Trying to reconnect with my girls after my separation/divorce

by B
(Ontario, Canada)

Hi! I'm a father of 3 beautiful, caring and loving women (23, 18, 15). Following the separation from their mother last January, they've slowly drifted away from me. I'm not sure if I'm experiencing empty nest syndrome or being alienated from my daughters, but not seeing them in the last few months (more than 5-10 minutes) is torture. It turns out that my ex is involving our daughters in all aspects of the divorce. Showing emails, lawyers letter asking her to come to the table and settle things, not involve the children, etc... I will admit that some of the emails weren't in my best judgement and I allowed my frustration to get the better of me (she knows how to push my buttons).

I've left them all in the house, while paying all the bills. I've been in and out of my parents basements while they all live in the house I've provided for them, with the mother-in-law and now the boyfriend staying over every other weekend (if not more often).

I'm glad my ex has found someone please don't get me wrong, but I've sacrificed a lot and without contact with my daughters... I don't really see the point in maintaining a comfortable lifestyle for my ex, her mother and the new boyfriend. It's been well over a year now since we've separated and she's fighting me on every front.

My lawyer is now going to force the sale of the house, so I can live. He's also warned me that this may alienate my daughters further from me, because I will receive all the blame. I've been unable to purchase groceries for myself from time to time and have been fortunate enough to have family to have helped me out thus far.

Unfortunately, they are now being made the target from the ex and her family and it's killing my parents (as they've done nothing wrong but give me refuge in my time of need). I would appreciate any suggestions or advice. I'm seeking counselling for me at this time (which is helping). I've asked my ex to seek it for her self... as she's been alienated from her father as well (there's a pattern in her family of doing this. I've seen it first hand with her mother).

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Losing my kids...
by: Sara

Dear B,

I am so sorry that this struggle exists in your family. Unfortunately, I don't believe that you are alone.

You have to talk to your girls. The challenge here is two-fold. 1...they should not be part of your divorce, and they are. This happens so often, and it is really inappropriate. 2...they are only hearing one side of the story.

I am certain that they don't think you are a bad person. They just don't know what to do, and they don't want to alienate their mother. It sounds like there may be hell to pay if she feels that is the case.

If possible, take them to dinner, or have them over for pizza and explain. Rationally, calmly, and honestly.

Tell them you don't want to slam their mother, and that is not what the conversation is about. You have much respect for her, once loved her, and wish the best for her. You would not bring any of this up to them because you recognize that it is not appropriate for the kids to be in the middle of the divorce, but you have learned they have indeed been invited into the middle of things, and you want to be certain that there is a clear understanding of what is going on.

You gave up the home, you continued to provide, and that meant that some days you had no food. If you had a choice, you would allow them to stay in the house, but you can't. (And it sounds like the mother can't buy you out.) You never want them to feel they have to choose between their parents. You recognize that such a requirement is inappropriate, and you truly want them to have a loving relationship with their mother, and you want that with them as well. (As do your parents)

Be as honest about the emails with them, as you have been here with me. Divorce is hard, and sad, and frustrating, and sometimes things are said in the heat of the moment that are unwise. Yet, your actions have been clear and consistent.

I am certain that you can take it from here. No matter their response, simply be certain they continually know you are here for them. Your steady contact over time will make a big difference in the long run.

Don't lose heart.

My very best.

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