All Articles Tagged "divorce"

Mine, His, Ours: Is Parental Gatekeeping Child Abuse?

April 5th, 2016 - By MommyNoire Editor
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Parental gatekeeping isn’t a term that you hear too often, but we see examples of it every day.

Let’s say a couple gets divorced. They have three children together. The mother has primary physical custody or placement, but the two have worked out a visitation schedule that gives the father ample time with the kids. Everything is going well for a while, but one day, the parents have a disagreement. To get back at her ex, the mother decides to keep him from seeing the kids; either by telling him flat out, issuing an ultimatum, or creating an excuse for her to have them for a longer period of time.

When they finally work things out, or when the mother decides to let go of the issue — whichever comes first — she finally lets the father see his kids. But weeks later, there’s another disagreement, and in retaliation, the mom takes even more time away from dad.

See where we’re going here? Sound familiar?

That, my friends, is parental gatekeeping.

Restrictive gatekeeping is supposed to be used for a child’s protection. For example, if dad is drinking heavily or there are concerns about some kind of neglect or abuse, mom (or whomever the custodial parent is) has the right to restrict contact and/or communication with the kids to keep them from harm. When there’s no suspected endangerment to the children, though, the power is being misused.

And according to some, this misuse of parental gatekeeping is considered child abuse. Why?

Consider this:

The first time the kids are kept away from their father, it’s not a huge deal. When they see each other again, they pick up right where they left off and all is right with the world again. But as the number of times they’re kept apart increases, the more the children get used to him not being around, and in some cases, think that it’s because he doesn’t want to see them. They’re hurt. Resentful. And sooner or later, the relationship between the father and the children becomes strained…possibly to a point where it’s irreparable.

It’s not physical abuse, but it’s definitely psychologically damaging; and in many states that’s equivalent to serious physical harm, and the parent could end up losing custody altogether.

In some states, like the state of California, that kind of unreasonable gatekeeping is punishable; especially if it includes a false accusation of substance abuse, neglect or abuse against the non-custodial parent, but it’s not looked at as a form of child abuse. It could, however, result in a change in the custody agreement. California Family Code 3028 allows for compensation when a parent has been “thwarted by the other parent when attempting to exercise custody or visitation rights contemplated by a custody or visitation order, including, but not limited to, an order for joint physical custody, or by a written or oral agreement between the parents.”

Meaning: The mother could end up having to pay the father a minimum of $100 plus his legal fees; share physical custody; or worse, custody could be awarded to the the father if the judge decides that he’s the parent who’s more likely to allow the child “frequent and continuing contact with the noncustodial parent.”

Is this the better option?

Where do you stand on the issue? Should unreasonable parental gatekeeping be considered a form of serious child abuse in every state? Tell us what you think!

Taleema Talks: Should I Change My Last Name Post Divorce?

April 5th, 2016 - By Taleema Chesney
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Corbis

 

Dear Taleema,

I am currently going through a divorce.  My soon to be ex-husband and I were married for 10 long years, and during that union we had two handsome boys (ages nine and seven).  They seem to be taking the divorce well.  My marriage was really rocky. I dealt with affair after affair and severe emotional neglect.  I am writing because I am considering changing my last name, however quite a few family members are aggressively encouraging me not too (mom, aunt and older sister).  I didn’t think it would be such a BIG DEAL!!! What would you do in my situation?

The Name Changer

Dear Name Changer,

To change or not to change? That is the question.

Deciding whether or not to keep your married name is your choice and right.  I was married (years ago) and when I knew divorce was inevitable, I started weighing my options.  I have three AMAZING daughters and wondered if changing my last name would upset or affect them in any form or fashion.  I decided to have a conversation with my two oldest, my youngest was just a baby and would not understand.

My oldest said, “Mommy you will still be my mommy no matter what.” After hearing that, I felt good and took it as a green light to move forward with what I wanted do.  My last name was legally changed on my social security card and driver’s license the week after the divorce was final.  I did have to ask the judge for permission to return to my maiden name, but the process was smooth.

