Be the Better Parent – My Custody Story!

Fred Campos Tells His Story of Being the Better Parent“I DON’T JUST WRITE THE BLOG, I’M ALSO A CLIENT” – Fred Campos. One of life’s great truths can be found hidden away in Steve Martin’s comedy LA Story. “Why is it that we don’t always recognize the moment when love begins but we always know when it ends?”

The truth of that statement hit me head on back in 1998. I was on top of the world. I was a software engineer, I’d created a product called Remit Plus, I owned my own company. At 29, I was making 6 figures, driving a sports car, and I’d just bought a four-bedroom house. The roommates and I turned it into Animal House. Between the partying and the shallow relationships, I was losing focus and letting money get the better of me.

One month after a one-night stand with a gal named Cindy, everything came crashing down with those two words a party animal dreads most: “I’m pregnant.” I’d had a pretty decent upbringing, so I slammed on the brakes: cleaned up the house, got rid of the beer, decided I’d better grow up, do the right thing. I was going to get married.

But being a stand-up guy and doing the right thing isn’t the same as being a fool. This marriage wasn’t based on a long term and loving relationship. So it had better be based on a prenuptial agreement.

Thing was, Cindy wouldn’t sign it. Her parents told her not too. And everything went even further south from there. I was in the title role of a paternity suit and I was expected to become the meal ticket. My whole life was crashing down and my business and finances were about to be affected in a pretty serious way.

I joined Fathers’ Equal Rights; I read some books. I found nothing that would help me with the day-to-day details on what I needed to do. I flailed around through a couple months, got an attorney, and began to truly realize that this situation was entirely about the money.

Meanwhile, the greatest thing that ever happened to me was coming at the worst and lowest period in my life. My daughter Caitlyn was born on March 31. So why wasn’t this about her?

At this point, I decided I needed to file and be the custodial parent. I told this to my attorney, who said, “You know, Fred, men don’t gain custody.” Not unless you can prove over and over that mom is unfit, on drugs, criminally insane, tortures puppies, still likes Gallagher: that there’s something Beyond Wrong with her. He told me I wouldn’t have a chance. And I was thinking, “Here it is, the end of the 21st Century, we live in the greatest democracy in the world. This cannot be true.”

Now I had a quest, a real focus. My main reason for doing so was that I had determined that I would probably be the better parent. Looking back on the fifteen year history today, I obviously and unquestionably the better parent. And that is the premise of this blog: that you become, and that you ARE the better parent. There are no tips in this blog that will give you a sleight of hand trick. I believe that the primary custodian should be the better parent, and I believe that there is no predetermined law that that must be the mother.

I want to let you know that I have been in your shoes. I was a single male, involved in a paternity suit over my daughter who at the time was less than one year old. And I got custody. It’s not impossible. Don’t give up hope, but it is going to take some serious work!  Kids need good parents.  Courts need the BEST parent to be the primary custodian. 

Are you that parent? Could you be? Does the evidence of your life say you are the better parent? What do the neighbors, the mailman, the kids’ principal, your kids’ dentist, the school nurse say? Would they say “You are the better parent?”

Fred Campos is father to three and primary custodian to his daughter Caitlyn from a previous relationship. Like this post? Make sure you subscribe to his blog, book him to teach or speak.

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Fred Campos, Chief Remittance Evangelist, blogs about everything from remittance to custody. In addition to blogging, he is a public speaker and humorist in remittance sales, social media and parenting. He is married to one SuperParentMom blogger, and raising three world changes. For more details visit, www.FredCampos.com. Like this post? Make sure you subscribe to this blog.

16 comments… add one

  1. January 19, 2010, 8:30 am - Reply

    Inspiring post. You’re a valued and trusted source for ALL single parents. Thanks for all you contribute.

  2. January 19, 2010, 9:08 am - Reply

    This is an awesome post! Your determination to be the better parent is really great to read about, especially for those of us to strive to do so in the face of (sometimes seemingly) arbitrary societal rules.

