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Bringing Home the Bacon Without the Pig

Carolyn from Raleigh, North Carolina, writes:

Hello Circle:

I was very recently divorced from a man who left the church a few years ago. We had five children together and, after years of staying home to raise them, I could use some ideas for a job that pays more than $11.00 an hour! I have a bachelor’s degree, although it’s not in something that would be terribly useful at this point. I could go back to school, but can’t really see how I could work, study, and still raise my children. And input, ideas, thoughts would be appreciated.

Alison says:

I’ve been working from home for years, and sometimes have done quite well, but it’s never been something my family had to depend on for our main income. That would change the dynamic markedly. I will do some research and defer substantive answers to our readers who will, undoubtedly, have wonderful input.

Occasionally, however, we have lived off my earnings. And I am biased toward entrepreneurship as I think it has the best terms (yours!) and the best potential. But it’s likely the least reliable.

I also think business opportunities abound. What are you good at? What are your passions? What motivates you to action? What is fun and exciting? These are areas in which to apply further thought, prayer, and creative thinking.

Kathy says:

The first thing I ?d like you to do is start reading. There is inspiration everywhere. Women ?s magazines feature success stories about entrepreneurial mothers quite frequently. I ?d like to see you reading every positive thing about this that you can get your hands on, and networking with women who were exactly where you are now, who are thriving.

Internet Based Moms might be worth looking into.

While you ?re figuring out how to earn the money you need, you might want to take a look at Fay Klingler ?s work about overcoming betrayal.

Have you googled commerce and labor ? for your state? This site will tell you what wages are being paid for jobs in your area. You can see if there ?s a field you can enter without a bachelor ?s, that pays enough. As soon as you have the basics covered, you can start having some fun exploring ways to use your talents to make a living that will provide the life you want for yourself and your children.

Don ?t overlook the humble jobs like waitressing or childcare. If you are a server in an upscale restaurant, you might make over $100 a shift in tips. If you tend only kids from nice homes, it wouldn ?t take very many children to bring in $20 or $30 an hour, and you would not have to leave your own children.

Adult education does not always require a bachelor ?s degree, and it pays a living wage in my city. If you have some skills that others might want to learn, that might be worth exploring. Can you offer lessons? If so, you can teach from home.

If you are like most struggling divorc�es, all the options probably sound hopeless. The main thing I ?d like to say is that this is not as rare as we might think, and, as grueling and emotionally horrific as it is, it ?s actually do-able. In the darkest hours, when you can ?t see how you will ever be able to make it work, remind yourself, This is America. My children are not going to starve. ? As in all trials, you will be surprised to find allies you did not know you had. You will also find inner strength and resourcefulness you would never have known were in there. Don ?t ever go hungry. Even if you never ask the church formally for welfare assistance, you can ask your best friend, or the compassionate service director. There have been dozens of times when my dear friends handed me fifty dollars or five hundred dollars, when they knew I was struggling. I found a bag of groceries on my kitchen counter or my doorstep many times when I was broke. We would all do the same for a friend. It ?s your turn now. Please let us know how you are doing. It might take you ten years, but you will triumph and your kids will bless you. The happier and more hopeful their mother, the better they will adjust.

Tracy says:

My heart goes out to you Carolyn, as it does to any other mother in your situation. Your knowledge and belief in what you’re supposed to do as a mother, comes face to face with the horrible realization that it may not be what you’re able to do. It’s an understandably tight spot. It’s also one I have absolutely no personal experience in, so understand that my input certainly doesn’t come from a position of expertise. But I am familiar with the inner struggle you’re having. I’ve had several, very long, very tear-filled conversations with my sister-in-law who was recently put in the same situation by a very close, personal, family member. It’s caused quite a stir, because I’m 100% behind her, instead of my “own blood.” But hey, truth is truth, right is right, and wrong is wrong. Blood doesn’t trump truth in my book.

My first suggestion, though, would be to make sure that you are getting all the financial support from your ex-husband that you and the children legally and ethically need and deserve. He has an obligation, period. And I don’t care if he finds “the love of his life” and decides to remarry, buy a new house for the new family, financially support her children, or has more children with her his kids with you come first, end of story. No “I can’t pay that much any more because our new house payment is higher,” “because her son is in counseling and it costs a lot of money,” “because I got into a lot of debt since I bought that new car and that hang-on-the-wall-like-its-the-Mona-Lisa flat screen plasma TV.” Too bad, so sad. I ran out of tears during the last Hallmark commercial. Those are his choices, not yours. He’ll have to get a smaller house, sell the TV and the new car, and buy a cheaper used one take the bus. I don’t care. Leaving the family does not diminish his obligation to them. I’m very cut and dry on all of this. (Assuming I may catch some flames from a few readers for my stance, let me say now don’t write in trying to persuade me otherwise. Believe me, I can argue this to the death. Open the floodgates and water will come.)

Yes, he’s entitled to pursue his own happiness, but not at his children’s expense. If the “breadwinner” (male or female) of a family leaves that family and doesn’t have the money to afford “another” family and all the expenses that having another house and family entail and continue to support the first family, then it’s my personal opinion that such a person should remain single.

Second, if you’re near family, parents, sisters, etc. this is the time to ask them for help. Whether it’s financial help, providing childcare for the kids, etc., family should be your number one source for help and relief. But remember that unless your ex-husband was actually abusive, or would put them in dangerous or harmful circumstances, your children need to live as near to him as possible to maintain a very active relationship with him. Three days every other weekend is not a father/child relationship. Neither is traveling out of state two or three times a year or spending a few weeks in the summer. I don’t even know what to call that ?visiting? I see my grocer more often. Three or four times more often. He needs to be close enough that he can pick the kids up from school once or twice a week, have dinner, help with homework and take them home. Close enough to show up at baseball games, piano recitals, take them to a dental appointment, catch a movie you see what I mean? As much everyday, common father/child stuff as possible. (Within reason of course, because they need to be with you, too.) But, moving away from him to be near your family will only make it harder for that to happen. So if you live in North Carolina, and your ex lives in North Carolina as well, but your parents live in Utah (I’m just making this up as I go along but go with me since it may apply to other readers) then packing up the kids and moving to Utah will practically put an end to the father/child relationship. (Unless he’s so wealthy that he can actually afford to fly out every weekend and in that case, get more child support so you don’t have to work! Having your family near to help would be absolutely wonderful, for the kids and for you. But, being near them is not more important or crucial than the relationship between your children and their father. (Even though you might want to smack him every now and then.) Another possibility, is to have a younger sister or cousin who is single, move in with you to help out. Maybe you could swap “shifts” working and taking care of the kids. It’s possible that something like that could even work with your ex. Think creatively about possible solutions.

As for employment, don’t underestimate the power that your degree has in helping you to find a job. You sort of brushed it off like it wasn’t that big of a deal, saying that it wasn’t in anything very useful. That kind of “poo-poo-ing” your accomplishments and abilities works like an automatic wall or dam, shutting down creative thoughts of how to use your education. You didn’t mention what your degree is in personally, I’d love to know. It may help me think of ways that you could use it, and our readers may have some pertinent suggestions or know of some job opportunities as well.

You didn’t mention the ages of the children, and that would be helpful to know also, as I think your employment options change with their ages. For instance, if all the kids are in school, things should be a little easier they’re gone away! So you can work! You may need to have someone be at the house for a little while until you get home. (This is where grandma, a sister, or a trusted friend could really be helpful.) But if at all possible, it would be best for you to get home before they do, or at the same time. A job with their school district as a teacher, an aide, a substitute, receptionist, secretary, cafeteria, etc would make that much easier often you and the kids will have the same days off, too.

