What Works For Children Of Divorce?

by Anonymous

Almost everyone has been touched by divorce. Many of you are divorced, some remarried, some have step-kids. If you’re blessed to have been happily married to only one person, you probably have a friend who was not so lucky. Or maybe your parents or your friends’ parents are divorced.

My question to you today: What is really best for the kids? What custody sharing arrangements have worked (or not), in the same town, across the country, or somewhere in between? What strategies worked (or not) to help children with the transition to separate homes? What worked (or not) in planning for expenses, like extracurriculars, cars/insurance, and college? Please share both the successes and failures you have had or observed with co-parenting.


138 thoughts on “What Works For Children Of Divorce?

  1. I have no personal experience, but from observation I think what works best varies with the reason for the divorce. If there is a very serious mental illness or addiction of one parent, less exposure may be better. Otherwise, I would try to make it as even as possible.

    In our extended family there was a divorce after an affair, and the parent who had the affair moved cross country immediately to start a new family with the new partner. The four year old from the first marriage only saw the parent a few times a year, totaling less than a month, and always with the step siblings and half siblings in tow (these kids now live with the four year old’s parent full time). When the child visits, she is put in full day camps to minimize time with the blended family, and sleeps on a pullout couch while the resident kids have their own rooms.

    It will be interesting to see how that goes in the long run, but based on the results to date I wouldn’t recommend that as your custody plan.

  2. I can’t comment at length now and anyway, I think hearing from the kids themselves may help most. I’m hoping to compose a post later today with the help of my DD and my youngest DSD. They have different situations but me in common and between them, I think they’ll have some interesting and helpful ideas.

  3. The best thing my mom did was treat me like a kid and always focus on doing what was best for me first. She never, ever badmouthed my dad to me or talked about why they had split beyond a generic “we married too quickly/too young, he’s a good guy, we just weren’t right for each other” (I didn’t even know the “real” story until I was about 38). She also never made me deal with her/their problems — when I was little, she managed the visitation schedule and logistics and made me go even when I didn’t want to. In fact, the one bad memory I have is when I got older and she put me in charge of more of those logistics, which meant I was the one who had to call to ask my dad to send the child support (he was not a bad guy, just forgetful) or navigate weekends around my sports and band stuff — those always became “well, tell your father. . .” — “so tell your mother. . .” until I finally threw the phone at her one day and told her to tell him herself, because I was tired of being in the middle.

    And finally, assuming she ever felt guilty, she sure never let on. Man, I couldn’t get away with jack.

    The one thing I wouldn’t do, please, if you get remarried, is don’t treat stepkids differently. My stepmom never really accepted me; she tried, she probably did her best, but I always knew something was off. Which clicked into place when I heard, after their divorce, about her “he has two kids to think about” comment (to which the response was no, he has THREE). Kids pick up on this stuff, and it is incredibly difficult for an already-vulnerable kid to feel like she doesn’t belong/isn’t wanted. My mom, OTOH, paid a lot of attention to how her boyfriends interacted with me — if that didn’t read right, he was out, period.

  4. I think it helps to have a dedicated room in your house for the kids, if possible. They need to know they have a real room and a real “space” in both houses.

    Stay flexible. The arrangements you make in the divorce settlement may eventually prove unworkable. Or the other parent may not agree. So pick your battles. Take the high road if you can.

    Understand that it will suck no matter what. Your kid may believe that all his/her misery is related to the divorce, when in fact he/she would have been more miserable if you’d stayed married. Recently DSS told DH that he was bitter that he didn’t have a big, happy, extended family like his new wife does. DSS blamed the divorce. DH pointed out that neither he nor his ex have big, happy, extended families, and that he always wanted one too. Stuff will get blamed on the divorce no matter whether that’s rational. DSS also said he made his bride promise that after the kids come, they will never, ever get divorced. We did the best we could, but I guess it wasn’t enough. I’m not feeling like the best source of advice right now.

  5. “and sleeps on a pullout couch while the resident kids have their own rooms.”

    Oh yeah: and don’t move your stepkid to a different room because you prefer that room for “your” new baby.

    It honestly floors me that people don’t actually think about how these kinds of stupid things come across to kids, who don’t have the perspective to see it from a purely logistical vantage point.

  6. My parents handled things pretty well – we were with mom during the week and dad on weekends (dad just moved across town). They never spoke badly about the other in front of us which I do think is the biggest thing. We had a happy childhood.

    My mother was not great about the picking the new husband part. She picked a guy who was borderline verbally abusive and they divorced after ten years. I moved in with my dad during those years but my sisters had a rough time living in that house (my mother also moved them to a different school system with the marriage). My mom is one of those people whose life falls to the wayside when she meets a guy, and as adults we can all accept that about her, but as kids it was tough to handle.

  7. And by “the kids” I mean adult kids of divorce like some of the posts – very helpful perspective.

    RMS – I totally get it.

  8. @Rocky — in case this helps: IME, going through life events as an adult makes you re-examine your childhood experiences and makes some of that stuff “fresh” again. My biggest meltdown with my parents came when DD hit the age I was when my dad left, and all this anger and pain I didn’t even know was there came whorling up and around and through. It doesn’t mean you did anything wrong then or are doing anything wrong now; it just means he’s processing it all from a new perspective.

  9. The kicker is that the noncustodial parent blames this child for the affair and divorce, and says so in front of the girl – “if you had been a better kid and an easier baby, maybe I would have stuck around. [Step sibling] is a perfect child, so I don’t mind having him here.” (Not hearsay, I was sitting right there.)

    This parent is also starting to complain that the child support award is too high and that the scheduled visits are inconvenient and “way too long” (again, in front of the girl, who is now 8).

    It would definitely be better if she had her own room, but the underlying issues are far deeper.

  10. My experience is secondhand and filtered through DH, whose parents divorced when he and sibling were 13/10. So all of these are do NOTs from his perspective:
    1. Do NOT move to a new state immediately.
    2. Do NOT clean out your kids’ bank accounts and their piggy banks to take with you when you move.
    3. Do NOT have your kids visit you in the new state “for the summer” and then enroll them in school under a false name (the name of your new spouse) and then tell your ex-spouse that they were in a car accident and in the hospital and that’s why they’re not coming home at the time they were supposed to.
    4. Do NOT send in your financial information to the college where your kid is going in order to disqualify him/her from most financial aid, and then refuse to pay any of his/her college costs.
    5. Do NOT give your kid back the exact amount that you took from his/her bank account when you moved to a new state, upon his/her graduation from college.

    From my (again secondhand) experience with looking at separation agreements and spouses who are post-divorce, the divorces that seem to go pretty well are the most amicable ones, followed by the ones where it was not necessarily amicable but everything is spelled out in the separation agreement. The parents almost always now have shared custody of the kids, with Weds/Thurs with one parent and Mon-Tues, Thurs-Fri with the other, alternating weekends. So the ex-spouses often live in the same town or a neighboring town. The agreements re: how to pay for health insurance, private school, kids’ activities, college, etc., are also all spelled out, with proportions listed. Kids are not “emancipated” until college graduation. If the other spouse falls down on his/her obligation, our clients can and do go into court for contempt in order to force them to comply. Spending the money on a *comprehensive* divorce/separation agreement is a great idea – although more work/more expensive on the front end, it reduces/eliminates further arguing on the back end.