    1. January 19, 2010, 10:27 am - Reply

      Thanks ladies! My goal in life is to help parents both male and female become the best parents they can possibly be. I spend a lot of time helping dads accomplish that goal. If in the process it helps then gain better access to their kids, so be it!

      Regardless of that goal, the improvement in their parenting will have an overwhelming POSITIVE impact on their kids. Today is a new day and anybody can change for the better.

      Trust me I grew up, my kids and I are all the better for it!

  3. January 26, 2010, 3:28 pm - Reply

    That’s great. One of the first things my attorney told me was to take parenting classes, and not just because the court likes to see that; it actually helps you to be a better parent. She also said to get to know the teachers, be involved, and make sure everyone knows your kids are important to you. Little things make a huge difference. Walking up to the classroom on your cell phone does not make a good impression even if it’s not something you normally do. Same goes for parking in the red zone and I’ve seen a lot of parents do it. Actions speak far louder than words.

    It’s definitely a lot of work but keeping track of all of the kids’ activities rather than relying on a co-parent to remind you is worth the effort. My kids’ mom is still very much involved in their lives but everyone knows who to call when something important comes up because I am and have been the consistent parent.

    1. January 29, 2010, 12:51 am - Reply

      Well said Steve! Sounds like you are the involved parent. Keep it up.

  4. February 13, 2010, 12:49 pm - Reply

    I remember when my daughter was born 11 years ago and I tried staying with her mom because I wanted to “do the right thing”. The problem was not only was that a bad idea, but I was still a long way from growing up and maturing.

    I’m a much better father today to my 3-year-old son and I’ve got a pretty decent relationship with my daughter, but it took me all too long to realize that I could be the better parent if I had tried a little harder.

    Great post…and good for you.

    1. February 17, 2010, 1:07 pm - Reply

      Canadian Bald Guy,

      good for you. Yes my parenting gets better and better with time. Like everything it takes work, but any dad can be a great parent if he takes it serious and puts his mind to it!

  5. shirely
    March 11, 2010, 2:15 am - Reply

    A dad who puts every little detail of his custody battle and daughters life on front street is not the “better parent” on first pass.

    Why is it the worlds business what your daughter’s room looks like?

    How can you criticize your daughters mother for the whole world to see, even if it is true?

    I read your blog and the way you parent and I see uptight wad, whose ego is so big it’s gonna explode all over that poor little kid you are trying to make perfect in your image.

    God doesn’t love men who gossip about the women they didn’t marry on the internet. Godly men don’t say the kind of crap you say about the woman you didn’t marry on the internet.

    Godly men don’t actively try and deceive judges and jury in a trial by driving a car other than the one they drive to scam them.

    Godly men aren’t driven to win at all costs like you are.

    I hope some day your daughter meets a Godly man.

    Oh and by the way, you clearly don’t eat well and I am sure you are passing on your bad eating habits to your children, whose future social lives and health are in the hands of somebody who can’t control his food intake.

    1. March 14, 2010, 1:01 am - Reply

      Shirely,

      First and foremost thanks for commenting. Disputed custody issues are ugly from any angle. I am sensing from your comments you have some passionate opinions on the subject. You’ve asked a question and made some statements that you are seeking answers too. Hang with me a few more days, and I’ll dedicate the next post to you with a link from here.

      Remember God uses crooked sticks to draw straight lines. I’ll explain more very soon.

  6. March 13, 2010, 2:05 pm - Reply

    I admire you. Just saying. You’re awesome, and you are helping SO many fathers out there gain custody of their kids. Everyone assumes that the mother is always the better parent, but that isn’t always the truth.

    And Shirley, don’t be squirely. He is putting this out here, on the internet, so that other people can learn what HE learned.

