My family split apart years ago. My mother moved me away from my father to another city for better healthcare, at age two.
My father never missed a birthday and took me during the summer when he could. At age five, my mother’s new husband became another amazing father to me.
They were both always there for me in their own way.
My biological father was living with his girlfriend. My dislike for her came naturally. She was always trying to "do what was best" for me, always doing her own research on my "condition."
Ultimately, I was no longer allowed to see my father at his place, so that I could avoid his wife.
Years later, when I learned that I was having a baby, I was excited to share it with everyone equally.
My father visited with his girlfriend. I tried to be respectful for his sake, to gently tell her why I didn't want to do things "her way."
But it became too much and I snapped at her.
I felt terribly and called them the same night to apologize. But there’s remained a strain.
I rarely hear from my father. I’ve apologized to his now-wife, personally.
I feel that my father, 25 years later, has abandoned me.
I tried talking with him, smoothing things over with his wife, but every effort I make is lost.
The only time they put in is when it involves their grandson, which is still good.
Now, a falling-out between my mom and step-dad has me upset. Things had obviously been sour for a while.
My biggest fear was that my family would fall apart.
There’s currently strain between my mother and her ex. Recently, when he and I were together with friends, he was asked whether I was his daughter.
I wondered if we weren't family after 20 years just because they broke up. No. He still call's me his daughter, but I’m afraid.
This is what I have with my biological father. We’re family but I worry that he’ll slowly walk out of the picture.
Neither of my fathers are the same anymore. I used to think it was my fault - that I wasn’t trying hard enough.
I try not to ask for anything more than just time with either of them, yet both are growing more distant.
What went wrong? Is it because I'm grown up with a family of my own? Am I trying too hard and somehow pushing them away?
No, you’re not “abandoned,” you have a family of your own.
Also, some of the grandparents want to be involved with your son, which means they’re still in your life.
You had a fortunate situation of two very attentive fathers, but because of early separation and health issues, you often felt vulnerable.
Don’t confuse that past with your position today as a mother who’s needed and loved. (You don’t mention a husband, but of being in a family) so you likely have a relationship with your child’s father.
Adult family situations including step-parents, divorce, minor squabbles, couple’s rifts, etc. make your world more complicated, but not necessarily dire.
You can handle it. When it’s appropriate, apologize (you’ve done that). When it’s a passing incident, ignore.
Keep your eye on the main goal – a life without unnecessary stress over small matters, the ability to adapt to necessary changes, recognizing what’s most important in your immediate world, and raising a healthy, secure child.
FEEDBACK Regarding telling children about the person you’ve divorced (November 4):
Reader – “The best advice I was given was to NOT say anything negative about my ex to our children as that would hurt them.
“So I said that when people separate, they’re hurt and often angry. Sometimes the parent, including me, might say something awful about the other. I said that if I ever did that, they should say, “Stop.”
“I said that their dad was always their dad, and he loved them.
“They asked what to do if their dad said bad things about me (which he was doing). I said to tell him to stop.
“What if he didn’t? I said that all they could do was say they didn’t like it, but couldn’t make him stop.
“Years later my kids and I have a great relationship. Theirs with their dad wasn’t good. They lost respect for him.
“Divorce “facts” are based on who’s doing the talking.”
Tip of the day:
Avoid letting old fears cloud focus on your present life and what’s most important in it.