Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Your Turn: “Should I Meddle In My Parents’ Divorce?”

In a feature I call “Your Turn,” in which you, the readers, get to answer the question, I’m presenting the following letter without commentary from me:

I’m 26-years-old and need some advice on how to handle my parents’ divorce. My mom filed this past spring after two years of trying to make it work after discovering that my dad had been soliciting sex workers their entire marriage (which had problems before this big one).

My mom has been financially dependent on my dad on some level or another their whole marriage. She has not worked since the mid-90s and cannot work now because of medical problems, but won’t go on disability because she says it would limit her options too much. My dad is a successful businessman and continues to reap financially from business ventures.

While I don’t have the details, my mom is angry because she does not believe my dad’s settlement offer is generous enough and that she will be left “destitute” and won’t be able to afford renting a suitable apartment in the area I grew up (which is pricey). Somehow writing this does not convey how angry, scared, depressed, upset, and worried she is. Suffice it to say she is FURIOUS at my dad and earlier this year was suicidal. When she was suicidal I reported it to her physician which made her livid at me and told me she could never trust me again.

According to my mom, my dad can’t seem to admit that he is the reason their marriage imploded (his argument is that she gave up on counseling and is the one who filed) and I’m sure if I were to talk to him about it would believe his offer is more than fair. When he and I talk we NEVER talk about the divorce, and it is a very stilted, superficial conversation. We talk maybe once a week.

So my question is: DO I talk to him about what is going on? My mom does not want me to, and I’m afraid of going behind her back again. I’m conflicted because as their daughter I know it is probably wiser to stay out of it. But as an adult, I (think) there is a huge injustice happening. I say I think because I know that neither of their versions of what is happening is the truth, but that the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.

Readers, what would you do? I might add that because of my dad’s history I am VERY uncomfortable around him and grew up afraid of him because of his frequent yelling at my mom. He also has a new girlfriend (whom maybe he’s not cheating on? Who knows; we never talk about that either). — Stuck in the Middle

82 comments… add one
  • avatar

    silver_dragon_girl November 14, 2011, 3:09 pm

    Ugh. My parents separated for a while when I was 20. Stay out of it. Stay out stay out stay out stay out stay out. Do not pick a side, do not cross Go, do not collect $200. Like you said, there are two sides here, and you will never be able to get/see/understand the “whole” story because you’re going to get each side, separately, through the distortions of pain, anger, betrayal, and guilt.

    The one thing I will say is that if you want to build a better relationship with your dad, start now. You don’t have to talk about the divorce or his new girlfriend, but maybe just try to get to know each other better? The longer you go on being distant the harder it is to fix that. Of course, if you don’t want to ever be close to him this is a perfect opportunity to drift farther away.

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    Carolynasaurus November 14, 2011, 3:10 pm

    Since I have no legal background what-so-ever, I would suggest talking to a lawyer about the situation before you do anything. From the sounds of it, the divorce isn’t finalized yet. If you chose to talk to your father about the settlement on behalf of your mother, I’d have to imagine that things would get very messy very quickly.

    The most diplomatic solution would be to take the strategy you currently have with your father (just ignoring the divorce) with your mother until everything is finalized. But if you feel you need to make a statement to the courts in favor of your mother after talking to a lawyer, just realize you have pretty clearly picked sides and your father may take it very personally. Tread carefully here and make sure to talk about your actions with someone before you do anything.

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    AKchic November 14, 2011, 3:17 pm

    First off – you were right to report your mother’s suicide risk. Do not ever let her guilt trip you into thinking that you were wrong. If she ever tries to again, ask her how she would feel if the roles were reversed and YOU were the one contemplating suicide.

    If your mother doesn’t have an attorney, she should get one. Especially if she doesn’t think she is being adequately provided for in the divorce settlement.

    Having said that; I do not think that a divorce settlement is a lottery winning ticket. If your mother has no intention of joining the workforce due to her medical problems, and does qualify for social security disability benefits because of it, then yes, she SHOULD be applying for it. The sooner the better, otherwise she may end up getting penalized for filing late due to new regulations later on. Or, new laws may come into effect and she won’t BE ABLE TO file for any until she’s a certain age, but if she has already filed, she can get grandfathered in.
    A divorce settlement is not a guarantee of a fortune, or the guarantee of the same living status that a person has always had. Your mother needs to realize that life HAS changed. She may not be able to live in the same swanky neighborhood anymore and will have to adjust to accommodate that. Your father probably won’t be able to live there either, and will probably move away. A neighborhood is not a conquest.

    You need to stay out of this. It’s not your business. You are not the advocate for your mother, nor the mediator for your parents in this. I have no doubt that you are probably disgusted with your father, and angry at both of them – but remember – you are supposed to be the child of them, and as you said – you don’t have the full story from either of them. Your mother wants to play the victim, and your father wants to keep you out of it (rightfully).
    This was their marriage, and is their divorce. Stay out of it.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest November 14, 2011, 3:36 pm

      Best advice. Totally agree on all points.

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    • Lianne

      Lianne November 14, 2011, 3:37 pm

      Well said on all accounts. You are still your parents’ child – you should not be put in the middle of this situation. And don’t feel guilty if your mom tries to make you her shoulder to cry on and you say no. Instead, encourage her to seek counsel from other people in her life – a sibling/cousin/friend/etc. It’s not your place and you shouldn’t be made to feel that it is!

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    • avatar

      Anna November 14, 2011, 4:02 pm

      I completely agree with you. While I kinda think (based on the info presented) that the father sounds like an asshat, going through a bad marriage to a not-so-good guy does not entitle you to a big fat payday. If the mother does not plan to get a job or apply for disability benefits, she is making the decision to not be able to live in her dream neighborhood. It is 2011, women blaze their own trails these days instead of waiting for a man to do it for her.

      I am also wondering exactly how disabled the mother is. Physically? Mentally? Unless it’s something pretty severe, I bet there’s some job she could do. I get paid $13.80/hr with full benefits to sit my ass down in a call center and take phone calls about car rental insurance. My job requires absolutely no physical work and very little mental work (seriously, a trained monkey could do it). It’s not exactly fun or rewarding but it pays the bills and keeps food on the table while I continue to look for my real career calling. Maybe the mother isn’t getting a job because she (understandably, don’t get me wrong) just doesn’t want to work and isn’t applying for disability because she knows she won’t get it.

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      • avatar

        oldie November 14, 2011, 4:33 pm

        Huh? Sounds like Mom is a little old and in too poor health to be blazing he own way. New age or not, she is entitled to half of the family assets in most states and to reasonable, at least transitional, alimony in many states. She should consult a lawyer to fight for her rights, rather than having you or others consider how big a ‘handout’ she deserves from her ex in the modern world. LW should insure that her Mom has good legal representation and a good counselor and then butt out of the specifics. This doesn’t mean she shouldn’t provide moral support, companionship, and a shoulder to cry on. It does mean she should not openly take sides between her parents. It sounds like her mother is not seeking more involvement from her. Also sounds like Mom is depressed.

