Spoiled Children of Divorce

Will the Person You Are Marrying Be a Good Step-Parent?
January 26, 2010, 2:11 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

The title of this post is a great question.  Why doesn’t anyone ever ask it before getting married?

And I certainly don’t have the answer. Yesterday I was sitting in a cafe.  It was the middle of the day, Sunday, and there was an exchanging of the kids scene at the table behind me and at the table in front of me.  At the table in front of me a Mother was passing a son off to a Father.  They were civil but it felt very awkward.  No step-parents involved. But, as I said, the vibe was tense.  The conversation went on way too long.  The Father looked like a total loser.  The kid was trying to get his parents to enjoy each other’s company because one always hopes there will be an end to this.  Yadda, yadda, yadda…

A family sat down at the table behind me as well.  The Man walked off to buy the coffees and the woman and the child sat down.  Because it soon became apparent that the woman was the man’s girlfriend I started to listen intently and was amazed at the level of stupidity and selfishness that she was treating the child who was a little girl, maybe 3 years old.  When one sits down with a 3 year old girl who is out for a Sunday afternoon with her Daddy, what does one immediately turn the conversation to as soon as Daddy is out of earshot?  One’s self and one’s security and one’s need to control the relationship, of course.  3 year olds just wanna have fun, after all.

As soon as the man was out of earshot, the woman started talking about herself.  She told the child that she loved the child’s Father very much.  The little girl didn’t say anything.  So, the woman repeated herself and asked the little girl if she understood that she (the woman) loved her Father?

Aren’t little girls supposed to be asked how much they love their Fathers?  That’s kind of what childhood is about, isn’t it?  Again the little girl didn’t say anything and then she got up and ran toward her Father, screaming Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.  How is a little girl supposed to understand that she feels threatened at this point? Why isn’t the strange lady showing any concern for her feelings?  It was really nasty.  If the woman loved her Father, wouldn’t the woman talk about this in front of the Father, not behind his back?  Who can trust a person like that?  Was she trying to get the upper hand?  Do you think?

Do you think?  No, really.  Think about it.

Anyway, this is a clear sign of an example of how Daddy marries a Bitch.  I suppose that Daddy expects the little girl to tell him if something makes her uncomfortable.  But, 3 year olds really don’t have the words to express what they’re feeling, especially when it concerns advanced relationship crap.  After that the little girl was totally out of control and running around screaming in the store.  Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.  She was dressed up in a cute little dress and everyone was no doubt totally annoyed by that awful Spoiled Child of Divorce.  The woman probably spent half the night on a forum for stepmothers who have spoiled manipulative step-daughters.

Nobody seemed to recognize that that 3 year old child had been completely poised and well-behaved before her Father went off to buy the coffees.

4 Comments so far
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Ah Toothless…love this post. I have a theory about single dads and the reasons that so many stepmom’s find it so hard to deal with being parents. Of course there are many layers to the issue, but still I can’t help if is doesn’t boil down to something so simple.

Typically (and I’m not saying it’s how it should be, just that it tends to be) the mother is primary custodian. So when she is dating, the kids are usually around. She sees how her potential mates interact with her kids a majority of the time they are together. If they start playing house, she gets to see exactly how he plays into the stepdad role. And that’s usually important to her. More important than the relationship overall. I can’t tell you how many single mom’s I’ve heard refer to problems between a boyfriend and her children as a ‘deal breaker’ for the relationship. Now I’m not saying stepdads or single moms are perfect; of course there are plenty of crappy ones. I’m simply speaking in generalizations to discuss the point.

Now single dad’s on the other hand are typically non custodial. They are often relegated to an every other weekend schedule, during which girlfriends may or may not spend time with his kids. Often, I think the rest of the time he isn’t really seen as a single dad, but merely ‘single’ in his girlfriend’s eyes. I read so many stepmoms say that if they had any idea how hard it would be before they got married that they might not have done it. And that they hate being told that they knew he had kids before they got married, because even though they did, they had no idea what being a stepmom would be like. And I can’t help but wonder why the hell that would be? Obviously, they didn’t spend enough time around his kids to see what it would be like, and Mr. single dad didn’t pay enough attention either.

Uggghh! Makes me mad. Because all these adults end up whining about how hard their lives are the kids of divorce who are really dealing with enough, thank you very much often find themselves shouldering even more guilt for feeling like they’ve made one more adult’s life harder.

