Dear Readers – There’s been much feedback regarding the father whose university-age daughters cut contact with him. He fears his daughter, nine, will follow, due to their mother’s “brainwashing” (April 5):
Reader #1 – “There are things missing in his story. He’s been legally separated for a year, but (why did) his two older children cut contact with him four years ago, and visitation of his youngest is only by verbal agreement?
“As a father myself, with three sets of children from three marriages, I realize I was not the best husband.
“But despite attempts by the mothers, the bond with my children was unbreakable.
“Most fathers I know only try to make that strong bond after divorce, not before.
“But kids are now and your relationship with them as adults depends on your relationship with them as children.
Reader #2 – “I’m disturbed when I hear parents assuming that their child has been "brainwashed" by their ex-spouse.
“Especially in the instance of adult children, as mentioned here, I think they deserve more credit than that.
“If this father wants to pursue a renewed relationship with his adult daughters, he should take an objective look at himself and ask why they might’ve made that decision (to end contact).
“I doubt their arms would be wide open to someone who thinks they've been brainwashed and that their decisions/opinions aren’t their own.”
Reader #3 – “I agree with your advice that children be told that the separation/divorce is not about the children, nor changes the parents’ love for the children.
“However, as children get older, they may come to understand that one of the parents did act without regard for the impact on their children then, or later on.
“And that one parent’s actions did have ill effects for the child and perhaps for the other parent, too.
“I’ve known a man who while still married to the mother of his child, met online and married a second woman in China – technically, it was bigamy.
“His first wife eventually found out and left him.
“To this day, he continues to deny he was legally married to EITHER wife, despite overwhelming publicly-available evidence to the contrary.
“He loves his child, and labels the increasing distance from the child “parental alienation” by the mother, rather than taking responsibility for how this hurt the child (now a young adult).
“I believe the child isn’t wrong to wonder why the father cannot see how much this hurt, no matter how hard the mother may provide a balanced view of events.
“His first marriage may’ve been bad and leaving it may’ve been for the best, but how he did it and his denial of it, seems callous of the feelings of others.”
Reader #4 – “The lesson here is that not only must one constantly reassure the child of divorce of being loved regardless of what happened, but also work to see the hurt the breakup did to the child, and accept responsibility for any part they played (perhaps unintentionally) hurting them.
“It’s part of a parent’s job to model showing insight into ill-advised behaviour and/or try to listen to children about their concerns.
“I don’t know if this father has anything to apologize for, or if this is genuine pathological alienation, but he’s well advised to really try to see the child’s point of view and demonstrate that he also understands that his ex is angry (rightly or wrongly) and that this hurts the children too.”
I come from heavy drinkers on both sides of my parents' families.
I got sober 25 years ago, which affected my family relationships. We maintained contact while my parents were alive.
Since they’ve passed, I’ve become gradually estranged from all family, including my brother, whom I believe has a drinking problem.
His son’s soon getting married and I still have no inclination to renew family connections.
They’ve never been supportive of my sober status.
I don’t need them in my life. I’ve come to be okay with a busy job and supportive friends.
What do I do with an invitation requesting an RSVP to my nephew's upcoming wedding?
Send back a gift you can afford, say you won’t be attending, but wish happiness for your nephew and his bride.
He’s done you no harm. There’s no need to use the occasion to comment on his father or other relatives’ failings.
Tip of the day:
Adult children of divorce usually have strong reasons for breaking ties with a parent.