Question: My parents were divorced when I was very young. Before I left home, Mother went on to three more marriages, and Dad, to two. Recently I was divorced from my wife of only five years. I'm concerned about my future ability to have a successful marriage. I want a wife and family, but not if it means going through the stress and pain of another divorce. How can I tell if I'm capable of being a good husband?
Answer: You are not necessarily doomed to repeat your parents' pattern. However, it does sound as though you were not given much of an example in commitment or problem-solving, and it would be wise to seek therapy in these fields. Before you marry again I would strongly recommend premarital counseling to help you and your prospective spouse.
Q: My son and his fiance have decided that, since his mother and I are divorced and not speaking, they will give their own wedding. They intend to invite only their friends and parents, no one else. My ex-wife has remarried and thinks it's a great idea. I am single and feel it's very unfair that I be the only person there without someone with whom to share the occasion. Don't you think I should be allowed to ask a date?
A: It's a shame that the bride and groom feel it necessary to plan their wedding around two feuding parents. Talk over your feelings with them; explain that attending alone would make you feel self-conscious and awkward. If they still prefer to stick to their plans, acquiesce gracefully.
Q: Sexual child abuse is so prevalent now, especially involving stepfathers and stepchildren, that it really scares me. I am a second wife and stepmother to two preteen boys. I have a young daughter of my own. I have absolutely no reason to suspect anyone of anything, but I wouldn't begin to know what to look for if there were a problem. Where do I get information on how to prevent abuse and-or determine if my daughter has been abused?
A: The National Center on Child Abuse has a free booklet entitled "Child Sexual Abuse Prevention: Tips to Parents." The address: P.O. Box 1182, Washington, D.C. 20013. There is also a new videotape featuring Henry Winkler entitled "Strong Kids: Safe Kids." The videotape and accompanying booklet are intended to be watched and read as a family. Many video rental stores will allow this tape to be checked out free of charge, or it can be purchased for about $30. Otherwise check with your public library or child abuse center.