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DrFee
DrFee, Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 437
Experience:  I am a Psychologist and Mother of 2.
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I have been separated from my kids for over 3 years now. Their

Resolved Question:

I have been separated from my kids for over 3 years now. Their mother moved them from Long Beach, where I currently reside, to Corona, about 45min away from here. ( I could have and should have stopped that from happening, but it's to late to do that now. Divorce has not been finalized (almost there) and I get them every other weekend. My son is about to turn 6 and my daughter just turned 10. My question is this....

My daughter played softball last year and she loved it. Her best friend and friends are all trying out for softball this year again as well. I didn't think it would be much of a problem but last year was a wake up call for me and I realized how much time consuming team sports was. She would have practice throughout the week and games over the weekend. Softball takes too much time away from my parenting and visitation time. I do not want her to take up team sports again. An individual sport where she can take lessons here in Long Beach and Corona, I don't mind. But this team sports just takes too much time away from my kids and I. My son took tee-ball last year and my ex wants to put him in football. I do not want him to do any team sports either. My son is still 5 so I think he will be alright with whatever we tell him he can or can't do but I am worried about my daughter. She got the softball bug and because of her peers trying out and joining softball teams, if I tell her no, I am worried she will HATE me forever and be resentful. Is she at that age already? What is the best approach for a situation like this? I don't want to take team sports away from them but I also don't want it to interfere with my time with the kids.

I usually pick them up Friday after work (7pm) and have dinner with them then drive back to Long Beach. Spend Saturday together and drop them off Sunday night (7-8pm).
With this team sports, picking them up on Friday is out of the question because they have their games on Saturdays so I would be able to pick them up Saturday AFTER their games around 4pm then drop them off Sunday night around 7pm, which to me is unfair since I only get to spend time with them just twice a month.

Any suggestions?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  DrFee replied 2 years ago.

DrFee :

Hello! Please remember that my responses are informational only, we are not establishing a therapeutic relationship.

Customer:

understood.

DrFee :

I know that route (long beach/corona) and it's certainly terrible!

Customer:

HORRIBLE! Especially in Friday traffic.

DrFee :

I agree that sports are incredibly time consuming ---

DrFee :

Yes, Friday is the worst

DrFee :

The team sports are life consuming even if you didn't have that added variable. However, they can be so important to some kids, especially by the age that your daughter has reached.

DrFee :

I could certainly see her being resentful if you make her quit.

DrFee :

But --my question to you is, do you really know how important it is to her?

Customer:

That's why I am so torn.

DrFee :

I can understand that --the sports seasons drive me crazy and I don't have the added factor of being so far away.

Customer:

I tried talking to her about taking karate or a different sport but she sort of said yeah yeah and didn't really get into it.

Customer:

If she was 13yrs old, I definitely would give her the say but just turning 10, I also feel like it's my responsibility to say yes or no as well and be the decision maker.

DrFee :

Have you asked her what she likes about softball? Her answer may give you some clues as to how important it is to her.

Customer:

I have them this weekend but off course softball tryouts are this Saturday!

DrFee :

True --but you know how that softball is --everyone who plays at an older age played when they were younger --it's harder to pick up if you start late (at a competitive level anyway).

DrFee :

Is she good?

Customer:

I will ask her tomorrow night. I don't want to also give her an ultimatum of choosing father or softball either.

Customer:

She is good :)

Customer:

How do I go about it this?

Customer:

Ask her what she likes about softball and ask her if she takes this year off so we can spend some time on our weekends?

Customer:

She's VERY sensitive so I know she is going to freak out and CRY!

DrFee :

What about next year though? Won't you have the same problem?

Customer:

I figure this would be the first step

Customer:

If we can find some other individual sport she likes, she won't feel pressured to take softball the following year.

Customer:

Or have the urge to I should say.

DrFee :

I see you what you are saying. Well, if she doesn't find an individual sport, or if she still misses it next year, would you be willing to let her play again?

