Parent Survival Guide Parent Survival Guide Issue 02 (Spring) - Page 9

authority to parent my way, with my values and my conscience. Refusing to become a

Mommy held the ultimate parenting measuring stick, and I was doomed to come up short.

Disneyland parent, I have continued to parent my kid and to put up with the denigration. However, it has been a lot better since my new partner interfered. Whilst this will not work for all, I

hope her tactic helps some of you struggling for legitimacy in the eyes of your alienated children.

It all came to a head at our daughter’s robotics tournament.

Within seconds of arrival at the venue, she was surrounded by her school friends, chatting them up while making no acknowledgement that we were standing right there.

“Was that Robin?” I asked once the kids had run on.

“No,” our daughter said with an irritated roll of the eyes. “That was Alex.”

“Wow, he has grown quite a bit,” I responded, forcing my tone to stay light, masking the pang of hurt that I felt at her dismissive response.

As the morning progressed, we felt increasingly sidelined. Literally. To the bleachers of the gym where we set ourselves up. During lunch, she ate the brown paper bag meal we had packed for her right in front of us, with her friends, fully preoccupied with anything but us. At some point, she came by to collect more snacks but didn’t stay. We saw her alienating mother, with her partner, arrive in time for the presentations. As our daughter’s team moved from room to room, delivering varying components of their robotic design, the alienators could always be found in the front rows. So, to minimize tension for the kid, we hovered in the back rows. Our behavior fittingly affirming our kid’s subliminal view of us.

But it is the kid’s persistent snapping at us, just as she was receptive and accommodating of

I have been treated as the object of constant disappointment; as the other, ‘worthless' parent.

her mother; it is the residue of the day which left us feeling like her punching bag, that led my partner to snap by the time we got home.

“Babe, I am quite uncomfortable with this,” she said to me, visibly fed up but honoring her step-parent role and mindful not to interfere unnecessarily. “I feel like you are always assessed against Mommy, as if she sets the standard for parenting. You deserve better, you are also her parent, and she doesn’t get to treat you like this. I think we should talk to her.”

Contrary to what had become resigned acceptance, I agreed, and both of us and our daughter, sat down on the deck, and my partner led the discussion.

“There is nothing wrong with forgetting a name of a kid, or being unsure who is who when we see you only six days per month, and when you all grow as fast as you do. You can always introduce your friends to us, this would make it more comfortable for everyone, including them.”

But the main message my partner relayed was that it made me feel like some lesser-than parent.

“I didn’t mean that,” our kid’s words made their way through remorseful tears. “I am sorry.”

We have had ample opportunities to reinforce the lesson.

“Why do I always feel sick here, why does it keep happening?” My daughter unknowingly crushed me this summer because she got a bit of ‘swimmer’s ear’ after spending a lot of time in the pool during our struggled-for holiday together.

My daughter has been conditioned to think that I make her sick. If they get as

much as a scratch, that’s

because I was negligent; but

My daughter has been conditioned to believe that I make her sick.

there are hundreds of utterly reasonable, non-discrediting explanations why a rapidly growing, over-committed kid may feel unwell on Mommy’s

time. Half the time, I nurse her back to health on the few days I

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