Shunned because of being a single mom

I got an email from a mom who is feeling isolated at her kids' preschool because since she announced that she was getting a divorce, the other moms have shunned her. She thinks they think she is going to try to "steal" one of their husbands.

Which is interesting, because I recently had a conversation with a single mom I know who has felt excluded by the partnered moms at her school, and doesn't know if it's because they think she might be after their partners or if they just don't like the idea of a single mom.

This makes me tired.

I mean, I guess there must be some women out there who would be interested in people who are already in relationships, but the single-mom-on-the-prowl stereotype is as inaccurate and played as the single-black-mom-who'll-never-get-married stereotype or the divorced-white-suburban-mom-who-doesn't-do-anything-but-live-on-her-ex's-money or any other stereotype about women that allows people to dismiss us and not take us seriously as women and mothers.

Being a single parent–whether it's through divorce or choice or things just not working out–is tiring and stressful and difficult sometimes. As is being a parent in a relationship. Parenting is hard, and getting through life is hard, and believing the worst about people without even bothering to know them only makes it harder.

I wish I had some advice for these moms about dealing with the exclusion. It's happened to me, too. I don't know what to say, though, except that your real friends will stick by you. And anyone who excludes you is doing you a favor. (I really sound like someone's mom, don't I?)

I wish we had some kind of international Reaching Out To Another Parent Day, in which we all made an effort to get to know someone whose demographics were not like our own.

Can't we all just get along?

 

56 thoughts on “Shunned because of being a single mom”

  1. I got shunned by the entire parents group I took my son to when I got my divorce. There is a feeling coming off the women of yes, now that there is a single, divorcee, around, their husbands are not safe. What drives me mad about it is that the moms are all parents of kids my son’s age, and he is now in 2nd grade, and has not been invited to many birthday parties, or stayovers, or even just play dates, because of my shunning. We are in a very small town, and I lost my place in the clique. Which hurt Aiden.

    1. See, this is why I hid my single status for years, to many. I pretended to still be attached when I was not. I even talked about a "husband" that did not exist. I was already shunned earlier by people, especially my own family, when none of them showed any interest in a baby shower for me nor visited my son, ever. So after that, I got tired of being the shunned pity girl so I made up an elaborate scheme just to save face. I know that sounds awful but it got me through the lonely times.

  2. I once read somewhere (can’t find where, sorry) that when the writer got a divorce, other women would ask her all manner of questions, and she would say “That is not a question about my marriage. That is a question about your marriage.” So I wonder if some of the unease is this feeling that the other person’s marriage *looked* fine and they seemed happy and now they’re getting divorced and this could happen to me. (Which is also stupid, but perhaps a little less offensive.) As if divorce were catching, y’know.

  3. I’m a great one- the “doesn’t get invited because she doesn’t like to drink as much as the other moms” category. Just because I don’t drink wine means I won’t enjoy the conversation or have fun? Or that I’M not fun? It hurts, whatever the reasons are. I hate the thought of a person going through a divorce (already an emotionally difficult situation) being shunned by the people who should, in fact, be supporting her instead. It hurts my heart.

  4. Has anyone considered that it is just awkward? People probably do not know how to react, and so they seem cold or say the wrong thing?Jumping to the stereotype that I think a newly single mom will nab my husband is just as crazy as thinking she will.
    I offer that avoiding awkwardness can see like shunning. It could just be avoidance of uncomfortable situations that make people act weird.
    What do you say to someone who has just had a marriage fail? There is not a card for that. Congratulations is in order for some people, but not all. No one knows how to react.
    Most people do not know what to say.
    And then add more to it; you know that the couple has a kid who is likely grieving.
    My parents marriage was terrible, but it still hit each of us 5 kids when it ended in a deeply personal way.
    How do you express your feelings about that to a newly divorced parent?
    It just is not easy to say, “Hey, if your divorce was a good thing, congratulations. If the cheating scumbag just ran out on you, I’m sorry. And, I really, really hope your kids are alright.”
    These fresh status changes are loaded with elephants. They dredge up people’s family histories as they remember their own experiences with divorce or the lack of it.
    I remember, people did not always say the right things after my parents divorce. My dad took it very personally and isolated us (he had custody) from everyone who slighted him.
    So, in the end, we were in a broken family with no friends just because people stuck their feet in their mouths.
    I say, get over it. Let people adjust. Stop being so darn raw about it. Your kids need these people to normalize again, and you’ll just have to lead the way.
    Chin up. Take a really light approach to any real slights, because the chip on your shoulder or on theirs is of no help to the kids.

