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Teenage Problems/My wife wants to become a Disneyland mom (what's that?)

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My wife emailed me last night saying that she wants a divorce, and he's going to become a "Disneyland mom", end of. What the hell is a "Disneyland mom?"
She has left me with our 5-year-old daughter, drove off from British Columbia to Ontario, and now, according to a friend, lives in a block of flats in hovel-like conditions, often seen wearing little other than a bikini or sports bra/sweatpants. The friend said he couldn't tell me where as she threatened him with violence if he said where.
As it is, I've always been a good dad to my daughter, and am able to look after her OK, sure there are some problems, but I have family support.

I cant understand how she can just quit; no-one else involved she says, she says she feels happy in a hovel, and even ranted "I. AM. A DISNEYLAND MOM.. WOO-HOOOO"
via email.

This situation is worrying me a lot, I need help.

Answer
Hi Simon,

Thank you for taking the time to write to me and I hope that I can help.

Firstly, I am sorry that things have been so difficult for you over the last couple of weeks; it cannot be easy to cope with a relationship break down especially when you may not have been expecting it.

I had to do some research to find out what a 'Disneyland Mom' actually is because it is something that I have never heard of at all, including the 12 years I have been volunteering on this site. It turns out that the term refers to a parent who wants to shed parental responsibility to lead a carefree life, only accessing the children to do the fun things with them and skipping over any involvement in their day to day lives or their discipline. So in effect, your wife has disappeared because she no longer wants to be involved in the day to day care of your daughter and she will probably make contact during school vacations with the intention of meeting up with your daughter to take her shopping etc. It is not fair to be a part time parent, expecting access to her child only on her terms and only for the positive things. She has left you confused, shocked and with all the responsibility of parenting on your own. It is good that you have a good family and social network to help you and I am confident that you will be able to manage to continue to be a good dad to your daughter.

Nobody except your wife will know why she has done what she has decided to do, all everyone can do is to pick up the pieces left behind. It could be that she is going through some sort of premature mid-life crisis where she has felt that either she cannot cope as a mom or that she has not had the chance to live her life because she has been bringing up your daughter. What may happen is that this dream of living the life she wants turns out to end abruptly when she realizes what she has done and that she cannot sustain her lifestyle. It could be that she comes back to reality within a couple of months and she may want to rekindle your relationship. She may be asking for a divorce now, but after the divorce, without you and her daughter in her life, she may realize that she actually has nothing positive in her life and that she has jeopardized her chance of happiness and stability. On the other hand, she may naively continue to believe that the lifestyle she is living is one that she can sustain and she may continue to lead the lifestyle for a couple of years. It sounds like she is trying to work through some kind of emotional issue that she has and to do this, she has ran off to shirk all of her responsibilities. There is no excuse for her behavior: she has left you and your daughter behind and this is not right.

What you need to consider is to begin to move on in your life with your daughter and to ensure that you and her can lead a good and happy life; even if this means without her mom being there. Stability is important for both of you and having regular access to social networks will prove important at helping you both to cope with what you are dealing with. If your wife wants minimal responsibility with your daughter and a divorce from you, then you are going to need to plan for this and for the possibility that both things may become a reality. I suspect that your ex-wife will turn up at some point or make contact regarding your daughter and it is important that if this happens that you get some answers to why your wife has done what she has done, whether or not she is making any preparations to come back and what the arrangements are around your divorce and access to your daughter. You cannot and should not, put your life on hold because of what she has done; otherwise you may end up waiting for a long time and missing out on opportunities of happiness.

The thing to remember is that although you may feel like it, you are not on your own and you should not have to deal with this on your own. If you are struggling then it is important that you seek help and support from your family and friends; even if this means that you need a few days to yourself to sort out what is happening. Do not struggle on your own and think that you have to, you don't. You've been hit with a situation that you did not expect and it is bound to have knocked you off your feet and knocked your confidence about the future. It is something that you will come through as a stronger person but you are going to need help. If you are struggling emotionally to cope then I would recommend that you speak to your doctor to see if there is anything that they can do in terms of therapy to help.

Remember, you are a good dad trying to support a daughter on your own; it is not easy but you can do it. You are trying to pick up the pieces that your wife has left behind and deal with the confusion that she has created and nobody expects you to be able to deal with this happily and on your own. Take a couple of days by yourself to think about the future and put arrangements in to place for you and your daughter so that you can both move on and if your wife makes contact, ask her for the answers that you need. You may never understand why she has done what she has (and maybe neither will she) but that's not important, what is, is dealing with the aftermath and looking out for yourself and your family. Do this and things will improve and your life will get back on track.

I hope that helps.  

Teenage Problems

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Daryl Taylor, BSc (Hons) Psychology, PGDip (pending certification)

Expertise

My expertise covers everything and anything to do with growing up, being a teenager or a young adult or being the parent of one of the pre-described. I can cover issues on identity, sexuality, love, relationships, families, drug/alcohol abuse and anything and everything in between.

Experience

I have volunteered for AllExperts.com for over ten years now, but even before that I was trying to use my experience to help others by working with Advice4teens.co.uk, Teenadviceonline.org and even Lycos and Ask Jeeves. My experience comes from being a teenager primarily but this lead me to work with young people from the age of 13. I have worked front line, face to face and over the telephone, e-mail and webchat for a government department called Connexions UK (aimed at young people aged 13-19); as well as being student counselor in New York, a Peer Mentor, a student teacher and working for my school, college and University to help raise the aspirations of young people. My life has not been easy and I have been through my fair share of issues; so there is little that I haven't been through in reality opposed to just reading it from a book or from my academic studies. I have been featured as a case study as achieving through adversity for a number of magazines and I have featured in a couple of books on both sides of the Atlantic; even though I am UK based.

Organizations
The Albert Kennedy Trust

Publications
Relationships: Cathy Senker, 2012, Raintree The Dean and Chapter Positive Nation GTEN Television Aim Higher

Education/Credentials
BSc(Hons) Psychology Post Graduate Diploma in Multidisciplinary Design Innovation Basic Counselling Skills Effective Listening Skills Mental Health First Aid

Awards and Honors
Outstanding Student achievement Adult learner's Award

Past/Present Clients
Allexperts.com Advice4teensuk.org Teenadviceonline.org lycos.co.uk askjeeves.com Connexions Direct

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