Category Archives: The Anti-Hero

08Jan/17

Break-Up And Divorce – Mrs vs Mrs

Mrs vs Mrs

I asked a man if it was fair for a second wife to want a new house and not move into the vacated space of the first Mrs. Women can tend to get emotional (illogical?) about this. He answered: “I can understand that she wants her own new house, but if I sell this place now, I lose too much on the bond. It is not a good time to sell.” Men are very aware of the financial knock they took during the divorce.

Remember mostly it is the men who have to pay the women maintenance and not vice versa. Women usually forfeit the maintenance they receive from the first husband, when they marry the second. So divorced men are sensitive to women who make financial demands on them.

“Why would she mind moving into another woman’s space? If we move into a new house, she would also move into the previous owners’ space, unless we build a brand new house from scratch.” “The thing is,” I explained, “you did not make memories with another woman in that new house.” “Can’t we just repaint this one, then?” he asked. Yes, you can repaint it. At least change the sheets and perhaps the bed.

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Case study

One woman told me the ex Mrs had the habit of wandering into the garden, cut the roses and took them home with her, because she (the first Mrs) had planted them.

She did not want the second wife to have the pleasure of the roses!

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Case study

Many divorced men just keep the ex on the medical aid because it is convenient.

However when they remarry, we now have two Mrs’ on the medical aid card. Dependent no 1 is the first Mrs, then Dependents numbers 2 and 3 and possibly 4 are the children and Dependent number 5 is the new Mrs. Nothing makes a woman feel as special as being number 5! It may sound illogical, but women are emotional and sensitive about these issues. If men expect women to take on their surnames, at least they can remove the

Nothing makes a woman feel as special as being number 5! It may sound illogical, but women are emotional and sensitive about these issues. If men expect women to take on their surnames, at least they can remove the ex Mrs from the medical aid, Christmas card list, mail box, answering machines, etc. Men usually forget to do this, or they think it is not practical to do it. Please remember where you are getting sex now.

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One woman remarked to her husband who was reluctant to make the effort to remove his ex-wife from the lists:

“Your loyalty should lie with the woman who has your back, the one behind whose back you lie at night. Not with the one who stabbed you in the back.”

Exes stirring the pot

Many exes also have perverse fun in setting up their children as spies in the other household or generally just causing mischief.

“You don’t have to listen to her rules, she is not your mother.” “Call me the moment your father’s girlfriend arrives.”

Ex-wives often send their children to the new household with a list of do’s and don’ts for the new wife to comply with. Some of them even colour code and laminate these rules! Alerting the other household of a child’s allergies and medicinal requirements is fine. Prescribing what brand of vitamins the child should take, what washing powder is allowed and a specific brand of peanut butter is not.

One father expected his new wife to wash, iron and fold the child’s clothes and polish the shoes before he took the child home, just to keep the peace with the ex. Children can bring clothes and toys and take them home again, for it provides a sense of continuity to them, but I also advise that children should have their separate sets of clothes and toys at the alternate homes. It solves the complaints about dirty laundry and it gives the child a sense of belonging and not feeling like an alien visitor in the second home.

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Case study

One stepmother awoke in the middle of the night to find her 10 year old stepdaughter had cut a lock of her hair for her mother to use as muti. (Muti is traditional medicine, which may be used to cast a spell.) The father thought it was funny.

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Some mothers call their children three or four or more times a day when the child is visiting the father. This prevents bonding, is intrusive and it sends the child the message that the child is not safe with the father. It also burdens the child with guilt complexes for leaving the mother or father alone at home.

Calling once a day or once a weekend when they are older is quite sufficient. Children also often exploit situations and call the alternate parent as soon as the parent disciplines them or when they are not getting their way. It is amazing how parents compete to be the most popular parent, instead of just striving to be good parents.

08Jan/17

Break-Up And Divorce – Weekend Dads and Stepfathers

Weekend Dads and Stepfathers

We have the brave hero out there on the battlefield and then out of no-where comes that fatal javelin that noone could foresee. The blind spot inflicts a mortal wound. Freud coined the term: the Oedipus complex and his disciples developed the theory of the Electra complex, both based on Greek mythology.

At his birth it was prophesised that Oedipus, the young princeling of Thebes, would one day kill his father, the King. The King ordered the infant to be put to death, but he was secretly placed in foster care. As a young man he returned to Thebes, but on the way he met and killed a man, not knowing it was his father the King.

Oedipus became King of Thebes and unwittingly married the Queen widow, his mother. When he realised this he poked out his own eyes and travelled as a beggar. Freud used this Greek mythology to refer to the Oedipal developmental phase of 4 to 6 years, when boys subconsciously fall in love with the mother and compete with the father.

The flipside is called the Electra complex, when girls subconsciously fall in love with their fathers and compete with their mothers. The grand King of the Achaians, who waged the war against the Trojans, was called Agamemnon.

He sacrificed his youngest daughter Iphigenia to secure favourable winds for the Greek fleet to cross the sea to Troy. Agamemnon’s wife, Clytaemnestra never forgave him. Upon his triumphant return 10 years later to Mycenae, Clytaemnestra killed him. His remaining daughter Electra had waited patiently for her beloved father to return and when her mother killed her father, she mourned him and eventually plotted with her brother Orestes and killed her mother.

If I can single out one obstacle that causes major disputes and even break-ups of second marriages, then it would be THE CHILDREN. Both men and women have total blind spots concerning their children. This is a very difficult and sensitive, and contentious issue to discuss. However, there are solutions and it helps when parents can at least acknowledge that their children are their Achilles’ heel.

Some fathers tend to be of the opinion that since they only see their children on weekends or holidays, the children are exempt from discipline or good manners during these times. The fathers don’t want to spoil this short time with arguments or unpleasantness, so they “let bygones” slip by.

This results in the stepmother having to cope with undisciplined, lazy, disrespectful children. To some fathers it is fine if the children lie on the couch all weekend watching television, or play on their tablets or cell phones, if they never clean up after themselves and these fathers expect their wives to cater, clean up and bite the bullet. Fathers already feel like anti-heroes for abandoning their families and they are often blinded by a sense of guilt. They compensate by turning a blind eye and spoiling their own children rotten.

