Los Angeles—“Daughters: How was your father treated after the divorce?…If you haven”t heard your father”s side of the story, now”s the time.”
Dr. Linda Nielsen, the president of the American Coalition for Fathers & Children, often writes about fathers and daughters. Her latest book, Between Fathers and Daughters: Enriching or Rebuilding Your Adult Relationship has an excellent chapter on the devastating effects that divorce often has upon the father-daughter relationship.
To learn more, see my blog posts Divorced Dads: How Would Your Son or Daughter Answer This Quiz? (Part I) and Part II. Nielsen writes:
The two issues that generally create the most conflict for divorced fathers and daughters are the M and M”s – Money and Mothers. These two factors can make it very difficult – if not impossible – for many fathers and daughters to stay connected. So let”s consider the first M – Money. How has money interfered with your relationship? And how can you repair the damage? Start by taking the “Money’ quiz.
Money – From Both Points of View
How often did you feel that your father was like this?
0= never 1= rarely 2= usually 3= almost always
___ My father is stingy and greedy.
___ Dad didn”t treat my mom fairly in terms of money.
___ Dad shouldn”t complain about how mom spends his child support money.
___ Dad should pay for college since he makes more money than mom.
___ Mom shouldn”t have to pay the same percent of her income on us kids as dad.
___ If it weren”t for dad, mom would be better off financially.
___ It”s not fair that dad is better off financially than mom.
___ If it weren”t for mom, dad wouldn”t be the success he is financially.
___ My father didn”t pay–or isn”t paying–all of his child support
___ Your Scores
The higher your score, the more likely it is that you two had–or still have–some bad feelings having to do with money. Because most parents divorce when their children are young, it”s easy for kids to become confused about what”s going on financially. And with so many negative beliefs about divorced fathers floating around, it”s easy for kids to assume to worst about their dad and money. Not all of the following facts will apply to your situation. But it”s important to find out which ones do. By talking about these topics, you can clear the air about some of the misunderstandings that have damaged your relationship.
Like many, your relationship might have been damaged by the belief that fathers are far better off financially than mothers after divorce. This belief spread like wildfire twenty five years ago after a female sociologist wrote a book claiming that a woman”s standard of living fell by 73% and a man”s rose by 42% after divorce. There”s only one problem: Weitzman was wrong! It took ten years for her to admit her mistake–and only after many researchers had studied her data and protested that she had done a great injustice to divorced men. In her small study of high income couples, by the second year after divorce, many of the women had remarried and had the same incomes as before the divorce. The study also didn”t count the house as part of the woman”s wealth, making it look as if she was much poorer than she actually was.
Hopefully as a daughter, when your parents divorced, you realized that most men do not end up far better off than women. On top of child support, most fathers are paying for the children”s health insurance, additional clothing, toys, camps and recreational expenses – and college educations. In short, most divorced dads are struggling financially just as much as their ex-wives.
As a father, let”s hope your daughter has always understood that her mom got half of everything – the house, car, savings, and retirement accounts. If she believes you shortchanged her mother, that”s bound to create some ill feelings towards you. So take time to explain what happened financially. It”s time to set the record straight. And if you did shortchange her mother, or failed to pay all your child support, or didn”t help pay for college, why not? If you owe your daughter an apology, the sooner the better. And if you can make amends by helping her now financially, do it!
Especially during the college years, money can damage your relationship. You may be facing (or already faced) tough issues like these: How much should a father pay if his daughter has refused to have much contact with him? If dad is chipping in, how much say should he have in what college she chooses? What if he is willing to pay for a state university but not for an expensive private school? What if mom refuses to pay anything because dad makes more money than she does? What if mom claims she can”t afford to help out, but dad says she can – so he refuses to pay unless she pays ? If any of these issues is still bothering either of you, it”s time to talk them through.
Finally, money is troublesome when a dad feels that his daughter cares as much about his money as she does about him. As the old saying goes, “When his money stops coming through the door, her love flies out the window.’ If you feel this way, dad, tell your daughter what she did–or is still doing–that makes you feel she is measuring your love by how much money you give her. Let her know how much this hurts. Then make a plan that will put a stop to this pain.
To order the book or to learn more, click here.