  5. Jenny F, yes. When I announced my divorce my friends with healthy marriages stood by me, and friends who were uncomfortable about their own marriages shunned me.tetris, what you say is “Wow, that’s a big change. Could we get our kids together for a playdate?” It’s really not that complicated.

  6. Moxie,Yes, that is exactly what I would say.
    Although, this is good practical advice for anyone reading this and wondering what to say, do you really believe everyone has an easy time of it?
    Our kids’ class is an open and comforting group. We’re lucky, and asking for a play date is what most of them would do.We feel very fortunate to be in this group that accepts differences.
    However, it is not as easy for everyone. It does not occur to everyone what to say. Having been through it as a kid, I know people get it wrong.
    The flip of this coin is how do you react to people who get it wrong? Shun them due to their inadequate ability to know what to do or say?
    That is why I advocate giving people some room to get it wrong. If they don’t know how to react and get it wrong, don’t assume it is so simple for them. They might not be actively trying to slight you.

  7. tetris, people know what to say when someone dies, and that’s also something that makes people feel awkward. Divorce is common. It shouldn’t be shameful. Yes, some people will put their feet in their mouths, but it’s such a normal thing for so many families that people who are not divorced should be able to get past their discomfort and say something kind. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but looking away or putting in on the person getting a divorce is just cruel. And “feeling awkward” isn’t an excuse for cruelty.

  8. I had never thought of the single mom syndrome maybe because I grew up with a single mom. As a preschool mom, I will say that in general I find it to be a real wake up call. There is a lot of odd High School-ish behavior, which I have found a bit shocking. To any mom struggling and feeling left out…be it because they are a single mom, an older mom, a younger mom, a less money mom, or a whatever mom…take it as information and surround yourself with people who are just plain accepting and who YOU make the choice to be with. They are there. Don’t focus on the clicky people or judgemental people. Remember, if that’s how they are, it’s about them, not you. Plain and simple. It might take time to sort through it, but there is a community waiting to happen for all of us and our kids.

  9. I agree with Tetris. If you’re not very close friends before the divorce, it would seem very awkward to talk about something so personal. I seriously doubt anyone thinks she is going to steal their husbands… And if I wasn’t good friends pre-divorce, I will assume she has other support people in her life and wouldn’t want to bother her during a difficult time. Everyone analyzes and feel things in different ways – and people are often not thinking the terrible thing you think they are.Some research has suggested that divorce can be “contagious”. This is one summary I found in a google search: http://articles.nydailynews.com/2010-07-07/entertainment/27069167_1_divorce-marriage-ripple-effect A few years ago, I became friends with a group of women who frequently complained about their husbands. After noticing that the constant husband-bashing began affecting my feelings about my own husband, I ended the friendships and made a conscious effort to *not* become friends with women that do this. I can imagine the same ripple effect being true of someone talking about divorce as a good thing.

  10. I agree with tetris and VandyB. Just because talking to someone is the right thing to do doesn’t mean that people will do it if it is the difficult thing to do.Also, I think if it is more of a playdate shunning type thing, I wouldn’t be surprised if people thought they were being helpful by saying, “oh she has a lot on her plate right now so I’m not going to add to it” when actually something like a playdate often gives an isolated parent something to look forward to.

  11. I definitely wouldn’t downplay the role awkwardness is having in this. As VandyB says, people are often not having the terrible things about us that we imagine in our heads.When bad things happen in my life, I usually don’t want to talk about it in public because I am liable to lose the shaky hold over my emotions at any hint. So I constantly find myself reacting to situations like this by saying less than I should, out of fear of bringing up more pain. I know it is not the best way to respond, but it is my natural inclination unless I make myself act otherwise.
    I think they only things she can do is (1) give it time for the awkwardness to fade and (2) reach out on her own to let others know if she wants to talk, or even just to arrange playdates, etc.
    And I would try to assume the best, rather than the worst interpretation of others actions. It’s hardest when you’re hurting, but try not to be too quick to read offense into what might be innocent.

  12. There seems to me to be a lot of moving parts in this conversation. And it also seems that the husband-stealing aspect of the conversation is a red herring. Even the word “shunning” to me seems to tip this all off balance.I think the jangled vibe I’m getting is due in part to how different so many of our social lives, and communities may be. I don’t have that kind of large web of other people, nor do I live in a small community where you get that automatically. So, to me, it’s an odd question. And the question is, for me then, about what if my very closest and dearest friends were being a**holes to me if I got a divorce. And then this isn’t really a question, is it? It’s just something that sucks.
    I agree with the thrust of tetris’ comment–that sometimes people are just awkward and don’t know what to say. I would also put forth that often people have their own crap they’re dealing with. “Shunning” just seems like such a strong, loaded word to me. I don’t know.

