DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I am so mad! My husband believes in the expression "quality time." How convenient! He thinks it's more important to take the kids out once a week and do something significant than to hang around the house with them and watch TV, play games, do homework together, talk to each other, and eat meals together. I strongly disagree! Our kids need quantity time. Who needs to go to some fancy place, periodically? I would like my kids see their dad more and I would like to see him at home more, too. And how about me? Every Saturday night he takes me out to dinner to the tune of $150. I'd rather see him for an hour or two every second night and go look at Christmas trees or go for a walk in the snow and have coffee, or just talk by the fireplace and cuddle. Oh, yes, and then he wants the big production sex at the end of the big production date. What am I, his $150 hooker? He just makes me feel really angry! What can I do? I try to talk about it and just end up crying I am so emotional on this issue. -- Hurting and Alone, Westwood
Dear Hurting: Show him your letter to me. It couldn't be plainer. Then speak your truth without fear of looking uncool or needy. Go ahead and cry. At least that's honest. He needs to hear it and see your pain. He may not like it, but he needs to hear some plain truth from you about your situation and that of your children. He may not agree with you, and give you a big fancy $150 argument, but that doesn't mean it isn't beginning to seep through. Let it simmer for a week. He may understand this in the end. Sometimes it's hard to replace an old idea on a topic until you have a new idea. He might get the new concept of "quantity time" more quickly, as it neatly refills the pigeon hole quality time has occupied in his brain for some time.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I'm writing regarding the father who is taking the side of his new wife over his son. I know of this exact situation in the case of my husband and his mother. All their lives my husband and his sister and brother have watched as their mother has repeatedly chosen her boyfriends and new husband over them. (Even chosen her husband's children over her own!) My husband is in denial about his mother's behaviour, yet I can see it. I had wondered how a parent, particularly a mom, could do this. I see it as selfish people who choose to protect their own interests by standing by their partner, because they get self-worth out of their approval or are afraid of being alone. They'd rather have the love of a man/woman than their own children. They are putting their own needs before their children's needs. I have always said that selfish people should not have children. -- Sincerely, 32-Year-Old Mother of Two
Dear Mother of Two: Selfish people often have children because they think they will have created fans for life -- people who will adore them and make them feel special. But it can end up being the Mommie Dearest syndrome where the mother is nasty, but expects adoration. Why are parents not turned right off by prospective mates who are indifferent, cold or downright mean to their prospective stepchildren? Cold behaviour to one's biological kids should be a love-and-desire killer, but in so many cases it is not. Instead, the divide is often blamed on the children for being rude. Why are they acting out? Because they feel unloved and unwanted by the new step-parent. It seems strange that people who make bad step-parents can always be charming enough to get themselves another a match, but they are master gameplayers. They know enough to sweetly manipulate until they have reeled in the new catch. I have had a number of letters from people who are married to new mates and say plainly they don't like their stepchildren and don't treat them as lovingly as they do their own. Their defence? They say it's "natural." Well, the antidote to "natural" difference should be kindness and civility, with the result being stepkids at least don't feel the difference greatly. They may suspect some difference, but at least it isn't painful and obvious.
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