Dear Annie: My husband has been stalling our divorce for two years, trying to keep me broke. We have two children, the oldest in college. Their father and his parents badmouth me to them and tell them inappropriate reasons about why I left the marriage, none of which are true. Fortunately, my children know this. But I never thought that my husband would involve his children in this manner. I never speak ill of him to the kids.
I was truly hoping that we would come out of this on good terms and be able to co-parent like adults. But my husband blames me for everything. He was raised in a home where he was indulged and never had to take responsibility for his actions. He has not been honest with his parents, which might explain why they are upset with me. But they have also treated the children poorly since the separation.
My husband brings in nearly five times my salary, but he pays a minimal amount of child support. Much of our money is being spent on lawyers because he insists on fighting over everything. His need to hurt me is only hurting the children.
There are no rules at Dad's house, because he wants the kids to be able to do things with him that they can't do with me. He uses money to gain favor, and I believe he thinks they will live with him if he wipes me out. How do I get him to put his children ahead of his hate and greed? — Fighting for My Kids
Dear Fighting: It is truly sad that so many parents are willing to hurt the children in order to punish the spouses. You cannot force your husband to be more grown up, so protect yourself. Document every instance of manipulation or parental alienation by him or his parents, and give a copy to your lawyer. It may also help to get counseling for your children (and for you) to weather the storm.
Dear Annie: I would like to add to your response to "Wiser Now" and "Foolish Daughter," whose parents left estates to children who were less involved in caring for them.
The hurt feelings caused when parents show favoritism not only affect the child who has been slighted, but also the relationship the child has with the sibling who was favored — not to mention residual feelings toward the parent.
My parents have been dead for years, but I am still acutely aware that my sister was Mom's favorite. And while I have a relationship with my sister, it is always in the back of my mind that my mother's treatment of her was different than her treatment of the rest of us. This is especially painful because my sister eventually abused my mother, and yet she still received what amounted to an equal portion of her estate because Mom forgave a large outstanding loan. — Still Bitter
Dear Bitter: We have stated before that the bequests in a will are often perceived by children as a reflection on how much they were loved by the parent, especially when the bequests are unequal between siblings. Parents may think they are doing the right thing, but the results can poison the relationship between siblings forever.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: Joe The Goat Farmer