For me, going back to my maiden name was a declaration of independence!

There are some specific questions to ask yourself prior to making that decision:

  • How do your children feel about the name change?
  • Has the last name become your identity?
  • Are you changing/keeping your name for positive reasons?
  • Is your professional reputation tied to your name?

Remember, at the end of the day there is no “right” or “wrong” answer. You have to decide what is best for you.

If you decide you want to proceed with the name change or even if you “may” be considering, ask the judge during the divorce proceedings for your name back and make sure you tell him/her the new name you wish to use.  You will get a copy once the divorce judgment is entered and filed.  Be sure your name change is included in the order, if so your name is now legally changed.

Even though your name is now legally changed in the eyes of the court, you still need to go and change your name on identification-Social Security and Motor Vehicle License are two important ones to change (take a copy of your divorce decree!).  Legal documents, utility bills, passports, insurance companies, banks and the post office should all be notified as well.  If you don’t ask for a name change during the divorce and decide later that you want to change back – be prepared to come out of pocket.

 

There are so many reasons women decide to change or not to change.  Here are a few that I know personally and a few that I’ve heard:

  1. The woman scorned is the woman who does not want to change her name with hopes of annoying her ex or possibly his new love interest/spouse.  Spite is an energy that will suck the life out of you….are they worth it?
  2. The woman who just wants to make sure she has the same last name as her children.  I totally get and understand that reason. I know sometimes having different last names may cause a problem/confusion with schools and or medical situations.
  3. The Professional woman who has earned degrees/certificates and/or has experienced success in her profession usually opt to keep their name. Who wants to start over if they don’t have to?
  4. The woman whose identity has been defined by her last name: marriage, motherhood, white picket fence and dog…the “AMERICAN DREAM.” She doesn’t want to explain to everyone what happened to her “happily ever after.”

 

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
by any other name would smell as sweet.” –William Shakespeare

Taleema is a proud mother of three beautiful girls, an early childhood expert with over 18 years experience, and a woman who is passionate about promoting positive change and cultivating character in a world that is quickly forgetting those principles exist. 

Ways Children Of Single Parents Love Differently

March 29th, 2016 - By Meg Butler
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Children of single parents grew up with a mom or dad who seemed to be able to do it all. And kids who grew up watching those shining examples come to expect a lot from their partners. We know what it’s like to be a superwoman, and that makes us fiercely independent. But that doesn’t mean that we’re not looking for a partner to lean on sometimes, just for something a little different.

Early on, kids of single parents learned what not to do, what they do want in a relationship and how to be happy outside of one. Different points of view on love make us all unique. And those quirks affect who we choose, how we love them and what we want out of life. That includes the good and the bad, but it’s all love in the end. Check out the interesting ways some children of single parents look at love.

Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

We Have A Tough Outer Shell

But that’s just the outside. Once you prove you’re worthy of letting in, it’s all unconditional love on the inside.

What Happened To These Couples Who Said “I Do” When They Meant “I Don’t”?

March 24th, 2016 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Tumblr

Image Source: Tumblr

Serious question: Would you say “Yes” if you didn’t really mean it? Not every proposal happens with “Dangerously in Love” playing in the background. But what happens when you walk down the aisle despite the chill coming from your your cold feet?

Recently, the folks over at Reddit asked their married readers what took place when they decided to get married even though they had serious doubts about their relationship and wanted to ditch it. And not just any doubts, but “We should have broken up ages ago” or “I was going to say it’s over but wound up pregnant” doubts.

It sounds like a recipe for immediate disaster. But wait until you read these surprising stories. We were shocked at some of the outcomes. And after you read them, let us know: Is it ever a good idea to walk down the aisle if you’re having cold feet? Let us know how you feel about saying “I do” if a person is really feeling more like “I don’t.”

Americans Have Become Less Accepting Of Divorce, Study Suggests

March 23rd, 2016 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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less accepting of divorce

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Although the nation’s divorce rate doesn’t appear to be an indicator of this, a recent report from the National Center for Health Statistics suggests that Americans have become less accepting of divorce.