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Case Study

A second wife was despondent with her husband’s children just lying about all weekend, messing in the house, glued to their cell phones and generally getting on her nerves. I suggested that every child should get a chance to organise a family activity for Saturdays. This could be a picnic at the dam, visiting an expo, going fishing, visiting a food or flea market, a museum, volunteering at a welfare organisation, organising a treasure hunt, cleaning up a river, washing dogs at the SPCA, participating in a fun run, or attending a sports function, etc. It need not be an expensive excursion and they can take a packed lunch.

The children can google activities or search newspapers for events. This gets them active and out of the house and there is family interaction. Saturday evenings they can watch television till 10pm and then retire to bed to allow the parents to watch television or better yet, the parents retire to their bedroom, undisturbed by 10pm. Sunday morning the kids and Dad make brunch. The wife can sleep late. (Because she prepared the Saturday lunches.) They all eat together, the kids clean up as much as they can and by 2pm it’s time for the Dad to drive the kids home to their Mom who lives in another town. The wife then restores her home to normal and she has me-time. She can relax in a bubble bath for an hour. Dad comes home by 7pm and his wife is happy to see him and smiles as he enters the door.

This arrangement worked perfectly. It provided time out of the house, family time, father and children bonding time and it gave her space on her own and with her husband. The children looked forward to the activities and weekends at Dad’s became cool. After a few months, she realised she actually liked the children.

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On the other hand, since the children are mostly allocated to the mother, the men often find themselves in the roles of stepfathers. Often subconsciously, or sometimes overtly, they miss their own children not living with them and resent their wives’ children occupying that space.

They resent paying for another man’s children, especially if they are taken for granted. They also sometimes resent sharing her time and attention with the children. These same fathers may sometimes completely ignore the wife when his children arrive.

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Case Study

A couple arrive home after a night out. Her son left the lights on and she makes a comment about him being inconsiderate again.

“Yes,” adds the husband, “and he left his plate in the lounge.” “You never moan when your kids leave their dirty dishes all over the place,” she snaps.

This is a typical example of blind spotting. She is allowed to criticise her kid, but the moment he does, all hell breaks loose and he has double standards regarding his children.

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Parents have different discipline and rearing systems. It can be very confusing for children to switch from one system to another. In their mother’s house they are allowed to take anything from the fridge at anytime, at the Dad’s house, they have to ask the stepmother’s permission. At their mother’s home they have to do chores to earn pocket money, at their Dad’s home they have no chores, and he gives them money when they ask.

In Mom’s house both Mom and stepdad contribute to birthday presents, in Dad’s house he buys gifts for his kids and stepmom buys gifts for her kids, which leads to one set of children having very expensive cell phones and the others have cheapies. The father feels it is his right to spoil his children, and the stepchildren’s own father can buy them expensive cell phones.

The children’s own father feels he is already paying maintenance and they don’t need expensive cell phones. The mother’s heart is breaking because her children are feeling neglected. It’s just not fair.

Even more confusing are different sets of rules for children in the same house. The wife’s children, who live with the stepfather, have a curfew and chores during the week, but when his children come over for the weekend, they can watch television till late and they have no curfew or chores.

Also the stay-in children have to make space for the weekend children in their bedrooms, and the weekend children feel like alien invaders in their father’s house, because they don’t have their own beds and cupboard space. Complicated.

I have designed a discipline system that could work for all in both homes. It provides consistency and everybody knows what is expected of them. It works better if both homes implement the same system for all the children. Some parents absolutely refuse to co-operate with the other parent, insisting they know what is best for their children. If every parent knew what was best for their children all the time, why are there so many children in therapy?

Read more about: Discipline Plan For Children

08Jan/17

Break-Up And Divorce – Weekend Dads and Stepfathers (continued)

A new stepfather, who does not have children of his own, now suddenly has to cope with his new wife’s children. Often these children overrule and dominate their mother, due to her guilt feelings, or she lacks the discipline that their father used to implement. Also, divorced mothers often indulge their children because the children become the source of love to her, that her ex-husband used to provide. The new stepfather feels it is his duty asAlso, divorced mothers often indulge their children because the children become the source of love to her, that her ex-husband used to provide. The new stepfather feels it is his duty as man of the house to implement discipline and protect his wife. (After all, he fell in love with her, not her children.) More often than not, the mother puts her children first and secretly resents the new husband’s interference and disciplining her children. She experiences it as personal criticism. A toxic atmosphere gradually permeates the home.

More often than not, the mother puts her children first and secretly resents the new husband’s interference and disciplining her children. She experiences it as personal criticism. A toxic atmosphere gradually permeates the home.

I would advise boyfriends who visit girlfriends with children, not to interfere in the children’s discipline or lack there-of, especially if that boyfriend has no intention of permanently joining the domestic arrangement. It is a potential mine field he should rather avoid. If he interferes and disciplines the children, he is conveying an unspoken message to her that he is taking on the role of stepfather and that he has intentions of permanently joining the family. Decide if you are going to become the stepfather, or just remain the boyfriend, and explain this to the woman involved, so she does not develop expectancies, or resent your interference. Remember the children are her blind spot and she will interpret your discipline as personal criticism.

Decide if you are going to become the stepfather, or just remain the boyfriend, and explain this to the woman involved, so she does not develop expectancies, or resent your interference. Remember the children are her blind spot and she will interpret your discipline as personal criticism.

Some women also expect their boyfriends to regularly treat her children to lunches, movies and gifts, and vacations etc and she may resent him if he does not take out his cheque book readily. Some women expect the boyfriends to bring the children a little gift every time he takes her out, to compensate for the fact that the children are going to be without their mother’s company for a few hours. If he does spoil the children, to score brownie points with her, again she may interpret this as an intention to join the family. The best way to solve this uncomfortable situation is to COMMUNICATE. Tell her that you like buying the children gifts because you happen to like them as individuals and not because you intend becoming their stepfather. Or tell her you are dating her, not her children.

