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Just_Justine's avatar

Second Marriages and children that are problems what would you do?

Asked by Just_Justine (6486points) March 29th, 2010

Sorry so long!
Because there are a lot of divorces these days there are often new family units being built by the new partners?

Let’s say you have a child from your first marriage, and then you have another one or two from your 2nd Marriage. But let’s say your first child “John” has behavioural issues. Like ADHD, also tends to lie and steal. He has what you would term “out of control behaviour”:

Wife no. 2 puts her foot down and says “Get rid of him send him back to his mother, or boarding school or whatever: The marriage breaks up, and a new wife moves in knowing by now there are 3 children. She also finds out that the first kid John is a handful. All the wives are very young. (Age range 18 – 23). She also puts her foot down and makes the dad “choose” between her and the kid John. Meaning divorce.
The dad shoves John into boarding school and so it goes on. Dad is an absent father due to much travelling. By now John who has always had issues gets worse. Takes drugs, lies, steals, is basically a dead loss. But is also a lost human being. The father marries again, to a person the same age as John. John having had bad experiences with wives takes an instant dislike to the new wife, as he had all the others, as they had disliked him for their reasons. The new wife has three children quickly they are all small babies, now that John is an adult although she tried; she bans John from family occasions. John feels like he has no family or at least had one but is ousted. He confines in me this is how he feels. He seems lost and aimless even as though he is an adult.
The question. If you are a person marrying another person who has children, is this not part of the package for better or worse? Why fluff your feathers and start demanding separation from the child even when he was 10 when you knew beforehand this child was an issue. Did everyone expect the child to disintegrate? Or do they have rights and good reason to expect this child now an adult to disappear? If John has started to change can he be given a second chance? Whose home is his father’s home, is it the new wife’s or the dads home, or is it everyone’s home including Johns?

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48 Answers

njnyjobs's avatar

John as an adult needs to get out there and make it on his own. Even if he has issues, the State would still provide for him. The father and the new wife can, if they wanted to, accommodate John in their home, but only to the extent that it suits both parties. Otherwise, the father will have to make another choice between son and wife.

Mikelbf2000's avatar

Hence the problem Justine. The kids are the ones who suffer the most out of failed marriages. A person with children have the additional problem of finding someone who will at least respect their kids. If the person is not the biological father/mother of the problem child then they are going to be less tolerant of the child.

Likeradar's avatar

I think the biggest problem here is that dad is behaving like a piece of shit.

He’s inviting women (young, almost- child women) who don’t have strategies to cope with his child into the child’s life and making them his child’s main caregiver due to his traveling, then makes these women more important to him than his own son.

When you marry someone who has children, you are marrying the whole package.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Did the father let wive’s 2, 3, etc know that John was ADHD? If not most of the blame falls on him.

I think the current wife has to do what is best for her minor children. That means create a safe environment.

John now has a reputation as a problem. Whether deserved or not, he has to fix this first. I have sympathy for his situation, but I can’t disagree with his current step mother. She has a responsibility to her younger children.

thriftymaid's avatar

…decided to be silent on this one

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

The father clearly doesn’t know what he’s doing when it comes to relationships. When I met Alex and I had a young son, it was either Simone plus son that you’ll treat as your own or no Simone at all.

Just_Justine's avatar

@thriftymaid you had a very valid point, I myself would choose not to get into a relationship with small children. But I decide that before becoming entangled in a relationship then not coping with the kids so to speak

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Just_Justine And of course, I agree with you – if I entered into a relationship with someone that has a child, no way would I ever say ‘pick the child or me’. How irresponsible.

Just_Justine's avatar

@Likeradar I agree. I am trying to build a bridge between John and his dad, as he is such a lost soul. It breaks my heart. But John has issues too, I just don’t know where to start.

