DEAR KELLY: My mom is getting remarried, and I’m so sad because I know my dad still loves her. When my dad heard she was getting married, he cried and he told friends that he needs to drink hard on the wedding day so he can drown all his sadness. I want to be there for my dad because I know how sad he is. I know that if my mom wanted my dad back, he would take her and we could be a family again. But she doesn’t want it, and that makes me so sad. My dad is not a bad man but my mom met a man who makes way more money, takes her on trips and doesn’t have any children, so when they are together they do all kinds of fun things. My dad goes to work, cooks dinner, watches my little brothers’ sports. When my mom doesn’t have us, she doesn’t go to my brothers’ games because shes always busy with Matt traveling, boating or skiing or doing fun things. It makes me so mad because she forget she has children and then I see my little brothers, and they are sad too. We never do anything together just her and I anymore.
Do I go talk to my mom and tell her that she should give my dad one more chance because he still loves her and she owes it to our family? She left my dad for Matt so maybe if she was alone she would see that my dad isn’t bad and that they were happy before Matt came along. Do I tell her that too? She has only known Matt for like eight months and she’s known my dad forever. Wouldn’t you think that should count for something? I think that Matt will get bored with my mom and move on to someone younger soon, so should I tell her that and the only reason I say that is because I’ve heard other people say that about him. I want to talk with my mom and make her see that marrying Matt is a bad idea, and I don’t support it and I think she’ll regret it one day. Please help me know what to say to my mom to stop her from making the worst decision of her life.
DEAR TABI: I’m sorry you are hurting. Accepting the fact that your mom is getting remarried is hard, and it’s even harder that she seems to have moved on so fast. Loving and protecting your father is normal, but he needs other people besides you as his support system to get through this tough and painful time. Feeling responsible for his emotions doesn’t allow you to process your own feelings and adjust to the change and how it affects you.
Your feelings are very normal. Many people have a secret hope that their parents might get back together and their family unit will be whole again. When a parent remarries, that secret hope vanishes and the reality sets in that your parents’ marriage is really truly over. This can bring back feelings of sadness, loss and hurt because it means a kind of final emotional divorce.
I’m not sure there is anything you can say to stop your mom from getting remarried if she has her mind set. If you go talk with her, stopping the marriage shouldn’t be your goal. The goal should be to talk about how you feel, share your feelings and concerns and give her a chance to understand why this is so hard for you.
I’m not sure what your relationship is with your mom. If you are able to talk with her and you feel like you have good communication with her, ask to meet with her alone. If your relationship isn’t strong and you struggle with communicating with each other, perhaps you consider getting a family counselor to help you share your feelings with her. Your conversation should be about you, not your dad. Your job is not to ask her to come back to your dad or give him one more chance. If he feels that way, he can tell her but it’s not your place to be a mediator between them.
Start by telling her that you are happy for her but sad for yourself and your little brothers. Tell her you are struggling with accepting Matt because you feel like when she is with him and not with you, it feels like she has forgotten about you and this hurts. Let her know it’s important to you and your brothers that you still feel important to her and that she wants to be a part of your life, even with it’s her “off weekend.” Be understanding that she wants time with Matt but also share that you need time with her as well. Give her ideas on things she can do to make you feel connected to her and secure. Suggest dinner dates without Matt where you can have alone mom-time and get to talk freely.
Share how hard it is because it’s hard to see your family break up. Again, you aren’t trying to change her mind but rather open it so she knows how you feel. Let her know that it feels like she has moved on and you and your brothers don’t want to feel she’s moved on from you as well.
The bottom line is this: your mom is a big girl and she can make decisions for her life, even if you don’t agree with them. Being negative about her new marriage won’t stop it from happening and it could make a wedge between you and her. If she experiences regret one day, she will have to deal with it then but until that happens, you can’t control what she does. You can control how you feel, what you share with her and how you live your life. Work more on helping yourself and less trying to change her mind.
Change takes time. Be patient and gentle with yourself. There are no easy answers. Loss is hard and seeing your mom sharing her life with someone else is painful. Get a journal so you have an outlet for your feelings. Reach out and talk with a family counselor. Tell your friends you need some extra love and support. Tell yourself that no matter what, you will be OK.