Why would a father convince his children to hate their mother?
I’m 44, with a teenage daughter and son. I was married for 18 years to a smart man who worked hard but didn’t enjoy family life and was distant with our kids.
My son struggled with his sexual identity though I accepted early on that he was probably gay. My daughter had learning disabilities.
My husband was in denial about both kids’ issues and never helped me with them.
I was a stay-home-mom for years, then opened a coffee franchise where my kids worked after school and on weekends. We were very close.
Suddenly, my husband needed surgery for cancer. When he came home from the hospital, he said the marriage was over.
He’s since turned my children against me. They don’t speak to me and I don’t know the reason.
He’s also acting like they’re his “pals” who are staying with him, without any boundaries regarding alcohol and drugs.
What can I do/say to him and my children?
This is a sad story for everyone involved. I understand your despair, but your ex and your children have also experienced difficulties that are affecting this current situation.
When someone faces their own mortality, as your ex did through his cancer, a turnaround in behaviour isn’t uncommon. For him, it was a desire to be a father more directly.
Yes, he’s gone too far, by foolishly dropping boundaries that are a necessary part of healthy parenting.
But for the children he once kept at a distance, this reversal finally confirms that they’re loved by him. That’s very important to their feelings of self-worth, boosted by his attention and permissiveness.
Unfortunately, it left you outside of this new family picture.
However, if you put aside your hurt feelings, enough to accept the kids’ renewed relationship with their father, and his re-entry into a father’s role, I believe the whole picture can improve.
Instead of focusing on his lax rules, find the positives wherever you can. Even if you resent his ending the marriage, it’s the children you want to protect, and you can only do this if you’re seen as supportive.
Important matters of these teenagers not using alcohol and drugs to a dangerous degree, will only be accepted if they see your respect for their new dynamic with their father. And if he sees you from now on, more as a family member than a critic.
It’s a switch in your viewpoint that I’m suggesting. But I also strongly recommend that you see a counsellor for yourself and the feelings of loss.
It will help you open your mind to a whole new approach, rather than just feeling cheated of your kids’ regard for you.
What’s the message for my very recent marriage, when I caught my new husband ogling the younger women in bikinis at the pool of the resort where we were honeymooning?
His “ogling” speaks loudly of his lack of understanding of what being a partner in life actually means. That a younger female flashes her body is her choice. But his response as a new husband must reflect his choice of you, i.e. reassure you that you’re primary in his life.
Your reaction to the pool scene shows insecurity and self-doubt. Banish both as reactions, they don’t resolve anything.
Instead, speak confidently. Say that you both need to know/believe/trust that a flashy person isn’t a threat.
My friend of ten years used to be fun.
But lately she seems quite harsh. Whatever I tell her I’m doing, or am thinking of doing, she finds a putdown for it.
When I said I’ve started playing women’s basketball, she asked what team I’m on. I explained that I’d started with a twice-weekly clinic. She laughed at me and said, that I was NOT really playing basketball.
When I told her that I’ve been reading a lot, she asked what books. I mentioned Where the Crawdads Sing and she dismissed me as a “casual reader.” She said that she only reads “significant” books!
This “friendship” is becoming hard to take. Should I just end it?
Something’s bothering her.
If you knew that she had some problems or underlying anxieties, would you care? If Yes, tell her she sometimes sounds negative, is everything okay? If No, start to limit contact.
Tip of the day:
See a changed family situation from everyone’s view, not just your own, to still be effective as a parent.