web analytics
September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



After The Visit


Blended-Family-logo

Recently, my two children from my first marriage visited with their father after three and-a-half years of not seeing him. Even though I was faced with some opposition from friends and relatives that lived through my divorce and its aftermath with me, I actually supported the idea. I told everyone how pleased I was that after all of this time their father wanted to spend “quality” time with them. I packed the children up and sent them for a two and-a-half week visit with a man I believed had turned over a new leaf.

For months leading up to his initial request of having the children visit with him in America from our home in Israel, I was shown a picture of a man I would feel safe sending my children to see. I was told that he had “returned” to Torah Observant Judaism, I was assured that he not only had a kosher home but more importantly a kosher “life” and that he desperately missed his children.

In the past he was never in a “good” place in his life to accommodate them; he was in a rocky second marriage, then he was going through a divorce, and after that, he was single trying to get his life on track.

Now things were different. He had been working on himself over the past few years and he established himself within a thriving, growing Jewish community. He held the same job for some time, he bought a car and owned a home within walking distance to the local Chabad shul, of which he is an active member. It looked as if his troubled times were in the past and my children would have an opportunity to renew their connection with him over a fun-filled few weeks.

With my son’s bar mitzvah around the corner, I felt it was an ideal time for them to reunite so that all of us could start fresh allowing the children to feel cherished and loved by all of their parents. I recall advising him at the time of our divorce, almost 12 years ago, to get his act together so that he would someday be someone our children can be proud of and, from all that I was shown, he took that advice seriously.

Now in retrospect, I realize that this is a case of my believing because I wanted to believe and of my seeing what I wanted to see. I so sincerely wanted to believe that this man that I dedicated so many years of my life to and with whom I had two beautiful children, was capable of working through his troubled times and was finally able to salvage his relationship with our children. I imagined my children being among the lucky few children of divorce able to sidestep the usual pitfalls and the difficulties that generally befall them. I also wanted him to see how wonderful our children were turning out. My imagination is so vivid that I even envisioned him thanking us for all that my husband and I have sacrificed for them over the years.

Without going into specific detail, it became clear to me during their visit that my children were faced with difficult circumstances upon their arrival; a situation that we had neither anticipated or prepared for, and it seemed as if it mocked the very essence of how we run our daily lives. Had I known about the true situation, I would have done my best to help my ex-husband work out some way of handling things that would have made it more comfortable for our children. I was concerned, I heard the confusion in their voices over the phone, and being so far away there was not much I could do. It was difficult to truly assess the situation. I did try and follow up with their father, who must have been too busy during their stay to respond to my concern.

My question to you dear readers is, what would you do if this happened to you? How can we as parents striving to raise our children one way send them into an environment that is so very different in values and beliefs from the ones in our homes? How do we encourage relationships for our children that are so foreign or in contrast to the way we run our lives? Is it better to just grin and bear the differences during visitation and hope and pray that they get through it okay and that we have taught them well?

Is it better to kick and yell and make a fuss, proclaiming our chosen way of life better then the other ways that they now see? Mind you, my children are pretty worldly and not closed minded, we have family members and friends with differing levels of religious observance and although we live on an exclusively religious settlement in Israel there is also tremendous cultural diversity here. The challenge here is not necessarily which way is right and which is wrong, but the unexpected and unfamiliar, and learning to come to terms with them.

As I saw it, the specific adherence to rules and regulations were not the main issue here. It was the lack of open and forthrightness that concerned me. I know the “professionals” out there will say, “communication is the key to success,” and that both parents must learn to respect each other’s way of life. I too believe this to be true, yet practically speaking, if there was a great ability to communicate and compromise, a good percentage of marriages would be saved from the agonies of divorce. So, how do we communicate with someone who is trying to be secretive? Communication is a two way street, and when there is no communication, how do we protect our children?

To be honest I take some comfort in the fact that my 17-year-old daughter felt uncomfortable with the lifestyle she was witnessing in her father’s home. Not that any of us want our children to be in uncomfortable situations – but to me, it was an indication that she felt strongly about her religious beliefs and the rules in which we run our lives. She assured me that I was not responsible for the position that they found themselves in and that she was able to deal with the situation because of the way my husband and I have raised her. I also need to accept and respect that she loves her father and because of that love, she will forgive and forget and will continue to enjoy the relationship that they share. I am proud of how mature she has become, but I wish she didn’t have to be so mature beyond her years.

Awaiting their return I was a bundle of nerves, counting the days until they would come home and thinking of the best way to deal with them. As I readied myself, I took a deep breath and a big step outside the situation so that I could process the information and not make this an emotional tug of war for them. I knew that in order to do that I had to curb my natural curiosity and not ask any questions about their trip that would make them feel disloyal to their father. I had to separate out my own feelings of disappointment, guilt and hurt, and it wasn’t easy.

As for the nay-sayers out there, the family and friends who would love to say “told you so,” or “how did you let this happen,” I stand by my decision to send my children for their visit with their father as difficult as it might have been on all of us. No matter how I sliced it, this man is their father, and it is their obligation to respect him and their right to love him. Making that difficult for them would only be hurtful to them.

