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Extreme Custodial Parenting, Would You Do This?

In a previous post, “A Father’s Quest to Find His Kidnapped Daughter,” I shared a tiny about the struggle some custodial parents both male and female deal with regarding exchanges. Being the custodial parent, requires you to put your personal feelings aside and take the high road in situations you would not normally agree too.

Some of us walk a fine line between the insane and crazy in order to be the better parent. I could tell you hundreds of stories of extreme situations that have occurred at my exchanges. Instead I want to focus on encouraging relationships without your baggage and feelings. Can you look past your anger, judgement and personal hurts, to help your kids see their other parent?

This Halloween story happened six years ago and I received plenty of criticize from friends and family at the time. If this situation were to repeat today, I am not sure I would still make the same decision. Nevertheless, I believe the primary characteristic of a good custodial parent is to walk the grey line to encourage the relationship of your kids with your Ex.

Extreme Custodial Parenting from Diary Entry October 31st, 2008

Non-custodial mom has made some bad choices in life, very behind on child support, and has currently moved away without giving me an address. Our daughter has gone from seeing her mother every Thursday and several weekends a month, to now barely seeing or hearing from her at all.

I took some initiative, and sent an email to mom offering to buy two plane tickets, fly our daughter to her city, rent a car, all for the purpose of encouraging her to visit our daughter over the Halloween weekend. I was to put myself up in a hotel, do some writing, and then fly home with our daughter on Sunday. All I wanted in return was: her new address, and $158 for our daughter’s plane ticket. I was willing to cover everything else.

It’s Halloween, I just picked up my daughter from school and I have neither an address nor a check from mom in the mailbox. What should I do? What would you do?

A Leap of Faith, Extreme Custodial Parenting

Mom leads a very different life, has very little morals, and her parenting style lacks everything. She has left her husband and is having an affair with a new guy in a new city. Nevertheless, for my daughter’s sake, I decide to go even though our trip exhibited lots of unknowns. Co-parenting relationships are very, very hard.

However, you must put personal feelings aside and do what is “in the best interest of your children,” even if it cost you time, money and sometimes sanity. I called mom’s husband, even though they have been separated for two months, he gave me an address on where she had moved. Now at least we had a destination to aim for. Dress in our Halloween costumes, we flew through security and sat in the Admiral’s Club. Here we had sodas and waited for our flight.

Caitlyn Campos Halloween 2008
We did homework, read on the plane, got our rent-a-car, and drove to what we thought was mom’s new apartment. Come to find out the address was bogus. I called mom’s cell and through a lot of negotiation, finally got the real address.

I left my daughter on her mother’s door step, always having that sinking feeling, “Will they be here on Sunday when I return?” I checked into a nice hotel, I bought last second on Priceline, and went to my room to pray. “This is so hard Lord, am I doing the right thing?”

Thankfully Sunday afternoon came and when I returned our daughter was still there. This story could have ended badly and you hear stories of such all the time. Again, I am NOT necessarily suggesting this was a good idea in all situations and I would probably not do this again.

My point today is this. If you want to be the primary custodial parent, it requires you to be overly accommodating and to sometimes make decision outside of your comfort zone. Keeping the relationship between your kids and the Ex is hard work. Some argue it’s not “your job to accommodate.” I beg to differ. Being the custodial parent always requires taking the high road. Could you do this?

Would you do this? Tell me about your extreme exchange situation? Where do you draw the line between accommodating and just letting it go? Do you agree with what I did? Why or why not?

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Fred Campos, Top Geek, blogs about everything from House of Cards to Subway. In addition to blogging, he is a public speaker and humorist in child custody, social media, web development and parenting. He is married to one @SuperParentMom, and raising three world changers. For more details on his custody course visit, www.DaddyGotCustody.com/course. Like this post? Make sure you subscribe to this blog.

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  • Brian L Bloom November 11, 2008, 10:30 pm

    Here’s my take as a co-parent with an ex who lives in another state. (in other words, a very similar scenario)

    First policy – you get “buy in” before you take any actions. That means checking with the other partner before you buy plane tickets. They might be out of town, might be sick, might not want anything to do with you, etc. Get at least a “yes, it’s okay if you do that” even if the details aren’t fully determined.

    Second policy – never leave your daughter with someone who isn’t prepared to accept them. Many of the previous possible conditions apply (sickness, frame of mind, etc). You never know when you’ll catch someone at a bad time, and leaving a young child with them just then is not probably best for the child in question. Just because you have an address or a third party was helpful is not (in my opinion) sufficient evidence that the handoff should take place.

    Third suggestion (not a policy, just advice) – Given the tenuous relationship issues you and her mother share, you might consider investing in a supercheap cell phone, probably a prepaid one, programming your number into a speed dial on it, and making sure your daughter has it whenever you change custody. This way, if things are bad, or she is lonely or scared, she can at least call you.

    But given the people involved, I’d simply be leery of assuming an unplanned visit will go over well, unless there has been some clear communication beforehand. Perhaps you should start thinking now of the next intended visit and begin some dialogue now to ensure things are in sync the next time.

    And above all the suggestions above, I *strongly* suggest you not disparage the other partner in front of your daughter in *any* way, regardless if you think you’re helping cover up or explain shortcomings. Children at that age do not understand family dynamics or dysfunctional character. They are conditioned to think their parents are fine, and normal, and any conversation to the contrary can be bewildering to them.

    If you want to talk about this further, feel free to contact me…

    Reply
    • FullCustodyDad November 11, 2008, 11:40 pm

      Brian I agree with you completely and take to heart your advice. Perhaps it wasn’t clear in my post, but a month ago she agreed to the visit & said yes on the $158 and the address. Unfortunately she has a history of reneging. Your correct and I too want to stress never say anything negative about the other parent for any reason in front of the children. Good advice, Bri. Keep it coming!

      Reply
  • Grace E. Mauzy November 12, 2008, 1:11 am

    My concern is that I don’t hear anything about your daughter’s desire or need to see her mother. If your daughter is begging to see her mother, or very sad about missing her, then it would be best to create communication with her. I would not take a child to an unknown place and just drop her off and pray that she was there when you returned.

    I understand your responsibility to ensure your daughter knows her mother. But unfortunately her mother may just not want to be a part of your daughter’s life.

    Although I would never do what you did, I give you great credit for following your heart and trusting your prayers to be answered.

    Reply
    • FullCustodyDad November 13, 2008, 12:13 am

      Grace,

      Well my daughter does want to see her mother. Not a strong desire, but I do want to maintain the relationship. It turned ok but not completely smooth or without incident. Not 100% sure I would do this again, but I did what I thought was right at the time.

      Reply