Over the past day, the media has been abuzz about the father who was walking his daughter down the aisle at her wedding. He then stopped, held up the ceremony for a minute, grabbed her stepfather and invited him to walk down the aisle with them. I am sure there was not a dry eye in the place. I am also sure that these two gentlemen were not exactly buddy-buddy over the years either. But it makes one wonder what really constitutes the best interest of children. This idea sort of hits home personally for me. Let me explain.
I am reminded of a situation which came up in my practice several years ago. I had a client (a divorced mom) who one morning was driving her children to school. She was already remarried and had another child on the way. The car stopped running and she was stranded. She called her ex-husband, who came and picked up the children and took them to school. He refused to give her a lift though, knowing that she was pregnant and stranded. When refusing he said in front of the kids "I don't care if you live or die. I only came out here for them." She called her husband, who left work and picked her up.
I do not think that the ex-husband will be asking the new husband to help walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding. In fact, I am sure that the ex-husband wants the mother of his children to end up dead somewhere (her husband too). The question that comes to my mind was whether this father, who probably has a right to be bitter and angry really acted in the best interest of his children by stranding their pregnant mother. By telling the mother of his children that he does not care if she lives or dies (in front of them no less), he certainly was not thinking about his children. I wonder how the children felt being driven to school. Were they worried about their mother? What other kinds of things does he say about her when the children are present? How has that affected them?
This goes to a broader issue of how former spouses treat each other in general. Breakups and divorces can and most likely do lead to hard feelings and resentment. However, by not honoring your ex's status as the mother or father of your children, you are actually damaging them. By not acknowledging the contributions of step-parents, you are damaging them even more. I am not a psychologist, but I would be willing to bet that this type of conduct causes children major insecurity in life.
Bravo to the dad who honored the contributions of his daughter's stepdad.