QUESTION: When I was 3 years old, my parents divorced and my mom was given full custody of me because my dad traveled a lot with his work. That’s all I knew. I was never told the reason for the divorce and whenever I asked my mom about my dad she would just say she didn’t want to talk about it.
I’m now 23, but when I was 18 I decided to try to find my dad. It took me two years and I found him. We’ve met several times and he told me that he and mom just weren’t compatible. After several attempts to make the marriage work, he decided to ask mom for a divorce.
Mom found out that I’m seeing my father and she won’t speak to me. I love both my parents and want to have a relationship with each of them. Until I found Dad, Mom and I got along great. What can I do to reassure my mom that I don’t think things have to change between us?
~ Daughter in Limbo
Dear Daughter in Limbo,
First, let me commend and support you in your desire to honor your parents! Danny Silk shared in his book “Culture of Honor” that honor is central to creating safety by valuing differing opinions. Your desire to know your father is not uncommon among children who have become distanced from the missing parent due to divorce. My hope is that your father welcomed you and that your relationship with him is growing and thriving. Your mother’s main job has been to protect and nurture you on your journey to becoming the person you are today and it sounds like she’s done an excellent job.
My guess is that you probably don’t know the entire story and your mom’s remembrance of the events that led to the divorce may be different than those of your dad. Often, hurt people ¬– meaning her response to you – may very well come from her brokenness and feelings of sadness, abandonment, and pain – things that she’s tried to protect you from during your lifetime. The thought of harm coming to you because of someone who hurt her may be more than she can endure.
You do have some options in the way you approach her though. Scripture advises us to “speak the truth in love” in Ephesians 4:15. This suggests confrontation – a scary word that doesn’t necessarily have to be distasteful. Confronting in love involves utilizing the gifts of the Spirit that Paul shares with us in Galatians. The Passion Translation puts it this way:
“But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit. Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless.”
Perhaps you can reach out to your mom with these thoughts in mind and with the direction from Isaiah 1:18: “Come now let us reason together.” This way, you begin the process of rebuilding your relationship with your mom in truth and with transparency regarding your motives for wanting to know your dad. As you intentionally disclose your rationale, gently remind her that you didn’t begin your search to hurt or dishonor her. You will be authentically representing your need to know your dad as an addition to the story of your life, not in exclusion of all that she means to you. This discussion can be done confidently and kindly, asking her to try to understand your interest in knowing him does not preclude your deep love for her. It would be great if she agreed to meet and talk things through with you. If she’s not amenable to meeting with you, consider writing a letter to her with your thoughts. A message of this nature suggests extra care and consideration and underscores your need to find a way to reconcile.
As a mom, I can share that we want the best for our children. Sadly, we sometimes lead with our hurt hearts and create a fissure with our children without knowing how to retrace our steps and make things right. Your desire to take the lead in reconciliation with her may truly be her lifeline back to you.
I wish you clear thinking and discernment as you continue to seek a meaningful relationship with both your parents.
Be Well and Be Blessed!
Dear Daughter in Limbo,
I hope you don’t feel guilty having made the search for your biological father. What you have done is commendable and you have every right to know your father as his DNA is part of your existence.
In the body of your question one can see how different styles of communication are expressed. Your dad is open and communicative while your mother choosing, for whatever reason, to remain ambivalent and angry. As for your dilemma, children of divorced parents are at times caught in the middle and can be the recipient of pent-up anger and unresolved hurt. I hope you understand that you are not responsible for their former marital issues.
My suggestion is two-fold. Try and keep emotionally stable but, at the same time, leave the relationship door open to your mom in hopes that she can work through the problem. Secondly, you might think about writing a sincere letter to your mother expressing your love, thanking her for raising you to be a person filled with empathy and devotion. Write the letter “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).
Thank you for sharing your life and God bless you on your journey.
The Rev. Anthony Keller
QUESTON: I’ve been married twice and both of my wives died from cancer. Now to keep myself busy and happy, I’m a volunteer for several local organizations. My problem is that friends keep trying to play Cupid and, quite frankly, I don’t want a relationship nor do I have any desire to be married.
It’s not that I’m afraid. Both of my wives were wonderful souls and I feel blessed by the time I had with them. I have three grown children and eight grandchildren. I have to say family and volunteering keep me busy. Yet, even though I sound like a broken record and have told my friends repeatedly I’m not interested in their match-making, they persist. Is there a nice way to stop this interference in my happy and fulfilled life? – Busy Grandpa
Dear Busy Grandpa,
What a blessing to have had two wonderful relationships and a full family life! And, with your volunteering and friends, it’s great that you’ve created a life for yourself that makes you happy!
We all deserve to be happy. Thomas Troward, an influential voice in Religious Science – a Christian-based philosophy, said that the purpose of life is to be happy! As a minister of Religious Science, I believe it’s important for each of us to create a life that we love. We need to live for ourselves and I applaud you for doing just that at this time in your life.
Your well-meaning friends think they’re helping with their match-making.
It’s hard for some folks to understand that you’re actually quite happy without a partner right now (or again), especially since you were married previously.
One other reason they may be so persistent is if they’re all partnered and they don’t want you to feel like a fifth wheel when you’re all together. They may be concerned they’ll lose your friendship. Or is it possible that, in your desire to be kind and considerate, you haven’t actually asked them to stop? Saying you’re not interested isn’t exactly the same as saying, “I would appreciate if you stop playing matchmaker.”
Some people need a firmer “no’” to get the message.
Otherwise, the best way to handle this situation is to continue to thank them but reiterate that you’re not interested in a relationship right now. Share how much you appreciate their love, friendship and deep caring, but you’d also appreciate they accept the choices you’ve made for your life.
You may have to be a broken record for awhile longer, but it’s better than broken friendships. Smile, be grateful you have such loving friends, and stay busy doing the things you love!
With ‘Love and Light’
Rev. Dr. Ellen Faith
Dear Busy Grandpa,
Many years ago, Tony Campolo, a sociologist from Eastern University, described a study of 50 people over the age of 95 who were asked what they would do differently if given the opportunity to live their life over again. There were many answers, but three struck a chord with the majority of respondents: reflect more, risk more and do more things that would live on after they are gone.
To reflect more means to take the time to determine what really is important to you. I sense from the short description of your life and family up to now that you have come to the realization that your three children and eight grandchildren are what’s most important to you. And I certainly don’t believe you are afraid to risk more since you were willing to invest in not one but two marriages.
The fact that you are now using your time to make a difference in the community and the lives of others by volunteering in local organizations shows your investment in the future. All of these things will live on long after you are gone.
It seems to me that you are following the injunction the Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in 1 Corinthians 10:2: “Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.”
I would simply say to you that it’s your life to live in the way you feel led by God to live it. You can follow other people’s agendas, priorities and principles or you can fulfill the role that God has placed you here on earth to fulfill.
The real question is: What will make the biggest impact on the lives of those who are closest to you in the remaining years you have life and health?
As far as those friends who are being persistent in playing Cupid in your life and who think they know what’s best for you, thank them for sincerely caring for you. But let them know that you have chosen to invest in your family and in volunteering in the community. And that’s what is giving you a happy and fulfilling life today!
Blessings, from one happy grandpa to another!
Pastor Randy Foster