If you have young ones who aren’t in school yet, it makes things a little more difficult. If at all possible, try to be home with them during their “awake” hours. Or at least, during most of that time. Going in to work earlier, maybe 6:00 am to 2:00 p.m., or later, maybe 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., would allow you about six hours each day with a young child who still really needs “mommy.” And again, having a relative or trusted friend to be there when your not, would be great. But the standard 9:00 to 5:00 is coincidentally, most of a young child’s day. It only allows you to be home when everything is hectic in the morning, trying to get everyone up, dressed, fed, and out the door, then again in the evening, only a couple hours before bedtime, which is often hectic as well. Plus, you’re more likely to be tired and irritated after a full days’ work. So 9:00 to 5:00 doesn’t really give you “time” with a baby or toddler.

I do understand that sometimes, no matter how hard they try, some moms are not able to work things out so that they can be home with small children. I know that. All I’m saying is, exhaust every resource, think about working earlier, later, flex-time, swing shift, part-time, if your work is done mostly on computer, see if your boss will let you do some of it from home, check for jobs with the school district and of course, fast and pray do everything within your power to be there during the day, or for as much of their day as possible.

Overall, just remember that Heavenly Father wants you to be able to balance your need to work and be “mom” just as much as you do. So be open to Him. Seek counsel in the scriptures, from your Bishop, and in prayer.

Blessings to you and your family.

{ 26 comments… add one }

  • Reader Comment May 13, 2007, 3:48 pm

    Tara write:

    Dear Tracy, Kathy and Alison:

    Okay, so my name is not Carolyn. I’m just a chicken and can’t even say the word “divorce” yet without shrinking. Anyway, my name is really Tara and I live in Gainesville, Florida. I have only been divorced for a month now and am trying to deal with my first two weeks of the summer with no kids, they are with their dad. It is so hard to let them go. The first week was sort of like a vacation, but now it is getting old and I worry about them all the time.

    When I emailed Alison about trying to find something that pays more than $11 an hour, I guess I was looking more for ideas about interesting jobs that pay a decent wage. My job right now is a part time position at a credit union here in town. The hours are extremely flexible and there are benefits like a 401k matching plan and, eventually, paid leave. There are also incentives and bonuses. I am getting child support and alimony from my ex, but things are still going to be tight. But I am not ready to go to work full time and farm my kids out to day care. My youngest will be starting kindergarten in August and my oldest will be a junior in high school.

    I am still fighting to live somewhat like we used to. It is so hard asking the kids to give up everything. But they are dropping gymnastics, and probably cable TV, after hurricane season is over. I think we will be able to scrape by for at least a year or so, but then I need to get serious about what I want to do for a career.

    Kathy, I think, asked me to read everything and think about my strengths and interests. That brought many things to mind, like, “when can I read?” I barely have time to stay above the laundry mountain.

    I can remember when the missionaries came to our door a couple of years ago and asked me what my hobbies were. I couldn’t think of any. I take care of my kids. My ex never really helped in that area and that is all I have focused my attention on for the last 16 years. (Now, Alison, try to keep your comments positive when it comes to my ex.) My degree was in chemistry, but that was 18 years ago and I couldn’t believe I made it through back then. I don’t think I can remember the difference between a covalent bond and a benzine ring now. And living in a university town, lab jobs don’t pay much at all.

    And Alison is going to say how wonderful and talented, blah, blah, blah. You know what? I really don’t feel very wonderful or talented or whatever. I’m scared, plain and simple, without a whole lot of confidence in anything right now. I know I am not going to starve, and will eventually be okay. I just need to slow down and take it one day at a time. But my kids seem to be growing faster than that and I can’t keep up with them. I need to figure out who I am and where I want to go. Instead I just keep thinking that I am older than Alison and will always be intimidated by her and by other women who seem to know what they want and are on their way to getting it.

    Feel free to edit it anyway you please. My thoughts are hazy from subbing an early morning paper route, 3:00 am. I am not afraid of menial labor, but this is ridiculous, and I’m starving because it is Fast Sunday. I look forward to your comments if you decide to send any my way.

  • Alison Moore Smith May 13, 2007, 3:50 pm

    Now that “Carolyn” has revealed her true identity, I can say a few things I wanted to before.

    Tara is one of my dearest friends. When she moved into my ward in Boca Raton a billion years ago, we became instant friends. OK, almost instant. We became friends right after Sue Peterson told her that it was dumb to be intimidated by me because I had just gotten a new dress and haircut and would be just as schmucky as everyone else in a week or two. After that opening, all I had to do was to tell Tara a few dozen times, “I’d love to talk to you, but I’m much too sophisticated for someone like you.” Followed by nose raised in the air, a quick turn of the heel, and a speedy exit. All barriers were quickly removed between us.

    She’s no longer intimidated by me, but, true, she is way older. (Nothing I can do about that three months, Tara. You’re going to have to buck up and deal with it.)

    Tara only knows that I will say she is wonderful and talented because she knows I only speak truth. She is a beautiful woman, a fabulous mom, a faithful disciple in the most challenging of circumstances, a loyal friend, an incredible dancer, and she is famous for her amazing sweet rolls! She was also an amazing wife.

    Tara is smart and kind and, honestly, the funniest person you could ever meet. She laughs all the time. And she has a beautiful laugh. She lights up a room. Even when things totally stink, she can laugh. Trust me on this!

    Lest you think I’m saying this to stroke her ego, I can direct you to anyone who knows her. I had lived in the Boca Raton Ward for years when she moved in. I had a wonderful, close group of friends. But within about ten minutes of moving in, she had won over everyone in the ward. Loving Tara is a universal trait. I truly don’t know anyone else like that. Personally, I think her personality will be the key to her success. In any capacity that involves working with people, she has the capacity to shine. I’ve seen it over an over again. If she capitalizes on this, she will astound you.

    She asks me to be kind to her ex. That’s a tall order, since I know him. But I will point out that I was not the one who named the column this month. It was Kathy who doesn’t know him from Adam (or Caine or whomever). He must exude more than he knows.

    In any event, I know that I cannot imagine the pain she and so many other women deal with. I hope I am never able to empathize with the situation. But I do know Tara and I know that this horrible experience will eventually make her stronger and better.

  • Reader Comment May 13, 2007, 3:52 pm

    Noelle from Texas, wrote:

    My problem was that I found a really good job at 14.00 an hour and I found out with a job that good, I couldn’t get any grants or help from the government with day-care or even tuition. (I do still get Pell grants, but I didn’t qualify for the “displaced homemakers” grants.) It seems to me, rather frustrating and so like the government to punish you for doing well.

    My husband had me convinced I couldn’t get anything more than a job at a retail store, because I had been a stay at home mother for 15 years. But I sat down and wrote out all my skills from typing, browsing the internet, selling on eBay every little thing. Putting that together with my past jobs and skills, I was able to get a very good job at a surveying (civil engineering) firm.

    I think the biggest problem is that we (as displaced homemakers) convince ourselves we are not qualified for anything but a retail job and so we set our standards and our sights very low.

    The biggest help I got was from the women’s center. They also had counselling and it was such a relief to know I wasn’t alone. It was hard to get anyone to recognize that emotional and financial abuse is just as harmful and hurtful as physical abuse worse because you will hear priesthood holders tell you things like “well he doesn’t hit you” as if that is the only reason to leave a marriage. In the women’s center during counselling/workshops, I found and heard stories just like mine! How strange it was to hear the same things come out of other people’s mouths, nod your head, understand, and feel sympathetic and recognize that what was done to her was horrible! There are women’s centers all over, ours is Houston Area Women’s Center. You can find links to others there.

    Women do not have to endure abuse. I can’t believe I thought it was OK. What a terrible example I set for my sons on what women will tolerate. I feel a lot of shame over that. I feel more shame over that than leaving. My two oldest sons won’t talk to me. I raised those boys. My husband was, is, a long haul trucker most of their lives. And now they abuse me in the same ways their father did/does. I am so ashamed that I taught them it was okay. I hope they will grow up and treat women well, but I set a bad example. I hope I set a better example for my youngest children, my daughter especially.

