Dear Amy: I’m a mom. My three children are all in their 20s. I have not spoken to my middle child in over 10 months. I’m sad about being estranged and dumbfounded as to why.
She moved nearby but is unwilling to set foot in our house. Instead, her dad meets her at restaurants each week. I’ve never been invited to see her new apartment – but he has.
Is she just separating from me – or is this a true dysfunction? I have not been a controlling or abusive parent and I’ve encouraged her independence. My husband refuses to help me bridge this gap. My attempts via text, email and calls yield very little response.
My spouse thinks it’s just fine for her to shut me out with no explanation and doesn’t think it is his place to guide a 22-year-old.
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I think he’s enabling her dysfunctional attitude. We still pay for her insurance (plus her cellphone), and she drives a car we own. Given the way she has shunned me, I want to pull the plug on all of that, but can’t get my hubby to agree. Who’s right here?
Dear Dumbfounded: The biggest problem you have is with your marriage.
It is completely normal (and healthy) for young adults to withdraw from their parents to some extent, but a total estrangement is not normal. If you truly don’t have a clue about why it developed, then you are not trying hard enough. Your unwillingness to see that you might have a part to play in this family drama doesn’t help. Have you asked her to tell you what’s on her mind? Surely your involved husband has some idea of why this is happening. Has he offered insight?
Because your husband has a close relationship with your daughter, he could help fix this. All he has to do is say, “Daughter, your behavior is hurtful. Your mother and I would like to sit down with you and talk about it.”
As it is, your husband is participating in the estrangement and making it very easy for your daughter to continue to do exactly what she is doing. And, yes, at her age, it is time to start weaning her off of some of your financial support, but (again) you and your husband need to be on the same page.
Dear Amy: I was married to a woman for 20 years. During that time she cheated on me three times, and I forgave her because we have kids together. In the 20th year of our marriage, she abandoned us and went back to her home country. She was gone for three years before returning. My kids wanted her back and so I succumbed. That was two years ago. She says she doesn’t feel emotional toward me. I have told her that we should part ways nicely (we are already divorced).
I have a new lady in my life, but she is also seeing someone else. I am now wondering if either of these women is any good for me.
Maybe I need to walk away from both of them?
—Confused and Lost
Dear Confused: Tape this on your refrigerator: If you always do what you’ve always done, you'll always get what you always got.
You will create your own opportunities by raising your standards – and by believing that you are truly worth fidelity. You should leave your ex and state to your current love, “I am a one-woman guy. I don’t want to continue to see you if you are seeing other men. If you decide you want to be exclusive, let me know. Otherwise, I’m going to have to move on.”
Dear Amy: “Sad Mom” was jealous of her daughter’s loving in-laws. You suggested that the woman invite the new in-laws to her house and get to know them. Whenever I feel myself resenting someone, I reach out. I have made good friends that way.
Dear Happy: I think your strategy is both smart and brave.