We were married for 17 years and have two children. Our daughter is a teen and our son is a few years younger. My son is sullen and withdrawn. My daughter spends her days furious with me and yet I didn’t cause the marriage breakup. I feel completely lost and alone. I never thought our marriage would end. We patched things up a few years ago when he was unfaithful but I can’t do it again. My daughter thinks I should forgive and forget. I beat myself up for trusting him again so how could I forget that? I feel anger from all sides. I love my children. My daughter is furious with me and my son just says nothing. I never thought I would be the target for such anger from my daughter. I am doing the best I can and feel so helpless. On top of it I am waging a text message war with both her and my soon to be X husband which is gutting me. I want my kids to love me. How do I get through this time?
Deep breath. You are in the midst of a tornado of emotion. Remember that this is one moment in time. You will get through this and things will get better. Right now everyone including you is raw with pain.
Anger is the very first stage of grief. Your daughter has many emotions swirling inside her. Although we might not realize, children often feel guilt over the end of a marriage. They try to make sense of it by blaming themselves. If only they had done better at something then this all might not have happened.
Her anger is for the most part internal. Her family is falling apart and she is feeling an incredible loss of control in the midst of it. You are also closest at hand.
She feels shame over it as well. Shame for her family being torn apart.
To begin, arguments take two. My advice is cut out the nasty text messaging straight away. No situation is ever improved by hate texts. These are all words hurled in anger.
You can even advise your daughter and your husband you will no longer argue via text. Use the messaging system for logistics of family life and keep it at that. The anonymity of texting increases the likelihood of words sent that might not be said otherwise.
Diffusing the texting will help to lower the family temperature a bit too.
Take a break from it all for a bit. In the early stages of separation it seems every day is consumed with talking about ‘it’ –the marriage breakdown. Give your head a rest on occasion. Go for a walk, take your daughter to a yoga class, take your son to a favourite place just the two of you- do whatever it takes for just of few moments of mental reprieve from the tension.
A little mental refreshment will give you a much greater chance of talking levelly and coherently with your daughter about the issue. We have all overshared with our children so be mindful of that as you talk to her.
Read her body language when you talk. Doe she fold her arms, step back and generally give you the impression she is putting up a barrier or are you seeing a softening of her position?
In those first few weeks and months of the marriage ending, it will seem like forever. It isn’t. It is a detour in your road of life. You will find the way forward.
Staying calm as much is humanly possible, staying healthy with some physical activity and looking after yourself in whatever way is meaningful to you will all help get you to a brighter tomorrow. It will also help you achieve some mental stamina to cope with your daughter’s anger.
Think of ways you can start some new traditions just the three of you. It may be movies and popcorn at home or a weekend somewhere everyone likes. This is a subliminal message that life will go on in the new family configuration.
Most of all tell your children you love them at every opportunity and hug them every chance you get. You can never love your children too much. Everyone is feeling confused right now. As you gain control so will they.
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ABOUT LINDA SIMPSON
I take strength from your calm, your honesty, and the hope you give me for my future.” Cheryl
Linda is a fresh voice in the divorce advice world. She offers a pragmatic, common sense approach to life after divorce issues based on over twenty years surviving and thriving following a very traumatic divorce.
As a single parent, her sons are an enormous source of joy in her life. She is a loving mother and grandmother to four delightful grandchildren.
She holds a degree from the University of Waterloo with concentrations in sociology and philosophy and guidance counselling certification from Queen’s University.
She is an accredited trainer for The Peace Education Foundation, a leader in conflict resolution training. The institute is ‘dedicated to educating children and adults in the dynamics of conflict resolution and promoting peacemaking skills in home, schools, and community.’
In a long and successful teaching career, she also served as a counsellor and workshop facilitator for SEL (social emotional learning) programming and The Peace Education Foundation throughout her school and school district and was a frequent conference presenter for SUNY Potsdam Faculty of Education USA.
She writes for The Divorce Magazine UK and her blog is seen regularly on Huffington Post Canada where the focus is life after divorce and parenting issues.
She is a writer and poet and is presently at work on a book based on her divorce experience.