The Mercury News
Mom baffled by kids’ distance
DEAR AMY: After an abusive 25-year marriage, in which I worked two jobs to help support the children, I finally left after my husband threatened, at gunpoint, to kill me and our son. At that time, our two girls were in college and the military, respectively.
We went to a shelter and later moved in with various family members out of state.
Eventually, my son, then 14, opted to return to his father’s home. I lost contact with him for the next four years, due to his father’s threats.
I’ll always regret allowing him to return to Hell. I later discovered his father had kicked him out and he was living with a girlfriend and her mother. The girls survived on their own during the time I was getting my education. They started families and live successful middle-class lives. Each has two beautiful children.
At 50, I graduated into a lucrative field and brought my 18-year-old son to live with me.
I supported my son through several bad ventures. He eventually matured and is now living with a good woman in a home he purchased. (I gave him and his sister the down payments.)
My three children live all over the country. They act very distant to me. One daughter accused me of not protecting her, and told me not to visit again. My other daughter is cold and abrupt. My son says we can never be a family again.
I am bewildered by their anger. I have tried to be supportive. Do you think my family can ever be repaired? Sad Momma
DEAR SAD: You have worked very hard to escape your abusive marriage and rebuild your life. But your children spent their childhoods in the household you describe as “Hell.”
You have been financially generous with your children, but money has absolutely no meaning when what they really desire is the decent childhood they were denied.
You might feel that their abusive and violent father is solely to blame for everything, but they look at it this way: “We had two parents; why didn’t you protect us?”
Children who witness violence experience the effects of this trauma for the rest of their lives.
It is not too late for you to reconcile. Allow each of them to express their pain without reacting defensively. Professional counseling will help all of you.
DEAR AMY: “Cheap Childcare” was a 17-yearold complaining about being paid $8 an hour to watch four older kids.
The kids were not toddlers, so no diapers, baths, toy cleanup or bedtime stories. She was there to provide a semiresponsible presence. I feel your advice added to the entitlement this generation is steeped in. Disgusted DEAR DISGUSTED: The marketplace should set the wage for a baby-sitter, and if she is assertive enough to ask for more, then her clients can decide if her efforts are worth it.