If he does spoil the children, to score brownie points with her, again she may interpret this as an intention to join the family. The best way to solve this uncomfortable situation is to COMMUNICATE. Tell her that you like buying the children gifts because you happen to like them as individuals and not because you intend becoming their stepfather. Or tell her you are dating her, not her children.

Many women state in no uncertain terms that if the man does not accept or entertain her children, then it’s a no-go. “I’m a package deal,” they declare on the first date. Hold your horses, lady, you are casting him in the role of a potential husband. In his mind, he is just dating you, spending time with you and getting to know you. Incorporating your children into his plans is a major responsibility he will only consider when he considers committing to you. Dating is not committing.

Women, more often than men, make the fatal mistake of discussing their love lives, romances and even their sex lives with their children. Many a Hero has had to red-face a teenager who knows the intimate details of his love-making skills (or lack thereof!)
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08Jan/17

Read More: At Wits’ End About Disobedient Children?

All parents have a responsibility to bring up their children to become law-abiding, contributing and productive citizens of a country.

Parents often make the common mistake of asking a child why he/she has done something wrong and the standard answer is always: “I don’t know.” Parents should rather ask the children what are the consequences of their actions, and if they answer they don’t know, give them one or two hints, and then encourage them to come up with at least one or two consequences themselves.

Children are very impulsive and especially young children do not appreciate the consequences of their actions, as their prefrontal cortex’ have not yet developed to execute this function. They should be taught from a young age that every action has long-term and short-term consequences. For example the long-term consequences of smoking marijuana would be that the guilty person can acquire a criminal record and would therefore never be able to acquire a work or travel visa to another country. Unprotected sex can lead to sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS and pregnancy. Encouraging them to consider and verbally express the consequences of actions, will teach them to think twice before they repeat misbehaviour and it will teach them to become responsible adults.

There is a difference between discipline and punishment.

Discipline refers to good manners, maintaining a clean, orderly and hygienic environment, sticking to schedules, etc. and thus teaching the child to acquire self-discipline. Self-discipline is a healthy habit, which makes interpersonal relations during adulthood easier. Parents may indulge children’s bad table manners, tardiness or untidy rooms, but future colleagues, employers, friends, flatmates and life partners will not and this can lead to interpersonal conflict. No-one likes a person who thinks the world owes him/her something and who expects other people to clean up after them or accommodate their bad habits.

Punishment is the consequence of an offence. Just as a country has a judicial system differentiating between civil and criminal offences, so the judicial system within a household should distinguish between these two elements. Children do not like rules at home, nor in school. Explain to them that even as adults we are bound by rules and laws and since there is absolutely no escaping this anywhere on the planet, the sooner we learn to abide, the less trouble we get in and the better we get along with anyone and everything else on this planet. Laws should always be obeyed, but once one becomes an independent adult or a self-employed adult or parent, there are new rules which one can make, but one earns the right to do this, by acquiring self-discipline.


Civil offences in the home may include the following: not putting laundry in the washing basket, leaving dirty cups in the room, leaving clothing or personal items in the living areas, not cleaning the toilet, bath or bathroom, a messy kitchen, swearing or name calling, etc. The consequences of these civil offences are not called punishment, but rather community service, because the child offended towards the rest of the community in the home and should make some kind of retribution towards the community.

Even if you employ a housekeeper or gardener, it is recommended that children also take responsibility for some communal chores around the home such as picking up dog pooh, cleaning the pool, putting out the dustbin, sorting the washing, sweeping the veranda, etc as this would teach them to become responsible adults who care for the community and their environment. Civil offences and community service may for example include:

Criminal offences in the home, on the other hand are more serious and usually pertain to lying, endangering own or someone else’s safety or lives, violent behaviour including rage and tantrums, etc. These offences are punished either by fines, or by being grounded, just as criminals are fined or sent to jail. Punishment must also fit the crime, for example:

There are only three reasons why people lie, namely 1) not to get into trouble, 2) to protect someone else and 3) to get someone else in trouble on purpose. Children often lie simply because they don’t know what the punishment for an offence would be and they fear getting into trouble. This is usually a sign of inconsistent discipline and severe punishment by parents. Once a child knows exactly what the consequences of his/her behaviour will be, they will be more likely to avoid that behaviour, or to take the punishment.


Parents should instil integrity in their children. A person with integrity does not take other people’s money or possessions, does not lie, does not cheat in business or in private affairs, keeps promises, pay their taxes and licences, can admit when they have made a mistake and he/she can forgive. A person with integrity values the life force of people, animals, nature and possessions and treats these with respect. Children learn by example. If you want your child to grow up to become a law abiding, contributing, productive citizen and make adult life more easily for them, then set the example and tell them verbally about integrity.

It is recommended that both parents together make a list of civil and criminal offences first. This will be called the protocol. Then the children are invited to a round table family discussion and requested to come up with suggestions as to community service and punishments. Make sure they understand the principles of civil offences and community service versus serious crimes and punishment and explain the household functions like the state judicial system.

By asking them to come up with suggestions, the children will have a democratic input into the process. If a person feels he/she has made a democratic input, they are more likely to commit to the venture. (It is not now a case of: “When you live under my roof, you abide by my rules” – Now it is a case of: “We all live under this roof, so you have a say in the rules”). Parents of course have the right to veto suggestions, and just as the government has the right to make laws and determine punishment for serious crimes, parents have the right to set punishment for serious offences.

Differentiate between pre-school, primary school and teenagers. The younger the child, the less severe the service or punishment should be. The older children have more severe community services and punishment, but they also have more responsibility, more cell phone or computer privileges and freedom. Children should learn that freedom and responsibility go hand in hand. For instance a grade 10 child may stay out until 10pm, but a grade 12 child until 12pm. Since young children do not go out, they cannot be grounded, but they can be sent to bed early or be barred from watching television in stead.

The protocol of offences and related community services and punishments is then printed out. Each member of the household then signs this protocol as a gesture of commitment. A copy is then given to each member and one is placed for instance upon the fridge door, or behind the toilet. Parents must remember to sign this protocol too and if Mom or Dad offends by forgetting a dirty mug in the lounge then they must do the community service in good spirit. Adults are not above the law and must set a good example.

