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On Parenting

A couple of thoughts here, and I beg your indulgence while I get a bit preachy.

First, a picture one of my FaceSpace friends:

When my parents split up, they violated each and every piece of advice the good judge would have given them.  We were sources of income, tools to harm each other, and inconveniences.  I’ve been divorced.  One of the most important promises I have ever kept was one I made to myself, and that was to never deride the mothers* of my children or allow anyone else to do it where it was at all possible they could hear.  Some of the worst arguments that Irish Woman and I have had were over me not showing anger over something the ex had done or letting Irish Woman complain to me in front of the kids.

My reward to my parents for the way they acted during and after their divorce is to make them non-entities in the lives of my children, and I will never put my children in the position of having to question whether or not being around me would be healthy for their children.  I bite my tongue, I deescalate to the point of prostration, and I give way more than should be asked just so that my kids never hear or see anything from me that will make them think that I believe that 50% of their make-up is wrong.

Anyway, it’s better for the ex’es to demonstrate their ignorance to the kids themselves.

Next, a note on stepchildren:  You divorce the spouse, not their children.  Little Bear was already baking when I met his mother, and he has known no father but me.  He is as much my son as Junior and Boo, and he always will be.  When you marry someone with kids, you take on an awesome responsibility, one that I believe is harder than if they were biologically yours.  You not only have to be a parental figure, whether you want to or not, you usually also have to deal with the other parental figure in the body of the ex.  You can either be a bad example, such as the wicked stepmother syndrome or the jerk stepdad, or you can just be a good parent.  If the marriage to their parent doesn’t work out, if the child still wants and needs you to be there for them, you should at least consider doing what it takes to be a part of their lives.

Finally, we get to the subject of an excellent post by cybrus.  As fathers, we don’t babysit, we parent.  I don’t spend time with my kids because I’m being forced, I do it because it’s what a father does. I agree with cybrus:  Dads need to get off their butts and parent, either solo or in tandem.  One of the reasons I haven’t spoken to my father in over 25 years is because his children were an imposition on his life, and we knew it.  Unless you want that for yourself, spend some time with your kids.

One last thought – Most of the people I know who have kids are excellent parents.  They love them, care for them, discipline them, and enjoy them.  It’s the parents who drop the ball that make life harder for everyone else.  If you’re taking care of business, you have my thanks.

*Yes, plural.  Quick hint to the young people out there:  Never get hitched when you’re on the rebound from a marriage.  It doesn’t end well for anyone involved.

7 Comments

  1. Your children are blessed to have you.

  2. Ditto AGirlandHerGun’s comment!

  3. Thanks guys. Not sure if I’m a blessing or just adequate, but the thought is appreciated.

  4. Of course you’re not sure. You see things from inside your own head.

    You’re doing great. Believe it. My own story involves a father who brought home the big bucks and never missed a chance to make me understand that I was completely, totally worthless and the world would be a much better place without me. I was five years old when I came to understand that.

    Any parent that could be rated as adequate was worlds better than I had. Someone of your caliber wasn’t even living in the same world.

    I tip my fedora and hoist my bourbon glass to you Sir. You’re doing a good job. By your efforts you’re giving the children a pleasant life and an outstanding role model.

  5. The most difficult thing for me to do is to abide by truth of your statement to let the ignorant parent(s) prove their ignorance to their children. It’s so hard for me to keep my mouth shut, but I would much rather the Fries come to the conclusion that their bios are flakes on their own than to have them just hear it from me. (Fortunately, both provide ample proof on their own. But it’s still hard.) We are very careful to limit what we say about the bios around the girls.

    My hope is that, when they’re grown, they’ll see that we were their *real* parents, moreso than those who gave them life.

    From all that I’ve seen and heard from you, you’re doing a great job. I raise my root beer.

  6. Great advice from the judge. I respect the promise you made to yourself and your commitment to fulfilling it.

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