  11. Okay, Sky and L, I’m starting to feel a little better about myself. Jesus.

  12. I think I’ve told my husband’s story on here before- there was virtually nothing handled well in his parents’ divorce. They told him the night before the SAT. His dad immediately moved across the country, married the woman he’d been having an affair with, and forced his ex to drag him to court constantly over child support and college tuition. I don’t expect that any Totebaggers would behave as he did, so I’ll write advice to the more “innocent” parents.

    -Don’t badmouth the other parent, or demand 100% loyalty from your kids. They’ll figure out the truth soon enough on their own.
    -Don’t try to cut the kids off from the grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins, etc. on your ex’s side of the family. If those relatives are respectful to you, try to keep up the relationship.
    -Make sure you continue your role as parent to the kids rather than using them as confidants or best friends. Find an adult support group and don’t make your kids take on that role.
    -When it comes to big events like graduations and weddings, accept that the “bad” parent will likely be invited even if they don’t “deserve” it. Please don’t make a fuss about this.
    -Don’t expect your older children to act as a “father” or “mother” figure to your younger kids to make up for the missing parent.
    -Recognize that your children may not have seen this coming even if it seems obvious to you- they may have had their entire world yanked out from under them and may feel disoriented, angry, and/or ashamed about the situation.

  13. Totebag divorce should be way better than what I’ve observed with my nieces. (Don’t move in with a new significant other in a different place every few months, OK?)

    What I’ve observed to be good in the joint custody situation that’s working
    1) Be flexible about custody- be willing to rearrange for your spouse’s business trips, crunch times, etc., especially if your spouse is the higher earner and providing insurance. Also, be willing to rearrange for kid stuff.
    2) With two kids, sometimes they each have one child for a couple days to provide “special time” and reduce sibling rivalry.
    3) Recognize what the step-parent, if applicable, does for your child. The stepdad usually does after-school pickup/sick child pickup as needed because he has the most flexible schedule. The biological dad acknowledges/appreciates this and called the stepdad to make arrangements when his flight was delayed, for example. Basically, the biological dad and the stepdad make an effort to get along.
    4) Think about college, if applicable, as part of the divorce process.
    5) Think about public assistance (food stamps, Medicaid, Section 8, etc.) if needed, as part of the divorce process. (This applies to the joint custody situation that I think is not working.)

  14. Sky, that story breaks my heart. If the dad doesn’t want her there is it possible for her mom to decrease the visitation time? Does the mom even know what kinds of things he has said?

  15. This is obviously not feasible for most families, but I know of two situations where the parent who moved out bought a house within an easy walk of the family home, and the kids can go back and forth easily, get to and from after school activities, and have access to friends from either house. Of course, you have to speak to each other enough to keep from getting played (telling each parent they’re staying at the other’s house and staying out all night). Logistically, and for the kids, it seems to make the best of the situation. Financially and emotionally, it is likely hard on the adults.

    Other observation based on direct experience of children’s friends: alcohol is not the best coping tool when you have custody.

  16. Wow, call me naive but I’m always stunned at the things people can do to children.

  17. “but I know of two situations where the parent who moved out bought a house within an easy walk of the family home, and the kids can go back and forth easily”

    We have some neighbors who have separated and bought another house in the next cul-de-sac over, and while their children are grown, their dog goes back and forth freely through the woods between the two houses.

  18. One of my college friends had divorced parents with apartments in the same building. The parents hated each other but she maintained close relationships with both.

    The custodial parent knows what has been said (at least in front of me) but is not able to amend the visitation order without also revisiting child support.

    We are hoping the noncustodial parent decides to ignore the order this year and take the girl for less time.

  19. My spouse’s parents divorced when spouse was a late teen. Spouse has never forgiven the parent who left for it (although they do have a nice, if not particuarly close, relationship). From my perspective, I understand why they divorced. From spouse’s perspective, once you have kids, absent abuse (substance, physical or emotional) or an affair, you suck it up for the kids no matter what and try to be happy. So RMS, I don’t think there is anything you could have done. Kids will feel how they feel even if the parents handle everything appropriately.

  20. It honestly floors me that people don’t actually think about how these kinds of stupid things come across to kids

    Oh, no. Like Sky’s story, they know exactly what they are saying. A former friend of ours had a baby when she was young and raised him as a single mom with very little contact with the father. Then she married again and had two more children and always treated her first child like an embarrassing and inconvenient burden. And his bio father didn’t want anything to do with him either. So, he had to live in that house with everyone treating him like $hit.

  21. My parents divorced when I was 8, both of my parents remarried quickly and my father moved accross the country shortly after the divorce. A couple of things:
    -Unless there is abuse, don’t limit your child’s contact with their noncustodial parent just to be spiteful. My mom did this for a couple of years after the divorce and my grandparents (my mother’s parents) actually stepped in and made sure my sister and I had access to my dad through letters and even some visitation (my grandparents lived near my father and would take us to see him).
    -Don’t badmouth the other parent. Kids figure it out. My dad never said a negative word about my mom, and I loved him more for it. My mother constantly bad mouthed my father and it hurt my feelings – but it did not diminish my opinion of my father.
    -Don’t interrogate your kids to find out dirt on the ex-spouse to use in court. Kids feel used.
    The most positive thing about my parents’ divorce is that both parents regularly told my sister and I how much we were loved. It also makes me work harder on my marriage to give my kids the gift of growing up with both parents. I just had a friend leave her husband basically because she was bored, without actually trying to do anything to address the boredom. Their kids are about the same age as my kids. I can’t imagine just walking away like that without even trying.

  22. Anon – my heart goes out to you during this trying time. Juggling all this and keeping things “ok” for your child is not easy.

    I was an adult when my parents divorced. The divorce was amicable, but the reasons were far from it. The ramifications of how I was treated as a child are still felt – and like LfB said, I find myself reliving the experiences through my child. I just pray I’m not like my dad. He missed out on a lot of my life because of how he treated me.

    Anyway, my thoughts are that you have to choose your battles. Last night the phrase “calculate the costs before entering the war” came up on a TV show. That truly applies here. You not only need to calculate your costs (how it affects you), but the costs to your child. You may have a situation where everyone can work together well and these “wars” never come up. I truly pray that’s the situation.

    I think the advice already offered hits the nail on the head.

  23. I have wondered how the back and forth between two houses during the week feels to a child. I’ve had a colleague say that their ex- spouse’s parenting style was different from their own so as their kids grew this difference created issues. I got a sense that he was looking forward to his kids being 18, having not to deal with his ex-spouse and being free of his duty to his kids.

  24. “Like Sky’s story, they know exactly what they are saying.” — Well, of course some parents are doing it on purpose (or are so irredeemably stupid/self-centered that it’s the same thing). My point was just that even well-meaning parents can do stupid or hurtful things because they don’t see it from their kid’s point of view. I mean, why did my dad and stepmom need to move me to a different room when my half-brother was born? Both rooms were fine. I’m sure they didn’t do it specifically to teach me my new place in the pecking order, but that was absolutely the message I got.

