My ex-wife and I have two daughters who live with me and have visited their mother every other weekend.
Last year, the eldest, 15, decided not to see her mother anymore and won't tell her why.
I'm not going to say anything; it's their relationship.
Their mother’s been diagnosed with aggressive and advanced stage-four ovarian cancer.
She wanted to tell our kids in her home.
Instead, I thought it best for her to come to my home and tell them in an environment where I could oversee their reaction.
Of course they cried that day but since then, my older daughter's anger towards her mother hasn’t melted. She’s even blocked her from her Twitter account.
I consider myself a good father so I don’t interfere in my daughter’s decision.
I've considered getting her to a therapist eventually, but the one I prefer is prohibitively expensive and I've been trying to make ends meet in other areas.
I could be making a mistake not being more proactive, but I’ve always respected my children's ability to summarize a situation and make their own decisions.
I've always advocated that they can seek counselling when they're in their 20s and 30s – after the pain of divorce has subsided – but I'm interested in your opinion.
A 15-year-old whose mother is dying isn’t likely to be emotionally equipped to “summarize” this fearsome event beyond wanting to hide from it.
Yes, adult children often get a better understanding in their 20s and 30s of the divorce that happened when they were much younger.
But in this case, counselling should start now, so your daughters can both vent their hurt, anger, and any other reaction about a mother who’s soon leaving them permanently.
Being a “good father” is something you too should be discussing further, with a professional. Your approach sounds more distanced than supportive.
These are young teens facing a second, more tragic loss.
They need the bond of sharing their emotions with you and their mother, not leaving them in isolation, to deny what’s happening.
Our parents had a bad divorce 30 years ago, when we four siblings were in our 20's.
Post-divorce, they were preoccupied with their own lives.
We turned to each other for support, but while raising our families, our relationships turned bad.
We didn’t have parents to offer support or be peacemakers. Instead, they often caused family tension and stress as they took sides in our disputes.
Also, they insisted we look after their emotional needs.
All the siblings are now empty nesters, with much less stress in our lives.
There’s a desire to reconnect. But how do we get past old hurts and enjoy each other's company again?
A couple of us are also struggling with the relationship with our parents as they refuse to take any responsibility for the mess over the years.
Reconciling with Reservations
Be the first to reach out, saying that you believe you’d all benefit from re-connecting and having the family support you all missed.
Arrange a gathering, if possible – casual, without much expense or demands. And/or start a group email in which you send each other monthly reports of who’s doing what.
Have some basic rules: No going over worn territory about old misunderstandings between you.
No discussions about what the parents are still doing wrong.
Each of you can decide whether to make peace with them.
But you siblings still have plenty of time to enjoy each other. Make that your mutual agenda.
I have a brain injury and frequently experience stress, anxiety attacks, and crying spells.
My boyfriend can't handle it anymore.
Psychologists don't help, I'm already on medication, I don't believe in counselling.
I urge you to get a family doctor’s referral to a brain injury specialist. You both need solid information about handling your symptoms and potential treatments.
FEEDBACK Regarding the angry boyfriend, age 56 (Oct.3):
Reader – “I’ve experienced similarly escalating behaviour from a partner. The manipulation, double-messaging, and demoralization gets worse with time.
“If he’s like this after two years, he’ll be worse in five years. Anger management therapy can only help if a person recognizes that he/she has a problem.
“She needs to follow her instincts about the likely causes of his previous two divorces.
“His likely next behaviours will be trying to separate her from friends and family, eventually using physical violence.
“She should cut her losses and get out.”
Tip of the day:
Teenagers anticipating a parent’s death need counselling and family support.