    I asked for counselling (marriage counselling) for five years. So many times I would set ultimatums and he would nod and say okay, do a small token gesture and then that was it. No more cooperation, but he had me hooked for another six months of trying with just the little artificial “try” at whatever I asked. I guess Obiwan Kenobi says it best, “Who is more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows?”

    You don’t need to be a fool. What sort of priesthood holder plays his own wife for a fool?

    Thanks for listening…I am so writing a book on this one day.

  • Alison Moore Smith May 13, 2007, 3:53 pm

    Noelle, bless your heart for sharing your story.

    Early in my adult life I had a major conversion and renewed commitment to good living. My motto was “no regrets.” I thought I could live a life that would wind up with me up at somewhere near 90 years old, being utterly pleased with every thing I did. By my late 20′s it became, “no regrets I haven’t repaired.” Then something like “no heinous felonies unconfessed.” In my mid-30′s I settled along the lines of “repent sincerely each night.”

    You didn’t set a good example for your older sons. True. But you recognize it now! What a breakthrough! And you are making course corrections with your younger children. I believe that is what God hopes for us. What an example you are now!

  • Reader Comment May 13, 2007, 3:55 pm

    Laura Lohman wrote:

    I can totally understand how Carolyn feels! My biggest mistake during my divorce was being “nice” to my ex. I didn’t ask for as much child support as he was legally required to pay. Boy, was that dumb!! I was a stay at home mom for seven years and dropped out of school.

    One great secret that most don’t know is that she can get a big enough grant (depending on her current income and child support) to pay her way through life. Not at all an extravagant lifestyle but enough to provide decent shelter and food and tuition for school. She just needs to go fill out some paperwork. She can go to any college/university and talk to someone in the financial aid office. She just has to fill out an application and turn it in. The government gives the grant. Grants are not like student loans in that you don’t have to pay the money back at all. Even if she gets a student loan she doesn’t have to start paying it back until she is no longer a student.

    I did not go this route myself because I had family I could live with, but she should see what is available in her area. With 5 kids, depending on the ages, she might qualify for a pretty large amount.

    Most states also have WIC (Women, Infant, Children) but there are lots of stipulations to that program, like ages and weights of children. If she has young children it may be in her best interest to go to her local welfare office. She will get vouchers for milk, cereal, peanut butter, and a few other items.

  • Reader Comment May 13, 2007, 3:55 pm

    Mary Graves wrote:

    It is very important that the children not be put in the middle, that they know that they are loved by both parents. It is important also that if there are any messages that need to be given to either parent that they are given face to face between the parents and not delivered by the children. Do not get into screaming matches in front of the children, either. As adults you need to put their security first. Also, as far as medical, dental, and vision for all the up coming years, including braces, the fact remains that men still earn more than women so don’t split things 50-50. The number one thing is make sure the children have what they need for good health while they are growing up. Do not split us the school year for visitation. Stability in education must be maintained.

    If one parent moves away, then there is the cost of plane tickets that needs to be addressed, who is paying for them, who is flying with them? If the children are living with the other parent during the summer, does child support stop? If it does then you make sure you have a good alimony to cover living expenses so you don’t lose your home, or can’t make your utility payments, house insurance, or fall behind on paying your property taxes, etc.

    Do you have an education? If you don’t make sure that is included so you will be able to take care of yourself when the children are gone and child support stops. Also, it will give your children a better home life, too. Don’t depend on getting married again you may not be make sure you look out for your own welfare.

  • Reader Comment May 13, 2007, 3:56 pm

    An anonymous reader wrote:

    I was divorced and I will just tell you hang in there. You will find something that will enable you to support your family.

  • Reader Comment May 13, 2007, 3:56 pm

    Eleanor writes:

    Here am I. I was married in the temple and four months later my husband came home and said he needed a break. It was a Saturday night. My world changed.

    Well, he never paid a dime in support and left me with all the bills. I had to move to an apartment. I took out some school loans and had some government grants and became an RN. All the time being hounded, between letters and the phone calls, from everyone. I had had nothing in my name, including car insurance, so at 32 I was trying to establish “me” and couldn’t.

    Then when I got a job. Credit departments all came and took what they could out of my check. Sister, I did that for two years, my mother had to co-sign for my apartment and insurance. I was raising my two kids, too, and it was so hard. Had I gone to school for just one more year (as it took me six) I wouldn’t have had to do it.

    You ask, what happened to my husband? I didn’t know for the longest time and, frankly, forget, but I think it was in my first year of actual nursing I received a phone call from the American Consulate. They stated he was in a Mexican prison for transporting 666 (bad number eh?) of some sort of drug. Two weeks or so after that I got a report that he had died in the prison and they wanted over $2,500 for his return.

    Needles to say, all of this was so shocking to me. I just never knew he had that in him. From the pinewood derby to this? I spoke to my bishop and he said not to send any money at all down there, which I really couldn’t have done due to the credit people taking most of it, anyway.

    That isn’t all. About one month after that the American Consulate called me again and, low and behold, he was in another prison in Mexico. They had move him and he was up for the exchange between the two countries. He was to be moved to a federal penitentiary in Texas. He got out due to it being his first offense. I saw him once after that and asked for help. He never gave it to me. So, yes, I couldn’t win for losing on that marriage.

    I waited and didn’t even date for 20 years. I got married two years ago to a brand new convert. I just waited to get my children through their younger years. Now the only problem I have in this marriage is still a shortcoming not of the money, but of height. He is 5’5″ and I am 6’2″. To see us, everyone knows why we fell in love: because of our hearts.

    I hope this helps for whatever reason. Just to let Carolyn know that she isn’t alone perhaps. Feel free to ask me anything at my new email: figmentofmoosesense@glenwood.ca.

    I live in Canada now, this divorce happened in California. May Heavenly Father bless anyone who has gone through these horrid events. One person’s choice or choices can just wreak havoc on an entire society as well as family.

    All my love.

  • Reader Comment May 13, 2007, 3:57 pm

    Deni wrote:

    When I was divorced I ran a home day-care so I could be with my son and still make an income. Everything is deductible and there are lots of little government subsidies in many places. She may be hindered in how many kids she can watch because she has 5 of her own, but she could look into the laws for her area. She is lucky to be getting alimony and child support. My ex is too flaky to count on.

    I have a friend here in my ward who is also divorced with five kids. She sold games through a party company for a year and was able to live off of that (she’s cut back on that a little because she’ll be starting college next month). Your friend could easily do something like this as a supplemental income to the job she’s already doing. It’s a great family company, she could get lots of fun games for cheap, and her kids could also be involved in the business. The company hasn’t many representatives in Florida so that would be a wonderful market for her. She could write me directly if she wanted more info.

    I have another friend who’s divorced with three kids and she refinanced her house to pull some money out for living off of and getting rid of little debts. An interest only loan may also be a good option to keep payments as low as possible and free up money for other investments. My brother handles these types of loans and could give her any info she may need. After the refinance, this friend tried running some classes for homeschoolers and kids who were off-track from year-round school, teaching them the things she’s good at: painting, creative writing, life skills (cooking, sewing, canning, etc), and charged like $20 ?25 a month per student which is about the going rate for a class around here. Something like this might interest your friend also but I don’t know how it fits in with her job that’s offering her benefits.

  • Reader Comment May 13, 2007, 4:01 pm

    Alyssa wrote:

    I was divorced from my first husband at age 29. I had only one child at the time but figuring out a way to support us was difficult. I had given up my job when we moved to Arizona and when I moved back to Wisconsin I had to find another job. My ex-husband did not pay a cent in child support until our divorce was final, about eight months after we separated so I had to figure out how to pay for a house, a car, a dog, a son, and myself with no job or insurance.

    Long story short, I have a degree in Music Education ?doesn’t translate well to the corporate world. Here’s the bright side, if you’re interested in substitute teaching most school districts accept a bachelor’s in anything as qualification of substitute teach. The schools around here pay between $95 and $135 a day. If you submit an application to more than one school district then you have a good chance of working most days. It’s not much, but it might be a bit more than $11 a day.