  13. The same happens to widows. Seems to me there’s an irrational fear of “contagion”, beyond the awkwardness in conversation and at parties, beyond the fear of husband stealing. It’s the same kind of fear of any difference.Another element is clearly a question of rythm/state of life. If you have less free time as a single parent, or more time as a widow, the ryhthm of your life is different and that makes people uncomfortable…

  14. After almost 4 years of daycare, and now a month of preschool, I’ve only become good friends with our ex-day care provider and one other mom. I was never shunned, but just never saw other parents. I made acquaintances at a library group, but no lasting friendships or playdates came of it. (and maybe I was “shunned” because I wasn’t a SAHM? Who know…) When the heck do you even see other parents, let alone make announcements?After I thought about it for a minute, the only reason I would “shun” another parent is if I think their kid is a misbehaved brat. (please don’t think I’m saying the poster has a bratty kid) And like the previous post about the mom treating one of her kids differently- you never know what goes on behind closed doors. If I heard about an impending divorce, I would just assume there is a lot going on I don’t know about.

  15. It IS difficult to know what to say, and what to say after a death is a bad comparison. Most times saying you’re so sorry someone died is easy- it’s pretty safe to assume the person didn’t want their loved one to die. A divorce is never clear unless you already know the particulars of the couple’s marriage. I’ve said “I’m sorry” about a divorce before only to have it thrown back at me that it’s awful to assume that it’s some sort of tragedy, that divorce in their case is a GOOD thing. I get it!- but how the fuck was I supposed to know that about an acquaintance?! Say nothing and you’re “shunning”, say something and risk insulting them that way too.As to the “steal their husbands” thing, that’s just crazy shit right there. Interesting theory, but… really?!

  16. I dokn’t know if it’s the phrasing or what that is throwing me off but ” announced” seems kinda off-putting. As others have mentioned, I only know a handful moms at preschool so far. I don’t know what I’d say other than I was sorry to hear that if one of the parents announced a divorce.But I have no problems inviting kids with single parents (whether divorced or widowed) to parties and playmates. As a matter of fact, my 6yr old’s best friend is being raised by a single mom who lives with her parents. We are not close friends more because of age and personality differences but we often invite her son on outings on weekends since she works on Saturdays and says her son gets bored with the grandparents.
    And we have invited 2 boys who’s dads haved passed away for playdates and parties. No RSVP from 1; he just showed up but I figured the mom had more on her mind than an RSVP so I just said I was glad he could join us.
    Bottom line, if a parent you are friends with or their kid regularly plays with yous, shuns you? That sucks!

  17. I haven’t experienced this phenomenon, on the giving or receiving end. My standard reply, upon hearing of an acquaintance’s divorce, is “congratulations and I’m sorry, in whatever measures fit,” and I always get a grin in reply (I’m now guessing any acknowledgment is more rare than I assumed).No one in my intimate circle has been divorced, nor have any of my son’s friends’ parents, but I trust I’d work harder to ensure the continuity of both the children’s friendship and the adults’.
    Sounds like a tough situation for the single parents. Even if a divorce is mostly good, there’s got to be a portion of suck in it, and no one needs loneliness on top of that.

  18. I clicked through from my reader to comment but then saw that Tetris, VandyB and Rudyinparis all kind of said what I was going to say. And like Deanne, I’ve had my seemingly innocent comment come back in my face.Then I saw Moxie’s comment on what to say and thought on that a while. But I kind of feel that someone who is assuming that all the partnered moms are worried about husband stealing would hear my reaching out as “Wow, that’s a big change. Could we get our kids together for a playdate [so I can get the dirty details of your divorce]?” Which is perhaps why these situations happen. Everyone just avoids rather than risk offending.

  19. This makes me so sad. So, so sad. And makes me even more grateful for the people who risked (I guess it is a risk?) even just talking to me, and not turning away like I didn’t even exist anymore. Not even meeting my eyes at drop-off. There were more of those than I’d thought. Maybe they’re not trying to shun people, but when people won’t even meet your eyes anymore who were perfectly happy to say hello the week before, it feels like you’re being deliberately shut out.And “announce” is really what you have to do. You don’t want to tell one person and have them not know if they can tell anyone else, so you basically have to try to tell as many people as possible at the same time. It’s weird, but how else can you do it without making it into some cloak and dagger thing?