After talking it over with a close friend I realized that what was really bothering me was that I had hoped my children would be different; that they would be the fortunate ones who escaped the usual mess that comes with divorce. I realize now that they are not. None of us is untouched by the reality that is our past. Each of the members of my family has his or her individual challenges to deal with due to the fact that both my husband and I had been married before, especially since we share some of our children with others. There will be times down the road when these children will need to make choices on how to include and respect all three sides of their family. We must decide on what role we will each play in their lives and in shaping their futures. I hope and pray that their challenges will be easy ones and their disappointments few.

Yehudit welcomes and encourages input and feedback on issues relating to the Blended Family and can be reached at blendedfamily@aol.com

About the Author: Yehudit welcomes and encourages input and feedback on issues relating to the Blended Family and can be reached at blendedfamily@aol.com


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “After The Visit”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Former PM Ehud Olmert at Tel Aviv District Court hears his sentence on May 13, 2014. (archive)
Ehud Olmert’s ‘Talansky Affair’ Re-Opens in Jerusalem District Court
Latest Sections Stories
LBJ-082914

What better proof do we need than the recent war with Hamas in Gaza, dubbed “Operation Protective Edge,” that transformed the pain and suffering of three families into a sense of unparalleled unity and outpouring of love of the entire nation of Israel?

Katzman-082914

So many families are mourning, and all along we mourned with them.

Astaire-082914

In addition to his great erudition, Rabi Akiva was known for his optimism.

Kupfer-082914-Chuppah

She told me that she was busy and that he could sit in his wet clothes for the rest of the day. It would teach him to be more careful.

What can we do to help him stop feeling so sad all the time?

Children with dyslexia or dysgraphia frequently have problems in social relationships.

Israel’s neighbors engaged in hostilities from the onset. The War of Independence was a hard-won battle. Aggression and enmity has followed for 66 years.

The contest will include student-created sculpture, computer graphic design, collage, videography, PowerPoint and painting.

David, an 8-year-old boy on the autism spectrum, recently attended a Friendship Circle event. As he entered he told his Dad, “I love coming to the FC programs ‘cause everyone loves each other.”

Goldsmith himself went on his own “voyage of discovery” to the places where his grandfather and uncle landed and were sent.

Frank proclaimed himself Zvi’s successor and the reincarnation of King David.

You’re probably wondering why the greatest advocate of fast and easy preps in the kitchen is talking about layer cakes, right?

Almost immediately the audience began singing and clapping and continued almost without stop throughout the rest of the concert.

As of late, vintage has definitely been in vogue in the Orthodox community.

More Articles from Yehudit Levinson
Blended-Family-logo

Since I did not know much about divorce in those years, I just assumed that this was the “norm.” I learned later on how exceptional this family really was.

Blended-Family-logo

Although my ex-husband was unable to attend we still wanted to include his family members who lived here is Israel and were very happy that we choose to do so for our son’s sake.

This particular article has been on my computer for quite some time now – incomplete. What compelled me to complete it was my son’s 19th birthday. Born of my first marriage and raised solely by my husband and me for the past seventeen-plus years, my son has only a few memories of time spent with his biological father. My children have made me acutely aware of Parental Disconnect issues. I hope that sharing my thoughts on it will help save others from the pain and confusion we have had to work through.

Family court, visitation and child support are all unavoidable realities for divorced parents. One particular rule that would be wise to heed is that child support should be less about dollars and cents and more about dollar and “good” sense.

Journaling, putting your feelings down on paper, is a well known method of coping with difficult or traumatic experiences. In fact there have been studies done that seem to prove that people who “journal” live happier, healthier lives. In his book Writing to Heal, James Pennebaker, Professor and Chair of the Psychology Department at the University of Texas at Austin, explores this concept. He stresses that when we write about trauma, emotional upheavals or difficult issues we are struggling with, the “heart rates slow, blood pressure drops and immune systems strengthen.”

In all honesty, I really do feel blessed. Interestingly though only someone in a family situation like mine could possibly comprehend this particular “blessing,” and many would not consider it a blessing at all. You see I feel fortunate to have not one, but two wonderful women in my life – both of whom happen to be my mothers-in-law, one from my first marriage and one from my second.

Recently a popular Jewish weekly magazine featured a story depicting the life of a young boy whose parents were divorced. Each parent had re-married, establishing new families. Their shared custody of this son, and he spent substantial time with each of his parent’s new families. Giving a voice to the child of divorce was the intention of the story. It highlighted the distress children feel as well as the confusing messages they often receive from the adults in their lives.

When an opportunity for a fresh start is handed to us, when that new door opens, it is often viewed as a gift from Hashem. In most cases in order to completely realize it, we must fully embrace it. For people transitioning into marriage the second time around this is often the reality they face: a new opportunity seldom comes without a price, without us having to, in some way, compromise the life we were accustomed to. Seamlessly blending “pre re-marriage” life with “post re-marriage, new blended family” life is difficult at best and often times takes many years to sort its’ way out.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/blended-families-after-the-visit/2007/08/08/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: