Divorced dad struggles to schedule play dates for his daughter
Adapted from a recent online discussion.
I’m a divorced dad and have my daughter, 9, every other week. I try to schedule play dates for her and am met with hesitation. It seems like her mom can easily schedule them.
I usually have to talk to the moms to schedule things. Is there anything I can do to show I am a well-intentioned dad? Maybe the hesitation is that their daughters would be with me and no mother figure, or it’s weird for the moms to talk to someone who isn’t the mom, or maybe I’m the weird one?
My ex and I do not get along. If we are in the school together, we will not sit together or even exchange small talk. Does this put other moms off as well?
Any insight would be great. I want my daughter to be able to spend time with friends.
-- Single Dad
There’s too much missing for me to address this with any kind of accuracy, I’m sorry.
That’s because the hesitation you’re reading on these moms could be anything from unfair and outrageous bias against a single dad to a reasonable discomfort with something you did or said. It could even be that these moms are happy to arrange play dates, but you’re so uncomfortable that the conversations get awkward. Or they could be good friends with your ex and they have a view of the divorce, and of you, that is quite negative -- and that negativity could be entirely fair, entirely unfair, or a mix of both.
If you want a master key to all of it, then that lies in your relationship with your ex. If you and she can find a way to get along, then a lot of problems for your daughter go away -- axiomatic when parents divorce -- and specifically the “why” of your play-date difficulties will become available to you.
You can talk to your ex about why setting up play dates is awkward, for one thing, and learn which moms are easiest to deal with, who might feel uncomfortable with just a dad home and why, etc.
Plus, open civility between you would give the people on her “side” the go-ahead to be nicer to you.
If you’re part of the reason there’s no sitting together and small talk, then decide now to let it go. Stop holding out for whatever you’re holding out for, forgive what you’ve refused to forgive, accept what your anger or pride hasn’t let you accept.
If she’s the one making civility impossible, then all you can do is be friendly and approachable and keep doing what’s best for your daughter. Time and kindness are powerful in combination.
And even if they fail you, time alone will do its work. A 9-year-old is not far from becoming the quarterback of her own social life; eventually she’ll age out of this problem herself.
Re: Play dates:
Worrying about play dates while you and your child’s mother are so uncivil to each other that you won’t even acknowledge each other at school events is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. It’s tragic for a 9-year-old to be in the middle of that. Pour your energy into fixing that problem.
No argument here, thanks.
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