My ex-husband and I have a pretty ok relationship, focused primarily on our kids. We have a pretty open arrangement, with me having them during the week and he on the weekends, due to his job's inflexible schedule during the week. The only caveat to this, is he keeps them for a few hours on one weekday night and then I keep them one weekend a month, which gives us both time with and without the kids. He recently decided that he wanted to take the kids to extracurricular activities in the evenings an extra night per week. He did this largely without asking if I was ok with me, but honestly, it wasn't worth arguing over and it allows the kids to see him for about an hour. This past weekend was my weekend with the kids. It was a tiring weekend. The one nice thing about Dad taking them on the weekend is it gives me a chance to refresh from the week of homework, dinner, sibling arguments, etc. This weekend was long, with it being a 4 day weekend. It seems petty, but he just asked me to take the kids to his scheduled event with them so he could take his girlfriend shopping...after spending an entire weekend alone...with no kids! The worst part of this is telling the kids that their regular event with Dad won't be happening and I'll get to deal with the fallout of him cancelling on them. I'm not going to lie, I am a teeny bit disappointed, as I have gotten used to my one hour reprieve in the evening...
Am I being unreasonable? I know I have it pretty good. My kids have a Dad that is around and available and usually putting them first...this just seems a bit selfish on his part.
It is not unreasonable to expect your kids dad to keep his promises to them. Setting and maintaining boundaries with ex-spouses, especially when there are kids involved, is infinitely difficult. And honestly, you’re making about a million excuses for him in your letter. Cut that out! His status as overall great dad does not invalidate your feelings about this particular incident. The bottom line is, if he signs the kids up for an activity, especially if he does this without your buy-in, than it is his responsibility to take them. And if he needs to change his plans, he needs to tell them, himself. He is equally responsible for their emotional well-being and its ok for you to hold him accountable.
The trouble with adults – especially spouses and ex-spouses – is that it is hard to hold them accountable for their actions. We’re not kids right? We can’t send each other to time out. Instead, the best we can do for ourselves and for our kids is to be clear about boundaries and expectations. Did you end up taking the kids to their activity? Whether you did or not, make sure that you are clear when you let your ex know that you were not comfortable being put in that position and that it cannot happen in the future. After all, it’s really not about you. It’s about the kids. And they need stability and consistency, especially from their parents.
Oh, and take a deep breath. Dealing with an ex is stressful so give yourself a few minutes to be frustrated. Then you can work on positive steps forward.
Don't be shy! Say what's on your mind and get a good dose of perspective in return.