I grew up being kept away from my father's family due to a bitter divorce. Ten years ago, they reached out to try and connect.
They’re wonderful people but my reaction is to pull away. I try, but can't seem to let them get close.
They’ve shown my wife, my son, and me extraordinary kindness. Still, I have no context for accepting that kindness.
My uncle, who’s been successful, gave away over a million dollars to family. This included me.
In my mind, nothing’s free and that type of kindness is dumbfounding.
I was taught that my world is very small; nothing’s given to you unless there’s a catch. Though there’s no catch here, I don't know how to take it.
I want to be able to accept their love like a normal person and quit withdrawing when they get too close.
You’ll be able to open up to this side of your family when you finally accept that no one else has the right to limit your connection to them.
Whatever reasons were given long ago to isolate you from caring relatives, were wrong-headed and unfair to you.
Unless your father had been abusive to you, and his kin sanctioned that behaviour, you were deprived of people who clearly wanted to love and support you.
This isn’t about offers of money and other benefits that have a hidden cost to you.
It’s about getting over the cynicism and distrust that was foisted on your thinking.
Seeing a therapist about your past limitations can open up new understanding about family ties.
That’s a good thing, not a threat. You’ve been done a disservice for years. Set yourself to getting over it, for everyone’s sake.
My daughter's problem is shopping and lack of motivation.
She spends every penny she gets her hands on, mostly buying cheap things she doesn't need.
She lives in subsidized housing and doesn't work. She’s never done housework. Her home’s a pigsty.
Meals are eaten in front of the TV, and the kitchen table’s buried under clothes and refuse. The litter box for two cats only gets cleaned when the cats decide to use alternate areas of the house.
My teenage granddaughter’s following in her mother's footsteps, which frightens me. I’ve tried to teach her by example, but she isn't at my home enough.
If I talk to either of them about cleaning, money management, or earning a living, I’m met with silence. I then won't hear from my daughter until she needs something.
Is there a support group for them or myself?
Readers, if you’ve dealt with this kind of “addiction” and its effect on family, share your experiences and any solutions dealing with junk-oriented shopaholics, and people living a grubby lifestyle without motivation to do otherwise.
For a mother wanting a better life for your offspring, this situation can become so depressing, it’ll interfere with your ability to provide the help you want to give, at least to your granddaughter.
Look locally for a family counselling or community centre, a YWCA, your faith community, etc. for support groups for family issues.
Also, see your doctor about whether you need help for depression.
I’m focused on you because there’s no guarantee you’ll ever change your daughter’s behaviour.
But there IS still hope for her daughter, especially if she has a strong role model in you.
It’s not how often she sees you that counts, but how she sees you.
FEEDBACK I totally agree with your advice to the woman involved for eight years with a man she’s now discovered has been on Internet dating sites (March 10):
Reader – “You told her to " run, don't walk" away from him.
“But I also think that, given the circumstances of the long years of involvement with this man, this woman has her own serious problems with low self-esteem and maybe other serious issues, too.
“If she doesn't get professional help she will most likely repeat the pattern again and again. Running away is only a start.
“Please let her know she needs personal help.”
Ellie – You’re so right. The fact that she stayed with him while he rejected her for sex for a year, but was likely cheating, shows her low self-image.
She still loved him, until she discovered his lies and secret life. She needed to run before she could look after herself.
Tip of the day:
Don’t let a parent’s post-divorce bitterness still limit your life and choices as an adult.