Bill E. Branscum ©2000
If your parents are divorced, what happened
between them? Whose fault was it; was the other parent
able to deal with it and look after you? Did the non-custodial
parent pay their child support?
Now, ask several of your friends the same
questions until you have talked to ten people whose parents
divorced when they were children. You'll get a lot of
different answers but the answer you won't get is, "I
Just as we all know what happened between
our parents, our children will know what happened with
us. Just as we judge our parents, our children will judge
us. It's the sort of thing we all should keep in mind.
I am blessed that my former wife is someone I can communicate
with; as private investigators, we saw divorcing couples
behave worse than children.
If your wife left, for whatever reason and under whatever
circumstances, don't run her down to your kids. They'll
know who and what she was soon enough. If you absolutely
must go bubble busting, tell them the truth about Santa
but let them believe in their Mom.
Repeat after me,
"Your mother IS the finest woman I
ever met, that's why I married her. Things didn't work
out between us and WE went our separate ways but WE both
love you and WE will always be here for you, no matter
Face it fellas, when you sit down at the
table with your kids and whine that you have no money
because, "Momma isn't doing her part," deride her for
the filthy things she did, denounce her for abandoning
you, or whatever you lay on them in an effort to stroke
your ego, you are self-servedly abusing your children.
Make no mistake about it, dragging your children into
the blame game is a sorry, selfish thing to do.
I doubt that you are any more afflicted
by "Type A," "Double Y," temper prone, testosterized genetics
than I am. I know what it is to have felt hate, hurt and
driven to strike back. I am sure we all have days when
we'd really like to strangle the life out of someone,
and I suspect we have all had days when pretty much anyone
Take up a contact sport, push plates around
in a gym, wrestle alligators or whatever you have to do,
but leave the kids to love and respect their Moms - even
if you have to manufacture an illusion. Forget the blame
game nonsense; life's too short. Chances are, any Sunday
paper will have weight sets and treadmills for sale that
someone meant to use and didn't. Invest a few bucks and
put all that aggression to good use. Clear your head,
drop a few pounds and resurrect a positive attitude. That's
how you win.
|Go to the supermarket, pick out the stuff for
some killer "trail mix." Chocolate covered raisins, Party
Mix, almonds, walnuts, pecans, mini-whoppers, dried fruit,
Poppycock - whatever suits you. Make up a big batch of it
with your kids and let them package it up in those baggies
that look like they are meant to hold half a sandwich. When
your kids report that their classmates covet their snacks
- that's winning.
You're a man, you know things, put your strengths to work.
Go to the hardware store, buy the materials and build your
kids a tree house. If you don't have trees (all we have
are palms), they can be free standing.
This one wasn't terribly expensive to buy. Dee bought it
years ago and put it together herself with very little help.
By all appearances, it will last forever even in the heat
and humidity we have here in SW Florida.
||Adults think in terms of reality and limitations
- kids live in a world of dreams and imagination where there
are no limits. There's no place like a tree house and it can
be that way for you too. Take a day off and spend a few hours
in your tree house with two preschoolers and a hand crank
ice cream maker - that's winning.
Take your kids fishing. I watched my baby girl wrestle
a bass into the shallows and then, unable to lift it out
of the water, jump in and get it.
I guess you had to be there but it was hysterical - no
angler in history was ever so proud. I laughed until I cried.
|Maybe you just don't have any money and your
ex shows up a couple of times a month to show the kids a big
time and buy some affection like some kind of "Disney World
Dad" with boobs. So what? Encourage them to have a good time
with their Mom - why ruin that for them? When they get home,
help them draw the things they remember and color them - that's
|You can read can't you - if not, here's a picture!
Get a big book the kids will be interested in and read with
them every night. Gulliver's Travels, Treasure Island, Peter
Pan, Alice in Wonderland . . . give me a library card and
a couple of boxes of crayons and my kids can live all the
mystery and enchantment that the most talented minds in the
world conjured up - that's winning.
Don't buy into gender related limitations
and perceptions. Join the PTA, be a "Soccer Mom" with biceps,
and do it all better than any of them. Be more active, contribute
more time and energy and bake things. If you need some help
with recipes, buy a cook book or search the web. Most "real
moms" these days get their contributions from the bakery
at the grocery store - do a little research, experiment
a little, and you can make better brownies, cookies and
fudge than anybody - that's winning.
Maybe you just don't see it. Maybe you really
were married to the single one most miserable wretch on
earth who stole your stuff and left you with nothing but
your kids and a litany of incurable diseases. Perhaps she
trashed your life so badly that you are uncontrollably driven
to share all the sordid details with your children because
it builds you up in their eyes and makes you feel so good
about yourself. In that case, you best get a grip. Running
your mouth around your children hurts nobody but them, it's
demeaning to you and not worth it.
I promise you, whomever you are and whatever
you have been through, the day will come that your children
will grow up and they'll know who did what without any input
from you. You want to "win" - just leave it alone,
and they will remember you as the person who was there for
them, stayed there for them and insulated them from all
the grief and heartbreak that comes of a failed relationship.
Time, is inexorable; you and she will age
until you die and you'll watch your children mature along
the way. Although it is easy too fool a child, when the
day comes that they see things as they are and were, you'll
get what you deserve - whatever that happens to be. If there
is a hell on earth, I think it would be to look into the
eyes of your children to see emptiness and contempt knowing
that you earned it.
Above all else in this world, I value the
love and respect I see in the eyes of my own. It's a thing
that nothing, and nobody, can ever take from you unless
you throw it away.
Maybe you've already said too much. You cannot
unring a bell but nothing says that once you've rung it,
you have to go right on clanging away like a fool. Repeat
"Your mother IS the finest woman I
ever met, that's why I married her. Things didn't work out
between us and WE went our separate ways but WE both love
you and WE will always be here for you, no matter what."