June 06, 2012,
S.R. asks from Milwaukee, WI on June 04, 2012
Divorced Parents Getting Along
My parents have been divorced for almost 30 years. My mom is remarried for about 25 years and my dad never remarried and is happy as can be. My dad lived in a different state until the last year. He's getting older and wanted to be with his children and grandchildren. He drove up to visit and stayed with each of us nbefore he lived here. So he's always been a part of our lives. The problem is when it comes to family gatherings my step dad is refusing to attend. My mother missed my sons graduation because he decided last minute that they could not go. he threatened to divorce her if she went. There is no reason at all for him to be jealous of my dad because they don't have any feelings toward each other but he feels like my real dad is taking his place now that he lives here. I am going to see a therapist to assist with these issues because it is very hard for us children to learn values to use in our own lives with our children and dads/stepfathers. I am learning what not to do if anything! I feel bad for my mom and she asked that we have seperate parties for our kids but there's 13 grandchildren in the family so it's hard enough to get everyone together more less have 2 parties for every bday,holiday and graduation. Im sure my therapist will help me out with ways to deal with this but I was wondering if any of you have experienced this and how to deal with it so our children have a chance to be with all of their grandparents for happy occassions.
K.C. answers from Norfolk on June 05, 2012
My sister and I came to the conclusion that we will not make special arrangements for our step-parents' unfounded jealousy. We have an event and invite all the parents. Whoever wants to come does, whoever doesn't doesn't. It is not your problem whatsoever, and I can tell you that once you stop worrying about it, life is good!
If you think it will make you feel better, then I suggest you and your siblings sit down with your Mom and Stepdad, and reassure him how much his presence is appreciated and missed. But also assert that you will not be making special accommodations for his insecurities. The rest is up to them. Best of luck to your family!
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N.W. answers from Eugene on June 04, 2012
They get to choose. Your step-dad gets to choose not to come to family gatherings. Your mom gets to choose whether to stay home with him or go by herself and risk a divorce. If they choose not to come, it's up to them to make other arrangements to see their grandchildren or have a separate party because they won't attend the regular one with everyone else.
I feel bad for your mom, too. But maybe this is what it takes for her to realize how unhealthy her marriage is. Her husband sounds like a piece of work.
Life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful. Even if all the grandparents can't come together, your children can still experience happy occassions.
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T.S. answers from San Francisco on June 04, 2012
Your mom is the one who needs a therapist, not you. She is being controlled by her husband. After 25 years of marriage she should be free to attend family functions with or without him.
If he's threatening to divorce her over this then there is something very wrong. I hope your mom is eventually able to stand up to him and enjoy her family again :(
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M.P. answers from Portland on June 04, 2012
I suggest that this is a problem your mother has to work thru. I suggest you make plans and do things just as you want to do them. It is impossible to try to please just one person.
Yes, it does hurt tremendously. If your mother were writing this, I'd suggest that she go to the family events by herself. Call his bluff. Or if he's serious, why would she want to be held slave by her husband. He's being terribly immature. I'm guessing he controls her in many ways.
Bottom line, this is a problem that you cannot change. It's really your mother's problem. Good that you're doing counseling because it does directly affect you.
I wonder if you could arrange times, not necessarily full family events, but times she can visit with your children with just you and your children. Give her grandma time separate from the family events.
My daughter and my cousin's husband will not be at the same event together. I spend time with each without the other. We have family events separately. I go to my daughter's house for Christmas on Christmas and I go to my cousin's on a different day. Or for lesser holidays perhaps divide the day.
I suggest that you mother can do the same thing. She can decide to accept whatever time is available. She is making the choice here and it's not your responsibility to rearrange your life to fit her choices.
I also suggest that his is not your parents not getting along. It's your mother's husband not getting along. He's being unreasonable and I do wonder why she would want to sacrifice family time to be with him. But, again, it's her choice and not your responsibility.
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K.H. answers from Norfolk on June 04, 2012
You are in a difficult position. Your step-father really owns this problem, and is making your family life miserable. It sounds as though HE is the one who needs the counseling. My former spouse and I go to the same family gatherings with our respective significant others frequently; for the kids' sake. Both of our children are grown, but I know that it still means a lot to them that all involved in the family attend. Perhaps your step-father feels competitive with your father. In any case, his immaturity is hurting you and the children. Continue to go to counseling. You may be able to work this out. Don't give up! Best of luck to you!
