How to Put Your Children in the Middle of Divorce and Custody Woes and Scar them For Life/ The David and Paul Shannon Example

I love a happy ending. Today, the story of David and Paul Shannon caught my attention.

They’re the British brothers who were reunited with their father after a 30 year separation, thanks to the work of television show Long Lost Family.

The Shannon Boys and their father -Daily Mirror
The boys’ parents split long ago when  their father decided to resume his career in politically troubled South Africa, leaving his family in England. The boys’ mother remarried, and the boys took their stepfather’s last name, never allowed to speak of their original father. They were directed to call their stepfather Dad. The men, now adults, described a longing for their real father, and are incredulous that a father could walk away from his kids.
Now, thanks to the television show Long Lost Family (where were these helpful shows when I was looking for my father?), they’re together again.
Like I said, I love a happy ending. But here’s a story in which two parents have a lot of explaining to do to their adult sons.

There are lessons to be learned here. From my point of view, the most emotionally scarring facts the article points out what the boys experienced when their parents divorced were that they were–

  •  Left behind by their father.
  •  Forced to pretend another was their father, and  not allowed to speak about their real father with their mother. This was an opportunity to comfort her sons, but it sounds like that in her pain, their needs were put second to hers.
  •  Not vigorously searched for by their father, even when the internet came along and made searching so much easier. Instead, he whines about hearing his sons call their stepfather Dad on one occasion, and says he thought it was best he stay away.

Separation and divorce bring out no one’s best. Let’s hope people look at the story of the Shannon boys as an opportunity to learn what not to do when break-ups involve children.

But hey, what great kids David and Paul Shannon are to be the adults in their family.Their parents have some explaining to do and apologies to make, but in the end, they are now a family reunited.
And that is the beginning of a happy ending.

Thanks for reading, and I so appreciate all the re-posting. Last week’s post hit an all-time high in this blog’s history. Yay!

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Men Speak on Healthy Mate Selection – Author Gary Thomas and Comedian Louis CK

Here’s a question I’ve been pondering: Who or what influences our choices when picking a mate? 

Recently, I was flipping through radio stations as I was driving to work. I paused when I heard a familiar voice. Gary Thomas, a man I attended college with at Western Washington University, was being interviewed on the Christian station about healthy relationships.

I pulled up his website on my smartphone at my next stop.

Who knew that this quiet young man in college would have so much to say as an adult that he filled more than a dozen books with it and became a bestselling author? Or that such a sweet face had been hiding under the previous mop of hair? How wonderful to see and hear him.

Author Gary Thomas

During the interview, he made some points I really appreciated. Below, they’re grossly paraphrased.

Look at how our daughters are socialized to think about men. They’re still going for the macho guy. The man who orders their dinner for them, overpowers them. These do not necessarily make good partner and fathers.

Amen!

When I look back at my college years, for instance, the guys who were my friends ( but in no way would I have considered dating them) turned out to be the best kept secrets of all, and eventually ended up with lasting, loving unions. At the time, I must have been thrill-seeking, looking for the guy who was daring, unpredictable, and more of an alpha-male. It would be years before I realized what I really wanted was a loyal and gentle friend and listener I could laugh with.

We teach kids how to pick out a car. A melon. How to pick a college. But how do we teach our kids, especially our girls, how to pick a mate?

Here, comedian  Louis CK speaks on the courage of women as they go through the selection process, pushing beyond the very real threat that men can present them.

Then let’s commit to having a conversation with the young women in our lives about what makes a lasting, loving, and safe union.

Enjoy.


P.S. Please Like my author Facebook page by clicking. Thank you.



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Signs of a Healthier Relationship

How do you feel about change?

I’m thinking about changing my blog’s focus in the next few months, or maybe at the new year.

My second book, presently titled Facing the Odds, One Man at a Time is a fictionalized account of some very real experiences I’ve had over the years after leaving a violent marriage. Its funnier and sunnier than the first book (how funny can a book about inter-generational domestic violence and child abduction actually be, after all?) and  covers the metamorphosis I made over the years as I learned more about myself and who I wanted to be instead of shifting my dependency to another man.

