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How to stop feeling resentful as a single parent

(23 Posts)
NoraLouca Mon 27-Jun-16 14:21:05

This is going to be a rant I think. I would like to know if there's a way of letting go of resentment towards your DC's father if he does not take full responsibility for his own children? Obviously no magic solution but I am so so angry towards the lazy bastard and I don't want to be. I just want to get on with life, if that makes sense - I have lovely DC, lovely Dboyfriend, nice house, good job, I want to make the most of what I have. I can feel myself turning into a grumpy narky person and I don't want to be like that. I know I cannot change him but only the way I react towards him, it's just that I can't seem to be able to do that.

Over the last few weeks, ex-h has: not given DD1 a birthday present, not turned up to the school summer fair because 'he didn't feel like it,' not turned up to a horse show that DD1 was riding in - first ever show and DD1 is very shy and it took a big effort for her to actually participate.

He sees the DC for one overnight a week, less than 24 hours in total. In a way this is good because when they're with him all they do is watch TV and play with their tablets. He books about a week of holiday a year during school holidays, the rest is at random times.

He does not pay maintenance directly to me 'in case I waste it' because I keep wasting money on things like clothes, birthday presents, presents for other kids when the DC are invited to parties... He pays for the DC's school dinners and before/afterschool childcare, which adds up to a grand total of about £100 a month, less if there's a holiday. I know this isn't actually that bad and some fathers pay and see their children far less.

Today he told me that because of work, as from this week he'll only see the DC for a day every other week over the summer. When I asked him which day this would be, he told me to stop making his life so difficult.

Ex is like this, he has always been like this and that's why he's an ex. It goes without saying that I love the DC but sometimes it makes me so fucking angry that I am left with all the responsibility. I never signed up for this. It makes me angry that he doesn't seem to give a shit about how the DC feel. It also makes me angry rushing home from work every day to cook tea and help with homework and generally deal with pre-teen angst and making sure they get to bed on time and do the laundry and the cleaning. I don't actually mind doing these things in themselves, it's the fact that he's presumably sat on his arse that grates.

I am actually at work now but can't concentrate on what I'm supposed to be doing because I'm fuming about the way he thinks it's OK to make a unilateral decision about big changes to contact arrangements and then inform me by text a few days before said changes start.

Thank you to anyone who reads all of this!

surereadyforchange Mon 27-Jun-16 14:35:34

I have no words of wisdom but i understand the fuming! DS' dad hasnt seen him since January, although he does pay maintenance its the feeling of having to do everything and get really stressed trying to make sure everythings covered and not getting any time off (ever) while I hear from his family that he has been on holiday etc.
Also like you said, the lack of being bothered- ds gets the odd text. On days where I'm stressed and could do with someone to take him i feel livid! Only thing i have found that helps is to mentally detach from him. I put him in a boat (in my mind!) and push him off the shore out to sea and away grin
Just wanted to say you're not alone! At the end of the day its his loss, and he'll realise that when the kids are older. Thats what i cling onto anyway!

Myusernameismyusername Mon 27-Jun-16 14:38:12

How long has it been?
I lost my resentment about 5 years into single. But add the 8 years before that when we were together! Now it's just irritation at times.

I only involve him if I have to and I don't change my plans to suit his.

Isetan Mon 27-Jun-16 14:55:49

I suspect much of the resentmen comes from this dick still having so much control over your life and that of your children. Appeasement won't make him a responsible parent, as evidenced by his 'Give an inch, take a mile' approach to contact and maintenance.

It's time to help yourself and support your children in accepting that this is who he is and neither you or your children caused him to be like this, or can stop him behaving like an arsehole. First things first, formalise contact and maintenance and limit your contact with him to written correspondence. Talk to your children about their father and reiterate that their father's behaviour is his responsibility and not yours or theirs.

Detachment is the key word here, the sooner you limit your exposure to his bullshit the easier it will be to ignore it.

Ivegotablackhaironmychin Mon 27-Jun-16 14:55:55

I don't have any words to say to you, other than I feel exactly the same.
Ex left to live with ow almost 4 years ago and has been a complete and utter wankstain, Always lying constantly letting myself and dcs down when it comes to contact and is only interested when his gf is not around.