Once the protocol is singed, there is no bargaining about consequences unless there are true mitigating circumstances. Mitigating circumstances may reduce a consequence, but not set it aside and both parents must agree to it. (A cell phone’s flat battery is not a mitigating circumstance for not alerting a parent to whereabouts. Children are not allowed to leave the premises with a flat cell phone battery – it is an offence. Parents can collect all cell phones at 21h00 and charge the phones. No teenager needs a cell phone after 21h00. They have to sleep. A stolen cell phone is mitigating for not being able to alert a parent, but the child should still face the consequences for not taking responsibility to ensure such an expensive item is safe.)

Children may close their bedroom doors and parents should knock and wait for an invite to enter, but children may not lock themselves in their rooms or bathrooms. Privacy is respected – there is no need to enforce it.

Having such a protocol would cut out on parents nagging children to do things. It’s simple: You did something wrong or neglected to do something, you do the community service or take the punishment, as you committed yourself to the protocol. End of discussion.


Remember, children need at least three compliments for each criticism to build their self-esteem and confidence. Show appreciation for good behaviour and comment on it often.

It is also a good idea to reward children now and then for chores completed, but this is ad hoc and they should not expect a reward. As citizens we are all expected to keep our country clean and treat others with respect without reward. Treating them to a family outing over the weekend since everyone has completed their chores without complaining that week, will be a nice surprise. Allow them to vote as to where they would like to go. A drive to the country, tea, a visit to a museum or an expo, the theatre, horse riding excursion, etc are good examples and will promote quality family time. It would be great if each child can invite a friend along.

It is highly advisable that children receive pocket money. This not only teaches them to budget, appreciate the value of possessions and extend the gratification of their needs, but it also provides leverage for parents to fine or withdraw pocket money as punishment.

Children should pay all social expenses out of their pocket money. These include movie tickets, refreshments or meals when they go to malls, presents for friends, make-up, trinkets, costume jewellery, cd’s, etc.

All items relevant to school projects, sports or trips, some social clothing and essential toiletries should be provided by parents.

The estimated amount should encompass spending money for one or two events per weekend for teenagers. This enables them to save up money for expensive “must haves”. Children have a tendency to pay “cash for trash” and waste their money. Restricting pocket money, will eliminate this nasty habit, teach them to budget and consider twice before they just spend. They can also be encouraged to hold jumble sales, garage sales, etc to earn more money and become entrepreneurs. Parents can encourage savings by for instance contributing a quarter or half of each amount saved.

Children should learn to extend the gratification of their needs, for as adults we know we can’t always just get what we want and the world does not revolve around us. Children older than 16 can work over weekends to supplement income, eg at restaurants etc, but not during exam time. As a rule of thumb, it is advisable that children under 15 can go out one weekend night and older than 16 both weekend nights, provided they stick to curfews and the rules. Only one weekend night is advisable for both groups during exam time.

Many children have cell phones, but parents should restrict their cell phone budgets. They may add to it out of their pocket money. They should be punished if they consume the whole budget and do not have air time left for emergency calls to their parents. Their batteries should also be amply charged before they go out, so they have no excuse for not alerting parents to their whereabouts. It is the child’s responsibility to check this and they should face the consequences if they neglect this. Although we should teach our children to respect other people’s privacy, by respecting their privacy, but parents do have the right to monitor computers and cell phone for pornography and paedophiles and their rooms for drugs. Explain to the child why you do this, if you think you have reason. The police may also enter our premises with a search warrant if they suspect us of illegal conduct. Computers and cell phones used for such purposes can be confiscated.

Parents and children should not be friends on Facebook. It is however recommended that an aunt or some other adult keep an eye on the Facebook page of the child. Random checks on the friends on Facebook, in the company of the child – can be done.

If children sleep over or go out with friends for the evening, they should alert their parents if they change location, even if it is just from one restaurant to another in malls. Children and especially girls should not go to toilets alone in malls. Toilets are often located close to exits and parking lots and children can easily be abducted by grown men and kidnapped. They should always move in groups of three or more. Men’s and ladies’ toilets are also unfortunately located adjacent at the end of long corridors. Adult men can easily drag a young child into the men’s toilets and rape him/her. Children should be made aware that alerting parents of whereabouts is a safety precaution that could prevent rape and murder and has nothing to do with not trusting them.

When divorced parents remarry then they should treat all the children in their home the same. All the children should adhere to the protocol of that home, regardless of the discipline in their other home. It would be excellent if divorced parents could agree with their ex-partners on the same protocol and this should be included in the legal parenting plan. If a child is grounded for a month due to a serious misconduct, then the divorced ex-parent should maintain this grounding even if the child is visiting that weekend. Spiting the other parent by allowing the child to go to a party is not beneficial for the child, for it teaches the child to manipulate and cheat.

The sooner a protocol for desired behaviour is administered in the home, the better, but it is never too late to implement one.

Good luck, enjoy the benefits of your desired behaviour protocol and watch your children to grow up into mature, law-abiding, productive adults.

© Dr Micki Pistorius

Take me back to Weekend Dads and Stepfathers

08Jan/17

Break-Up And Divorce – Children and the new marriage

Children can be overt or covert saboteurs of their fathers’ new marriage

Often the problem not only lies with the parents having blind spots regarding their children, but also with the children blatantly exploiting the situation.

Children relate to their parents as grown-ups who are obliged to gratify the children’s needs. Children do not consider their parents as autonomous adults who may have their own needs, including their own love lives. Especially young children are very selfish, even narcissistic and we cannot expect anything else from them.

Children are also very materialistic. Children operate from the stance that they own their parents and that they have first right to their parents’ attention. “He was my father first before he became her husband”.

This is not necessarily right or wrong, but the impact it has on second marriages must be taken into consideration and it needs to be managed. Parents need to establish clear boundaries. There is a mother-father parental unit, whose main function centres around the children, but there is also a husband-and-wife unit, which is a completely separate issue and not the concern of the children.