    Good luck, and my prayers are with you and your family as you begin your journey down this new path in your lives.

  • Alison Moore Smith May 13, 2007, 4:02 pm

    Alyssa, I’m so glad you brought up substitute teaching. My husband mentioned that to me and I completely forgot to look into it. I’m so glad someone with experience could bring that idea forward.

  • Reader Comment May 13, 2007, 4:03 pm

    Tammy R. writes:

    My name is Tammy and I have been divorced for 4 years now. I am an RN and a massage therapist but I haven’t worked a day doing those things in four years and have been able to stay at home with my kids. I have five kids and at the time of the divorce the oldest was 14 and the youngest was two.

    The biggest advice I can give Is to pay your tithing, live worth to attend the temple and always think, “would I do this in front of my kids” when making choices.

    My ex was a bishop and in the bishopric for years. He was abusive emotionally and physically and I never had a happy marriage and am so glad to be out of that. I went from being able to buy what I needed to very limited income overnight as the reason for the divorce was physical abuse. I didn’t have warning and literally had to survive how I could. I paid my tithing on everything I received. I gave 1/10 or more of any food, clothing, time, money, or gifts that came my way. If I needed something, I would ask in prayer and be specific about what I needed and I have won money, cruises (which they let me trade in for a Disney package), tickets to many things, and gotten food, clothing, appliances, and money whenever I have needed them. I have never gotten any help from the church or my family and have been able to stay out of debt except for my home. I learned to trade out house and studio cleaning for piano, gymnastics, and dance lessons. I traded massages, yard work, crafts, and odd items given to me. I am so busy with five children in five different schools that I don’t read, watch TV, play games, or do anything that way but I have been blessed to be able to make it these four years without having to work.

    Before the divorce I sold on eBay. My ex got the account and several times since I tried to set up another but find that it takes so much time. I looked into working but found that if I worked, I would have to pay day-care (1/2), school lunches, my oldest wouldn’t get federal aid for school, school fees weren’t waived, I would have to provide health insurance and pay more taxes and would miss all the field trips, class parties, and would not be there if the kids were sick. From this, I decided to trade out everything I could and work off what I couldn’t by working at the local food bank in trade for food, etc. I could go while my daughter played with friends and would come home with groceries. After being there for about a year, I had so many friends there that if I needed anything, I could just ask and am now on the board for the local food bank.

    I collect things in my garage that others are getting rid of and have several yard sales a year. I buy cute things at the dollar store, dress them up in gift bags etc and sell them at boutiques. Last year we bought a purebred dog and traded a puppy for stud and found Christmas money by selling the pups.

    There are so many things you can do at home that will allow you to be home with the children, but the big worry for me was health care. I qualify for the adult limited insurance. Some of the benefits would be there if I worked but then I wouldn’t be there for the kids as the only shifts in our small town hospital are 12 hour. I wouldn’t be home before school or after school on a day shift or would leave when they get home and get home right before they leave for school. There would be no evening programs, sports, or lessons that way.

    I think the main thing is to pray and fast for help. I keep a blessing journal and write down every blessing (even trials are blessings) each day to keep positive and then I made a photo frame and started posting blessings on it to remind me to count my blessings and as others see it and ask what is is I share the stories with others. I have had blessing which say, “Because you are grateful for what you are given and share those with others, I like to bless you more!” What parent wouldn’t give a grateful child more if they say “thank You”?

    I wish you the best and pray for your family.

  • Reader Comment May 13, 2007, 4:04 pm

    Karrie O’Brien wrote:

    I have never been to this website before, but I heard about it and thought I would look it up.

    I came across Bringing Home the Bacon Without the Pig. Tracy said basically that this woman should go after her ex for everything she could and never let up no matter what happens in the future. That even if he remarries her kids come first. (in a nut shell).

    Well Tracy, I am married to a previously divorced man and I will tell you in no uncertain terms that his child from his first marriage is not more important that my three children. Just because he made a stupid mistake doesn’t lessen the importance and the needs of my children who are as much children of God as any other child.

    His daughter does not come before mine just because she was born first, in a marriage that did not work. My children deserve all the breaks in life that she does.

    His ex makes five times more than he does. We can not even make ends meet, while she goes on vacation to Cuba, and Disneyland, etc., several times a year. Her daughter is in every kind of activity you can think of. I can barely find a way to put my little girl in soccer at only forty dollars a season. And next year my son will be old enough to play and I will try to find a way to let him play. Then the next year my little two year old will be old enough, and I will have to find a way to put three children in. Hopefully by then things will be better, but since his ex won’t give us a break, cause he is “bound my law” to pay her, I don’t know if we will get out from under this.

    His ex now lives with her boyfriend, and has help to pay her mortgage and every thing else, while we struggle every month to find a way to put the bank off a few day until we can find enough money to pay ours.

    The Lord did not say multiply and replenish the earth, only if you are in your first marriage. There are souls waiting to come to earth and receive their bodies, and they are not less worthy nor do they come second to a child of a first marriage.

    Everything is not black and white. You need to remember that every situation is different, every soul is important and no one has a right to say one child should come before another. In fact, financially my children need to come first right now, and his first child is well taken care of.

    Of course my husband has obligations to take care of, but in difficult times like my family is facing, we need her to be charitable, as Christ would be, and realize that his financial resources are in desperate need here, while she is more than able to care for their child.

    If they were married and he could not find a way to make ends meet, she would pick up the slack, paying for the child’s needs. Now that they are not married doesn’t give her the right to make him pay for not being married to her.

    And just so you know, she worked away from home three months after her daughter was born, by choice. His not being in the home did not force her to join the work force and leave her daughter at home. She had already made that choice. And what is more, she and my husband worked at the same place while they were married and during the divorce she told him he needed to get a different job because she didn’t want to work with him, and she would be the one taking care of their daughter. So my husband complied, so his daughter would be taken care of, and look where it has gotten him.

    I could go on and on to tell you how the advice you gave was not something that applies to everyone. I would think as an LDS woman you would see that there are all kinds of situations and that we need to be open and charitable to everyone, regardless of which marriage their birth came from.

    I will never let anyone tell me that his first daughter should be put before my children for any reason. Just imagine that your children were from your husbands second marriage, would they be second to anyone, for any reason? Would you sit by and let someone say that his other children’s needs should come before the needs of yours? Especially when the other child’s mother is in a far better position than your family, who cannot make ends meet? Really think about it, walk a mile in my shoes, and I know if you are honest with yourself you would never let your children be treated like second class citizens.

    Maybe you are too narrow-minded to see why there is always another side, you basically said as much in you “advice” to the woman. I really hope she is more charitable and fair than the advice you gave.

    Karrie O’Brien, second wife, mother of three beautiful and deserving Children of God.

  • Alison Moore Smith May 13, 2007, 4:07 pm

    Owning the site, usually means you’re the first to see any and all responses. So I get first crack at this even before Tracy approaches her inbox. Ah, the privileges of position!

    Before I blather, I want to say that I sincerely appreciate Karrie taking the time to send a response. Many points of view can add to the value of the discussion. She has added an important dimension. We welcome you all to join in, whether you agree or not.

    Still, I’m ignoring dinner to get my words into print, since I feel so strongly about this subject. I hope we don’t lose any readers over this, but the principle is too important to gloss over. To me, there is only one point that is essential. It isn’t who has the most money. It isn’t whether all children are valuable (isn’t that a given)? And it most certainly isn’t whether adults feel lonely. It is only about honor and stewardship. It is about the children. Only. Period. End of sentence.

    Frankly, if childless couples want to hook up and break up over and over, I’m not going to get too cranky about it. But when parents break up, they rip apart the foundation of their children’s lives. And when parents do this damage and then simply move on to create new families to divide their attention further it is the children who suffer ?again.

