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Aug 09 2008

Oh hell, I got vlogging software.

132 comments

  1. Ron Sullivan

    LIVE TWISTY!! Yow! Cool software, that.

    I’m not s “child of divorce” either, so I can’t help you on that one. I can tell you that when my mom left my dad, he retired and moved down to Florida right after she did, and that was apparently so he wouldn’t have to admit to his mother that she’d left him.

    For whatever that datapoint, OK, anecdote adds to the conversation, there it is.

    I can’t vlog but I think I’ll take another picture of my brand-new black eye and put it over on Toad.

  2. Ron Sullivan

    Oh. Plus, that is a great hat.

  3. PhysioProf

    I am not a child of divorce, either, so I can’t help you with your question. However, I wanted to say that your vlog was very cool! You are a natural video star!

  4. ashley

    Twisty! you do exist….
    :)

  5. Twisty

    Thanks for the compliment on the hat, Ron, but I can’t take credit for it. My 4-year-old niece Rotel picked it out for me on an outing at the H.E.B. at the Y In Oak Hill. (H.E.B. is a grocery store. The Y In Oak Hill is that westernmost point where Austin officially becomes “country.”)

    Black eye! Are you treating it with a slab of cold tofu?

  6. angie

    I’m also of no real help about the question, but I suspect (and this has no concrete backing) is that that’s not that uncommon. Children are still viewed as property, and by golly the men must keep all the property they can get! Or, they at least have to keep the women from having it.

    Also, the hat is fantastic!

  7. ashley

    p.s. yeah, dude. it’s common. although the concept of “paternity” itself is the foundation of (all my problems and) the horror known as “civilization,” most men seem unaware of this and do, as you so aptly put it, fight bitterly for custodial paternal rights and then, as per usual, go about their own self-centered b.s.
    i think it’s just, generally, kids are too (as yet) uninformed to be able to see men for their selfishness, so having kids around is a great way to boost self-esteem with admiration that could never be got from women who are old enough to roll their eyes and walk away.
    plus, you know, it’s less cash in your ex-bitch’s account, right?

  8. Katie

    My dad fought like crazy for custody, failed, and then gave up on me.

    Actually, that’s not strictly true. Occasionally, he phones and bitches at me for never phoning him, because, y’know, I really want to be involved with the man who ignored me for pretty much all my childhood.

    (Okay, that’s not strictly true either. He won’t see me go without financially even if he never offers any emotional fatherly sort of stuff, and I’m a broke student. So, y’know, I’ll be involved with his bank balance, just like he’s involved with my computer knowledge when he breaks his laptop/mp3 player/camera and needs me to fix it/help him choose a new one. Materalistic? Well, maybe, but guess who I got that from.)

  9. Shelly

    Yes! Only, it was more of a nauseating, zig-zag patterned rug, and it was Star Trek and Hammer horror movies instead of wrestling. Also, you left out the best and/or worst part: Jiffy Pop and buttered egg noodles for supper.

  10. rootlesscosmo

    Great hat, and nice to see you vlogging.

    The answer to your question is Yes,, it’s very common, because–at least under California law, and almost certainly elsewhere–the legally required child support amount (determined by a complex formula taking into account parents’ incomes and other factors) includes a deduction in proportion to the amount of time the non-custodial parent (guess who) has the kids with him (or more often with his new girlfriend or wife or other fungible woman.) So guys in divorce battles demand the maximum amount of time, in order to pay the minimum amount of money (though the formula doesn’t take into account that having the kids 20% of the time doesn’t mean buying 20% of the shoes, etc.); women wind up taking less than the law provides, in order not to send the kids (willingly or not) to see Dad–or, often, to be plunked in front of Dad’s TV.

    The blank on the standard Judicial Council forms where you enter the number of hours is, who knows why, Line H, which leads my radfem family lawyer friend to call it “the Hostage Factor” and to describe her job, in these cases, as “buying women’s children back for them,” i.e. conceding on the money so as to hold off claims for visitation time. When she testified about this at a State Senate hearing some years ago, there was a menacing rumble from the Fathers’ Rights advocates in the hearing room, scary enough that she asked a state cop to walk her to the parking lot.

    Whatever the reason, radical feminism has tended to overlook the subject of family law, yet (as my friend says) this, rather than the criminal justice system or the military, is where most women encounter state-enforced patriarchy in its most dangerous and damaging form. When her clients express disbelief that things can be as bad (misogynist, unjust) as they are, she tells them “This is what patriarchy looks like when it’s happening to you.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Um, yes, and in fact that’s where my son is right now, huckin’ up in front of his dad’s big screen TV while dad and new stepmom go about playing house. Can’t bother to show up for any school function, can’t bother to get the kid to do homework, can’t bother to talk to the kid about any major life changes he’s planning that affect kid, but every other weekend, man. It’s all TV, Star Trek, and tater tots.

    Also telling is the propensity to threaten us with legal action if I breathe wrong — which is no big deal for him since he lives off his own mom, even though he can’t see the connection between legal fees and my ability to keep food on the table to feed the child we fight over. And so it goes.

    You know what to blame.

  12. Lemur

    I too am not a child of divorce (though sometimes I wish I was), but I can see that happening.
    Also, live Twisty makes me *squee* with happy! You’re gonna do some more, right?
    And I agree about the hat- your niece has good taste.

  13. Shira

    Not only was it exceptionally common in my personal experience, he will, if you ask him about it today, tell you all about what a committed father he’s always been, and how his personal philosophy is that his children owe him nothing because he brought us into this world and that means he’s there to support us.

    He will tell me this to my face!

    He’s one of the big reasons I do not trust men who self-identify as feminists. Blech.

  14. Antelope

    I was a child of divorce, and spent most of my time with a fairly uninvolved Dad, but I’m not sure I feel fully qualified to comment either, because I can’t really compare it to being raised by a Mom, or to being a Mom myself.

    Since I like to think that I turned out more or less okay, I gotta say that it seems to me an uninvolved Dad is better than a needy Dad, and probably better than a needy Mom, too, which is what I would’a had otherwise. (This is based on a grown-up assessment, not on my parents putting one another down – they kept that to a minimum).

    I realize there’s a happy middle ground between distant and needy somewhere, and admire all hell out of my parenting friends who are trying to strike that note. Doesn’t seem to me I knew any families at all that were hitting that note when I was a kid in the ’70s, though, so in a lot of ways I felt lucky to be left to my own devices.

    Did I worship my father & give him a huge ego boost on the rare occasions when he paid attention to me? Absolutely! Would I have worshiped him as much if he was there for me in a more consistent way? Probably not.

    When he did spend time with me, though, he made it clear that I was smart and strong and interesting and never once tried to get me to move towards some idea of feminine behavior or to believe that being a girl made me less than. Maybe praising a guy for not putting his daughter down is kind’a like praising him for doing the dishes – it should be commonplace behavior, but looking back I still feel really, really lucky that no one ever told me to hold back or what kind of girl I should be.

    Anyway – great video, Twisty. I haven’t commented for a long time so I’d also like to say that I’m really glad you’re not only not dead, but moving to the boonies and doing lots of horse-riding. Sounds wonderful.

  15. Cortney

    I have quite a few cousins who went through bitter custody battles like that. And, honestly, I think that both parents were pretty petty and after the custody issues were resolved and/or the child hit puberty, they both gave up. I have two cousins specifically that are in their early teens whose parents spent so damn much time in court when they were infants and now both girls are left to fend for themselves while their parents pursue new relationships and alcoholism.

  16. Cortney

    Also, love the vlog and the blue hat!

  17. K.A.

    YES. The fathers try to make up for it though buy out-buying mom so you’ll like him better than her, since usually the dad has shitloads of cash to throw around on the kid while the mom is scrounging by. Kids aren’t fooled by this crap though; I still preferred the people who put in the most time (mom and grandpa)! My mom ended up with full custody anyway at the end of it all because the judge knew he had a massive entitlement issue. A lot of men think that if they just get good jobs, that makes them master of the house and entitled to an obedient wife and ownership of children (which also explains why they automatically try to buy off the kids’ good favor with oodles of toys). Patriarchal values instilled in the male gender role doesn’t teach them to be real human beings, and that hurts them in the courtroom.

    My other answer to your question is a simple nod to Alec Baldwin….

  18. Jenny

    I am a grown child of divorce. I was 22 when they split but I can speak for my little brothers who were always canoeing or camping or doing some spectacular thing with their weekend at Dad’s. But he was always involved and keeping us busy even before the split.

    You sound exactly how I thought you would and that pleases me, I can’t explain why.

    I am looking forward to more vlogging.

  19. Lisa

    Well, I can’t answer your question from direct experience, but I once spent a summer babysitting for a lovely nine-year-old girl who was in the middle of a custody battle.

    When I went with the girl to her father’s for weekend visitation, we spent the entire weekend with his mother/her grandmother. Her grandmother did all the care (that I wasn’t already providing) and we never saw the dad. When we did, he barely acknowledged her past “Hi, how are you doing?” His wife left him, and so I think the custody battle was entirely based on his hurt pride. If he can’t own the wife, he’ll own the daughter. He eventually lost, though. But not after putting the poor kid through a bunch of guilt ridden anxiety.

    Sometimes I take my two little future pro-feminists to a children’s museum. I can point out the dads who are there on mandatory visitation vs. the dads (rare) that are just there to be there with their kids. The visitation dads act like they are obligated to sit there while their kids “go play.” It is hard to describe, it is just like they don’t know their kids very well. I had to tell one dad why his kid was pointing and saying “Elmo”. There was an elmo puppet over on the wall that the kid was excited about. He had not a clue.

  20. ThedaBara

    Love the live Twisty =D

    My father was fairly involved while I still lived in Venezuela. Once my brother came along{them trying to get back together gave me a younger brother…didn’t work out for them in the end though} he became a bit more distanced from me and gave his son all of the attention.

    Once my mother told him we were all moving to the U.S. he threw a huge fit, found himself a younger woman, impregnated her, left her and the baby-and…well I haven’t heard from that man in nearly 10 years. Good fucking riddance.

  21. thebewilderness

    It is common in my experience. There was a bitter custody fight over my cousins, which their father won. He took them to his sister’s home and left them there, because you see, men have to work for a living and they simply cannot be expected to hold down a full time job and take care of children at the same time. Once he remarried, he moved the children in with him. Now you might think there was something odd about the fact that the new wife was able to run a business full time and care for his children as well, but that is the magic of the uterus, it’s not just a locator device.

  22. Vibrating Liz

    Bite Me Stingray!! A star is born.

    I’m not a child of divorce but a divorced mother, split up when the kids were 8 and 10, an amicable deal with 50/50 flexible custody. I could never understand why anybody would fight bitterly for full custody unless the other parent was clearly abusive. I love my kids with all me heart, but I sure did appreciate the sudden luxury of having half the week free as a bird to do my own thang and all.

  23. K.A.

    If he can’t own the wife, he’ll own the daughter.

    Bingo! That’s it in a nutshell.

  24. Bruce

    Anecdotes don’t constitute necessarily data but you asked for anecdotes. My two sons (5 and 3) are autistic and I get them pretty much every chance I can get, their newly evangelical Christian mother forming new life with new fellow godbag 50 miles away. They live primarily with her, I pay substantial support and alimony (roughly 1/2 of my check including health and dental insurance for all of us) and we will share “legal custody” i.e. major decision making. She is caring for her father recovering from cancer this weekend while I watch/host them now. Noah is asleep in the next room snuggled with his “Planket”, and Sam is sitting on my back singing goofy rhymes from Barney and Dora to me while I type.