Researchers surveyed thousands of men and women, whose ages ranged from 15 to 44, on their views on marriage, sexual behavior, and children. Researchers asked participants the same questions between 2002 and 2013. One of which included a question where both men and women were asked whether they agree or disagree with the following statement: “Divorce is usually the best solution when a couple can’t seem to work out their marriage problems.” Over time, the divorce number of participants who expressed that they disagreed with the statement, which resulted in the divorce approval rating dropping from 46 percent to 39 percent.

As for why the divorce approval rate is declining, Bowling Green University in Ohio family and marriage researcher, Wendy Manning, believes she may have the answer.

“Marriage is becoming so selective that maybe people think if you achieve this status, you don’t want to end it, Manning told the Associated Press.

Have your views on divorce changed over the years?

These Professions Experience The Highest Divorce Rates

March 21st, 2016 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Corbis Images

Apparently, there may be a link between the professions of married partners and the likelihood of said marriages to end in divorce.

According to Fox & Friends Weekend, a study revealed that dentists, optometrists, and podiatrists were the least likely to divorce with divorce rates of less than eight percent. Optometrists actually had the lowest divorce rate, which was just four percent.

Bartenders, dancers, and choreographers, however, experienced the highest divorce rates. Collectively, these professions have an average of a forty percent divorce rate. According to the experts, stress at work plays a significant role in whether or not a marriage will end in divorce.

Of course, we can learn a lot from studies of this nature, and they can sometimes be fun to read; however, at the end of the day, what keeps a marriage together is ultimately how committed both parties are to one another and the relationship.

There’s plenty of doom and gloom statistics out there pertaining to marriage and divorce, but hopefully, it’s not too discouraging for those of us who still believe in marriage. Less than two years ago, the New York Times reported that the institution of marriage was at its strongest and that 70 percent of marriages that began in the ’90s had already celebrated their 15th anniversary. That’s something to get excited about, right?

Afeni Shakur And Whether Or Not Men Deserve Alimony

March 18th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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Image Source: WENN

Image Source: WENN

I’ve never been a fan of alimony. In this day in age, when both men and women have the ability to work and provide for themselves, I just don’t see the need. And while I think a stay-at-home mother should be compensated until she can get herself on her feet, there are far too many people who, I believe, take advantage of the system.

No one proves my point more than Gust Davis.

You may not know him by name but his is the husband of Afeni Shakur, Tupac Shakur’s mother. The couple have been married for 12 years but now, according to TMZ, Afeni wants out.

Sadly, the couple never had a prenup. And now, Davis is trying to take advantage. In North Carolina, where Shakur filed, judges are not required to divide property up 50/50. They evaluate each case to determine what’s fair.

Davis is asking for the right to live on a 50 acre ranch in North Carolina, the keys to the houseboats and the Jaguar.

But that’s not the worst of it. In addition to the property, Davis also wants alimony. Davis reported that the Tupac Estate brings in $900k a year. But after expenses, Afeni receives $20,000 a month. As a part of the divorce settlement, Davis is asking for $10,000 a month, half of Afeni’s monthly check from the estate, for the rest of his life.

Shakur has been separated from Davis for more than a year and is currently living in a houseboat in Sausalito, California.

She has also filed documents asking a judge to dismiss Davis’ alimony request.

Davis is, according to TMZ, a minister. I guess he never heard of the scripture, a man who doesn’t work, doesn’t eat.

There is something so heinous about all of this. While I don’t like alimony for anyone, it really grinds my gears when men are asking for it.

Some would call it sexist. But I don’t even think that’s the case here. It’s no secret that there is a real male privilege when it comes to not only employment but compensation for said employee. Men have always and still continue to make more money than women for equal work. It’s a fact. So Davis, and any other man married to a rich or powerful woman, should be able to provide for themselves even if that woman and her money are no longer around. You should always have your own money on the side, in the context of any relationship, in case, God forbid, something happens. The same is certainly true for women who often find themselves trapped in dead or dysfunctional relationships because they’re financially trapped.