  25. Sky – well no wonder they are divorced, he obviously has zero empathy. That is emotionally abusive behavior and I hope people start shielding the child from it. I highly recommend therapy for the child. Someone needs to stand up for that child.

    I second most of the above. It really depends on how mature the parents are and if one is not so mature, if the other can take the high road. Each situation is highly individual. And evolves over time as the parents heal and put resentments behind them.

    I told my ex I would not fight 50/50 custody – his immediate response was that he was moving to the east coast, they were all mine. Fortunately his therapist convinced him what a horrible idea that was. He has arranged his life so he can have the kids every other weekend only – but given his emotional maturity level, that is probably optimal. I see my role/goal as promoting my children’s relationship with him as much as I possibly can. I had a crappy relationship with my father growing-up even though my parents did not divorce. My ex is more like an uncle than a father, but that is the best he can do and it is better than them thinking he doesn’t care, and he does, but parenting is hard and takes patience. I would like him to call/text more or skype but I can not make him something he is not so I just facilitate as much as I can – and keep my disappointment to myself. I make sure the kids know I am happy they are spending time with him when they do and encourage any extra time possible. I can tell sometimes my son worries it looks like he is choosing his father over me when he jumps at any extra time offered – I reassure him that I know how much he loves us both, that I support any time he can spend with his dad and that it does not hurt my feelings – and it really doesn’t.

    I will second many items mentioned above:

    No bad mouthing, even if they bad mouth you. Your kids get much more than you know. Always take the long view.

    Put your child’s well being above any resentments toward your ex. DO NOT make your kid the go between – never utter the words – tell your mom/dad xyz. Thank god for texting, no reason to send messages through kids even if you don’t want to talk to him/her. And you have a record that you did indeed tell them about the school play.

    Do not discuss child support with your child and don’t use it to punish your spouse. I do not ask for much of the medical, dental, extra-curricular money I am “entitled” to – bottom line, he doesn’t have it – I do, and it would just make the parenting relationship contentious. Learn to let stuff go as long as your child has what they need. But get as much spelled out upfront as you can, in case you do need it.

  26. I’m sure they didn’t do it specifically to teach me my new place in the pecking order

    Maybe not, but that’s the most likely explanation.

    My mother constantly bad mouthed my father and it hurt my feelings – but it did not diminish my opinion of my father.

    There is bad mouthing and there is the truth – as you see it. I think kids above a certain age (say 12) need to know the truth. If it was amicable, then say it was amicable, we just grew apart, etc. But, if dad is an abusive, embezzling, alcoholic, sociopath then kids need to know that as well.

  27. I have no first hand experience with divorce but a few of my friends and my both of my sisters have gotten divorced.

    I have two friends that moved clear across the country and pretty much started their lives over so that they could be close their kids. Wow.

    Another friend simply fell out of love with her husband and reunited with someone she knew from HS. It appeared to be a friendly split. She and her ex shared their house until the youngest graduated HS; then it was sold. My friend lived in the house during the week and left for her boyfriend’s place on the weekends. Her ex-DH travelled during the week, so he had the house on the weekends. The kids stayed in the house they grew up in. She still did her ex’s laundry during the week, took care of his errands, did the food shopping, meals, etc. And they always sat together during school functions.

    My youngest sister went through a really messy divorce. Even though she’s remarried, she’s still very bitter and vindictive. Everyone is tired of listening to her rant about her ex.

  28. Your kids get much more than you know.

    Not in my experience. I had no idea as a kid what was going on.

  29. I have been struggling to figure out how to describe the divorce/custody arrangement I am close to that is not working, and can’t really crystalize it down. There is some bad family dynamic there in terms of him being aloof and borderline emotionally abusive and her being both overly dependent and controlling and borderline verbally abusive. But it would be too simplistic just to write it all off as abuse or vindictiveness or whatever.

    I think the overriding factor there is rigidity on both sides. He had expected her to take care of all kid stuff and work part-time while married; when he left, he immediately expected her to go back to full-time work and didn’t want to pay alimony, but he also magically assumed that all of the kid stuff would remain unchanged and didn’t want any weekday kidcare because it would interfere with his job. She worried a lot about money but didn’t want to go back to work full-time or give up time with the kids — and when they compromised on him taking one weekday, she then refused to let the new girlfriend or her former stepdaughter pick up the kids or babysit; it was as if she needed dad to do it all himself as punishment. They’re still stuck in their old patterns: he expects to get exactly what he wants when he wants it; and she is so used to that that she doesn’t have much sense of what is reasonable and what isn’t, so she mostly does what he wants (like: she still pays for all daycare, as if “her” job is the one that requires childcare), but with a real passive-aggressive sense of seething resentment, coupled with massive anger over the affair that comes out in bad ways. Neither one seems willing to adjust to their changed circumstances; they’re hanging on to their old expectations about what life should be like, and they’re miserable because life can’t live up to those expectations. Or at least she is miserable; I don’t really know him, and he at least has the new girlfriend to keep him company.

    They still haven’t managed a settlement on either custody or finances after two years, because they’re just always in court arguing about one thing or another. And the last time I talked to her, it was just all about the points she’d scored in their last hearing, what with her rejoinders and zingers and such. I just wanted to shake her and say “the one thing I can tell you with 100% certainty is that THE JUDGE DOESN’T CARE WHO’S RIGHT — he just wants you guys to grow the hell up and work it out so he can stamp the documents done.”

  30. RMS – the therapist I saw at the time of my divorce told me that all kids go through crap and those that go through a divorce blame that. The rest blame their parents.

    My DD’s therapist told us that she would likely re-process the divorce at different stages in her life – first dating relationships, marriage, babies etc. I think it is great the your DSS is able to talk about it with your husband and hopefully gain a more nuanced perspective over time.

  31. RMS – yes he went back to work full time and travels most weeks. Between the job and his pension he makes as much annually as I do – but I have written about his spending addiction here before. He can’t hold on to any of it.

  32. LfB – have they not gone all the way to trial/are they still in pre-trial stuff after 2 years? Good grief!

    BAM – could you go back to court and ask for that medical/other expense to be direct deposited from his paycheck? That way he wouldn’t see it to spend before it would come to the kids.

  33. LOB – I was keenly aware in negotiating our financial and child support that I could compromise or I could pay my attorney $450 an hour to file motion after motion and go to court. I’d rather keep that money in the “family” and minimize the bitterness. Of course I don’t really “need” child support so it is much easier for me to do that. But I did want him to pay some after he started working full time again, and for his kids to know that he does pay it. Most goes automatically into their 529 plans – although he does not know that, or he would start being short each month telling himself I don’t need it.

  34. LfB, I knew one couple who basically never, ever settled the divorce. They let the kids live in their house and then they had an apartment as well. Each week one parent lived in the apartment with the kids and the other lived in the apartment. They never got the money straightened out and eventually the kids grew up. It was the most unhealthy pseudo-divorce I ever witnessed. They were totally enmeshed. The wife had started a relationship with another woman, which was the cause of the divorce (in some sense of “cause”), but they just never really ended the marriage.