I think the blog will ultimately explore concepts like where do we need to be in our own lives before we can really find happiness with another, and what are things that make you feel safe with your partner.

I’m not ready to morph it just yet, but there will be a transition soon.

In the mean time, I’m waiting for my sweetie to return from two months of commercial fishing. I was writing  today about some of the things I appreciate most about him, based on my early observations of his relationships with his kids. Though I changed the names of he and his daughter, the appreciation is based on a true story.

 


But what I like most about Don is his relationship with the women and children in his life.
I see him with his daughter, watching her. “I notice the way Danielle’s speech patterns change when she’s with her friends… I know Danielle likes soccer, but it’s her running that could net her a scholarship. Does she even know how great she is?”
With Don’s widowed mother, there’s the occasional lunch date he tells me about. “I can tell mom is nervous about fixing stuff in her house. I wish she’d let me help her.” Or, “Why doesn’t my niece pay Mom for all the babysitting Mom does for her?”  Best yet, “I looked at men in Mom’s age bracket on Match.com. They’re all broken down and looking for a nurse. No way!”
I enjoy seeing Don’s long-distance relationships with his grown children. “I call my son the last Sunday of every month so I don’t forget,” and “My daughter is so extreme. Every thing that happens, according to her, is the best, the worst, the longest, the shortest of whatever it is.” Don laughs affectionately.
But of all his loves, I adore the respect he pays to his ex-wife, Haley. I love that he calls or texts her regularly about their minor child’s welfare. I love that he smiles when he greets her in public places, and that no one watching them interact would ever guess that they broke up due to her finding a new love, and once marital counseling failed to break her new love connection, how contentious their ensuing divorce and custody battle was. I love that Don backs her up with matters regarding their daughter when appropriate. And I love that he can enjoy good memories of their marriage without self-consciousness around me. When I ask him about their wedding day, he smiles and says that he believes of all their years together, Haley had never look prettier than on that day. It was a good marriage with many positives, and then had a sad ending, but he does not allow its demise to negate all of the good times.
—————–

So in a nutshell, that’s what’s on my mind.  What’s on  yours? What was a positive trait your loved one had that resonated most for you?

Also, let’s celebrate the bravery of some teenagers in Pennyslvania who intervened in a child abduction this week with good results. In my work life, I work exclusively with juvenile delinquents.  Kids like Temar Boggs make me feel better about our future.  Way to go!
Temar Boggs as seen in the Global Dispatch
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No Arguing Via Text/ The Addendum to Fighting Right

How was your week?  Did you get an opportunity to fight fair, like we talked about last week?

I did.


There’s something about having my routine upturned that brings out some of my worst qualities. I went out of state to see family early this summer. When I got home, there were more transitions at work to implement, and I’ve had a small flurry of out-of state-visitors. 

These are all very good things, but I seem to handle change as well as a two year-old who’s missed her nap.

It all reached a head when I sent a breezy text to my oldest daughter about leaving her house-sitting job and driving 30 minutes out of her way to see her aunt, who was to be in our town for only a few hours.

When she replied that she was overwhelmed and didn’t think she could make it, I took a deep breath and used my “I” statements.


“I feel like you’re a selfish jerk.” Nice!  Then I helped the message along by slipping in another no-no,  saying something akin to “and you always put your friends above your family.”

Fair Fighting Rule Addition– No arguing via text.

* Body language is missed.

*The brevity of text leaves out context.

* The harsh words are recorded, able to be re-viewed. Over and over.  It’s like having a home-stenographer.

If I could have a re-do, what I’d like to have done was to schedule time for a conversation that met both our needs. 

What I would like to have said was, “When you don’t make time for me or for family, I feel like you’re saying I/we aren’t important.” And  most importantly, I would shut my mouth and listen.

When it comes to family, sometimes it’s hard to follow the protocol.  But when it comes to family, there are usually opportunities for a re-do.

When something is important, it’s worth getting it right. 

Here’s to second (and third, etc) chances.

P.S.- No one was driving while texting. Extra credit there!

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