I can’t grasp the concept of anyone, from any gender, feeling entitled to a former spouse’s money when they don’t want to be connected to that person through marriage any longer. People will argue that you become accustomed to a type of lifestyle that should continue after the divorce? Why exactly should it continue? Again, unless a man or woman has made a conscious decision not to work to stay home and raise children or keep the house, essentially working without outside compensation, why do you expect your lifestyle to remain the same when you make a serious life change like getting a divorce? The nature of divorce is at its core, a change in lifestyle. Sure, Davis might have been spending Tupac and Afeni’s money when he was married to her; but now that that connection has been severed, how dare he want to live off of a dead man’s estate, simply because he was once connected to his mother? It’s shameful.

Serious Question: Could You Date Your Ex-Husband?

March 16th, 2016 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Could You Date Your Ex-Husband?

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My mama always told me to mind my business when it comes to married folk because married folk are crazy. She advised me never to pick sides when a married couple is at odds because they will fight like cats and dogs, trash talk one another to other people and then give each other a funny look one day, kiss, have sex, make up, and then forget why the hell they were mad at each other in the first place. Meanwhile, everyone else around them is looking around and scratching their heads while wondering what the hell just happened. Apparently, mom’s little theory applies to ex-husbands and ex-wives as well.

After a tumultuous divorce, bitter child support disputes, and a painfully uncomfortable episode of “Fix My Life” where they both admitted they “don’t like” one another, RHOA star Sheree Whitfield and her ex-husband, Bob Whitfield, have made amends. In fact, the celebrity exes are actually dating again. Some fans witnessed their interesting reunion on this past season of “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” but Bob recently discussed their reconciliation with Radar Online and well, the two seem quite fond of each other these days.

According to Bob, the two reconnected last July during a birthday celebration for one of their kids, and their friendship blossomed from there.

“It started because of the birthday party,” he said. “It was kind of a festive occasion, and it was a bowling alley party. So now drinks are involved, jokes are involved, different type of mood. So then it’s like, ‘Let’s try breakfast…’ take it easy and just go little bit by little.”

Eventually, things began to heat up at bit, and the two began to casually date.

“It’s almost like you just take your time with it because we’ve been hanging around each other for a long time,” he explained. “So we know little ways about each other, so how to maneuver. It’s been pretty cool. We ain’t been playing bumper cars, smashing them up.”

He went on to say that their trip to Jamaica, which was filmed for RHOA, kind of sealed the deal for him.

“Going to Jamaica was a challenge because you know I still act a fool getting in the sunshine and the water,” Bob said. “And I got mesmerized because I haven’t seen her up close like that… I couldn’t resist but grab her booty. It was like I got a flashback and I was like, ‘You’re better than I remember.’ Oh my gosh, it’s awesome.”

Interestingly, he admits that although they’re just casually seeing each other, he’s not currently dating anyone else.

“I’ve been kind of low key,” he confessed. “It’s almost like that’s why it feels like an experiment to even me. I’m not saying I’m going to marry the girl next week. But I said, ‘Why couldn’t I build something of substance?’”

“I look at it like this, and I told her this, ‘We’ve still got those issues. S*** will flair up, but you just kind of like have to maneuver around each other,’” he continued. “It’s a delicate song and dance, so everybody takes a chance to lead.”

So yeah, they’re taking things slow, but Bob seems quite hopeful that something solid will come out of this.

“We had our differences and our problems, but I never just gave up on her,” he said. “I feel like I’ve invested a lot. We’ve invested a lot in each other, so I’m not going to just scrap my investment to her. You kept the name for a reason.”

You could have knocked me over with a feather when I heard the news because well, who really saw this coming? But perhaps this serves as a testament that the bond that’s established between husbands and wives are difficult to break—even after divorce papers are signed.