DrFee :

The reason I ask is --maybe that could be part of the deal.

Customer:

I don't know. BotXXXXX XXXXXne is this. Just turning 10, do I stand up as a parent and tell her she can't take softball or do I ask her and give her the choice?

Customer:

When the mom moved them to Corona, I didn't stand up and say NO and look where it has gotten me.

Customer:

I am afraid that if I don't stand up and voice my opinion now, I will regret it in the years to come because if she gets any more involved in softball, I will NEVER have my time alone with the kids.

DrFee :

I see what you are saying, and it does sound compelling to me. They are only little for such a short while. If she's that passionate about softball, you could practice with her or take her to private lessons with you --and team play could come later.

Customer:

She is already growing up so fast and eventually, friends will come priority over dad. I feel like now is the time I need to be spending my time with my kids, to bond with them.

Customer:

So do I tell her she CAN'T take softball with her friends this year but that she can take private lessons with me and practice with me?

Customer:

So confused. I don't want to ruin her life by taking something away from her and it's not even a punishment!

Customer:

Or do I let go and let her do her thing and lose the precious time I have with her growing up?

DrFee :

I'm trying to say, maybe there's a way to work with the situation --rather than an "either" "or" Yes, I agree, the bonding is extremely important. You are taking away her being on this particular team --maybe you can find ways to give her some training/experience without sacrificing your time with her now. Does that make sense?

DrFee :

Like I wonder if there's any kind of team that's more casual that she can play on now --Little league baseball has "fall ball" which is very casual, games are only on Sunday, practice is not mandatory.

Customer:

I can try but I have a feeling she is going to want to play and be on the same team her Best Friend is going to be in. She got a taste of it last year so it's like going backwards for her if we try something else.

Customer:

Softball is this HUGE community and so many different teams. Her team went into the finals and almost won so she know what winning feels like and she also knows what losing feels like.

DrFee :

There's no perfect answer here --but I don't see not being with her friends as a bad thing right now.

Customer:

Her mom wants her to join because her friends kids are all in this softball community as well. So it's arguing with not just 1 but 2 of them! It's going to start a HUGE argument. My ex is going to go off on how selfish I am and yes, I do feel like I'm being selfish but it's MY time with the kids.

Customer:

At what age do they start really having "best friends"?

Customer:

She gets to live with them and spend all this time with them. I only get them every other weekend and I want my time with them.

Customer:

My question is this. In your opinion, is it detrimental to take softball away from my daughter at her age?

DrFee :

I've seen it as early as 1st grade --and have seen some friendships last a lifetime from that point on! But yes --your time with them is important. And frankly 2X a month is not enough!

DrFee :

The whole situation is already detrimental. They don't get enough time with you. I think this situation just emphasizes that. If it becomes an ugly fight with your ex, that could make this situation bad (worse than just taking the softball away). If softball is her life's passion, that could make this situation detrimental. If it's just something she likes but can live without, then I would say, no --it's not that bad a thing. The time with you is essential for her. If she understands that it's for you and her (not just you) that would help a lot --but if Mom undermines that, it could make it worse. Does that make sense?

DrFee :

So 2 questions---anyway you can spend the whole weekend in Corona or move to Corona?

Customer:

No. I work in Long Beach and sometimes work on the weekends as well. :/

Customer:

It's tough because if I talk to my daughter about it and let her choose what she wants to do, it's giving a 10 year old too much to think and decide about. A 10 year old shouldn't have to bear that kind of resposibility.

DrFee :

What does your ex say about all of this?

Customer:

I have not discussed it with her but she will FREAK out as well.

DrFee :

See, if you had her support, it would make it so much better. Does she not value your importance in their lives?

Customer:

No. Unfortunately, she does not.

DrFee :

I'm sorry about that. It's not right.

Customer:

She just wants her checks in the mail. :/

DrFee :

But, I think you are right, it's too much responsibility for a 10 year old to make that decision. If she chooses the softball, I think she might feel guilty for saying no to you.

