Question: Dear Luise: I raised my three children by myself after a divorce when the children were very young. I had a high school education while the father of my children double masters degrees in psychology and social work. My ex had a brief few weeks early on, between jobs, and had the court base his meager child support for their entire lives on being unemployed. I was too poor to take him back to court. I easily qualified for legal aid but legal aid doesn’t cover modification of child support. Though I was dirt poor I managed to be pro-active in their schooling from the beginning and was able to apply for scholarships to the best private schools for the two younger kids and navigated the gifted and talented route for my eldest daughter through public schools. My ex-husband, thinking, I can only guess, to punish me, refused to even fill out the one page form for the non-custodial parent which was a requirement for awarding any scholarships at all schools applied for. He refused to fill out the page for every school, primary, prep and college, leaving me and my children to pay for everything including transportation. At one point in high school my son went to Rome for a school trip and rather than give him any much-needed spending money for his trip, arranged, rather, for himself and his partner to meet up with my son and crash his exciting trip. Despite the many roadblocks (including fighting paying half of crucial healthcare bills through the years) thrown in our way by my ex, and on the other hand, due the kindness of educational institutions throughout the years, my children graduated from fine schools. They all have amazing jobs all over the world and are now having beautiful children of their own and are now navigating the same earnest caring for their own children’s well-being and greatest potential as I did with them for so many years. Somehow my children not only don’t seem to resent their father for the past at all, but seem to have fabulous relationships with him across the board. Me? They seem resentful, dismissive, and hold me in distain. There have been countless months where I don’t hear from them at all. I contacted them by phone, email, Skype, Facebook and mental visualizations of love and light and routinely got or now, get, little if any response at all. I customize my amount of attempts as to honor their need for space. My ex settled down for the past 13 years with his partner. I adore his partner and could see him as a close friend in different circumstances. His partner has money in addition to what is most likely a decent retirement that my ex receives. Their combined retirement allows them to have two homes: a boat in Florida, which his partner refers to as a ‘yacht’ and a home in Denver. They split their time between the two homes. His partner is wonderful and gregarious and plays host to my children and grandchildren whenever they are in town. I’m happy that my children have him in their lives. There is always the fabulous Miami location with great food and the ocean for week long vacations, which all my children naturally are thrilled to enjoy as often as possible and are always generously welcome. In addition, my ex’s father has stepped in over the past 5 years with money enabling the kids to get to London and back to see my daughter and granddaughter which is a wonderful thing. I, on the other hand, have little to no money and have no retirement whatsoever, let alone a home that is large enough for visiting, though the invitation is always open. What I can’t fathom is what happened to all the love and fun and connection that we all felt for all those years as we communally ‘workshopped’ any problem or situation that arose in our daily lives at the dinner table and then went on to navigating their schooling and college and having long sessions on the phone and when they were home on breaks being so close and such a sense of support and love and learning. They were on my mind in some form for 24 hours a day 7 days a week for about 30 years. The past 10 years have been ones of me feeling cut out, disregarded, open hostility and sometimes even hatred. I entered therapy and had sessions twice a week for 4 years to heal my broken heart from the shocking disconnect. My therapist closed our therapy 2 years ago feeling strongly that I had made the inner changes to live my life fully and put the challenges behind me. Now that I have two grandchildren in two different countries, one here in my hometown I’m seeking out more therapy for the new heartache of being cut out in different ways. It’s easy to see where life is headed and how little I count in the grand scheme of things. I’m so deeply depressed it’s almost unbearable sometimes. Is there any light you might be able to shed on my situation that could help? M.
Answer: Dear M.: We all have expectations regarding our children. However, they make their own choices and quire often they don’t make choices we understand. There is nothing you can do about it and you deserve so much better.
I would like to offer you the opportunity to join a supportive and loving community of women who are facing similar issues with their adult children. I started it because this venue just isn’t enough. You need more than a compassionate answer…and maybe even more than counseling sessions. I think you may need daily contact if you are to find a way to heal. That’s what often happens on my Webforum at www.WiseWomenUnite.com . Please consider coming over. I will be there, too. Blessings, Luise