I can’t pretend that this is the first time that I’ve heard about once bitter exes reuniting after divorce. In fact, during a session of premarital counseling, my pastor warned my fiancé and I about flying off of the handle and filing for divorce because we’re hurt or angry. Apparently, he’s seen his share of couples who insisted on divorcing each other only to turn around and later remarry.

Anyway, this brings us to our Serious Question: Could you (or would you) date your ex-husband?

Chris Rock Has A New Girlfriend: Meet Megalyn Echikunwoke

February 17th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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#ChrisRock and his new girlfriend actress Megalyn Echikunwoke. She is #Nigerian @chrisrock #megalynechikunwoke

A photo posted by Tattle Tailzz (@tattletailzz) on

We’ve talked in the past about whether or not it’s a good idea to date a man who is separated from his wife (the response was something to the effect of, “terrible idea!”). But would you date a guy who is actually actively taking steps to get out of his marriage even though it’s taking longer than planned?

I ask that because Chris Rock, 50, is reportedly dating again. The young woman he’s seeing is an actress named Megalyn Echikunwoke, 32, who has been on the show Damien and Arrow, and she was on his arm as his date for Clive Davis’s pre-Grammy gala this past Sunday. But the pair have reportedly been an item since last year, as People reports that they were also by each other’s side at the Global Citizen Festival in NYC last September.

Echikunwoke has been very supportive of Rock, rocking a CB4 cap on her Instagram page, and retweeting his tweets and promotional messages as he prepares for the Oscars on February 28.

Straight outta Locash! Hope @chrisrock does something from #cb4 at the #oscars2016

A photo posted by Megalyn E.K. (@megalyn) on

Of course, Rock is still trying to finalize the details of his divorce from Malaak Compton-Rock. The pair would have been married 20 years this November, but Rock filed papers in December of 2014. More than a year later, they’re still trying to figure things out and have had some public clashes, specifically over the South African child they took in years ago.

But Echikunwoke, whom people say looks a lot like a younger version of Compton-Rock, and who is also Nigerian and White, seems very happy with her beau. After the pre-Grammy event, she even shared a photo of the flowers Rock gave her for Valentine’s Day.

 

My Valentine got me wasted on them goooood roses last night. So hungover. Hope you had a happy V Day. 💋😛

A photo posted by Megalyn E.K. (@megalyn) on

So with all that being said, I wonder what you would do in a situation like this. I asked my friend if she would entertain a relationship or even just date a guy in the midst of a divorce, and she was actually somewhat open to it.

“Depends on how far along he is in the process,” she said. “I would probably go on a date and see where his head is, but I don’t think I’d want to consistently date until it was officially over.”

And I could understand that. Said guy sounds like he’s actively trying to move on, as opposed to the kind of men who string one woman along while promising to split from their wife “soon.”

But I would have to pass. Divorce can be a long and drawn-out process, not to mention a messy one. The last thing I would want is to get pulled into the contention or the conversation at any point. Also, there is a lot of restructuring going on in a man’s life as he goes through divorce proceedings, including starting over in a new home, figuring out what money and items will be given or divided, and most importantly, there might be some very strong feelings (like love…or anger) still lingering that he might need to work on before stepping back out in the dating field.

There’s nothing wrong with giving a divorcé a chance, but I would probably wait for him to actually be that before trying going forward with anything.

That’s just me, though. Wendy Williams, on the other hand, was more strong with her opinion, a.k.a., her disapproval of Echikunwoke dating Rock while he’s trying to finalize his situation (10:30 mark). But what say you?

Blending Families: Outside Children, Half Siblings And Healing

February 11th, 2016 - By MommyNoire Editor
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Shutterstock

By Abiola Abrams

“Mom and Pop were just a couple of kids when they got married. He was eighteen, she was sixteen and I was three.” ~ Billie Holiday

A few months ago my brother married his beautiful soulmate in Jamaica. Excited about the pending nuptials, my family all secured tickets and made plans to celebrate their love. Then, through a series of mis-communications it appeared to us as if my mother, sister and I were not invited to the bridal shower. It seemed that my “half-sister”, whom we also love and adore, was planning the shower as it took place in her building. We were not given the date, time or location of the event although I had offered to help the bride, whom I already considered family, with the shower from day one.

