Ad­vice for afraid of los­ing con­tact with his chil­dren

The Hamilton Spectator - - WEATHER - el­liead­ DEAR ELLIE

Dear read­ers: There’s been much feed­back re­gard­ing the fa­ther whose univer­sity-age daugh­ters cut con­tact with him. He fears his daugh­ter, 9, 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 exspouse.

“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.”

I don’t want to go to the wed­ding

Q. 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?

A. Send 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.

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