(Statistically) Generation 1 resents us?

The best thing I read all day (Monday) was this think piece about recycled dads that first ran in American Demographics magazine way back in 1999. The article is long by Web standards, but it’s a surprisingly good read, with mini profiles and quotes that showcase a variety of recycled dad experiences and issues.

Authors and scholars are quoted and some of their findings cited and summarized. One book that is mentioned, Fathers of a Certain Age: The Joys and Problems of Middle-Aged Fatherhood (Fairview Press, 1997) seemed promising, so I ordered it.

Fathers of a Certain Age book cover

I’ll post a review of this book soon, but if you’re impatient, you can get a copy through Amazon, new for about $10 or used for about $2.

Generation 1 kids are also quoted in the article — which makes sense because the main thrust of it is that our relationships with our original kids tend to be strained because our attention and wealth have to be split more ways than in a traditional family or even a simple stepfamily.

In other words, our Generation 1 kids have a reason to resent us, and in many cases they do.

Has this been your experience?


3 Responses

  1. ohhhhhh, yes. Just last week I went through a huge imbroglio with my oldest daughter, who called me crying about how I was saving my love and money for my “real family”, meaning the new wife and kids. She’s been pulling away more and more in the past few years, insisting that she feels like the alienated child, the “unwanted one.” Her sister, also from the previous marriage, has blossomed in the opposite direction, becoming more and more joyful and connected with me and her step-mom. Somewhere buried inside the differences in their relational approaches, is a lesson to be learned.

    The resentment that my older one feels is understandable, from a certain point of view. She wants what she used to have, something that she can’t have any more. She’s mourning the loss of her own two-parent home; the mom and dad she knew until she was six, and the single (free) dad she knew until she was nine. It’s something she can never regain as such. What she’s missing out on is what she does have now. She’s sacrificing all of that in favor of her grief. And in the midst of trying to do all the other stuff I have to do for my family (job, chores, etc), it’s difficult to know how to properly address her needs.

    • Tom, I really appreciate your sharing this. I admire how you try to see it from your daughter’s perspective and acknowledge what she has lost.

      For a while, I felt guilt about the energy and resources I spent on my youngest son. I felt that I was shortchanging my first two sons by having a second family.

      Then I realized that the economics of the situation didn’t have much to do with my divorce or remarriage. Even in families that never experience divorce, the younger children tend to command more attention and resources than the older ones. A teen-ager needs a different level (or at least a different kind) of nurturing and supervision than a kindergartner.

      In addition, we get better at parenting as time goes by (I hope!). So we treat our younger children the way we *wish* we had treated our older children at that same age. It makes sense that our older children would wish the same thing and feel some bitterness about how it has shaken out.

      Thanks again for the great insights! Come back anytime.

    • All: Be sure to check out Tom’s blog at http://being-michaels-daddy.blogspot.com . His posts on raising a Generation 2 child are great reads.

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