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What To Do....When Your Ex Wants To Get Involved

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If you agree or disagree with something I have said, e-mail me to make your opinions known. Your response may be featured in the next issue.

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Case Of The EX
 
I got an interesting e-mail a week ago. One of my readers, who has requested that I refer to her as *Alison, sent me an e-mail explaining that her ex-husband, who has never visited or spoken with their children, expressed a desire to be in their lives during a phone call they were having. Alison also included the details of their turbulent  marriage and tumultuous divorce. Alison was six months pregnant with their twins Jameson and Jared when she discovered that her husband was having an affair with a former lover.
 
Once the divorce proceedings began, *Bill decided that he wasn't ready for a family and did not want to be a part of the twins' lives. Off the record: BIG MISTAKE. Ali went on to say that she made no effort to push the boys off on Bill once the divorce had been finalized. Alison has since remarried, and unfortunately been widowed by the horrific events that transpired on September 11th. Not long after losing her husband Andrew, Al received a phone call from Bill in which he gave her his sympathies and stated that he wanted to be a part of their boys' growing up. Keep in mind that their boys are now eleven, and have always thought of Andrew as their father. Al asked me if she should allow Bill to come into their lives at some point.
 
She said they're still grieving and they need time before they're introduced to a man they've never met and that wants to be their father. He's made some changes and is now ready to take on fatherhood.
 
This is what I told her.
 
Personally, I don't think you should, because it would cause too much stress for the boys not only because your family recently lost Andrew so suddenly, but because Bill didn't want to have anything to do with them at first. Are you ready to let him come back into your life as well? And while I'm talking about it, are you sure you're not letting Bill back in so you don't have to be alone?
 

I experienced a similar situation with my father. He up and told my mom  that he wanted to be a part of my life. She let him, and it took me several years to forgive her for it. And several therapy sessions. But, I didn't want to be unfair and draw on my own bitter experiences with that man and not research the issue. First, as you might remember, I held a chat for my adult readers that experienced this kind of thing as children and asked them to answer the following question:

Topic: Did one or both of your parents abandon you and try to be a part of your life years later? If so, how did you feel about the end result?

By the end of the chat, an overwhelming 68 percent said that their experience was negative, they ended up resenting not only the parent that abandoned them and came back later, but also the parent that allowed the other to do so. Well, not so much the  parent that stuck with them, but their decision.

Another ten percent said they simply didn't respond to the returning parent.

Eighteen percent said that  they either felt they didn't need them or flat out ignored him/her. One lady said at that time she felt she didn't need any more confusion in her life. She was only eight then, but can recall being angry because her father didn't marry her mother in the first place.

Three percent said they couldn't recall that their parents made any effort at all.

One percent said that they had the experience was pleasant, and that they were glad that the parent wanted to be with them. Ashlie, 19, said that she was grateful her father came back, because his return was well-timed. "My dad came back at exactly the right time, just when I needed a second shoulder to cry on." Ashlie's parents ended up remarrying, and have been together ever since. That was twelve years ago, when Ashlie was barely seven years old.

But I didn't stop there.

I have a good friend (okay, ex-boyfriend, but still a good friend) that fell into his sociology professor's good graces at MIT last year and has been conducting research projects at his side. He and his instructor had just released the results of an eight-month study on the children of divorced parents. He said he was saddened by what he found. Twelve student participants out of every fifteen they surveyed reported having some level of resentment for the returning parent. He said that the most common reason for the resentment was the parent's confusion. They'd leave, come back, leave, come back, you catch my drift. What about the other three? Although their responses were more positive, the positivity was slight.

I sent all of this information to Alison, and she promised to get back in touch with me once she's made her decision.

*All names have been changed to protect the afflicted and no longer innocent.

~Jennifer

 

 

 

 

Coming Up In The August Issue: Have you experienced racism that caused your spouse or significant other to end your relationship? Ten Black women tell me their stories.