Fallout from Divorce
Dear Margo: My adult daughters have many childhood issues. Their father was an alcoholic, and I was an enabler. My ex and I divorced when the girls were in their early 20s. Since then, my relationship with my daughters can go from quite loving to not being on speaking terms. They blame me for their unhappiness. The negativity toward me includes hurtful comments and ignoring me in public — and on occasion, the younger one attacks me on the phone for all the things she thinks I did wrong as a mother.
My attempts to talk to them about their issues fail. They don’t want to hear why I made the decisions I did. Occasionally, they get mad at one another, and then each of them is closer with me. When they are getting along, their common bond seems to be not wanting anything to do with me.
The situation now is that we are not speaking. I’ve gone to counseling a few times, mostly to learn how to cope with this situation and to get a handle on my emotions. The sessions have helped, reminding me that my happiness doesn’t depend on a good relationship with my daughters. The counselor strongly recommends family counseling. My daughters have ignored my requests to do this. I don’t know how to fix this, and it’s breaking my heart. –Tired of Crying
Dear Tired: Ah, yes … children of a broken home in their 20s. I know children like yours. Their mantra is, “The world owes me a living, and whatever is wrong is all your fault.” I have little patience for this because, in your case, the girls are rejecting family counseling in favor of attacking you, and it sounds like misplaced anger in the bargain. What likely was more damaging was living in a home with an alcoholic parent.
Do you know what I would do? Stop trying to fix things that aren’t fixable. They don’t want to listen, and they don’t want to understand. They just want to lash out at you. I would follow their lead and suggest that you become the one who is incommunicado. –Margo, realistically
A 6-Year-Old Sexpot?
Dear Margo: I know this sounds nuts, and it’s not even my business. But a group of us was at a Sunday brunch, and there was a little girl there, I swear, who was a 6-year-old sexpot. How is this possible? She was crawling up on the lap of any man who sat down, and at one point, while just standing around, it really looked as though she was masturbating. When we all left, I mentioned this to my husband, who said perhaps she’d unfortunately seen some porn on TV. I do not know her parents well enough to bring this up, but I think something is really wrong with this. What do you think? — Disturbed
Dear Dis: I think this must have been a jolt to your system, and there is definitely something wrong. A child that young has no way of knowing anything about sex, even if she’d seen some porn on TV. (If she’s seen a lot of porn, that could be a problem.)
I know this may sound almost unbelievable, but there’s a good chance that some male member of the child’s family is molesting her. This is not to say that young children, even babies, don’t touch themselves, but to be that sexualized at her age means someone is having at her. If you don’t feel comfortable bringing this up with her mother (which admittedly would be difficult, even if you were close friends), I would call the family services agency in your town and just report what you saw. You will have done as much as possible to advocate for this child. — Margo, regretfully
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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dear-margo.html. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.
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