    The idea of fighting for custody to me seems obscene. The children are a lucky fortune in my life. While I am not a fan of my ex’s godbaggery, she is an excellent mother. I love taking the boys on walks, to fenced playgrounds where they can run more freely (unfenced ones don’t work), on the Metro trains that they seem to handle quite well, to the Smithsonian. I love trying to teach concepts like “same” and “different” to them with playing cards – not an easy task for autistic kids but rewarding when I can get Sam to sing “blue and blue are SAME, 4 and 7 are different.” Custody is an opportunity to serve and have a meaningful role as a loving parent, not something to “win” or “award.”

    Even when they puke on me and my carpet, I love not only them but being their father. They love “Daddy’s house [i.e. efficiency apartment.]” Fathers’ rights activists are incomprehensible to me; fatherhood is not a right but a duty and and opportunity.

  25. mir

    Oh yeah. Dad fought Mom for full custody for years. He got weekends and holiday visits instead, during which we were summarily parked in front of the television or left with our stepmom. When we got older we did a lot of babysitting for our younger half-siblings. Not big on fatherhood, my pops, though he does produce charming children.

    Dad didn’t want us, per se, he wanted to hurt the woman he was divorcing. And I haven’t read all the comments thoroughly so this may have been covered, but I’m certain that part of his wanting full custody was to keep another man from raising his offspring. Wang Logic at it’s finest: “I will abandon my minor children and the woman who is utterly dependent on me but ain’t no OTHER wang gonna be all up in MY family”.

    It’s both weird and awesome to see your personage, Captain F. Very cool.

  26. Cat Ion

    Twisty,

    I can’t speak for all kids of divorce, but I’ll give a “yes” to your question based on my own experience. In the few years following the divorce, my father fought bitterly for full custody. In retrospect, however, I see now how his typical MRA-like court manueverings were attempts to frazzle my mother. If he had somehow managed to obtain full custody, I imagine my life would have been very similar to the summers I spent with him: parked in front of the TV most of the time and having whatever woman he had in his life (wife or girlfriend — there was a long parade of them) take care of our tedious day-to-day shit like laundry, cooking, discipline, doctor appointments, etc. while he was out of the house working, golfing or whatever.

    He always had some dependent woman (often slightly desperate with children of their own) at the time who was roped into taking care of my brother and I over the summer. Even when I was little, I felt a pang of guilt for these women such that I was always was nice to them and would try to obey them as best I could just to keep the peace.

  27. nicole

    My father’s lawyer threatened to fight for custody of my siblings and I during my parent’s divorce. This was, of course, a genius scheme to avoid paying alimony.

    He would also occasionally come into town on weekends (about once or twice a year) to get a hotel room for us all to stay in and have a visit with him. This usually resulted in him and my brother getting drunk, and my seeing movies and the like that were far too salacious for my being between the ages of 4-8. I guess the reasoning was that I would know about that “stuff” eventually, or that I was asleep. Huh.

    P.S. Twisty, your comedic timing is golden.

  28. Cat Ion

    i think it’s just, generally, kids are too (as yet) uninformed to be able to see men for their selfishness, so having kids around is a great way to boost self-esteem with admiration that could never be got from women who are old enough to roll their eyes and walk away.

    You’re right. My dad would do that. He’d tell me all kinds of stories about how awesome he is. Of course, I was always too young and naive to separate the truth from the bullshit. It’s kind of weird how a grown adult man would solicit the admiration of a child to assuage his insecurities. Pathetic, really.

  29. Maai

    Ugh, if I were close to you I’d offer to help you pack. Good luck on the move and may you find lost memories. I love your hat!

  30. jael

    i dunno these things – that ‘aint an original southern accent, is it?

  31. Deanna

    Just chiming in on the exciting of seeing the vlogging commence. So unbelievably charming.

  32. Twisty

    “i dunno these things – that ‘aint an original southern accent, is it?”

    Certainly not. I am not a Southerner. I am a Texan.

  33. Jixica

    Twisty has just about the dreamiest voice I’ve heard. Le swoon!

    (And my parents are still together, so I have nothing to offer in first-person anecdotes, nor can I recall any acquaintances’ anecdotes in support or refutation. So I am no help.)

  34. Spiders

    It’s so common its become the norm around here. As I said on the other thread and as some other blamers have also pointed out, its about ownership of possessions/compulsory child support payments.
    Disinterested dads were more than happy to move on to start new families until the Child Support Agency (CSA) was formed.

    Now, thanks to changes to the federal and state family law act, even dads who have convictions for violence and or abuse are still allowed some access to their kids.
    We have all these new federally-funded child contact services and fathers rights agencies which pretty much just enable continued abuse and oppression of ex-partners and children.

    It’s fucked up.

  35. Erzebeth

    Wow, Twisty, you are as cool “live” as I imagined! Yay for the vlogging!

    To answer your question: I am a child of divorce and my “father” never gave a shit about me. Never fought over me, never even paid one penny of child support. Perfectly happy to let my Mom raise me all by herself and go on his merry way… which included re-marrying and having another child. And he did the same damn thing to his precious son* that he did to me.

    (* It was originally believed that he abandoned me because I had the audacity to be born female. Wrong! He’s just a selfish, immature, irresponsible asshole.)

  36. jael

    texas isn’t south? american geographical regions.. confounding. however. these are questions for google, i suppose.

    apologies for any perceived disparaging, none intended. naught but ignorance at play.

  37. Pinko Punko

    Wow. H.I. Larious.

    Not on this topic, but on a recent topic, it seems this show will be fit for numerous S&G’s. You should see if your PBS has it. I shat you not:

    Doctor Who’s Lust in Space

    Sat, Aug 9, 9:59 PM Run Time: 52 min.

    Genre: Documentary

    Discussing whether the long-running TV science-fiction series “Doctor Who” was sexist or not.

  38. SolNiger@gmail.com

    Seconded about Twisty’s dreamy voice.

    Love the video.

    I hate moving but I have to every so often (student), so I have started living a minimalist lifestyle where all of my stuff can be packed into two suitcases and a backpack. This also fits in well with my travelling rule: I am only allowed to take what I can carry on my back and in my hands without compromising balance/security.

    Not a child of divorce but my dad still had very little to do with us. My mom worked full time and often supported the household while my dad was out of work (frequently), and yet she found time to cook, clean and give us fond childhood memories. She rocks; him, not so much.

  39. Friction

    Wow, now we get to SEE the hat.

    I’m a child of divorce and your vlog question reminded me of the time my father left me in the movie theater with a stranger (when I was five years old) while he took my little brother home to my mom. We were watching Snow White and my brother, who must have been 3 at the time, was afraid of the witch. I remember that the stranger, a woman of course, was mad at my Dad when he came back. My mom was mad too, but took it out on me. Anyway, years later he excused himself for it because he “was on drugs back then.” I dunno….I could tell shitty stories about my mom too. They both sucked while doing their best I suppose.

  40. Rachel

    If my mom ever falls out of love with being treated as sub-human my dad would fight for custody, just so he could have me around to cook and clean.

  41. jessant

    I had a career military father and he was never around. My most happiest memory of him was when he put bacon and cheese on English muffins and served them to us like it was some great feat. That’s it. Pretty freaking pathetic. When I grew up he suddenly wanted to be friends too. All the works done now, I bet he was thinking.

    When mostly absent fathers do do something they make it seem like it’s magic or some special gift because you know it’s really the mother’s job after all.

  42. goblinbee

    My parents divorced when I was four and I was raised mostly by my mom. My dad lived close by, and we saw him often, but he’s a firm believer that you don’t date (at least not openly) until your children have all come of age. Not that he ever talked about this–I put 2 and 2 together later. When my youngest sibling turned 18 (I am one of six kids), there was suddenly a woman in his life, and we all found out she’d been there for years (she ratted him out–maybe she resented being “hidden” all that time). He was a very difficult, demanding, judgmental father in so many ways, but I give him a lot of credit for not complicating our lives with his new love interests when we were young. As far as being hands-on, he was, but he’s not a natural as a dad, so it was never very pleasant. I was glad my parents were divorced.

  43. delurker

    Nobody’s added the third-party pov so why don’t I come out of lurk and do it.

    I live on my own and will never share a house with a man – as much as I enjoy their company in the sack. Or used to when I was young and had the energy.
    Why don’t I play happy families?
    One weekend, when I was a callow youth I moved in to play happy couples with a newly deevorceed fella. He had bled from the mouth about his sadness at not being around his little son every day and had described his joy at their weekend reunions. So I was just real pleased to anticipate the healing love that would fill the house the weekend I moved in.

    Son arrived at 8 am. Father pleaded exhaustion from our night of horizontal folk dancing and left lad with me to get acquainted while he slept another few hours. Child was verbal and not as shy as I’d have expected for a kid around a stranger – - he coped better than me.
    And that was good because Dad wasn’t much around the whole weekend. He had a couple errands to do on Saturday and communicated that it would be smoother if us two just left him to get on with them. We three enjoyed each others company over a steak and salad dinner that I’d prepared from ingredients that the father had so thoughtfully brought home from his outing – - we didn’t want to waste time going out for food, did we.
    Father and son exchanged about ten words all the time I was around them.

    Sunday’s outing for our happy family was going to be Outdoor World with sun and fun and chuckles all round.
    Only I’d already felt which way the wind was blowing and begged off with a headache. Did father take son for a great loving day out and leave me in peace to sneakily pack and run?
    Hahaha. You’ve guesssed, haven’t you.
    Dad decided he should defer the wonderful treat until we all could share it. Dad then proceeded to pull out a few electronics projects and work on them, kid being warned not to disturb him in case the soldering iron slipped or something.

    Don’t ask me what time kid went back to Mum. Or how many other women had been weekend baby/man sitters at that flat.
    I got out the door around mid-day. I only regret that the child and I never got a chance to put icecream in Dad’s hair.

    After many years of checking, I can report that my experience is not untypical and I don’t believe the father had any insight at all into his hypocrisy. He loved the boy just the way he’d learned how a father should love. All in the head.

  44. Lara

    Hmm, to your question about custody-greedy dads who leave you in the shag rug as soon as they get it….yes, for many, yes, they do that.
    But see, I was 15 when my parents divorced so I wasn’t quite young enough to be left hanging around while my dad did whatever. Plus I lived with my mom. Plus my dad hates stuff like wrestling (if I was a real young’un and if I lived with him he would be busy watching National Geographic while I sit on the shag rug, but I would be watching it with him…).
    K, don’t know how that helped.
    Your voice sounds very different than I imagined. Very cool you got that live vlogging, I love it!

  45. slythwolf

    It really is an excellent hat.

    My parents are divorced, but that happened after I had moved out of their house, and I’m the youngest, so I can’t really talk about custody stuff from personal experience. But based on my observation of dudes and how dudes act, I would not be at all surprised if their general collective understanding of “child custody” consists entirely of “the kid’s bed is in my house”. They leave all the actual childcare to women when they’re married, why should it be any different when they’re divorced? And, you know, back in the day* it was standard procedure that if a couple divorced the man kept the kids. That was the law, there was just no way around it. The fact that women are now able to seek custody is, I think, something men consider an unbearable affront to their egos. And just like they’ll fight to keep the house, then sell it off, or the woman’s car even if they have one of their own, or in fact the dog** even though it hates them–sure, they’ll fight like hell to keep the kids they don’t care about.

    Sorry about the footnotes. I can’t help it; I read too much Terry Pratchett and appear to be gradually phasing out parentheses.