I feel as though it is consuming my life and he gets to do nothing while I raise our children, he is supposed to give me maintence every two weeks when he gets paid but it's usually short angry last week I had no food in the house, I couldn't pay for dcs clubs while he walks around in £300 shoes getting high it makes me so angry.

bibliomania Mon 27-Jun-16 15:06:45

Normally I'm philosophical about this kind of thing, but today I'm in a similar resentful mood, because:

a) I've just found out that exH ended employment (don't know the circs) in April so the small amount of child support that the CSA prised out of him after years of effort has ended.
b) The limited contact he has with dd is spent trying to make her feel guilty and unhappy that he can't have more contact. All he has to do is treat her decently and he can have more! I offered additional contact for Father's Day and he wouldn't take it!
c) He's dragging me to the court of appeal because he thinks he was treated unfairly in the lengthy court case over contact that finished four months ago.

It's seven years since I left him and I'm just utterly sick and tired of it. It's all about him - I don't think he ever gives a single thought to what might be best for dd.

NoraLouca Mon 27-Jun-16 15:33:24

Never mind a boat, I'll send him off in a rocket to Mars grin

I'm sorry to hear about everyone else in similar circumstances sad Sick and tired is the word for it - I sometimes get annoyed with the DC when they are a pain in the arse (as all DC are sometimes!) I'm even resenting my boyfriend because he doesn't have DC and his life seems so much more stress free than mine. It's awful because it's like resentment for exh is poisoning everything else. For the sake of the DC I'm having to suck it up and be the bigger person all the time and I'm really crap at doing that.

Maintenance and contact were actually written into our divorce agreement (we are abroad so maybe slightly different to what would be done in the UK) but I'd need to take him to court to make him pay me directly and I don't know if it's worth the trouble that would cause. As in the UK court won't be able to force him to see the DC or to stick to the agreed contact agreement. We do mostly communicate by text, which is far better than trying to speak to each other.

We've been separated nearly four years, divorce came through a few months ago. I was hoping once divorce was official things would change but they haven't.

I need to detach and just accept life as it is - I'm also hoping it will be easier when the DC are older.

bibliomania Mon 27-Jun-16 15:51:23

Oh, I hear you about being grumpy with others because of exH poisoning things. Sometimes I feel like I'm wishing away dd's childhood just to get past all that. Roll on the stroppy teenage years that other people are dreading!

Forevertiredzzzzzz Mon 27-Jun-16 16:56:11

I am quite used to it, DD is 15 and he saw her till she was 2 then vanished for 4 years , then returned saw her three times then vanished for another 4 years, saw her 7 times then has been awol since then, doesn't pay a penny. DD has befriended him on Facebook and I bare the brunt of her anger about his dad of the year posts with current girlfriend and their 1DC. She has major issues with emotions and anger and it's me that has to be there and go through it , he is the root cause, she feels rejected but yet I get the fallout/broken furniture/abuse from it!

Atenco Mon 27-Jun-16 21:41:54

Well there is an upside to all this. My ex was a hopeless father, both in terms of maintenance and just being a father. What really got me was when he had a house, a boat, a truck and two dobermans but couldn't afford to send his dd any money. But the upside was that I never had to deal with my dd wanting to be with her father or trying to play us off against each other. She was quite clear that she did not like him. And secondly, though of less significance, it is quite something to know you raised your children all by yourself. Hard but something to be proud of.

Onmyownwith4kids Mon 27-Jun-16 22:01:19

Mine has managed to see his children 3 times this year. He was supposed to have them for a long weekend but returned them on Sunday as he was "too tired" to get them up for school on Monday. I'm trying not to be resentful too especially when he picks and chooses the good bits and gets to play adoring daddy and have them all over him. I don't know how to get over the resentment but you're not alone. I feel like he has a life and I've been left socially isolated unable to afford childcare and knowing he is reliving his 20s with a much younger woman.

girlsmum1510 Tue 28-Jun-16 13:21:54

I have been through this, I no longer feel any resentment towards him.
My dds go twice a month very much out of duty, they feel they should go. They won't go at all now until September as he feels them being there in summer is to disruptive to his new family......

Best bit summer is mine, children are happy. I don't know how long I've not felt resentment but it does go xx

LesisMiserable Tue 28-Jun-16 21:20:16

It drives you mad but ultimately I have had to reframe it thus: what bigger compliment can one parent pay another than to entrust the welfare and care of their offspring almost exclusively to that parent. Put it this way, if EXH suddenly decided to step up and take over the answer would be a firm no.

girlsmum1510 Tue 28-Jun-16 22:22:14

Lesismiserable - love it!!

I also call mine the babysitter as that's all he is!

stopitatonce Wed 29-Jun-16 04:27:48

I hear you. I feel huge rage too. Because it is an injustice to me and my child, part of a pattern of huge injustice to millions of women and children. They deserve our anger and distain! But it affects my life too much, i would rather spend my time treasuring my dc's childhood and being happy. Wish i believed in karma, that would help!

