie-making date planned for Thursday - why don't I just pick them up then and keep them for the weekend?

I think she needs to give you some extra time when she takes extra time, and not just extra time that is at her convenience (pickup early Friday), but one that replaces meaningful time with meaningful time.

You can't really win in this situation saying NO, because you will be the party pooper no matter what the truth is. And yes, to the long term goal of getting her to communicate BEFORE hand, just not sure that saying no here would do anything to forward that effort.

As a parent of young children, I hear you. It's never enough time. Every minute apart is too much. It's very hard to find balance. You just have to remind yourself that you're doing the right things, and that your children are what's most important. I suspect you know your ex better than any of us, and that your instincts as a parent will help you to know exactly what you need to do.

She is using female survival strategies. Maybe you need to examine that and learn from it.

Saying no is not what I would do, neither is taking hard line Being accommodating is and being the one surprising her in the same way and talking to the kids about before hand so they get excited about is very female. If she complains you can simply tell her that you thought this was the way it was done in this family.

Talking about it will get you all the assurances you want to hear but, alas, next time it's going to be the same all over again.

This is not a mishap but a carefully executed tactical move to get what she wants. Female survival strategies are different then males. And you are....?

And, oh, does she know about this site? I suspect she might....

Kathryn, I don't know if I consider her behavior "female," but I do consider it manipulative and passive-aggressive.

I'd be surprised if she didn't know about the site. I was on a triathlon site when we first separated and she and some of her friends stalked me and read my posts there. I'd be very surprised if she didn't know about this blog.


You know my feelings on this particular topic. One thought I had is that perhaps as you grow as a woman you will feel better about yourself - and your self esteem will improve. I wouldnt let someone handle me the way she handles you because I think too much of myself. I dont mean that to sound cocky = but you get what I mean.
Perhaps as you feel better about yourself you will find yourself standing up to her more and more because you know you are worth more than that sort of manipulative treatment. And to answer your question, yes, its not good for the kids.


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