    The difference between your step-daughter and you is that you chose your situation, she did not. She was already here when you chose to marry your husband. Your husband was already obligated to be her father not just to be an occasional provider of child support. He was already obligated to love her, to raise her, to care for her, and to live close to her so that he could actually do those things. He was obligated to see her regularly not just for three weeks every summer and on alternate holidays, so that he could be a father not just a walking wallet. You chose to marry a man whose honor already bound him (or should have bound him) to severely restrict the making of further obligations that would prevent him from fulfilling the ones he already had.

    It is infinitely harder to be a decent parent when you don’t live in the same house with the children. It’s exponentially more demanding when the two parents don’t see eye-to-eye. It takes more time and more resources to do the same good for children the good the child deserves when the parents are split apart.

    The difference is, you chose a man who already had a tremendously difficult obligation to his daughter. No decisions should have been made that would compromise his ability to do right by his child. Why should she pay because your husband, as you put it, “made a stupid mistake”?

    If your step-daughter’s mother is the loser you present her to be, all the more reason why this girl desperately needs her father to be a solid figure for her, not a man preoccupied with his new wife and new children and new obligations.

    Now, we have a girl (also a child of God) who gets the great privilege of visiting her extremely distracted father on occasion, who is fairly ignored by her mother’s quest for a new hunk, and whose step-mother is antagonistic toward her.

    Who’s the real victim?

  • klgreen1 May 13, 2007, 4:20 pm

    Karrie, thanks so much for writing. We need to hear both perspectives on this issue, and as many viewpoints as possible on all our discussions. We learn from one another.

    I am not an attorney, but your situation seems wildly inequitable to me. The law says assets should be divided not equally, but “equitably.” It would be expensive to hire an attorney, but I’d encourage you to ask around and see if you can get some free or inexpensive legal advice. The goal of family law is to protect the children; it sounds to me as if your kids are getting the short end. Is there any possibility of seeking a legal remedy?

  • Reader Comment May 13, 2007, 4:21 pm

    Alison K. wrote:

    Carolyn, I am sorry to hear about your dilemma and hope I can offer some advice that may be of use to you. I have found myself in this same situation and I have six children so I can understand the extreme pressure you are under. You didn’t say whether you are getting any child support or help (childcare) from you ex-husband and you didn’t mention the ages of your children so I will answer the best way I can.

    If you are looking to go back to school to earn a Master’s Degree, I find that colleges have many programs to assist single women in achieving this goal. Check out something that is usually called Women’s Studies (sometimes in the history department). They usually have special grants they can offer you because of your situation. Don’t be surprised if they want you to write an essay or something like that. They will also have special scholarships for people in your situation. One thing that is nice is that these things are not available to anyone else. They may also have a list of other resources that I am not remembering offhand right now.

    I would also suggest that if you are going to work, work on-campus. On-campus jobs are easier to get, work with your school schedule (including finals and the bosses understand children being sick better), the job does not take out Social Security taxes, tend to pay more, and since you already have a degree, the likelihood that you will get a better job there is greater (especially if you get in good with a professor). Some of these jobs are even offered very early morning or late night if you need to. Also, if you are lucky, there might be a childcare program on-campus that you will be able to enroll your children in.

    Don’t be afraid of financial aid! If you get a grant, be thankful. If you need to take a little extra out in the form of a loan, think of it as investing in you! It is a lot cheaper than going into debt to keep your head above water and not getting anywhere with high interest rate credit cards!
    You can do this! You will be amazed at how this can come together. You will be happy because you are doing what you want to do that will eventually help your family in the years to come. Your family will be happy because they see you happy. Your children will learn a valuable lesson on how important school is because they see you working so hard at it. You can all have family study time too. This will help with the “being a mom” experience.

    I know this is geared towards school, but that is the direction your letter seemed to go. If you would like other ideas that don’t go that route, let me know and I can give you other ideas too. I hope this helps a little or at least helps you brainstorm for some more ideas!

  • Alison Moore Smith May 13, 2007, 4:22 pm

    Getting in good with the professor is a great idea ?as long as he’s not your ex!

  • facethemusic May 13, 2007, 4:30 pm

    First and foremost, in no way did I mean that step-children or children from a second marriage are less important as people or have lesser needs obviously all children need the same things; unconditional love, attention and support, spiritually, physically, financially you name it. And certainly, I didn’t say that they are any less “children of God” than natural children. Come on Karrie I never said that, nor did I imply it. We were talking about the financial obligations and time restrictions of a non-custodial parent, not someone’s worth in the sight of God. Let’s not get so emotionally defensive that we lose sense of intellectual honesty.

    Of course, as you said, situations are different and require varying methods of working things out. But truth is truth, despite a “situation.” Even though the details of how much support a parent owes and what days he/she gets the kids vary from case to case, or even month to month within a particular case, the fundamental truths stay the same. And it’s those truths I was addressing.

    I do understand that the desire of any mother in a second marriage situation would be that her children either come first, or at least “equal” to her husband’s other children that’s only natural. But for the most part, I simply disagree. I’ll explain.

    A man’s obligation to his natural children from a previous marriage, which marriage was made by covenant (inside or outside of the temple) come first. Why? Legally, morally, ethically, spiritually by law of the land and law of the Lord, he is totally and completely obligated to his children. Any future decisions he makes, and any obligations that come with those future decisions are secondary. Future decisions do not negate eternal obligations.

    From The Family: A Proclamation to the World:

    Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives mothers and fathers will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations. ?

    Children are entitled to ?be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows ?By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.

    I understand that someone might make the argument “Well, my husband made those vows with me too, not just his first wife, and his vows and obligation to me include the care of my children.” That’s true. But, my point was that those second obligations should not have been taken if he couldn’t continue to honor his obligations in full to his children from a previous marriage. If he can that’s great. But it’s my personal belief, that if a man has already taken on that second responsibility and can’t do both, then he should do everything in his power, take a second job, a third job, to make it happen. Even if it means that his whole paycheck is going toward child support and his second family has to get church aid, state assistance, etc, then that’s what should happen. Is it fair to the second family? No. But taking on that extra responsibility was his choice. Enduring the struggles and problems that sometimes come along with being someone’s “second” family was his new wife’s choice. Neither the man or the woman in a second marriage should assume that they can lessen their obligation to their first family in order to provide for the second.

    Though I don’t have “doctrine” to back up my specific stand, I think that Church teachings concerning the same “basic truth” go right along with my views on this issue. Lack of financial responsibility toward previous marriages and children has become such a problem even within the Church, that a new question regarding accountability and support toward previous spouses and children was added to the temple recommend interview several years back.

    Think about tithing money. As baptized members of the church, we have a sacred obligation to tithe. Even if we’re scrapping the till and digging under sofa cushions to find extra change, we’re supposed to tithe first, because our first obligation is to the Lord. Even if we can’t buy groceries, we’re supposed to pay our tithing first, then whatever bills we can (because we’re required to pay our debtors as well). Then the church helps to provide the food, clothing, etc., that we still need. That’s the way the church welfare system works. We’re supposed to remain faithful in paying our tithing, no matter what. That’s a pretty strong statement about taking care of our first obligations first.

    I also remember an important lesson Joseph Smith taught by example. A freed slave named Anthony had gone to Joseph for counsel, when he was fined for a crime he’d apparently committed in ignorance. Anthony had been saving all his measly earnings to buy the freedom of his son, who was still in slavery ?a very righteous desire! But Joseph told Anthony that despite his desire to free his son, he needed to first make restitution for his crime. (Truth of earth life: often, the Lord is more forgiving than the law.) So this poor man who’d worked years to free his son, now had to use all his earnings to pay a stupid fine!

    But trusting the prophet, Anthony did as he was counseled. As soon as Joseph knew that Anthony had done what was required of him, he gave Anthony his best horse and told him to sell the horse and use the money to buy his son’s freedom.

    So let’s take that basic absolute truth regarding “obligation” and put it in a contemporary scenario, remembering that the underlining “truth” is the same despite circumstances. It’s an odd comparison, but let’s say I go out and buy a new car and owe $300 a month. A few weeks later, I go buy a second car also at $300 a month, then tell my first debtor, “Sorry, but I’m going to have to only pay you $150 now. See, I went and bought this second car, and now I owe them, too, but I can’t afford both.”