  35. I agree with Rhett – the truth needs to be told. It’s like anything else – told in an age-appropriate manner.

    I guess I was different as a kid – I had a sense at an early age that my parents’ marriage wasn’t normal (like other kids), and that dads didn’t speak to their kids the way mine spoke to me.

    I can say they never argued about money… but then again, when you really don’t have much, there’s nothing to argue about.

    LfB – not sure where you live/work,, but I hope everything is ok.

  36. My parents split when I was six. I remember very little from that time except their constant yelling. I just got back from a lunch with my father and step mother. My father is so calm that I can’t even believe this is the same guy. I just think they were wrong for each other, but it was early 60s and people got married many wrong reasons.

    They really disliked or possibly even hated each other when we were kids. That was painful. They would use the kids as mail carriers for checks and messages. DUMB move. Please don’t ever do that and it probably isn’t necessary in this time due to texts and online banking.

    They finally started to thaw around MS and HS, but I was still very nervous around them on important dates like graduations. I never knew if they would sit together or get along. We all went out to lunch after my HS graduation. It meant A LOT to me, and I was grateful that they got along by that time.

    Joint custody wasn’t common back in the early 70s, but I did see my father all of the time. He spoke to us every night by phone and we saw him most weekends. He moved closer to our neighborhood, and my parents still live in the same neighborhood now. Even though I didn’t see my father day to day, the daily contact was important to our relationship. My parents did continue to fight, but they never prevented us from seeing the other parent whenever we wanted.

    Fast forward – they both remarried or entered into long term relationships. Their relationship continued to improve once no money was involved after college graduation. I can actually say they are friends now. They developed more of a relationship once the grandchildren arrived because they’re together a lot due to family stuff. I don’t think they like each other, but they are there for each other in times of need. For example, they’ve driven each other to doctor appointments, ERs and my father even walked to visit my mother in a blizzard when I couldn’t get to her apartment.

    My advice is that kids know if you hate the other person. It is not necessary to ever tell the child how much you hate the other person. If your spouse or ex is really an evil person, your child will eventually figure this out on their own. Complain to friends, call anyone that you need for support, but try to avoid telling your child your feelings because that other person is still their parent.

    As for steps…tricky. I HATED the person that my mother was with for 30+ years. I admit that I almost did a dance on his grave because I was so happy that he was gone. He was a really mean person, and I couldn’t wait to get out of the house to get away from him. Choose wisely when you date or re marry. You chose to have kids. The new person should be someone that is wonderful to you, and your kids.

  37. One of the hardest things is establishing proper boundaries, especially when you are trying to co-parent. I have a hard time asking for help and my ex has no problem asking/expecting other people to do things he wouldn’t be willing to do. No wonder our marriage was dysfunctional. I work hard on compromising and being flexible when it comes to the kids, but had to make it very clear to him that I had some minimum expectations and that we were not friends – I was not going to take care of his townhouse while he is out of town or run errands for him that were unrelated to the kids. He has a conference coming up? I have no problem switching weekends – but not just taking his and keeping mine. This is one way I try to preserve DS’ time with him as much as possible, they would end up with less and less over time if I was as flexible as my ex wanted me to be. Also – no last minute switches – unless it is a family emergency, which has happened. He has to respect my time. At almost 17 DD can make her own decisions and sometimes when she has a heavy homework weekend will stay at my house instead of going to her dads. But DS is 12 and needs as much time with his dad as he can reasonably get.

  38. BAM– the one divorce in our extended family has been quite amicable, in no small part because he took an attitude similar to yours. He didn’t haggle over the divorce settlement, and let her decide on how they divided everything.

    He walked away with very little, but IMO due in part to the amicability of the divorce he (and she) have both done quite well since , and he’s been able to maintain a close relationship with his kids. E.g., the amicable divorce allowed him to take a lucrative job that required a lot of travel. I think she also appreciated that keeping things amicable, including being flexible with custody arrangements to accommodate his job, also made things easier for her, e.g., no need to chase him for child support.

    At the time of the divorce I thought he was being a pushover, but over time I came to appreciate why he chose that course.

  39. @Rhett — OK, going to disagree with you about the intent thing again, because: I think it is very, very easy to demonize the “bad” divorces, just like we demonize so many things — because it allows us to all feel safe and assume that because we don’t/aren’t XYZ, that bad stuff won’t happen to us. So for ex., you read Sky’s example, and the immediate reaction is, OMG, I would *never* do anything like that to my kids, I’m a good parent/love my kids/etc. And then you just check the mental box and go on to worry about the other stuff and never even realize that, say, your kid might not understand why you’re moving them to another room.

    So I do think it’s important to note that even good parents who love their kids very very much can still do things that send unintentional hurtful messages to their kids. It never hurts to stop for a minute and really try to think about how something might look to a 5-yr-old or 10-yr-old or teenager — especially one who is probably assuming that it’s all his/her fault and so is looking for any sign that will confirm that fear.

    @Rhode — Thanks, we are safe. Most of the offices downtown seem to have closed today as a protective measure, so I’m hoping the neighbors and community leaders can succeed in taking back their neighborhoods tonight.

  40. We routinely go to kid centered events together. Sunday I saved him a seat for our DD’s voice recital. She killed it – and he and I shared a proud smile. After we took both kids out to celebrate their good report cards – all fun. I bite my tongue quite a bit – but hey I don’t live with or depend on him anymore – it is easier to let stuff that doesn’t matter go. I think the kids really like that we can celebrate family milestones as a family with no tension. I can foresee a time where we all sit down for holiday dinners again. It probably helps that he doesn’t have a girlfriend in the area and I am not dating. I can see how that would make it more difficult all around.

  41. I’ll post first about being the child of divorce in the 50 s. My mom and dad had a business. My dad had all the manly vices and eventually alcohol and gambling took over and the money disappeared. He also hit my mom at least once – a memory I finally understood at about 18 – when drinking. I can remember clear as day being almost four and leaving the house behind in a rush, living in short term quarters, the look on my mom’s face when she drilled into me never to reveal our address or phone. But there was never any explanation given to me even as an adult – a little age appropriate truthful badmouthing might have have been better than the generalized and frequently repeated admonitions about the unreliability of others, especially men, and the need to be totally self reliant and self contained. That was my mom’s comfort zone, but not mine, especially since she didn’t care much for marital intimacy. I naturally rebelled against the express advice, but internalized the underlying message, and have always had minimal expectations for cooperative and responsible male behavior. I put up with far too much from my ex, and expected far too little of my sons as a result.

  42. Oh Finn – I wasn’t a pushover, the financial settlement likely ended up 55/45 in his favor. I am thinking more about when he wanted to include the 5 summer weeks he is supposed to have the kids, but I knew would never happen because he works out of town and doesn’t have that much vacation time, in the child support calcs – OK whatever. I could take him back to court and get increased child support going forward since he has never taken that time but I don’t need it and after paying legal fees and ruining our co-parenting relationship the net upside is zero as I see it. Same for trying to get medical/dental etc (although he did pay for half of DS braces when that came up – so it is not always on me totally)

  43. There are many stories of friends where the step-child(SC) was poorly treated from lavishing presents on “their” kids and SC getting only one pair of PJs for Christmas to allowing teenage male friend and “their” kid to molest younger female SC. I don’t understand why you just say you don’t want the visitation?

