My Mum depends on me too much. I know she is lonely. I know she feels cheated out of a life she thought was good. But she won’t stop talking to me about it. I am really sad my parents split. But my Dad is happy. He has a new girlfriend and they include me in a lot of things. He laughs and is so different from when we all lived together. I am beginning to hate coming back home to Mum. I love her but she needs to get a life.
You are experiencing something that happens to a lot of kids when their parents split.
Often there are members of the family – like you – that feel caught between the two people they love very much.
Let’s start with your Mum. It sounds to me like she didn’t expect this to happen. So there is a certain element of shock she is experiencing right now. She is also afraid for her future for any number of reasons. She might have financial worries. She might be afraid of being alone when you leave home. She probably feels very insecure about the future.
Her self esteem has taken quit a hit and she probably harbors fears she might never find the happiness your father has found. She sees you go off with your Dad and his new girlfriend and feels envious that he can offer something she can’t.
However, you are feeling burdened by her over sharing and there are a few ways to deal with it. You can begin by exerting some control over conversations.
When she starts to tell a story you may have heard several times, very gently but firmly say, ‘Yes Mum, I know that hurts. You’ve told me this story before.” Then change the conversation topic.
Likewise if the topic becomes too personal, you say gently but firmly, ” Honestly Mum , I feel uncomfortable with this topic. Let’s talk about ..then pick something that interests you both.
It is also helpful to be honest with your Dad. If he asks about your Mum, be honest. Tell him she is having some challenges. This is not said to make him feel guilty but to perhaps spread a bit of empathy. You don’t need to overshare but you don’t need to pretend either.
It is a lot to feel your Mum relies on you and there are a few proactive things you can do. You know your Mum’s interests. Look around the area to see where she might begin to get involved with others. Drop some hints.
If you feel comfortable talking to one of her good friends, then do so. Enlist their help. Perhaps between the two of you there is a plan to encourage some new activities in your Mum’s life.
You do not have to be your Mum’s counselor, but you can be her coach. As a coach you shift the focus from talking about the past to planning the future, which is much more fun. Remember that as a coach, your Mum may need encouragement to take those baby steps into a new life. It also gives you a topic when you want to change the conversation channel.
Don’t overwhelm her with options. Pick one or two things that you know will be of interest. Offer to either participate with her initially or ask one of her friends to go with her.
It is that first big step that is the hardest. Once your Mum starts doing things for herself, she will begin to develop some independence. It will also build her self-confidence.
Divorce is a shattering experience. Everyone in the family experiences the divorce in a different way. Your Mum needs to see and believe in a future. With love, support, and encouragement she can do that.
If you are in need of a place to seek some advice on a way forward during separation and divorce please write to firstname.lastname@example.org – Reaching out is the first step.
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.