    What is that first debtor going to say? “That’s not my problem. You shouldn’t have invested in a second car if you couldn’t afford it.” Isn’t that just common sense? But somehow, when it comes to matters of the heart and relationships, people seem to blow common sense off as though it was nothing more than a nuisance. Cars and families are two different things, but the point the basic truth is the same. You can’t shirk your first obligation because you decide to take on another.

    In your situation, the ex-wife makes significantly more money than your husband. And even though it may seem unfair that he’s paying her support, or as much as he is does the the fact that she’s loaded make him less obligated as father? Of course not. I’ll speak about the unfairness of your situation later, but right now I want to solely address the issue of obligation. This is one of those “truths” things, that does not change with “situations,” even if they seem unfair.

    Let me put it this way, I’m sure whoever owns Chase Manhattan is an extremely wealthy person. Billionaire maybe. Does that mean I’m less obligated to pay my mortgage? With his/her billions of dollars, they don’t even need my payment. Why should my husband work all his hard and very dangerous hours, when Mister “Chase” is taking his third yacht trip to Greece this year alone? His/her kids are wearing their high-end designer clothes and mine are wearing hand-me-downs from their cousins. They’re rich; I’m not. So I’m not as obligated to fulfill my responsibility? We all know it doesn’t work that way. Because he/she is wealthy, it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t have to be held to my obligation. Nor, does it mean that I shouldn’t owe as much. I owe what I owe because that’s the contract I made.

    Children also come with a contract. (It was in small print, so half the population of the earth seemingly missed it.) I’m not even talking about what the “courts” say about child support. As parents we are individually and jointly obligated to provide our children with (and they are entitled to) our time, our affections, and our care, physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially. Really, it’s supposed to be our “consecrated” efforts, right? We’re supposed to give our all. That a child may get these things from other people, i.e., the other parent, grandparents, etc., does not lessen our own responsibility. We are obligated despite what anyone else does or does not provide. It is our personal stewardship.

    That being, a man or woman in their second marriage is still 100% obligated to children from the first marriage. The fact that your husband’s ex-wife is wealthy, does not negate his personal obligation to provide for his own children. I do understand that it seems totally unfair that she’s traveling the globe while your husband is working to the bone just to make ends meet. But that it’s unfair, does not mean that he shouldn’t still do what’s right right? “Right” and “unfair” are not necessarily opposites.

    That your husband’s ex may be a selfish twit, will be hers to account for in the hereafter. (Assuming for conversation’s sake that your description of her is accurrate.) Since she knows that your husband has taken on more obligations, and since she apparently has money coming out of her ears, it would be a gracious act for her to lessen his load by easing his financial support. She could just ask for $50 or $100 a month to be put into a savings account for college or missions, or whatever. But “gracious” is the operative word. It would be an act of “grace” or mercy to do that. As you said, she could be “charitable.” But, her charity isn’t required…his support is.

    The truth is, people make conscious choices to remarry others who have children from previous relationships (or create more), when they already have an obligation to their own birth children. The children from first marriages don’t come first because they were “born first.” It’s not a matter of age. They come first because you were obligated to them first. Obligated even by covenant. Yes, now your husband has also made a covenant with you. But he can’t diminish his obligation to them just because he fell in love with you and made the decision to take on even more responsibility.

    All these decisions were made by the adults: the divorce, the remarriage adult decisions. He didn’t have to marry you, you didn’t have to marry him. This was a conscious choice. You could have said, “Great guy, I love him a lot. But he has a lot of baggage, an “uncharitable” ex-wife, other kids that he’ll have to support and spend time with, which means his time with my kids won’t be the same as it would if he wasn’t already obligated somewhere else. Is this what I want for my kids? Is this what I want for me? Do I really want to deal with this the rest of my life? Can I tolerate living in a less-than-desireable financial situation, knowing that a significant portion of this man’s income will be going to the ex-wife and his children? Can I write out that check every month without doing it begrudgingly and without a hateful heart for having to do it? Maybe I should keep looking.”

    It wouldn’t have meant that he was a bad guy he might be the kindest and sweetest man in the world. (Well, actually, that guy is sitting in my living room right now, so sorry, he’s taken.) But as you know, marriage and family require a lot more than affection between the husband and wife. And once those obligations between you were made, knowing that he already had obligations somewhere else, neither you nor he should begrudge those first obligations. You can’t pick a rose, acknowledge that it’s a rose, that the rose has thorns, then wish it was a carnation every time you get poked. It is what it is, and you knew what it was when you picked it. (At least with a rose you can snap the thorns off ex-wives are a little harder to “get rid of.”)

    From the tone in your letter regarding his ex-wife working, I assume you think she shouldn’t be. And I would agree with that. But how would you feel if she suddenly quit to stay home with the kids? Seriously, think about this. What if she had a true and godly change of heart and decided that she was going to follow prophetic counsel and “go home” and dump the boyfriend? Uh-oh, if that happened, your husband’s support would no longer be enough! She’d need more than he’s already paying and would take it to court! Maybe I’m wrong, so pardon me if I am, but something tells me you wouldn’t be jumping for joy over her magnanimous and righteous decision to stay home.

    See, this is my big beef with all of this. And I’m speaking of divorced couples in general, not you Karrie. This is just my ranting on the whole issue, because right now, I’m dealing with this is my own extended family, and am finding myself on the side of the in-law, instead of my own flesh and blood. People get divorced and all of a sudden, it seems like most of their character regarding family responsibility goes right out the window. Not everyone of course, but far too many I’d even say most. And it really comes into play when there’s a remarriage, because now the income has to be subdivided between two households and the “new family” needs a home, food, clothing, etc., too, so what used to go to provide for the first family, ends up getting subdivided. Did hubby really make that much money that he can continue to support the first family, and take on a new one? Nine times out of ten, the answer is no. Okay, maybe eight.

    As per your questions about what I would do, and if I would let someone tell me my children come second to theirs absolutely not. But I wouldn’t marry anyone who didn’t have custody of his children. That’s simply a personal decision I made a long time ago, that if for some unforeseen reason I ended up single, either through divorce or death, I would only marry a man who had custody of his children, who’s children were already grown, or who didn’t have them at all, the last two being of highest preference.

    To anyone dealing with divorce, all it’s struggles and effects, and also to anyone contemplating divorce or currently going through one, I encourage you to read The Divorce Culture by Barbara Dafoe Whitehead. It covers a lot of the research and issues regarding much of our discussion.

  • Alison Moore Smith May 13, 2007, 4:31 pm

    No, nine.

  • Reader Comment May 13, 2007, 4:33 pm

    Karrie O’Brien writes:

    I just read your response, and I just can’t stand it when people who are not in the situation think they know what it is like.

    I made a choice all right. I chose not to be the judgmental woman who says that this man is not worthy of me because he has been previously married to a woman who cheated on him. I chose not to punish him for her mistakes and to open my heart to him and his daughter. I chose to try to give his daughter a place to come where she would have good examples and see how she is supposed to have morals.

    In making that choice I did not make a choice to put my children after this little girl, who by the way I never said I was antagonistic toward, you just assumed that. I don’t blame her for our situation or her mother’s. I do blame her mother for being the kind of person she is. When people have hard times we are to have compassion and a divorced person deserves no less than anyone else.

    A person doesn’t always choose divorce, sometimes it is necessary. Just because a person is in a happy marriage doesn’t mean that everyone is. People make mistakes, they marry someone who cheats on them or is abusive or whatever the case may be. That doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to remarry and have a family with the person they have remarried. A person choosing to marry someone who is divorced shouldn’t be punished or looked down on for doing so. In fact they should be applauded for not being judgmental and being willing to open their hearts and homes to a child that is not theirs by birth.

