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gardenparty posted 10/7/2013 19:30 PM

I found out yesterday that my 2 daughters are going to Montreal to spend Christmas with EX, OW to whom he is now married and EX's family. EX's family did not so much as send a card to my children for years even while we were still married. I am baffled that my kids are going there and want to say something but do not want to cause a riff in our already very stiff relationship. I am at a loss on how to handle this and could use some SI wisdom.

hummingbird8 posted 10/7/2013 19:56 PM

Only to see when you could plan your Christmas with them. I believe children of all ages deserve to have relationships with both parents no matter what happened in the marriage. I understand not many people here agree with that.

So no I wouldn't complain, or make things further complicated for your relationship with them. They love their dad and want to spend time with him for Christmas.

tabitha95 posted 10/7/2013 19:57 PM

Does your custody papers have any requirements anything about traveling with the kids? I have to give written permission if ex wants to take my kids out of state.

gardenparty posted 10/7/2013 21:00 PM

I guess I had better clarify a bit. My girls are 25 and 23 now, both adults, living on their own.

Hummingbird8 : I have always encouraged them to have a relationship with their father. He had no contact with them at all for 2 years after our divorce by his choice and when he contacted them I talked them both into opening communication with him again. I am more irate because my parents who have loved them selflessly all their lives, gave them money every month that they were in university, have never missed an occasion to send them at bare minimum a card, are both in poor health and would love to see them. That they would choose EX's family over them is what I cannot understand. When I say that EX's family had no contact with them I mean nothing, not even a Christmas or graduation card.

cmego posted 10/7/2013 21:30 PM

I know my Ex and his bio Dad were estranged for 10 years. His bio Dad walked out after his parents D and didn't contact his boys for 10 years. He didn't come back into ex's life until after we were married. There were several years of reconnecting before Ex figured out his Dad is an asshole. My understanding is they are still in touch, but not close.

Regardless of everything, he is still their Dad. They still have a want/need to know him. Let them make the decision for themselves what kind of person he is.

hummingbird8 posted 10/7/2013 21:38 PM

While I understand the hurt are they stating that they won't be spending any time with you or your family? Or is it just that they are spending actual Christmas with him? Making them feel guilty because you don't agree with what they do may just strain your relationship with them further.

fireproof posted 10/7/2013 21:39 PM

I might be in the minority but I see you raised two great kids. They most likely feel because your side of the family has seen them for the holiday they feel close to members of his family and feel they should go.

They don't see things the way you do nor would you want them to fully grasp the lack of attention from his side of the family.

Take the higher road- no doubt they feel guilty for not spending the holidays with you but you don't want them to feel guilty. Let them decide and it is unfair that kids need to decide but it is what it is. Let them go freely if they want so it doesn't need to feel like Mom or Dad's family.

I would be hurt as well- take care!

homewrecked2011 posted 10/7/2013 21:50 PM

Being their age once, they probably didn't think this thru. OW and XH probably invited them and they said ok.

Could they go to your parents for Thanksgiving perhaps?

Bluebird26 posted 10/8/2013 05:46 AM

No they are adults they get to make their own decisions.

SBB posted 10/8/2013 06:24 AM

I am baffled that my kids are going there and want to say something but do not want to cause a riff in our already very stiff relationship.

I'd be putting my energy into working on the already very stiff relationship part rather than trying to tell them they are making a mistake.

They need to find out on their own whether or not their father and OW are worth having in their lives.

What can you do to nurture a better relationship with your daughters?

As a mother of 2 little girls I want you to know I would most likely feel the same way you do. But as I said I would be more concerned about my own relationship with my girls than their relationship with anyone else, X and OW included.

I went to a wedding of a dear friends daughter at the weekend. Her father gave her away. He was a POS, violent, cheating, lying scumbag of a husband and father who paid ZERO CS and did not see his daughter at all for many years. Any visitation he did have was when the girls mother paid for her daughter to fly to see him.

My girlfriend helped her arrange and pay for the wedding (it was stunning - she is an event manager). Yet there was this schmuck showing up for his kodak moment.

I am still a little early in on this so was quietly seething. I spoke to my friend the next day and asked her about it. She told me she felt the same way but her daughter doesn't and she is OK with that. It has been 20 years and she and her daughter are extremely close and she knows her daughter loves her - more importantly that love is not at all diminished by any love she has for that douchebag who is so undeserving of it.

She assured me that I would one day feel the same way.

Work on having that relationship with your daughters.

little turtle posted 10/8/2013 07:39 AM

I'd see about making arrangements to celebrate Christmas on a different day.

