Skipah’s Guest Blogging Series: Unfold and Begin


With Mr. Skipah still trying to land a state record walleye and enjoying allergen free air while on vacation in Wisconsin, he thought he would let Jennifer from  Unfold & Begin have a spare key to the house where I keep my digital love child stored in.  Give Mrs. Jennifer a big warm welcome to the Skipahsphere!

So Why Should I Speak To Him? (Or, Don’t Be A Number 5)

Hi, it’s Jennifer from Unfold and Begin, guesting for the Skipah so he can recover from his laser hair removal.  He found a 2 for 1 coupon online – so he was able to get two nostrils and one ear done, and I hear he’s recovering nicely.

Being the mother of a son who is closer in age to Gary than I am, you might be surprised that this baby boomer would have an interest in a Daddy Blog.  But I do.  I started following Gary this past year because of his passion for being in his daughter’s life and because his sense of humor is still intact.  The one thing that stuck out for me was that Gary is the exact opposite of my ex-husband.

My divorce, fourteen years ago, was a two-year battle, made worse because my ex was trying to insert our 15-year-old son into the middle of our divorce, and he rebelled and cut off all contact with his father for the next four years.  This wasn’t what I wanted, and I actually begged him to talk to his father in order to make it easier for me.  But he refused (my son is more stubborn than the hair in Skipah’s ears), and I was dragged back into court.  To this day, our son has limited contact with his father and when he does, more often than not my son is the only adult in their relationship.  So I thought I would share some tips from my perspective on how NOT to have a divorce.


  1.  Do not leave by sneaking out of the house when no one is looking.  My son and I were at my parents’ house for Thanksgiving and when we got home, he was gone.
  2.  Don’t quit your job so you don’t have to pay child support.  When my ex-husband left, he drove 1200 miles in a day to be closer to his family and once there started working under the table for his brother.  His child support payments were so minimal that when he stopped paying them six months before he was supposed to, I didn’t bother taking him to court.  My time was worth more than he had to pay.

  3.  In conjunction with number 2, don’t screw your business partner when you leave.  My ex was in business with my brother.  The joint business account was drained before my brother had time to even grasp what happened.  (Also because he was so naïve.)  While I immediately closed any joint accounts on Friday, because my paycheck was auto-deposited into the accounts, my brother didn’t even go to the bank until Saturday because he didn’t think his brother-in-law would do anything like that to him.   4.  As I said above, do NOT insert your child into the middle of your divorce.   My ex started treating our son like a buddy instead of his child.  He would call him up and bitch about me.  Whenever he was in the state, he would try to get our son to let him into the house or try to get him to remove things from the house so that he could sell them and pocket the cash.   Apparently, my son would ignore all the vile things my ex was saying about me, but when he dared to call my best friend the C-Word, he told him he had to go and then didn’t speak to him again for four years.  (Except for a court mandated meeting, on neutral ground, in which he told his father that he never wanted to see him again.)  Do not insert your child into the middle of your divorce.  You are not divorcing your children.  They are not your buddies, your go-betweens, or your therapists.  They are children and should be allowed to remain children as long as possible.   5.  Don’t ever get yourself into a situation where your child tells you he/she never wants to see or speak to you again.  You can do this by treating your child with respect and remembering that he is still a child.  So this means if your child stops speaking to you, don’t call and threaten to smack the crap out of him.  You don’t call and tell your child you’re going to have a DNA test because you don’t believe he is your son.  Yes, these were two very real phone calls my son received.  I know because they were left on the voicemail since our son was refusing to answer his calls in the first place.  There was a third call in which my ex was crying and apologizing, but it was too late as our son had already heard message number 2.  When I begged him to talk to his father so I wouldn’t end up in court, he refused and referenced that voicemail and said “he already told me I’m not his son, so why should I speak to him?”

Number 5 is probably the most important tip I can give any ex-husband or ex-wife.  Do not emotionally abuse your child.  No matter what their age, threatening them or telling them you’re going to get a DNA test does nothing for your child and actually harms them.   It took my son some time to adjust, which included seeing a therapist, but he was finally able to move past that episode.  He reached out to his father when he was 19 and they currently maintain a limited relationship.  Some of it limited by distance, but a lot is limited by the fact that he realizes he is more emotionally developed than his father and limits contact in order to protect himself.

I don’t want to end this post on a downer, so let me update you on my son 14 years later.  Although it took a little longer for him to figure it out, at 26 he went back to school to become a Massage Therapist and finally found work that he enjoys.  He enjoys gaming and art and sometimes he picks up junk from the side of the road in order to turn it into an art piece.  Now if only he could find a nice girl and settle down……..

Thanks for taking the time to read these tips.  While you should follow all of them, I beg you: Don’t be a number 5.

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  2. I’m so sorry your divorce journey was so difficult. I can only imagine the struggle. My dad died when we were young, left my mom with no support for her three kids ranging from 0-11, tons of debt from a new business venture that was abruptly cut short, and abandonment from the bridges we thought we had all around. But the heart attack could not have been helped or predicted. But my mom, like you so obviously are, was strong and resourceful, and we made it by the hair of our chinny chin chins.

    Being a step mother watching a number five is so difficult…I never know how to really help, but I love him and I don’t want him to feel so hurt or divided.

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  5. Thanks Bun. Yes, you called it….although maybe the two year old has better morals because they still don’t know better.

  6. Thanks Jeanette. Im sorry that you’re mom is going through that. And, yes my mind is open for all possibilities.

  7. Hope your son finds someone to settle down with! (just keep an open mind if it is not a female) Am a happily married 40+ female married to a wonderful man for over 20 years. Not everyone gets a decent first marriage, or so I have read.

    Know it from my mother’s example. She married an abusive monster but still refuses to leave him even though all 3 of her kids are fully grown! She works in the school district and makes a lot more money than he will ever make! Get the heck out while you can. Yeah divorce was not a popular trend back then, move into the next century!

  8. Your ex-husband sounds like he has the morals and maturity of a two-year-old. I’m glad your son managed to on from it all successfully.

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