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        lets_be_honest November 14, 2011, 4:50 pm

        No child should be the “shoulder to cry on” for the parent.
        I think you’re missing the point about the mother refusing to get a job AND refusing to go on disability. Of course, she should and most likely will receive what is due her as to assets from the marriage. There are laws that take care of that.
        However, the “transitional alimony” will stop eventually, and as it should. Whose job is it then to provide for mom financially? Its mom’s. No one else’s. Just because she doesn’t want to work and hasn’t had to while presumably raising her kids (lucky her!), doesn’t mean that’s a good reason! Not to sound obnoxious, but newsflash, I don’t want to work either and I’d bet my last dollar that just about everyone on here doesn’t either. We still have to though.

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      • avatar

        oldie November 14, 2011, 6:04 pm

        I’m sorry you don’t like working, but according to LW, her mother has worked, but is no longer able to work for ‘medical reasons’. Somewhat different, no?

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest November 14, 2011, 6:14 pm

        Seriously? That’s what you took from my comment? Well thanks for your bitchy response to my logical and not nasty comment. Are you of the position that the mom is right? She should not be responsible for herself? Ever? The woman hasn’t worked since the mid 90s because of some supposed disability yet won’t go on disability. Do you really think her soon to be ex should bear the responsibility of providing for her for life because she can’t and/or doesn’t want to work? Welcome to 2011, it’s not 1950 anymore. People are responsible for themselves. Notice how I said people and not just women?
        PS I don’t love my job and that’s ok. It’s good and pays the bills, you know, paying bills being the purpose of having a job.

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        oldie November 14, 2011, 6:40 pm

        I just think you are being very harsh and hard hearted. I hope if your mother was in the shape that LW’s Mom seems to be in, that you would help her, despite her needing help at a much younger age than you ever expected. You never know. There are people who develop Alzheimer’s in their late 40s.

        It appears that LW is of the opinion that her mother cannot work. Doesn’t refuse to work, cannot work. It would be nice if everyone were independent and able to take responsibility for themselves, but that just isn’t the case. In a perfect world, all parents would be independent and self-responsible until at least their late 70s, just as all children would be sane, physically fit, and employed at sufficient gain that they don’t have to move home with Mom and Dad. We know that isn’t always the case, either, and a lot of Moms and Dads are sacrificing retirement savings to keep their twenty- and thirty-something kids afloat. Not what they signed up for, but they love their kids. Mom needs daughter’s help. A shoulder to cry on may be unpleasant and awkward, when the party being cried about is her father, but it isn’t an impossible request. If it’s your mother, you should try to help as best you can. I don’t get the sense that the mother is playing the victim. LW suggests that she truly is depressed and suicidal, not that she is playing at it to be the martyr. I suspect Mom would love to be able to handle this a lot better than she is. Likely, she can’t.

        LW’s Mom needing help has nothing to do with her gender. She was the dependent spouse. She worked. Now she is no longer able to. My guess is she is mentally ill. Her ex-spouse seems well-set financially. He married for better or worse. That he cheated, while not great on his part, is neither here nor there. She needs his financial help.

        Nothing in letter suggests that LW’s Mom wants to move in with LW, have LW take care of her, support her financially, etc. I’ll admit, Mom’s judgement seems clouded by bitterness, possibly by her illness. It is frightening not be able to be responsible for yourself.

        As to your comment on mental illness, yes it is possible to not believe you are mentally ill and be so mentally ill that you are incapable of working or much else. We have one such in the family.

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        AKchic November 14, 2011, 7:03 pm

        At this point, we don’t know what the particulars are on the illness that has kept dear old Mom out of the workforce. It very well could be a mental disorder, or it could be some physical ailment.
        The fact that she isn’t on disability has a lot of us questioning the validity of her claims. There are plenty of folks out there who say they have a disability, but when it comes down to it, it’s not a disability. They have a medical problem, a physical issue, a mental issue, but by true definition, it’s not a disability. A hindrance to a small aspect of their life, maybe. It’s only a disability to the person when it’s convenient to them, because it’s USEFUL as a disability for SYMPATHY.

        I know we don’t want to think about that right yet, but it is possible. Especially if depression is involved. Depression actually makes pain feel worse, so if it’s a pain disorder (fibromyalgia or something similar), that could be an issue. It’s funny, pain makes us depressed, and depression makes us hurt worse – terrible cycle.

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        lets_be_honest November 14, 2011, 7:04 pm

        Groan. I’m guessing if mom had Alzheimer’s, the LW would’ve said that. Yes mom is probably depressed. I would be too if I found out my husband were getting prostitutes. That doesnt give her a pass at being a responsible mother or woman. A responsible mother would not tell their kid details like that or put their kid in the position this one has. It’s disgraceful. You seem to think I would not care for my mother in any situation and you’re wrong. Of course I would care for her. Theres a big difference between being a loving and compassionate child and what you think is appropriate. You might notice how everyone on here thinks the mother’s actions have been wrong (except you). I
        Its beyond me how you can say they married for better or worse and therefore after divorce he should still provide for her as he always has. Do you not understand what divorce is??
        Finally, your last point again makes no sense. She admitted to being too disabled to work. You cant be in denial about being disabled while admitting being disabled.

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        Addie Pray November 14, 2011, 7:30 pm

        You know, I don’t think the mother’s actions have been wrong – I don’t think we can tell from the letter. All we know is that the LW is aware of her mother’s sadness, anger, depression, etc. The parents are going through a nasty divorce; I’m sure *everyone* knows that the mother is sad, angry, etc. When I re-read the letter, what jumps out to me more than anything is that this is all about the LW’s feelings. It’s the LW who is worried about her mom; it doesn’t say the mom is throwing LW in the middle of things or anything of that nature. (The only thing the LW said is that her mother got mad when she told the doctor about her suicidal comments… ok, I don’t agree with the mother’s actions on that issue.) But look, LW says her mother wants her to stay out of the settlement negotiations and not approach her dad about it. I think as the child the LW is going to worry. I worry about my parents – well my mom; my dad died 4 years ago – I worry about their happiness, their health, their finances…. that doesn’t mean they’ve ever made me to feel responsible or to carry more burdens than I should. I think from this letter we really shouldn’t assume more than just that – the the LW is worried for her parents as any child would be.

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        sarah November 14, 2011, 7:38 pm

        The fact that he LW knows all of the seedy details of the divorce is what tells me that the mother has been way too selfish in how she’s confided in her daughter. That’s not even considering how she was livid with her daughter for trying to help her not commit suicide. That is just so hard to forgive to me. To not only inflict the deep permanent wound on a daughter that her mother was willing and ready to kill herself, but to also BLAME that daughter for helping her…..I just can’t get over that. No mom should be able to put that on her daughter.

