Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Amazon has created a nifty new tool for authors to interact with readers. It's called AmazonConnect. It's designed to give authors an opportunity to answer reader questions, offer more content, sneak peeks, etc. Readers can subscribe to author blogs (called plogs, for personal blog).

I just posted my first message, responding to the question I get asked the most.

Check it out and post a question of your own!


Anonymous said...

I really appreciate your book, "Generation Ex" because it helps me understand the complex feelings of the children of divorce, in a way that I needed people to understand my feelings when my parents died. Although the losses are different, they both involve pain and self-doubt, and both require a lot of time and a lot of acceptance that is not always available from others or from ourselves. I am hopeful for the children of divorce, that they will find the healing I have found, and more quickly.
I am in a relationship with a man who has two teens. He divorced years before we met, but the pain the teens feel is so raw and new, as if it happened yesterday. I am sad for them, and for us, as I am a reminder of this pain no matter what I do. I would appreciate advice on how to be compassionate while not sacrificing my self-respect. I do not try to be or replace their mother. I don't expect to be their friend. Surely, it is not unreasonable to expect them to show me common courtesy, as they would any person. Again, thanks for this insightful book.

Jen said...

Hello! I appreciate your post and sensitivity to the children of the man you are seeing. I'm also sorry for the loss of your own parents. You're right that their are many similarities between children of divorce and those who lose their parents to death. In fact, one way the lingering effects of divorce has been explained is that it is the "funeral that never ends." When a parent dies, friends and family gather around those who are greiving. There is an event to mark the death and remember the life. With divorce, people often don't know what to say, so they don't say anything. The children are often felt ostracized for something they didn't choose. And even though, in a very real sense, there was a death in the family--the death OF the family as it was, people seem to have the idea that talking it up is more helpful that addressing the very real grief--now you'll have TWO homes! The other major difference has to do with closure. When a parent dies, you know they aren't coming back. When parents divorce, the tension between the adults is often transferred to the child. For example, if the parents couldn't agree on household rules, they simply set up two different rules for the kids to follow, depending where they are. So at Mom's house, we're very strict, we can only watch one TV show, etc. But at Dad's, we're encourage to play and be loud and we can watch as much TV as we want. The children aren't really "at home" in either home, because they are the ones who do all the adjusting. One similarity between children of divorce and those who lose parents to death is the grief that follows each stage at life. A girl who loses a parent to either death or divorce at age 5 is still going grieve what that event robbed her of at significant events in her life.

To answer your question specifically, your friend's sons do need to respect you as they would any adult. But do consider what life looks like from their end. For example, if your friend doesn't have custody, and the teens feel like they have to share "their" weekend with Dad with his date, that's going to cause some resentment. Also, as teenagers, it's weird enough to think about your parents as sexual beings, let alone the fact that Dad's dating. Follow your friend's lead, and encourage him to have open communication about these things with his kids. Also, remember that often kids (including teens) will tell the parent what they think they want to here. Their friends are going to get the real story. Encourage your friend to make sure that his kids have safe, accessible adults in their lives (pastors, neighbor, other family) who can be an outlet for his kids to express their thoughts without having to filter them.