February 6, 2007

Comment Comment

A comment my friend Liz from I Speak of Dreams left on this post hasn't sat well with me since I read it:
"... The deal is, though, people who switch teams after having kids... it is hard on the kids, as the team-switching implies the death of the family of origin."
Team-switching implies the death of the family of origin? With all due respect, I couldn't disagree more.

Such could be implied in any instance when parents split up and change is wrought to an existing family structure. Team-switching as a component adds but another wrinkle to the whole process, just one among many.

Or am I just talking out of my ass to cover my own guilt at the merest implication my own life caused something as tragic-sounding as the demise of The Boy's family of origin?

I know better. How a family--an entire family--handles such an issue determines the experience a child has. Implications aside, reality counts. Family can be fluid and strong as steel. I'm happy to say ours is.

On a completely unrelated note, our crocuses bloomed last week. It's only February. I'll miss seeing them when Spring really arrives.



Middle Girl said...

Family can be fluid and strong as steel.

I couldn't agree more.

I was stuck here for a long time, trying to phrase the comment-then I realized..you'd said it all, perfectly.

SassyFemme said...

With all due respect to Liz, I couldn't disagree more strongly. Any divorce is hard on children or not, depending upon how the parents handle the situation. I can speak from my own experience with Jennifer. Fran "switched teams", and we became a couple. We worked with her dad as a parenting team. Nothing about Jen's "family of origin" died. In fact, her home life became stronger and more stable, especially once she chose to live with us full time.

Oh, and for those of us who were adopted, the term "family of origin" means nothing. Your family are the ones who raised you, who loved you, and who nurtured you.

Anonymous said...

Liz speaks of what she has no clue about.

"switching teams" as she so eloquently calls it, has nothing to do with it. Kids of divorce (legal or not) always have some issues. How it is handled from there is the clue to the difficulty the kids will have.
Some children have more difficulty than others with any change.

The more we teach our children that the norm is diverse, the less issues they seem to have.

I echo Sassy's experience about working together as a parenting team. If you focus on what the children gain, and not what they lose......

For us the word family is what it is. There are variations on a theme (family of birth, family of choice), but they are fluid with blending and sharing.

My wasband, his wife, her children, my children, my partner, and all the grandkids (and even oft times people we have added to our families by choice) have celebrated holidays together (once he came to terms with how to be a human being) and we are also a family. The words don't make it so...the naming conventions do not dictate, the behavior does, and the love does.

Trop said...

A very sensitive subject for me, being a divorced mom. At the time, I told my daughter we would remain a family-- a divorced family. And that we did, at least until he ran off and left no forwarding address. Even with him gone we are still a family and always will be. Although it hasn't been easy, my daughter admits it's all better. Things are stable and predictable.

yankeegirl said...

I'm in the middle of the divorce part- I'm hopeful that my children will come out on the other end ok with who they are and with who I am. My stbx is way too angry at this point to talk about being a family.

maxine said...

Add the layer of one child being from a previous relationship, yet raised by the second child's father as if he were his own. Does the second chold have dibs on getting a family of origin?

I think it has more to do with all parties living as compassionately as possible. I often wonder how things might have evolved differently if my wasband and I remained in the same town. I don't think his tires would have survived, but I also don't think I would have killed him, either. What impact would murder have on the family of origin?

nina michelle said...

Thank you so much Suzanne. As you know this topic haunts me as I continue on with my decision to live true to myself and raise my children. I can only hope that they grow up feeling loved and confident that there is great value in knowing who you are. That isn't such a bad way to grow up is it?


Gunfighter said...

The fracturing of families has nothing to do with so-called "team switching".

Families can fracture because of divorce or other factors. People, regardless of what "team" thay are on can decide to make the best of the situation when things go bad. It is all about choices, and making the best decisions you can.

Team-switching my ass.

Anonymous said...

Liz here from I Speak of Dreams.

In my original comment, I didn't speak fully. I should have said what Suzanne said, "Such could be implied in any instance when parents split up and change is wrought to an existing family structure. Team-switching as a component adds but another wrinkle to the whole process, just one among many.", because that's what I believe.

I was of course speaking from the truth of my own life.

I married a man who divorced his first wife when his sons were small (4 years and 2 years old). The boys were 6 and 4 when we married. I worked hard to make the coparenting meet the boys' needs. When the boys were 10 and 8, our daughter was born. When our daughter was 8, my then-husband decided he wanted to be single. I continued to make coparenting work.