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        Addie Pray November 14, 2011, 7:42 pm

        This “to also BLAME that daughter for helping her…..I just can’t get over that” – I agree; that was pretty bad.

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        lets_be_honest November 14, 2011, 8:29 pm

        I agree with you on your bigger point, BUT the mother told her daughter she was suicidal. That is wrong. If she was ok enough to acknowledge that, she should’ve spoken to someone else or a doctor. Don’t put that burden on your child. And THEN go even further and tell her not to do anything about it. It’s wrong.

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        ForeverYoung November 14, 2011, 8:50 pm

        I totally agree Addie Pray. I’m not totally sure where the mom bashing is coming from. The suicide situation was over the top, but to be depressed after such a hard divorce is understandable. I think she needs to start taking responsibility for her own depression and get herself some help – but other than that I don’t think she is that crazy. I think the LW more just wrote in out of concern – her own concern – for her mom, which is this situation is understandable.

        I just don’t think it’s constructive to bash the Mom here, clearly that’s not what the LW is looking for. She wants to know how to help her Mom.

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        Addie Pray November 14, 2011, 8:25 pm

        I just want to announce that tomorrow, when I feel the urge to comment or simply hit refresh, I’m going to get out of my chair and do 10 crunches. I think it will be good for me.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest November 14, 2011, 8:34 pm

        🙁

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        sarah November 14, 2011, 7:07 pm

        Oh for goodness sake, lets_be_honest couldn’t be any sweeter! Your version of hard hearted is everyone else’s version of realistic.

        Let’s go ahead and try to work through the ginormous pity party you threw for LW’s mother (you gave her Alzheimer’s in her 40’s?? That’s what you’re going with? Why are you trying to assume the worst for the sake of garnering her potentially undeserved pity?? The woman could have carpal tunnel syndrome and you’re already writing her eulogy.) and look at the meat and bones of the matter.

        LW’s mother feels she cannot work. When people cannot work, they get disability. LW’s mother doesn’t want disability because it will limit her options. …What options? The option of working, which she says she can’t do anyway?

        LW’s mother wants money from her ex husband. LW’s mother is not taking the money LW’S husband is giving her because its not enough to live on….in a pricey area, which is to say that she could definitely afford a different area. Especially with disability, which she wont take. Of course.

        LW’s mother is depressed and suicidal. LW’s mother is offered a physician by her loving daughter but that is BAD BAD BAD because physicians stop people from feeling suicidal. And that is a bad idea to make her feel better apparently.

        Noticing the uh, unsolvable crisis loops LW’s mother has created. You know why people ignore solutions to problems? Because it makes them go away.

        BTW, I don’t care how you write it, NO DAUGHTER DESERVES TO FEEL THE WEIGHT OF RESPONSIBILITY OF HER MOTHER’S MENTAL HEALTH AND SAFETY. It is wrong for a mother to do, especially when she has other options presented to her.

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        lets_be_honest November 14, 2011, 7:12 pm

        Ok good, it’s not just me! I actually snorted when reading your first bit about the eulogy.

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        sarah November 14, 2011, 7:39 pm

        My eyes almost rolled in the back of my damn head.

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        Addie Pray November 14, 2011, 7:47 pm

        P.S. My addiction to Dear Wendy is at an all-time high. I got to cut back. Maybe if I ate a carrot every time I felt the urge to hit refresh…. it could be a win, win.

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        Anna November 14, 2011, 8:20 pm

        No, you were not being hard-hearted at all. You were being honest (I guess that’s how you chose your screen name huh?). People tend to confuse that these days. If you don’t believe everyone is entitled to a cushy effortless life, you are being mean. I joined the American workforce at age 15 and probably won’t be able to retire until I’m at least 70, but that’s called life. We do what we have to do to fend for ourselves.

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        Addie Pray November 14, 2011, 7:40 pm

        Re this: “NO DAUGHTER DESERVES TO FEEL THE WEIGHT OF RESPONSIBILITY OF HER MOTHER’S MENTAL HEALTH AND SAFETY” – I don’t completely agree. I think it’s one thing for the mother to hang on her daughter and throw her in the middle of the nasty divorce – which I feel is how a lot of commenters view this situation – and I agree, that’s not right. But I think children should take on responsibility to care for aging parents or parents with health isues, etc. There’s a “every man for himself” attitude in our culture that discourages kids from taking on responsibility for our aging parents, and, well, I don’t like that. I wish people had more empathy for the complex emotions the elderly must feel as they age and lose their mental and physical strength. … I don’t think we can quite understand how hard that is.

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        sarah November 14, 2011, 7:47 pm

        When the 60 year LW wants to know whether to put her aging mother in a nursing home or have her live with her, I completely agree with you. But if a woman is intentionally refusing help that would ease her young daughter’s mind? No. That is not about being mentally incapacitated or not, that’s about actively looking to give up responsibility at the risk of damaging her relationship with her daughter.

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        ForeverYoung November 14, 2011, 9:07 pm

        Sarah – I guess my thing is here is that we don’t know that the mother is putting this all on her daughter – it seems like she is taking it on herself – and I feel like that’s a big difference.

        My Dad is retired and my mom only worked until my brother was 2 and then was a stay at home Mom. She had an in home day care while we were growing up so she made some money, but not enough to support herself if she had had too. Once we were grown up she would take on odd “hobby jobs” as I liked to refer to them. But the whole time he was working as an engineer she was at home. If he divorced her and didn’t want to support her I would be terribly upset with him. To undervalue her work as a stay at home mom is extremely insulting. She missed out on advancing in the work force…she would not have any work experience that would make her attractive to employers, even though she has a 25 year old accounting degree.

        I just think it’s a little harsh that he was able to become successful partly because of her efforts to take care of everything else around the house (this is an assumption obviously) and now he doesn’t want to support her? I would feel differently if they were only married two years – but the daughter is 28 so I can only assume they were married for 25+ years.

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        oldie November 14, 2011, 9:51 pm

        I’m not saying LW’s Mom has Alzheimers. I’m trying to respond to the Ayn Randian view of some that everyone can be responsible for themselves and that parents should never cry on a child’s shoulder — even a 26-year old adult child. If I had to guess, I’d say Mom has schizophrenia, bipolar, or a combination of the two. It doesn’t matter. She is at a point where she needs daughter’s sympathy and daughter wants to give it. Many are casting Mom as being manipulative, wanting to play the victim, not really being too disabled to work, imposing on daughter.

        The LW says none of that. LW says she wants to help Mom, would like to do and be more involved than Mom is comfortable with. LW confirms that her Mom is too disabled to work. LW also wants to get involved because she thinks the offer from her father is unjust. Not that her Mom is money-grubbing and expecting to unfairly live like the Queen, while Dad slaves away. LW does not mention that Mom has a lawyer. If not, I think the husband likely is trying to take advantage.

