Easy Divorce = Hellish Lives
by Doug Johnson
20 November 2004
I talked to my oldest daughter this morning, something that I look forward to every day. Before my cell phone's bad reception cut our conversation short, she managed to tell me what she wanted for Christmas this year. Unfortunately, when I did return the call there was a tremendous commotion in the background with her mother barking commands for her to get off the phone. At that point my ex-wife commandeered the phone and informed me that our daughters are waiting for a TV show to come on and asked me if I could call back later. Because she records our conversations, I bit my lip and hung up. I wasn't going to fall for another one of her baiting tactics to create ammunition to use against me in court.
Situations like this are common, though; after all, I had to take her to court to be able to have phone calls with my daughters in the first place. Fortunately, the judge granted me liberal phone-call privileges after repeatedly asking my ex-wife whether or not she interfered with me calling our daughters, to which she lied through her teeth and said, "No." She stated this even though there were weeks at a time when she would ignore my phone calls or tell me that they were busy and could not come to the phone. I would even have my family phone her to state that I wanted my daughters to call me and she would ignore them.
All of this has created a situation where at times I don't even know my own daughters. When we were together as a family we did not own a TV, but now their mother interrupts my phone-call time for them to watch a "show"? Also, their mother tells them that I will let them watch their "shows" when we are together, which I will not for many reasons. Among them are that my time with them is limited and we spend it outside - running, playing, and enjoying each other's company. Another reason is that the "shows" they are allowed to watch are inappropriate for a five- and an eight-year-old. My daughters prefer to watch Nickelodian shows like the Fairly OddParents or Rugrats, which are filled with anti-family bias. Also, the incessant commercials throughout the programming indoctrinate children into a consumer lifestyle. I now have two daughters who spend their days watching TV, eating junk food and making lists of what they want for Christmas or their birthday. Delayed gratification is nonexistent in their lives.
And how do I feel about all of this? Well, I feel a lot of different ways. I feel angry because I have to deal with a manipulative, vindictive and controlling ex-wife who is doing everything she can to make me pay, both emotionally and financially, for my continued relationship with my daughters. I also feel confused because this "thing" that is now my ex-wife lives in a fantasy world that I cannot communicate with. Earth to Planet EX, can you read me...? She now has the attitude that I owe her for our failed marriage and unfortunately, she has found a lawyer who is making that happen. But as bad as all of that is, I can put up with her petty emotional games. What I can't put up with is that my daughters are being raised with a serious lack of discipline that will cause them to face many difficulties when they reach adolescence. A lack of discipline that evolves from having a TV as a babysitter and a mother that pacifies every disagreement between them with some form of snack food. Plus the fact that they live with their divorced aunt and her two children, which creates a family structure without a male figure in the home. The only male figure to speak of is their aunt's boyfriend, who only stops in long enough to please himself before he leaves. My daughter's role models outside of the home are people like their babysitters; two sisters from a divorced family. One of them even has an illegitimate child. Notice any patterns here?
The only thing that counters the rage I feel is the burden of helplessness that I experience over the whole situation. I just don't have enough money to support an ex-wife, two children, a lawyer and myself. If my ex-wife and I were still married, then we would go without something if we did not have the money for it. But now that we are divorced the court is ordering me to meet her demands or I will go to jail. How does that make any sense? I now realize that everything she told me concerning how we would cooperate together for our daughters' sake during this time was a lie. Now I am forced into a situation where friends are helping me out with everything from discount lawyer rates to free meals. So far, I have a court ordered right to phone calls and a visit every Sunday. But what I don't have is enough money to support myself while keeping up to date with the extortion racket known as child support. My ex-wife's lawyer finds every excuse in the book to delay a child support hearing while I literally sleep on an air mattress, live off a credit card and drive a sixteen year old car that leaks one quart of transmission fluid a day. In the mean time, my children are spoiled rotten with expensive toys, clothes and junk food while their mother earns untaxed income and collects social services. AND IF I DON'T PAY, I GO TO JAIL. You do not know the meaning of the word rage until you have been in a situation like this.
In a perfect world, there would be no divorce. In a fair and rational world, I would put my daughters to bed every night while their emotionally disturbed mother supported herself. And don't even get me started on what would happen to the lawyers.