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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5822
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Whoa...guess I'm really going to do this. Just am not

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Whoa...guess I'm really going to do this. Just am not trusting my own judgement here....divorced many years ago from the father of four of my five children, I am very happily married now for 16 years. Of course all my kids are adults the youngest over thirty.
My ex was constantly involved with other women during our marriage and also was verbally and physically abusive. He did not support the kids financially and owed thousands in support.
The kids still have a relationship with him. A couple of them more than the others but all still involved with him. To be fair he recently under went a heart issue and is 77 years old. Here is the latest heartache for me. My one daughter had a party for him to celebrate his latest birthday. Three of my kids traveled here for the party/even with the expense that they could hardly afford. I just don't know what to do with this. I feel very disrespected with this celebration of my abuser. I have coped my best till now..Please advise

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

Your hurt over the relationship your children have with their father is understandable. He was abusive and it sounds like he never took ownership of what he did and tried to make amends. He left you with the children and did not do his part to help raise them. Not wanting to be around him or see him is completely within your rights. You are under no obligation to do so, either.

However, your children see it differently. I have no doubt they care deeply about you and probably understand pretty well what you feel about your ex husband. But you have moved on with your life and they need to too. In their point of view, this is their father. Even when abused children still, in most cases, gravitate towards their parents as adults. Very few children have the ability to cut their parents off completely. And your ex may have apologized to them at sometime (they could tell you if this is so or not). They developed a relationship with him that they did not have as children. The benefits of that relationship may outweigh what happened in the past. This does not mean in any way that they care less about you. They just also care for their father.

The issue here is not so much what they are doing but how you still feel about what your ex did to you. If you have not had a chance to work out your feelings, you may still feel the same as you did when you were in your marriage with your ex. You can carry those feelings for years without resolution.

Have you considered talking with a therapist to work on your feelings? A therapist can help you pinpoint exactly how you feel about what happened to you and help you find ways to heal. It doesn't mean it won't still hurt, but it will be much more manageable and you can finally feel free from the marriage you had with your ex.

To find a therapist to help you, try talking with your doctor about a referral. Or, if you attend church, your pastor can help. Also, you can search on line at

You can also help yourself. Try some of these resources to get started:

Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuse by Ann McMurray and Gregory L. Ph.D. Ph.D. Jantz

Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence: A Workbook for Women (New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook) by Edward S., Ph.D. Kubany, Mari A. McCaig and Janet R. Laconsay

Do your best to not express your feelings to your children. You want to avoid having them feel they have to hide their relationship with their father. It is ok, however, to let them know you appreciate the relationship they have with him but they are not obligated to tell you what they do with him. That way, you have time to work on your feelings without the fear of being re injured each time you hear about your ex.

I hope this has helped you,

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you for the insite but do you really think that this was not a disrespectful action toward me?
My children do adore me as I them, we have an ongoing close relationship. Well, except for the one daughter that planned this entire event. I feel as though she has done this as a direct hurt to me...and managed to have all her sibs agree with the event. And yes, I do believe that it is more the intent of her actions that have caused this disconnect.
I do appreciate your advice....I have been very confused that I even had a right to feel this. I do think had I been consulted or informed about this, I would then have accepted it's event. I have wanted validation from this daughter and she is the one that has always somehow blamed me for the divorce.....

Thank you for the additional information about your relationship with your daughter. It helps me get a clearer picture of the situation.

It sounds like the situation is a bit more complicated. You feel that her planning the party was a direct disrespect of you because your daughter did not ask you first before she planned the party. Has there been a history of a bad relationship between the two of you? If so, then this would explain your feelings about the relationship she has with her father.

If she did plan this and intentionally excluded you, then this is more about the problems between you and your daughter. She should not be using the feelings you have about your ex and your marriage against you. If she includes her siblings, then she is trying to have it look like they are all against you. Not a good way to handle things.

Is she willing to come to counseling with you? It is probably the best way to work this out between the two of you. You can try talking with her without therapy, but if she feels hostile towards you, it may not get very far. But you can still try. If you decide to, try using "I" statements, such as "I feel the party was about hurting me" for example. Hopefully she will be willing to work this out. If not, try therapy. It will help you both settle this and become closer as mother an daughter.


TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I hope I'm not pushing my luck here with your advice but you do seem to be reading between the lines!
It's not that I expected her to ask permission from me for the party, I do think she should have been honest before hand with me. I have continued to believe that this wasn't about the ex but about my daughter. We did have a falling out a year or so ago. I/we do keep trying to work things through but she is tryely trying to replace my place with all my other kids. I do have issues with that behavior. She gave me an appointed time to meet with my other kids(it is sooo seldum) we are all together) Because I couldn't show that night, I was excluded from any of the gatherings.....
All in all it is her that is the difficult party. She has had run ins with all the others and continues to be demanding as she was as a two year old.....
Thanks Kate, for allowing me to vent...this has been a true burden to me and I have been questioning my emotions.....not something I often do. I am quite known as the one to go to with problems but this one has just thrown me for a loop!!
Of course I will give you very good feedback!!!

It is good that you continue to clarify the situation for me. I appreciate it. It is hard to see the whole picture with just the information that can be explained in a question, so the additional information helps.

Yes, it does sound like your daughter has a strong personality. It is good, however, that you continue to try to work things out with her. Sometimes it's just a matter of sticking to it and letting time move on. People mature with time and see things differently. Hopefully, this is the case with your daughter. A deep breath and moving ahead is sometimes the best option.

Try your best to stay neutral when dealing with her. I'm sure you have been doing your best but sometimes the stress can get to you, especially when she does something like excluding you from everything when you can't make it to an activity. Although you can't do much to change her, reacting the best way you can will help her see that she can't get to you as much as she'd like. It will also help your other children to see how you handle the situation so when they have the same kind of encounters with her, they can remember how you handled it.

Still, keep the idea of counseling in the back of your mind. If you feel that the relationship takes a downturn at any time, a counselor can help you overcome the problem and get back on track with each other.