Monday, June 23, 2008

Learning to juggle

From Dr. Joyce Brothers' column:

DEAR DR. BROTHERS: I'm 16 years old, and I play three sports and am an editor on the school paper in addition to volunteering at the local hospital and our homeless shelter. I've been dreaming of going to a top Ivy League school my whole life, and I'm doing everything I can to get in. I'm terrified that I won't get in, and I'm totally stressed out. On top of all this, my parents are getting a divorce. It's really hard to be at home, and I don't know what to do. How can I keep my schoolwork up, keep doing all my extracurricular stuff and keep my home life together? -- D.H.

80 years, still hurting

From a column in the Toledo Blade:

Father's Day was never a favorite holiday for me as a child. When I saw it coming on the calendar I was uneasy. Would it be my Sunday to be with my dad? If it weren't, I would have to wish him a Happy Father's Day on the Sunday before or after.

As a child of divorce, who as a senior citizen still feels the pain, I share these personal experiences for divorced single parents. It is not a request for sympathy, but a message that I hope will sink in to single mothers and fathers.

We all hear the staggering numbers of today's divorce rates. Back in the early '30s, on the brink of the Great Depression, it was quite uncommon. I was 3 years old. All I remember is that one day my dad didn't come home from the post office, and from that day on I saw him every other Sunday, according to a court order, and two weeks in summer.

The other dads

From an op-ed piece in the Baltimore Sun:

...the United States has a proud past of notable stepfathers. George Washington, the "father of our country," was a stepfather to Martha's children. Dr. Seuss was a stepfather, as was the famous baby doctor Benjamin Spock. So too were authors C.S. Lewis and E.B. White, actors Ashton Kutcher and Brad Pitt, Sen. John
Kerry and singer Johnny Cash.

Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford had stepfathers who adopted them. Meriwether Lewis, the great explorer, had a stepfather, as did Booker T. Washington, Charlton Heston, jazz artist George Benson, country singer Shania Twain, authors Anne Perry and Truman Capote, and presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Dads in church

Brad Wilcox had a nice piece in the Wall Street Journal last week about the influence of church communities on fatherhood.

...religious fathers are more likely to devote time, attention and affection to their children than their secular peers. For example, compared with dads who indicate no religious affiliation, fathers who attend religious services regularly devote at least two more hours per week to youth-related activities, such as coaching soccer or leading a Boy Scout troop. Churchgoing fathers are also significantly more likely to keep tabs on their children, monitoring their activities and friends. Finally, religious fathers are about 65% more likely than unaffiliated fathers to report praising and hugging their school-age children "very often."

Travel tip

You know you've stopped for lunch in a high crime neighborhood when they have to padlock the toilet paper.

Seen at an Arby's near Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Crash helmet for divorce

From a review of A Nation of Wimps in the Wall Street Journal:

...even as parents obsessively strap bike helmets on their kids' heads and squirt antiseptic gels on their hands, the adults themselves cavalierly break up families with divorce and tolerate the rampant sexualization of prepubescent girls. In short, we're focusing on the wrong risks.

Splitting pennies

Financial planner Linda Leitz has a new book out to help divorced parents talk with their kids about money. Called "We Need to Talk: Money & Kids After Divorce," Leitz's book is designed to help parents understand how the financial strains of divorce affect children and how they can help children feel able to do their part to make things easier financially without feeling the adult-sized burden of financial worries.

Amy-able wedding advice

Dear Amy: My daughter is getting married this summer. She is 22. Her biological father left us in 1994 for his secretary and has since married her. He pays child support and calls once in a while, but he was distant through her "terrible teens." I remarried in 1996. Our combined kids were 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10 at the time we married. My husband and kids have been close, and now that there is a wedding, the secretary/second wife has contacted our daughter and asked about the ceremony. She wants to make sure my daughter's biological dad walks her down the aisle. She says only the biological dad should do so. The kids and I believe the stepdad should be involved because he has chosen to be a part of the kids' lives for more than 12 years, dealing with cuts, scrapes, car crashes, boys, school, etc.I would not dream of excluding the stepdad or the new step-secretary-wife of the biological dad. This must be a common problem. What do you suggest? How can both dads be involved?—Wondering Mom

Click here to read Amy's sound advice.