    The “good” situations I’ve seen, seem to have a few things in common:
    1. Maturity of the adults to keep the bitterness and age inappropriate information away from the children,
    2. The ability of the bio parents to be at least polite and respectful all the way to friendly with the new spouse(s).
    3. To focus on the needs and interests of the kids when handling visitation issues – see dad vs play football game, etc.
    4. Parents remaining in the same general area so that kids stay at the same school, can hang with the same friends, and being at “the other” house doesn’t put a huge crimp in normal life.
    5. Parents being about to continue relationships with child(ren)’s friends parents both individually and jointly so these friends are lots due to tension among adult.

  44. I was not an ideal divorced parent. I did not keep my mouth shut enough to my kids, but his behavior soon exposed the family myth that he and the in-laws had constructed about who was actually the crazy one. I loved my ex fiercely in the way one loves as a teenager and never really lost that feeling. If I had been indifferent we would not have divorced with kids at home. Not sure what would have happened if I had hated him. He loved me the same way I loved him, but between the encouragement of his religious advisor that I was a millstone and his natural desire to have a sweet tempered household manager rather than the fiery girl he fell in love with, he was constantly and sarcastically disapproving. And he gave away every loose dime.

    We had a quick divorce. Kids were 12 to 20 at the time. He told me what he would agree to and I took the cheap but till the youngest was 22 financial deal. He lived up to it. The only thing I discovered was that visitation was a one way street. He never had to take the kids, but I could not restrict his access. I am eternally grateful that in his fog he moved out of the neighborhood to an apt down the street from a top suburban high school in the fantasy that the kids were going to flee our tenement quality apt and live with him.

  45. As a hijack – can one of the car people tell me how important it is to get the oil changed at exactly 6 months, even if the car has not been driven 3000 miles during that time? :)

  46. L – It’s not 1978 any more. I think most manuals suggest 10,000-mile oil change intervals. With my older cars, I get it done maybe around 8,000 and when convenient. The van tells you when it needs it, and that tends to be about 9,000 also.

    Six months should not be a big deal. I don’t think the oil is breaking down due to age in that short of a time frame, and I don’t think they’re using a different viscosity based on anticipated seasonal temperatures.

  47. My brother is going through a divorce and it’s not going well. He wanted to do the amicable settlement, keep his soon-to-be-ex in the house, leave the college funds alone, but he was the one who asked for the divorce and she’s more interested in punishing him. Trying to restrict access to the kids, using them as confidantes, taking an aggressive approach that is running down the joint funds. I’m not optimistic about this and there’s not really anything I can do, apart from being supportive in the background.

  48. Two women I know have changed their last names back to their maiden names. I recently heard that it has become easy to make the change on all important documents at once. I thought it was interesting, this name changing.

  49. My MIL suggested to my SIL that the kids stay in the house and my SIL and her ex take turns being in the house with the kids, so the kids don’t have to be shuttled back and forth. I understand her thinking, but there is no privacy for my SIL in that arrangement. My SIL is not doing that. The ex lives in the same neighborhood.

  50. Thanks, Milo. I think the car is programmed to tell me it needs an oil change after 6 months, but I had a feeling that it wasn’t a “real” need.

  51. As a hijack – can one of the car people tell me how important it is to get the oil changed at exactly 6 months, even if the car has not been driven 3000 miles during that time?

    I’m driving about 2,200 miles a year and I get mine changed 2x a year. My understanding is that since I don’t drive very often and I don’t drive for very long, water can accumulate in the oil as it never gets up to operating temperature and thus boils off.

  52. If the car doesn’t spend enough time on the road to reach its optimal engine temperature, the engine might not get hot enough to burn off the water vapour that’s produced during combustion.

    That water vapour tends to mix with your oil and forms a milky sludge, and that could necessitate an even earlier oil change – say, every five or six months or every 6,000 km.

    On top of that, if you’re doing a lot of idling, you can get fuel carbons in the oil, which makes it acidic, and acid isn’t good for your engine.

    “It happens even if you’re just driving to the store and back,” Feist said.

    One way to prevent moisture buildup and extend the time between oil changes is to take your vehicle out for regular jaunts on the highway. “It also helps the engine prevent carbon buildup,” Leroux said.


  53. A friend of mine has a pretty typical arrangement of kids with her during the week and alternating weekends. However, her ex comes over early in the morning (6:30, I think) to get the kids off to school so that she can work an early schedule and be home after school.

    The same kids finally wondered last Christmas time why they get presents from Dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and Santa, but none from Mom. It seems that the separation agreement needs to include gift-giving protocols.

    @BAM – I have a friend whose parents are both divorced & remarried with additional kids, and they ALL spend Thanksgiving and Christmas together. I’ve spent Thanksgiving with them and it’s amazing! They occasionally all visit my friend at the same time too for grandkid events. I’m not sure if it was that amicable when he was young, though.

  54. L – I’d be interested to know what WCE thinks about oil potentially breaking down due to age. Synthetic might be a good solution, or your car possibly requires that, anyway (our van does). I’ve heard of Rhett’s concern before.

    On an unrelated hijack, our mattress has arrived. We have now moved up to king-sized. It’s huge (or so it seems from the picture DW texted me)–wide AND tall. We ended up getting new bedroom furniture, but that won’t come for a couple of weeks, but the mattress, only sitting on its new “foundation” (“box spring,” for the unfamiliar) directly on the floor, is about even with our existing nightstands. It’s an Aireloom.

  55. Aireloom designs and manufactures the nation’s most exquisitely hand-tailored, artisanal quality mattresses

    It’s the Bentley of beds apparently…

  56. So I’m thinking about a 50/50 custody arrangement by week, changing on Sunday evenings. My attorney suggested this and my therapist agrees that it’s the most stable for a child my daughter’s age, but we should be flexible if it needs to change when she gets into her teens. The attorney also suggested that each of us give the other parent first right of refusal if we should need a babysitter during “our week.”

    I wish we could have DD stay in the house and take turns leaving, especially if my H were to get a job where he’d be traveling half the time. I could stay at a relative’s vacation condo when he’s in town, but I can see that privacy might be difficult for both of us. (Also, it looks more like he might take a job in town now.) I also flirted with the idea of moving to both sides of a duplex in our current neighborhood, but my therapist said that could get really hard if/when one of us starts dating.

  57. My mechanic puts stickers on my car that reminds me to get my oil changed every 3 months. I thought I was being good to delay until 6 months. I can go even longer? We don’t drive great distances, but it’s all city driving. We also have the hot Texas summer, if that matters.

  58. This will repeat a lot of what’s already been said. My parents divorced when I was in high school as did DH’s parents.

