Can skids/differences in parenting styles really break up a marriage? And other musings.
My ex fiance, whom I've known for ten years and consider a good friend, called me last night to catch up. This is the guy who threw back beers with me on my bday after a-hole boyfriend broke up with me via text. On my birthday. LOL He is the one who encouraged me to get back out there. He met his now wife/ex wife about two weeks prior to that. So we've been on similar paths for awhile...which may be why this situation bothers me so much.
He and his wife of nearly 4 years separated in Dec/Jan and the final papers are in the mail. He cites an issue with his SS/difference in parenting style/values as the primary reason that things didn't work out. Our situations were very similar so we've talked about our version of step life a lot over the last 5 years. Both he and I are childless SPs. Both 50/50. His skids are the same age as mine--14 and 16 Fairly amicable BPs nearby, etc. We have very similar ideas about raising kids. Friend got along very well with the youngest--SD. But the oldest--SS--turned into a bit of a delinquent. Multiple arrests for shoplifting, drug use, alcohol use, poor grades, stealing from Friend, trying to get into things of Friend's and selling them, selling his ADD meds at school and being expelled, etc.
I know I'm super lucky that my SDs are good kids. But there have been challenges. Especially at the beginning, the issues I had were very comparable to the issues that Friend had.
The divergence I see is that my DH, while reluctant to change certain things, did. If I had a concern and had a well thought out "argument" for a change in parenting the kids, he listened and he often made a change. I really feel that due in part to that, my SDs have developed a stronger sense of responsibility, self reliance and have stayed on the straight and narrow. I am not going to break my arm patting myself on the back here, but I do think that some of the input I had has contributed to their current success because my DH is prone to parenting out of divorce guilt.
Conversely, Friend's wife insisted that the behaviors Friend saw were "normal kid behavior" and refused to address any issues. Little behaviors seem to ramp up to bigger ones if left unaddressed and in Friend's SS case, where we first complained to each other about lack of responsibility, chores, doing homework, getting to school on time, yada yada--it turned into much bigger things for him.
For example, SS in his case was home alone after school. Invited a friend over. They drank all of the liquor in the house, puked all over the house, were hitting a bong and left that right out in the open. They were 14. Mom did not punish. Told her DH that it's normal for kids to do such things. Another example would be the arrests. Again, no punishment at home. Grades? Friend wanted to sit with SS to work on homework. Mom didn't feel it was necessary. She felt that D's were fine. (which is schocking because she's a professional and a smart cookie.) Selling his ADD drugs at school and being caught with a weapon and thus being expelled? No punishment.
The list of things goes on and on. But in every situation, Friend says that his wife was unwilling to do anything about it and it drove them farther and farther apart. She felt like Friend wasn't supporting her parenting choices and he felt like she was making horrid parenting choices that were endangering the child as well as costing them big money in bail, doctors, counselors, summer school, etc. She had told him about a year in that she wanted a divorce because she wanted to parent her kids as she saw fit and if he had a problem with that, he could go. They tried counseling but she was very staunch in that she was the parent, he was not.
The final straw had nothing to do with SS. Wife cheated. But what really drove them apart seems to be the fact that they disagreed so vehemently on parenting.
I realize I've only gotten one side of the story but I do know Friend pretty well and while he has some quirks, he's usually pretty objective about things. Even when we had issues, he fairly assessed the situation, was not prone to dramatics, and never talked badly about me in a way that was untrue.
I asked him about SD. He has had such a close relationship with her. Ex Wife has it in the court docs that Friend is not allowed to contact or speak to SD. I think he's more crushed about this than the divorce--well, he said so flat out. He has always had such wonderful things to say about this kiddo. He probalby will never have kids of his own but really connected with her and is pretty sad about losing her.
So I guess for discussion (if you've made it this far):
1) Do you think that a SP should have input on how to handle kids?
2) Do you think that a SP should be allowed to continue to talk to Skids if there's a divorce?
3) Do you think this is at all common?
I really thought about leaving my husband at one point due to some similar issues where I was being told to stay out of it, my kids, not yours, I will do what I want, they can do what they want. But I was lucky I guess. The whole thing makes me terribly sad. I really like Friend's wife. And I truly care about Friend. I feel like the kids are the ones who are going to suffer most though. BD in this sitch is not encouraging of SD's intellectual interests. BD doesn't get involved in any of the issues with his son either. It's like there's no one there to really look out for their best interests.