  20. I feel compelled to point out that people–myself included, and I’m a widow!–generally have NO IDEA what to say when someone dies. So sometimes they say something inappropriate, sometimes they say just the right thing, and sometimes they avoid having to say anything at all. I think the same is true of divorces, whether the comparison is apt or not.I feel marginalized as a single parent and as a widow all the time, but I feel more that it has to do with the general difficulty of social situations. People don’t know what to say, I bring my insecurities to the situation, others bring theirs, sometimes I don’t want to talk to certain parents because I don’t like everyone in the world–there, I said it. Some people don’t like me. I agree with Kim: I’m surprised by how high-school-ish the grade school social scene is among the parents.
    This is an interesting conversation.

  21. kakaty captured another of my thoughts – if we weren’t already close and the announcement was a surprise to me, i would think any effort to reach out would be received as digging for gossip.

  22. Yes, that would be great to have such a day of reaching out! In church as a kid, we had a moment of reaching out, greeting and blessing the people around us. I reckon most churches have that. Anyway, I was around twelve or so and I turned around to shake hands with the person behind me only for this woman to totally shun me. I don’t know why, but there was a group of people who felt our church was becoming too colored and I was one of the colored, so that could’ve been it.Anyway, I’ll never forget that… I’ve been shunned plenty, but that one time as a kid, man, it sucked and was irrevocable. I don’t think it’s hard at all to make someone more comfortable. Offering kindness and comfort is easy. Speaking up about the event can be hard though.
    My best girlfriends are single, though childless. I don’t feel more or less comfortable with other married women… I don’t get it.

  23. Guys I’m sorry to break the news, but the husband-stealing fear of single moms is for real, and it IS crazy shit. I will not claim it’s widespread, but I have definitely experienced being shut out, very clearly because another mom saw me as a potential home wrecker. Which holy crap couldn’t have been farther from the truth.More common I think are more benign causes of social isolation. Most simply, single parents do not have the time or available child care for spontaneous, casual socialization. The more of those social situations you miss, the fewer future chances you get, and the cycle builds both with married and single people. I have tried to join and initiate single parent groups both in real life and online, and they are desert wastelands because no one has the time or energy to participate.
    Also, it seems that couples naturally tend toward socializing with couples. I guess they have more in common, and it’s just easier. In the majority of my experience it is in no way deliberate or spiteful — and I assume it’s largely unconscious. But it is a reality. And as a single parent it’s a lot harder to get access to even non-couple married-people activities. It’s hard to do “girls’ night out” when there’s no dad to stay home with the kids.
    My situation is even farther out of the mainstream than many others. I have always been a single parent, so I have no experience with the awkward divorce announcement. And because there is no visitation scenario with us, I don’t have those nights or weekends when “the kids are with their dad”. I have a couple of really good friends who make a big effort to stay in touch, at least via text and phone, or to get together during school hours for coffee. But it is really really hard to maintain even a nominal connection. Tiny moments like those silly little conversations where you bitch about your spouse forgetting to put gas in the car or whatever become strained when the married mom suddenly remembers that she might be committing a faux pas by mentioning her husband, as though I might otherwise forget I don’t have one.
    Before I was one, I assumed single moms were all over the place and the days of it being a social liability were over. Sadly, it’s not true. It would be fantastic if everyone who comes to this forum could make an effort to reach out to a single parent and just be real. I love it when people acknowledge my status and take it in stride. Yeah, it sucks in a lot of ways, and it’s great in some ways too. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could be real about both sides of it?

  24. Elephant in the room, but is your kid behaving acceptably? Sometimes in divorce kids put on a happy face around their parents but their distress manifests itself at other times.Other elephant, perhaps there’s something going on that you don’t know about, if you know what I mean? I found out about my mom’s affair with another local dad when I was in high school, and it certainly shed some light on social dynamics that had puzzled me up to that point…