    If someone told their husband to quit his good job and find something else, could they really sit in judgment of that person, when complying made it so they couldn’t get by. Could that person who has a good job then say, I know I told you to quit your job, but I still expect you to not miss a beat?

    My husband’s ex also used their child to punish my husband, and has not let him see her for over a year, and because we cannot afford to go to court she has him right where she wants him. Paying everything we have to her and keeping his child from him.

    Like I said before, you cannot make sweeping judgements to cover every situation. We all know we are not supposed to judge unrighteously, and judging without knowing the situation we are judging is not the way to do it.

    As for this notion that a person should not remarry if they don’t have enough to support another family, that is ridiculous. As I mentioned before we are commanded to multiply and replenish the earth, not only if the conditions are perfect. A person should not feel they have to suffer and be lonely because they don’t make a lot of money and they had a spouse that cheated on them. Why should they be punished? The prophets have said not to put off having children because of lack of money. Each person should be expected to contribute what they can, not to make the one without money suffer so the one with the money can dole out their own punishment and become better off. I also stated that of course my husband should do what he can, just as he would if he still lived in the same home as his daughter. But his ex is not in desperate need. She tells us every month how she doesn’t need the money, but he owes it so he will pay it or he will suffer.

    I don’t hear anyone saying to a man who isn’t divorced, you must pay to put your child in every activity there is, like it or not, if you can afford it or not. Find the money or suffer. That would be ridiculous, and it is not any different. He didn’t make the choice to have his wife cheat. He didn’t choose to not see his daughter. He didn’t choose to not make more money.

    He did choose to move on after he was hurt. He did choose to find a way to be in a loving relationship again. He did choose to give his first daughter an example of what a real marriage is and what a family should look like. He did choose to give more of Heavenly Father’s children a loving earthly home. I chose to help him do that. That doesn’t deserve judgement and contempt. That deserves praise. If he hadn’t made the choices he did what would his first daughter have to look forward to? A mother living in sin with her boyfriend, a single lonely father who felt judged for a mistake that was not his, no example of righteous living, no brother and sisters to care for her, and no stepmother who wants to be there to help her any way she can.

    Is that what you would have for this little girl, instead of her mother simply saying, “I can see you are having a difficult time, and I am not, so I would like to help you out by taking over financially for our daughter until you are doing better, since I am in a position to do so, or at least I could lessen the payments until you are up on your feet.” Would that be wrong? I don’t think so, and I truly believe that is what the Savior would have anyone do if the situation were the same.

    Brigham Young also said men have an obligation to get married, is that changed because they were married and have children from that marriage? I didn’t hear that exception.

    If my husband’s ex-wife were suffering as we are, I certainly wouldn’t have a single problem with giving her all we could for his child. But that is not the case. This is not a case of need. It is a case of greed. We shouldn’t advise someone to hurt another in any way, financially or otherwise.

    I know that is not what the original letter was about, as she was in need, but telling her to take her ex for all she can just sets her up to want to get revenge, and sets him up to resent her and that commitment. Of course she needs him to help out, but she shouldn’t want to take him to the cleaners. He still need to live too. And any family he may have in the future needs the same. And he deserves to be happy just as she does. We as women should not be looking to punish men for moving on. We wouldn’t want to be punished for doing the same.

    I haven’t heard anyone every tell a woman not to get married and move on if she can’t afford to support herself and a new family. All situations are different. Some people don’t want to pay just because they don’t want to, some don’t pay to hurt the other person, but some really need some understanding and compassion. If my husband were making enough money to support both families and then lost his job and couldn’t do it anymore, what should happen. Should the second family go without so the first can live in luxury? What if it were your kids that were suffering, would you still stand on that same soap box and claim they deserve less cause they came after? Even when the first is well taken care of? I doubt that very much.

    It is about taking care of the children, mine and hers, and hers is not suffering. Sometimes people need a break and we need to give it to them, if we can. That is what compassion is all about.

    I would council the woman who wrote in not to get all you can while you can, but to get what you need and what your ex can give. If you focus on getting all you can and making him suffer you will not heal and he will start to resent you and possibly the poor child caught in the middle. Wouldn’t it feel great to not need his money in the future and be able to say to him, “I understand you need a break and I can afford to help you out until you are better off”? Wouldn’t it feel great to know that you are better off than he is and you could afford to let something go? That is why a woman who finds herself on her own is much better off to find a way to make it free of her ex, cause it feels great! Holding on to anger and resentment doesn’t feel great, and it only makes it impossible to be happy.

    I speak as one in the thick of it, not as one looking in and judging, so I believe you can say I know what I am talking about. I am not guessing.

    May someone have compassion on those without it!

  • Alison Moore Smith May 13, 2007, 4:42 pm

    Karrie, again I appreciate your thoughts and the time you took to write. I have tried to edit your letter for clarity only, adding some punctuation, spelling fixes, etc. If your intent is misrepresented in any way, let me know and I will make corrections.

    For what it’s worth, I believe you misread Tracy’s response. But I’ll let her speak to that. On many other counts I believe you are in error, but I’ll try to address only those things which are crucial to the discussion if I can possibly bear to be less verbose than usual! If I fail, I apologize in advance.

    You speak repeatedly about judgment. Everything we do, say, and think is based on a judgment we have made. It is doctrinally untrue to say that we are not to judge. Let’s not ignore the rest of scripture even that scripture. We are, in fact, commanded to do so. God’s words in the scriptures and the words of our prophets are the guides we use to make sound judgment. You can’t even eat breakfast without judging.

    So let’s talk about what we are judging here. You have built straw men around the idea that judging requires deeming others unworthy of our love, punishing people, supposed demands of excess, and that people can only judge principles they have personally violated. Yet, you have judged adulterers to be sinful, but by your own standard how can you do so unless you are an adulterer yourself (supposedly so you can really “understand”)?

    You have gone so far as to say that I have determined that no divorced parents should ever remarry, but I challenge you to read that back to me. You have implied that I believe your husband’s ex-wife should gouge and cause suffering. But it’s not in my response. You have also supposed that you know what I would say to your husband’s ex-wife. You don’t. When she writes in to the column, I’ll respond to her. My response was to you.

    The next idea I disagree with is a supposed “right” to marry and have a family. In this context, I am unsure how you define “rights,” but to me true rights are always balanced with responsibilities. And I cannot imagine an adult’s supposed “right” to “be happy,” “find love,” “feel fulfilled,” “find themselves,” “move on,” “be their own person,” or even to “multiply and replenish the earth” or have a bedroom buddy would outweigh (or even match) the responsibilities we have to children we have created during said multiplication.

    In case you’re wondering, I do not believe that following the commandment to multiply requires us to conceive as many children as we can, absolutely, physically achieve. I do not believe it requires attempts at conception within days (hours?) of giving birth. I do not believe it demands beginning at the honeymoon and continuing until the last fallopian tube has shriveled. In other words I believe, and the handbook backs me up on this, that couples should be considerate, prayerful, and thoughtful about this issue.

    Does that consideration, prayer, and thought somehow exclude children already living in a painful situation due to their parents’ choices? Are we only allowed to ponder whether the mother can handle the physical demands of another pregnancy or whether the father can handle the stress?

    In After Divorce: Help for Latter-day Saint Men, A. Dean Byrd brings up some important points.

    Despite the discomfort involved, it is crucial that divorced fathers remain involved in their children ?s lives as much as possible ?Structure your schedule so that you spend time with each child individually as well as with all of the children together.

    Following this counsel, obviously, requires living with “discomfort.” It also requires accommodating for and living with a structured schedule that carries an opportunity cost. The cost being time that cannot be spent in other pursuits.

    If a divorced couple has dependent children and the mother is not employed, frequently the father carries the bulk of the financial responsibility for two households. Sometimes second or third jobs become necessary ?A budget may be more important than ever.

    The truth is that this occurs even if the mother is employed. (And, yes, I have also seen working men be awarded child support from their working ex-wives.)

