Posts Tagged ‘second marriage’

Today is the day celebrated as Father’s Day.  It’s usually a day of cookouts, family time, gift giving, and laughter.  Handmade cards and pictures from little kids; stories about their childhood from those that are grown. Memories are made, and memories are revisited.

Sadly, not all kids get to experience having a Father in their life.  They watch from the sidelines as friends, cousins, neighbors, celebrate this day.  Equally as sad is that not all Father’s get to experience Father’s Day with their children.  Some by choice, it is true.  But many, because they are denied that right in one form or fashion.

I have been on both sides of the coin not only in my own childhood, but in the childhoods of my children and stepchildren.  My biological father was an alcoholic who had an affair, which caused he and my mother to divorce.  Once divorced and ordered to pay child support, medical expenses and save for my education, he made one support payment ($8O) and promptly left for California where he would not have to pay.  (Remember, this was about 45 years ago so CS enforcement was not what it is today.)  My mother never received another dime from him and I saw this man exactly three times between the ages of 3 and 18.  In sharp contrast is my step-dad, Charlie, who was always there for me.  Charlie loved me and my siblings.  We were his children.  Charlie has been gone from us for over 26 years, but when I think of my “Dad” I think of him.  His wisdom still guides me and I love him as much today as ever.

In the case of my own children, their biological father isn’t any better than mine.  While we were married, my ex-husband was somewhat active in the life of our daughter, but not our son.  Because of his disability, I suppose.  Once we separated, he took the kids on visitation only three times.  Only after my daughter contacted him when she was 17 did he begin somewhat of a relationship with her, but again, never our son.  To this day, as my daughter sits in prison, her biological father does nothing to support her.  He had seen our son three times in 10 years and that was only because I invited him to my son’s birthday parties and dog sat for him once.

Then there is my husband.  He is not only a truly wonderful man, he is a magnificent Father.  A huge part of what attracted me to him was his love for and his devotion to his children.  And eventually, his love for, and support of, my children.  He continues to offer support and guidance to my daughter through her challenges.   He recently adopted my son, autism and all.  He is their Dad in every sense of the word.

My husband wants every minute he can possibly get with all of our children.  Unfortunately, sometimes he is denied that right.  If you’ve read any of my other posts you are well aware of the antics we experience at the whimsy of the ex.  If you’re not familiar with our story let’s just sum it up with these three key phrases:  parental alienation, abusive/personality disordered woman, using  the children as pawns for control and manipulation.  By my way of thinking, if a child is blessed enough to have a father who cares, who wants to be active in their life and provide a solid, positive influence, why would you want to interfere in that?

Today I have thought a lot about my stepdaughter that isn’t my husband’s biological child.  How do you think she feels about Father’s Day?  To our knowledge, she doesn’t know the identity of her biological father.  At 10 years old her mother very effectively stole her father from her.  She was told by her mother the day we had the children’s cheeks swabbed that her daddy wasn’t really her daddy.  She was made to be the outcast by her mother.  Biology didn’t change the way my husband felt about his daughter.  He had loved her and cared for her from the time she was a baby.  Now suddenly he was the bad guy.  And all so the mother could hide her crimes.  This young girl is now graduated from high school and about to be an adult.  She suffers emotional issues and has trouble making and keeping friends.  Her own siblings have long been fearful of her.  She has been in trouble with the law.  Why?  In my opinion because the loving relationship she had with the man she knew as her father was destroyed.  You see, whether as an ex you like it or not, Daddy‘s are very important.

This type of thing is happening to men all the time.  We are making progress in the courts and in the views of society but we still have a long way to go.  Just because a woman is a mother does not automatically make her the better parent.  Just because a parent has physical custody does not give them the right to interfere with the relationship between a child and the other parent.  As a stepparent I feel it is important to support both parents to the children regardless of your feelings.  And believe me, I know that at times the feelings can be very negative.  But children need both parents.  Little girls and boys need a Daddy.  No matter what their age.  And kids need to be allowed to be kids.  They don’t need to have your emotional baggage and insecurities dumped on them.  It’s hard enough just being a kid.

