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My husband and I had planned on separating in the spring. Although I hate to do it, I had agreed to move out in hopes that it would make things better for our 2 kids (boy 17 and girl 14). However, I am growing concerned about his ability to parent. He tends to be extreme, either very angry or too permissive. He has recently starting making threats to me (never physical) from which he later backs down and frequently changes his mind about things. He is taking medication for depression and claims to be clinically depressed, although this has never been diagnosed to my knowledge. We have never been fighters but now it seems that any words result in his calling me names, etc. which is upseting to the kids. Do I leave the house to keep the peace?
Tough question to answer without knowing more. Sounds like your husband could benefit from some professional help from a therapist as he faces this transition.
Your children are old enough to express their views on your moving out and whether they feel safe living with him. Ask them together with their Dad. Discuss the future of the family with him without accusations or judgments so he feels safe to express his emotions about the coming separation. Can you share parenting -- coparenting the chidren -- so that he is not the only influence in their lives on a daily basis? You can coparent from two homes and that might make you feel better about watching the situation and knowing when to bring in professional assistance. Leaving the house is not the issue. Leaving him as the sole responsible parent is a bigger concern.
You'll find many articles related to co-parenting at the Child-Centered Divorce Network, www.childcentereddivorce.com.
Rosalind Sedacca, CCT
Posted On 2009-03-11 14:27:04
Obviously, you have some very important issues to resolve. One of the most important keys to children's adjustment to divorce is that the parents can be amicable. The more animosity, arguing and bad-mouthing of the other parent, the poorer a child's adjustment seems to be. If you are choosing to move out of the house to decrease the tension and hostility, that is only one step in this whole process. Are you also saying that it is better for dad to raise the kids? Or that it's better for them to remain in the family home? Or is it just about the arguing? If you were to move out, it will be extremely important for the kids to know that you are not abandoning them. It may also be confusing to them to see mom leave and dad stay. Unless, he has been the primary caregiver, or you have two sons who you feel need a male role model.
As for dad's emotional state---I would certainly hope that if he is taking antidepressants that some physician has diagnosed him with depression. If it seems that his mood is too unstable, perhaps you need to reconsider which parent is the better choice for raising the kids. This is already a difficult time for early and mid teens. A lot of transitions are occurring in their bodies, social lives and academics. They are beginning to have one foot out the door as they look toward their future. The fewer changes they need to make, the better. However, a house is just a house. Their feelings of security and safety far out-weight where they live. I strongly suggest that if you were to move out and take them with you, that they be allowed to continue in their same schools to reduce the degree of change and potential trauma.
Posted On 2009-03-07 17:09:09
You are in a very difficult situation. Unless you feel you (or your children) are in physical danger, leaving the house without the kids is unwise. It may count against you in any custody battle, as you might be seen as having abandoned the kids (or neglecting them by leaving them with an unstable parent), though that is surely not your intent. You should definitely seek legal advice before taking this step. In some states, co-parenting classes are a requirement before divorcing so that divorced parents can learn how to work with each other constructively to parent their kids. I would urge you to seek family counseling for the entire family. I would be concerned about how their father's mental state, as well as an impending separation, is affecting them. Even if you end up divorcing, it may help you divorce more amicably. And this is your best bet for helping the kids emerge from this with as little emotional damage as possible.
Posted On 2009-03-01 21:24:36
I would not leave before you both sign a comprehensive separation agreement.
To that end, you should use the collaborative law process. www.collaborativepractice.com
It doesn't sound like the parenting concerns that you mention call for any drastic action. Those issues can be addressed in the collaborative process too. Best of luck.
Posted On 2009-02-28 23:13:27