Young children

As children mature, they are supposed to develop an understanding of their parents being adults with their own needs, independent of the needs of the child, though adults do need to consider younger children’s insecurities and developmental limitations and “be the better person”.

Children need to be disciplined and raised to become productive, law abiding citizens, who can function in complicated communities. How can we expect children to respect other people’s rights, if we don’t respect their rights?

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Case study

A father gave his 9 year old daughter a gorgeous doll for her birthday. The family moved to a new home and when the little girl came over for the weekend visit, she asked her stepsister where her stepmother had packed the dolls, for she could not find her gorgeous doll. “My mother gave all our dolls to her poor relatives. She said we were getting too old to play with dolls and those girls’ parents could not afford dolls,” the stepsister answered.

The 9 year old girl grew into an adult woman, but whenever she thought about that doll her heart broke and she still experienced the pain of a 9 year old girl who was denied the right of ownership, just because she was a minor. She could not complain to her father about the loss of her doll, for she would sound unsympathetic towards the poor little girls, but the fact that an adult thought she had the right to dispose of that little girl’s prized possession, without even discussing it with the girl, left a deep scar.

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Young stepsiblings very often fight and argue, much the same as neighbours’ kids may do. Golden advice to parents would be not to get involved in every fight, not to take sides and let the children sort it out themselves. It teaches them conflict resolution. Unless of course one child is seriously being bullied by another one. House rules should apply to all children and double standards will only be exploited by all children.

Teenagers

By the time children become teenagers or young adults, it is not unreasonable for the new spouse to expect some form of respect and consideration from the stepchildren. However difficult this may be, parents need to overcome their blind spots and address this issue in a mature way.

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Case Study

A second wife moved into her new husband’s home. “Please make yourself at home,” he invited. “ It is your home now, so change anything you want and make it comfortable.” The first thing she changed was the lay-out of the kitchen. She moved the

crockery into different cupboards, replaced the worn-out blinds with bright yellow curtains and bought new dish cloths. She was very happy with her new kitchen. Until the first weekend his teenage daughters came over. The girls packed all the crockery back into their original places. “It’s the way our Mom used to have it,” they said.

When the wife brought this under the attention of her husband, his response was: “It’s only crockery, what does it matter where we keep it?” His answer illustrated a typical male pragmatic response. He also did not want to get involved in a catfight. What he did not realise was the subtle underlying nuance of his daughters sending his new wife the message: “You will never be the Queen of this house. We will not allow you.

Our father will always take our side against you. You will always be the outsider.” Men then wonder why they end up outside the wife’s bed?

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The above scenario can also happen in a home where daughters turn on the biological mother, because an Electra complex situation exists.

Many second wives are side-lined and actually excluded in such a manner. They are subtly reduced to second hand occupants in what is supposed to be their own new homes. They are barely tolerated and treated by the children with disdain as the woman their father sleeps with, not as the woman of the house.

Quite often men are also treated as an intruder and not as the head of the household, or even an equal adult decision maker and recognised disciplinarian. When parents condone this attitude in their children, to reduce the new partner to a subservient role and where it is acceptable for the kids to rule, then those parents should perhaps postpone getting married until the children have left home.

Parents should gratify their children’s needs to the best of their abilities, and give them lots and lots of attention and affection. That is wonderful and loving, but to allow the children to rule the roost and oust the new spouse is actually detrimental to those children. These children grow up thinking everybody should dance to their tunes, and they develop major adjustment problems later in their own relationships and at places of employment, when their partners and colleagues do not consider it so cute.

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Case Study

Two teenage daughters wandered into the stepmother’s bathroom and promptly used her expensive make-up without her permission. When she complained, the father took them to the shops and bought them their own expensive make-up. He thought he was solving the problem pragmatically.

What he did not realise, is he was rewarding his children for using someone else’s property without permission. He could have bought them the make-up after they had apologised.

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It is not only the stepmother who is side-lined, but also the stepfather, who often experiences a total lack of respect.Heroes need to be appreciated and respected for being the providers, especially when they are providing for other men’s children.

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Case Study

One man complained when he arrives home every day after a long day’s labour, he always has to get out of his car and remove his stepson’s bicycle from the driveway, to gain access to the garage. When he walks into the home his wife is cooking – she does not even turn to greet him properly.

He can’t sit in the lounge and watch the news or enjoy a drink because his stepdaughter is lying on the couch watching soaps and his stepson is in his study, playing games on his computer. Neither of the children greet him properly either. He came home one day and drove over the bicycle with his 4×4, unplugged the television and kept his study door locked. His wife complained he was being unreasonable.

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One father expected his new wife to fetch his teenage boy from a private school hostel every Friday afternoon.

She did this without complaint and took him shopping to fill the house with snacks that he liked to eat during the weekend. The boy complained bitterly when the couple went out over the weekend since he demanded his father’s attention and claimed they could go out during the week when he was in the hostel.

He had no consideration for the fact that his father worked during the week, that he may be exhausted earning a living to pay for the boy’s tuition fees and that he would also just like to relax over the weekend with his wife. The father complied with the son’s wishes to avoid a tantrum. Men detest it when women tell them what to do, but often they allow their children to rule the roost.

Young adults

One would expect young adult children to have developed insight into their parents’ adaptation to second marriages and to exhibit less self-centred immature behaviour.

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Case Study

A man’s 18 year old daughter comes to visit for a vacation. Every evening she sits next to her Dad on the couch, watching television, while the second wife cooks.

They all eat on trays in front of the television. Everyone takes their own tray back to the kitchen. Whilst the wife unpacks the trays, the young lady rushes back to the lounge and plonks herself next to her father again, swinging her legs over his lap. He naturally puts his arm around his daughter. After cleaning up the kitchen the wife enters the lounge. She would now like to relax and have time with her husband, whom she has not seen all day. There is another woman in her place next to her husband.

