Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Child Support

Dear Danielle,

My parents separated two years ago, after 35 years of marriage. My dad left my mom, and while I used to be very close to my dad, I can't seem to let go of the anger and pain that I feel. I'm pretty distant from my dad now (although we still speak about once a week). I can't help but blame him and I'm hot/cold towards him, depending on my mood. He now wants to come and visit me (he'll stay with his cousins who live here). I don't seem to have much of a choice since when I go home, I stay with and spend time with my mom. He gets upset (rightly so). Do you have suggestions for how I can 'manage' the few days with him? I thought about getting tickets to shows and other things in advance, so we have things scheduled, but it's going to be lots of 'together' time. Do you have other ideas?


"Only Child"

Dear "Only Child,"

You don't need to put pressure on yourself that the visit with your dad will be "perfect." It is OK for you to feel uncomfortable, considering all that has happened. Instead of scheduling back to back activities when he comes, why not give him a realistic expectation before he arrives of how much time you will be able to spend with him. You should also mention to him, eventhough he is probably already aware, that you are appreciative that he is making the effort to see you but that this will not be the easiest visit for you because you are still dealing with emotions surrounding the divorce. But remember, your dad did not divorce you. He obviously still cares about having a relationship with you and is making the effort, and I applaud you that you are open to it.

Here are a few activities that you can do together that focus the discussion as to make the experience a little easier...

-Visit an art museum and see an exhibit that you normally wouldn't be drawn to.
-Go to a Jazz bar or another form of a supper club.
-See a movie. It will allow you both to just relax instead of putting pressure on conversation.
-Take a cooking class (or another type of similar activity) together.

Good luck!

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