    * I’m talking about 19th-century America, here. It’s been a long time since I studied this but the “men always keep the kids” thing really stuck out for me.

    ** One of my friends’ husband divorced her when their son was about 10, did not fight for custody of the son, but convinced the court to award him their two guard dogs, who had been trained to respond to my friend’s commands and who loved her and hated him. You would have thought that would be a problem that would eventually correct itself, but alas.

  46. kage

    My Dad used to make us play outside for a few hours when we visited him. That in itself wasn’t unusual, my Mother would kick us all out the house when she was trying to clean or when we were getting on her nerves. The difference was Dad would lock the door.

    Once he failed to lock the door and I entered the house to find him and his now wife in a state of undress in the living room. I was only about 7, and fucking angry that this woman (who lived there 24/7) would kick me out of my Dad’s house when we only saw him about 6 times a year.

    Someone above said it is like some men don’t know their kids, and I have to agree. I remember realising at about 15 that my Dad had no idea what I liked to do, what I was good at, or even who my best friend was. Weekends with him were just holidays with junk food and fun activites, but no meaningful interaction.

    My Mum could also tell some stories about having her three small children dropped off past their bedtime on Sundays, in a hyperactive state, and still needing feeding and bathing before bed.

  47. phoenix

    My father fought hard for custody of us, I would say partly for financial reasons and partly sentimental reasons and partly just out of spite.

    And then got the mom of one of our friends to take care of us for several hours after every single school day we were supposedly in his care. For free! And showed up late. And never ever reciprocated by doing anything for our friends’ parents.

    We were more like valuable tokens to be collected than actual humans to be nurtured.

    I can’t say I have any true horror stories, but hell yeah, pop’s interest in custody was more about the competition than about actually taking responsibility for our care.

  48. eve

    I like the live Twisty! And I hate packing, so I feel you there.

    I use to hope my parents would get divorced so I could have two Christmases with accompanying presents like my friends did, but it did not happen so I don’t have the complete experience myself. But while my mom was gone for an extended period taking care of her mother my dad changed from being overprotective to basically ignoring me. He would come home from work or golf and fall asleep on the couch. I might wake him up to tell him I was going somewhere and that was pretty much it.

  49. Tanya Derbowka

    After many years of hassles and bullshit with my ex and not a dime of child support I finally put my foot down and told the kids that if they wanted to visit their dad they should let me know and we will arrange it.

    That was over a year ago and I am still waiting for the kids to ask to see their “dad”. That just goes to show you how great of a relationship the kids have with him.

    I am really glad that I am able to get by just fine without his crummy money. Wouldn’t it be great if none of us needed to rely on jerky exes to help out with supporting the kids? I can guarantee that many people would opt out of getting child support, if they could.

  50. jess

    Yup. My mum fell in love/lust with my dad when she was 23 and he was 30, a sexy motorbiking rogue who had two kids and a divorce under his belt already. I was born; they got married. When my sister was born, within weeks he was in China on a business trip, and left my mother with a toddler, a newborn, a mice plague and no water (rural area – drought). (BTW, When his current wife had their baby last year, he was in another country! wtf?) He was an alcoholic, classic Southeast South Australian man: work like a dog for nine hours, go straight to the pub, get pissed, stumble home at midnight hoping for dinner and sex. The women do all the work. He was violent and abusive – I never realized until I was much older – and my ONLY happy memory of him (bouncing on the trampoline) my mum recently revealed that she’d gotten him to do it, and taken a photo, specifically so that we could have a happy memory of having fun with our dad. We never saw him and after she left, although there was never any custody battle, apart from a showdown where my sister was locked by my dad in his house when my mum was trying to leave, never fought for us but ranted bitterly about how selfish and how much of a bitch our mother was. Whenever we saw him, it was incredibly boring, and we were shut outside most of the day – he always promised we’d go into town or something but rarely ever pulled through. He will ring and tell me how lazy I am for not joining the airforce, how lucky i am, how hard he works, how shit life is… He never paid a CENT in child payments (he ran off to Indonesia where our government can’t touch him) until the agency caught him renewing his visa in Melbourne and he was forced to backpay 20 grand (way not enough, btw). Oh but he gave me and my sister and brother a thousand dollars each, twice – we were way too young for that sort of money – to spoil us and get at my mum, and make sure she didn’t get anything. Predictably, we bought candy and toys while my mum struggled to pay the gas bill and our school fees. Massive, massive asshole.

  51. funambulator

    Ohmygod, YES. My ex husband was a total ass about custody. In the end, though, he didn’t care enough to show up at the hearing. I got sole custody but we had an agreement about visitation, every other weekend. And on those weekends, the kiddo went straight to a babysitter, his grandma, my ex’s new wife, a neighbor – he even sent him to Sunday school at a church no one in the family had ever been to, in a religion (Baptist) none of us are, simply because the Sunday school was free and would come pick the kids up on a bus. So he got child-free time without even having to go anywhere.

    It makes me wonder who would have raised my child had my ex gotten custody/more visitation. As it was, he was always whining about how he wanted more time with our son. But WHY?

    Now he’s moved to the other side of the country, which is a big load off, for me. But someday he’ll have to answer to the little one about why he never bothers to call him.

  52. Dizzy

    Fun Dad gets to feel superior in his parenting skills when compared to Psycho Mom because when the kids are with him, they’re not oppressed and get to “be themselves”, by which I mean: eating diarrhea-inducing food, watching violent R-rated dude movies, staying at home alone for inappropriately long periods of time, and learning how to smoke weed like a Judd Apatow brohemian.

    And he gets to be the cool, be-who-you-are parent without having to really experience the restricting responsibilities and messy daily challenges of actually raising children! Fucking patriarchy.

    Although in my experience, Fun Dad gets uncomfortably contrite with middle age and ends up calling his adult children late at night to apologize for not being a better dad and wanting to know more about who his kids are now. This is both satisfying and infuriating for said adult children. And a little bit tragic too.

  53. Pinko Punko

    Brohemian. Nice. That’s a keeper.

  54. obscura

    Yes, men who really care don’t usually have to fight that hard, because the mothers believe that the fathers actually have an interest in the welfare of their children.

    “Fathers” who fight tooth and nail are usually in it for money/spite/ego/vengeance/control, and the mothers know it, which is why there’s a fight to begin with.

    This isn’t always true of course, but sadly, it’s true more often than not.

  55. Cass

    Abusive and controlling men are about twice as likely as non-abusive fathers to seek sole custody, and they get it, in America, about 70% of the time.

    http://www.batteredmotherscustodyconference.org/articles_research_case_law.htm

  56. Quinchan

    Lenny Bruce had a skit on this, IIRC: him talking about his friend’s who kept going on and on about how they fought for the kids and screwed the bitch over.

    Lenny: So, where are the kids?

    Friend: Oh, they’re with my mom.

  57. K.A.

    I loved reading everyone else’s stories. I just wanted to add that among all my friends whose parents are still together, they all wished the mother had divorced the father! The mothers did everything while the dads sat around ignoring the kids or being mean/controlling/basically a dead weight to the mom. So even the ones who don’t get divorced and fight for custody out of spite are still the same type of emotionally retarded man.

    I think it’s relevant to note here that a disproportionate number of women who make it past the age of 100 have never married.

  58. Lara

    “Someone above said it is like some men don’t know their kids, and I have to agree. I remember realising at about 15 that my Dad had no idea what I liked to do, what I was good at, or even who my best friend was. Weekends with him were just holidays with junk food and fun activites, but no meaningful interaction.”

    I agree with kage here. I only realized in the past year that my dad does not know me, or my sister, AT ALL. For example, every time birthday, or Christmas rolls around he just gets me more tacky purses (that are not even at all my style) and jewelry, which his new girlfriend helps him pick out anyway. He doesn’t understand or know me, and he says he wants to know what’s going on in my life, but really, he doesn’t give a shit. He is just controlling and wants to have a say in whatever decisions I make for myself.
    Why, just the other day when I was visiting him, I found he was about to throw out a big box with some birthday/holiday cards that my sister and I painstakingly made for him not too long ago. He didn’t even bother to see what they were.
    This is one of the many many reasons I think MRAs are absolutely full of shit.

  59. antonova

    My father didn’t exactly fight for custody (it is literally a foreign concept), but he always claimed he wanted it.

    After my parents divorced, my father moved to New Jersey (I live in New York). My mom and I went through a really rough period (this is an understatement) and, from the safety of many miles away, he insisted that I could always come live with him if I needed to. Also, that it was own my fault since I’d taken her side in the divorce (it was hard not to; he was abusive).

    So, one day, after an especially violent episode featuring my mother, I ran away (kind of — I went to Grand Central). My father finally came and got me.

    A few days later, we stopped by my mom’s under the pretext of picking up some clothes. I was really tired (I had been sleeping on his love seat, and I was a tall kid), so he suggested I take a nap. I woke up and he was gone, of course. And wouldn’t answer my phone calls for days.

    It took a couple of weeks, but he resumed his, “I’m always there when you need me! You can always come live with me!” bullshit routine. After I moved out, and my relationship with my mother improved, she confided that he had been trying to get rid of me the very first night I was at his place (which was also literally the first time I’d ever been there) — he’d called her and (falsely) claimed I was having seizures.

    My father is a whackadoodle.

  60. Shira

    All I’ve gotten in the way of a birthday present from my dad since he moved out and no longer had my mom to buy them and write his name on them for me are cards that promise these extravagant presents (swimming with dolphins, surfing lessons, Hawaiian vacations) that will materialize just as soon as he gets his next paycheck. He’s been super close to having disposable income for like, eight years now.

    Whoever said their mom orchestrated memories, my mother did that as well, and made sure I knew, after he left, that she’s the one who sent him in to kiss us goodnight and whatnot. I think that’s an important corollary to this discussion: Men with rare exception don’t give a shit about their kids and aren’t expected to, and Women are not only expected to devote their lives to baby-wrangling, they have to keep it a big fat secret what a hateful shell of a person their father really is.

    Simply put, if you don’t tell your kids what an asshole the dad is to you, they’ll assume he’s an asshole to THEM because they are Bad Children who’ve done something to deserve it. And besides, the men are not keeping up the same saintly image of you when they’ve got the kids! When my dad first told me he was leaving my mother, the reason he gave was that she’d “stopped having sex with me” and well, “men need sex.” I couldn’t bring myself to tell my mom about that for eight years, and her reaction, instead of saying, what a fucked up paradigm to inflict on a thirteen year old girl, was to try to convince me that it wasn’t true, that of course she hadn’t shirked her wifely duty.

    I have so many horror stories, and I don’t think my experience was even that exceptionally bad. He just had no empathy – his desire to support his new wife’s dog meant we spent many weekends at an off-leash dog beach. I was attacked by a pitbull when I was 11, before this happened, so I’d spend most of the day terrified of being bit again. My little brother would frequently end up with blistering sunburns all over his back because my father couldn’t be bothered to put sunblock on him (that my mom got to deal with, lucky her). But this was HIS “family time” so we had to go. I guess this is a big reason I never had trouble with the concept of performativity, having to play Fungible Wife Farce with my dad every other weekend.

    The summer after my freshman year of high school, I stayed for three weeks or so at their house, and I went from 130 lbs to 115 (I’m 5’6″), but I didn’t object because they’d convinced us we needed to be on Atkins (one of the excuses he used to take the bags of food my mom sent up was that she “only sent carbs”) because we were such out of shape lardasses.

    Nuclear families = total and complete patriarchal mindfuck.

