By Alan Freed
Much has been written, including on this site, about the Internet sensation caused by the seemingly simple act of a father grabbing the hand of his ex-wife’s husband, and insisting that both men walk their daughter down the aisle at her wedding. Many seem amazed that two men they would expect to carry animosity for each other were able, instead, to mutually support a young woman they had both helped raise. Here are a few more thoughts.
I’m a divorce lawyer, and have been for over 32 years. I’m also a stepparent, having served in that honorable role for over 26 years. Way back in 1989, I, a never-married man of 36, wedded a woman with two children—10 and 15 years old at the time—having not lived with children at that point since I was a child myself. We had our challenges, but we made it to the other side in one piece. In the course of seeing those kids through adolescence and young adulthood, we had many interactions with their father, not always pleasant; but we kept in mind that the children’s welfare required us to respect Dad’s role and encourage them to honor him, which they did.
Those kids are now grown and have kids of their own, four adorable little people I’m proud to call my grandchildren. I’m also proud to carry around a picture taken the day my twin grandsons were born. There, sitting on a bench in the hospital room, are the two maternal grandpas, Husband #1 and Husband #2, each holding one of these tiny brand new babies. No animosity, no competition, just two guys sharing in the joy of grandparenthood.
Parenting is hard. Carrying bitterness in your heart for your ex-spouse only makes it harder. Kids don’t care about your conflict with their other parent; they just want to be taken care of, supported, and loved. My wonderful colleague, Nancy Williger, a psychologist with years of experience working with divorcing couples and their children, puts it this way, “Love isn’t finite. To be willing to share that special moment requires someone who understands the more love you give, the more love there is.”
My advice: Don’t waste your energy on anger, hatred, and mistrust. Focus on your kids’ rights to the love of good parents, no matter how many parents they may have.
Here’s a column written by Ellen Futterman for the St. Louis Jewish Light, in which she discussed the topic with me, Nancy Williger, and Meredith Friedman, CEO of Kids In The Middle: https://www.stljewishlight.com/news/news_schmooze/
To speak with an attorney about any family law issue, please feel free to contact Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal, P.C.