Understandably, there were many tears shed over the fact that the person I’ve known the longest on the planet would be getting married and not only would I be excluded from the pre-nuptial events, but so would my mother.

I grew up with one brother and sister in a house with both of my parents. My father was there about eighty-five percent of the time. There were interludes where he would abruptly and suddenly (from my vantage point) move out without notice or discussion. Now, as an adult, I know that those were the times where he had cheated on my mother and fathered “outside children.” Because kids are never as “dumb” as parents think they are to the goings-on around them, in hindsight I also know that my mother would sometimes confront these women and my father. Ultimately he would move back in and we’d pick up from where we left off as a family with no discussion of the dramatic and traumatic events that had transpired.

Post-Traumatic Love Disorder

My brain protected me from the trauma of much of this growing up by forgetting. After all, I had my own childhood and adolescent dramas to deal with; including being bullied, battling raging eczema and nosebleeds along with severe anxiety and emotional eating. It is only in looking back that I am able to see what was going on with clarity and the links between these situations.

Either by accident or by design, I received the message that my father’s comings and goings were not something to discuss — with anyone. After all he was a pillar of the community and an important person. He was there at every special event and if I ever needed anything I only had to ask. For better or worse, I had the best father I knew of.

Nonetheless, I remember bringing my mom a permission slip so that I could talk to the school therapist and she refused to sign it. “Just talk to me,” she said, but I never felt like I could. This created an intimacy gap in my friendships in addition to severe abandonment and trust issues. It also allowed me to be able to compartmentalize my childhood as, my dad was an incredible father but a terrible husband.

As a passionate living coach I now realize that children learn what they live and how we do anything is how we do everything.

Unblended Families.

It was only ten years ago that we, the three different sects of my father’s American children, found out about each other. There are seven of us siblings living in close enough proximity in New York City, yet we never knew for the most part that all of us existed. Ten years may be long for a romantic relationship or friendship, but it’s not a long time to know a sibling. When siblings are raised together you know that you can fight, make up and move forward. When you’re raised in different households you also may have been taught to handle conflict differently.

The biggest open secret is that my unblended family with pockets of “outside children” and different “baby’s mothers” is not as unique as I once thought we were.

Jamilah Creekmur, author of “Raised by the Mistress” suggests that I write a memoir called “Raised by the Wife.” Perhaps one day I will. For now, I am grateful that my siblings have all made a concerted effort as adults to build close, loving relationships as a family.

After Effects.

My parents are still married and I am learning a great deal from them about how relationships mutate and evolve. Ten years ago when my brother, sister and I confronted my dad about the lie of our Cosby-happy childhood he explained that my mother is his “rock” and “foundation.” He said that he would never survive without her and that these women (and others) were angry that he would never walk away from her – and us. From his perspective, these situations took place when they were “on a break” although the break seemingly always took place after the fact.

I often remark that my mother is stronger than I would ever be as she has more than come to terms with our extended siblings. We have vacationed together a few times all together as an adult family. My mother also has my “half siblings” earmarked on her social media pages as her children. Regretful that she never told us about them growing up she preaches often that no child is responsible for the circumstances of their birth and loves them dearly.

I am grateful that I have parents who are willing to be accountable to their adult children and own up to past grievances.

Healing the Misunderstanding.

Regarding the shower snafu, it was almost two months after the wedding that I called a sister’s council for us to discuss what had transpired. Yes, even coaches have challenges with family wounds. It turns out that my half-sister (I only use that term for clarity here) was somehow believing that we were trying to exclude her and the other siblings. We had all retreated to our angry, hurt corners, upset about the perceived betrayals. We were all experiencing exactly the same feelings!

