This morning, I went to one of my favorite online messageboards and read an interesting post by a frustrated stepmother. It seems her husband's son and daughter, both of whom are adults with kids of their own, are still in child mode.
The son, who is 30 years old and a father and stepfather, recently asked if he could move in with dear old dad and stepmom because his bills are catching up with him. Apparently, he found his drug addicted girlfriend in bed with his sister's drug addicted boyfriend. Incidentally, son is still legally married to another woman, with whom he has two children. He has another child with another woman, whom he managed to knock up while he was still with his wife. Both his wife and his ex-girlfriend are on the rampage for back child support, none of which he's managed to pay.
Meanwhile, this woman's stepdaughter has four kids, three of which are by the drug addicted boyfriend who is screwing her brother's girlfriend. This adult stepdaughter is very alienated and wants nothing to do with her father, unless he's willing to give her money or buy her gifts. She sends him emails or calls only when she wants or needs something. She claims that her dad only cares about his wife's children... all three of which are college educated and gainfully employed. I doubt that dear old dad really doesn't care about his kids; however, with the way they treat him and their entitled attitudes, I wouldn't blame him if he did prefer his wife's more responsible offspring.
Moving on... the other day, I read an article about the Southwest Airlines pilot who held up a flight so a grandfather who was running late would make it onboard. Apparently, this man's two year old grandson had been tossed against a wall by his mother's boyfriend and had suffered injuries so severe that he was on life support. And that life support would be cut off within a couple of hours, whether grandpa was there to say goodbye or not. I had to wonder if that poor boy's biological father was anywhere on the scene. After all, he was only two years old... The father's relationship with the mother couldn't have been over for that long.
The older I get, the more some people seem to stay children at older ages. Granted, I lived with my parents for a couple of years when I was in my 20s and trying to get launched. But during that time, I had a job and paid my bills. I didn't have any boyfriends or kids. At the time, I thought I was missing out, having seen so many women my age getting married and starting families. But now I realize I was kind of fortunate. I had my education and some valuable life experiences before I tied the knot. I had no kids with someone who was destructive or abusive. Of course, I have no kids today, either. Maybe that's a blessing.
Having been a stepmother for awhile, I've seen the pain that divorce can cause, especially when children are involved. I was fortunate enough to not grow up the child of divorce, but I did grow up the child of an alcoholic. And I sometimes wished my parents would split up for that reason. On the other hand, I guess I'm glad my parents are still together, because they presented a united front in raising me. I could never play one parent against the other because they always worked as a team. Or, at least they worked as a team when an issue came up that they cared about. Truthfully, I'd say I was pretty neglected when I was growing up, especially by today's standards.
Maybe today's kids are, in a way, being overparented. How else can a 30 year old man with kids by two different mothers and a drug addicted girlfriend justify wanting to move in with his father and stepmother... and when he gets his last $800 unemployment check, says he's happy to have some money to spend, completely ignoring the fact that he owes child support and needs to hire a lawyer to take care of his divorce and other legal issues... and perhaps the custody battle that will ensue.
Somehow, I have a feeling this 30 year old man traces his problems to the fact that his parents split up. And he may very well have a valid point. Divorce is very traumatic for all parties involved, except maybe the judges and lawyers and anyone else who makes money off the divorce process. While there are many people out there who put their kids first and do their best to make sure they grow up right, so many others turn their kids into pawns against the other parent or family members... They don't teach their children any personal responsibility or help them mature. These children grow up in the confusing position of having their opinions matter too much... and not enough. They've been taught that their opinions mean a lot when it comes to laying guilt trips on non-custodial parents or extended family. And they've been taught that their opinions mean nothing when it comes to where their loyalties should lie. When those kids reach legal adulthood, quite a few of them don't seem to know what to do with themselves, possibly because they've never had the chance to think for themselves. Growing up, they were too valuable as tools and soldiers in their parents' relationship wars to have time to come of age and learn how to be their own people.
Add to the fact that the world seems to be getting a lot more complicated. Maybe it just seems that way because we watch a lot of CNN or scan the Internet for the latest headlines. The world does seem harder to negotiate and overwhelming, even if you've had a good family in your corner helping you learn the finer points of earning a living and getting by. Some of these kids who are the products of marriages that didn't work out end up being very adult at a young age and savvy out of necessity. And others, like the man and woman whose stories I posted at the beginning of this rant, seem to be 13 year olds trapped in 30 year old bodies.