“Mom was always telling us that dad was nicer to her and to us kids before he remarried. So I resented him and his wife. Now I realize that mom was just mad because he had fallen in love and things fell apart between her and the man she left dad for.”
Los Angeles, CA–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.
In her section Dad Remarries, Nielsen writes:
Things generally get tougher when “that woman’ becomes dad”s wife. As a daughter, maybe you felt that dad picked the wrong woman – or married too soon. Maybe you felt he loved her – or their child – more than he loved you. And as a father, maybe you felt that your daughter was (or still is) being unfair and unkind to you and your wife. What”s going on? Why is dad”s marriage creating bad feelings?
Well, here come those M and M”s again: Mom and Money. Both play a major hand in how everyone reacts to dad”s new marriage. If mom is happy about it – or if she”s completely indifferent – then things generally go much better for dad, daughter and dad”s wife. But, as the old saying goes, “If mama ain”t happy, ain”t nobody happy!’
Unfortunately most mothers are not happy when dad remarries. Looking back, these daughters sum it up:
“Mom was always telling us that dad was nicer to her and to us kids before he remarried. So I resented him and his wife. Now I realize that mom was just mad because he had fallen in love and things fell apart between her and the man she left dad for.’
“Dad and his wife had successful careers and really good incomes. So mom would say ‘I”m not a materialistic person who needs a lot of money.’ This was her way of criticizing my dad and his wife, trying to make them look like materialistic, greedy people. I fell for it.’
“Yeah, mom would tell me to have a good time whenever I went to see my dad and his wife. But she”d look really sad and tell me how much she was going to miss me. I”d feel sorry for her. So I”d call her and try to make her feel better by saying that I wasn’t having a very good time. Even now when I go home to visit my parents, I go to her place first so that she won”t feel jealous.’
“Mom exploded when the school listed my stepmother as one of the people to contact in case of emergencies. Things like that made me feel that my stepmom had no right to be part of my life.’
Money also comes into play. Especially if dad has a child with his new wife, his daughter might start wondering: “How much of his money is he spending on them instead of on me? Why is he buying his wife so much stuff when he says he can”t afford to buy certain things for me or for my kids? When dad dies, are his wife or her kids going to end up with the family heirlooms or with more money than me or my kids?’
If you haven”t gotten these things out in the open, it”s time. And the sooner, the better. Let”s be honest: when people say “it”s not the money, it”s the principle of the thing’ it usually is the money!
Remember too, people can get really upset about who gets what after dad dies, even when the things aren”t worth much. That old, chipped platter that was used every Thanksgiving might only be worth $5. But heaven help us if dad”s wife gets it after he dies!
To order Linda’s book or to learn more, click here.
To learn more, see my blog posts Divorced Dads: How Would Your Son or Daughter Answer This Quiz? (Part I), Part II, Part III, as well as ‘Mothers tend to stay angrier longer and refuse to forgive more than fathers after divorce.’