The Pitfalls of Primary Parenting


Mother and sonDivorced parenting is difficult. There are emotions to overcome, schedules to work around, and tiny humans that don’t quite understand why Mommy and Daddy didn’t last. Even if both parents work together, in order to create a copacetic relationship for the child –as I discuss in Divorce, Parenting, and Teamwork — there are still struggles to work through. There are pitfalls to primary parenting, especially being both primary and secondary parent, and each parent views these grievances through a different set of eyes.

For me, I see the pitfalls of primary parenting as an unequal expectation of time with the child, versus parental responsibility. I hear the inequalities felt with the secondary parent–paying too much in child support, and not spending enough time with the child. I understand that; I get it. However, there are two sides to every story, so I wanted to share the custodial pitfalls for divorce, in order to view it through the other set of eyes.

Unequal Summer Possession

Summer possession is, quite possibly, my largest complaint. Thirty days, either broken up, or in two separate chunks, are given to the noncustodial parents for “fairness.” I get it, I really do. But, where is the custodial parent’s fifteen to thirty days of uninterrupted time? The largest “chunk” a custodial parent receives is alternating Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays–somewhere around ten days.

In terms of fairness, I want a larger window. Yes, I see my child more throughout the month. Monday through Thursday on alternating weekends, and Thursday through Thursday on alternating weekends. Still, it’s never alone time, because I’m a working mom. I’m working, so he goes to preschool or daycare. I’m working, so he has a room of his own, with a roof over his head, and healthy-ish food on the table. I’m working, which means I don’t get to spend days on end with my kiddo.

Still, if I had a large chunk of uninterrupted time, my PTO would be reserved for frolicking through parks, snuggling on the couch, building sandcastles on the beach, or riding elephants at the zoo.

Neverending Daycare Expenses

Great goodness. My child goes to daycare so that I can work, and I work so that I can pay someone to watch my child. How sick is that? I mean, really. It’s insanity.

Every year, daycare expenses go up. It’s a few dollars at a time, but it’s still extra money per check, per month, per year. Those measly $3 extra ends up being $144 extra a year, multiply that by three, and it’s $432 over the course of three years. My paycheck? No, it doesn’t go up. Child support? Well, that doesn’t even cover two weeks of daycare.

And then there are yearly registration costs, supply fees, and summer playtime fees. So, in total, over the course of three years, $23,300 of my hard-earned paycheck has gone toward daycare/preschool. Child support in three years? Under $11,000.

Where’s the “fair,” again?

Vanishing Clothing and Shoes

My child grows faster than a weed in summer. This year alone, I purchased size 6 for the end of winter and summer, and then size 7 when he sprouted an extra two inches in three months. Oh, and then size 8s when his pajamas shrunk in the wash.

Pajamas always shrink in the wash.

I buy, and buy, and buy to keep up with his refusal to stay the same size, but I’m the only parent who does so. My son’s other parent hoards clothing, and then says, “Oh, I don’t think I have any clothes that belong to you, maybe you haven’t washed them, yet.”

Sure, six pairs of shorts magically disappeared in the wash, after never coming back from weekend visitations.

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J.M. Robeson is an author of women’s fiction, a freelance writer, and the mom blogger for Winging It, Mom Style. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Elementary Education from Louisiana State University. Currently, she lives in Houston, Texas, and spends her time chasing two, tiny puppy dogs, and one, not-so-tiny preschooler, who she lovingly refers to as Tiny Tot.


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