  61. Elaina

    My parents divorced when I was five. My mom married the ass at seventeen to escape being groped by her father (who died last week, but not before groping her again weeks prior when she hugged him on his deathbed because none of his other children would come near him). My father, who I haven’t given a fatherly moniker since I was nine, on account of him kidnapping us for weeks and yelling at our mother on the phone in front of us, was fond of referring to women as “pussies.”

    At four, he had me trained to get him beers while he spouted off sexist, racist and otherwise bigoted jokes to his like-minded roofer buddies: “So this one pussy says to the other pussy (insert derisive banter here).” He would tell my mother how women always married “up,” meaning that they weren’t intellectually equipped on their own. He never paid child support and refused to help my mom pay for surgery when I had chronic ear infections, saying “How do you like that?” Of course, I never found out any of this until a few years ago (I am now 27) because my mom didn’t want to tarnish our view of him. The donor fought relentlessly for custody until I was nine and my mom was seriously involved with an attorney (my wonderful current stepfather) who valiantly supported my decision to not see him anymore.

    Prior to this reprieve, my life consisted of seeing my mom about two hours a day while she scraped by and would have been on welfare if not for the help of loans from friends and local food box orgs. She worked two jobs, taught us (I have a sister who is three years older) how to cook and take care of ourselves at very young ages, but didn’t see us on the weekends or most holidays, because we went to my grandparents house to be parked in front of the tv, eat shitty food, listen to smack about our mom and be interrogated as to who we loved more. Of course we would lie and say we loved him- it made things easier and he would give us money to spend on cheap plastic crap from China and set us free in carnivals for hours while he would get drunk.

    Also omitted from my awareness until a suitable age was the abuse my mother survived- apparently she was held at knife point while I was in her arms during one custody exchange- but I knew and felt that he was a bitter, horrible creature, hence my decision at nine to not see him again until thirteen.

    I wish (and I’ve expressed this to my mom) that I had known more about the atrocities, but she was indoctrinated just fine by the patriarchy and figured I should love him anyway because he’s my father. She hates it when I refer to him as The Donor.

    Thankfully, my mom moved us from California to Idaho, and the distance has probably saved me from his influence. I can safely say had I not been relocated, I would probably think that my only role in life is to pop out children and serve my man. I would probably be contributing to patriarchy instead of continually acting to undermine it. I probably would not have graduated high school, would probably have at least 3 bratty kids and a shitty doormat image of myself, and I would probably not read or be much into exercise. As much as he tries to take credit for his genes contributing to my intelligence, my determination to become better educated (I start graduate school for my counseling degree this spring!) and my degree of attractiveness, I know that it is but a poor attempt at owning me, as he failed to own my mother. And I can thank my mom for that- for getting me and my sister the fuck out of there!

    However, karma has made me feel a tad better. The Donor has never has a meaningful relationship outside of that with my mother and currently resides in a disgusting stereotypical bachelor pad, where he is afflicted with bone cancer and will inevitably die thinking he is a superior being. I truly believe his self-entitlement and disregard for others has landed him where he’s at and I loathe him. The few times I have reached out to him to show him who I am, he has proven himself inept and ignorant. The last time I saw him I reamed him for being sexist and even gave him a short lesson on how the world is a cesspool of patriarchy. Not caring about how disagreement could exacerbate his frail condition, I recently called him on his homophobia, defended gay marriage and told him I don’t identify as straight… and he amazingly said, “You’re telling e that MY daughter is coming out of the closet?” Like I had the energy to explain pansexuality to him after he inferred that I am a possession.

    Luckily, my experiences have proven to be a great source of empathy and passion in my recent past work as a legal advocate for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. I worked with many women, going to court to see the misery in action, facilitating pro se divorces left and right, experiencing their plight as a lingering extension of my own frustrating issues with being a child of divorce. I finally burned out after two years of seeing the ex-husband get custody because of his superior income, accusations of the women being crazy and the lack of willingness on the mothers’ part to bring up atrocious abuse. Of course it doesn’t help that verbal and psychological abuse isn’t considered a crime unless the guy specifically threatens to physically harm her or the kiddos.

    Wow. I feel better. Sorry about the length of this post. On a final note, I would like to emphasize the epidemic of this particular repurcussion of our insidious patriarchy. Statistics still don’t capture the significance of mens’ mistreatment of women because it is still something taboo to speak of, and until then, children continue to suffer and continue to repeat the cycle, emulating the father’s behavior, and being doormat women. I still have vestiges of choosing poor intimate partners who end up treating me like shit, despite my knowledge of domestic violence, so there’s more proof that no one is immune to the fucking patriarchy!

    Peace. I love seeing Twisty in her physical splendor and am so thankful for this site. Truly.

    Elaina

  62. Eevoid

    Yay! Twisty TV! Your voice sounds different than I imagined too. Hope you make lots more.

  63. Helen

    ROFL, fantastic video. Thanks, I needed the laughs.

    My father was fairly attentive when I visited him after my parents divorced. We’re both of us bookworms, so we got on fairly well.

  64. Helen

    I should note, though, that he did fit the profile other commenters noted of loving to have a captive audience. So did/does my elder sister.

  65. Carpenter

    Dude,
    My dad did this without my parents being divorced.

  66. Bushfire

    I love seeing you on video, Twisty! The only people I’ve known who have divorced are people whose children are older teenagers, and don’t need much looking after.

  67. Sugared Harpy

    Hmmm, I AM a child of divorce and why YES this did happen to my sister and me.

    Every other weekend my dad holed up tinkering on cars in his garage while my sister and I fended for ourselves or were roped into cleaning their house by my stepmother.

    Awesome hat. Rotel has good taste.

  68. Must Distract Self

    One more chorus voice saying: lovely to see and hear you, love the hat, thanks for the Crazy String test.

    And certainly what you observe vis-a-vis custody battling as a tactic in divorce is common, and resonates with my personal experience. My father fought for weekend visitation back in the day, and would then not show, and when he did would often get trashed, throw me in the luggage compartment of his car, and swerve, short-stop, and Chinese fire drill his way around town, banging my head against the walls all the merry way. But the police wouldn’t take my mom’s word for it, were sure they would catch him in the normal course of duty if it was really happening, and this was before the day of cell phones…

    Yay. I blame the pretty blue hat. No, wait, that’s not my line.

  69. AngryJules

    Haven’t experienced a divorce myself, but I have a good friend who recently went through hell trying to maintain custody of her son…

    This past year, my friend went to court with babysdaddy (her term for him) after he decided he wanted more time with their son than their existing custody arrangement called for. My friend was devastated– her son is everything to her. During the custody hearings, babysdaddy had the nerve to try and get back together with my friend. Yes, while he tried to take away her son. Worse, he says, “You know… if you ever want to spend extra time with our son when he’s scheduled to be with me, that’d be fine…” In other words, he was fighting for more time with his son even though he barely cared to use that time. What a fucking joke!

    I don’t know if he plops his son in front of a TV with his expanded custody time (oh yes, he was given more!), but I think his statements reveal that even dads who fight for custody aren’t necessarily invested in their children.

  70. Jezebella

    Every divorced mother of my personal acquaintance has suffered the “battle for full custody” which is in fact the “battle to pay less child support” which ends in the woman taking less money than she deserves and needs because she wants access to her children. Every single one now hands over her kid(s) to her ex on a regular basis, who then hands the kid(s) off to his a. mother, b. girlfriend, c. new wife, d. sister, or e. fungible woman. EVERY SINGLE ONE. The ones who could afford good lawyers got the best deals, but they still got the shit end of the stick.

    One ex-asshat announced that his visits with his 13-year-old son were no longer personally enriching, and he didn’t see any point in continuing them. Way to kick your teenager in the balls, my man. Nice job! Luckily said teen has an awesome stepdad, but dang, yo, who *does* that? That guy never paid child support, ever. Never.

    Another refuses to muck about with girly things like applying sunblock and administering medication to his toddler. Sunblock?! That’s sooooo gaaay! No matter: Auntie does most of the childcare, and she knows how to use sunblock. And read a prescription bottle.

    I know one who tried to get his child support payments lowered by claiming he had high business expenses, i.e., the *high cost of dry cleaning*. Nice sense of obligation to that beloved daughter you fought “tooth and nail” to get maximum custody of, dude.

    Ah, then there’s the one who doesn’t bother to send child support checks because he knows his ex would rather chew glass than have any contact with him at all. Because any contact will be a nightmare of verbal abuse, recriminations, and accusation. He cancels visitation regularly because he’s busy being a Giant Baby or chasing women half his age or whatever. “Cancelled visitation,” however, does not result in an increase in the imaginary child-support checks he isn’t sending.

  71. em

    My friend is living through what rootlesscosmo describes WRT California custody law. It’s galling as hell to watch a man who spends his time drunkenly shaming the kids fighting for half custody.

    In other news, nice vlog. It’s great to see you in person. Not strictly in person but you know what I mean.

  72. Lara

    Twisty, if I may ask, can you get this vlogging software for free? I’ve been looking it up everywhere online and it looks like you have to pay for it?

  73. Broce

    Hell, yeah. My ex fought me for two years in court on a nearly weekly basis. Shortly after I was awarded full custody (seems the courts thought his complete lack of payment of child support coupled with something like 18 contempt of court citations in two years plus unemployment and three “fiances” in less than a year plus abusive attitude towards me didnt make him prime papa of the year material), he blew off any responsibility towards his son emotionally as well as financially. Oh, he saw him regularly enough, but my son was ignored or left to his own devices when dad either couldnt find a chore for him or use him to show off what a cool dad he was. My son will be 21 in a week, and hasnt spoken to his father in almost a year…finally told him he’d be happy to talk to him when hew grew the fuck up and stopped being a hypocritical, lying, sociopathic asshole, but until then, bye bye.

  74. Haley

    This is my first time commenting, but I could not resist with this topic.

    When I was 5 years old, I was placed in foster homes in a very small town in Montana because my dad was deemed an “unsuitable parent.” My father fought ferociously to regain custody of me. It took 3 years, thousands of dollars in attorney fees, newspaper articles, crazy custody hearings – all the makings of a bad Lifetime movie. I should also add that he sent threatening letters to judges, stalked my social worker, etc.

    Eventually, the Courts decided that any father willing to go to such lengths to gain custody of his daughter probably deserves custody of her. The fact that he had a history of domestic abuse and some very obvious personality disorders (you know, like being a sociopath and a narcissist) did not really make a dent on their decision. “He’s a GUY and he wants his kid back SO BADLY.” So, after 3 years, I was “given back” (because I am property, of course) to good ol’ dad and he moved us to San Diego.

    What happened next was nothing short than fantastic. I was promptly used as slave labor at all his restaurants (waitressing for no pay from the ages of 8 to 14). I was given the task of taking care of my younger, Autistic brother. The cleaning, the laundry, you name it. I was babysitting and cooking dinners while my dad was dating, marrying, and divorcing. When I was 17, my dad decided he didn’t “need [me]” anymore and kicked me out of the house.

    That is an extreme example.

    A slightly less extreme example would be in the case of my ex boyfriend (pre-feminism of course) who had a daughter with a drug addict who ended up getting involved in something very bad and landed in jail. Of course, we took her into our home – she was only a baby at 3 years old. He always used her for sympathy-”Look at me! I’m a single dad!” even though I was the one who cooked for her, took her to school, etc. When we broke up, he started dropping off his daughter at her maternal grandparents or leaving her for the summer in New Mexico with her paternal grandparents, but still says, “Look at me! Aren’t I great?”

    I do know a father or two who do genuinely take time with their children post-divorce, but they seem to be very rare.

  75. Broce

    Dad didn’t want us, per se, he wanted to hurt the woman he was divorcing.

