I have been a single parent for the better part of seventeen years. I am the custodial and residential guardian of my two children with 100% rights over decision making for my kids. At the time this was an overwhelming obligation bestowed on me, but through the years I have realized that it was the best possible scenario for me and my children. I never had to worry about asking the other parent their opinion on matters pertaining to the upbringing of my children. I didn’t have to worry about whether or not they agreed with Private school vs. Public school, whether or not they believed in medication for mental illness or behavioral issues. I never had to get consent from the other parent for things like sports or activities and for me it worked. I always notified the other parent of what my decisions were, but never stutter stepped in not doing something because I would be held back from some legal mumbo jumbo about what I could and couldn’t do with my kids being they lived with me full time.
That being said over the years I thought the other parent in my situation was just a jerk. Saying things like “I give you money” and “Why are you paying for that?” I also thought it was just nativity when they would say things like “Why do they eat so much?” and “All they want to do is sit on their phones, this is because of how you parent” I didn’t realize until recently, after speaking with many full time parents that this was not just the characteristic of my other parent but most, if not of all other parents. It wasn’t a character flaw just held by the father of my children, but apparently by all “other” parents.
Enter my self-diagnosed syndrome of OPS – Other Parent Syndrome. I coined the phrase after hearing the similarities in all “other” parents and the things they say to the full time parent. I won’t say the real parent because we are all real parents, but you get the gist. This syndrome runs ramped in the world of single parent households and it affects hundreds if not thousands every year. The unfortunate part about this type of illness is that those that have it never have any symptoms, they appear just like you and me, except that have no real grasp of what it’s like to raise children. Being they are not there 100% of the time, they don’t understand, especially if you have a teenager, that teenagers suck. It is not because I’m a bad parent, it is because teenagers suck. They don’t understand that they sit on their phones all day, would rather be with their friends than with family, they love their beds, stay up too late, have issues getting up in the morning and are seemingly unmotivated unless they see a snap chat or twitter post that affects them to jump out of bed, facetime their friends to discuss every last detail.
OPS affects more people than anyone can actually keep track of and the numbers are skewed based on the lack of reporting and funding to address such a syndrome. OPS affects both men and women, it does not care what age you are and does not discriminate based on race or religion. There is only one cure for OPS and that’s to live with your children all the time. To see how much things for kids cost, to see how much they eat and how no matter how full your fridge is you will never have enough food. To see that closing the door to their bedrooms will save your sanity, to see that their lack of respect has nothing to do with you as a person, but is deep seeded in their psyche as selfish, narcissistic human beings that hopefully will grow into functioning adults.
OPS isn’t curable, it can be contained, but to what degree I am still not sure. For those of you deal with someone with OPS I feel for you, but remember, it’s not their fault, they can’t help it. All you can do is continue to educate the masses or at least the other parent you deal with. Remember, they don’t know they have been infected and let’s just hope we can stop it from spreading.
This is a public service notice – please be careful out there.