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Coparenting after divorcing xah

Old 02-06-2021, 08:08 PM
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Coparenting after divorcing xah

Backstory: My xah would be sober for long periods, then fork everything up with a relapse. That would generally take the form of his stealing/selling possessions, disappearing for days while he did coke/meth/crack. Then he would return, sad, remorseful, ready to comply with any program, or take any measure to win me back (what a hero. Barf). He would usually stay sober then for a period of 18 months to maybe even 4 years. And this pattern has continued after we broke up 7 years ago, with the one exception- he didn't disappear or steal money. I guess he is sparing his new girlfriend that, at least.
So here is the issue. He recently relapsed, and my kids (10,15) ended up leaving their dad's house at 1:30 in the morning when their stepmom found him doing lines of something in the basement. She initially kicked him out, but has since let him move back in, 2 weeks later. Overall, I think I do trust stepmother to keep my kids safe (her job is literally in child protection). She is very naive to addiction, so obviously I have worries about her repeating my mistakes. She sounds like me, way back when I was in the throws of it all.
But for right now, at her request to xah, the kids are with me and only seeing their dad for supervised visits. And I am grateful for that support.
My question is how to move back toward 50%50% custody again. I don't think my kids are at risk of finding paraphernalia or drugs, or of being neglected, or any unsavory stuff. The threat is simply the disruption, anxiety and insecurity of their dad possibly(likely!) messing up again. My kids have been really stressed lately with this recent relapse, and I can't tolerate the idea that I just have to send them back there to be disappointed again.
I am not looking for legal advice on how to keep my kids from their dad. Even if he has faults, the relationship is important to my kids, so I cannot completely detach from him.
How do I prepare kids for the possibility of a relapse, without making them get more worried/feel the need to fix etc.?
Xah is able to cover up his use extremely well, and having Iived it myself so many times, I can't expect his girlfriend to be any better at catching him. Nor would I want her all wrapped up in policing him anyway; that ain't healthy. So it is likely the relapse will come seemingly out of the blue, when things feel fine. How do I make peace with that uncertainty, the potential danger of implosion? At some point we will build back up to overnights etc, and back to normal and how do I be ok with the looming threat to my kids?
I can't change who my kids' dad is. So best case scenario here is that he goes back to his 1-3 years sober, then two days trashed, repeating cycle.

Got any advice on raising my kids when we are forced to navigate these traumatizing episodes?
I tell them honestly all of the situation that I know (to the level they are developmentally at, of course, and excluding much of my own anxiety so I don't burden them). But how do I help them safely navigate their own relationship with a addict father?
Or is the relationship doomed by the uncertainties, the 7 days out of a decade when xah royally forks it all up, making the other times when he is a good dad irrelevant because it is a house of cards?

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Ann (02-07-2021)
Old 02-06-2021, 11:46 PM
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Hi sevenofnine,

I can't share from personal experience with an addict partner, he was a sh*t nonetheless, but I can share my thoughts.
I think that by being honest with them, as you are, and as long as they are safe, they will each develop their own opinion of and relationship with their father.
Perhaps speak to them about a "plan b" should they ever feel uncomfortable, with their dad - such as calling you, to come get them.
When I split from my sons father, many many years ago now, his dad chose to see him once a fortnight, on a Sunday. There were times he wouldn't turn up, or be really late, and it would enrage me no end. My son was only 4 at the time, and it used to upset me, when I saw him upset. As he got a bit older, he had questions that I couldn't answer - and I used to say to him, " that's something you'll need to ask your dad". I also bought him a mobile phone, so that he could contact me if he wanted to come home, as his dad wouldn't let him call me on his mobile.
My son eventually got to the stage where he didn't want to go with his dad - I respected that choice. There was a period of about 2 years, where my son didn't even speak to him.
Like you, I was always honest with him, but explained things in a way that he would understand, listened to him. Over the years, he made up his own mind about his father, and the relationship is poor, to say the least.
Just do what you're doing - discussion, honesty, safety and a get out plan!

Best of Luck
Much Love
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Ann (02-07-2021)
Old 02-07-2021, 06:37 AM
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But for right now, at her request to xah, the kids are with me and only seeing their dad for supervised visits. And I am grateful for that support.
My question is how to move back toward 50%50% custody again.
I am sorry for your dilemma but I think you are wise to give this some serious thought and put the children first.

For now I think supervised visits may be wise. You could discuss this with the kids and you may be surprised that they will feel safer too. Children simply are not safe in a home where addiction and drugs exist.

I think 50/50 custody is a bad idea right now, he has shown you all that his addiction comes first, even if it is spaced out and not frequent. It would only take one bad incident to ruin the life of one of your children.

Sitting down and discussing this all with them is a good idea too. They may know more than they are telling, feeling somewhat "in the middle" and need to have someone they trust to tell the truth to.

I hope you can make a safe arrangement that works for the children and you, as well.

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Old 02-07-2021, 10:57 AM
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You were right, Ann! I had the same thought and I got my daughter to open up a tiny bit by sharing a little of my own anxiety over the unknownness. And she surprised me by saying even though she wants to have a future where things are ok with her dad and 50/50, she wants things to stay like this for now (with me, doing supervised visits).
That was both good (I am glad I know what she wants and I can do my best to get her that), but bad (she has previously always wanted to be at both homes, so obviously something isn't right).
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Ann (02-07-2021)
Old 02-07-2021, 05:26 PM
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She sounds like a wise girl, listen to her.

Stick with your children and trust your instincts. If it doesn't feel right or makes you feel cautious, trust that and stick to what works.

Good Luck.
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trailmix (02-10-2021)
Old 03-24-2021, 07:59 PM
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I also have children with my addict ex-husband, but they are younger, 6 y/o and 4 y/o twins. Almost 4 years after filing for divorce, I feel like I am FINALLY starting to get in the right mindset on how to deal with this person. In my opinion, your ex has shown you that your children and their well-being is not his priority. His addiction is. Although your kids are older, they should not be burdened with making this decision....is Dad using? Should we call mom? Should we leave? I think you have to step in a draw a line in the sand. Maybe supervised visits for the day, no overnights, drug testing before/after visits. Also, if his wife is not educated about addiction, she will protect him and may not necessarily put your kids first. I would also be concerned if it was found out that you were allowing your kids to be in their father's home when you know he has been using that it could come back and harm you. You don't owe your ex anything. Keep your kids safe.
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