    Bingo, that is it in a nutshell, *especially* when the wife initiates the divorce. Hurt pride or some such shit, along with massive control issues and a huge sense of entitlement.

    I never considered remarrying…and I’ve been divorced for nearly 17 years. The idea of having to deal with that shit again on any level was enough to send cold shivers down my back.

  76. Shelby

    My ex left us when I was pregnant with our second child to bonk some chick at work with rich parents. He didn’t fight to see his children at all but I believed it was important for the children to see him so when he wanted to take them for the weekend I would let him. They were enamoured of him when they were little. Now they’re 12 and 13 and frankly can’t wait to get away from the selfish little prick.

    A male friend of mine spent thousands trying to get custody of his daughter. Finally after about two years the court decided on a custody arrangement where he had the kid half the time (which is now the expected norm under Australian Family Law). About two months after the decision was made he moved states with his new wife and now sees the kid about three times a year.

    When I was 18 I used to go out with a fellow who had a six year old son and on custody weekends we would pick the kid up and drop him straight to his grandmother’s house.

    On the other hand my son attends a scout group where there are fathers (and mothers) who give up much of their free time for the benefit of the kids who attend.

  77. Jodie

    My children are children of divorce. Their dad insisted on joint custody; fine, I would have been more than happy for him to actually be the dad he hadn’t previously bothered to be.

    I was working fulltime and going to school. Their dad had a flex schedule (didn’t have to be at work until 10 am). My schedule required that I leave my house at 6am some mornings…I wanted to be able to either A) get the kids ready for school and drop them at his house or B) get the kids ready and have him pick them up to take them to school. I figured the 12-year-old (whose bus came at 8am) might be able to catch the bus, but the 8-year-old (whose bus came at 8:30am) would not have been able to manage.

    But no. That could not happen, because their dad wanted to sleep late, so they had to stay with friends in the morning. When the kids DID get to visit (he often stood them up), they watched TV. Their dad did not return the kids’ calls.

    Now the kids are grown, and I guess he finally wants to be their “friend”. But they never return his calls.

  78. Kozmic Dwyn

    First time commenting because this is a topic I have far too much experience with.

    My father worked at Lockeed Martin from when I was born to when I was about ten. He was always traveling, took every opportunity they gave him. When he was home, he left before I woke up and came home after I was in bed. It wasn’t like we were pressed for money or he was the only person working or anything like that. He just liked traveling and hanging out with his work buddies, more so then he liked to hang out with his two kids. We moved from California to New Jersey for his job, then back again for the same reason. One year, he missed my birthday. I was heartbroken. Later, I discovered he had been in Korea, where he was with another woman. At the time, I was so overwhelmingly happy that he at least got flowers sent to the house on my birthday.

    When I turned ten, he actually ditched us and moved to France. During this time, he actually told my mother several times that he felt so free without a family with him. Mind you, this is before the divorce was even started. We visited him with Mom twice, once in France, once in Korea. During this time, he tried to make us move to Korea, though we ended up not, since Mom had been told by her company that a move to the Korean branch of the company would result in either never being able to get a promotion ever again or just being let go because mothers shouldn’t work. After that, my brother and I started visiting him on our own. Our parents finally told us they were getting divorced and I was sad for all of about ten minutes. Nothing really changed. My brother and I were sent to see him for the summers, which I hated. I’d keep a calender hidden in my room in his various houses and I’d cross of the days.

    His girlfriends have always been very sweet women, also always Asian. The current woman, just the nicest Vietnamese woman and about half his age, told me (tearfully after he screamed at her one morning) that she can never leave him because her parents are old fashioned and she would get disowned from her family. He basically would dump us on them and then would go work or go to the pub or whatever he did. Once I turned 14, I started avoiding going to his house for the summers. As of the present moment, I’ve not seen him in more then a year. He bugs me about visiting him in Vietnam again. I won’t. He’s emotionally abusive, thankfully never physically. My brother is begining to realize what an assface the male parent is but it is a slow realization. My father is now going through the buying our love phase, which is laughable and not effective. His current promise is that he’s bought me new lenses for my camera to make up for missing my past two birthdays, Christmases, Hannukkahs, my high school graduation and my starting college. Do I believe him? Not for one second.

    Apparently he is realizing what he’s done. A few weeks ago, he told my mom that he knew he’d die an old and lonely man. And still, he persists in being the biggest assface possible. Little does he know that I’m changing my name in the winter and ditching his last name once and for all

    God, that was long. Well, it’s good to rant about him.

  79. Camille

    Hells yes, Twisty!
    My parents divorced when I was 9 and my dad it definitely one of those dads who begged for custody and then didn’t really give a damn about it once he got it. He forced my mom into giving him half custody of me, even when that is exactly what I didn’t want, to be anywhere near him. He also didn’t put up any sort of fight when my mom said I would be only living with her. On paper I am half his but if I don’t ever live with him, how can he really be getting half of my time.
    Anywho, after a long divorce and a final settle on him having half custody of me, I see him about 4 times a year, about once every 3 months. After all that, he didn’t really follow through with seeming me half the time. But, he’s a guy. What can you really expect?!
    But, I’m 16 now and I think I am better for the only 4 times a year visits that I have had to spend with him. Anymore and I don’t know where I’d be mentally!
    -Camille

  80. katarina

    This makes very sad reading. It seems to me that under the patriarchy fatherhood means nothing more than providing DNA and money.

    I’ve always thought that that must be pretty terrible for a man who doesn’t earn much money, but I’d never given much thought to the situations described here.

  81. Twisty

    “Twisty, if I may ask, can you get this vlogging software for free? I’ve been looking it up everywhere online and it looks like you have to pay for it?”

    Lara, if you want the prompter and the chroma key and all that, I think you have to pay. If you just want to do what I did up there, all you need is a regular video camera, a USB mike, and whatever video editing software you happen to have on hand. I could have done my little vlog with just my computer’s built-in camera and the iMovie software that it came with. That I actually used an app called Video Cue Pro is kind of irrelevant, since I didn’t avail myself of any of its features.

  82. Joselle Palacios

    My biological father never did much raising of me even when he lived with my mother and me. When my parents finally divorced, he completely disappeared from my life. I haven’t seen him since I was 11 and I am now 28. He sent some letters and I wrote him back occassionally. I think he sent me a money order for one birthday but that was about it. No custody battle and no leaving me in the basement, though I’m pretty sure that would have happened if he’d had some custody of me. A few years ago, I sent him a nasty letter about how his nonexistent parenting and alcoholism left a pretty shitty imprint on my life. He wrote back saying sorry and how he’d leave me alone. Funny, I never asked him to abandon me again. I was just venting. Would have been nice if he could have just heard me and not left me with the bag again but then, well, at least he is consistent.

    My boyfriend’s father is also an abandoner and so are most of the dads of my friends. Most of the dads never fought for custody. They just left us.

    So awesome to see you on video.

  83. HazelStone

    Well, I would have loved it if my dad ignored me after he got custody. Instead he used me to be the object of all of his verbally abusive rants, control issues and chore-mongering that he used to inflict on my mom. I tell people about my childhood and they say, well, you were not sexually abused. At least that’s something!

    Woohoo! It IS something!

  84. Dykonoclast

    VLOG!!!

    Visiting my dad sucked. He’d be in his room snorting coke and avoiding his dealers while my sister and I sat around watching whatever VHS tapes we’d brought with us and eating whatever we’d managed to score at the Dominican market down the street. I forget when he decided that my working, struggling mom no longer needed his child support payments, but he still wanted ‘to be our father,’ replete with sappy monologues on the importance of family and masculine role models. The man is a tool and a half and I refuse to speak to him ever again.

    The only person I know whose dad took custody was actually better suited as a parent and provider for the two children than their erratic, emotionally troubled mom. I can’t stand the man, but life with him was surely better than the alternative.

  85. Samantha

    I was not a product of divorced parents, but my children are. My ex-husband did not lift a patriarchically entitled finger to help with our two children during the eight years we were married, often going as many as three days without seeing them, blaming his self-imposed “work” schedule, which I found out later was code for “smoking pot and playing video games” and telling clients he was busy building parts of their homes in his wood shop. Well, as soon as I filed for divorce he dug in with both heels for equal time with his suddenly precious babies. What he got was every other weekend and one additional night a week, which he spends – you guessed it – smoking pot and playing video games, while the children entertain themselves dressing up his dog in tacky Christmas sweatshirts and booties.

  86. Lynne

    My dad fought for custody of me. My mom walked out on us when I was 3 and 3 years later she wanted full custody of me. Even under those circumstances, my dad had to fight tooth and nail to get permanent custody of me. In the end, he succeeded, and today I’m 21, still living at home with my dad, and commuting to college. I’m glad he was able to get custody of me. The courts are so biased towards dads that it almost clouded their judgment in deciding who would be the best parent. My mom is more of a friend than a mom. She had visitation of me in the summer and every other birthday and Christmas and we would have fun, but she was never really a mom, nor her girlfriend. So, I guess to answer your question Twisty, my situation of kind of the opposite of the “norm,” but yeah, it happens.

  87. aroundthebend213

    I can at least report on one dad who fought for custoday, ended up with 50% responsibilities and who taught me how to cook and took an active interest in parenting me.

  88. Natalia

    Am not a child of divorce, but among friends and relatives I see it this way: either dads split entirely and forgot they ever were fathers to begin with (and, in two awful cases, the children died from drug overdoses… One never knows if the fathers’ presence could have made a difference, but you never know for certain, do you?), or they got joint custody and were pretty attentive dads.

    I’ve met few fathers who fought bitterly for custody only to ignore the kid later, but reading this thread makes me think it’s not that uncommon.

  89. Fat Angie

    Twisty, you look/sound EXACTLY like I imagined you from your posts.

    As for children of divorce, my father didn’t fight for me- he had my half-brother (whose birthday is 1 day away from mine, he was full-term and I was a preemie so you do the math) and wife 2.0 to worry about. The next 20 years were basically him trying to weasel out of child support (every year the request is different, I’m either dead, married, or otherwise supporting myself), and actually attempting to murder 1-year-old me with a knife (schizophrenic, so I can’t blame him THAT much). When I was 17, he drained my savings account (that my mom made me put all of my birthday, babysitting, and waitressing money into), so the only account I have was one I started when I was 18, and I’m a college student making $1200/year. I haven’t seen him since I was 7 months old. And because my mother divorced him, the rest of my maternal family has been blaming her and me for all the world’s ills. (but that’s something to discuss on my blog, not yours)

    So, hell, growing up I’d've loved for someone to fight for me- being treated like property is better than being treated like dog crap.

  90. Elisha

    My dad fought for custody of me, won, then shipped me off to live with his mom out of state posthaste.

  91. Elisha

    Oh yes — and freedom from the godawful duty of child support was the sole incentive to get custody. Once he had it, it didn’t seem he could have given any less of a shit.

  92. Lar

    1. I love the hat! Kudos to your niece for great taste in hats.

    2. I love your “Will you hold my bag…?” accent too.

    3. Virginia – “Or – roll up the kid’s shirt and write ‘Daddy left me with a stranger today’ on it’s belly. Hopefully he won’t notice until he returns it to mama for changing.”
    Great idea! Note to self – must carry a marker (or post its?) with me now at all times.

    As for the custody battle issue… when I was in high school a lot of my best friends were children of divorce and I saw some pretty ugly custody battles. In the specific cases where fathers battle for custody and then shirk all responsibility I think they each have their own sadistic reasons. Many times the father was really bitter and wanted to inflict as much pain and trauma as possible on the ex-wife. They also seemed to get some sort of sick satisfaction out of trying to turn the kids against their mom.