Trillian's avatar

@Just_Justine People in our society seem to frequently marry for the wrong reasons without thinking through what it is that marriage entails. And because part of those reasons are self centered, the others child is not a part of the equation. Add to that the resentment of the child and if you’re not prepared to go all the way and actually be a family someone is going to be left out in the cold.
The absent father that you describe is ultimately at fault by putting females who aren’t going to stay with him anyway ahead of the child. His pattern seems clear in retrospect, does it not? Now he’s with one the young enough to be his son.
He invests nothing in these marriages, much less his children.
I hope the son can break free of his pain and resentment and live his life without his father. If the father has shown no concern for him by now, it just isn’t going to happen.

thriftymaid's avatar

@Just_Justine I guess you read my original answer before I decided to leave it alone.:)

skfinkel's avatar

This is a modern day tragedy. Too common. All these “Johns” out there, rejected and unloved, through no fault of their own. I don’t hear, in this story, what happened to the original mother—was she just a lost cause herself? or did the father (who I can barely think about without disgust) wrench John away from her? John needs some good therapy for a long time to help him so that perhaps he can finally have a life. Everyone in the other families need to rethink how they have been to him, but now, of course, he might even be a danger to them. The series of new wives, each one apparently more selfish than the next,—frankly, this is really tragic.

What it makes me think about is how to stop this from happening to more young children. Some kind of real license to get married? After two failed marriages, some kind of intense intervention? When children are involved, some serious and helpful counseling before the children are abandoned and then turn angry and sour?

njnyjobs's avatar

@Just_Justine… I guess you slipped up 4 responses up and showed this predicament to be your own… Good Luck with John!

Mikelbf2000's avatar

these situations are very heartbreaking :(

Coloma's avatar

I choose no children.

Never have been interested in being a step parent…way too much drama. lol

I broke my own rule last year and briefly dated a man with 13 & 15 yr. olds.

Wasn’t long before I realized my rule was a good one. haha

Second marriages with kids/ blended families are twice as likely to ultimately end in divorce.

filmfann's avatar

When I married my wife, she had a 5 year old daughter who was a handful. I told my soon-to-be wife that I did not want to be a step-father to her daughter, but a father to her. She agreed.
The first couple years were a struggle, and the following 8 were a joy. When she turned 15 she became a nightmare.
This is the new norm, sadly.

susanc's avatar

But @filmfann… when people get to be 15ish it’s not unnatural for their parents to experience “nightmare”! This doesn’t last as long as you (the parents) fear it will. That was a great move, saying you would be her father, not her stepfather. She’s taken you at your word. Good luck and congratulations.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I wouldn’t engage to marry a person in the first place who hadn’t a grip on their kids much less add my own into that mix. What a disaster!

DarkScribe's avatar

You lost me with ADHD. I have cured too many kids who supposedly have it to believe it to be real. The cure that I have always found effective is rigid, inflexible, enforced discipline.

As for an uncontrollable kid, that is simply bad parenting. The constant is the father so take it from there.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I agree a bit with @DarkScribe, the dad should’ve become proactive with the son (ADHD or anything else) before getting remarried again and again, making more children.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

This is partially the outcome of “children are resilient” and “If I’m happy, the children will be happy.”

Counseling is a huge part of making divorce better for kids, but it’s no guarantee.

Kids end up permanently damaged from this sort of neglect.

wundayatta's avatar

Clearly Dad is shirking his duty as a father. But what happened to Mom? It sounds like both parents fell down on the job.

I guess that there are far too many parents out there like that. If the going gets tough with their kids, they just disappear. Or make it worse.

I don’t know what to say about this, because it’s not like you can force people to be good parents. In this case, John has to raise himself. I hope he manages to find a way to be happy. He sure hasn’t had a good start.

YARNLADY's avatar

@DarkScribe Yet it is real
This is a clear case where a family counselor is absolutely required. This family has some serious issues that can be solved by meeting with a competent professional.

DarkScribe's avatar

@YARNLADY (I thought that your new icon was wearing feathers ala Hiawatha then realised that it was almost Easter.)