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L.A. answers from Austin on June 04, 2012
It is your mother and her husband who need therapy. He really is the one withe the issue here.
Your mother needs to learn to stand up to him and say, this our family and we will be going together or I will go alone. She is not responsible for his insecurity here
I hope in this, therapy you learn to just let them deal with this and not get pulled into it. I do totally understand. My stepfather pulled this and my mother told him he could pout at home alone, or he could suck it up and join us in having fun.
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J.R. answers from Davenport on June 05, 2012
I would probably have this type of issue too, if my FIL and step-MIL lived closer, my MIL would probably refuse to come to parties if they were coming. She did this once where they happened to be in town for my Duaghter's birthday, everyone was invited, and FIL and Step-MIL were staying with us at our house, where the party was, so MIL called and said she would really prefer we have 2 parties so che could attend after he had gone home to TN. Well, I told her she was welcome to attend THE PARTY, or come over on her own another day and see the grandkids, but I was not having 2 whole parties. Luckily FIL lives 8 hours away, so there is rarely a conflict - they have been divorced for 25 years at least, and she can't deal (although she has been remarried for 22 years?!) with being around him - and it is not like he acts like a jerk to her or anything.
My parents have been divorced "only" 12 years, and they get along fine at family parties - becasue they realize the party is ABOUT the Person/Child it is being thrown FOR, not all about them, so the focus is on the guest of honor, not their issues. That said, I wouldn't do something like throw a party FOR my mom and invite my dad to it, or his side of the family either - BUT when itis for me, or my kids, who are related to both sides, everyone is invited and expected to act like ADULTS, not childish little brats. I am sure this is party of why MIL has an issue with this - becasue she thinks EVERYTHING is about HER (she's very dramatic and self involved), and can't shift her focus to the person the party is FOR....maybe your Step Dad is like that, too.
Both sets of divorced parents and their 2nd spouses/my dad's girlfriend came to our wedding (my parents had only been divorced 2 years at that point, after 28 years of marriage), as did DH's estranged Sister, But we DID talk to the "troublemakers" ahead of time (mostly SIL and MIL) and told them they better mind their manners, because ANYONE involved in any verbal or physical altercation would be ejected/removed from the wedding/reception, no matter who you are, or who started it. I had both my mom and dad walk me down the aisle. Luckily everyone came and everyone behaved; and it was a beautiful day for us.
I would say sit them down - your mom and step dad since they really seem to be the issue - and tell them you are not having 2 parties for every occassion, period. Everyone related to the person the party is for, will be invited, and it would be nice for the kids/grandkids, if their parents/grandparents would come and mind their manners and put the focus on the the children, instead of their petty issues. If they choose not to go, it is their loss and the kids WILL notice, make no mistake about that.
I would say good for you and for going to therapy, it may help you set up appropriate boundries and figure out ways to react to your step dad's tactics - you might wanna suggest to your mom that she/they need to go to therapy too. I would say that if your step dad is acting like this now, he has been like this in some way the whole time they have been married, your dad being nearby has just made it worse/stronger. It has definitely been long enough, and they are grown ups and should be able to deal with getting along for a couple hours for a family party.
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☆.A. answers from Pittsburgh on June 04, 2012
One of my BFFs in-laws are divorced. Her FIL has been married to his "new" wife LONGER than he was to wife #1. Guess what? Wife #1 STILL can't move on--again -- not her kids issue to "fix" -- it's HER issue to fix. With therapy if necessary.
Here's my take on it. Invite everyone to everything.
This is not your issue.
You don't need to hold separate events. NO WAY. Again--THEIR issue.
If your mom lacks the spine to attend alone without her pout-pout face husband, then she's going to miss out on a lot of events, isn't she?
What she's asking is unfair.
They need to grow up and deal.
Especially your stepfather. (And actually, I'm shocked that ANYTHING would keep a grandma away from an even like that!)
It was all "OK" when your dad was geographically unavailable, now that he's near--your stepfather is acting like a baby. Your mom is acting like she's a 5 year old.
We don't get to dictate the world we live in as far as the behavior of others.
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