  93. Blue

    I was going to say that my dad was never really there for me much even though he and my mom aren’t divorced, but the stories I’m reading here make him sound like an angel.

    Still, he couldn’t hold a candle to Mom. He was always far more distant, more authoritarian, less knowledgeable about our lives, and less likely to take responsibility for everyday things like meals and activities. I think boys just aren’t taught to parent.

  94. Sarah

    My parents didn’t fight at all over custody: My mother wanted it, my father did not. We did spend every other weekend with him (and later, he and my step-monster); but I’m pretty sure only because Mom didn’t want us to feel, as we grew up, that he had no interest in us. He wasn’t mean or anything, he just never wanted children; but either he had them because he knew my mother did, or because he thought “Hey, that’s just what you do” and wasn’t of a generation that really knew you had a choice.

    Anyway, he used to give me $20 and drop me off at the mall for 8 hours or so, while he parked his ass in the easy chair and watched old Hawaii 5-0 and Misson: Impossible reruns. I didn’t care, the mall was more exciting than hanging around while my step-monster resented my existence. I was never there often enough to make any friends in the neighborhood, and I didn’t keep any of my stuff there, like a bicycle or games. And it was the ’80s; $20 went a lot farther than it does today.

  95. H.

    Not a child of divorce either, but I’ve observed plenty over the years and my primary observation is that many men tend to be conceptually interested (even if it’s just for revenge purposes) in the kids from their marriage until a new girlfriend comes along. Or even better, a new wife, especially one he’s managed to knock up. At that point, visitation and interest drops right down the agenda.

    I will never forget when the Child Support Agency was introduced in Britain. Yes, it did make some mistakes, but my overriding memory is of the news and papers being clogged up with twice or thrice-married, middle-aged men whining, puling and making angry faces about how very unfair, disgusting and wrong it was that they had to support TWO or sometimes even THREE families (read: sets of kids, alimony isn’t the thing here, really) – the ones they had and the one they’d moved onto. Didn’t we understand that they’d MOVED ON? Didn’t we understand that they had RIGHT to a new ‘family’ once they’d bored of the old one? Shouldn’t the government just provide a pittance for the kids they;’d left behind and let them the hell alone to spend their oncome on the current crop of progeny?

  96. Bird

    My parents didn’t divorce until I was legally an adult (although, oddly, my mother tried to claim custody of me, but it was all pretty messed up, really). But many of my childhood friends had divorced parents.

    One friend in particular spent every other weekend at her dad’s place. Her mother was a hard-working single mom, busting her ass to pay the mortgage and get by. Her dad lived in a huge house with a big screen TV, a sauna and a hot tub. I used to go over there to hang out with her sometimes when we were in junior high (early teens).

    But I have never actually seen her father. Not a word of a lie, I spent numerous weekends at that house and never once met her father. I still have no clue what he looks like. So yeah, it happens.

  97. Jess

    I wanted to give my differing experience — not to pull a “not my Dad Nigel Sr.,” but just to offer a ray of hope (e.g. if you’re considering divorce or something).

    My brother and I always went to Dad’s house on weekends and summers. He didn’t abuse or neglect us, or work us to death. (When we were old enough he paid us hourly to work in his yard etc.) And he always paid child support, I learned later.

    I know this isn’t the average divorced experience, but it can & does happen. Dad was never Mom, and never could be, but he wasn’t bad, either.

  98. thebewilderness

    After hearing the accent of your ‘watch my bag’ man, I suspect that he is related to Roseann Roseanna Danna. Can you confirm or deny?

  99. Amananta

    Oh, I don’t know. I do know that over the years one of the many things that drove me to be more and more feminist was seeing guys who would go on at length about how HORRIBLY their exes treated their mutual spawn, how they were being GOUGED, or how the horrible woman took their kids and they never got to see them or anything. So I would believe these jerks for a while, and actually encourage them to seek custody if their kids were being as badly abused and neglected as they claimed. At this point would come a long silence then a stream of weak justifications for why they weren’t going to do it. So after a while I could only assume that: either the kids were being abused/neglected and they couldn’t be bothered to do crap about it or; they wanted a lot of sympathy without actually having to do anything for the children they begot on some woman who was smart enough to dump their sorry asses.

    Yet I still get Nice Guys ™ telling me all the time how “but yeah I know this guy who was like a really good dad and loved his kids and would take them to the circus and everything but his ex-wife is a bitch and she got the kids and the judges are all biased towards women and wouldn’t give him his own kids even though she’s an awful mom!”

  100. Chocolate Tort

    Farther up, someone hypothesized that men who really should have custody won’t fight for it because their ex-wives will know that they should have it.

    This is exactly what happened in my family. Parents divorced when I was six – no court battles, no custody fights. It was a pretty charmed divorce, if there is such a thing. Equal custody, and though dad paid child support, mother rarely, if ever, cashed it. Equal custody really did mean equal involvement in our lives, and now that I’ve (mostly) left the nest, I’m still close to both parents.

    Gaaah, I never realized how lucky I was with all this. Better than some, I knew, but not to this extent. Thanks, all.

  101. Lara

    See, Twisty, my iMovie application won’t properly record anything through the built-in camera, and there’s no sound, so I think I’ll need to hit the instruction manual on the iMac again. Thanks for the info though!

  102. rootlesscosmo

    @Amananta:

    the judges are all biased towards women

    This, though false, is widely believed, so much so that my family lawyer friend has learned that if she can move things along fast enough, especially if the guy decides he doesn’t need a lawyer, they’ll give up, because they think the deck is stacked against them. Once they learn the real situation, especialy that there’s (in effect) an economic incentive to demand the maximum visitation time (whether they want it or not), they get much more combative. Her line is “You gotta get your bluff in early.”

  103. Hattie

    Quinchan: I thought of that Bruce bit too.
    Here’s the clip:
    http://www.themadmusicarchive.com/song_details.aspx?SongID=24635
    Click on the sound icon

  104. hanna jörgel

    Chiming in with a couple of thoughts.

    1) I have a cousin who has been going through this for several years. She left her ex after she finally admitted to her family that he had always been abusive. They’ve been in and out of court for two years over the three children. 16-yr old daughter wants nothing to do with dad and doesn’t have to. 13 yo daughter and 10 yo son are the battleground. Dad takes them to Sanibel, Dad takes them to Disney World, Dad lives in a crappy apartment where they all have to share a bed????!!!??! I just get the updates from Mom. They live far away.

    2) I was the second marriage child for my dad. His kids were college-aged when they divorced. He had them over for Christmas as his only contact and has never been and still is not a part of their lives. And he honestly cries when his son doesn’t send him a Father’s Day card (granted, he only completely wrote off dad about ten years ago). I remember when I was a kid being sent out of the room (and listening at the door). He would go on and on about how pathetic they were and they needed to get their lives together. You could always feel the tension during dinner because everyone knew it was coming. My dad sucks.

    3)I’m another one whose parents are still married but my dad doesn’t know me at all. He stayed alone with me once as a baby, stuck me with a diaper pin, got treated to a stream of excrement splayed in his general direction, and never tended to me again. I’m in my late 30′s and every conversation with him is evidence that he doesn’t know me, doesn’t want to know me and only wants me to cook him dinner when Mom gets a break to go out of town (usually to visit point 1 family) and work all his fancy electronic equipment that he doesn’t know how to use.

  105. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Not a child of divorce, and I gotta say my dad (who wasn’t The Ideal by any standard) was pretty cool about spending time with me when I was a wee one. We’d biff off together on Saturday mornings so my mom could go to the Beauty Parlor to get her hair fixed. Me & my dad would go for donuts or sundaes or to visit his stepdad. (I have many happy memories of playing checkers & eating Cheetos with Grandpa Sam while listening to Roy Orbison.)

    He sorta lost interest when I got old enough to have my own opinions.

  106. E

    Reading all of your stories makes me really, really sad. I guess my upbringing was exceptional, and here I was thinking it was “normal”.

    My parents are not divorced. They both worked full-time jobs and both of them took time off to take care of me and my brother during the baby years. They shared the domestic responsibilites equally (although they did different things). My dad always did the grunt work cleaning, my mom cooked dinner. Dad did the laundry, mom did the ironing. Dad washed and cared for the cars, mom saw to it that everyone had the proper size clothes. Even as a child, I knew this was not how my friends homes worked.

    I never felt I was closer to or preferred either parent, and I could always count on both of them to know who my friends were, what I was doing at school etc.
    I guess I was lucky.

  107. larkspur

    Not a child of divorce, but I suspect that if my parents had thought of it, they’d have waived custody and awarded me to my aunt or my grandparents. You’d think that two people who really didn’t enjoy children very much might have figured that out before having any, or at the very least, before they had three of them , but this was the 1950s and you simply had to accessorize. House, car, kids. They were bitterly disappointed. The house kept needing stuff like clean gutters and mowed lawns, the car kept needing gas and tires, and the kids – jeez, didn’t we just feed them yesterday?

    Too bad, so sad. But to get back to the topic, my anecdotal evidence, second-hand obviously, includes a few examples (two, specifically) of exes working hard to hammer out equitable living arrangements. One such pair lives not far from each other to facilitate the back-and-forth, and their son is doing okay. But it’s always a work in progress. It’s never a matter of figuring out the deal and then whee, it runs itself.

    All of this is secondary to my main point, which is OMG, Twisty, those cheekbones! Those eyes! That voice!

  108. larkspur

    Hey darn, those italics were supposed to close themselves after “three of them”. We can’t edit, can we?

  109. Twisty

    Fixed.

  110. Citizen Jane

    I’ve read through all of these, so I guess I might as well add another story to the mix. I also had the experience of being The New Girlfriend. I was a teenager dating this thirty-something guy, which should be a warning sign right there, although I didn’t recognize it at the time. The guy pressured me into having sex without condoms, not caring in the least that I was very uncomfortable about that. I would assume that he did the same with his ex-wife, who had expressed that she didn’t want kids.

    He frequently referred to his ex-wife as “evil” (using that word with a completely straight face). He claimed that she was “evil” because sometimes she didn’t want to have sex with him, which according to him was a cunning ploy to control him. He claimed that she was “evil” because after she got pregnant, she didn’t want to carry it to term and she evilly forced him to badger her into having a baby she didn’t want.

    Then, when the baby was one, he picked up and left. The kid was two when we dated. He didn’t have to fight for custody, because his wife told him he was welcome to take the kid in for a while if he wanted, but he never bothered to even visit him. However, he spent a lot of time complaining that she had “taken him” from him, and that she was abusive to their child. When anyone asked why he didn’t even visit the kid, he said it was because he was so traumatized that his wife took him away, that he couldn’t deal with seeing the kid or talking to him.

    I was young and stoopid and believed him at the time, even though I found it weird that he never visited. In retrospect, that is clearly not how a parent acts if an abusive person has taken away their baby. A parent in that situation is sure as hell not thinking about dating (and I was his third girlfriend in the year after the divorce). The way he talked about it, it was as if he was talking about a really mean coworker or something like that. He had nothing like the earth shattering urgency a person would have in such a situation. A parent who experienced that would be sobbing and shaking as they talked about their situation, barely able to speak through the sobs. They wouldn’t just be whining about how evil their ex is and they wouldn’t be so “me me me me me” about it, either.

