Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Tense Visitation After Difficult Divorce

DEAR NATALIE: My ex-husband is making my life a living hell. The kids live with me full time, but he sees them a few times every month. He has complained to me that he wants more time with them, but the children (ages 10, 12, 16) told me they don't want to be with him. They said his house is "boring" and all they do is "watch TV." I told him this, and he accused me of lying and keeping our kids away. The courts are involved, of course, but it is beyond that. I just want him to leave us alone. Is there any way I can get him to stop bothering me about seeing the kids more? Can't he take a hint? We've been divorced for two years now, and it isn't any better than when it happened. (A little backstory: He left me for someone else, and they live together now. I'm not thrilled about my kids being around her, either.) -- Over It

DEAR OVER IT: I wonder if some of your anger and resentment is due to the fact that he cheated on you. Two years may seem like a long time, but when the wound never has a chance to heal properly, it may come back to aggravate you. But at the end of the day, this isn't about you and him. It's about a father seeing his children. They may act annoyed or bored, but they need their dad. As long as he isn't being abusive, you should encourage them to have a relationship with him on a regular basis. It can be hard to take the high road, but think of it this way: As your children grow up and start relationships and families of their own, do you want them to see dysfunction and use that as a set of guidelines, or do you want them to see that even in tough times you can rise above and be the best version of yourself? Try not to let your personal feelings about your ex cloud your opinion of his abilities as a father. 

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: If people you are asking advice or guidance from are meeting you, make the location convenient for them, offer to buy their coffee or lunch, and follow up with a thank-you email or card. A little appreciation can go a long way! 

Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)