DonnaMurray1 Wed 29-Jun-16 04:48:48

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

alanthicke Wed 29-Jun-16 05:05:47

OP if the Internet existed 30 years ago,
I think my mum would have written your post. Unfortunately, she still bears a great deal of resentment toward my father, despite the fact that she has been happily remarried for 20+ years and has a very nice life by any measure. As kids we always saw my father and I think he did try in his way, but for various reasons he just was incapable/unwilling to shoulder the responsibility of child-rearing. My mum, on the other hand, worked her ass off every day, came home and cooked dinner, did homework, cleaned up, and dealt with all of our drama. I always knew she worked hard but now that I have my own DCs, I am in awe of everything she did for us.

There is, however, a major upside to all of this for my mum, which is that our relationship with her is a million times deeper, stronger, and more real than what we have with our father. She is the first one we call with good news, the one we ask for advice, the one with whom we share a million private jokes and memories. It's always been that way and now she is adored by her GCs too. I still see my father fairly regularly, but in many ways it's more of an obligation than anything.

I know it's incredibly hard, OP, but try not to let your resentment eat into your lovely life. I think my mum really struggled with that and it had an impact on all of us. In the end, though, I think it's clear that all of the time and effort she invested have paid off and she's been the big winner. (Not suggesting that I am so wonderful that anyone would be lucky gag I think most parents would like to have a close relationship with their children.)

PoundingTheStreets Wed 29-Jun-16 12:05:40

I can only speak from personal experience, so I don't know if it would apply in other people's circumstances, but in my case the solution was in two parts.

Firstly, I removed the control XP had over us. I never tried to block contact or make it difficult; in fact I actively encouraged it - but it was on strict terms. It was on set dates and times and if not adhered to, there were consequences (i.e. other plans would be made if we were being dicked about so we often would not be there when XP finally deigned to turn up). This is not only about removing the feeling that you're being toyed with, it sends an important message for the DC: 'you are worthy of someone showing you enough courtesy and respect to stick to plans they have made with you and if they cannot be bothered to do that you do not owe them the return courtesy or respect of hastily reorganising your life to suit them'. This is one way you avoid the feelings of rejection or worthlessness that can come with having a crap non-resident parent, because it clearly demonstrates the fault is with the unreliable parent, not the child.

Similarly, although it was extremely hard at times, I did not include maintenance in my budgeting calculations (just as well as to this day, 10 years later, I've still never had any). Initially I still felt resentment when I was sat there hungry because I didn't have enough to feed myself properly after paying the mortgage and the childminder, but because I hadn't calculated that money into my budget, I didn't have the extra stress of worrying whether I would receive it IYSWIM. It makes you more appeasing if you're reliant on maintenance because no matter how much your children deserve that money and no resident parent should be made to feel grateful for it, the truth is that you are reliant on the other parent's good will -and that creates feelings of helplessness and need. That fosters resentment. Trouble is, in a world where you're twice as likely to live in poverty as a single parent, it's not easy to remove maintenance from your family budget calculations so this part is easier said than done (and one reason why I believe maintenance should be paid by government direct to parent and recouped through the non-resident parent's tax code).

The second part for me was to grow my own life. It's much easier to let go of resentment if you think your own life is better than the other parent's. When my DC were small and XP was swanning off on holidays while I was scrimping and saving and working my arse off, I had a period of quite bitter resentment. I managed this through running and long stomps through the woods with the dog where I had imaginary conversations with XP about what an arsehole he was. That helped, but what helped more was when my DC got a bit older and less reliant and I was able to retrain into a more fulfilling and better paid career. I suddenly rediscovered a social life and 6 years after leaving him finally afforded my first holiday. I also realised I had deeper, better friendships (because I treat people decently, unlike him), and a better relationship with my DC (because I am there and treat them decently, unlike him - see a theme here?).

My X still has more money and freedom than me because he has less responsibilities (in his eyes). I wouldn't change lifestyles with him for the world. I love with the life I have - my relationship with my DC, my friendships, my new partner (not so new anymore), my house, my career. I worked hard to achieve those. The hardships at the beginning when it felt so unfair that all the responsibility was mine, was in some ways the glue that has made my current life as strong as it is.

Hang on in there. If you can find a way to let out the feelings of resentment while you work towards getting over it, it will get better. flowers

Ineedmorelemonpledge Wed 29-Jun-16 13:00:53

What a lovely post Pounding. flowers

I am halfway there and feeling the same.

Op I'm also in another country dealing with all this and currently in the midsts of sorting out the details of visitation etc. wine

You are angry because you care for your children, and you can see the disappointment in the present and future that they have to deal with. You are bitter because they have no choice in this fate.