        People seem to think it awful that Mom is upset that LW told doctor she was suicidal. Yes, that is extremely tough for LW. I’ve seen that up close. The greatest fear of many mentally ill persons is being involuntarily institutionalized. They fear it with the intensity of some criminals who push the police to shoot them, because they don’t want to go back to prison. The mother’s reaction to the LW’s notification is likely from that source. LW absolutely did the right thing in talking to doctor, but the mother isn’t going to appreciate it.

        Some say the Mom shouldn’t tell adult child why they are getting divorced. The innocent party who remains silent risks being vilified by a lying guilty spouse. I think a 26-year old can handle a mention of the truth.

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        ape_escape November 15, 2011, 3:20 am

        schizophrenia?

        because (according to the LW) she’s depressed? I’d be [email protected]#$%^@^ing depressed too if my husband of 20-25 years was having sex with prostitutes.

        I mean, I’ve been reading through these comments, but…HUH? so, I mean, I didn’t say Alzheimer’s, but I AM saying schizphrenia/Manic depressive. s’ok guys. totally cool.

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        Addie Pray November 14, 2011, 7:25 pm

        On the issue of alimony, I know the concept of alimony frustrates some people because it appears the ex-wife (I say “wife” because in the olden days it was more likely than not the wife who received the alimony; but it certainly can be the ex-husband) is getting a windfall. While we slave away at our desks, that ex-wife is out getting a pedicure – at NOON – on a Tuesday!!!!! Not fair.

        But keep in mind all those marriages where the husband and wife decide one parent will work and one will raise kids. Yes, it’s a luxury to be able to afford for one parent to stay home – a luxury to both, not just the stay at home wife – but I don’t think that means, in the event of divorce, it’s the stay-at-home parent who must suffer the fallout. It’s a simple breach of contract issue. The stay-at-home parent agrees to forego the work experience while the working parent continues to hone his skills, garner experience, etc. so that, when they divorce 20 years later, he’s in his prime work-wise. The ex-wife who has taken care of the home for the past 20 years? She can’t get the same type of job as he can get.

        In this case, LW’s parents were together a long time and the mother didn’t work. Her reasons for not working are of no concern to us – it’s the deal she and her husband made for their own personal reasons. Now they’re divorced. And now she for medical reasons can’t work. I hope she gets alimony – which she will – and I hope it leaves both the mom and dad in an equal position.

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        lets_be_honest November 14, 2011, 8:33 pm

        I agree with the idea of a stay at home mom being a job in itself. Absolutely. BUT, the fact is that privilege ends when the divorce comes, and yes, it’s a privilege for both parents. Once the divorce comes and alimony ends, it’s not up to the ex/father to maintain financial security for the mother.

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        ForeverYoung November 14, 2011, 9:09 pm

        But then how do you account for the 20 years of work experience that he has that she does not? I think they should remain equal after the divorce.

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        lets_be_honest November 14, 2011, 10:16 pm

        I didnt they shouldn’t. Equal division of assets, definitely. Those don’t continue forever though, which is where alimony comes in. The mother is saying that she won’t be able to live at the same level even with that it seems. Look at it this way-you have a million dollars and you and your husban split. Then you each have $500K. They are both in lesser but equal positions at the end of the marriage. The ex doesn’t just have double all of a sudden for them to both maintain their lifestyle per divorce. I know this is all obvious but when you hear it that way it does seem more obvious. My issue is all over this page, but I agree that she should get equal in the divorce. I said it before too that the stay at home mother provides just as much as a bread winning father.

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        Addie Pray November 14, 2011, 10:18 pm

        I can’t remember what we’re talking about.

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        Addie Pray November 14, 2011, 10:03 pm

        “That privilege” – what privilege? There is no privilege. There was just the agreement between spoues that he would work and gain skills and knowlede and advance in his industry and she would take care of the kids and home and they would share the income…. that ended, so split it – “it” being the marital assets … and she gets a share of his income. Come on, boo, you gotta admit from a legal perspective the necessity of alimony?

        Fuck, I was supposed to eat a carrot or do crunches instead of commenting. No, that starts tomorrow. Tomorrow, I’m going to drop 10 pounds.

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        Addie Pray November 14, 2011, 10:04 pm

        ps, yes, i just called you “boo.”

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        lets_be_honest November 15, 2011, 7:47 am

        I shouldn’t have used the word privilege. I meant it in the sense that I consider families who are able to have that situation very lucky. I’m not saying the mother didnt contribute because she raised her kids while he worked. Not at all.

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      Riefer November 14, 2011, 6:30 pm

      “A divorce settlement is not a guarantee of a fortune, or the guarantee of the same living status that a person has always had.”

      Exactly. It sounds like the mom thinks she’s entitled to more because the dad was a sleazebag and cheated on her. Well, that’s not the way it works. Unfortunately, you’re the one stuck listening to her complain about it. If she has a lawyer, she should be complaining to him. If they’ve decided not to do it through the courts, then maybe they should consider arbitration. It’s cheaper than going through the court system, but it still gives them help negotiating with each other.

      If she doesn’t want to do either of those options, then I don’t see what else she can do other than accept his offer. Is she complaining to you in the hopes that you’ll talk to your dad and get him to give more? If so, you should make it clear that you’re not going to speak to him about it, and that it’s up to the two of them to sort it out.

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  • Budj

    Budj November 14, 2011, 3:17 pm

    Tough situation, LW.

    My fair and balanced advice is to just stay out of it and try to have separate relationships with your parents. Your Mother never should have been crying suicide to you if she was being facetious (as her anger would imply for you “ratting her out”) and I would also request to my Mother that she stop discussing the details of the divorce with me (if it were me).

    I should confess that wouldn’t be enough for me….I would be curious to know what the settlement offer was and compare it to the cost of living where your Mom would want to live. There is a lot of gray area in what would be acceptable – as long as he isn’t shafting her with the settlement payments I would just let it lie.

    You only have an interest in asking because your Mom is making a huge deal about it. Which either means your father is doing wrong by your mother ( which I would talk to him about ) or that your mother is slandering your father ( which I would talk to her about ). The fact she hasn’t mentioned how much it is, but still wants to apparently give you every negative detail about the settelment makes me question how bad the situation really is for her. If it is worth it to you I’d talk to your Dad about it – perhaps in general terms (like cost of living in the area you grew up) and not a quantitative value – so he doesn’t view it as too nosey.

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    bethany November 14, 2011, 3:26 pm

    I agree that you should stay out of it. I have no direct experience with divorce or with parents like this, but I can tell you that nothing good will come of you getting directly involved.