Must she now sit on one of the chairs? If she retreats to the bedroom to read a book, she is accused of being unsociable. If she complains that the daughter is not helping with dinner or cleaning up afterwards, his defence is that the daughter is on vacation. If the wife complains that the daughter is sitting on her place, the husband accuses her of being jealous of his child. So his wife, who is supposed to be his metaphorical queen, is expected to serve the little princess.

The little princess is usurping the queen’s throne. Does he really wonder why he is not getting sex? It is fine for the daughter to cuddle next to her Dad, but as soon as the wife enters, either the daughter should move of her own accord, or the father can shoo her off gently to make space for his wife. In case this sounds unfair, how would the father feel if his wife’s teenage son is forever sitting on her lap? How would he feel if the only time he gets to be with his wife is when she gets into bed at night, and then she is tired.

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Case Study

One man had two grown daughters. Wherever he went, each daughter would grab a hand and the second wife would have to trail behind them. Even when they travelled abroad, the daughters would sit next to the father on the plane.

When they had dinner in a restaurant, the daughters sat on each side of him. When the father held his wife’s hand in public, the daughters would walk right up to him, throw their arms around his neck and kiss him on the mouth.

His wife grew grumpy when the daughters argued who should sit in the front seat of the car next to the Dad. I kid you not! This woman had virtually no private space of her own, not even in her bedroom and she had no personal access to her husband. She could not wait for him, dressed in sexy lingerie in bed at night, for the girls would lie on the parents’ bed watching television, waiting for the father to get home.

The husband seemed oblivious that his wife was being ousted and alienated by his daughters. He thought she was just jealous. What is the purpose of being married to a man if a wife has to queue to cuddle him and to compete for a scrap of recognition and attention?

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One would think this situation would improve when these daughters got married. At least they were out of the home, but the moment they visited, they abandoned their husbands and still sat on their father’s lap.

It is cute when a five year old sits on her father’s lap. It is not so cute when she is 25. Eventually this man saw the light and set the boundaries. Else he would have grown old a very lonely man.

Not only the girls, but also the boys make it very difficult for their parents to get on with their lives.

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Case Study

Another young prince was a third year student. He did not want to live in a dormitory nor did he want to move into a commune, because he did not want to share a bathroom with other students. So he stayed with his father and stepmother. He paid no rent, had a television and wi-fi in his room, the housekeeper attended to his laundry and ironed his clothes.

He had a brand new car and his Dad paid for a tank of petrol every so often. He was still a dependent on his Dad’s medical aid and his Dad paid for his studies, and books. He also paid him an allowance each month and the prince supplemented this by acting as a mentor to first year students. He spent his money socialising with his friends.

He often criticised his stepmother’s housekeeping skills and one day they had a big blow-up due to the fact that his stepmother refused him permission to invite six friends to sleep over one night when they all had too much to drink. “There are enough spare bedrooms in my father’s house,” he complained. What he did not consider was that the housekeeper would have to wash six sets of bed linen the next day, fit them all in on the washing line and iron 12 sheets and 12 pillow cases as well as six duvet covers.

The stepmother felt this was too much work to disrupt her household just to indulge the prince and his drunken entourage. The prince called her wicked.

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Case Study

Another student princess was only prepared to move out if her father provided her with a fully furnished flat, close to the university. She had already hand picked the leather couches, washing machine and tumble dryer.

Heaven forbid to suggest a laundrette, and she refused to return home every weekend with her dirty laundry for her stepmother to wash, for that would defy the purpose of living on her own, independently! I wondered if she had ever washed a sheet in her life or sewed on a button? Imagine the lucky young man who just can’t wait to marry her? Or the lazy bum, who happens to be in-between jobs and who cannot be a waiter because it interferes with his artistic creativity, who moves in with her for free?

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08Jan/17

Break-Up And Divorce – The children are growing up

Sometimes parents have problems coming to terms with their children growing up

A particularly explosive situation is when teenage stepsiblings fall in love with another. What happens when her 17 year old son falls in love with his 15 year old daughter and they all sleep under one roof over weekends? Many parents are often oblivious to this quite common occurrence.

Parents are entitled to their values and every person has the right to set rules in their own homes, but children over the age of legal consent need no-one’s permission to have sex.

Once they turn twenty one, one can ask them to respect rules out of to consideration, but they are adults and one can no longer prevent them. New rules, new boundaries and reciprocal respect are terms to be renegotiated when adult children live with their parents.
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Case Study

A 25 year old young man enjoyed the privilege of still living in the same house as his parents. His girlfriend often slept over.

His mother complained to me she could not understand why the kids kept their bedroom door locked. In the morning she wanted to open the door to let the dog out, but it would be locked. “They are probably having sex,” I remarked. Her jaw dropped and her eyes grew large. She was stunned. She never considered that her son was a man, who actually had sex.

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Adult children failing to launch often place severe stress on their parents’ finances. Developmental phases continue far beyond teenage years. Parents in their 50s are concerned about their retirement funds and basically deserve the peace of mind that they can reap the rewards of 30 to 40 years’ of hard work.

Young adult children failing year after year of university or young adults who do not search for and find employment are exploiting their parents’ goodwill and blind spots. Grow up. Get a job.

08Jan/17

Read More: Welcome to Life as a Single Independent Woman

So, you’re newly divorced, never want to marry or date again and decide it’s time to become that wonderful vision of a Single Independent Woman owning your own house? No more little Cinderella-waiting-for-the-prince for you. Here are some pointers to becoming a Single Independent Woman, from one who has done this for decades:

Do you realise when you buy your own house that besides the transfer costs, lawyer’s costs, insurance and all the other hidden costs, you have to consider the following:

Do you realise shopping will never be the same again? From now on hardware stores take preference over Woolies, shoe shops and boutiques. Tools and especially power tools, top your birthday present wish list, and believe me, you appreciate these much more than another bottle of bubble bath, especially if it’s lavender flavour.

Do you know you have to replace the batteries of the electric fence and alarm systems – so they remain activated when there is a power failure. Do you even know where these alarms are and how they work? Do you know if you have 5 remotes it will cost you a fortune to replace all and have all of them calibrated again, even if you lose just one? A handyman has to come to your house to calibrate them all again. Remember to replace the remotes’ batteries.

