Teenage Problems/Family trouble
My mum and dad had a messy divorce that ended in my mum hating my dad. My sister and I stopped all contact with my dad as we couldn't handle the stress of going back and forth to different houses every week. But my mum randomly one day said we should call my dad and see how he is doing. Now almost 3 years later we have a proper relationship with my dad. He moved to a different city so he can see us and wants us to stay over at his house once in a while but my mum just doesn't want us to be anywhere near his house. I don't understand her. One day she will be telling me how we should spend a lot of time with him and then the next she will be yelling at me saying how I love him better than her and the only reason I want to spend so much time with him is because of money. My mum and I get in an argument about staying over nearly every other week and every time she will make me look like I'm the bad guy and make her look like she is the suffering single parent. One time she yelled at me because my dad came to my prize giving she refused to talk to me for a day. When I told my dad that me and my sister couldn't stay over he almost cried, I felt terrible. I told him if he could try and work it out with my mum but every time he did she said it was up to me and my sister which i know is true as she says it all the time. I love my mum I really do but I just don't understand her anymore. She was the one that brought my dad into our lives again, not me so why is she yelling at me about it? It's becoming really hard to try and please my mum and my dad at the same time. I have no idea what to do anymore.
Hi there Elizabeth,
Thank you for taking the time to write to me and I hope that I can help.
Divorces are never easy on the two adults involved but it is also never easy for the children who have to watch it go on. Growing up you want to have both your mam and dad in your life and for them to see you achieve and be proud. When they are absent or arguing, you also have some sense of loss that one of the parents could not be there when you would like them to be or a curiosity at how they would have been in a given situation. That said, ultimately, the divorce should only really affect your parents as it is them that have fell out of love with each other; not you and your parents. Your dad will always be your dad and it is both natural and fair that you want to spend time with him. It is good that you now see him and can have him in your life for those times when you want him the most, it is just sad that your mum is making things difficult and trying to put the guilt on you when you have done nothing wrong.
You love your dad and he loves you, just as you love your mum and she loves you, so why shouldn't you be able to see your dad? It doesn't affect (or shouldn't affect) your relationship with her and they do not really have to see each other unless they want to, so it is, as your mum has said, yours and your sister's choice: not hers. That said, I know how difficult it can be when one parent is trying to make you feel guilty about wanting to see the other one and they sometimes use phrases like 'ungrateful' and 'you're only going to him because...' and these can be hard things to hear. Your mum has no right to make you feel guilty about wanting to see your dad; she divorced him, not you. She will try though and make you feel like you are doing something wrong and that by going, somehow, it will make her look bad but again, this is not true.
I think a lot of the anger that your mum points towards you regarding your dad is because she is still hurt at the fact that she got divorced and deep down, she probably loves your dad and wished that things could have been different. Rather than admitting this to herself and admitting that maybe she was at fault in their relationship as much as she is, she turns the frustration, anger and disappointment on to you because she thinks that you may end up loving him more than her. She may feel like you are going to leave, as he did and not come back; but these are irrational thoughts that only she can deal with, not you, not your sister.
I think the best way to approach this is to talk to your mum next time you go to your dad's. Explain to her that you are wanting to go and see your dad because you want him in your life but that does not mean that you are not happy or ungrateful for what she has done for you or given you so far. Tell her that if she does keep on pushing you away from your dad then it may backfire and you may actually end up distancing yourself from her instead because she is pushing you away. Having a conversation like this may not be easy but if you can balance it out by basically saying 'i love you mum, i will always love you but he is my dad and I will always love him too', you should give her the reassurance she needs to loosen the leash and let you go without too much of an argument.
As I mentioned before at the start of this reply, divorces are not easy on anyone involved but you and your sister at not poker chips to be used to bargain with, you are young, free thinking and independent girls and you have a right to remain out of any arguments that your mum and dad may have had in the future and she needs to know that.
Have a think about what we have discussed and hopefully things should get a little bit easier and you can keep up the positive contact with your dad.