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    callmehobo November 14, 2011, 3:27 pm

    NO. Don’t meddle. I repeat- DO NOT MEDDLE.

    It’s not your job to play lawyer or therapist for your parents. It’s also kind of not fair for your mom to be complaining about her divorce to you.

    I’m thinking it may be time to distance yourself. You sound like you’re close to your mom, but she does NOT sound like a good influence in your life right now. Your first responsibility is to your own mental well-being- and if you are this conflicted, you need to take a step back.

    Your parents are both adults, and both are fully capable of taking care of themselves- even your mother. You’re probably feeling conflicted right now (who to believe, issues with your dad) and that is normal- but it is not ok for your mother to try and convince you to “take a side”. Only you can decide how much of a relationship you want to maintain with each parent.

    Take a step back, and stop letting your mom drag you into this divorce muck (Also, your dad isn’t being “superficial” about the divorce- he’s being appropriate and respectful to you by NOT discussing details). Tell her that if she wants to bash on your dad, she’s going to have to talk to someone else. It probably wouldn’t hurt to reduce contact with her, not ice her out or ignore her, but limit interactions to healthy, constructive meetings.

    Finally, it may help to talk to a counselor. I know that everyone on DW is big on therapy, but it sounds like your mother may be manipulating your feelings about the divorce, and a counselor will help you discern your mother’s opinions of your father from your own views on him. It also might help you gain some perspective on this whole situation. Good luck, LW.

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      lets_be_honest November 14, 2011, 3:38 pm

      Yup. I’d also tell mom that you do not want to be involved in it at all. Make it clear to her.

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    GatorGirl November 14, 2011, 3:30 pm

    You should not get involved. They are the one’s who got married, they are the one’s who are getting divorced. If your mother doesn’t think she is getting a fair offer, she needs to stand up for herself. Tell her to hire a lawyer, she may even be able to get some pro-bono work because she is disabled. This is not you mess to clean up. (Unless your mother’s disability impairs her mental capacity- if that is the case I would say go ahead and dive in). Your mother is going to have to make some adjustments to her standard of living if she refuses to go on disability, she needs to suck it up.

    And, from my mother’s experiance, don’t let your mother convince you to let her live with you because of her financial situation. That happened in my family a few years ago and the 11 months my grandmother lived with my mother drove them both crazy.

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    lets_be_honest November 14, 2011, 3:35 pm

    I’m confused as to what she’s being limited by if she were to apply for disability. She already has no intention of working.

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      mcminnem November 14, 2011, 3:46 pm

      Yeah, I wondered about that too. What options is she limiting, exactly? That only really applies if you’re looking for job opportunities.

      Or dating options? I don’t even want to think that, but I just did. Shame on me.

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        Addie Pray November 14, 2011, 3:57 pm

        Does a handicap sticker come with applying for disability? That’d be a perk on dates. (So long as we’re brainstorming the benefits here…)

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        AKchic November 14, 2011, 4:32 pm

        No. A doctor fills out paperwork for you to be able to get a handicap placard from the DMV. No other gov’t intervention needed.

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      Addie Pray November 14, 2011, 3:54 pm

      I think the issue is she’ll have a record of a limitation … and a potential employer could reject her application because she is unable to perform an essential function of the job. But of course, if she truly has a disability that prevents her from performing an essential function, then I would assume she wouldn’t be applying for that position…. So I’m a little unclear about this logic too.

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      oldie November 14, 2011, 4:35 pm

      Might reduce alimony. Might not want to consider herself disabled and be rebelling against that label. Being disabled need not be a bar to working, in any case.

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        lets_be_honest November 14, 2011, 4:56 pm

        Might reduce alimony? While I’m not sure whether that’s true or not, lets say it is. So mom should now cheat the husband (or the system?) because she doesn’t want to receive less alimony because she is in fact disabled? None of this makes sense to me.
        She’s either refusing to work and blaming it on a false disability, planning on cheating the ex out of more $ because she’d rather take his $ than what she actually deserves from disability or expects her daughter to provide for her.

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        oldie November 14, 2011, 5:13 pm

        I’m not saying it’s right or sensible, simply suggesting why it might be. It also might be that the vaguely referred to ‘medical problems’ in the letter might be a mental health issue. Many people are reluctant to acknowledge, let alone accept the label, of a mental disability. They feel it can lead to losing control over their own affairs, being involuntarily institutionalized, or simply being discounted.

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        oldie November 14, 2011, 5:14 pm

        Plus a symptom of a lot of mental illness is not recognizing that you are, in fact, mentally ill.

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        lets_be_honest November 14, 2011, 5:17 pm

        She’s apparently disabled enough that she knows she cannot work. So she is, in fact, recognizing that she has a disability, whatever it may be.

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        lets_be_honest November 14, 2011, 5:18 pm

        Right, I wasn’t implying you thought it was right or sensible.

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        ForeverYoung November 14, 2011, 9:11 pm

        Why are you so convinced she is trying to cheat him out of money and he’s not just being a cheap skate here? That’s a huge assumption on your fault. Maybe she rightly has a reason to be pissed.

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        AKchic November 14, 2011, 5:48 pm

        I haven’t heard of SSDI payments ever reducing the amount of alimony a spouse would get. SSDI payments would have been there had they divorced or not, and would not have affected the amount of income the husband brought home.
        Alimony is usually paid out for X number of years, or until the receiving spouse is remarried or deceased (whichever happens first). Not when the receiving spouse gets a job that pays more than the paying spouse.
        This is one of the reasons why some women won’t get married again, but will live with a boyfriend, or will get married out of state and not change their name in an effort to hide the fact they’ve gotten married. To continue cashing in on alimony.

        Being disabled doesn’t bar one from working. Office jobs are easy to get with a disability, many retail jobs (cashiering) are still capable of getting. It all depends on WHAT the disability is. I’ve mentioned my own issues, and I work. I’m not on disability (I didn’t qualify a few years ago, and just haven’t bothered to re-apply yet), but I am limited in what I can and can’t do physically. I have to be careful when driving (if I drive at all), and I really have to be careful not to shop while medicated!

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  • FireStar

    FireStar November 14, 2011, 3:39 pm

    You know who should talk to your dad about his settlement offer? Your mom’s lawyer …and only her lawyer. You don’t have all the facts – but the lawyers will so leave it with them. Your job is to be the daughter – not the therapist, not the best friend, not the morality police – just the daughter to both of them.

