My parents divorced when I was 13.
My mother had two long-term partners since then, but is single now in her late-60s.
My father married three years after he and my mom split up.
I keep thinking about how my parents behaved when I was growing up with them, and then through all the later years (I’m now 47), when though living apart they’ve always kept frequent contact.
They still argue about their same differences of opinion, and I cannot understand why.
My mom will say, “He infuriates me,” and my dad often says, “She never changes.”
Can you answer the question they both avoid: Why do they still bother to argue?
What do they get out of it? And why are they still so attached?
Looking for Meaning
You probably know that a common wish or fantasy of young children of divorce, is that their parents will get back together.
You’ve lived long enough to also know that didn’t happen and is still highly unlikely.
Yet you may be experiencing a feeling of curiosity about “what-if’s.”
1) If your parents had stayed together, would your personal circumstances and choices have been different, perhaps better?
2) If they’d gone to counselling long ago could they’ve been happy and not divorced?
3) Because of them, have you argued too much in your own relationships? Or given in when you should’ve stood up for yourself?
What matters now is how much their discord still affects you. If you’re just curious, talk to them.
But if you’re troubled by its effect on you, talk to a counsellor. It can free your own thoughts.
My daughter’s married, with a son and daughter, ages five and nine. They fight all the time.
The parents ARE ALWAYS CONCERNED FOR THE BOY NOT TO BE A WIMP AS HE’S TALL AND SLIGHTLY BUILT.
The daughter’s big for her age and strong.
My grandson’s encouraged to really hurt her, even to breaking bones so she’ll stop.
The son pretends she hurts him and cries to his parents.
I’m sickened that they want him to hurt his sister instead of them stepping in.
They call her a monster and treat her as such. This is pure abuse of both kids. I don’t know how to intervene before there’s a serious injury to the girl.
Also, my grandson’s especially jealous of his mother's attention to her.
But he’s not aggressive in school or when playing sports, only with his sister.
I don’t know how to get through to the parents.
The father was a small “scaredy cat” who wants to live through his son.
This is dangerous child abuse and you have a legal responsibility to report it.
You get through to your daughter and her husband by saying so.
Show them a copy of the law on child abuse reporting in your legal jurisdiction, which you can find online.
Remind them that you have witnessed incidents that would be called child abuse by child services.
And privately write a list of those occurrences for your report.
Insist that they get family counselling immediately OR that you’ll make good on your duty to protect those children from the physical and emotional harm their parents are promoting.
They won’t thank you and there might be a rocky period in your relationship with them (though hopefully your daughter - having been raised by you without such violence – will be grateful for the intervention).
Most important, you’ll have protected your grandkids.
Reader’s Commentary – “I read with puzzlement about the woman who said she felt badly that her boyfriend hadn’t said "I Love You" after six months’ dating.
“I grew up in an Eastern European family and I am approaching 50. I’m not married and currently unattached.
“My mother and I live together and get along well.
“However, neither she nor my late father ever told us kids that they loved us.
“Saying "I Love You" isn’t part of their vocabulary nor the norm in the more stoic and Victorian type of environment in which they grew up.
“I think the "I Love You" phrase, which can seem very important to many people to hear, is really a North American thing.
“I know my mother loves me, but she would never, ever actually say it.
“I know it by her actions and I don't need to actually hear it to know she does.”
Tip of the day:
Dwelling on what-ifs doesn’t get you the answers possible from direct questions or counselling.