    DO make it possible for both parents to attend major events in the child’s life together (graduations, wedding, etc.). I never had any issues having both my parents attend the same functions. In fact, we even had some joint celebrations of holidays like Thanksgiving/Christmas which was great (and did the same with DH’s parents and their new spouses). My college roommate however had to map out the weekend of her college graduation so her two parents wouldn’t cross paths. And one of my best friends ended up inviting no family to her wedding because she couldn’t have her parents be in the same room together. I see no reason why parents can’t suck it up for a couple hours and be in the same room (assuming there wasn’t abuse going on).

    DO make it easy for your child’s friends’ parents to contact either one of you for playdates (this is more for younger kids). One of my daughter’s close friend’s parents divorced when she was 3 and had joint custody. When DD wanted a playdate, I would email both of them together to find a possible time. I really appreciated how easy and seamless they made it for me.

    If possible, stay in the same town. My brothers were in elementary school when my parents divorced. Eventually, one ended up with my dad on the east coast and the other with my mom on the west coast. There wasn’t a lot my parents could have done differently but it made it really hard for my brothers.

    My cousins alternated weeks between the houses of their two parents. They really liked this arrangement (my cousin said that when he got fed up with one parent, it would be time to go to the other parent’s house and vice-versa).

    DON’T complain about the ex to your kid. My mother wanted me to be her best friend and take her side in the divorce. Nope – I wasn’t taking either side. I literally had to tell my mother that I wasn’t her best friend – I was her daughter and also my father’s daughter and I did not want to be caught between the two.

  59. SWVA, try to figure out holidays too. My parents were supposed to alternate years for Thanksgiving and a few other major holidays. Jewish holidays are a little easier because many of the major holidays are celebrated for two nights, so we alternated nights.

    My father was very flexible when we (brother/me) would state a preference for certain holidays because we wanted to see cousins or grandparents. I know it might have been painful for my parents, but they allowed us to choose as we got older so we could be with our cousins.

  60. BAM– I didn’t mean to say you were a pushover.

    I initially thought the person in my extended family was a pushover, but in hindsight, I think he made the rational decision not to quibble over the %age he got, similar which minimized the over legal fees, leaving both of them with more, similar to your decision.

    More importantly, that decision minimized any animosity and facilitated amicable relationships. .

  61. SWVA best of luck getting this all figured out, a couple of our friends are going through a divorce right now with kids involved, can’t be easy, hope you find the best arrangement

  62. Winemama — I just saw it on another site. Someone must have realized how it sounded — was it the kind of team where no one wants to be the one to bring up a potential problem?

  63. idk, just saw the campaign today, sure they meant it in fun, but it sure sends the wrong message…

  64. L, I mostly agree with Rhett. How you’ve been driving in the last 6 months matters. Your owner’s manual probably has a section in which it discusses the types of driving conditions that should trigger increased frequency of oil changes; frequent short trips in which the engine never comes up to full operating temperature probably would trigger shorter oil change intervals, both in time and mileage.

    But I also agree with Milo. I haven’t seen 3000 mile intervals in a while– our current cars have 5000 and 7500 mile intervals, and the minivan we had before had a 6000 mile interval.

    I’ve just gone by the mileage, not time, intervals for our cars, except my current car, and have never had an engine problem. With my current car, it’s a pain to access the oil pan, so I have the dealership change it once/year, when I also take it in for the state-mandated safety check, even though I only drive about 6000 mi/year vs. the recommended 7500 mi interval.

  65. “the engine might not get hot enough to burn off the water vapour that’s produced during combustion.”

    I feel obliged to point out that the water vapour is not actually burning in this situation.

    You want your engine to regularly get hot enough to vaporize any water in the oil and combustion chambers, and to be vented so the oil is kept free of water.

    If you’re wondering if your engine does come to operating temperature, just watch your temperature gauge (assuming your car has one and not just an idiot light). The temperature will rise as the engine warms up, then stop rising and stay steady once you’re at operating temp.

  66. My minivan has an “oil life sensor”. It has a place where you can see the percentage, but at 15% it turns on a little red wrench. Then every time you turn on the car, it shows you the new declining percentage. If you let it get to 0%, then it starts counting the miles you have gone PAST the recommended oil change, and you can not make this go off the screen.

    The time it takes varies based on my driving – lots of highway, moderate traffic – easily 6 months or more. If it is lots of stop lights and rush hour, it is closer to 5 months. I have gone as long as 9 before it complained. I usually start looking at a good time to make the appointment when the wrench lights up.

  67. “RMS – the therapist I saw at the time of my divorce told me that all kids go through crap and those that go through a divorce blame that. The rest blame their parents.”

    I totally agree with this. My parents have been happily married for many years but I think everyone goes through periods as adults where they process/reprocess various things through the lens of their childhood/upbringing. (Though not not all decide to tell their parents that everything is their fault–even if they think it. :) ) I wouldn’t assume that your SS’s comments are a sign that you did anything “wrong.”

  68. I wouldn’t assume that your SS’s comments are a sign that you did anything “wrong.”

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that people without kids of their own (yet) have all the answers on parenting.

  69. HM, so true. I also think that it takes some time to realize that everyone’s parents screwed them up in some way and you are going to screw up your kids in some way, too. And that’s okay/life! Imperfection should be expected. Also that while some things may be your parents’ fault, in almost all cases it’s much less than you think.

  70. My little yellow wrench says that I am currently 1,900 miles overdue for an oil change. So, umm, I think you can figure out where I come down on that issue. . . .

  71. My car wouldn’t start once because it had run out of oil. That shouldn’t surprise you if you remember I don’t fill my gas tank until the gas light goes on! But where was the idiot light to warn me that I was low on oil?!

  72. My little yellow wrench says that I am currently 1,900 miles overdue for an oil change.

    My car wouldn’t start once because it had run out of oil.

    This is why I don’t buy used cars.

  73. “But where was the idiot light to warn me that I was low on oil?!”

    Under the hood, often referred to as a dipstick.

  74. Ok. I looked at my car manual. The oil light indicator is only for oil pressure. Have to check oil level manually. Milo is saying duh. :)

  75. I can’t add anything to the oil discussion beyond what Finn, Rhett and Milo have already said. Our vehicles are mostly older and get a lot of miles and one is a diesel. GB, checking your oil becomes more important when your vehicle starts using a little oil (say, 1 quart out of 5) between oil changes.

    On a happier note, my expertise came in handy when the dog ate the silly putty today- I knew it was high viscosity polydimethylsiloxane which wouldn’t hurt her, although she might possibly throw up. Hopefully she’s fine.

  76. I tease, but that’s a good question. Oil only indicates a lack of oil pump discharge pressure, when it’s nearly too late. Why don’t they have a low-level indicator?

  77. SWVA – So sorry you are having to be doing this. I know this is not what you expected.

    Milo – I will need a full report on that bed. My fall back career is a shut in and I will need a good bed for that. Going to a king is going to be amazing. You and the wife are going to have to text each other to communicate. ENJOY!!!

