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February 19, 2018 - Welcome Guest!

Advice » Relationships

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Not sure if I want a relationship with my parents

Question:

I grew up in a very large family and was right about in the middle of the group. My mother wasn't much of a mom. She raised championship dogs and that's all she cared about. We literally lived among dog crap, etc. She was very neglectful and somewhat abusive. My dad had a job that required a lot of travel and was gone much of the time. However, I was much closer to him. She seemed to hate me. I went to college at a nearby university and lived at home at first. When I became pregnant (another tragic, long story) out of wedlock at age 19, my mother wanted me to make some choices that I wasn't willing to make. My father kicked me out, but gave me some money for food and rent.

After being a single mom for four years, I married a wonderful man that I'd been friends with since childhood. He helped me a lot. The unauthorized sperm donor of my son did a lot of horrible things to me and it took me a long time to be able to trust a loving relationship, although my husband had been back in my life since my little boy was a year old. He accepted our son immediately and has never considered him anything but his own flesh and blood son. We have been happily married for 9 years and have 6 beautiful children, ages 7 months through 13 years.

Over the past 14 years, I've hardly had anything to do with my parents. When my dad told me to leave and not come back, I took it literally. I've seen him a couple of times over the years. My mother is a very obnoxious person and only comes around or calls if she wants money. She hurt one of my children once when I didn't even realize she'd barged into our home. I do not trust her and want nothing to do with her and will not let her come near our children. My husband absolutely despises her. However, he likes my dad a lot. I don't have a problem with my dad getting to know my kids, although he isn't around much. (He and mother are divorced now.) But, although, I know I should forgive and let it go, I have a lot of hurt where my dad is concerned over some things such as leaving us with our mother when he know what it was like for us, but mostly the way he tossed me out when I needed him the most. My husband says I should forgive him and I think that I have, but it hurts SO much and I don't really want to be around him because that bothers me. I feel SO guilty for the way I feel about my mother. I know I should honor her and my father, but I have so much hurt toward her and anger, too, and hurt toward him as well.

What should I do? I don't know that I'm ready for a relationship with either one of them. Mother says things that make it seem like that's what she wants, but she always has a different motive and I wind up getting more hurt than ever. Father has told people that I was one of his pets and that he really wants to have a relationship with me. I don't know what to do............help!

Angie (33 year-old woman) from Los Angeles, California

Answer:

Dear Angie,

I do admire people like you. Your story proves anew to me that people are not where they came from, but are able to create themselves. From being a rejected child, one of a crowd, someone your father kicked out, you became 'Mike's Loving Angel', a person contented with your family, in a long standing, stable and satisfying relationship. I come across so many people who seem unable to achieve what you have done, and yet come from much more promising beginnings.

Maybe, rather than ask for help, you should offer it to those who would love to learn your secret!

Angie, you did not choose your mother. Being born as her daughter was an accident, or perhaps an act of fate so that you could become what you are, in the way that iron turns into steel through the hell of hardening and tempering.

There is no reason why you should keep in touch with her. Divorce her as a daughter.

If you feel strongly enough, you can do the same for your father, but reading between the lines, I don't think you want that. You say your husband likes him, and my guess is that Mike is a wise fellow. He married you, didn't he? And perhaps your father doesn't come around much because he feels guilty, and because he can sense that you still bear a resentment against him. No-one likes to go where he is not welcome.

Angie, let's think about the issue in basic terms. Who sent you packing from home when you needed love and support the most? Your father, as he was fifteen years ago. Is he still the same person now? I don't know, but you can assess the situation.

If he hasn't changed, send him packing. If he has, welcome him back into your heart. The man who hurt you no longer exists, except in your memories.

'Let him who has never sinned cast the first stone.'

If you do manage to forgive him, you will find that you have lost a great boulder off your shoulder.

Have a good life,

Bob

bobrich@bobswriting.com

This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.

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