  25. Let me say that my mother becoming a single parent through being widowed is decades ago and society should have changed, but maybe some things don’t change.My mother was offered, ahem, sexual healing by the husband of a close friend. As my mother was not well mentally it really did her harm. She felt betrayed and hurt in her grief she couldn’t cope with.
    My mother in law, who was well mentally experienced the same thing when she was divorced with young children.
    One of her friends husbands did the same thing. In both cases the wives dropped the widow/divorcee like a stone because they were ” after married men” .
    When actually they knew they were married to straying husbands but blamed the women.
    Contagion is also a fear I am sure. I used to see school-friends with their mother in the small village where I lived just after my father died when I was nine and mum would cross the street dragging my school-friend along hoping I’d not seen them yet.
    That wore off soon as the sudden death became old news.
    My mother was plenty strange and we did become isolated because people were uneasy around her. I was quite aware of that. There were also some good friends who stayed. Their love and support were lifesavers, really.
    But it is perfectly possible to get isolated at your child’s pre-school without you going through a big life change or anything else you do or have going on. I have found the school gates do have cliques. And I often drop my now nearly five year old daughter off and I see nobody at all friendly among the other parents.
    Her preschool and elementary school are in the same building, so I still see the same people from preschool.
    MY daughter does have fewer play-dates and gets fewer invitations still because she is spirited. By which I mean she’d have giant melt-downs particularly at transitional times.
    Going into or coming out of pre-school. Some other parents would laugh, others would look with genuine disapproval and used the brat word and what not. Sympathetic parents averted their eyes.
    I was the mother with ” that” child.
    And let’s be honest. Who wants their child’s party to feature a meltdown by screaming child if you can avoid it.
    Now my daughter is older, and can talk she is coping much better. But I learned from bitter experience that after school playing in the park or whatever with kids from pre-school was just too much stimulation for her. That took a while because she’d beg and plead to go along. She pitched such a screaming fight on the last of those park outings that I later heard one of the mothers who was also there was telling people about my anger problem and how it caused my daughter’s behaviour.
    As I said now in big school ( Kindergarten US? ) she still has only playdates with, and I still have friendly contact at school only with those parents who were sympathetic and understanding at the time. Often they had intense children too. Or were single parents, or had other stressful things going on.
    But it is just school! You can’t control what happens at school. There’s a whole world outside it.

  26. One thing that I don’t see mentioned in the previous posts is the idea that maybe she is imagining this. I don’t mean that she’s delusional, but I am suggesting the idea that when we go through a hard time it is so much on our minds that we think it is all everyone else is thinking about as well, when it is possible that this couldn’t be farther from the truth. I certainly have never thought for a second about whether a single mother is going to engage in “husband stealing” or whatever these other mothers are being accused of thinking. Is it possible they are just thinking of the almost certainly overwhelming nature of their own lives and have not been as supportive as we all usually mean to be, but sometimes are not able to be. I think believing that we can ascribe motivations when we don’t know the details promotes a whole lot of stereotypes that might be very far from the truth.

  27. This made me think more about my single mom friends/relatives. They are growing in number as our kids get older and people begin to get divorced. It is hard to invite them to socialize. They’re tired, sometimes they’re bummed about not being a couple in our married couple house, sometimes I spend too much time trying to figure out how not to feel like a fifth wheel, but also not feel like I’m setting them up if I invite another single person. We are very space limited and pretty maxed out with 4-5 kids and their grownups. And I’ve gotta say, its never occurred to me that someone might be after my husband as a result of their newly single status. This post did mobilize me to arrange a playdate for my son with a friend who’s parents are newly divorced.

  28. If an acquaintance was getting divorced, I would probably avoid the subject, unless the person brought it up, because I would think it was none of my business. It certainly wouldn’t alter my treatment of the person or their children. I think the idea that a single mother is trying to “steal” a husband is certifiably nuts, and I have a hard time imagining anyone actually thinks that way. I guess maybe if they’re in miserable marriages, but god, it seems far more likely that people are just uncomfortable and dealing with it badly.

  29. I think that anyone who thinks a newly divorced mom wants to steal their husband has probably never been divorced. As a mom who got divorced just over a year ago, there is nothing I would want less than someone else’s husband, or at this point, maybe a husband period. Not that I’m bitter, but it’s just a lot of trauma and I can’t imagine wanting to jump back into something like that.I will say that the one thing that has helped me from feeling shunned is that I have been very open about what happened. After having kept my kids’ father’s secrets for many years, it feels good to tell people the bottom line that they need to know fairly early in the conversation. I don’t think I overshare, but I am pretty upfront about letting people know that we are divorced, that I have a son with a different father, etc. At least for me, it turns out that sunshine really is the best disinfectant and the things that used to fester can’t anymore.

