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Tag archive for: kids

Avoiding the Custody Shuffle

My parents split up when I was a toddler, and I’ve always felt lucky that I was too young to feel the full sting of my “normal” being torn in two.

While divorce alleviates the intolerable tensions of a sour marriage, the children of divorcing couples rarely feel the same relief. Mom and dad’s breakup rocks their notion of “family,” and ping-ponging between dual residences upends their sense of “home.”

That’s why more and more divorcing couples are opting to let their kids remain in the family home while the parents rotate in and out instead. Dubbed “bird-nesting” (in some species of birds, both parents share in the feeding and protection of their young), the practice tends to be tricky for mom and dad, but easier on kids.

Santa Barbara dad Maddox Rees and his wife have been bird-nesting from their family home since they separated two years ago. When one is at home with their sons — ages 10, 9, and 4 — the other stays at a one-bedroom apartment that they also share.

Weird? A little. But it made the most sense for them at the time.

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Our Kids are Snitches

Running for office requires a hardy hide. Detractors lob accusations as easily as jugglers hurling torches; politicians expect it. But Oklahoma judicial candidate John Mantooth is being pelted by a particularly painful source: his own grown daughter.

Jan Schill (formerly Mantooth) recently took out a newspaper ad that read, “Do Not Vote for My Dad!” on the grounds that he’s “NOT a good father, NOT a good grandfather,” and would make a lousy judge. She launched DoNotVoteForMyDad.com, linking to legal documents that call his integrity into question and describing a Christmas gift she once received from her pop — a box of chocolates infested with worms and weevils.

Eww. I don’t care if you vote for him, but do not under any circumstances invite this guy to a secret Santa swap.

The candidate claims his daughter is embittered by his ugly decades-gone-by divorce from her mother, which may be true. But it’s hard to ignore the shocking shriek of a child blowing the whistle on her own badly behaving begetter.

Cops heeded just such a shriek last week when a 13-year-old New York girl called 911 from the backseat of her mother’s swerving car to report that mom was driving drunk. The good news: Troopers hauled in the besotted mama before anyone was hurt. The bad: Dinnertime conversation at their house will be awkward for quite some time.

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Why Have Kids? No, Really.

I’m sitting with some great old friends from high school, catching up on the last 20 years of our lives. There was a time when we had everything in common, from favorite teachers to lunchtime hangouts to homework due dates. And it’s fun — even comforting — to see how much we’re still alike politically, professionally, socially …

But then talk turns to the way we’re most different: My kids and their cats.

Often there’s judgment implicit when breeders and nonbreeders get to squawking about offspring. But not us. My pals seem genuinely charmed when I brag about my smarter-than-average spawn (whether they find my kids inspiring or my preening adorable, I can’t be sure). And I don’t question it when they tell me their cats are awesome, their life is good, and that they aren’t convinced procreating would improve it. I believe them.

Except … there’s something about the way they say that — is there a flicker of doubt on their faces? a subtle rise in intonation? — that makes it seem more like a question than a statement. It feels like they’re asking me outright: Starshine, why have kids?

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My columns are collected in three lovely books, which make a SPLENDID gift for wives, friends, book clubs, hostesses, and anyone who likes to laugh!
Keep Your Skirt On
Wife on the Edge
Broad Assumptions
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