Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What's This Blog About?

Singlemommyhood recently posted about bad-mouthing the ex. Some readers may not believe me, but I actually do think about what I say about X before I say it here. I have decided, and maybe it's just a rationalization, but I have decided that I have not bad mouthed my X here. I've spoken about facts, and his actions, and how those actions make me and my girls feel. I've spoken about my anger and my resentment, but I have not said anything that is untrue. It's never been libelous or slander, and if I ever needed to, I could provide evidence that proves it.

Is it pretty? No. Is it nice? No. Is that my fault? No. Do I have a responsibility, as so many experts would like me to believe, to paint a rosy picture of my X for the sake of the girls? Absolutely not. (And let me just say, I don't think the authors of the article posted above took that stance at all - but it is something that single moms hear often.)

I believe that part of my responsibility is to guide my girls in understanding their father, and his actions, and helping them sort through their feelings about it, but more importantly, helping them set realistic expectations about their father. I believe that any time I've tried to give their father the benefit of the doubt, it has caused my girls more pain.

I also believe that, particularly as I raise girls, I have a responsibility to dissuade them from falling into the fairy tale trap and expect more from men in their lives than those men are actually capable of giving. The relationship they have with their father is obviously an important one in shaping their future. To me, that means being honest and seeing him without the rose-colored glasses.

I think I will start posting movie reviews and how they perpetuate myths about women, men and relationships in unhealthy manners. So it might not always be the knight in shining armor anymore, but lately, there seems to be a rash of movies (usually by Judd Apatow and his gang) that portray guys as slacker dudes that get it together in the end. I know it happens sometimes, but not nearly as often as they would like us to believe.

So, yeah, I'm quite honest about my ex here. I'm also honest about how the girls react to it, and I know there's a lot of concern out there about how this mommy blogging phenomenon will affect our children's futures.

I do try to omit what I feel is too personal for Sylvia and/or Riley to share here in order to cut down on any embarrassment or anger they may feel towards my blogging, but I know some of it is here. It's here because it's why I blog.

I blog to not only work through it all myself, but also to let other single moms out there know that someone else gets it. Someone else has been there, and done that. I seek out other single mom bloggers for the very same reason. So, yes, it's mostly for me and the other single moms out there. But in doing so, in finding that strength through community, I come home to my girls a better person, which has to be good for them.

I hope that, if the day ever comes that the girls examine my archives, I hope what they will know is that, as many mistakes as I have made and will make, my intent was good. I hope they will know that I have spent many hours pondering these decisions I've made about them. I hope they will believe that I spoke about them not to exploit them, but to bring us closer together. I hope that they will visit some of my bloggy friends out there, and see that most moms (and dads) out here are real people facing real challenges, and facing them honestly.

I know that it could go the other way - they could resent it and say they hate me for it. If that day comes, I will have to shut down this blog. I'd hate to do it, but I would do it for the girls.

But I will never stop being honest about them about their father. They may hate that, too, but in the end, it is what's best for them.


Anonymous said...

Just my opinion, but I think being honest is definitely the best thing here. Painting a rosy picture of an ex who was abusive, absent, etc. for a child sends a message to a child that the exes actions were "okay". They will then look at you askew because why did you leave someone whom you have nothing but glowing reviews for?

You are teaching your girls how a woman should be treated and what she should expect and demand from her partner.

I think the rose-colored glasses version of life is a disservice to everyone. Girls grow up learning to expect and accept unacceptable behavior and boys grow up learning that all is forgiven and they can mistreat people with impunity.

Meg said...

Not to be flippant, but when I read this I thought about the movie where Jack Nicholson says from the courtroom something like...The truth? You can't deal with the truth.

But I'm with you. I believe in being honest with my kids. Except about my drug use. That's for later.

won said...

April, you wrote:

"It's here because it's why I blog."

That one line resonated with me.

Of course we hold our children's well being in the highest light, but ours is right up there as well.

We censor ourselves in the presence of our children by not swearing, or by not eating a plate full of chocolate for dinner, by not watching movies with inappropriate themes in the presence of our children...

...but this space?

This is ours. I'm with you on that. And like you said, as long as our intent is pure and our words honest, so be it.

jenn said...

Well said.

Anonymous said...

As one of the co-authors who wrote that post at Singlemommyhood.com, I wanted to thank you for your honesty here. Your intentions really come through your writing, and it's clear that you have your girls' best interest in your heart.

You're right: we're not trying to get single moms to paints rosy picture of their exes. We also know there are many great dads out there, raising their kids.

We simply know that our exes are "half" of our kids, so if we openly bash our exes, it will affect our kids.

We understand. Thanks for this post!

MindyMom said...

Yay April! As you know I posted about this yesterday and what I found interesting is how many people responded to the badmouthing of the ex like it was a daily practice displayed in front of our kids.

The subject was about BLOGGING about the ex and what you state in your post is perfect. We are not mentioning the ex to "bash" him (and I have yet to see a blogger that has) but to share our experiences that play a role in our lives and that of our kids on a frequent basis. And that many other single moms can relate to.

I also find it interesting that both authors involved in the original post DO NOT have to deal with or interact with their ex regularly. One author's children are grown and the other has raised her child alone with almost NO involvement from the father. That is very different from those of us who are dragged into court regularly and have ongoing co-parenting issues. (or counter-parenting as I call it)

It's not our responsibility as single moms to portray our kid's father in a false way to "protect" them; it doesn't because the guy still is who he is at the end of the day. It does seem to be just one more way in which moms (and now single moms) compare themselves to one another. Does it make you a better mother to gloss over the reality of who your ex is ON YOUR OWN BLOG!? NO! I think it makes you a bit self-righteous and naive.

