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Children are legitimate priorities

She's tired of taking a backseat to divorced men's children

Q: Am I a big whiny baby with unreasonable expectations, or are most men in Washington state cavemen who know more about deer and salmon than they do about women?

I'm highly educated and sophisticated, and date guys who earn as little as $60K to doctors, lawyers, and multimillionaires. They all have one thing in common: Once divorced, they are guilt-driven, and put their kids first — and sometimes, their ex second. It has been as ugly as my sitting in the backseat of the car because the kid sits with Daddy in front. I do not believe they would do that to their first wives.

I have always believed a significant other should be No. 1 because that's the person who will be with you long after the kids are gone, and that's how I treat my SO. What is the deal with these wimpy guys who feel sorry for their kids because of the divorce?

The Insignificant Other

A: How do your kids like taking the emotional backseat to your significant other du jour?

The daddy who assigned you the actual backseat was being ridiculous. But your citing that example (and sophistication)?) to justify having such unapologetically selfish priorities verges on the perverse. These "first wives" are the kids' moms.

I would think I'm being set up here, yet that kids-will-be-gone mind-set has surprising tenacity. So I will spell out my objection: When you trade in doctor for millionaire, Doc is gone. When your children grow up and move away, they're still your children.

And they will be carrying around, as it happens, priorities you taught them. These men you ridicule aren't responsible just for feeding, clothing and sheltering their kids; they also need to guide them to a firm sense of responsibility, of purpose, of self.

Certainly you don't want to create outsize senses of entitlement — by, say, granting kids too much power over adults,.

However, I doubt you'd have wanted this message from your mommy: "I need to look out for No. 1 here, so please amuse yourself while I concentrate on this man I'm auditioning."

A preference for the company of deer and salmon is starting to make some sense.

Friends like you for who you are, not what you have

Q: In my former life I was a real party animal and always up for anything, anytime! However, now that I am in law school, I am no longer able to act with abandon.

My friends from undergrad and fellow law students do not seem to appreciate how poor I am. They keep asking why I am "no fun" anymore. I tried playing it off, but got so sick of the questions that I started telling the truth. How am I supposed to get through this with friends on the other side?

Poor Law School Student

A: The truth! Blimey.

You liked you as a free-spending party beast. And why not?

But building a self-image on ephemera like money is, as you've discovered, a fine way to find yourself broke and in need of a different self-image.

Good people seek out friends for their kindness, conversation and generosity of spirit. You already know this; now you just need to believe it.

Children are legitimate priorities 08/14/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 11:10am]
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