So a big, enthusiastic Happy Father’s Day to all you wonderful men who love and adore your children as my husband does.  Much love to you.  Keep your head up and work towards doing the best you can to make things right.  If we can’t make the changes fast enough to help ourselves, at least we can work towards keeping these things from happening to other families in the future.

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Parent Alienation and the Wizard of Oz

Written by Carolan Ross

http://www.squidoo.com/parent-alienation-syndrome-pas

After almost twelve years of watching this woman in action, it shouldn’t still surprise me.  The selfishness.  The greed.  The diminished concern for her own children.  The lies and manipulations.  The way she has mastered the art of playing the victim.  I tell myself it can’t possibly continue, yet it does.  Year after year.

With my husbands most recent increase, he now pays about $900 per month in child support for one child.  This is more than he paid when he and the ex divorced and he was paying support on four children.  To say that the child support system needs an overhaul is a gross understatement.  Many men are unjustly charged with outrageous child support amounts.  Others never experience any type of increase, while still others are never ordered to pay support at all.  Yes, we are in need of a major “re-do” on a national level.  But what’s on my mind is what’s happening right here under my roof.

One of the things that most attracted me to my husband when I first met him was how he loved and cared for his children.  They were all quite young then, the oldest being nine and the youngest having just turned three.  The summer before we married, I watched as this wonderful man worked several odd jobs, including digging ditches for sprinkler systems, to have extra money to buy the kids the things they needed.  At the time, it was primarily clothes and food.  In spite of the fact that he was paying around $850 a month in child support, he was still buying clothes, personal care supplies, school supplies, etc. and helping with daycare costs.

Having been a single mom, responsible for providing for my own children, I realize the importance of both parents contributing to the health, welfare and financial security of their children.  The responsibilities, as well as the joys, of raising your children should be shared.  In my opinion, this is what is most beneficial to the children. (Provided of course, that there aren’t extenuating circumstances.)  The problem that I have with my husband paying $900 a month in child support for his son is that it isn’t going to provide for this young mans needs.

My stepson has shown up wearing shoes with the entire side blown out.  He has come to our home with underwear packed in his bag that were at least two sizes too small, telling us that was all he had.  No socks.  He didn’t have any.  Or worse, wearing women’s socks (those of his mother or sisters) because he didn’t have any.  He has repeatedly worn ill-fitting clothing.  Pants so tight they cannot zip that he explained had to be worn with a long shirt so that teachers and the other kids in school did not notice.  Most recently, he has been wearing jeans that are size 34 waist, bunched up with a belt.  Who’s pants are these anyway?  My stepson wears a size 18 boys.  For Christmas, several things he was given by his mother were from Salvation Army and still had the tags on them.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with Salvation Army.  Especially if that’s what your budget dictates.  I take issue with this however because my husband is paying MORE than enough child support to make sure his son is nicely clothed, properly fed and appropriately groomed.

I can hear some of the arguments now…”It’s going toward providing housing, paying utilities, buying food, etc.” Maybe partly, yes, I can agree somewhat.  But what about clothes, shoes, haircuts?  Lunch money, school supplies?  Shouldn’t these items be paid for out of my husbands child support?  Instead of spending money on the kids, let’s take just one small peek at where the money goes…

Since 2000, the ex-wife has had the following vehicles:  Mitsubishi Montero (which was my husbands but the court ordered them to trade vehicles as she had traded her four door Toyota sedan for a Mitsubishi Eclipse not capable of safely hauling all four children), New Honda Accord (which she lost due to bankruptcy), Old Honda Accord, Jeep Grand Cherokee (I had bought one so she had to have one also), Black Honda Pilot (the guy she was seeing at the time had bought a White Honda Pilot), Old White BMW Sedan (the kids told us the passenger door was falling off and couldn’t be used but hey, it was a BMW, right?), Silver BMW SUV, Black BMW Sedan, White Honda Pilot (purchased after my stepdaughter bought a new car), and a Gray Pontiac Solstice (she “needed” a convertible). Seriously?  TEN (10) cars in eleven years???

What about vacations?  This woman takes several trips every year (most WITHOUT the children).  I could list many of them, but I will spare you the sordid details.  She is gainfully employed and has finally remarried.  What she chooses to spend HER money on is frankly not my business.  I just feel the needs of the kids should come first.  Hopefully by now, you are getting my point.  It is not my husbands fault that she is so completely financially inept.  Child support MUST be for the benefit of the child/children.

When my husband visited with his attorney about the increase he asked if there was any way to ask for an accounting of the child support.  Couldn’t he ask that at least 50% of it been spent on items specifically for his son?  Couldn’t she be required to give receipts?  Unfortunately, in our state, the answer is a big, fat NO.  We asked if we couldn’t take the increase and deposit it in a trust for the child’s benefit with the balance going to him once he reached a certain age.  Once again, the answer is NO.

It’s not right.  With the child support increase, we can no longer afford to buy extra clothes, supplies, haircuts, etc. for my stepson.  So we sit by and watch the hard-earned money go up in smoke.  We don’t have much longer to pay.  A little over three years.  For all the other men (and women) who pay child support, I hope we can see change.  I hope they are someday soon given the right to know for certain that their hard-earned dollars are being spent to help their babies.

This wasn’t always the case.  Some of my long time friends and work associates will tell you that at one point I considered a funeral and a wedding nearly the same event.  I know, it is morbid, but that’s how I felt.  In my eyes, it was a certain death, either way.

Blame it on my background.  My mom and dad divorced when I was three and my dad quickly disappeared from the picture.  Actually, he disappeared from the entire state to avoid having to pay child support.  At that time the State and Federal child support programs didn’t exist.  My mother remarried.  I spent the rest of my childhood working my butt off in some twisted real-life version of Cinderella.  Only there was no handsome prince.

During my school years I could best be described as a bookworm.  I read daily, I wrote, I painted.  Books, art and animals were, and still are, passions of mine.  Dating was something I didn’t do until I was out of school.  And then, sparingly.  I was a free spirit interested in learning about people, places, things.  Come to think of it, I still have those free-spirited tendencies.

Having watched my mother’s marriage to a very controlling man, I always thought there was no way I would marry a man like that!  Well, at the tender young age of twenty-one I ended up pregnant, and then married to a man just like that.  For the next twelve years I was like a caged lion.  Pacing, pacing, pacing.  Work and my children were my constants as my husband and I lived vastly different, and separate lives, out of the same home.  The only “real” marriage I had to use for comparison was my Grandparents.  But those were different times, right?  And what would happen if the children didn’t have their father?  This thought in particular tormented me.  I only wanted the best for them.  At the time, I thought that had to be two parents.

Now, being married to someone you have no desire to spend any time with does have its perks.  Almost every weekend I took my children on outings; children’s museums, children’s theater, events with their favorite characters…we had so much fun.  At work I excelled in whatever projects I was given.  I was focused and driven.  I was well paid.  But still, at the end of the day, something was missing.  When I looked in the mirror I saw a woman who lived a big, fat lie!

I finally screwed up the courage to divorce him.  No easy task mind you.  The one thing I learned during my divorce is that controlling people tend to get a little crazy when they lose control.  But in the end, when it was over, he disappeared too.  No contact with our children at all.

To give us a fresh start I bought a new home.  A small house outside of town on an acre.  Lots of trees.  Gravel road.  Quiet.  A good place for a single mom to raise two beautiful children.  Work was going good.  The kids and I were back to our weekend adventures.  It was grand.

So who can blame me when my daughter and her best friend started bugging me about meeting their Science teacher and I told them both to get lost?  I wasn’t interested in dating someone.  Why would I mess up this great little life I had going on?  And to top it off, he had four kids.  Four small children and an ex-wife.  No thank you girls!