  30. Wow. Just… wow. As a long time Moxie reader, I have to admit that the commentary here has taken me aback a bit.There are two issues here: the divorce thing, and the single mom thing.
    Re the divorce thing: Treat it like any other big life change. Big life changes are stressful regardless of whether it is happy or sad, and more so if you have little ones.
    I can certainly see why you would feel awkward if you felt the need to offer an opinion about the news, as in: “oh, that’s great, I always thought he was a schmuck”, or “what a shame, your children must be devastated”. Really, there is simply no need for you as the listener to name the change as “good” or “bad”- that’s not up to you and the other person might not even know how they feel themselves.
    If you are moved to help, how about: “I heard you’re getting divorced. What can I do to help?” if you have some energy to give. “Do you feel like talking about it?” if you care and are interested. “I am available Wednesday afternoons if you’re ever running late and need someone to pick Sallie up from school” if you feel like it.
    Or not.
    Basically you should do whatever you would do if the person just had another baby/lost a parent/began chemo/moved homes/had a fire in their house/started a new business/went back to school/any other Big Life Change. Change is hard work. People need a community to help them through big changes. If you want to be part of their community, then step up. If not, don’t. It’s not rocket science!
    Re the Single Mom Thing, I got nothin’. Been one since the beginning, so I don’t know any different. I don’t expect to be treated any differently from anyone else: Invite me if you want me at your party, but please let me do the worrying about whether I will feel like a fifth wheel. Unless I’ve asked you to find me dates, you really don’t need to “pair” me at dinner. If I am too tired for you, by all means stick with your more scintillating friends!
    I am blessed to have mom friends of all stripes: one is starting her third year of every-other-week chemo; one has twins; one’s husband travels all the time; one is getting a divorce; one has solo-parented from the beginning; one is having a baby; one has kids with special needs. Our differences mean that one is strong where another is weak, one is tired while another cooks the meal. And vice versa. We work with all of it, because we choose to be friends.

  31. Also re VandyB: “I will assume she has other support people in her life and wouldn’t want to bother her during a difficult time”.You can’t assume that she has other support people. Big changes can mean seismic changes in support networks. If you don’t want to step up, fine. But if you count yourself as part of that person’s community, however loosely, or if you would like to, let them know. They may need that more than you can imagine.
    And, you may be glad that you did. Magical things happen when strangers reach out to help strangers in unsettled times.

  32. I don’t think people (necessarily) do know what to say when someone dies, or divorces. For the latter, I do tend to say I’m sorry, because I assume no one gets married with the intention of that concluding with divorce. But I also tend to say that I hope good things lie ahead or words to that effect. And yes, I am aware that the divorce itself may be a good thing.I think people are uncomfortable about divorce. I will (if it’s relevant) characterize myself as a 3rd wife, because I am one (my DH’s two previous marriages having ended in divorce and not, say, widowerhood), and I think that leaves some people uncomfortable. So, yeah. But just in general I have to admit (and I know this is something that’s been discussed on this board before) that (many) parents in general seem to have a hard time establishing friendships, relating to other adults, etc. I don’t mean an inherently hard time (necessarily), so much as a logistically hard time (busy, distracted by kids, hard to plan, hard to get away, etc.), but there it is. The original poster’s circumstances (reactions of other parents) may be new and different, but they sound a lot to me like stuff I experience (and see others here posting about experiencing) all the time.

  33. i assume that this is a mix of a few things that I’ve already been said.1. social norms of school parents IS high schooly. All kinds of people are excluded for all kinds of unknown reasons.
    2. the divorced parent might be assuming her exclusion is due to the divorce, but there are really other reasons (see item 1).
    3. people do not know how to approach, what to say to address the divorce.
    I am having a hard time swallowing the “she’s going to try to steal my husband” reason as an explanation of why she is outcast.

  34. Katydid–You would be surprised not only at how many women actually do attempt to steal another woman’s husband (has happened to me a few times, luckily my husband did not fall for it), but how normally sane women panic at stupid things, like the possibility that someone is now single and somehow that makes them more dangerous. I actually think women who are in relationships are more likely to try to steal another woman’s man. That’s been who has tried to take mine. But anything can happen and does. The important thing is: why would you assume that a woman becoming single would immediately go after someone’s husband. If you see bad behavior, then you will have plenty of time to do some shunning, but please don’t assume the worst of another woman. Keep sisterhood in mind.

  35. The last comment made me think – I wonder if part of the reason for avoiding, especially if the families are not close, is to avoid upsetting one’s own children? I’m not saying this is a good thing, but I can imagine that someone might worry that their child, especially if young, would start worrying that their parents would get divorced (or die, if we’re talking about widows).