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      cporoski November 15, 2011, 1:02 pm

      I cannot like this comment enough

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    SaraRosie November 14, 2011, 3:39 pm

    I am going through a very similar situation, and I feel for you LW. When you started your letter by saying you are 26, dealing with divorce and a cheating dad i felt like I was looking in the mirror. My Dad had an affair for 8 years and fathered a child. Even though the affair came out a year and half ago they have just separated this past weekend due to financial issues. In my case my relationship with my dad is hardly there and I just really feel the need to support my mom. I think he needs drastic therapy to figure out where his life went wrong, maybe your dad needs that also? I now feel that working on a relationship with him can only come once he understands why he choose another person over the our family. Its hard to ride the line between supportive and meddling i think. I am probably overly involved and know far too much, but only because my mom looks to me for support. I know some would say she shouldnt rely on her daughter for support, but to me I feel honored to be by her side and to help hold her up. I know just how you feel right now and even though you feel stuck, it is important to remember family is most important. I will always love my family and do what is best for them. Money-wise I would encourage your mom to seek out a good divorce lawyer, and theres no shame in disability, whatever she needs to get by. As long as you are supportive of her moving on past this, I dont think there is much else you can do.

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    Mike November 14, 2011, 3:41 pm

    Definitely respect your mother’s wishes. Her trust has been violated enough by your father. (BTW you were right to intervene when she was suicidal, but these other matters are different.)

    If you want to be supportive of your mother, help her establish a solid network for support. Make sure she is in contact with friends who are good listeners, that she gets out of the house often, that she does nice things for herself (pedicure, etc.) and that she finds a good therapist, if she hasn’t already. Hopefully you can be part of that support network by listening vs. trying to problem-solve. The latter will help greatly in validating her as a person.

    Also consider helping her to connect with a financial planner. A solid financial adviser should be able to discuss whether it keeps her within the level of comfort to which she is accustomed, and the standard of living she is likely to have when retired. You may want to also suggest she get an opinion from a second attorney, to ensure that her stay-at-home time is being fairly compensated – not just for her time and effort, but that she shares in the success of your father’s current and future financial ventures, since her work supported him. She should also get some consideration for the pain and humiliation resulting from your father’s actions as well as for the long healing process she is facing. You might support her on initial visits, if she wishes, just to help boost her confidence.

    All of this empowers your mother to re-gain some control over her life. It also prevents you from taking action or sides against your father which could impact your relationship with him long-term. Your mother is ultimately responsible for the choices she makes (or chooses not to make); hopefully your leading with care and concern for her well-being instead of trying to get her to follow a certain path will make her less resistant to getting the help she needs.

    Good luck, and remember,

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    Gwen Soul November 14, 2011, 3:45 pm

    Let me just start off by saying, that sucks. My parents got divorced a couple of years ago when I was 28, and I think it is harder on adult children then younger ones in a lot of ways. They start acting like they are your friends and not your parents and tell you things they would never have thought to tell you even a few years ago ( some background, my dad cheated with a friend of mine, didn’t want to go to counseling and then tried to hide money from my mom by starting a second company. He then tried to get me on his side, all while telling me how he is glad now he had kids but never really wanted them and calling my mom lazy. My mother was really angry and couldn’t see whether he was being fair or not and spent too much of the marriage looking the other way) I am extremely close with my mom and have an okay relationship with my dad (it was better before all this)

    So having been there, there is no good or easy solution. When I brought up the company thing with my dad, it was really hard and did not go well. And that was clear cut douchness. Bringing up the settlement, especially without details, may cause a rift you will never get over simply because sides will have been defined, and you will be on your moms. If you are willing to take this risk, and draw your own line, then go for it, but it will be hard. If you choose not to be involved, then that is also hard because you will hear things from both sides that will make you angry and hurt, but may be forgivable over time.

    Your best bet might be to help your mom in ways that do not directly involve your father. Help her find an attorney and ask to be kept out of negotiations. Help her make a budget, find places to live, get out of the house socially. The type of stuff you would do for a friend going through a break up, but stay out of name calling, that is what non family is for.

    You also need to focus on you right now as well. Just because you are an adult does not mean this doesn’t affect you. Make sure you have someone you can talk to that is not your mother. Bring up fears you may have about things that will change and be willing to start new traditions around family rituals. For example, I no longer feel comfortable around my father’s family so we have Thanksgiving and Christmas meals with all our friends who have nowhere to go or don’t want to go somewhere. Birthdays and holidays may need to be split. It is weird how it all works out, but don’t forget you are part of the equation.

    I feel for you and your family and I hope in the end everyone is able to move on *virtual hugs* If you ever neet to talk about this, I think I have an idea of what you are in for, I think my email is attached to this post.

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    Addie Pray November 14, 2011, 3:46 pm

    You referred to your father’s settlement “offer,” so I assume there has not been an “acceptance” yet, otherwise you would have referred to your parents’ settlement “agreement.” First things first: Does your mother have an attorney?

    If yes, then stay out. Trust that the attorney is doing his or her job. It could very well be the case that your dad low balled your mom. Your mom has the option to reject his offer and take him to court and let the judge decide re: alimony, propery division, and child support if that’s an issue. The attorney is in a position – not you – to discuss all this with your mother so she can make an informed decision.

    If your mother does not have an attorney, well then she needs one, now. Tell her. Don’t let her say, “Well, we decided to work this out without lawyers to save money.” That’s what the more-financially-secure spouse will try to get the less-financially-secure spouse to do. She needs her own attorney, one who knows family law in your state, who will file a petition to discover your father’s assets (income, property, pension, etc.), and who will, with all this information, enable your mother to make an informed decision about the offer with full knowledge of the risks of going to court. This needs to happen right now. Negotiating a settlement is *not* your job. Besides, I fear if you bring up settlement with your dad, he’ll assume your mother is dragging you into it and discussing things she shouldn’t, and that could cause him to be less – and not more – cooperative as they work out the details.

    As for your relationship with your parents moving forward…. I would turn to relationship experts (ie, DW commenters).

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    lets_be_honest November 14, 2011, 3:47 pm

    I’ll be flamed for this, but it really, well, disgusts me when parents think they should reverse roles with their children. The mother in this scenario has zero respect from me (not that my opinion has any bearing on her life). Ugh.
    I feel sorry for you, LW.

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    • Budj

      Budj November 14, 2011, 3:52 pm

      I didn’t really want to say this because it isn’t constructive….but I have seen a few divorces in my day and the LW’s mother sounds like a “victim” complex. Talking the details out with her daughter is unacceptable, imo, and your assessment above about the disability put off raises an eye brow too.

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        lets_be_honest November 14, 2011, 3:56 pm

        You’re right, its not constructive at all. I read through what comments have been made and think they are VERY helpful, so I thought I could spit this out since LW already has some great advice.

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      oldie November 14, 2011, 4:51 pm

      I don’t think Mom has reversed the roles. It is hard for the kids to stay really close with both parents in a divorce and Mom wants the kids close to her. I don’t think she is asking LW to do anything, in fact she’s asking her not to. She seems to view LW as a safer source to vent to than her, possibly mutual with ex-husband, friends.