I wrote a post about that stepdad/stepmom thing. I don’t know if you saw it. It’s called “Who Let Stepdads Off the Hook”.

Comment by Carolyn (the grown up child)

Hi Carolyn. Yeah, they certainly whine a lot and it’s really easy for an outsider to see where they’ve messed up. But, competing with a 3 year old behind her Father’s back is a bit low, just my opinion of course.

It’s true that custodial Mothers would have a better sense of how a guy will get along with the kids. Thanks for the insight.

Comment by toothless

Hi Toothless – me again!

This is an interesting post. Here, it seems quite black and white in terms of what the girlfriend should have done. Firstly, she’s priveliged to be able to meet the little girl (I know some custodial mothers, and probably father, too, refuse to let the other parent introduce the children at all to any new partner, even if the children have shown an interest). Secondly the little girl was obviously very young, so is clearly not going to be able to cope with this kind of “I love your father” baggage. Thirdly, if this is one of the father’s “visits” the poor kid probably doesn’t have much time with her Dad anyway so won’t want a stranger unloading her own interests. A much better approach would have (in my opinion) been to:

a – get the coffees herself so the little girl could have some time alone with her Dad

b – reassure the little that her Dad loves her very much (ie the little girl, not the girlfriend!)

c – focus on the little girl, ie ask her about herself and what she likes to do, favourite cartoon character or whatever – it’s not difficult!!

d – just stayed for a few minutes then disappear to let the Dad spend some time alone with his little girl.

I may be letting the Dad off the hook though. A friend of mine used to get really fed up with trying to get him to spend time alone with his kids and he’d answer back with “but I don’t know what to SAY to them”. She’s since left him!

I would be interested to know your thoughts on whether this position might be easier for Dads who have custody. When they don’t. they only get to see their child(ren) every two weeks or so (possibly even less) so it’s a bit unfair to expect the child to spend all that precious time with a new partner. Also (and I’m not being sexist, just making a general observation) men tend not to worry about “emotional issues” and find it easier to switch off than women so perhaps some Dads don’t want to address the whole issue of whether or not the new partner and the kids get on and what to do if they don’t – they probably presume that “the womenfolk will sort it all out by themselves”.

I really don’t know what the answer is here – ALL the adults involved have to think of the child and do what’s best for him/her, putting their own interests aside, but if one of those (ie mother, father, prospective step-parent) doesn’t play ball then the problems set in. Divorces are mostly traumatic and emotions and recriminations always get in the way so it seems such a hopeless situation if the children are caught up in it. I only know of one person who gets on with their stepkid which is so terribly sad. Most of my experiences are second-hand. My mother’s parents were divorced but she was told for years that her mother was dead. It was always a taboo subject when I was growing up so apart from my grandmother’s name and date of birth (which I had to find out by searching census databases) I know virtually nothing about her. So there was no step-parent to deal with, but the whole issue of an absent/non-existent mother with absolutely no idea as to why must have been just as bad. Many friends of mine went through a parents’ divorce when they were younger and I can remember one time when the new partner (who ended up being the stepdad) let himself into the house one day, muscled in with us over lunchtime when a group of us teenagers were spending the day together and though I’m sure he was trying to play the dad role, we all wanted to tell him to **** off because he kept butting in the whole time telling us to do the washing up and presumably trying to be “cool”.

Sorry – I’ve rambled on again!

Comment by Sal

Hi Sal, Thank you for your thoughtful answer. I think your suggestions about how this situation should have been handled is great and hope that some future girlfriends will read it. I agree that many men really aren’t that interested in their kids and just figure the girls will work it out, just as you say. Plus, it’s just awkward when you only see your kid on Sunday afternoons. Fathers become more like what Uncles in most traditional families are like.

The good thing about divorce is that the Dads who are interested in parents will often take a more active role in their kids lives. Many women who aren’t interested in being parents can be let off the hook. Sorry you lived not knowing about your Mother. That would hurt a lot. There was a really intense movie that came out about 10 years ago about a Mother who abandons her son as a kid. It’s with Meryl Streep. The son is dying from AIDS and he has all this unresolved emotional pain and hatred for his Mother. Then she shows up in the end and explains herself and it sort of turns your opinion around. That role definitely requires a Meryl Streep to pull off, whew. Sorry can’t remember it.

Don’t have much time right now, but I appreciate your insights. Thanks.

Comment by toothless

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