Thankfully, I didn’t stick to my resolve.  After about six months of pestering, they wore me down.  I gave in and agreed to meet this man.  It struck me that my daughter was so insistent that I would like him.  He couldn’t be all bad, right?  I could at least enjoy a cup of coffee with him.

The rest is history.  Two things moved me that morning; my husbands obvious love for his children, and his patience.  As we sat and swapped stories, compared history, talked about our marriages and our divorces, I couldn’t help but relax.  He touched my hand and he touched my heart.  Eleven years later he still touches my heart.  More than ever in fact.  Even after we have gone through so much.

How is it that I can have a bond this strong with a man who I met while my heart was so hardened?  We often say that it is because our first marriages were so unhappy.  Maybe that is some of it.  It takes more than simple appreciation but I believe that goes a long way.  I know I am thankful every day to be so blessed.  Thankful for the love he shows all of our children.

This marriage bears no resemblance to my first save perhaps the real legal document filed at the courthouse.  My husband and I have no biological children together.  We simply didn’t feel the need or the want to add to the six already here.  Maybe that is a big part of it.  We don’t have any “ties” that bind.  We are together because we want to be together.  We are together because trust each other.  We respect each other as separate and independent people.  We allow and honestly encourage each other to pursue our goals and dreams.  We have freedom.  Freedom to embrace who we truly are and that which is important to us.  That to me is the definition of true love.

Why is it that children always get stuck in the middle?  Children are innocent of the breaking down of the relationship.  They are innocent of your inability to act as a mature adult and allow them to have a healthy, whole relationship with BOTH parents.  They are innocent of the animosity and deceit that usually enters their home when parents separate.  It doesn’t matter what happened, or who’s “fault” you think it is.  As a parent, it is your responsibility to protect them, to teach them, to keep them safe.

Once again, I understand both positions.  I have two biological children.  They mean the world to me.  When they were under age, I never took their biological Father back to court for increases in child support.  He visited our children three times prior to our first divorce.  After that, they never saw him.  He never sent birthday cards, presents, etc.  He had absolutely no positive contribution to make to the physical, mental or spiritual well-being of my children, so I wasn’t about to kick the hornet’s nest.  Any contact in the past few years was due to my daughter being an adult, and/or my husband and I inviting him to my son’s birthday parties.

My daughter had many questions growing up about why her Daddy never came to see them.  I told her he had things he was working on, that he loved them very much and that his being away had nothing to do with them.  Never once, and I mean NEVER once, did I utter a bad word about him to my children.  I am very proud of this because it was incredibly difficult.  It was my own personal, on-going exercise in self-discipline.

On the flip side, I have four step-children.  I met the children after dating my husband for a while, when it became obvious we were serious about a long-term relationship with each other.  We all got along great, and although they were all young, that didn’t worry me as I am from a family of six children.  Now, once again being incredibly naïve, I was expecting that I would have an adult relationship with the mother of these children.  I came into the picture two years after the divorce, and from what I had been told by people knowing both my husband and the ex, there was no love lost on either side.  It seemed they cooperated nicely with the responsibilities that come with four young children.  How could I go wrong, right?  LOL  Wrong!

Once it was obvious we were serious, the games began.  Withholding visitation, denying contact via phone, telling the children that they would get back together if it weren’t for me.  We actually got married on a Tuesday, during mid-week visitation, to be able to have the children attend.  Over the years, it has only gotten worse.  There is a thick file folder down at the courthouse  in public records that tells the story.

But it’s the children who have suffered.  The ex has said many things over the years that are simply not true.  She has told the kids that my husband hasn’t paid child support, that he is trying to get them taken away (in fact he did get custody but that’s for another post), that I am the reason she doesn’t have any money.   I could go on and on and on, but you get the idea.  How is it edifying to the children to hear any of this even if it WERE true?  It’s not.  The kids have no place being stuck in the middle.  I don’t care what your ex did to you.  That person is still half of that child.  And YOU are the adult.

Emotional warfare.  That’s what it is.  Just like in King Solomon’s day…the person who loves the child will give in, simply to protect.  That is love.