      I and my sibs went through much the same with my Dad, wrt second wife, after my mother died. He was always complaining about her, but never wanted to take any advice. Things were awful, he was afraid for his future financial situation after putting family house in her name, no sex, yadda, yadda, yadda. Didn’t want a divorce, afraid to be alone. Didn’t want to see a lawyer. He loved her. We finally said stop complaining to us if you don’t want to do anything. Bottom line, he now wonders why his kids are cool toward second wife. Probably would be anyway, but he certainly set the stage for it.

      Mom seems under the misimpression that ‘being wrong’ or ‘responsible for the divorce’ means Dad should pay more. In most states, fault doesn’t matter.

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        oldie November 14, 2011, 5:09 pm

        Not to pick on you Let’s__Be__Honest, but you sound very young. Unless you are unfortunate to have both your parents die at an early age, you will learn the inevitable truth… there always comes a time when the parent/child roles are reversed, at least for one of your parents. It might be because of physical infirmity, mental infirmity, or the money running out, but most adults will go through a period of being in at least a partial parent role to their biological parent.

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        lets_be_honest November 14, 2011, 5:15 pm

        There’s a BIG difference between a parent of say 50 or 60 and a child of 20 or 30 (which appears to be the case here) and what you describe. Of course when a parent reaches a much older age where a nursing home scenario comes into play or something like that, roles will inevitably be reversed. It doesn’t sound like this LW’s mom is wearing depends yet though, by any means. (No offense if anyone on here is wearing them 🙂

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        Sarah November 14, 2011, 5:18 pm

        See, I completely disagree. You talk as though her mother had no choice but to refuse disability, tell her daughter way too much about her divorce and father, refuse emotional help and get livid at her daughter because she prevented her from committing suicide. Her mother has many choices, but they all involve taking personal responsibility, something she doesn’t seem quite into at the moment.

        A counselor and a lawyer could do exactly what the mother needs, but instead she chooses to inflict responsibility on her daughter. Just because she had a kid, it does not give her the right to unload her burdens on her. In fact a parent with good intentions would do anything to avoid it.

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        lets_be_honest November 14, 2011, 5:21 pm

        Yes, exactly. Thank you Sarah.

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    Bossy Italian Wife November 14, 2011, 3:51 pm

    There is a huge difference between reporting someone who (happens to be your mom) is suicidal and talking to your dad about hiring sex workers. Calling the doctor on ANYONE who is suicidal is the right thing to do. As for the reasons of your parents divorce, I am sorry that you even have to know this about your mother and father’s marriage–to be frank, they shouldn’t have told you that much!

    My mother has been through two divorces in the course of my childhood, and it’s some rough stuff. I made it a habit to never be involved. As you likely know, mothers have a way of dragging their same-sex children into their divorces. They give too many details and act like we should automatically ally with them, which isn’t fair. It’s not our job to ally with our parents, they aren’t on our level.

    The point in this is: enjoy the relationship you have with your parents on individual levels. This means you shouldn’t get involved in whatever the heck goes on between the two of them. Just because you are an adult doesn’t mean you aren’t still a child–their child! So when your mom starts in on the ins and outs of the marriage, politely tell her that you can’t listen to that. She should instead phone a friend, hop on her favorite chat room, or consult the nearest stuffed animal.

    While your father might have done some effed up things to your mom, it’s not your business. Now, if he does effed up things to you then THAT you should talk about. Otherwise, you have to look at the way your parents deal with you on a one-on-one level and let them duke it out in private. And also, think about getting a good support system (maybe a great therapist) who you can bounce things off of as they pop up… divorce is messy and doesn’t shake out (as you might have already known) for years to come.

    Good luck, LW, my heart goes out to you.

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    ele4phant November 14, 2011, 4:28 pm

    I am so sorry. My parents split up just a few years ago when I was 24, and it wasn’t pretty either. My mom, although she does work, was not only heartbroken but scared financially as well. My father also began dating someone so soon that its pretty clear that started before the marriage was ended.

    I can’t tell you what to do, and unlike you, I had good relationships with both of them, but based on my experience, I say stay out of the divorce business. Maintain, or rebuild, the relationships you have with your parent and provide emotional support by addressing their feelings, not actual events.

    If you truly feel your father is behaving unfairly and something needs to be said, approach it from your perspective. Tell him what you feel, how you are disappointed, what you are afraid of, don’t go to him as an advocate for your mother. Especially if she doesn’t want you to.

    At the end of the day, my parents both pulled themselves together and seem happier than I ever remember seeing them when they were together. I have a great relationship with them. Everything will turn out all right, but don’t run interference between them in the early days.

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    Sarah November 14, 2011, 4:33 pm

    Ok, I went through a lot of this and my boyfriend continues to, so let me tell you to please stay ouuuuuut of it. Like other commentors have said above, in no way should you bear the burden of whatever circumstance your parents have brought upon themselves.

    Why why why why did your mom tell you about your dad hiring sex workers?!?! I don’t care how old you are, nobody ever deserves to learn that about their dad! I know what you’re going to say but my mom and I are so close, and she is emotionally unstable and she needs me and she’s going to be homeless if I don’t help her. This leads me to the very important thing you need to do besides stay out of your parents divorce:

    You need to set the rules for how you interact with your parents. Don’t get mad at me, but, your mom is kind of taking advantage of you right now. She unloaded way too much burden on you! And then she got MAD at you when you did what any loving daughter would do and call a physician when she was suicidal. She should have never gotten angry with you, she should be mad at herself for putting you through that. Your dad did bad things to her, but that’s up to your mother and her lawyer to deal with, not you.

    And….once again, don’t get mad, but I’m just saying this because my boyfriend is dealing with EXACTLY the same thing with his co-dependent mother….I get a feeling that your mom is not taking your dad’s settlement or disability because that means she can’t be the victim anymore. I think its the same reason why she’s so free and easy with all of her scary emotions and revelations she hands off to you. It seems like she needs someone to be in charge of her, and that someone cannot be you.

    My boyfriend let him be that person to his mom. She forced him to hear about every time his dad cheated on her and left her destitute, so he went to work at a young age so he could support her because she was unemployed due to disabilities and she basically took everything she could from him (including guilting him into maxing out his credit cards for her) before he had enough. If you let your mom take advantage of your love for her this way, she will wreck what you guys have together. Be clear with her that while you love her and would do anything for her, that you can’t be the person she confides in about this divorce. Get her a counselor, a lawyer, and a kitten and consider yourself a great daughter.

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      Kerrycontrary November 14, 2011, 5:23 pm

      I totally agree that the mom is playing the victim role here. Even if you ARE a victim of a horrible situation, YOU choose how to react to that horrible situation. You choose to act like a victim. The LW’s mom needs to learn how to finally take control of her life.