  36. This conversation is extremely helpful to me for two reasons. One: VandyB’s comment about talking trash about husbands. I’m guilty of that and realize not all my friends do it. I’m making a conscious effort to tone it down and talk more about the positives. Two: we are experiencing the first divorce in our extended circle of friends. I have reached out to the wife once, but am reminded to keep reaching out even though our relationship is through the husband.

  37. I’m with @Rudyinparis (as usual!) – “I agree with the thrust of tetris’ comment–that sometimes people are just awkward and don’t know what to say. I would also put forth that often people have their own crap they’re dealing with.” Amen!I respectfully disagree with @Moxie’s assertion that people know what to say when someone dies but not when someone divorces. Actually, people rarely know what to say in EITHER case. (Ever hear that phrase they ought to ban: “They’re in a better place now”? Ugh. Ouch. People rarely know what to say, ever.) Instead they avoid the awkwardness and avert their eyes. I don’t think we should immediately assume folks always have bad intentions though; until I hear it from them directly, I prefer to begin with the more charitable view that they’re just focused on themselves and their own needs and issues. Nothing per se “wrong” with that approach.
    We get to choose how we interpret others’ intentions. Reactions to social awkwardness can look like “shunning” but until we ask someone what they’re thinking, we just don’t know. @Moxie’s right that “believing the worst about people without even bothering to know them only makes it harder” – but of course that also goes for the people we assume to be doing the supposed excluding.

  38. +1 on the side of maybe it’s not what she thinks it is.I say that not to pile on because it could very well be what she thinks it is. However, it could also be a vast misinterpretation. Probably somewhere in the middle. Regardless, going through a divorce is a tough time, even when it’s for the best. I hope that parents going through it can give others the benefit of the doubt and not always assume the worst – not just as a Golden Rule sort of thing but to give themselves a break from worrying about what other people are thinking/doing. (Does that make sense?)
    To piggyback on what @hush wrote above:
    ‘@Moxie’s right that “believing the worst about people without even bothering to know them only makes it harder” – but of course that also goes for the people we assume to be doing the supposed excluding.’
    By all means, avoid people who are blatantly toxic. But try not to get sucked into a vortex of negativity when there’s no proof of any ill will.

  39. “Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.” – Napoleon BonaparteI’m with the general crew of ‘people get weird when they don’t know what to do’, and good god, no, people do not know what to do or say when it comes to divorce, death, cancer, miscarriage, etc.
    It can even be as simple as just fearing that if included, the divorcing parent will talk about divorce a lot, which makes the other parents uncomfortable because they have no way to contribute to the conversation other than repeating ‘oh, dear, how can I help?’ ad nauseum. It looks like an emotional vortex from that side, too. Or that they’ll be asked to take up the slack of the missing parent, help with projects or homework or babysitting…
    Good luck bridging to the other parents, any of them. Only a few will figure it out, but then only a few would have figured out how to be friends with any given parent.

  40. I’m with Hush and Hedra and the rest.I homeschool now, but have had kids in two different preschools and a public elementary, and my limited experience is that school parents are not automatically a support network. Parents your child plays with at school, or on occasional playdates, and people you sometimes say hi to in the morning, are not your pit crew. I think it’s fantastic if an acquaintance reaches out with a meal or a playdate, or general friendliness. But not required.
    Of course, it would be cruel to lose established village of friends and support, or have your children deliberately excluded from parties that everyone else attends. But lack of help from acquaintances, or even an uptick in aloofness seems so much more likely to be a combination of general shyness or awkwardness or baggage (really, how many of us don’t have some kind of baggage with divorce?) or family difficulty or disinclination to pursue a friendship now that hadn’t blossomed earlier.
    And the death analogy seems off to me, also. Culturally, there are patterns for how to handle death, even if the execution is uncomfortable; and personally, divorce has much greater potential for messiness and ugliness. (Not to say anything about how other posters handled their divorce; my point is that you can’t assume it’s benign for the person who is not reaching out.)

  41. Agreeing with those who say many people don’t know what to say when someone dies. (“He’s in a better place.” “It was God’s will.” “You are so strong!” etc. — almost always the WRONG thing to say, and you hear it ALL THE TIME when someone dies.)Also, it is awkward when people divorce and you are friends with the husband and wife. Sometimes the divorcing couple expect you to choose sides. And if you are married, and were close with the divorcing couple, you may mourn the end of the marriage. And it can be unnerving if you thought you were close to the couple but the divorce is coming out of left field.
    All that said, there is never any excuse for rudeness, which refusing to meet someone’s eye is. It’s rude, and unacceptable. As for the excluding — I got nothing. It’s not right or fair. I actually don’t understand excluding an acquaintance who gets divorced, since I have no emotional investment in an acquaintance. Not spending time with friends who are divorcing I actually do understand, if the couple (or one member of the couple) wants everyone to choose sides.