  111. Topaz

    To answer your question about custody-yes, it happened/is happening now to me. I didn’t even get a shag rug. I was kicked out of “his” house too. You see, I’m crazy. But not too crazy to work as a registered nurse and pay child support. I’m shaking as I type this. There has been no help. IBFP

  112. draconismoi

    Statistically, most custody arrangements are settled out-of-court between the parents. These are the good parents, who are aware that THEIR divorce has NOTHING to do with the kids, and do their best to keep the kids out of it. They are also the ones most likely to be truly involved in the kid’s lives – something not formal and rigid (i.e. every wed-sat plus thanksgiving and easter) is more amenable to real life. The kids go to whichever parent can get off work early after school, while the parent who is into the extra-curricular activity of kid’s choice shuttles them around for that and practices. This kind of flexibility, which is best for the kids, requires maturity from the parents and a willingness to co-parent w/o the legal relationship.

    Anything that makes it to court is fucked. Custody challenges come from control or fear. The parent either wants control or is terrified that their worthless ass will really be worthless without mini-mes within shouting distance.

    Divorce is sort of a sport in my extended family…..but only person gets all the kids – meaning bio kids, current stepkids, former stepkids, half-siblings of any of the above, nieces/nephews and grandchildren. And noone fights over this. It’s just understood that the kids do not belong in the bloody divorce battles, and this one home will take them all. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t know which members of my extended ‘family’ I have any legal or biological relationship too, but we are all damn sure of the difference between a mother or father and a mom or dad.

  113. Joanna

    My own dad fits the pattern, but we were old enough at the time of divorce that custody was not an issue. He ducked out on contributing to my brother and sister’s education, although he could afford it.
    However, my girl’s two dads (bio father and his husband) are devoted, involved, wonderful parents, although we live in different places. A combination of luck and hard work on everyone’s part. Not that bi/gay men are automatically great dads, but guys who choose to be parents in spite of having everyone tell them they can’t or shouldn’t can be more invested in the actual parenting.

  114. virago

    I’m a child of divorce, but my father didn’t bother to fight for custody. He just kidnapped my brother and me during a court ordered visitation (one where my mother begged the judge not to allow him access because she knew he would kidnap us). He told us our mother was dead, and we lived like fugitives for two months. Finally, he ran out of money and dumped us at our paternal grandmother’s house while he made demands to our mother that she has to do this or that if she ever wanted to see us again. My mother agreed to his demands so that she could get us back, but our dad was too dumb to realize that he violated a court order when he took us out of state, and my mom had a very good lawyer. This lawyer told my dad that my mother would press kidnapping charges, and my dad would go to jail for six months unless he agreed to sign over the house to my mother, give her sole physical and legal custody, and pay twice the amount of child support than he would’ve had to originally. My father didn’t want to go to jail, so he agreed. My father still got visitation, but after the divorce, he saw us a few times a year (he lived in the same town). I remember waiting for him to pick us up on a day he said he was coming, and than not show up at all. He had every excuse in the book including that he never told us he was coming (calling us liars). He bitched for years about the bitch who stole all his money. When I got older (I was six at the time of the kidnapping), I asked him why he thought he could just take us like that. He said, “Because your my kids, and I could do what I want with you.” This from a guy who didn’t do any kind of childcare, beat our mom, and couldn’t even hold a job when he was married to my mother, and all but ignored us after the divorce. This was back in the 70′s when there wasn’t a lot of awareness of parental kidnapping, and my mother was damn lucky to get us back. In fact, we were damn lucky for her to get us back after living like fugitives for two months. I remember my dad pulling the car over somewhere out West so that he could take a nap, and he told us kids not to wander too far from the car because there were rattlesnakes in the area. What a way to parent! And on top of this, the emotional trauma we suffered thinking our mom was dead. I don’t think I ever forgave him for that. He’s died a few years ago, but the memories are still there.
    God, when I see these MRA/FRA’s whine about not getting custody and condoning the actions of men like my dad, I could just throw up!

  115. Joolya

    My mom once said, in all sincerity, “If a man is interested in a women, he’s interested in her kids, whether or not they are his. If the man is not interested in the woman, he loses in interest in her kids, whether or not they’re his.”
    She’s not a radfem, but she is a social worker and a divorced mother.
    This may or may not apply in all cases (e.g. Bruce above or my stepdad) but it’s probably not totally wrong either.

  116. Jane from Jersey

    All the posters here seem to have realized that their father was awful and rightly cut him off. That’s great, but what I’ve seen most often is friends whose fathers ignored them in various ways (no visits, or no child support, or refusing to pay for college, etc.) until they were in their late teens or twenties. Then the absentee father would get back in touch with them and spout a lot of sentimental nonsense. They’ve all “forgiven” their fathers and are “trying to build a relationship with him.” A few seem more fond of their prodigal father than of the mother who raised them!

    Worst is a former friend I’ll call Scott. His father dumped his mother and didn’t pay child support. The father then got back in touch with him when Scott graduated from a prestigious university. He said how much it would mean to him to go to the graduation, blah blah. So Scott has been visiting his father and hanging out with him now for several years. His father is retired, has a huge house, and several expensive hobbies. His mother lives in a trailer and is a waitress (he’s talked about how that had embarrassed him when he was a kid). I stopped hanging out with Scott after he told me how much he respects his father for making so much money and being so frugal and how he thinks his mother would be happier if she could just find a husband!

    Why does that seem to happen more often than the reverse? A scumbag who gets out of child care and who profits from not paying child support (think of all the interest over the years) can just breeze back into an adult child’s life and be welcomed back by an otherwise intelligent person who suddenly seems desparate to please “Dad”, even at the expensive of their mothers. If the mother does say anything she’s treated as bitter and shrewish. I’ve stopped saying anything in these situations after I had a fight with my best friend because she decided to have her prodigal father walk her down the aisle rather than her mother or stepfather. All those years of listening to her complain and cry and then… Now I just watch and wonder as the pattern happens again and again.

  117. Buffy

    Not a child of divorce, but a child of a father who was probably better off not being a father at all. He was an adolescent well into his 50′s.

    My memories consist of him staying out until all hours of the night at a bar. Coming home wasted, or getting wasted at home and “playing” with his kids. I assume because I was female, I received less of the abuse and most was doled out on my brother. My mother rarely stood up for her kids when my dad decided to be an asshole. I used to hide my brother in my room, lock the bedroom door, and we’d listen to my dad bang at the door trying to get in. He actually successfully busted the lock on my brother’s bedroom door. Typing this now, I know he was abusive. My brother and I were left to defend ourselves.

    My Mom will proudly proclaim it was her era that brought the on the pill, the subsequent sexual liberation for women and the fight for equal pay and rights in the workplace for women. But my Mom catered to my father and still does. It was this dynamic that brings me here. My Mom was such a tool of the patriarchy, she couldn’t bring herself to protect her own children from an alcoholic, adolescent, abuser.

  118. Virago

    I already told my own story about my pathetic dad, but I couldn’t resist posting about my ex-boyfriend. He got his kids every other weekend, told stories about how awful their mother was, forced kids to sit in front of TV and watch, you guessed it, wrestling! Kids spent all weekend wearing same clothes and eating junkfood. I use to complain to him about his treatment of kids, and he would be better for a while, but go back to same old ways. He asked me to let him move in temporarily because he was being evicted, and I was suddenly the primary caretaker of three kids every other weekend. Naively, I thought that he would be a better parent if he didn’t have to worry about a roof over his head, but I was in for a rude awakening. I got sick and tired nagging him to make sure his kids change their clothes, take a bath, brush their teeth, eat proper meals. This fucker couldn’t even spend time with them. The last straw was when he conned me into babysitting so that he could work overtime on the weekend he had them. I found out he was at his friend’s house playing pool and drinking beer. Ironically, I didn’t have any problems with said kids mother because she was glad that I was there to do the parenting that he wouldn’t do! He barely paid child support as it was. Anyway, I got to like all three kids very well, but I couldn’t live with this asshole anymore (there were other issues that didn’t involve the kids). Anyway, I had to get this off my chest.

  119. hairylegs

    Another child of divorce here. My Dad and Mom divorced when I was 4 and fought for years over custody. They went to court something like a dozen times. Of course, both of them say the other one was responsible for dragging her/him into court all those times. I have no idea where the truth lies. But my sister and I became quite fond of the Family Court Services counselor we were assigned.

    The custody arrangement was split down the middle, week-to-week. Meaning one week at Mom’s and one week at Dad’s. Dad was a pretty decent father in the years before he remarried, if my memory can be trusted. His cooking was eccentric, but I remember very yummy creations. And he made us a play room with a doll’s house and all kinds of art supplies. His idea of child-care was taking us to work and dumping us in his research lab, though.

    That all changed when he remarried when I was 6. All of a sudden, he stopped parenting, and turned us over to the wicked stepmom of the midwest. He still fought bitterly for custody, but spent all his time at work and didn’t have shit to do with parenting us.

    Later, when I was in high school, I went to live full-time with my mom who had moved 500 miles away. The court said I had to fly to my Dad’s house for a visit once a month. I would fly in on a Friday night, and my Dad and stepmom would immediately leave on a date – usually dinner and the symphony – while I was left babysitting my toddler half-sister. According to my Dad this was my “special time” with my little half-sister. According to me, it was free babysitting.

    What really pissed me off was that the court-mandated weekend visits got in the way with my actual life, like making me miss basketball games and orchestra rehearsals. I got cut from the basketball team for missing too many games. And I never did spend any time with my Dad. Just my stepmom and half-sister. But if I didn’t show up, my Dad would have sued my mom again. Well, except for the time that they forgot that I was coming and left me stranded at the airport. I should have just called my mom and told her to buy me a ticket to come straight back home.

  120. Cathy

    Twisty, I love your smile, and the hat. Reading about all the clever tricks of deadbeat dads has been terribly depressing, however.

  121. sugarmag

    Hey there Twisty, cool video, I love your blog…this is interesting because my husband moved out about a month ago and I am getting divorced. My husband has been such an asshole to me, but ever since the shit started to hit the fan with our marriage he has been mister superdad. He is such a shit, but the kids have been spending most weekends with him and he really tries to be a good dad and the kids have fun with him. Before all of this happened, he was impatient with the kids, would yell at them, scare them, but now he is wonderful dad-though still an asshole to me.

  122. virago

    Sugarmag, I would be really careful about why your ex is suddenly becoming superdad. This might be some kind of ploy by him to show the courts what a great parent he is so that he can try to get custody down the road. I hope for your sake that he really is trying to be a superdad, but I would be really suspicious of his motives. Some of my friends had ex-husbands who all of a sudden became Mr. Mom during the divorce (when they didn’t want anything to do with said kids during the marriage), and they all went for full custody eventually. I hope this doesn’t happen to you.

  123. beky

    my dad fought really hard to get the time with us kids that he did, and he was a great father, as caring as you could ask for.
    it sucks for dads ’cause the less time you spend with your kids, the more you have to pay to your ex-wife for child support. dads pay to see their kids less. :(

    i’m 18 and i live in washington..

  124. Virago

    “it sucks for dads ’cause the less time you spend with your kids, the more you have to pay to your ex-wife for child support. dads pay to see their kids less.”

    Dads aren’t paying to see their kids less. The child support they are paying is reimbursement to the mother for the expenses that she is already paying in order feed, clothe, and put a roof over her kid’s head. Since mothers usually have their kids most of the time, the bulk of the cost of childrearing is on her shoulders as well as the majority of the actual childcare. No matter how much child support a father may pay, this doesn’t cover a fraction of the cost of raising a child. Most fathers choose to let their ex-wives have physical custody of the children, and those who fight for custody are usually abusive types who never did any kind of childcare when they were living with their kid’s mothers. When dad gets more physical custody time, he dumps the kids on another woman to raise like his mother, girlfriend, second wife. Your father may have been a caring father, but for the majority of the posters here, that’s not the case.

