Di­vorced dad strug­gles with play date

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - DETOURS - CAROLYN HAX Carolyn Hax is a colum­nist with The Washington Post. Email her at tellme@wash­post.com.

Dear Carolyn: I’m a di­vorced dad and have my daugh­ter, 9, ev­ery other week. I try to sched­ule play dates for her and am met with hes­i­ta­tion. It seems like her mom can eas­ily sched­ule them.

I usu­ally have to talk to the moms to sched­ule things. Is there any­thing I can do to show I am a well-in­ten­tioned dad? Maybe the hes­i­ta­tion is that their daugh­ters would be with me and no mother fig­ure, or it’s weird for the moms to talk to some­one who isn’t the mom, or maybe I’m the weird one?

My ex and I do not get along. If we are in the school to­gether, we will not sit to­gether or even ex­change small talk. Does this put other moms off as well?

Any in­sight would be great. I want my daugh­ter to be able to spend time with friends. — Sin­gle Dad

Dear Sin­gle: There’s too much miss­ing for me to address this with any kind of ac­cu­racy, I’m sorry.

That’s be­cause the hes­i­ta­tion you’re read­ing on th­ese moms could be any­thing from un­fair and out­ra­geous bias against a sin­gle dad to a rea­son­able dis­com­fort with some­thing you did or said. It could even be that th­ese moms are happy to ar­range play dates, but you’re so un­com­fort­able that the con­ver­sa­tions get awk­ward. Or they could be good friends with your ex and they have a view of the di­vorce, and of you, that is quite neg­a­tive — and that neg­a­tiv­ity could be en­tirely fair, en­tirely un­fair, or a mix of both.

If you want a master key to all of it, then that lies in your re­la­tion­ship with your ex. If you and she can find a way to get along, then a lot of prob­lems for your daugh­ter go away — ax­iomatic when par­ents di­vorce — and specif­i­cally the “why” of your play-date dif­fi­cul­ties will be­come avail­able to you.

You can talk to your ex about why set­ting up play dates is awk­ward, for one thing, and learn which moms are eas­i­est to deal with, who might feel un­com­fort­able with just a dad home and why, etc.

Plus, open ci­vil­ity be­tween you would give the peo­ple on her “side” the goa­head to be nicer to you.

If you’re part of the rea­son there’s no sit­ting to­gether and small talk, then de­cide now to let it go. Stop hold­ing out for what­ever you’re hold­ing out for, for­give what you’ve re­fused to for­give, ac­cept what your anger or pride hasn’t let you ac­cept.

If she’s the one mak­ing ci­vil­ity im­pos­si­ble, then all you can do is be friendly and ap­proach­able and keep do­ing what’s best for your daugh­ter. Time and kind­ness are pow­er­ful in com­bi­na­tion.

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