Sue Ellen Jackson
Dear Sue Ellen,
I am a single mom. My daughter is 13 years old. Her dad calls her, and when she gets off the phone she is furious with me. Both she and her dad blame me for everything. Her dad left me for another woman, but it was my fault? Her Dad really wants her to come and live with him now that he is divorcing the woman he left me for. Should I let her go? Sometimes I think she really hates me anyway and he can buy her stuff that I can’t.
Was your ex-husband a bully? Can you stand up against him, or are you intimidated by him? Does he try to control both you and your daughter? Is he an angry person? Is he overly critical of you? Do you suspect that he is talking bad about you to your daughter? If you answered yes to any of these questions, I would strongly recommend that you don’t let her go.
Have you ever heard of the story about the frog that was in a pot of water that slowly got hotter until the poor old frog boiled to death? Before the boiling point, the frog could have hopped out of the pot and lived happily ever after, but the heat came on so gradually he didn’t notice. Don’t be like the boiled frog! Emotional abuse is a very real thing. Bullying, being overly critical, insulting or verbally threatening are all forms of emotional abuse. You probably haven’t thought of your ex-husband blaming you for everything as emotional abuse, but are his accusations valid?
Probably not…right? In abusive relationships, the abuser will slowly convince the victim they are: inadequate, or ugly, or fat, or stupid, or a bad parent, or a bad spouse (and the list goes on). Over time, the victim won’t even notice their sense of self boil away into steam; into the air…gone. There are always two sides to a story and broken relationships always take two people, but all too often there is the abuser and the victim. Are you a victim? Is your ex-husband teaching your daughter to be an abuser and are you teaching your daughter how to be a victim?
Could it be that your ex-husband is a loving dad that wants to build a stronger relationship with your daughter? If you truly believe that, I would suggest you consider letting her go. Sometimes the most loving thing we can do for our children is to let them go.
If you suspect your ex-husband is lonely because he is going through a divorce and wants your daughter to live with him so she can keep him company, then I would not let her go. We all have to live with our choices.
Whatever you decide, make sure you will always know you made the right choice for your daughter, no matter the outcome. If you let her go, she might hate you and if you make her stay with you, she still might hate you. Remembering that you did what you believed to be the best for her will help you through the aftermath.
I had a similar situation with one of my children many years ago, and if I had it to do over, I would have done it differently. I let myself become the frog in the boiling pot of water, and now my adult child has no desire to have any kind of relationship with me because she sees me as a burned-out old frog. Don’t let that happen to you.
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