I remember your post from early this year and how your daughters stopped talking to you. I hope that progress has been made and things are getting better. I fear that any negative comments about your daughters visiting their father for Christmas will just undo the progress that you've made, and possibly push things even further back.

It's unfortunate that your XH's family didn't send anything to your daughters for years, but that is in the past. It's up to your girls to decide how they want to live their present/future. Maybe they have gotten back in touch recently and have developed relationships with their father's family.

Crescita posted 10/8/2013 11:01 AM

I might be in the minority but I see you raised two great kids. They most likely feel because your side of the family has seen them for the holiday they feel close to members of his family and feel they should go.

They don't see things the way you do nor would you want them to fully grasp the lack of attention from his side of the family.

This is along the lines of what I was thinking. They already feel close and secure with your family, they probably feel this is an opportunity to connect they canít pass up.

Think of it like adopted children wanting to meet their birth parents, itís not meant as a rejection of the family that was there for them, rather that they appreciate the values you instilled in them and want to share them. It's good that they still see value in family and haven't internalized the rejection.

persevere posted 10/8/2013 12:54 PM

I agree with the responses - primarily pick another day for Christmas w your family, and focus on the relationship you want with your daughters without regard to their relationship w their dad.

Of course he doesn't deserve it, but it had to be their call.

gardenparty posted 10/8/2013 19:55 PM

Strong : you pretty much nailed it with your story. I have busted my ass since my divorce to keep my kids in school and provide them with some sort of stability, maintaining a home in my home province long after they left home for school so that they would have it to return to for holidays.

As to picking another day for Christmas that is just not possible. My parents live 5000 miles away from me. SO and I just returned from a visit with them and I know they will be hurt that neither of the girls will be spending Christmas with them.

There is just such a gap in any communication with us that I do not know how to overcome without coming across as bitter about the divorce.

SBB posted 10/9/2013 07:22 AM

I'm sorry to be harsh but too bad for your parents. Maybe your girls will decide they want to do alternate Christmases from now on. They and you need to accept and respect your daughters choice here (NOT agree with it - it is not a democracy, they don't need you to agree nor do they need your parents to agree).

"Should" your girls spend Christmas with you and them. I think absolutely. I would be terribly hurt too.

But you can't control them.

I think you have it arse-about. Christmas is not your big issue. Your big issue is how to help nurture a better relationship with your girls.

Tell them you'd love to spend some time over Christmas with them whenever they are free. Leave the door open. Welcome them in. If you can't be flexible then it is what it is. Why do you expect them to bend to your inflexibility?

In case you haven't noticed I am projecting massively here.

I have another side to this. My father was a POS addict who we left when I was 10 and he OD'd when I was 17 with some horrible, nasty violent stuff before and after we left him. She didn't tell me any of it. I saw it with my own eyes. She never said a bad word about him (except for the rare outbursts of 'you are just like your father!' which still sting to this day).

My mum raised my sister and I all by herself on the smell of an oily rag with ZERO support from family or friends. I mean nobody.

She sacrificed. She did without. She had no life for herself. She worked like a dog 18 hours a day and she starved more often than I care to remember. The whole catastrophe. This caused her to exert a lot of control.

When I actually think about it I am amazed at how she did it. As a mum I can see what her motivation was. Us, her children.

I left home in a teenage rage at 17 (she was 37) and our relationship was forever damaged IMHO because of her overbearing sense of entitlement - always delivered tied up with a pretty bow, not ugly and direct.

THAT was what I rebelled about. I didn't drink. I didn't smoke. I didn't do drugs. I didn't have sex. I raged against the control. More than in your average teen-angst kind of way.

I felt/feel that there was always an implication that I owed a debt to her. That is not conducive to a very nice or rewarding relationship for either of us.

We reconnected mildly when I was about 23 and she and I rugswept all of the ugliness that had gone on.

I am 38 now and she is still in my life but I don't feel close to her. I think she thinks we are and she still tries to cross boundaries with me but I am super firm.

She has cooled it off these last 5 years because she is VERY keen to be around my girls so we each tread kind of lightly around each other.

It may sound unpleasant it is not - she is a devoted, doting and delightful grandmother.

I honestly could not wish for a better grandmother for my children. It is quite astonishing really as she wasn't a very pleasant parent.

Not because of the situation we were in because I've seen these situations bring families close. But because she resented me, us - her kids.

I don't do things because she thinks I should. The debt I owe her is too big to ever repay and quite frankly I don't remember signing up for it. I was a child. She did what she had to do. I am grateful for it but I do not consider it a debt that I owe her.

My sister is 8 years younger and hasn't spoken to my mum in over 5 years. They are completely estranged. The control was far more subtle with her youngest child but it was always still there.