Last year, my middle stepson who was then 26, said, "I wouldn't give up you, and I sure as hell wouldn't give up my sister, but sometimes I wish mom and dad had never gotten divorced. Mostly when I am around X and Y [two friends whose parents have exceptionally good marriages]." I think he was saying something profound -- there's always a yearning for the intact family.

( aside on the usage "family of origin" -- sassyfemme, I was looking for a way to say the family that raised you. I wasn't meaning to exclude adoptees)

Does divorce impose emotional burdens on the kids? I believe the answer is "yes", even in the most successful divorces (successful in the sense of meeting the kids' needs).

Is a divorce following a parent's discovery that he or she is attracted to members of the same sex any more difficult for the children than divorce for any other reason? I don't think that is an answerable question, because it depends so much on the attitudes and actions of the parties involved.

In general, I believe our society has become far too cavalier about divorce.

That said, is divorce in families with sub-adult children always wrong? No.

Are some blended families more robust and loving than the original families? Sure.

Thanks for giving me the space to explain myself more fully.

Anonymous said...

I can only speak from my own experience, but I "switched teams" and I think things have gone pretty smoothly for my son. His dad and I get along well and definitely coparent as a team. When he is around both of us together there is no tension between us and for him not much has changed other than the fact that he has two homes now. I thought things would be much more traumatic for him, but I think everything is working out okay.

Teresa said...

Congrats, Suzanne, on taking an opportunity to suss out why you were upset and whether your reaction to Liz's comment was justified rather than reacting negatively and sulking over it. It seems to me that this is an excellent use of blog space—or maybe I'm just feeling all emotionally affirming 'cause I had therapy this morning.

weese said...

wait...your crocuses bloomed!!

Me. Here. Right now. said...

Whoo--yes. You did say it well. And, my three teens are developing normally--they are sometimes irresponsible, forgetful, thoughtless, and lazy. But, also responsible, focused, caring, and industrious...and, they have multiple parents (birth, step, and adoptive) who love them and provide them with a good parenting, and they know it. Amen.

Mystic said...

Speaking as a kid of divorced parents, I have to say that what´s most important to me is to see my parents happy, no matter who they are with. Good points everyone.

KMae said...

Raising children is just plain HARD, no matter what.
I think most of us can find many things about how we were raised that we WISHED had been different.
Perhaps growing to became our soul's development & having strength to come out will teach courage & self respect.
It's not really 'switching teams' if you find you're in the wrong game.

Enjoyed all the comments & Liz's amendment.

agoodlistener said...

I don't know anything about team switching. As my own son moves toward his divorce, I ache for our four year old grandson.

nina michelle said...

second comment to KMae~

"It's not really 'switching teams' if you find you're in the wrong game."

this is wonderful...mind if I use it?

Anonymous said...

I am part of that "team". I am also a mother of four children. Have they been happy since I "switched teams"? Yes but only with the fact that I am true to myself now. They are not happy that they are experiencing a "death" in their family. But they also know our marriage died long before I "switched teams". They do not like how I live but than again neither do I but it is a decision that their father and I thought is best for this moment in time. They blame my girl friend when they should not, but she is their scapegoat (a role I do not approve of but she lets it roll off her shoulders as she points out they are entitled to be angry just NOT disrespectful).

Family is just that, family. Some of us have strong blood tied families and some of us have lost those due to "switching teams" (how I fucking hate that term by the way, I did not switch a gd team, I realized I needed to be who the hell I was born to be!- besides if it was a freaking team - where the hell is my team, oh yea lost those when I decided to switch - team work right out that window!)

Fractured families, who the hell invented that term? A family is a grouping of people who love each other unconditionally. Just because there is a bloody divorce does not mean it is fracture (but if you believe in society's rules I guess it is but hell if you believe in society's rules we are all going to hell and should be hidden in an asylum!). I still have a deep love for my children's father, I just can not love him the way he deserves to be loved. I am a lesbian and he is male. One plus negative one cancels us out!

Family is what you make of it, just love one another and screw the norms of society!!!!
Family is what you make of it, just love one another and screw the norms of society!!!!

KMae said...

No prob, Nina...
Go right ahead!

Anonymous said...

Not everyone gets divorced because they switch teams :P Even those of us who love based on a person rather then a gender - can and will often stay in a "healthy relationship" for the kids.

Most marriages slowy end based on more then one factor. People don't have a wedding then continue feeling the same way everyday until they wake up and go - ok its over today but was perfect yesterday.

Her statement reflects that she feels there is only one definition of a family unit or even a marriage.

Neither is true. Its about a healthy unit or relationship. Both of which can be defined in more then one way depending on the persons involved.