If the previous owners rewired the bar fridge themselves, you can’t get a normal electrician to fix it, it has to be a refrigerator man because it involves gas. Here’s a tip, look on the fridge for the manufacturer’s telephone number instead of paging through the yellow pages. Take his (and all other handymen’s) personal cell numbers, for often enough you have to call them back for a job half-done.

The electric cable of your electric garage door runs in a shaft and this needs to be greased regularly or the motor will burn out. Did you know that you need a special grease called Brana grease and that you cannot use normal car grease as it erodes the whole thing? You would have to pay to degrease it if you used the wrong grease and reinstall the remote. You can’t get Brana at hardware stores, only at manufacturers of garage door motors.

Do you know to replace that little fan belt of the electric garage door shaft costs a fortune because it is imported? Do you know you would not have to replace it if you used the right grease? It’s still cheaper than buying a new motor.

Do you know if you do not secure your electric gate motor with a huge round padlock costing a fortune then thieves will unscrew the motor and steal it? A new motor costs another fortune, and you can claim this motor back from the house-insurance at the bank, but you will pay for the vat and anti-theft bracket, which will cost you a fortune plus another fortune for the padlock and you have to take the day off work to go to the police station to make the statement about the theft before you can claim the insurance and you have to take another day off work and be at home when they install the new motor. So just buy the padlock for the fortune from the beginning.

Do you realise you don’t have a husband who can do all of this for you and there is no-one at home when you arrive after dark who could have switched on the lights, checked the pool’s the Creepy Crawly and the filters, changed the light bulbs, fed the cat and started dinner. If you arrive after sunset – you arrive at a dark house, an annoyed cat and risk being hi-jacked in your driveway.

Do you have your Security Company and Mr Delivery take-away’s numbers on speed dial on your phone? Some security companies are kind enough to wait for you in your driveway if you give them a call on your way home, but they won’t feed the cat.

Do you know you better stop for milk, bread and cold drink on your way home, for there is no secretary, no husband, housekeeper and no flatmate etc to buy this for you and your cat doesn’t do groceries. Do you know that Mr Delivery can deliver milk and cold drink, even alcohol as well, but not cat food?

Do you know if you do not regularly clean all three filters of the swimming pool and check the Creepy Crawly’s throat for pebbles, the motor can burn out and a new Creepy Crawly costs a fortune? Regular means every other day, so this is another reason why you want to be home before sunset. If the creepy is not working, clean the filters, check if a section in the pipe has a hole in it and replace only that section or replace the big round rubber flap instead of buying a new Creepy. I fixed a hole in the creepy with Pratley Putty – silicone doesn’t work.

Do you know once you made it home before sunset, attended to the garage door that makes an awful noise and refuses to close (if the springs on the side are worn out, they can be adjusted with a screwdriver instead of replacing them), checked the Creepy in the pool, changed the broken light bulbs, fed the cat and switched on the alarm system, you are allowed to watch soaps on television without disturbance and without answering your cell phone or feeling guilty about it. This is why you became single in the first place, right?

Do you realise when you get up in the middle of the night due to a strange noise and you have to check the property for burglars with a weapon in one hand and cell phone in the other and the car – and house keys dangling in between your fingers, that it is better to wear a dressing gown / track suit with pockets and not do this dressed in your underwear, shortie pajamas and bunny slippers, specially if you live next to a student commune or across a men’s hostel like I used to do.

Do you know if the previous owners rewired the irrigation system themselves, you have to have it rewired and have your lawn dug up in the process? And these guys are most likely to puncture a water pipe or the pool, as in my case.

Do you know if you have wooden floors it will cost you a fortune to have the termites checked and killed. If you ask nicely, they will do the lawn for you as well, but this does not kill big black ants.

Can you prune the roses, de-weed the garden and mow your own lawn without killing yourself? Do you own a lawnmower, weed-eater, garden hose, wheelbarrow, shears and garden tools?

Do you have a friend who is a fundi on computers? Get one. Anti-virus programmes need to be updated annually.

Do you know even a simple job such as changing a light bulb is a major effort? I had high ceilings and had to buy one of those fancy ladders that fold open, because there is no-one to hold a normal ladder for me. Also even the fancy ladder is so damn tight and difficult to open that I regularly break my nails. Spray-n-cook is not a good replacement for oil, no matter what people say.

Do you know that a woman’s hand is too small to open the anti-child proof swimming pool pod and that you can hold the bottle between your knees and struggle till you open it, but don’t do it with your teeth because it is poisonous. Also you will hurt your hand and break your fingernails every time you switch the pool motor from filter, to backwash, to rinse and when you clean that inside filter, so don’t expect not to get hurt.

Can you take your pool’s temperature and administer the right medicine if it is green after a thunderstorm?

Do you also strew lawn feed on your lawn during a thunderstorm, because if the chemicals don’t get enough water very soon they will burn the grass? Wear a raincoat and no bunny slippers when you do this.

Can you make a decent fire in the fireplace and have you discovered firelighters? Do your friends laugh when you add a bag of firewood to your birthday present wish list?

Do you know that it is your responsibility to check when your driver’s licence expires and that you have to take a day of work to stand in the queue to have it renewed and what it will cost you? Do you know they don’t accept colour photos although it says so on the notice boards, so you have to take off another day from work and come back the following day.

Do you check when your passport expires? What about your firearm licence?

Do you know how much it costs you to have a vehicle registered on your name and you still need to pay the insurance monthly?

Do you know you have to ask your vehicle tracking company to check you car every six months, else your insurance is invalid and they won’t pay out – check the small print.

Do you know besides checking oil, water and petrol you also have to check brake fluid and if the brake fluid is empty (and you have no brakes) you can’t just buy a bottle and pour it in, your brakes have to be bled by a professional. I don’t know how much this costs, but I have a friend who did it for me.

