Friday, August 19, 2011

Divorced dads don't have the right to start anew?

So last night, I was on my favorite forum and someone posted about how his marriage had recently broken up.  Though he had kids with his first wife, this person admitted to wanting to get remarried and have more kids with his next wife.  Some child of divorce came along and admonished him against getting remarried and having new kids.

This COD explained that s/he was a child of divorce and knew other people who were also children of divorce.  When mom and dad split up, dad became less interested in his first family.  This person explained that the father was at fault and sort of implied that divorced dads have no right to "start over" with a new wife.

Disclaimer here.  I am not a child of divorce, but I am a divorced man's second wife.  I have watched his kids from his first marriage treat him with utter contempt.  I have seen him try to maintain a relationship with his kids, only to be pushed aside in favor of their mom's latest husband.  I have witnessed my husband pouring his hard earned money into his ex-wife's household as if he owed her reparations for the fact their marriage broke up.  I have suffered the heartbreak of not being able to conceive naturally because my husband agreed to have a vasectomy at his first wife's behest, only to watch her have two more kids with her current husband.  That last part was pretty hurtful to me.  I have always wanted to be a mom, but I decided I wanted to be with my husband more than I wanted to have a child.

Why the hell shouldn't my husband start over with someone who appreciates him?  Why shouldn't my husband, as a divorced dad, be able to have a family with me if his first wife dumps him, especially if she gets his kids to reject him?  And why shouldn't I, as someone who never had children before, feel free to have kids with the man I love?  Especially when my husband's kids seem to hate his guts and refuse to have anything to do with him?  And even if the divorce had been amicable, why shouldn't a man have the right to try again after divorce?  Maybe he and his first wife weren't compatible.  That doesn't necessarily mean he can't and shouldn't find happiness with someone else.

I have never heard anyone tell a divorced woman that she shouldn't have kids with a subsequent husband.  In fact, most people I know think a woman who gets divorced deserves sympathy.  Why?  Because more often than not, mom has custody of the kids from her first marriage.  So they grow up with her.  Dad is much more likely to be marginalized when mom remarries.  So his kids are more likely to grow up thinking that he's got a better life with a new woman.  He's safer to hold in contempt because he's not there on a daily basis and moms too often encourage that attitude.  And his new wife... God help her!  Seems like no matter what, people tend to think a second wife/stepmom is a homewrecker, no matter what actually caused the divorce.

In my husband's case, the ex dumped him over Easter at my husband's dad's house.  Then when he agreed to sign the divorce papers, she claimed she never actually wanted to split up!  She was just hoping to force him to "rock bottom" and get him to agree to her terms.  What kind of a wife and mother screws around with the "D" word if they don't mean it?  Why would anyone joke about something so serious?  

Anyway, that COD made it clear that s/he thinks fathers have no right to happiness and should plan to be celibate if they get a divorce.  Having a baby with a new partner is wrong because it will hurt the feelings of the kids he had with his first wife.  They will feel "replaced"-- as if it's really possible for a parent to replace one of their children.  Well, adult kids of divorce, here's a news flash.  Relationships are a two way street.  If you don't have a good relationship with a parent and you're feeling like you've been replaced, maybe you should take an honest look at yourself.  Do you make an effort to stay involved in your parent's life?  Do you call or write?  When your parent calls or writes to you, do you respond?  Do you treat your parent the way you would want to be treated?

I'm not saying there aren't any parents out there who are jerks.  I know there are.  Children of divorce who truly have been rejected or ignored by a parent have my deepest sympathy.  But I also think that divorced people absolutely should have the right to start anew with someone else.

Children of divorce almost always grow up to be adults.  Perhaps those of them who feel that their parents have no right to start anew might want to consider that they themselves might someday be a parent in the very same situation.  And they will hope for empathy and understanding from their kid(s).

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