Customer:

EXACTLY! So what do you suggest I can do or try?

DrFee :

I think you have to say no and try to mitigate the pain of it by giving her what you can --like I said if she loves softball that much, then batting cages and lessons.

DrFee :

If she's that passionate about it, then you probably need to let her return to it in the future. If she isn't, then maybe she will form other interests.

DrFee :

But--I'd explain it to her --as best you can, that you are not trying to take away her fun, friends, etc.

DrFee :

And, avoid blaming Mom, even if it is all her fault for moving.

DrFee :

Emphasize that you love her and want to spend time with her.

DrFee :

And --that you wish you could move to Corona, but you just can't (only say that if it's absolutely true though)

DrFee :

And, of course, she won't hear you at first, let her freak out ---

DrFee :

Don't try to stop her from having her feelings, even though it's terrible to watch!

DrFee :

So --what do you think of my response?

Customer:

thank you very much. I think your advice is great.

DrFee :

Best wishes to you --it's a difficult situation. But, I think the desire to be their father is great and they need you!

Customer:

What if after all this explaining, she still wants to do softball?

Customer:

Just let her continue?

DrFee :

Then, next year. I think the deal should be, "Softball greatly interferes with our precious time together. My top priority is for us to have a relationship and softball takes all day Saturday. However, if at this time next year you still want to play as badly as you do right now, then you can go back to it." How does that sound?

DrFee :

I know a year sounds like forever to her --but it takes care of that issue of whether you're keeping her from something that is a passion for it. If it is a passion, the desire will be as strong next year as it is right now --but if it's not, then maybe she won't even want to play next year!

DrFee :

What do you think?

Customer:

Sounds like a plan! Thank you!

DrFee :

You're welcome! Take good care.

Customer:

BUT, if even after all that, what if she STILL cries and says she wants to play softball?

Customer:

Do I put my foot down and say no or realize she really wants to do it and sacrifice my time with her?

DrFee :

Let her cry ---be empathic. Say you understand that it's painful and that you don't want to hurt her or take away her fun. Tell her that if it still hurts this much next year, then she can play. In other words, she's going to cry, she's going to want to play this year (I think), so if you know that going in --you are better off. The bigger question is how do you handle Mom and is Mom going to say bad things about you?

DrFee :

I think you say, "I want you to play softball. It's just that with the distance we are apart, it cuts into our time so much."

DrFee :

"I wish I could make things different."

Customer:

ok. so still put my foot down and tell her no.

Customer:

but be empathetic & understanding.

Customer:

Do i have to speak with mom that I am going to do this first?

Customer:

She enrolled them without really consulting me to begin with.

DrFee :

I think you'd better tell the Mom first....

DrFee :

My hope is that after she freaks out she will calm down. But, it sounds like that might not happen.

Customer:

I don't want mom to "warn" my daughter before I get the chance to speak with my girl. She may put things in her little head before I say anything to her!

Customer:

"he has no right to tell you what you can and can't do"

DrFee :

Ah --I see.

Customer:

"he's being so selfish and only thinking about himself" etc....

DrFee :

Well, then maybe you'd better talking to your daughter first then.

Customer:

If my daughter understands and says OK DAD, then there shouldn't be any issues with mom....well, maybe but that can be dealt with AFTER I have my talk with my girl.

DrFee :

OK, that makes sense

Customer:

BUT if daughter gets so upset and calls mom and cries, a whole can of worms have been opened....AND my divorce has not been finalized so if she wanted to, she COULD get ugly with me on that end to get back at me!

Customer:

SIGH.....

DrFee :

True. That's terrible.

DrFee :

And, it may not be your last battle with her anyway --regarding the kids, that is.

Customer:

Keeping my fingers crossed my daughter will understand..... Thank you for your help.

DrFee, Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 437
Experience: I am a Psychologist and Mother of 2.
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