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since June 19, 2001



Children of Divorce — Testimonies

The testimonies that are shown in these pages are excerpted and translated, with permission by the author, from Karin Jaeckel's The Secondhand Man: Loved no longer and pillaged — Fathers after separation.

Go to the Foreword

In her book, Karin Jaeckel alternates accounts of divorces as seen by parents with accounts provided by the children of the divorces.  With each topic the author provides more background, along with statistics, principles of the law, trends in jurisprudence, and sociological comments.  We know much about all of these areas.  Although it is well worth it to read all of these accounts and comments because the author brings new insights into the discussion,  I would like to concentrate here on what Karin Jaeckel tells us the children have to say about divorce.  The following testimonies were not chosen on account of any particular attributes.  Some of the situations related by the children of divorce and shown in The Secondhand Man are far worse than those shown in these web pages.  Very few offer even as much as a glimmer of hope.

(See also excerpts from Karin Jaeckels book Germany devours its children : Families today — Exploited and burned out)

Index to testimonies:

The testimonies by these children are but a few of those contained in The Secondhand Man.  They are heart-breaking and terrifying.   They should be required reading for all who in any way impact what is happening to our families: legislators, ministers and priests, teachers, judges, lawyers, psychologists, sociologists, social workers, parents who contemplate divorce or not, children of divorce or from married families, most of all for anybody who thinks that any random and constantly changing collection of people that eat out of the same fridge constitutes a family.

What have we done to ourselves, to our children and to the society in which they must live?!  Is it it too late to repair the damage, or is the only hope left to us that a new society will rise out of the ashes of the one that we have destroyed just about completely?   Whatever it is that we created, it is not much for a foundation on which to build the continued existence of society as we wish it to be or as is good for all of us.

The words made famous by Hillary Clinton, "it takes a village" to raise a child, will most likely come to haunt us with a vengeance.  Let's hope that there'll be a village to take care of our children.  It is obvious even to the children that there'll be no families left to do the job.  However hard "the village" may be trying to assume the role of the family, it should also be obvious to anyone that it has not succeeded at anything but to create a monster that'll most likely devour us all, including our children and grandchildren.  May God have mercy.

The source of the foreword and of the testimonies shown on the related pages.

Note: The following information, including the table of contents, is a tentative translation into English.  The printed English-language version will likely be somewhat different.  The page numbers indicated in the table of contents are those of the German-language edition of the book.

    The Secondhand Man

    Loved no longer and pillaged — 
    Fathers after Separation

    by Karin Jaeckel

    Original [German] edition January 1997
    2nd [German] edition August 1997
    © Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag Gmbh &Co. KG
    ISBN 3-423-15103-X

    English-language edition pending procurement of a publisher

    From the book jacket

    Karin Jäckel, born 1948 in Mecklenburg, studied Germanistics and Art History with subsequent graduation and has worked since then as a free-lance author. She devoted herself to social-critical themes and became widely known through her bestseller "Monika B., I'm not your daughter anymore" (1993).  Her last published work is "Complete matrimony or what … What's really happening in today's partnerships" (1995).  Karin Jäckel lives in the Black Forest.

    Parting is a heart-breaker, but for fathers too!  Fathers, who are, according to court decision, degraded to visiting and paying dads, and who are second choice in new relationships, a "second-hand man with the mortgage of the ex-family."  Karin Jäckel documents voices of the victims of a divorce war that is being practiced a hundred- thousand-fold and is supported by currently still valid jurisprudence.

    "Karin Jäckel's shocking social report draws attention to the fact that here is social fuel for fire that concerns us all — not just a few angry mothers, wounded fathers and despairing children."

    (Eva Herold-Münzer)

    Every third marriage in Germany winds up in divorce, and in almost half of them there are joint children.  As a rule, those remain with the mothers, and men in the role of fathers are taken out of the picture.  They are downgraded to visiting and paying dads who often have to fight bitterly for the right to have the longed-for contact with their offspring.  Psychologically handicapped from the start, when they want to enter a new relationship, they will on account of the financial consequences of the disaster of separation become second-choice partners, second-hand men, "loved no longer and sucked dry."  Karin Jäckel documents how this every-day situation, that's only all-too-common in cases of divorce and is even being supported by outdated jurisprudence, is being experienced and suffered by the affected fathers and their also-divorced children.  Karin Jäckel's earth-shaking social report is a collection of authentic life-stories that steers the customary view from  the suffering of women in broken families to that of men and the joint children.

Karin Jaeckel's book is based on intensive research and interviews involving, amongst others, 211 fathers, 54 mothers, and 56 children and youth, "…who in the course of the intensive research for this book told about their lives during and after divorce, opened their diaries to me, provided me their letters and rejected no question as being too invasive." (p. 271)

Table of Contents

Foreword    p. 9

A fool is always taken advantage of    p. 13

Frank, 40 years, and Anke, 32 years    p. 19

Frank: My wife is finished loving me and sucked me dry    p. 19

Anke: After all, a woman has her own demands of life    p. 24

Why marry anyway? Axel, Thorsten, Sammy    p. 29

Axel: What Nonsense!    p. 29
Thorsten: Love is stupid    p. 30
Sammy: I won't be so dumb    p. 30

Winners and losers in the changes to the divorce laws    p. 31

[Data presented on pp. 31, 32 are not part of the book but can be viewed in graphic format — WHS]

There should be a lawInge, Lisa, Jana    p. 36

Inge: I find that there should be a law    p. 36
Lisa: Can you fix that?    p. 38
Jana: That's really mean    p. 39

The marriage-law reform of 1977 — people-hostile and disruptive to society    p. 40

