Archive for Thursday, September 7, 2000

Ex-spouses shouldn’t let anger spill over onto the children

September 7, 2000

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Dear Ann: A friend sent this to me, and I hope you will find room for it in your column. It was said by Judge Michael J. Haas of Cass County, Minn., to divorcing parents. This quote is from the official transcript of the divorce proceedings. K.W., Onalaska, Wis.

Dear K.W.: With so many marriages today ending in divorce court, your contribution will help parents learn something truly valuable. Here are Judge Haas' words of wisdom:

"Your children have come into this world because of the two of you. Perhaps you two made lousy choices as to whom you decided to be the other parent. If so, that is your problem and your fault.

"No matter what you think of the other party or what your family thinks of the other party these children are one half of each of you.

"Remember that because every time you tell your child what an 'idiot' his father is, or what a 'fool' his mother is, or how bad the absent parent is, or what terrible things that person has done, you are telling the child that half of him is bad.

"That is an unforgivable thing to do to a child. That is not love. That is possession. If you do that to your children, you will destroy them as surely as if you had cut them into pieces, because that is what you are doing to their emotions.

"I sincerely hope that you do not do that to your children. Think more about your children, and less about yourselves. And make yours a selfless kind of love, not foolish or selfish, or your children will suffer."

Dear Ann: I am getting married soon to a wonderful girl. I have chosen my dearest friend, "Jack," to be my best man, and three other close friends as groomsmen. My family is angry that I did not choose my brother to be my best man. They say brothers are supposed to have this honor. Is this true? Should I have chosen my brother instead of my best friend?

I am not close to my brother. In fact, we've never gotten along, and can barely stand each other. On the other hand, Jack has been with me through thick and thin. I have known him my entire life, and cannot imagine having anyone else be the best man at my wedding.

I do not want to look back on this important day and be filled with resentment because I allowed my family to dictate who would stand up for me. However, if I decide to keep Jack as my best man, I will never hear the end of it from my relatives. Also, my parents may refuse to help with the wedding costs, and that could be a problem, as well.

Please tell me if I am right to insist that Jack be the best man, and if so, how I should deal with my family about this. Angry Groom

Dear Groom: According to the etiquette books, the best man is generally the brother or a close relative of the groom, but this is not mandatory. However, in the interest of family harmony, I recommend that you stick with the book. To do otherwise could result in lifelong repercussions, and it just isn't worth it. Ask Jack to be a groomsman, and offer him an additional role of importance that will give him high visibility. Don't think of it as caving in. Consider it a gift to your parents.

Dear Readers: I just learned that the toughly worded essay "The Bill of No Rights" was NOT written by Mitchell Kaye, but by a man named Lewis Napper (who is running for the state senate in Mississippi). Apparently, it was misattributed as it made its way around the Internet.

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