My siblings were all feeling like they were not “immediate family” and therefore did not really count. Meanwhile, I was feeling like my brother preferred his newer, cooler siblings so we were out. If any one of us had picked up a phone to say, “What is happening?” the incident could have been resolved in five minutes. Instead we had all been living under the myth and veil of betrayal, smiling in each other’s faces through the sadness, for about five months. The thought of it now breaks my heart all over again.

How often do we harbor anger at loved ones that could be solved with a simple conversation? If your family is anything like mine, you grew up with terrible communication practices. As children we were never in on any real conversation, leaving us to piece together what was happening in our lives like detectives. Family members talk about slights to each other, rarely confronting the person for any sort of meaningful dialogue. People stop speaking rather than address primal emotional wounds.

At the heart of our beef and many family dramas was, “I am afraid that I am not being loved. I am being disrespected because you don’t care about me. I am unlovable to you.” People stop speaking for generations over this sort of issue.

Forward Movement.

Our mandate, as women and particularly as mothers, is to do better than generations before us. I sympathize greatly with my mother’s challenges. I can’t imagine trying to cope with your own hurt and betrayal and at the same time trying to figure out what’s best for your kids. The situation was not fair to her and it certainly wasn’t fair to us. What mother wants to willingly sit across a Thanksgiving table with their small children and build a bridge with their husband’s other women? However, if the situation dictates that, we must for the sake of our kids.

Open relationship advocates say that they can easily solve these problems, but it’s only an open relationship if all parties involved agree to it.

Unfortunately while we all swirled around in this soup of hurt and betrayal, my dad like most men, remained oblivious. These situations get written off as women’s drama when the men that catalyzed it stand on the perimeter. I was blessed to be raised with the knowledge that my father loves me unconditionally and would do anything for me. It makes a difference with how I move in the world and who I allow into my life. However, when a daughter sees that her mother is “not enough” she gets the message that she is “not enough” as well.

Coaching the women I am honored to work with and listening to the stories of my friends, I find that our dirty little secret is everyone else’s too. I once had a dinner party and of the twenty guests there, every single one had a multi-family dynamic with “half” siblings and “outside children.” All of African decent, they had different versions of unblended families. It wasn’t the easy blending of “The Brady Bunch!” After all, on “The Brady Bunch” no one had betrayed anyone. The ex spouses were vaguely widowed or divorced. It was never really clear but the exes didn’t seem to exist in the new family paradigm.

Blame, Shame and Guilt?

Casting blame, pointing fingers and trying to recount facts thirty years later helps no one. After all, there are always multiple points of view, including his, hers and the truth. We don’t talk about and heal the multi-family dynamic because there is usually some sort of scandal, lie or secretive behavior involved. When it’s just adults involved, consenting adults can make their foolish choices and move on. When children are involved, however, the situation requires more care and attention.

Regardless of the circumstances of your birth, you matter. There is no such thing as a “bastard.” You are worthy and worth loving. A parent has no half children. The fact that you are here on this planet means that you are a loving expression of the Creator. There is nothing shameful about your existence. The missteps of our parents are not our own. There may be broken families but there are no broken children. It is important for us to know this and teach our children the same. This is particularly important because we often recreate the family patterns we grew up in. Again, children learn what they live.

How can we find healing around this issue, not only for ourselves, but for the next generation? If you were not parented in a healthy fashion, it’s time to re-parent yourself. Look toward forgiveness of yourself, your parents, and anyone else involved.

I honor my parents and the mothers of my siblings for making the best choices they knew how to make at the time. I also honor all of my siblings whom I love with my whole heart. It’s now up to me as an adult to make the best choices I can. This is not easy. I stumble, fall and yes, feel blame, shame and guilt.

Evolution is a process, not an event. What a blessing!

Passionate Living Coach Abiola Abrams gives extraordinary women inspiring advice on healthy relationships, evolved sexuality and getting the love we deserve. You’ve seen her love interventions in magazines from Essence to JET and on shows from MTV’s “Made” to the CW Network’s “Bill Cunningham Show.” Find love class worksheets, advice videos, coaching, and more at “Abiola’s Love University.” Tweet @abiolaTV or #loveclass.