divorce, Trump

Mrs. Obama makes an unfortunate comment about “divorced dads”…

This morning, I woke up to an article shared by a friend of mine. He recently divorced his wife and they have two young children. Without going into details about his personal situation, I’ll just say that like a lot of divorced fathers, my friend is dealing with the harmful stereotypes suffered by a lot of dads. It’s only natural that he’d take offense at Michelle Obama’s recent decision to compare Donald Trump’s presidency to that of a parenting style of a “divorced dad”. The implication is that divorced dads are irresponsible and inept. It’s all fun and games at Dad’s house until you get sick and need care. Then, apparently, you’re better off with your mom.

Those of you who have been reading my blog already know that I’m married to a man who was denied the right to parent his daughters. This wasn’t at all because Bill is “irresponsible” or in any way unfit. It was because his ex wife is a selfish narcissist who thinks of her children as extensions of herself, and she did her best to alienate the children from their dad(s). She has been married three times and has had a total of five children: one from her first ex, two by Bill, and two by her current husband.

Although he probably could have taken her to court and forced her to give him access to his children, Bill chose not to. It was mainly because he didn’t have the time or the money to devote to a court fight that might very well end badly. Instead of lawyering up and fighting his ex wife, Bill chose to rebuild the shambles his life was left in after their divorce. Although it was extremely painful for him to be kept away from his daughters, Bill has managed to thrive. Now, one of his daughters has finally reconnected with him.

I had a feeling that this would happen, although I didn’t think it would turn out as well as it has so far. It seems that despite everything, Bill’s younger daughter managed to develop good common sense. It’s gratifying to see that she wants to break the cycle of craziness in her family and raise her own children with the stability and access to family members that she didn’t have. But it still doesn’t erase all of those years when she refused to speak to Bill and made him out to be a person he’s not. And a large part of the reason his ex wife was so easily able to smear Bill is because divorced fathers get a terrible rap when it comes to their parenting skills.

Mrs. Obama, a very popular first lady, is not doing guys like Bill any favors when she compares Donald Trump’s presidency to a visit to divorced dad’s house. Plenty of dads are wonderful parents who take excellent care of their children. And there are also moms out there who are neglectful and abusive. They make the abuse worse by alienating their children from their healthier parent, who in some cases turns out to be the male half. Some of those dads are also taking to their blogs, writing about why Mrs. Obama’s comments are so “tone deaf”.

By the way, as an American, I don’t see Trump as the “fun” parent in a divorce situation. I see him as a demented, out-of-control, narcissistic despot, not unlike an abusive parent who lashes out the first time their kid smarts off at them. These last two years, while not personally horrible for Bill and me, have been very traumatic to watch as Trump’s decisions have had real life devastating consequences for thousands of innocent people. I worry about the future of my homeland because of Trump’s insistence on alienating everyone who doesn’t kiss his ass and because he’s just grossly incompetent. He’s also just plain gross… on so many levels.

Bill made this juice with green apples, pears, celery, spinach, and lemon juice. It was delicious! He also made the coffee. Yesterday, he made another juice with carrots, cucumbers, and other assorted produce.

I would have loved to have been able to have a child with my husband. He’s an excellent caretaker, very loving, kind, and nurturing. Case in point, this week, he’s been using our juicer to make me fresh juice in the mornings. He also made me fruit salad.

Does this look like the kind of thing an irresponsible “divorced dad” would serve? Yes, I’m his wife, but I would imagine that he would show at least as much love and regard for his daughters, given the chance.

A lot of people seem to assume all men are hopeless and act like children. A divorced dad has to deal with the stereotype that he eats take out pizza all the time and lives in a swinging bachelor pad reminiscent of a frat house. That’s definitely not necessarily so. When I visited Bill’s apartment for the first time, before we were married, I was surprised by how very spartan it was. He slept on a futon mattress placed on a wooden crate. He also had a futon couch, much like the one we have now that needs to be hauled to the dump. He had a bowl, a couple of pieces of silverware, and a wok to his name. I immediately insisted that we visit Target and get him some proper dishes. Then, I suggested he move the futon mattress that served as his bed to the futon mattress on his futon couch. That doubled the cushioning and immediately made him more comfortable. He had a TV and a table and two chairs that he bought at Bed, Bath, and Beyond… and maybe a cheap bookcase. That was it. In those days, most of his money went to paying child support and for the debt his ex wife left him in. He worked very hard and was very responsible. That’s one of many reasons why I found him so attractive.

