HuffPost Divorce is such a piece of crap. Check out this post from last month. It has a video of a smiling boy interviewing his mom and step-mom. And guess what? It’s all about THEM. Wow, I’m so surprised (not).
The first question and answer is worth dissecting since it reveals a theme we will be exploring quite a bit.
Son: Mom, when I was younger, were you worried about meeting my future step-mom?
Mom: Yes, I was completely freaked out by that situation. Sharing you with your dad was a way of life and it was all I had known so that was fine, but knowing that one day I was going to have to share you with a future hypothetical step-mom… this idea of the other woman really freaked me out. Then the day came that I met Julie, your step-mom, and all of that went away because she is incredible and she made it OK for me. She really made that OK for me. So… you’re very lucky. You have an awesome step-mom.
There is a lot embedded there:
- When you divorce your child’s other parent, you are opening the door to a step-parent entering your child’s life.
- You have ZERO control over the kind of person this is. They could be good, bad or indifferent. In this case, the step was is “awesome” according to the mom, but…
- You have increased your child’s risk factors for abuse, neglect, and other harmful events. The Cinderella Effect is real.
- You are making an implicit statement that you no longer want to spend your life with your child on a full time basis.
- You are making an implicit statement that you are willing to have a complete stranger, one you had no say in vetting, spend potentially significant amounts of time raising your child.
- You are lying about your ex-spouse. If the person is horrible, then your child shouldn’t be going there. If your child is going there with your approval, then they can’t be that horrible… and if they aren’t that horrible, why did you leave and tear your child’s world into two pieces?
The video is also a good example of how kids of divorce had to put up with profoundly unnatural situation of two moms (and two dads) long before the kids of gays did. More on that later.
Finally, remember that kids of divorce have very little language, and zero incentive, to accurately express how they feel about things like:
- You increasing their risk factors for the Cinderella Effect.
- You not wanting to be with them on a full time basis any more.
- You being willing to have a stranger, that you did not vet, spend potentially significant amounts of time raising them.
- You lying about their other parent.
In fact, the incentive works in the other direction. They are incentivized to endorse your choices even though those choices cause them pain. So you can’t trust what the kids say. It’s not that they are deliberately being dishonest. It’s that it feels like there is no use in telling the truth.