    What does this mean? It means that a divorced man or woman with children has a difficult situation. They often live with regular levels of discomfort. They have to schedule their time more rigidly than others to properly parent their children. They have less time for other pursuits and interests. They have additional financial obligations and may, as stated in the article, have to carry two or three jobs to meet those obligations. They will likely have to budget carefully for some time and will have less discretionary income.

    Do any of these facts make someone unworthy of love? Of course not. But does wisdom dictate that we recognize them? That we weigh them? That we determine, before marrying into them, that we understand the ramifications of this situation and are willing to accommodate it without taking more away from children who are already suffering? I think it does.

    Should a person be applauded simply for marrying a divorc (or a divorce)? Hardly. They should be applauded if they are wise enough to look beyond their own feelings and desires to what is really best for the children they have already produced. Perhaps there is a reason that single and divorced parents are excluded from single adult wards. I suppose it might be because those with children are encouraged to focus on providing for their children over providing themselves a love life.

    My father, who had never been married, married a divorced woman, who became my mother. My brother, who has never married, in engaged to a lovely divorce with a darling daughter. I have been immensely blessed by the former and am thrilled about that latter. But both were done with great consideration and the latter, where a child is involved, has been approached with utmost caution and care. I have been utterly impressed with my soon-to-be sister-in-law’s thought and concern. Her daughter’s well-being has always come miles before anything including her own desires to be married and loved and personally gratified. Her responsibilities to her daughter came first.

    As for the job situation, I believe it would be your husband’s responsibility to make sure he met his obligations. If that meant ignoring the request of his ex-wife to quit his job, so be it. How much foolish advice does one generally accept from an ex-spouse anyway?

    I have seen those who use children to bate an ex-spouse far too many times. I agree that it is evil. But I do not believe it changes obligation. And I don’t even know how to read responses like, “He deserves to be happy.” What does that mean? Is it his “right” to be happy? At what cost? At whose expense?

    Hey, I want a boat. I work hard. It’s not fair. It’s not my fault that my job doesn’t pay as well as my neighbor’s. I’m going to go take his boat. I deserve to be happy!

    As Kathy pointed out, if there are serious financial inequities, that is a matter for the courts to decide. Please, make your case. But your husband’s obligation to his oldest daughter was in place before you and your children came along. It cannot be disregarded just because the going gets tough and not because he chose to create further obligations.

  • facethemusic May 13, 2007, 4:47 pm

    No one can deny the power of our emotions when we are in the middle of a difficult situation. But isn’t it true that often, when we are “in the thick of it,” we are blinded by our own passions, our own circumstances, and fail to see things for what they really are? Usually, it’s those who are on the outside, who aren’t consumed with the emotions of the moment, who are able to look objectively at a situation. That’s probably why so much counsel is given to the youth about “choose now that you will remain chaste”, “think now about how you can avoid inappropriate situations” it’s a little harder and more embarrassing to do that when you’re already in the backseat of daddy’s car with the beau hunk of the century.

    It’s also explains why people in “the thick” of any difficult situation will often consult an outside source- a friend, a Bishop, a therapist or counselor, (maybe even an advice columnist) who isn’t personally involved.

    Case in point regarding being “in the thick of it” and not seeing things as they really are: no where in any of my comments, Ali’s or Kathy’s,did any of us “tell [Carolyn] to take her ex for all she can” that would lead her to “revenge.” Quoting my own comment: “make sure that you are getting all the financial support from your ex-husband that you and the children legally and ethically need and deserve.” Ethically need and deserve. No one here is talking about making him sell his own organs.

    You’re so ”in the thick of it”,” that you aren’t really hearing what we’re saying, but are brushing over and disregarding what was really said, to justify your own emotions. It’s the same thing that caused you to twist and completely misrepresent my words, as though I suggested that your children weren’t as much “children of God” as your husband’s. But I never said or implied anything of the sort.

    A mistake that people sometimes make is trying to keep a certain commandment, or making decisions based on a particular commandment, while ignoring some or all of the others. Claiming to be keeping a commandment, but doing in it isolation of, or in exclusion of the others isn’t “keeping the commandments.” It’s justifying our personal desires (which in and of themselves may be very well be righteous).

    Yes, the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force, but it’s not at the exclusion of any and all considerations, and other commandments. This example will provide a “duh” moment, but it makes the point. How many million teenagers out there have given birth? Well, they’re multiplying and replenishing, right? We all know that even though we’re commanded to multiply and replenish the earth, that its only supposed to done under certain circumstances. Yes, we’re to have children. But we’re also commanded to provide for those children. So in no way is it “ridiculous” as you said, to say that a person should not remarry if they don’t have enough to support another family. We have to keep all the commandments, not just the ones that suit us.

    Yes, men and women are commanded to marry. But we’re supposed to choose our spouse carefully. Of course they don’t have to be perfect, no one is. But we’re supposed to use our good judgment in making that choice. Using good judgment is not the same thing as the put-down term “being judgmental’.”

    When the subjects of choosing an eternal companion and bringing children into the world are addressed in conference or church curriculum, they always include phrases like “prayerfully consider,” “choose wisely.” BYU has entire courses all about marriage and choosing a marriage partner. Consider the following from Seventy member and President of the Santiago Chile Temple, Elder Robert E. Wells [emphasis added]:

    “Deciding to Remarry” Ensign/1997

    “..The Lord has said, It is not good that the man [or woman] should be alone. ? Nevertheless, remarriage and efforts to create a successful blended family can be frustrated without proper preparation by both parties. The decision to remarry is difficult and should not be hastened..While it is not ideal to be alone, neither is it good to remarry and undertake the challenges and responsibilities of a blended family before one is ready ?Can your potential husband support a family? Is your potential wife capable and willing to help you rear your children?”

    In the Church’s new publication, “True To The Faith”, we read [emphasis added]:

    “Sometimes people feel that it is wrong to judge others in any way. While it is true that you should not condemn others or judge them unrighteously, you will need to make judgments of ideas, situations, and people throughout your life. The Lord has given many commandments that you cannot keep without making judgments. For example, He has said: Beware of false prophets ?Ye shall know them by their fruits ? Matthew 7:15 ?16 and Go ye out from among the wicked. ? D&C 38:42 You need to make judgments of people in many of your important decisions, such as choosing friends, voting for government leaders, and choosing an eternal companion ?Your righteous judgments about others can provide needed guidance for them and, in some cases, protection for you and your family.”

    Though I appreciate you taking the time to write in and voice your concerns and objections, I do regret that some of our views may have caused you to become even more upset. I hope that somehow, you and your husband are able to work things out with his ex-wife so that both your families can live with more peace and harmony.

    And hopefully, despite some of the tension, our conversation has been helpful or insightful to some of our other readers.

  • Alison Moore Smith May 13, 2007, 4:50 pm

    Posted By: facethemusicNo one here is talking about making him sell his own organs.

    Although in the case of “Carolyn,” I fully support the idea. :tongue:

  • Reader Comment May 13, 2007, 4:51 pm

    Victoria Best wrote:

    To those divorced moms, try substitute teaching.

    Benefits: Great hours, no paperwork to bring home, can take off work at any time to take kids to the doctor or to attend a special program or performance!

    Risks: No health insurance; no paid days of absence.

    Some states do not require much to qualify to sub teach; others do. Check into local school districts and see what they each offer.

    I have been subbing for 23 years! I did teach eight years before marrying. At one time I was separated from my husband, and was still able to work and care for the needs of home and children.

  • Reader Comment May 13, 2007, 4:52 pm

    Annette from Utah, wrote:

    I am in the process of a divorce. If Tara or anyone else in this situation is in Utah Valley, there are two sources which have helped me a lot. An education/resource group which meets once a week in Orem, led by Joan Shippon, and the Turning Point program at UVSC. Both provide education, free clothing for school, and job interviews, etc. Great programs!

  • partone May 14, 2007, 1:22 pm

    I remember this article. I never wrote in about it, but I always though Karrie should have married someone with NO kids.

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