  78. I finally remembered a web site and book I found helpful when first navigating this issue – the web site is a bit different now so not a current endorsement but probably worth a look.


    and the book is “Ex-Etiquette For Parents”

  79. Remember that like most things, time helps and relationships evolve. I am really glad I didn’t do or say anything in the heat of the process that could have caused life long problems. My ex comes over xmas morning and has since the beginning – the first time was a few short months after he moved out and while we negotiating. That year xmas was really hard, I wasn’t sure I would make it through without screaming at him. But I did. Fast forward – this year he stayed most of the day playing chess with DS and if I had been having xmas dinner for my family I would have invited him to stay. When that does happen – maybe this year – it will be my Dad and older brother that have a fit. Oh well.

  80. You’ll notice it not only warns you it’s low, it shows that it’s only slightly below the min and the quantity of oil you need to add is one liter. In mine you can change the units of everything from standard to metric or imperial. So in the U.S. It would say add one quart.

  81. I once ruined a car engine when I tried to drive with no oil. A very expensive lesson. Then I turned over a new leaf and tried to learn to do routine maintenance on my car, even took a class. But the first time I tried to change the oil I stripped the screws, which of course created new problems. In some ways I’m quite stupid. But when I recall these types of stupid things, it helps me be more accepting of my kids and their foolish behavior.

  82. +1 to Bay Area Mom’s 6:32 pm comment. Once you have kids, you have a lifetime relationship with the other parent – whether you stay married or not.

    Bay Area Mom – my hat is off to you for working so hard to keep things amicable with your ex. I’ve watched a good friend of mine (who was poorly treated by her ex and deserved much more) do an amazing job to keep things amicable – which will pay off for her kids hugely.

    My parents went through different stages of being angry with each other after their divorce – but I always appreciated that I could have both of them together for major events (graduations, etc.). And even more than that, one summer when my mom went on a 2 week trip, my dad came and stayed with my brothers while she was gone. Much later when my mom went through cancer treatment and us kids were rotating through to stay with my mom and help out, my dad pitched in and helped out too (this was 20+ years after the divorce so their relationship had time to evolve by that point).

  83. In my first real job that you all know about, “loss of lube oil” (e.g. due to a malfunctioning oil pump) is considered such a big deal that the immediate response is to stop the affected turbines/reduction gears as quickly as possible. If it’s in the propulsion system, you cut off steam to the forward turbines and send steam to the reverse turbines to act like the brakes. And if you’re bored in the middle of the night, you can order a “stop the shaft,” and the guys who operate the steam throttles take a certain amount of pride–only somewhat ironically–in how proficient and fast they are at this. 30 seconds is typical.

    So then there’s always someone to tell the story of his wife calling him to say “the oil light in the car has been in today, do I need to get that looked at?” to which everyone shakes their heads in incredulous disbelief.

  84. I asked CoC to post this anonymously so that advice might be more generic, but I’m sure some of you figured it was me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your stories. The main lesson seems to be that I’ll probably screw my daughter up no matter what, but I can at least try to minimize the damage!

  85. One thing I’ve heard from quite a few people who grew up with the shared custody arrangement (alternating weeks with each parent or something similar) is that they hated it. Even though they had their own room at each house, they never felt like they had one home base. They didn’t like having their “stuff” split between two places and trying to keep track of what was where and not having things when they needed them because they were at the other house.

  86. Denver Dad – the two houses arrangement question was what I was asking earlier. Thanks for sharing. Honestly I find keeping kid things/schedules/school work/activities organized in one house challenging enough, let alone if all this had to switch back and forth frequently.
    Maybe, I am underestimating everyone’s ability to adapt to the situation.

  87. From my very unscientific observations, it seems the younger the children are when you divorce, the easier the kids seem to deal with it. Of my friends who have divorced parents, the ones who seem most affected by it (still) are those who were middle school and up when their parents divorced.

    Many good thoughts to you SWVA. Just the fact that you are being so thoughtful and deliberate about things will surely help your daughter. I hope the process is as smooth as possible.

  88. This seems like a typical article from Brett Arends. After the first couple of paragraphs, I was pretty confident that I figured out that the secret in the data was the fact that he was ignoring dividends. Then at the end, he very cleverly admits that fact, but twists around the revealing of it to make it sound like the situation is even worse, rather than better:


  89. SWVA – sorry I didn’t have time to write last night with the small ladies. I’m solidly with BAM in terms of bending over backwards to make things friendly. “They” say that kids can absolutely get over divorce. It’s not the fact of divorce that messes a kid up. It’s how her divorced parents get along after the divorce.

    On the specific question of parenting time, my DSDs have, over the years, asked for the week on/week off schedule because otherwise, they’re switching in the middle of a school week, and they invariably forget something at the other house that they need for school later in the week.

    The thing about that arrangement is that you’d need absolute agreement about extracurriculars, because if your DD were in, say, swimming lessons each Tuesday, the lessons would remain constant but the parent she was with on each Tuesday would change. If you don’t think your ex will take her to things you sign her up for, or if you don’t want to take her to things he signs her up for, then splitting during the school week is more helpful — i.e., you have her every Wed and Thur and can put her in lessons, etc that occur those nights, he has her every Mon and Tues and can put her in the things he wants her to be in.

    Totally agree on the idea of right of first refusal re: babysitters.

  90. One of the things the Vanguard CFP said to do was put more money in international stock and bond funds. I’m still weighing that. Next up: the TIAA-CREF CFP in May.

  91. OK, so the oil thing might be an example of me outsmarting myself. Because I used to take all that stuff very, very seriously and would be at the dealer the second any light went on. So in thinking it through, here’s what I think happened.

    1. Manufacturers added more and more warnings about less and less consequential stuff. For ex., I now have a “tire warning” light that goes off when the pressure is too low, or when it changes too quickly. That thing caused me no end of panic the first few times it went off. Unfortunately, the “too low” sensor is maybe 2 psi below the recommended pressure for the tires I use, and the “too fast” sensor goes off when the car warms up in the winter.

    2. OTOH, the major things that I have actually had go bad with a car involved things that didn’t have a warning light (radiator expansion tank blowing up), things that the car’s electronic brain actually caused (vapor lock because the electronic control system was set at the wrong level at the factory), and things that no warning light would have prevented or helped with (running over a nail — yes, thanks, I did figure out that my tire was low when my car started to drive off the right side of the road all by itself).

    3. I’m a lawyer. Manufacturers don’t set warnings at the “omg it’s about to blow” point — they set it at the “no one can ever sue us” point. Which is always well before any actual problem.

    4. They also have an incentive to set it low to send you in for service you don’t need, because their dealers make so much money off the service.

    5. My car has synthetic oil. I’ve read that synthetic oil lasts a really really really long time. But my car still tells me to come in every 5,000 miles. So I have convinced myself that this is points 3 and 4 in action. So the warning light goes on my “to do” list, but fairly far down.

    But I hadn’t thought about the “running out of oil” part of things. So, thanks — I will be getting the car in soon.

  92. Rocky – Our target-date funds do about 30% international automatically. The headline of that article was a little misleading, because it wasn’t really focused on the difference between U.S. and international stocks. It was more about the author trying to say that decent stock returns since 1982 are an anomaly. The problem is that in order to make that case, he ignores all the dividend payouts, and before 1982 dividends generally represented a higher proportion of stock earnings than they have in the past few decades (mostly due to response to changes in tax treatment, as I understand it).