Yet it is real

It might be real in rare cases, but definitely not to the extent that is claimed. If it is a recognisable condition, where was it in the days where all children were raised with discipline both in the home and at school? Nowadays enter any classroom in any school on any continent and try to find one class that doesn’t have at least one, usually far more kids who supposedly have ADHD or its variants. Where was it in the various branches of the Military over several hundreds, even thousands of years? Why does it only appear in situations where a child lacks discipline?

It appeared “en masse“about the same time as “Time Out” replaced a whack on the backside as recommended discipline for children.

While not refusing to believe that there might be some genuinely disturbed people who possibly fit the criteria, I will continue to cure it with a whack on the ass whenever it appears within my extended family. Usually, if the whacks are interspersed with rewards when behaviour is acceptable the problem disappears in just a day or two. (Unfortunately it often reappears when the child is returned to its parents. )

Something else, those kids, mostly nieces and nephews, love me, and can’t wait to spend their holidays with my wife and me. They are truly happy when here – often the only time that they are. Kids need boundaries that aren’t flexible. It makes them feel secure.

YARNLADY's avatar

@DarkScribe The download of my avatar does not work properly
Where were they in the past? – I believe that it is more common because of the prevalence of pollutants in today’s everyday life. Only appear in children who lack discipline? – That’s your experience, the ones you see. It appears in the ones who have appropriate discipline also, but we find other, healthier outlets. – No, a whack on the backside is not the answer! – I could get into a very heated discussion about that, but let me just say that proper attention to the needs of the afflicted child is the answer, and it does not include hitting in any way shape or form.

Coloma's avatar


I agree. Spanking and hitting children is an archaic way of attempting to solve a behavioral problem.

DarkScribe's avatar

@Coloma Spanking and hitting children is an archaic way of attempting to solve a behavioral problem.

An archaic way that has worked brilliantly since the beginning of recorded history. Even the Bible doesn’t only support it, but warns against failing to do it. We are now surrounded by violent, unfocused, self indulgent, entitlement obsessed, empathy lacking youth. You can be pretty sure that those who don’t fit that description were raised by a good parents who instilled discipline. That does not mean a daily beating, just on any rare occasion when it is required.

Coloma's avatar


Actually if you are referring to ‘spare the rod’...that would be incorrect.

‘Rod’ is another word for ‘staff’...which is about guidance, not battering.

One uses a staff to guide their flock, not beat them.

It means to spare guidance is to spoil. ‘Spoil’ as in ruin, not spoil as in rotten!

YARNLADY's avatar

@DarkScribe Please do not attempt to misquote the bible as an authority on this subject as the original translations (as best as can be determined) do not support your comments.

Just_Justine's avatar

@njnyjobs not sure what you meant by that? “John” is a friend of mine. However in my own life I make it a policy not to get involved with any situation I feel I cannot handle. Hence being single so long. I chose not to get involved with another man who had kids. They are a huge responsibility. One needs to think carefully before they do I think. Ones impact on another childs life is life long.One should decide that before and not after they accept a proposal from a man with kids just my thoughts.

DarkScribe's avatar

@Coloma ‘Rod’ is another word for ‘staff’...which is about guidance, not battering.


Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.
(Proverbs 23:13)

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
(Proverbs 22:15)

The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.
(Proverbs 29:15)

DarkScribe's avatar

@YARNLADY _Please do not attempt to misquote the bible _

As an atheist I am always careful to quote or reference “exactly”. I have studied the Bible for many years. I wasn’t an atheist to begin with, I was a novitiate. I have spent a lot of my early life in seminaries in deep discussion with all manner of clergy. At least we had some good games of chess and some nice wine.

YARNLADY's avatar

@DarkScribe I also am a non-believer in the Bible, but I do realize that the current translations often do not accurately relate the original meanings. – Regardless, the proper way to introduce children to self-discipline does not involve physical violence.

DarkScribe's avatar

@YARNLADY Regardless, the proper way to introduce children to self-discipline does not involve physical violence.

No, mostly it simply involves their awareness of the possibility of corporal punishment.

