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Investigative Solutions

By Bill E. Branscum   ©2000

If your parents are divorced, what happened between them? Whose fault was it; was the other parent able to deal with it and look after you? Did the non-custodial parent pay their child support?

Now, ask several of your friends the same questions until you have talked to ten people whose parents divorced when they were children. You'll get a lot of different answers but the answer you won't get is, "I don't know."

Just as we all know what happened between our parents, our children will know what happened with us. Just as we judge our parents, our children will judge us. It's the sort of thing we all should keep in mind. I am blessed that my former wife is someone I can communicate with; as private investigators, we saw divorcing couples behave worse than children.

If your wife left, for whatever reason and under whatever circumstances, don't run her down to your kids. They'll know who and what she was soon enough. If you absolutely must go bubble busting, tell them the truth about Santa but let them believe in their Mom.

Repeat after me,

"Your mother IS the finest woman I ever met, that's why I married her. Things didn't work out between us and WE went our separate ways but WE both love you and WE will always be here for you, no matter what."

Face it fellas, when you sit down at the table with your kids and whine that you have no money because, "Momma isn't doing her part," deride her for the filthy things she did, denounce her for abandoning you, or whatever you lay on them in an effort to stroke your ego, you are self-servedly abusing your children. Make no mistake about it, dragging your children into the blame game is a sorry, selfish thing to do.

I doubt that you are any more afflicted by "Type A," "Double Y," temper prone, testosterized genetics than I am. I know what it is to have felt hate, hurt and driven to strike back. I am sure we all have days when we'd really like to strangle the life out of someone, and I suspect we have all had days when pretty much anyone would do.

Take up a contact sport, push plates around in a gym, wrestle alligators or whatever you have to do, but leave the kids to love and respect their Moms - even if you have to manufacture an illusion. Forget the blame game nonsense; life's too short. Chances are, any Sunday paper will have weight sets and treadmills for sale that someone meant to use and didn't. Invest a few bucks and put all that aggression to good use. Clear your head, drop a few pounds and resurrect a positive attitude. That's how you win.

Go to the supermarket, pick out the stuff for some killer "trail mix." Chocolate covered raisins, Party Mix, almonds, walnuts, pecans, mini-whoppers, dried fruit, Poppycock - whatever suits you. Make up a big batch of it with your kids and let them package it up in those baggies that look like they are meant to hold half a sandwich. When your kids report that their classmates covet their snacks - that's winning.

You're a man, you know things, put your strengths to work. Go to the hardware store, buy the materials and build your kids a tree house. If you don't have trees (all we have are palms), they can be free standing.

This one wasn't terribly expensive to buy. Dee bought it years ago and put it together herself with very little help. By all appearances, it will last forever even in the heat and humidity we have here in SW Florida.

Adults think in terms of reality and limitations - kids live in a world of dreams and imagination where there are no limits. There's no place like a tree house and it can be that way for you too. Take a day off and spend a few hours in your tree house with two preschoolers and a hand crank ice cream maker - that's winning.


Take your kids fishing. I watched my baby girl wrestle a bass into the shallows and then, unable to lift it out of the water, jump in and get it.

I guess you had to be there but it was hysterical - no angler in history was ever so proud. I laughed until I cried. That's winning.

Maybe you just don't have any money and your ex shows up a couple of times a month to show the kids a big time and buy some affection like some kind of "Disney World Dad" with boobs. So what? Encourage them to have a good time with their Mom - why ruin that for them? When they get home, help them draw the things they remember and color them - that's winning.
You can read can't you - if not, here's a picture! Get a big book the kids will be interested in and read with them every night. Gulliver's Travels, Treasure Island, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland . . . give me a library card and a couple of boxes of crayons and my kids can live all the mystery and enchantment that the most talented minds in the world conjured up - that's winning.

Don't buy into gender related limitations and perceptions. Join the PTA, be a "Soccer Mom" with biceps, and do it all better than any of them. Be more active, contribute more time and energy and bake things. If you need some help with recipes, buy a cook book or search the web. Most "real moms" these days get their contributions from the bakery at the grocery store - do a little research, experiment a little, and you can make better brownies, cookies and fudge than anybody - that's winning.

Maybe you just don't see it. Maybe you really were married to the single one most miserable wretch on earth who stole your stuff and left you with nothing but your kids and a litany of incurable diseases. Perhaps she trashed your life so badly that you are uncontrollably driven to share all the sordid details with your children because it builds you up in their eyes and makes you feel so good about yourself. In that case, you best get a grip. Running your mouth around your children hurts nobody but them, it's demeaning to you and not worth it.

I promise you, whomever you are and whatever you have been through, the day will come that your children will grow up and they'll know who did what without any input from you. You want to "win" - just leave it alone, and they will remember you as the person who was there for them, stayed there for them and insulated them from all the grief and heartbreak that comes of a failed relationship.

Time, is inexorable; you and she will age until you die and you'll watch your children mature along the way. Although it is easy too fool a child, when the day comes that they see things as they are and were, you'll get what you deserve - whatever that happens to be. If there is a hell on earth, I think it would be to look into the eyes of your children to see emptiness and contempt knowing that you earned it.

Above all else in this world, I value the love and respect I see in the eyes of my own. It's a thing that nothing, and nobody, can ever take from you unless you throw it away.

Maybe you've already said too much. You cannot unring a bell but nothing says that once you've rung it, you have to go right on clanging away like a fool. Repeat after me,

"Your mother IS the finest woman I ever met, that's why I married her. Things didn't work out between us and WE went our separate ways but WE both love you and WE will always be here for you, no matter what."



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