Our Child is a Brat—and it’s Your Fault

Dear Mr. Dad: I’m a single mom with a 10-year-old son who’s with me half the time. Before the divorce, he was a sweet kid and a pleasure to be around. But lately he’s become a terror, throwing tantrums when he doesn’t get what he wants—and I think it’s because his father is spoiling him. How do I deal with him? What can I say to his dad to get this behavior to stop?

A: As you well know, divorce is tough on everyone involved: you, your ex, and your son. And among the many problems divorce creates, one of the most common is children being spoiled by mom or dad. The one doing the spoiling is usually the non-custodial parent, who’s making a well-intentioned attempt to buy the kids’ affection or to do something to make up for how hard the divorce has been on them. But the same thing can happen in cases like yours, where both parents have the kids the same amount of time.
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Making Your Ex an Ally + Helping Your Kids Thrive after Divorce

[amazon asin=160882277X&template=thumbnail&chan=default]Guest 1: Judith Ruskay Rabinor, author of Befriending Your Ex after Divorce.
Topic: Making life better for you, your kids, and yes, your ex.
Issues: How to befriend your ex; the art of creating an ally from an opponent; when anger prevents befriending; how children benefit when exes cooperate.


[amazon asin=B006QZ789E&template=thumbnail&chan=default]Guest 2: Lisa Rene Reynolds, author of Parenting through Divorce .
Topic: Helping children thrive during and after the split.
Issues: Anticipating children’s emotions and reactions; practical advice to guide children through divorce while retaining a strong, healthy, caring environment.

Befriending Your Ex + Kids Thriving after Divorce + Remarried with Children + Talking about Sex

[amazon asin=160882277X&template=thumbnail&chan=default]Guest 1: Judith Ruskay Rabinor, author of Befriending Your Ex after Divorce.
Topic: Making life better for you, your kids, and yes, your ex.
Issues: How to befriend your ex; the art of creating an ally from an opponent; when anger prevents befriending; how children benefit when exes cooperate.


[amazon asin=B006QZ789E&template=thumbnail&chan=default]Guest 2: Lisa Rene Reynolds, author of Parenting through Divorce .
Topic: Helping children thrive during and after the split.
Issues: Anticipating children’s emotions and reactions; practical advice to guide children through divorce while retaining a strong, healthy, caring environment.


[amazon asin=0553382004&template=thumbnail&chan=default]Guest 3: Barbara LeBey, author of Remarried with Children .
Topic: 10 secrets for successfully blending and extending your family.
Issues: What are blended families? Debunking myths and misconceptions; learning how to navigate the stresses, anticipate the pitfalls, and build a brand new family that works for everyone.


[amazon asin=155704810X&template=thumbnail&chan=default]Guest 4: Debra Haffner, author of From Diapers to Dating.
Topic: Talking about sex.
Issues: Raising sexually healthy children from infancy through middle school.
Issues: identifying and communicating your values about sexuality; helping kids deal with the glut of sexual messages in the media; sensible strategies for teaching the facts of life; internet safety.

There’s More to Being a Dad Than Pulling out Your Wallet

Dear Mr. Dad: I have a 13-year old daughter. I was never married to her mother. But recently the mom got married to someone else, had another child, and moved away, taking my daughter with her. Do I still have to pay child support even though she’s married and has full custody of my daughter?

A: There are a number of factors at play here. However, what surprises me most about your question is that you seem to be focusing on the finances rather than on the fact that your daughter is now living in another state and you don’t get to see her. Doesn’t that bother you? Most guys would be investigating whether the mother has violated a court order by moving the girl away without an agreement between the parents, or figuring out how to see their child more often. That said, you do raise some interesting financial questions.
But before we go on, it’s important that you hire a lawyer. This situation is quite complicated and you need someone in your corner who has a lot of expertise in custody matters. An experienced attorney will be able to tell you about the child support rules in your state.

Some states count a new spouse’s income when calculating support. Others don’t. Either way, in most states, there’s an inverse relationship between the amount of time the child is with the non-custodial parent and how much support is paid. Child support is supposed to be for the child’s benefit and is designed to help the custodial parent cover increased child-related expenses. Time your daughter spends with you would reduce her mother’s expenses because yours would be increased. Makes sense, right? Simply put, the less time you daughter is with you, the more you’ll owe. So if she’s with her mom 100 percent of the time, you’ll most likely be ordered to pay the max amount.

The big question is, Why don’t you want to pay? If you’re having financial troubles—and you certainly wouldn’t be alone in this—your attorney should be able to get your support order reduced, at least temporarily. If you’re concerned that the mother is pocketing your support checks or spending them on non-child-related things, again, your lawyer may be able to get the support order modified so that you can put the money into a college savings account or other savings vehicle for your daughter.

If you’re using financial leverage to punish or get back at your ex for something she did to you, stop right now. Whether you’re legally required to pay support or not, I think you have a moral obligation. Does it really matter where your daughter lives or whether her mother now has enough money to pay for everything she needs? She’s your daughter and you should be doing everything you can to support her. If that means sending money, so be it. The one who gets hurt the most by your ducking your responsibility is your daughter, not her mother.

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Dating for Divorced Daddies

Dear Mr. Dad: I’ve been divorced three years, and have had a couple of serious relationships. My 11-year-old son, who lives with me half time, has met these women and a couple others, and seems pretty indifferent when the subject of my dating comes up. My ex thinks it’s reckless and harmful for my current girlfriend to be in contact with him. For now, I’m respecting her wishes. Still, I worry about this pattern continuing. For the record, in three years I’ve had a woman stay over exactly once when he is with me.

A: My advice is to keep kids and new partners apart until the relationship can be truly considered “serious.” Of course, that means different thing to different people. The problem is that kids form attachments very quickly (even if they, like your son, seem indifferent), and the last thing your son needs now is yet another breakup. I know it’s a tough situation–you don’t want to feel that your ex is running your dating life. But think about it as something you’ll do for your son. The fact that you’ve only had one girlfriend spend the night means that you won’t have to make any big changes. Could you confine your dating to the days your son is with his mom? When I was a single dad, I tried to do exactly that. That way, when my kids were with me, I could be there 100 percent for them, and when I was with a girlfriend, I could be with her 100 percent (or close to it).