I was friends with the children and the second wife of a prominent philanthropist. Several weeks after his death, I learned that his children had emptied his charity’s account, and shipped his art collection for sale overseas.
These adult children then sued to kick out their step- mother from the home where she’s lived with their father for over 25 years.
I took the step-mother’s side, knowing that the father’s will had allotted her rights and privileges in anticipation of his children being greedy.
The courts, after a long and brutal legal battle, ruled in favour of the step-mother, who in return gave her step-children their late mother’s memorabilia which had been left behind in the house.
Just recently, I encountered the step-daughter who had once been a close friend of mine, at our mutual friend’s funeral. I refused to even acknowledge her. Was I being rude?
I get the negative sentiment you feel towards this person, yet everything you knew about the family background suggests that she and her brother had been raised as spoilt, over-indulged kids.
It would seem that their behaviour as adults is no surprise.
The father acknowledged this in his will, by making sure that his second wife would not be left vulnerable to losing what he intended her to have.
Given that you encountered this past-close friend at a funeral, you might’ve taken a different approach. As in remarking about the obvious: “In the end, there’s only a funeral, and how your character’s described by those who knew you.”
Maybe it’d give her pause about how she treats people.
Readers’ Commentary Regarding the lawsuit by the son of a divorced couple to regain money from sale of the family home that initially went to his mother (December 19):
“As a family business mediator, I thought to add one more element to your excellent advice. When a divorcing couple splits assets, adult children commonly become concerned that their future inheritance will disappear into their parents’ new relationships.
“One case example: A wealthy woman with two teenaged children remarried a man with two adult children. She died before her new husband, leaving it all to him to “manage” with no direction about how that should be done.
“Ten years later, he passed away suddenly, leaving his old will, which left his children to inherit all of his former wife’s wealth, leaving her children with nothing.
“In your letter-writer’s situation, the mother could begin to build back trust by providing some sense of security that was lost by her children in the divorce.
“The son may be looking for some emotional security that he has a place in her heart, and that she’s thought of her own children’s future.
“A good first step: If the investments she made from the sale of assets of her first marriage (e.g., the house) are somehow secured, at least in part for her children on her passing (if there’s anything left).
“Trust comes with a show of commitment and caring, and it’d go a long way to rebuild that trust with some initial assurances.
“I have confidence in families’ ability to reunite on some level. I’ve seen it happen over and over again even after years of pain, but only when there’s effort on both parts. And it does take the parent to make the first move.
“I often ask my clients, who is the parent here?”
My husband and I talked with a couple of online therapists over two months.
They call themselves therapists and mediators who help children adjust to a family split. Our children, early teens, weren’t that receptive to the idea but one attended a few virtual discussions, the other only once.
I was clear with the therapists about the inevitable breakup, only wanting help with our family’s approach.
After a series of sessions, we were together for their final assessment: “We see no need for you to divorce.” I walked out.
What’s your thought on their response?
You didn’t give them time or space to explain their conclusion. Also, they didn’t “get” you. But that may be because you didn’t want them to... you just wanted backup help getting the kids to accept a family split.
Wherever you and your children are today, it’s still up to you to try to keep the bond that shows they’re loved.
Tip of the day:
How a divorcing couple deals with their house, finances and wills regarding it all, can reassure adult children of the connection to their parents, or divide a family further.