Both children from my first marriage have alienated themselves from me, yet my relationship with my youngest is great. My middle son was very close to me until his father found a wealthy girlfriend and moved in with her. Their relationship had not been close until then but he was determined not to pay maintenance by attempting to influence the two children to live with him. This caused much confusion in my son who longed for his father's approval. My daughter saw through it and left. She was head-strong and manipulated me into signing a marriage consent form for her under false pretences, then up and married immediately against my advice. Her marriage didn't last and she landed up back with me. According to her, her husband influenced her to take out a restraining order against me while they were together, although I only offered advice when asked. Her husband worked for my second husband for a short period, but was lazy and rude to customers until he had no choice but to let him go, which I think was the reason for the order out of spite. My middle son stayed with us for a brief period after his father kicked him out and my son resented having to stay with myself and second husband. With the death of his father, my son decided to stay with a friend as my own marriage fell apart due to my second husband being detained in a mental institute by the police after walking in traffic on the freeway. My son's marriage collapsed ('my' fault!!!) reconciled and collapsed again permanently. I remained single for 8 years raising my youngest son, then met and married my present husband, who was stable, decent but had unresolved issues. My son borrowed money from my husband and never stuck to the repayment agreement, staying away as a result.
In the interim, my daughter had remarried, come home a second time and remarried again.
My husband and I took a transfer,leaving our house to her and her family with the option to buy it after they had saved enough. While we were gone, her 3rd husband left. We returned and were all living under the same roof. My grandchildren were respectful on the surface towards me, but there was a general bad attitude towards my husband, in spite of his generosity. The children were stealing from my purse, and the house was a mess. When I expressed my disapproval it was met with their withdrawal to the one side of the house. My husband lost his job and was understandably depressed. The tension escalated to full blown hostility until my daughter provoked a crisis and my husband left. He contacted me via the lawyers saying that he loved me and didn't want a divorce, but that my daughter and children must move out.
She was furious and accused me of 'always choosing my husband over my children' and said that I no longer have a daughter or grandchildren as her parting words. This was 9 months ago. Now we only have my youngest son as part of our lives, but I constantly search my memory for where I went wrong with the other two? My daughter initially embraced my husband as the dad she never had, but rejected him after I made the mistake of confiding in her about some of his actions as a result of his own issues.
Since they moved out and he came back, he has been kind, loving and caring, saying he realized that he needed to be more affectionate and attentive towards me. His relationship with my youngest son is stable and they stay in contact while he is at university now. I miss my daughter and middle son terribly but also recognize the negative influence their father had on them. I have tried sending text messages on their birthdays, etc. with no response. When they were growing up, their father was more absent than not, and I was the one who made sacrifices for them, held their hand through childhood pains, supported them at school, etc. Was I wrong to save my marriage, only to lose my daughter? Was I wrong to let my middle son stay under his father's roof? I always tried to set the example of kindness and compassion towards others, honesty and forgiveness for mistakes where there was repentance, loyalty and commitment to family, yet my two older children appear to disregard these, as their father did. I am heart broken over them. What should I be doing, if anything? I have helped so many other families, but am failing with my own.


Hi drgoodheart - sorry you've had a very rough time with your children and the divorce. Often in divorces, one or both parents overcompensate to please the children. Sometimes children will play both sides and often a bitter parent will badly influence the children. The only thing I can comment on is, you may have been too helpful, to the point of enabling bad/irresponsible behavior. If your daughter has a failing marriage, you can't/shouldn't continue to rescue her over and over. If people fail, they need to hit bottom and find their own way out. Its nice to help once but not repeatedly.

No you weren't wrong, in letting your husband come back and working on your marriage. Your adult children need to fend for themselves. You might want to consider getting therapy just for reassurance and support - a therapist could help you deal with the alienation and rejection you're going through now. Even couples counseling would be good. You need to concentrate of yourself, husband and the remaining adult child. Ideally parents want to raise independent children, who have full lives of their own. You can nicely tell the other adult children, you at least expect some civil contact and respect - if they can't do that, then concentrate on the life you have now. Best of luck.

Thanks Bella. Just your few words of reassurance helps to separate the logic from emotion. It's the same advice I give to patients on a regular basis. I understand the process of alienation and rejection, now to get under the hood and fix it!

What respect you expect from kids who never lived with their parents.