Do you take your car for regular services every 15 000 km as the booklet advises? You should. Your husband used to do this for you. You have to first phone the garage and make an appointment. Then you drive to the garage before 08h00 and hand in the car and the keys. Then get a cup of coffee, sit down and wait for one of the drivers to take you home or to your work. The same driver will fetch you at about 5 o’clock and make sure you have your chequebook ready. At least your car is washed when you fetch it, because who has time to wash it?

Do you know the number of a tow-in service or do you have such a sticker on your car?

Do you know that you are not allowed to touch those long shaped light bulbs/globes for the spotlights with your bare fingers and you have to use a clean rag, whilst balancing on the stepladder and biting the star screwdriver between your teeth. Don’t get up there with a normal flat screwdriver, you are just going to have to get down again and fetch a star screwdriver. You do know the difference, don’t you? If you lose (or accidently swallow) the screw, you can use one of those black plastic tie-thingies, but then you have to climb the ladder with the globe (held in a clean rag), scissors to cut the old black tie-thingie and a spare black tie-thingie all in your hands and beware that the glass pane does not slip out, because the rubber around it disintegrates, faster than cheese go bad in your fridge.

Do you know your house’s gutters have to be cleaned once a year before the rain season, at least? Invest in that ladder and plastic gloves.

Do you know the wooden window frames that look so expensive and all other wood have to be treated at least once every six months, else they will rot and that they are very expensive to replace.

Are you on first name terms with the shop assistants at the hardware store? Do you have a fully equipped toolbox and do you know you can get a fixture for screws, which fits on your electric drill like a bit and you don’t have to buy an electric screwdriver? You don’t have to have an electric screwdriver of course, but stock up on band-aids and expect tough blisters on your hands, if you don’t. Also invest in a Hilti.

Do you know a tube of silicone can fix the leak in your shower top, plug up a leak in the irrigation system and seal a hole in your roof? You can also get rubber stick-on strips to seal window frames from drafts.

Do you have your own lawyer, financial adviser, personal banker and auditor? Get them and remember their birthdays. Do you have a retirement plan and do you pay through your nose for premiums and would you rather eat sardines for a month than skip any of these payments, for you are now a single income family – you and your cat – and there is no second income salary or hubby to take care of you when you are old and decrepit?

Do you have a medical aid fund that costs you a fortune per month and do you have Professional Income Protection for if you dare to get sick and you are self employed, there is nobody to earn money to pay the bills at the end of the month and buy the cat’s food? You may send yourself flowers if you are sick and you can afford it.

Can you fill in a tax form? Do you keep all your slips, invoices etc and file them for your auditor and hand it in just after end of February?

Can you pay your accounts on the Internet and do you have all the security requirements updated as stipulated by the bank. Do you know about pin codes, passwords and extra security and do you check your bank statements every month, including cheque, credit, car, house bond, savings etc? Come again… savings – you think you can save? You’ve got be kidding!

Do you remember to refill the big gas bottle for the gas barbeque and make sure the gardener is there that day, for how the dickens do you think are you going to manage to off load that thing on your own? Keep the slip for the refill and remember to turn off the gas when you have finished the barbeque or become a vegetarian like me and leave the barbeque for your male friends.

A new tyre for your car costs a fortune or more and remember to stand in the queue again to renew your car registration every year, because they no longer send you reminders.

Do you remember your cell phone contract needs to be updated every 2 years and you need to take another day off work to do this?

If you ever think of DIY building, rather shoot yourself in the knee or chew off your left breast. It is less agonizing.

Do you have a contract for the tenant? Who fixes the geyser? Do you know that you cannot use a domestic violence interdict against a paying in-house tenant and an eviction order will cost you thousands and take months, so you have to screen very carefully whom you allow to live in your house? Beware of legal-wise old ladies, who work on your sympathy, move in with their dogs, drive into your car and cost you a fortune to evict. Check with your lawyer.

Do you know if someone shares your house and you do not charge him/her rent (and you have proved it with receipts, even if it is a minimum amount per month), they can claim a domestic relationship and move out with all your furniture, although you bought everything? This includes husbands, boyfriends, relatives and friends. Draw up a contract or get one at a stationary store. Check with your lawyer.

Can you replace a windowpane, putty and all? Can you replace a door lock, fix a leaking faucet and replace a floor tile?

Do you know the value of Clean Green?

Do you remember to put the garbage bin out on the evening before collections or else you have to do it early that morning, even though you are all prettily dressed up for work and smell like garbage once you have done it? Do you know they don’t remove garbage bags placed next to the bin? The bags have to be inside. And these guys still have the audacity to ask for Christmas boxes!

If your tv/ decoder blinks out, do you have your smart card number, do you know where the smart card is in the decoder and can you actually get a picture back on the screen without having to phone the emergency number, because everyone is phoning that number right then and you are going to wait in a long queue and miss your soaps. PS you should be watching international news – not soaps. You need to make an impression as an intelligent well-informed woman at that next dinner party and not sound like a spoiled housewife hooked on soaps.

Do you know where to take your decoder for an upgrade?

Do you realise if you work a full week you have no time to buy, fix, change and exchange all these things during the week and therefore you never get to tan next to your beautiful sparkling pool, because you spend the whole damn weekend driving around and fixing things.

Do you realise at least once a year, you deserve a hot rock massage? Forget the manicure – you have no nails left.

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone opens a pub and install laundry machines and tumble dryers, so single women can have a drink, relax and get their laundry done on a Friday after work? Then we might have time to watch International News programmes on Sunday evenings and sound clever at work on Monday mornings.

Do you realise despite all this, you hope you have an understanding boss who does not expect you to work after dark; a regular salary increase; gay friends who double up as handymen and do not expect sex as payment; a sense of humour and in the end you still like to be a Single Independent Woman, because there is nothing like watching television at six o clock in the evening, bathed and dressed up in your Garfield jammies and bunny slippers, eating whatever you feel like and not having to please the whole family. Except of course your cat, who thinks you are the cat’s whiskers, because he just got fed that scrumptious imported expensive cat food, which you remembered to buy on your way home. Congratulations!

PS: If you happen to be a husband reading this, show it to your wife and she might appreciate you more. I know I would appreciate it.

Take me back to Break-Up And Divorce – Parenting Plans