I have five daughters and two step daughters. I have only struck one once, an open handed slap on her backside when she was five. The slap didn’t hurt, the realisation that I had done it jerked her out of a screaming “smashing things” tantrum where she had deliberately hurt an animal. After that nothing more than a stern look and reprimand as soon as bad behaviour showed itself was all that was needed.

YARNLADY's avatar

@DarkScribe fear does not = self-discipline To resort to physical violence only shows the parent is unable to exercise self-control.

DarkScribe's avatar

@YARNLADY fear does not = self-discipline

Two things. Yes it does, if you are told to be quiet and you have no reason to do so, you might not do so. If you are told to be quiet because you are walking through a lion reserve I think that you will exhibit more discipline – you won’t be dancing nonchalantly along. Two living with awareness of consequence is not living in fear, it is preparing for life.

YARNLADY's avatar

@DarkScribe told to behave does not = self discipline

DarkScribe's avatar

@YARNLADY DarkScribe told to behave does not = self discipline

Once they appreciate why and the rewards involved in such behaviour – it does. It is the beginning of self discipline. First enforced discipline, then understanding followed by self discipline. They are not going to discipline themselves if they have nor reason to, and until they are old enough to truly reason – to understand why such discipline is of benefit to them – they have to be controlled. The alternative would have us living in a “Lord of the Flies” world of children. Few will learn (fast enough to be useful) without being molded.

YARNLADY's avatar

@DarkScribe The Lord of the Flies was a perfect example of the rule of the jungle, a far cry from the rule of civilized society.

DarkScribe's avatar

@YARNLADY a far cry from the rule of civilized society.

Without discipline – however achieved – we are living in a jungle.

YARNLADY's avatar

@DarkScribe The Lord of the Rings shows what happens when there is no mature/adult person to show the path to civilized behavior. Humanity will not progress beyond the “law of the jungle” as long as people fail to acknowledge that there is a better way to a achieve a true civilized society than physical violence.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

wow…the Bible used to support beating…awesome

DarkScribe's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir wow…the Bible used to support beating…awesome

No, just noting that the Bible (I am an atheist) supports the need for childhood discipline and if necessary – physical discipline – much the way that most of society has for many thousands of years.

Using corporal punishment – as a last resort – doe not mean a lifetime of physical abuse – just a wake up call regarding consequence of unacceptable behaviour.

Atheist or knee-calloused devout Christian, the Bible has influenced society more than any other source of social mores. Much of the Bible has some value – it was not written as a “Bible” much of it was a guide to rule and law originally, and it does contain a lot of common sense. Unfortunately it also contains a lot of religious bigotry and bias.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@DarkScribe I don’t believe in any beating of my children but that’s because I can parent effectively in other ways and would inevitably find my doing so to be hypocritical to what I teach them and what I teach them is to never harm another (and certainly a toddler having a tantrum doesn’t constitute an emergency where I would tolerate such behavior from anyone).

DarkScribe's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir _I don’t believe in any beating of my children _

Nor do I, I would knock any man down who “beat” a child (or a woman). But smacking a naughty child who refuses to listen or respond, and doing so in a restrained manner is absolutely normal.

This use of the expression “beating” is somewhat ludicrous. I have never known anyone to beat a child, but almost everyone of my age has on one or two occasions had to resort to smacking a child. The other ploy used by many who advocate ineffective parenting (if they are dealing with a seriously misbehaving child) is to imply that a person who will smack a child does so on a regular basis. Most parents of my era who have raised happy, well adjusted, loving and successful children could count on one hand the number of times they have actually resorted to smacking. If an occasional wake up call isn’t working with a child, then there are some parenting issues that need addressing.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@DarkScribe To me ‘any beating’ includes any smacking – if you’d like please think of it as ‘any smacking for disciplinary purposes’, not beating.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir So many people seem to think if you call hitting by some other name such as popping them, spanking them, smacking them, that somehow makes it different from plain and simple hitting. It doesn’t, of course, but they seem to feel better calling it that.

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