    :(

  125. SoJo

    About that ‘superdad’ thing sugarmag mentioned; is that just a way for dad to feel superior to/get revenge on mum – that the kids have so much fun at dads that they go home and tell mum how great dad is to make mum feel bad/stupid/mean to kids for leaving him? I get the impression dad just gets off on hearing the kids say ‘you’re much more fun than mum, dad’

  126. rootlesscosmo

    @SoJo:

    Absolutely; this produces what we in California call the Disneyland Daddy. Mom is do-your-homework, clean-your-room, eat-your-veggies, time-you-were-in-bed; Dad is Party Time, junk food, and staying up late to watch TV or videos. And he gets a support discount for the time he spends on this, whether it’s used for activities that cost him actual money (like Disneyland tickets) or things that cost nothing (like handing the kids over to the current Fungible Woman to take care of while he spuds out in front of ESPN.) Under the California “H [for Hostage] Factor” rule, the only number that matters is percentage of time he non-custodial parent spends with the kids; if it’s 20%, he gets 20% off, regardless of the fact that he doesn’t buy 20% of the clothes and shoes, do 20% of the driving to school or soccer practice or wherever, doesn’t, in short, do anything like 20% of the actual “parenting” (one of those irritatingly gender-neutral words that conceal women’s real work.) The explicit legislative intent of the H Factor is to encourage, and I quote, “frequent and continuing contact” with the non-custodial parent; the net effect is to offer a discount for sheer hours spent, regardless of how they’re spent, which then also becomes a way of pressuring moms to take less than the support the statute guarantees in order to hold off his calculating demands for maximum visitation time.

  127. SoJo

    That’s disgusting. I had no idea.

  128. Minna

    well, my bioda threatened to try for full custody, but my ma went to her family court assigned lawyer who actually started laughing, and said he was free to try, but there wasn’t a judge in all heaven and hell who would give custody to the sort of asshole who’d threatened to kill his own children before letting her see them again. she relayed that conversation verbatim and he never mentioned it again.

    the two or three times we visited with him and his new partner over the twelve years between my ma kicking his psycho, cheating, wife-beating ass (oh, excuse me, “never hit her with a closed fist”) to the curb and when i hit 18 and refused to so much as speak to his grimy ass, he was very attentive, but spent a great deal of time attempting to turn us against our mother. which backfired pretty spectacularly, considering she refused to say a single bad word about him within our hearing, because of her steadfast belief that a crazy, shitty husband doesn’t necessarily make a crazy, shitty father. he’d ring every week for a few months at a time, talk to each of us for ten minutes and then attempt to find an excuse to talk to our ma.

    so to answer the question: he didn’t leave us sitting on the rug watching wrestling, but it became increasingly obvious over the years that the only reason he bothered with us was to get back at our mother. and really, six weeks over twelve years is pretty fucking piss-weak, all things considered.

    my stepdad gave a shit, though, even after their divorce. about all of us, not just my baby sister, who’s he’s biologically related to, so that’s something.

    he didn’t fight for custody, because he was self aware enough to realise that he wasn’t the best full time parenting choice for us, now three, girls. then again, the fact that my ma was giving him a much better deal than family court would have in terms of access -and pointed that out -probably helped. though he’s only required to pay $70 child support and is slipping my ma at least another $50 in cash every week towards it, so maybe not. actually, if memory serves, most of the reason their marriage broke down was because he couldn’t deal with the fact that he wasn’t supporting us as well as he thought he should and got stoned 3 times a day to cope with his depression. WHICH, UH, ISN’T THE BEST SOLUTION, TURNS OUT. WHO KNEW? that man’s so constricted by his own patriarchal shackles i’m surprised he can fucking breathe some days. he’s gotten better about the whole ‘EXCURSIONS AND JUNK FOOD, OH JOY!’ shit in the last few years with my baby sister though, since ma sat him down and told him exactly why that was fucked. in his defence, i think it was more his having no fucking clue how to deal with a small child than any ploy to be the favourite parent, cos he didn’t pull that shit with us older two.

    SORRY ABOUT THE ESSAY, UH. I TALK A LOT. And have no sense of personal privacy about this shit.

  129. Minna

    oh, and as a hilarious addition -i apparently have a sister who was born in ’84, making her a year older than i am. i’ve never met her, but her ma was clever enough to wangle a court order that doesn’t even permit crazy mcasshole bioda to even ATTEMPT to contact her. i want to give that woman a fucking high five or something, i tell you. on the downside, this, along with my planned name change, means i’ll probably never meet her, which is a little saddening.

  130. Dana

    My mom and dad divorced when I was a baby. He was in the Navy, stationed in Mississippi (NAS Meridian for you Navy brats), and she had gone home to Louisiana to live with or near her parents, I’m not sure. Anyway, he started hearing rumors that she wanted her new boyfriend/husband(?) to adopt me, and that she was almost criminally neglecting me, so he sued for custody. She maintained for many years that it was all lies and that his female relatives and my stepmother had had it in for her, but I’ve seen how she acts toward family since then and I wonder.

    Dad, being a Navy man, did the regular workday thing when he was stationed at land-locked Navy bases, and for one stretch he was stationed on a ship (USS Nimitz, an older aircraft carrier). So he had a pretty valid excuse for not being around a lot for something like four years out of my childhood. However, he still pulled the crap of having his wife raise me. I grew up thinking that was the normal order of things. I look back now and I’m kind of horrified, because he had a habit of marrying crazy women. There’s nothing wrong with being mentally ill in and of itself, but there is something wrong with leaving the care of children up to people who can’t cope with reality. At minimum they need another adult there helping them for most of the day.

    I remember waking up one Easter and my stepmom not being home. She’d gone out to run the road with her friends and left us alone. That was in Missouri, and when we moved there I was eleven and when we left again I was thirteen. That age range. Not appropriate to be left alone an entire day with a four-years-younger brother and no note, no nothing. We called the cops, fearful of what had happened to her. She gave us grief about it when she got home.

    My mom didn’t pay child support as far as I know and she was married at least once after she lost me. She had visitation rights but while Dad was on the ship they were pretty much ignored. The general feeling was that if she knew where we were she would make life hell for my stepmom. I resented being expected to route all my letters to her through Dad’s ship and so we lost contact for those four years.

    I grew up thinking it normal for stepmoms to be treated like legal moms as far as the law was concerned. I have no idea now what the actual legal reality was. But I was deprived of my extended family my entire childhood because of those shenanigans. My maternal grandfather, my favorite grandparent, died this last November and it hit me hard that of all the grandkids, I’d known him the least. Even if my mom wasn’t a fit mother–and I don’t believe she was–I had other family around me who did give a shit until Dad took me.

    I’ve been divorced too. The breakup left me broke and desperate and I sent my almost-three-year-old son to live with his paternal grandparents with the understanding that the arrangements were temporary. They turned around and sued for custody. History repeats itself. Only what they thought was neglect turned out to be a learning disability (central auditory processing deficit–he was a VERY late talker). They didn’t find that out til three years later–they were so busy trashing me they didn’t bother getting a speech evaluation. I’m still so angry about that, you just don’t know. They adopted him about a year and a half after they got him, the excuse being that if the divorce went through and they had custody, both my ex and I would owe support and neither of us could afford it. I learned later that judges have a lot of leeway in these matters and probably could have worked with us. Of course.

    Guess who’s raising him? Not my ex. They all live in another state and I was so focused on trying not to drown in my own situation that I didn’t keep up with my son very much. This went on for years. Now he’s decided I’m not his mother anymore and I don’t think it has anything to do with how often I write. His dad and dad’s girlfriend recently broke up after she contacted me and I told her why Mike and I had split, and Mike and his family suspected I’d had a hand in the situation, and *I* suspect they told my son it was my fault the breakup happened. So. Stealing a child, breaking trust, trashing me as a bad mom up one side and down the other, and now actively turning him against me. I’m not Mother of the Year but jeebus.

    I now have a daughter who is almost four. Her dad ran around on me while I was pregnant with her, then kicked me out for making too much of a fuss. We were in a poly situation and he later blamed his wife and the girlfriend for “making” him boot me. Convenient, since neither was around to give their side of the story. (They probably *did* try to influence him, though. By the time this happened we had a nice friendly little state of animosity between the three of us, although the wife liked the girlfriend.) In Ohio a never-married mom has more rights than a divorced mom. I have sole physical and legal custody. That comes from a lawyer he consulted who was on his payroll. Even if I die my daughter will go to someone of my choosing–Matt will still have no rights.

    I am utterly dependent on him for support at this point. I would rather have my own income but I don’t like the idea of putting my daughter in daycare. If nothing else she’d probably be indoctrinated with all sorts of patriarchal bullshit, and at least if she’s around me I know what’s going on with her. At the same time I resent that I depend on him to live. I feel like he knows he’s got me under his thumb even though we get along OK and my daughter spends a lot of time with him. Just the fact he feels OK kissing me without asking or uses my kitchen to store food he likes speaks volumes. So… I dunno. I’m trying to figure out working at home so that at least I could feel safer calling more of the shots.

    I totally do not feel like dating at this point, either. And thanks to some of the other commenters here for helping me articulate some reasons that I don’t want to be involved with a man who already has kids.

    One more data point: my aforementioned brother is also divorced. His ex-wife comes from a well-to-do family. Her lawyer sat down with my brother and arranged a set child support payment that does not change with income. My brother has never had what you’d call a stable work history. You can guess what happened. A few years ago I found out he was $40k in arrears. It is one of those situations where if I won the lottery I’d catch them up and I don’t care what she does with the money, just so he could see his kids, but I have a feeling he doesn’t give much of a damn. Guess who got to babysit my nephew while my brother and I were both staying with my dad. Two grown men in the house, both of whom knew Isaac better than I did and I got to be a babysitter.

  131. JA

    my father didn’t fight for custody due to the fact that i ratted him out as a pedophile when my parents got divorced. i was 14 and my sister was 3. we never heard from him again, except once when i was 16.

    i am now 42. he called two months ago after 26 years of blissful silence. i refused to either forgive him or to see his lying godbag ass, going so far as to arrange an out of state vacation with my two remaining minor kids when i found out my sister invited him down here. she knows what he did…

    my ex didn’t fight for custody either, but tells the kids it was all so unfair how things turned out for him. he ignores them if they stay with me, then pays attention to them and actually speaks to them when they are with him(4 visits in 8 years so far. what a real prince). two have chosen to live with him now. talk about a perverted kind of extortion.

  132. Judith Jewcakes

    Ooh, ooh, yeah! My dad was fine with the 3-day-a-week deal, as long as he didn’t have to buy us anything (I remember how much he bitched when he had to get me a bed)–up until I was fifteen and we had some arguments and he decided I had “anger problems”–i.e. wasn’t taking his shit anymore. My dyke parents had raised me wrong, apparently, so he tried to take them to court for custody, ’cause custody battles over teenagers are so practical.

    Yeah, so as long as he could plop me down with a video and maybe drive me to the library once in awhile, it was no biggie; but as soon as I started making my own decisions, I needed to be Put In My Place.

    Same guy who, when I was 10, told me with regret and concern that if I wanted boys to like me, I was gonna have to stop acting so smart, ’cause guys just aren’t attracted to smart women.

    Then he stole my college fund. Given me by his mother, but she was just some lady, and I was just some slut, right. Money belongs in a man’s pocket, close to his penis!

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