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    TECH November 14, 2011, 5:20 pm

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    cporoski November 14, 2011, 5:56 pm

    Stay out. You are so right about your mom. She is so angry right now. If your mom is coming to you this bitter, she cannot possibly be thinking rationally. If she was rational she wouldn’t tell you about this. You might find out that destitute is a number that is a fine living wage. She might be used to a $6k a month life and now she will be living on $3K. That is not destitute but she will think it is. If this is the case, your dad could resent you and make things harder on your mom for being unreasonable.

    Your letter makes me want to cry because when people are in this much pain, everything is so over the top. I am not saying that what your dad did was right, but he is trying to spare you by not talking to you about it. That is proof that he loves you because you know, just like your mom, that this occupys most waking thoughts and some dreams too.

    They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions and I promise you, your heart is in the right place but you can only make this situation worse.

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    Mel November 14, 2011, 6:35 pm

    You were 100% right to report her suicidal thoughts to her physician. It is much better to have her mad at you but alive than no longer with you.

    As much as you want to get involved in your parent’s divorce, you need to stay out of it. Even though they may not always act like it, your parents are adults and this is between them. You will be much happier long term if you let them work it out and don’t get in the middle. If you are worried that your mom’s interests aren’t being fairly represented, then you can make sure she has her own attorney that will work for her interests.

    However, your mom also needs to accept that when she gets divorced, her life will be different. Regardless of whether or not the settlement is fair, she may have to downgrade her lifestyle. She may need to go on disability or potentially find a job that she is capable of doing. It doesn’t matter whose fault the divorce is, the fact is that her life is going to change, and the sooner she realizes that she may have to make some changes/sacrifices, the easier it will be. Divorce settlements like on TV where the woman gets all the money and the man is left with nothing are just not realistic.

    Also, I highly recommend that you and your mom go to therapy to deal with this situation (maybe together, but also separately). This is going to be a very hard situation for all involved, so the more professional support you have the better.

    Some of this advice comes from my direct experience. My husband’s parents started their divorce about 10 years ago and just wrapped it up 5 years ago. His Dad made significantly more money than she did, and she fought tooth and nail to get what she thought she had coming to her. It turns out that she ended up with less than what he originally offered her, because the court had to intervene and the legal bills were ridiculous. She also insists on living in the huge house they had built together (that she can’t afford), for our wedding she wanted to buy an outfit that cost $1500 (but luckily my mom talked her off the ledge), and only recently did we convince her to downgrade from a luxury car to a regular car (a new Honda Accord, hardly a clunker). The bottom line is that she still hasn’t registered the fact that her life is now fundamentally different and thus she needs to change her expectations and her lifestyle. That is true regardless of whose fault it is (of course she thinks its his fault, but from what I can tell there is enough blame to go around), and this is a major source of strain on our relationship with her. I fear that one day she is going to run out of money and expect us to help her, which really bugs me because if she made some reasonable changes now that could totally be prevented. And, many times she has tried to put my husband in the middle of it, but luckily he tries really hard to stay out of it. Even so, shortly after their divorce started my husband developed a serious eating disorder and his sister basically joined a cult (he’s recovered, she’s not), so I think some professional support for all of them as well as parental consideration of how their actions affect their children while it was going on would have helped everyone in this situation.

    I hope this experience helps you to work through this in a more positive manner rather than trying to pick up the pieces after the fact.

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie November 14, 2011, 7:56 pm

    Neither parent wants to talk about it or for you to talk the the other one about it, so don’t. If for no better reason then whatever degree of respect you have for them stay neutral and count your blessings that you don’t have to be a go between.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark November 15, 2011, 12:00 am

    Stay out of it. Seriously, just stay out of it. I know it’s easy to pin all of this on your dad — but don’t. Frankly, if your mother was as bad a wife as she is a mother, then this divorce was a long time coming. The fact that she is dragging you into this is really classless — truly parenting at its absolute worse. I’m sorry, but I simply have ZERO respect for people who do this. There is no excuse of it either in my book.

    PS: Guys who go elsewhere for sex often do so because they simply have given up with trying to get it at home… Remember, there are two sides to every story. The fact that your father ISN’T drowning you in all the gory details of things from his point of view really does make me want to take his side here. I’ve often found that those most desperate for others to take their sides in divorces usually deserve to shoulder most of the blame.

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    Bekah November 15, 2011, 12:07 am

    Be supportive but don’t ask for details. Point your mother in the right direction, but she has to do this herself. My parents just got divorced and it was awful, but was the right thing. There are two sides but you don’t have to know both. You can still be supportive.

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    Rhyanshae November 15, 2011, 1:29 am

    LW,

    Like some of the others, my parents divorced, and I sorta got dragged in the middle. When I was 17, my mom was tired of my father’s infidelity, and left the house. It took about 4 years of separation to finalize the divorce. I spent those years pretty messed up, resentful, and angry to a point that I lashed out at my father for having his mistress (new girlfriend at that point) over to the house when I was visiting my mom, and at my mom for breaking down in depression at major events in my life (like graduating high school).

    Like you, my mom turned to me to be a friend, and we had always been close. I know a lot more about their problems than a kid should, but I don’t think my mom was telling me about it to turn me against my dad; She was in therapy, trying to rediscover herself, and she wanted me to understand why she was the way she was when I was growing up to contrast to where she was after therapy. It sounds as if your mother would benefit from therapy, but it has to be her choice to go to have any success with it.

    As for alimony, my mother worked during most of the marriage, but her income was significantly less than my fathers. The divorce decreed that he pay my mother alimony for something like 5 years. After that, she would receive no more payments. This could be a very real thing your mother needs to understand. Even if she gets a significant amount from your father, there could be a time limit on that. This is why it’s very important for her to consider not just the immediate judgement and her lifestyle now, but what happens in the future when that alimony is finished.

    As the kid, I had no intention of getting in the middle and negotiating anything, and neither should you. Yeah, it sucks, and if I were you, the things I would “meddle” with is encouraging your mother to seek out therapy, and if you want to reconcile with your father and get to know him post-separation, what steps you’ll take to do that. While it’s honorable that you want to make sure your mother is treated fairly, it also sounds to me, from your letter, that she’s angry, and a little understandibly naive about what her new future will be like. A lawyer and a therapist will help her see that she needs to make decisions and make moves to protect herself, not just get back at your father.

    And, I just want to add, it doesn’t matter what age you are: When your parents split, it still affects you, and I know I doubted the majority of my childhood and whether it was all a lie. I felt lost, like my world was crumbling, and that urge to meddle comes from wanting a little bit of control over something that affects you, but you aren’t a part of. It’s especially hard when you’ve been closer to one parent than another, and you instinctively want to protect the closer parent. Your mom doesn’t need you to be her knight, she needs to find a lawyer who will do that for her in regards to alimony. If she doesn’t have one doing that already, then maybe the only meddlying you should do is to encourage your mother to find one who will.

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