Better, Not Bitter:
Re-Connecting with a Non-Custodial Mom Friend
When families breakup as a result of divorce, sometimes friendships end because people feel they have to choose between one of the parents going forward. In many cases when this happens, the custodial parents bond together because of their children’s relationships. Because many fathers are custodial parents these days, sometimes the non-custodial moms feel left out. That’s because they are not the ones doing the daily pick-up/drop off of their kids at school and practices and over time, those absences create distance between the parents.
Recently a divorced mom I know discussed a situation where a non-custodial mom of one her older teenage son’s friends reached out to her on Facebook with a friend request. They hadn’t spoken in a while. As a result she was hesitant to accept the request because she and the custodial dad had become friends over the years since their respective divorces, and she felt the mom hadn’t been there for her children like she should have. She knows their mom doesn’t see the kids regularly and according to their dad, she doesn’t pay child support very often either.
I’ve discussed the shade we throw on non-custodial moms in the past. It’s really not our place to judge any other parent because of the choices they’ve made, but when you’re close to the situation, sometimes you have to make a call one way or the other. My divorced mom friend and I discussed whether this perspective was judgmental. We knew it was.
The bond that develops between single, divorced custodial parents becomes more than a friendship because very often you are depending upon those parents. They back you up when you’re late at the school aftercare program. Or you’re sharing car-pooling responsibilities for the kids to sports practices scheduled around your other children, your job and every other responsibility in your life. You start to see things their way because of your shared experiences. Which makes the decision about being close to a non-custodial parent even more difficult.
I told my girlfriend about an old friend who reconnected with me via Facebook in a similar situation. I accepted her friend request and we began to reconnect by liking and sharing our content over a series of months. Then she messaged me about an issue from the time during her divorce that she was still upset about with me! I explained why I made the choices I did at that time and suggested we move past it. She un-friended me later that week.
Read more: Better, Not Bitter: Are You Over-Sharenting?
I advised my divorced mom friend that she may have to deal with something similar if she accepts her non-custodial mom-friend’s request. Now, I know it’s difficult to be a non-custodial mom away from your children on a daily basis. I am not sure I could even handle that role. But I don’t think my old friend understood the bond that develops between custodial parents when going through a divorce and in the years following as we depend on one another as we raise our families.
That’s the point that is bothering my divorced mom friend the most. She doesn’t want to damage her relationship with her sons’ friends or their dad if they find out she has reconnected with their mom. I understand. It was difficult, but I decided that my child’s friendships were more important than the relationship between us as moms. I wish we had been able to successfully reconnect and put all of the collateral damage from our respective divorces behind us and just be mom friends. But that didn’t happen.
What do you think my divorced mom friend should do about reconnecting with her old friend, the non-custodial mom?