Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Divorced Parents Each Need Their Own Time With Kids

DEAR ABBY: I must respond to the letter from "Tacoma Mom," who complained that her ex-husband didn't want to take their 6-year-old to his swimming lesson during his regularly scheduled Wednesday night visit.

I, too, am a divorced mother who is happily remarried. Unlike "Tacoma Mom," I do not wish to control every moment of my daughter's time with her father. Watching the children participate in a sport does not allow the quality time divorced parents should have.

Everyone talks about the importance of a father's role in a child's life. Does that apply only if he follows the schedule given to him by the mother? I am sure that when the family was intact, "Tacoma Mom" didn't tell the father how to spend his time with his son.

After a divorce, people are consumed by hurt and anger. Children are too often caught in the middle and used as a way of "getting back" at each other.

While I agree that the Tacoma father should be involved in the child's activities, divorced fathers need time with their children on their terms, not ours. This is what creates a bond between fathers and their children.

My daughter and I enjoy a close and loving relationship; I believe her father is entitled to one, too. She and her father do things that I don't do -- fish, camp, work on cars. She has two very different and fulfilling lives. That is what keeps her well-adjusted. Her father and I have developed a healthy relationship where our daughter is concerned. We always keep HER best interests in mind.

Abby, shouldn't a mother consult the father before signing up the children for activities that interfere with his time? They are his children, too. Or is this just a power struggle of a bitter woman? -- A MA IN PA.

DEAR MA: I commend you and your ex-husband for putting your daughter's best interests first.

I have received stacks of letters regarding "Tacoma Mom." Most readers felt that there should be a compromise. They suggested that Dad should have an additional day of visitation with an activity that he has planned -- or just some alone time. More compromise and less "control" would be a healthy solution.