    1. March 14, 2010, 1:38 am - Reply

      Sarcastica,

      Thanks so much for your comment, great blog by the way–and Nolan is cute! Despite what people think, I am not actually “pro-dad” in all custody situations. I am for the better parent and sometimes, not always, that is the dad. In my work, I get an opportunity to work with both moms and dads regarding custody issues. I report the dads perspective in this blog because dads need the most work.

      Take care of that boy, I know exactly how you feel. http://www.fredcampos.com/babyc !

  7. May 30, 2010, 10:20 am - Reply

    Fred,

    Thanks for sharing your story and for all the work you do. I’m really looking forward to “meeting” you on the show next week.

    One thought I have about being the better parent is that, to your point in one of your comments above, it really is about each of us being the best parent we can be. In my best moments, I don’t believe that my son has a “better” parent. He needs us both, he needs the best of both of us. We share time with him 50/50 and work hard to respect the contributions each makes even if they aren’t the same. Real talk…we dont always value one another’s contributions, because we are different…and we have different values. But, I continue to learn that my value judgements are not necessarily truth and it is not always necessary to place judgement on differences.

    I get that in many cases, there really is a parent who is better suited to handle the primary responsibility of day-to-day parenting, but in my own experience letting go of the competition has served all of us better and given my son an opportunity to experience both the perfection and imperfection in each of us.

    Talk to you next Sunday!

  8. Ted Spurlock
    January 31, 2014, 8:03 pm - Reply

    I am going thru a situation with a drug using woman who has custody of my 12 year old son. I pay child support for my son which she uses to probably get high. Recently she left him home alone so she could get high. I work at night and can’t get to him to care for him when he needs me . This is happening all to often lately. At 55 years of age I like my job and can t afford to lose my job because she wants to disrupt everyones life by continuing to use. I need help and advice because I do want the best for my son.

    1. February 1, 2014, 1:01 pm - Reply

      Ted, it has been my experience that custodial parents who does drugs is frowned upon by most any court. My advise is you contact a local attorney and have a drug test administered to both of you. If she is fails the drug test, that is grounds for a custody change. Perhaps we should take this conversation offline if you need help finding an attorney. Feel free to contact me at fullcustodydad at daddygotcustody.com.

  9. Anonymous
    July 9, 2014, 7:41 am - Reply

    I find it completely unfair that the mother has all the rights, she also has all the control, such as telling no need for protection bc she was taking care of it, now my fiancé and I have a beautiful 3year old with a mother looking for a meal ticket. My fiancé is British and in England due to immigration issues and his half American daughter is still here in Indiana. It’s such a struggle because I know we can offer a better life and not allow her on the system like her mother and “other” family. My biggest concern going for full custody is how it would affect our daughter and the “decent” co-parenting we have. Recently I’ve been told that my daughters “other” grandma almost burnt down the house cause her pills make her loopy. I’m one with major anxiety and don’t know how many years she can come over w huge knots on her head and no one knows where they’re from…it’s just so challenging bc when I have my kids they will be my whole life. No need to party or chase men, as well as working till 1am without any education. I feel like I’m the bad person bc I’m always judging. I hate that my kid is used for money and thrown aside when the flavor of the month gives her mother attention. If she was with us full time, she would have daily structure, education, a well balanced diet, manners, exercise, expectations and LITTLE TV. These are all things I know she is not getting on a daily basis. It’s killing me! Do I find. New coping mechanism or do we consider full custody. My fiancé is the breadwinner and his best career path is in the UK…I’m burdened on whether to push his career and move to the UK where he has so much opportunity or do we rot in Indiana w her small town mama who strives at nothing.

    1. July 9, 2014, 1:46 pm - Reply

      Anonymous,

      I so feel your pain. My initial reasoning for filing for custody was I was the better parent. I realized early on that my daughter’s life would be totally different if I was the custodial parent vs. my Ex. You have decide if you are the better parent, if you are, you should file. Honestly, that is the only reason, in my opinion a father should file for full custody.

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