Question: Dear Luise: I went through a difficult divorce 2 years ago with my children 19 and 17. My son(19)understands what was happening but my daughter, no matter how much I try to talk to her, sends me nothing but hateful emails. At first I replied by trying to talk to her and ask about her life and what was going on. Now recently I have been neutral. Now today I receieved one that says “I have ruined her whole life”. Growing up she wanted for nothing. Living with the best of the best. It is not like the family was left desolate either…. my now Ex-wife had substantial liquid funds to support the three of them and a good job. I now live 1000 miles away as the drama was just too much for me. How should I reply? Or should I just let it go and try to let time heal the hurt. On a side note, just last week I found out my ex was using a credit card that was in the final divorce papers, to be paid off and closed, when she, with her new super whammy boy friend (my supposed to be “best friend”, yes, that is a whole different wonderful story) have racked up almost $10,000 on the card and is not making any payments. I’m secondary on it, but its effecting my credit. I am working with an attorney to clear this up and possibly press charges. Advice? sigh….B.
Answer: Dear B.: We all deserve so much better (yes, I have been there) but often our adult children don’t know that or seemingly care. We do our best raising them but what awaits them when they reach majority is “life.”
As we all know, most of us were not mature when we legally become adults. A lot of choices have to be made and like a baby learning to walk, we fall often, as new-adults. In learning and growing, we make poor choices, suffer the consequences, get up and go on… if we do. Some simply don’t accept the “get up and go on” part.
That’s because there’s another option: BLAME. For many newly acclaimed “adults,” it’s the perfect answer. Childhood can easily be reinvented and a monster-parent(s) created that “caused it all.” There’s no need to become responsible, it’s someone else’s fault. Many things factor into beliefs and values, like peers and role models; her mother has effectively demonstrated immorality and dishonesty (your friend and the credit card), as easy solutions. There are genes floating around and personality to contend with, as well. Even our placement in the family structure affects the dynamics of character development. For most of us, when we leave home the real work is just beginning.
Your daughter may stay locked in being the victim or she may tire of it and get on with her life. I know it is very hard to see, but that’s about her, not you. What she makes of herself and her life is up to her; your job is done. So, yes, love her but also let go of any attempt to love what she is doing. Don’t try to make sense of the senseless. Step back and start enjoying post-parenting. It’s great. Blessings, Luise