FreedomFirst said...

I am SOOOOO with you on the movie thing. Hollywood is the biggest purveyor of BS out there after Congress.

Anonymous said...

I actually had this discussion with my ex! He found my blog and attacked me for bad mouthing him!

I am not stupid and nothing I have said has been lies - it is fact - he did not pay maintenance or he did not want to sign the settlement - things that are fact and can be proved!

Yes I have posted about my anger toward him - if I was married I would get angry with my husband at times and probably want to share that too!

I also refuse to lie to my kids for him anymore - it is what it is and he is what he is!

Natalie said...

April, there is a HUGE difference between badmouthing your ex and talking honestly about him. I think painting a rosy picture with lies is far more detrimental than being honest and understanding. I am guessing (I haven't read the post yet), that the authors of the post in question are talking about parents who use their children as pawns to make jabs at each other. You are doing great, don't let these kind of things get you down, most people have an enormous amount of respect for single parents and realize we are doing the best we can. :)

Anonymous said...

Ugh when is this "Expert" opinion going to change? Its not always in the child's best interest to foster a relationship with the other parent if that parent is going to neglect, lie, shame and abuse the kids! Yet, we are still supposed to do everything we can to maintain that relationship? It makes me sick!

April you are so right on. Honesty, support and understanding are the best tools for helping your kids deal with negative parenting situations.

Amy said...

I think if you are being honest, then it is not badmouthing. My ex has done a lot of really, really bad things and when the girls ask, I answer, but honestly, and not with any extra jabs thrown in. My biggest thing where my girls are concerned is that they at least see that their father and I can have a somewhat civil relationship. I have no memory of my mom and dad every being in the same room together or saying a kind word about the other. As much as my ex is scum, I don't want my girls to have that same memory.

Kori said...

I don't know; I hadn't read that and now I wish I hadn't followed the link. Just one more way to prove that we single moms should, in fact, remain silent.

Shiona said...

I find I am probaly badmouthing my ex as well. So I will do my best to stop. It seems like sometimes the line between honesty and badmouthing is the same line in my case. You have managed to get your thoughts across without doing so. The main point is this is your blog so you should definitely feel free to talk about whatever you want however you want IMHO.

Anonymous said...

I love your post. I agree parents should not bad-mouth their ex - not to their kids, or to neighbors, or on blogs. It serves no one's higher good.

But I also agree with you that speaking factually about specific events, and telling how you feel about that event or choice, is a good thing. Sharing that way helps us all learn, grow, and evolve.

It's like that 70s touchy-feely way of talking to a partner. "When you do that, I feel this." It's a way to speak out without judging the other person.

I'm divorced with half-time custody of my two kids, and I interact with my ex every single day. Uuslaly through email or a phone call, but also in person.

I sometimes blog about coparenting issues, but I don't bash my ex. I don't need her or mutual friends reading something like that and getting angry. Plus, problems have a tendency to go away over time. But because coparenting issues occasionally arise between us, I blog about them so others can learn from my experiences.

Like what you're doing here.

Karen MEG said...

I don't think you've ever bad mouthed your ex here April...you've just stated the facts, how you reacted to them, how your girls feel. I continue to be in awe of you as you maintain your integrity in life while dealing with, well, for lack of a better word, some real crap dealt to you by a man you once wanted to share your life with.

Stay real, stay true, your girls will only appreciate you more because of it.

Patrick said...

Is it ex-bashing or simply telling the ugly truth? It depends who you're telling it to. As much as you say you are doing it for your kids' own good, they really don't need to hear it.

I lived through divorce as a child. My father was an alcoholic and a dead beat. He wasn't there for me or my siblings, but even if I was mad at him, I still loved him as a child loves their parent. Maybe you think that I shouldn't love him but it's not a rational thing, especially for a child. So while you may say "everything I've said is true", it still doesn't make it right to say it in front of your children.

It's hard to hear and it creates a very painful conflict for the child. They love their father but feel that they shouldn't, because he's the devil incarnate, according to Mom. When relatives get into the father bashing game it is so much worse. As a boy, I had to sit through the unholy inquisition many times with my aunts, while they vented their anger at my father towards me. "Are you going to grow up to be just like your father?" "Why do you even want anything to do with him?" "He doesn't love you!" All of it was the truth - as they saw it. They were angry because he left their sister with four young children.

So many times I felt like crawling under the table because I didn't hate him but felt that I should. While they were "just telling the truth" it became an attack against me for being his son and still wanting a father.

My mother didn't do it that often, but when she really got frustrated I heard about it. I heard about how "big daddy", what she so scornfully called him, won the court case to get child support reduced - again.

I was just a kid who lost his family. It didn't do me a service to hear these things. It just made me feel more isolated. I would cry myself to sleep silently at night because I felt caught between two parents and I had nobody I could talk to about it.

You don't have a responsibility to protect him or lie for him. Write your blog and talk about your situation honestly. I just don't see why you have to show it to your kids. Divorce is devastating for everyone involved, especially kids. They're trying to process their own feelings. They don't have to deal with adult relationship issues too.

I respect you April and all the single mothers here. I know how hard it is for you, to some extent. I saw how my mother struggled and how much she sacrificed for me. I just don't think it's appropriate to have these tough adult conversations with children of divorce.