I'm looking forward to STBXH hearing the judges verdict because, the way he's been acting is not good, and I want him to hear it from an official legal authority. I want him to hear that I have been fair. I want him to squirm when a judge asks him why he doesn't think he needs to pay for his child. Because my opinion really doesn't count. But theirs will.

So far, in back maintenance I've been told he owes me £10000+. It's a figure I was very bitter over for a long time.

But as Pounding said, I've already spent that money on DS and I spent it with pleasure on him, he's well fed, clean (most of the time) and clothed.

I look on it as if I ever get that money it will be frankly astonishing and I fantasise about spending it all on a Whooped up trip to Miami. Again I'm fighting hard to gain independence and not have to rely on him for anything.

I think on everything else you make him Plan B, or C...or Z.

Making him Plan A causes the most angst, in your life and your DC. Especially with visitation, and your free evening. I have been let down so much that I couldn't make any plans. Now I always try and have a back up plan in place. He's not going to ruin our free time be it intentionally or unintentionally.

I would reconsider getting some structure to the visitation schedule. It would definitely free up some alone time for you to relax and recuperate. I think this would help your mindset enormously.

You have to think on a few activities that make you happy and try and get some time to do them. When your life is fuller with positive things it gives less headspace to the big twunt.

And as others have said, his delinquency means you have so much more control of your life than others where for example an abusive DH might try and frighten or harass an ex to retain control.

What do you do for pleasure that's just about you OP?

bibliomania Wed 29-Jun-16 14:11:24

I agree that you need to adjust your expectations etc etc. And normally I do. For me, wondering why exH can't be a decent father is like wondering why a snake can't be a frog - he just doesn't have it in him.

I wouldn't usually describe myself as frustrated or bitter, but I think the point that stopit makes is important - this is an injustice that extends to huge numbers of women and children. I feel like I should be doing more campaigning or something, but I'm so bloody worn out with work and home stuff that I have no time and energy left over.

donners312 Wed 29-Jun-16 17:45:35

My STBXH is totally vile, no maintenance, left us homeless, doesn't see the children honestly I could go on.

I think loads of pp have made some really good points, taking their pathetic amount of maintenance out of the equation certainly makes you feel more powerful (as i say i get none and have a minimum wage job now so not dismissing the importance of money but we have downsized our life style massively i was gutted but now i don't care).

realizing that you are building a relationship that is really strong with your children that they just don't have. These arseholes don't seem to have strong relationships with anyone.

Making friends with people in similar boat has really helped me and making plans with them at weekends - go for long walk and take it in turns to go back to each ones house for pizza with all the kids etc

my friend said you can get bitter or get better.

NoraLouca Thu 30-Jun-16 08:54:30

Thank you all for your messages, it's reassuring to see that I'm not the only one. I have a few single parent friends with exs similar to mine, which also helps. I think I've been feeling worse since meeting Dboyfriend, as he's introduced me to all his friends who are mostly childfree. It makes it worse seeing how most people don't have their time controlled by their dickhead ex! I do have time off but it isn't very much and he changes it whenever it suits him.

I think the suggestion to take back control re contact time is a good one. I would never stop him seeing the DC but he can do the running - he has recently moved 30 miles away and expects (didn't discuss, just expected) me to do half the driving. I won't be doing that anymore unless it's been pre-agreed - no last minute things.

It's a good idea to do fun stuff for myself, I do go to the pub now and then but any days out, activities, etc. are planned with the DC in mind. If I had a few days off to do what I wanted I don't even know what I'd want to do!

alanthicke it's nice to have the view from an adult who had a single mum, I hope the DC appreciate me later grin I sometimes worry they won't like me because I'm always the one making them hurry up to get to school, tidy their rooms etc. We do fun stuff too but I work full time, drive 50 miles a day to get to work and back, and seem to spend most of my time at home doing chores etc. That's something that needs to change but it's separate from the exH issue.

Pounding unlike you I do envy exH his freedom, so that's jealousy to add to the resentment grin I think I've lost sight of what is important a bit.

I agree that it is an issue that affects so many women and children, I do feel we should be campaigning lol but like a pp I just don't have the energy! It gets on my nerves how it's accepted as normal that mothers take on the bulk of the childcare after a divorce and dads just get to swan off and do the bare minimum. I'm not sure what could be done to change that, you can't force someone to act like a responsible adult.

Ineedmorelemonpledge Thu 30-Jun-16 23:32:12

And when you wobble...think like Elizabeth Taylor...gringringrinwine

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