I know this is an extreme case but I see elements of this a lot between mothers and daughters.

I want one of those relationships where I can talk to my mum anytime about anything and she can talk to me but we just don't have it. I never will.

Please stop focussing on Christmas and how your parents are going to feel.

That is a symptom - not the disease. What is going on? What happens when you try to talk to them? Have you guys been to therapy together?

Why is your relationship stiff? What part in it is yours?

gardenparty posted 10/9/2013 19:11 PM

Strong : I do not try to control my girls. They both went away to university right after high school (it was not an option to stay at home). They both chose their career paths and their schools with my blessing and support. They always returned home during the summer and for any extended break in school though.

Your story is very sad and I empathize with you and your family but I was very fortunate. My parents, brothers and friends have always and continue to be a huge support for me. Financially I was lucky to change careers while I was separated and I make a very good living. My life is blessed in all aspects except my relationship with my kids. I feel that they resent me for moving on. I do not in any way shape or form resent them. I worked hard to provide for them yes but am fully capable of doing so.

My youngest daughter tells my closest cousin that she feels it is her fault that my life is so awful. My life was difficult for a couple of years after the divorce but has been very good the last 6 years. Their father did say to them during the divorce that they were responsible for him leaving but they absolutely were not and I have never expressed that.

It is more like the last 2 years since they have both finished their bachelor degrees that they have disconnected from me. I would like to think that we could improve our relationship, counselling is not an issue (we live in 3 separate areas of the country).

gardenparty posted 10/9/2013 19:14 PM

Strong : shoot I just say the bottom of your post.

My part is complex. I worked in the oil patch for 5 years and overseas for 6 months, what I considered a necessary evil to be able to afford to keep them both in school. That did lessen the amount of time that I was available no doubt.

Also since they finished school I have moved to a different province because of my job and I know they both hate that I no longer have a house back home. Not trying to justify it but I am just to old for all the travel and the 12 hours a day anymore.

LeopoldB posted 10/9/2013 19:26 PM

At 25 or 23, I would jump at the chance to spend a holiday in Montreal. The kids did not cause this situation. They have lives to live. If a crazy aunt offered me a fortnight in Paris at that age, I would be her favorite nephew.

SBB posted 10/9/2013 20:18 PM

I feel that they resent me for moving on. I do not in any way shape or form resent them.

That may be the case. Have you tried talking to them about it? I know I certainly didn't react well when my mum started carving out a little time for herself. I had become very used to being her whole world, it was a difficult perch to fall off. I was a teen when it happened so it was kind of a perfect storm.

This part is mine to own. I apologised to her several years later for my terrible behaviour.

Do you think they owe it to you to NOT spend Christmas with X? Is it just Christmas or what other expectations do you have? Do you see the corner you are painting yourself and them into?

Maybe my mum doesn't resent me either - there was a time when I was convinced of it and the lack of communication and "stiff relationship" mean we couldn't discuss it and work through it. The gulf just became wider and wider.

My youngest daughter tells my closest cousin that she feels it is her fault that my life is so awful.

With hurt feelings it is not a case of who is right or wrong. Sometimes no-one can agree because perception is perception. I do think you can rebuild if both parties want to.

I'm not saying you need to change your whole life to accommodate them or put yourself out. But I do think you want a better relationship with them and perhaps they want that too.

You won't get that by imposing these expectations on them.

What do you think you could do to nurture a better relationship?

It might also just be a part of growing up and detaching from you. If you keep the lines and doors open they'll come back when they're ready.

If their expectations are OTT or if they don't get on with your SO then maybe this is just the way it is going to be.

From where I'm standing I think that is sad. My relationship isn't great but my girls are reaping the rewards of the effort my mum and I put in to rebuilding the relationship we do have. That in itself makes it worth it to me.

[This message edited by StrongButBroken at 10:56 PM, October 9th (Wednesday)]

gardenparty posted 10/9/2013 21:54 PM

I honestly don't know what I can do to nurture a better relationship. I am looking for input from people who either grew up in this situation like Strong or are themselves currently in this situation. Is it a normal part of becoming an independent adult? Is this what kids of this age do? I don't think that my SO is the issue. Both my girls have told other family members that they like him and they behave very well towards him when we are together. They are not good enough at faking stuff for me to feel otherwise.

I am hoping it is just normal pulling away as they become fully independent adults. This is why I am hesitant to say anything or over react. I cannot say I relate to their situation because my parents are still married and still love each other. I grew up with a stay at home Mom and there was never any doubt that we were loved and cared for. I can imagine that it is shitty for them to have to always make a choice between EX or myself but I cannot mitigate that.

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