Years later, I remember visiting a dentist when we lived in Georgia. I was getting my teeth cleaned and the hygienist asked me if I had any children. I said I didn’t, and her response was something along the lines of, “Oh, I guess your husband is enough of a child.” She’d said it in a sympathetic way, but I found her comment a bit offensive. As most thinking people know, there are any number of reasons why someone doesn’t have children. A lot of those reasons are personal and painful. I don’t mind talking about why I don’t have kids, although people who ask me such personal questions usually really regret it. Make no mistake about it. I would have been proud to have children with Bill, even if we eventually split up. He’s a wonderful person and a very caring, empathetic, and responsible father. And, sad to say it, but he’s a much better parent than his ex wife is. It’s really too bad he couldn’t have had primary custody of his daughters. I think their childhoods would have been much better if he had.

But, this mentality that dads are automatically the weaker parent also seems to go hand in hand with the idea that men are “weak”, especially when it comes to sex, and that subsequent spouses are the result of affairs. I remember a few years ago, telling our former landlady that I’m Bill’s second wife. Much to my shock, she asked me if I’d caused his divorce. The fact is, I hadn’t. Even if I had, I sure as hell wouldn’t tell her that.

I didn’t know Bill when he and his wife were married. I met him online when they were separated and we had a platonic friendship. I didn’t even know he had a wife until we’d been chatting consistently for about three months. He hadn’t mentioned it because I hadn’t asked… and the subject never came up, because we weren’t chatting about anything we couldn’t talk about to anyone else. Our early talks were mostly about military living, travel, my grad school courses, and his work in the Army.

One day, he sent me a long email explaining what was going on, sure I would “hate” him. He wanted me to know, because he’d become fond of me. I never thought we’d meet offline and I certainly never thought we’d marry. I was shocked by the email, but mainly because he seemed convinced that I’d look down on him because he was divorcing his wife. She had him thinking the whole thing was his fault and that he was “damaged goods”.

I told him I was sorry about his situation, and that I didn’t hate him. In fact, I didn’t think his marital status was my business, although I appreciated that he explained it to me. Months later, his divorce was final. By that time, I was delighted by the news, because in the months after that email, we’d gotten closer and I really wanted to date him. But we didn’t meet in person until a year later, almost a year after his divorce was official. Some people might assume I’m lying, but I’m not. That’s really how it happened. And we waited until after we were married to consummate the relationship. Does this sound like a man who is irresponsible, fixated on fun, and only thinking about himself? I think not.

Anyway… I think Mrs. Obama owes divorced dads an apology. She can do better than throwing all divorced men under the bus with her analogy, comparing them to Trump’s disastrous leadership. This time, she “went low”, and she should resolve to set a better example for everyone.


3 thoughts on “Mrs. Obama makes an unfortunate comment about “divorced dads”…

  1. Clare Palmatier says:

    Who are the thousands of innocent people whose lives have been devastated by Trump? Not looking for trouble…. just curious. Many thanks

    • Would you like me to compose a list?

      I’ll start with the many, many innocent children who have been separated from their parents at the border. They may not all be U.S. citizens, but they are still innocent human beings. I could probably come up with hundreds, if I knew all of their names. From there, I’ll move on to the people who went weeks without a paycheck this year, thanks to Trump’s insistence that taxpayers foot the bill for his ridiculous border wall. Then there are the people living in areas affected by natural disasters who were still waiting for help from the government well over a year later. I could list more examples, but I think this preliminary list already comprises a group of several thousand people.

    • Other people harmed by Trump: People who can get pregnant — whether Kavanaugh actually helps reverse Roe v Wade or not, his presence on the Supreme Court has seriously emboldened the dinosaurs who want to deny pregnant people bodily autonomy.

      Farmers. His stupid trade war with China has seriously impacted farmers and the taxpayer money he’s promised isn’t going to see most of them through.

      Middle class Americans. They’ve seen their taxes soar with his ridiculous handout to the mega-wealthy and corporations.

      EVERY American with his continual attempts to whittle away environmental protections and climate-change legislation.

      And the thousands of people who (very literally) now require medication for depression. He’s triggering for people who have been abused because he’s a classic abuser.

      I could go on…

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