Socially uprooted: Tore, Olli, Mascha    p. 45

Tore: I'm from a good family    p. 45
Olli: Actually, I have no-one at all   p.  48
Mascha: Somewhere along the way my father was suddenly gone    p. 51

A short story: From 1996 to parental rights — A lost chance?    p. 53

But I love both!  Yannina, Lillith, Manuela    p. 56

Yannina: That is too bad    p. 56
Lillith: What I love best is to be with grandma and grandpa    p. 57
Manuela: That was nice    p. 57

The mother gets the children, the father gets the worries    p. 58

Ben,  44 years, and his girlfriend Marie, 27 years    p. 63

Ben: My life in the split of joint custody    p. 63

Marie: I waived all support    p. 83

The woman that's there first gets it all    p. 98

Matrimony-pessimists: Manuel, Rosi, and Clemens      p. 106

Manuel: When I'm fairly old    p. 106
Rosi: When I'm big    p. 107
Clemens: Family-labyrinth    p. 107

Daddy, help! Mammy is kidnapping me!    p. 110

Thomas, 37 years, and Sandra, 38 years    p. 119

Thomas: To my daughter Melanie    p. 119

Sandra: The child is of my body    p. 119

Are fatherless children really better off?    p. 123

Martina: I'll never get over the loss of my father    p. 132

The country needs new fathers    p. 138

Carsten, 35 years, and Camilla, 26 years    p. 143

Carsten: To be a father means more for me than to earn money    p. 143

Camilla: If I leave, he'll lose everything    p. 148

Men, the lazy sex?    p. 151

Manuel, 42 years, and Ines, 31 years    p. 157

Manuel: My wife doesn't notice that she is slaughtering the cow she wants to milk    p. 157
Ines: If he doesn't want to listen, then he'll have to bear the consequences    p. 162

Men are s..t, s..t, s..t    p. 166

Stupid guys!  Stupid dolls! Mollie, Nicolas    p. 171

Mollie: If only the boys were more like the girls    p. 171
Nicolas: With only women around you …    p. 172

Is it true that men are more easily consoled than women?    p. 173

What a dirty trick!  Mirko, Henning    p. 177

Mirko: My daddy is mean    p. 177
Henning: And that's when she lies to me    p. 177

Fathers — cold workaholics?    p. 179

Jonas, 37 years, and Kerstin, 27 years    p. 182

Jonas: Men have far more self-doubt than women do    p. 182

Kerstin: Using the kids I can reduce him to nothing    p. 186

Stupid Fathers?    p. 191

Yearning for daddy: Niclas, Jacko, Jennifer    p. 198

Niclas: Daddy's photo    p. 198
Sabine: I think that it is totally stupid    p. 199
Jacko: A piece of my heart    p. 199
Jennifer: My daddy is good    p. 200

Fathers, the national conversation piece for grouches    p. 201

Enno, 33 years, and Antonia, 28 years    p. 207

Enno:  I pay no support    p. 207
Antonia: I feel that he deserted me    p. 210

When mothers become character assassins    p. 212

Friedrich, 39 years, with Vivian, 27 years, and Svenja, 31 years     p. 220

Friedrich: My wife destroyed my life    p. 220
Vivian: It was self-defence    p. 225
Svenja: You can look, but don't touch    p. 229

After separation, murder    p. 235

Iris: I don't understand what made him do that    p. 243

Checkmate for the divorce terrorism    p. 245

Family in the sights — ready to fire?
A personal balance sheet
    p. 256

Credits    p. 271

Literature that relates to the theme    p. 273  

Why marry anyway? AXEL, THORSTEN, SAMMY   p. 29

AXEL:  What Nonsense!

9 years.  Orphan of divorce for three years.  Lives with his mother and her boyfriend

Father: Lives alone

Grounds for divorce: extra-marital affair of the mother and her wish to separate.

No joint custody  

We have a religion teacher in school.  She is married now.  When she married she invited the whole class.  But first there was the church wedding.  I've never been at a wedding before, because when my parents married I wasn't here yet.  The pastor said then: You're man and wife now and shall be one until death parts you.  What nonsense!  Who makes that decision isn't God.  That is the judge.  And my parents are divorced too. That's why I know all about it.  And therefore I find it all totally nuts anyway, because such a feast costs quite a bit.  And therefore it is all for nothing, because when they then get divorced again, then it costs once more.  And then it would have been best if they would have saved that from the start.  Because they'll eventually want to become divorced anyway.  And then they have the whole mess.  And then, anyway, the children.  They are then divorced too.  And that hurts.

THORSTEN: Love is stupid

9 years.  Orphan of divorce for half a year.  Lives with his mother and her boyfriend

Father: Lives alone

Grounds for divorce: extra-marital affair of the mother and her wish to separate.

No joint custody

I find that love is totally stupid.  First there is a lot of kissing and they grab each other all over and make children and such.  And when it is then finished, one kisses another one and carries on happily with her: therefore, I find the custom totally stupid.

SAMMY: I won't be so dumb

8 years.  Orphan of divorce for a year.  Lives with her mother and her mother's boyfriend.

Father: Lives alone

Grounds for divorce: the parents recognized that they were educationally incompatible; separation upon the wish of the mother.

No joint custody  

At any rate, I'll never fall in love.  I won't be so dumb.  You can get a cool car for the divorce.

 Next: There should be a law … INGE, LISA, JANA

About the author, by the author

See also information about other recent books by Karin Jäckel

Posted 1999 06 07
2000 01 03 (to add the reference to Karin Jäckel's new book The Wife at his Side)
2000 10 13 (to add the reference to Karin Jäckel's new book Germany Devours its Children
2001 02 08 (format changes)
2002 02 11 (revised the commentary following the index to testimonies by children of divorce at the Web pages of Karin Jaeckel at this site
2007 12 16 (reformated)