  42. The message to women in England is now as clear as the aldaery similar message to women in the U.S.: Marry a man who will be profitable to you in divorce. Don’t marry the man. Marry his economic potential. Then divorce the man to get his money.The message to men is equally clear: don’t marry — unless you are an unemployed bum with no prospects and no intention of ever producing anything in your life, and you happen upon a woman willing to support you.Regarding the “Law Lords” of the British House of Lords, one wonders what would happen if when any of these “lords” got divorced they had to give up their prestigious and lordly “title” to their ex-wife? Isn’t the taking by the courts of this “title” and “position” (both very important things to British people, I assure you) directly analogous to the taking by the courts of the economic assets of these accomplished men — assets which may be all they have to show for their life’s work in their own professions?But alas, what the “Lords” value most cannot be taken from them in divorce, now can it?Future ex-wifes of British Lords, please do tell your attorneys that you also demand the hubby’s position and title! It’s only fair because without your many years of promoting him and putting up with the windbag you married, he surely would not have it!You’ve earned it. You deserve it. It should be yours! Especially if you stayed married to the egomaniac for over 2 years and 9 months.Now my “Lords”, do you blithering fools get the point?

  43. that he would not marry a couple if he knew they had a preanptiul agreement, becuase in his (church’s) view, marriage is forever and you promise to share all your wordly goods for evermore.In conclusion, I do not think anyone shoudl draw any general conclusions about “marriage in Britain” or anywhere else on the basis of two court cases and an article in the Times. People are people, and you can’t generalise.Generalising is what the UK govt is currently trying to do at the moment re. national diet/obesity. Whole milk is now being banned in schools. I have two thin (skinny even) daughters. They are being told by authority that milk is bad but (by implication of omission) crisps, chips, biscuits, processed foods full of salt and additives, etc, are OK?My point is, you can’t generalise about any of these things. You either eat a sensible diet or you don’t. You marry someone or not according to your own principles, you cannot legislate for human behaviour at this level.

  44. The more I read stuff like this, the more I realize just how lucky I was to find the woman I did. Perhaps the best ganudice in choosing a prospective spouse I’ve ever read comes, of all places, from Dr. Tom Stanley’s “The Millionaire Mind” in the chapter “Choice of Spouse.” Stanley identifies five characteristics of successful long-term marriages; these characteristics are necessary in both spouses:- honest- responsible- loving- capable- supportiveStanley further points out that marriages based on wealth (perceived or actual) or physical attractiveness are in fact the *least* likely to succeed. The accounts in the articles certainly appear to underscore the point.So the key to success is to find an honest girl with a good heart, and love her with all of yours. Worked for me, anyway. 😉

  45. I agree that court decisions such as this cretae incentives and alter behaviors that adversely affect marriages. On the other hand, there have always been factors that can make marriage a winning or a losing economic proposition. The underlying problem is that society no longer values marriage, nor does it reward married couples with social approval or unique benefits. Whatever benefits there once were to marriage can be acquired without actually getting married. The real issue is that society has already devalued marriage. Court decisions like this are simply tying up the loose ends left over from that devaluation.

  46. anonymous its not about the ratios its about the wpehpid politictians, who follow the feminist line, if you notice, MEN gave women the vote, only about a generation after ALL MEN got the vote. without the men to give women equality of the vote, then women wouldnt have it. you are confusing, MP ratios with political power. look at blairs babes, thats what they are called, women only short lists for MP’s. so its mens fault for giving women the vote. for giving women more and more power.

  47. I agree with divorce. We are just peolpe after all and we do change as we grow older. Sometimes that change in us and the changes in life with the peolpe we are committed too just don’t work out. It is a part of life. If we knew the path our life was going to take, we would have reached our destination some time ago, but we don’t. We live for the now, plan for best and have faith in what we believe. The choices we make are the ones that drive our feelings, at times those choices become what we feel are mistakes. We live, we learn and life goes on. When we are broken from love, we find it in ourselves to move forward, while at times when moving forward we leave behind our lovers. Why? It is just the way life roles some

  48. I enjoy this feeling will never realize what happened, I do not know will be a day to achieve it, and perhaps one day start, day end.I hope you will have a different model of the more interesting post, thank you for sharing with us.

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