    The author may as well write an article saying “How much do you expect to earn from the rental houses that you own? Well, you’re wrong, because real estate has only appreciated 1 or 2% above inflation, so that’s all it is.” Of course, he’s ignoring the amount you collect in rent every month.

  93. LfB – It’s just that oil changes are relatively inexpensive, anyway. If you want to save money, stop going to the dealership. While their prices on oil changes are typically competitive with any other shop, all other services are ridiculously overpriced. Plus they tend to invent things that need to be done. I’ve seen this several times (from two different dealerships) when they have had a car of mine for a recall repair and come back with a bunch of other recommendations. When I take it to my independent mechanic, on average he finds that half of their recs are valid and the other half are bullshit, and his prices are half what the dealer charges.

  94. Milo,

    Was that article pure click bait or does the guy have an axe to grind? It’s one of the most poorly reasoned pieces I’ve ever read.

  95. @Milo — yeah, ITA. The only problem is that the one independent mechanic I’ve had that I trust does only BMWs (and I was happy to no longer require his — frequent and expensive — service when I ditched that car). I guess I could go to the Jiffy Lube down the street.

  96. Jiffy Lube is fine for oil changes (I’ve even gone to Walmart for oil changes when it’s convenient to do shopping at the same time), but it shouldn’t be that difficult, in a densely populated suburban area of a major city, to find a good independent mechanic who will service Ford and General Motors vehicles. They’re only two of the most common makes in this country.

  97. “It is a truth universally acknowledged that people without kids of their own (yet) have all the answers on parenting.”

    Completely agree HM

  98. PTM – your car graced the cover of Motor Trend for June! It stares at me from the coffee table and says “one day you’ll find the keys under my mat and a six pack (most likely empty) in the glove box!” My “Golden Girls” reboot will be fantastic!

  99. @Milo — Actually, it’s the Acura.

    And really, I’m just lazy. “Find a reliable mechanic” went on that same to-do list as soon as the warranty expired, and it has been there ever since — because I don’t even know how to distinguish “good” and “reliable” and “won’t rip me off” from the other type, which means I first have to figure out how to do that, then I have to go apply that research and try some different people, so it ends up being easier to throw my hands up and just go to the dealer. Except the dealer isn’t exactly convenient, so then I procrastinate on those appointments. . . .

    So, this weekend, Jiffy Lube. At least knock off the low-hanging fruit.

  100. LfB,

    Have you tried yelp? I had really good luck with them when I need to find a body shop.

  101. LfB – right there with you on the reliable mechanic! It’s the kind of research that I never want to do so I don’t. But I did have our nanny take the kid car for an oil change last week and the place that she went to seemed good, so maybe I will try them next.

  102. I’m going to lay out the obvious here – ask around! Ask people you work with, who live near you, etc. You’d be surprised.

    My friend went to an online forum and found a mechanic. She raved about him, so I tried him out. He’s completely and utterly out of the way now, but I’ll still visit him. He talks to me like I have a brain in my head, shows me exactly the problem, and also leaves me a box of spare parts to show that he changed them (and to show how/why they failed).

  103. Lfb- the term for that is “alarm fatigue”. One ignores too frequent alarms if they are inaccurate. Airplane designers have gotten really good at designing to prevent this, hospitss havent. This is the only kind of nondrug error that I have seen kill people and it happens with surprising frequency.

  104. Ada, there has been a lot about alarm fatigue in the nusing journals lately. Hospitals are slowly catching on and dealing with it.

  105. It is probably too late for this conversation, but an oil change is $50-75 and an hour or two. A new engine/car is an expense in the 1000s to 10,000s and significantly more time. Just get the oil changed on the mileage or time schedule recommended.

  106. “I’ll probably screw my daughter up no matter what, but I can at least try to minimize the damage!” SWVA – I don’t think there is a parent on the planet who cannot say the same thing, divorced or no. We all act like we are driving the bus but sometimes I really think we are just all trying to keep it on the road!

    Milo – how was the mattres? I left off the last “s” for savings.

  107. Murphy- where are you getting your oil changed for $50-$75?! I paid $25 for my last one.

  108. Rio, where do you go for $25? And what kind of oil is it? Around here it’s about $50 for synthetic.

  109. I’d say $35 for normal, $60 for synthetic. And it also depends on the size of the car/engine. There can be an upcharge if it requires more oil.

    Moxie – I *LOVED* it when I first sat and lay on it. I was worried that it wasn’t going to feel quite as good as it did in the store, but it’s actually better when you have sheets and comforter, and you’re only in your underwear. However, while I slept perfectly well on it, I don’t know that I necessarily slept any better than I did on the old one. I might also add a foam topper–we already use them when camping, but the margin for improvement in the camper is much, much greater.

  110. Milo, during extended-sick-baby-nursing, I checked out the MMM site. Prekids, I used to change the oil in my Dodge Shadow myself, but once I had the Buick Century (which had to be jacked up) and three kids (who need some level of supervision as toddlers), I was happy to pay the extra NOT to change the oil myself. Mr WCE still changes the oil in his two vehicles.

  111. I usually pay about $35 to $40 at the dealership to have them change the oil at the same time they do the state-mandated safety check, price for which is set by law. They will also check all fluid levels and wash the car.

  112. “My car has synthetic oil. I’ve read that synthetic oil lasts a really really really long time. ”

    I know that when I first started using synthetic, the recommendations I’d read were that while the oil itself lasted a long time, you should still change the filter regularly.

    Although synthetic is much more expensive than non-synthetic oil, to Murphy’s point, it’s still much less than a rebuilt engine, and it also goes on coupon regularly at Costco, or goes on sale at O’Reilly, so I’d just change it anyway.

    On DW’s car, and all cars I’d owned before my current one, the oil drain plug was very easily accessible, so changing the oil is easy. Changing the filter was typically messier.

    WCE, rather than jack up the car, I drive them up some drive up blocks I made back in HS, which are basically some 2×4 scraps turns sideways, screwed together, and cut at an angle. I screwed scrap 2x2s to the ends to keep from driving off the blocks.

  113. “Mr WCE still changes the oil in his two vehicles.”

    How much does he pay for five quarts of oil and a new filter? (What I’m really asking is how much does he save?)

    I remember my Dad used to have these orange metal drive-up ramps hanging on the wall in the garage, and I have a few vague memories of him under a station wagon that was propped up on them. But those were long gone by the time I started driving.

  114. I pay about $4/qt for synthetic (when it’s on coupon or on sale), and about $5 for the filter (from Amazon; it’s one of the things I’ll throw on the cart when I need to get my total to $35 for free shipping), so less than $25, vs. probably about $60 to have someone do it.

    I don’t think it takes me much more time to do it myself than to drive somewhere to have it done. I’d only save time if I get it done somewhere I’m going anyway.

  115. 10 qts for diesel engine plus filter is around $35. We don’t know the regular diesel engine price

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