“My Daughters Won’t Speak to Me Since I Got Engaged”

I’m 53 years old, have been divorced for 14 years, and have three daughters in their 20s. After I was divorced, I got into a 10-year relationship with a man who was an alcoholic. There were a lot of issues with him, but I continued to stay until one day two years ago when he did something to my girls and I couldn’t take it any more and I moved out of his house.

I went on a drinking binge, dated a lot of men, and got a DUI. My daughters were so mad at me for that, and I did apologize to them several times for the relationship that I was in with the alcoholic and for my behavior. My oldest daughter said she will never forgive me and I need to do what she says because she knows what’s best. (I’m a grown woman and I’m literally afraid of my girls, and that is sickening.)

Well, I finally met a guy I really like, but I found out he dated my oldest daughter’s friend’s mother. She said that my dating him will ruin her life. Well, it’s been 18 months and “Hal” does not like the way my kids treat me and talk to me. For his part, he’s apologized for the things he said to them – he even sent them a group text stating that he wanted to marry me, but none of them ever responded.

We got engaged in May, and it’s been awful since then since my daughters don’t talk to me. We had a whole meeting with my parents and brothers about this – my kids went to my parents and told them personal things about my relationship with this man, so now I have no relationship with the three of them and I am sick to my stomach. They told me they will not go to my wedding. It’s been putting a strain on my relationship with Hal and I think that it is better to just let this man go, but I love him and I don’t know if that is the right thing to do. — Sick to my Stomach

It sounds like you haven’t always had the best judgment, especially when it comes to men. The relationship history your daughters have observed includes one divorce, one 10-year relationship with an alcoholic who “did something” to your girls that was bad enough for you to leave him, manic dating while binge-drinking, and now a man your daughters don’t like who has said things to them that warranted an apology (that none of your three daughters even responded to, so it makes me wonder how bad these things were that he said to them!). I suspect your daughters probably have reason to be concerned for you, and to also feel frustrated with your behavior, but without more details I can’t say with certainty.

I’m also curious who you mean when you say your daughters told personal things about your relationship to your parents and brother and now you have no relationship “with the three of them.” Do you mean you have no relationship with your three daughters or with your parents and brother? It already sounded like you didn’t have much relationship with your three daughters, so if you additionally are estranged from your parents and brother as a result of your relationship, that’s pretty damning.

At any rate, I think if you go forward in marrying Hal, you have to accept that you may potentially sever a relationship with your entire family. That alone should demand a really close look at your relationship and what it is about Hal that the people who are closest to you dislike and don’t condone. Even if you are convinced that their impression is wrong, are you willing to sacrifice your relationship with your daughters – all three of them! – and what sounds like your parents and brother as well — to marry Hal? You said that things have been awful since you got engaged in May, which doesn’t sound like a great foundation for a marriage. If your familial estrangements make it impossible to be happy with Hal, I would let him go and focus on repairing those family relationships and getting therapy to address a variety of things like the alcohol addiction, a possible addiction to men who are bad for you, and your fear of your daughters (whatever you mean by that).

I am a single mother of a 20-year-old daughter who met a stranger and is now leaving me to live alone as she moves in with him within two weeks of their knowing each other. I want to send this 35-year-old man a text demanding that he better take care of my baby girl or else I will have his ass. — Left Alone

I would skip the text and skip badmouthing him to your daughter as you will only risk alienating yourself from her during a time when you really want her to be able to feel she can trust you and can come to you if she needs you. You can certainly voice your concerns over her moving in so quickly with someone she’s just met, but I would not focus on specifics about him at all, especially since you don’t know him well either and any attempt to discredit him may backfire. I’d also skip any mention about how you’re being left to live alone as it isn’t your 20-year-old daughter’s responsibility to take care of you or make your living experience more enjoyable or manageable.

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.


  1. Crikey, LW1, have you ever — ever ONCE — thought of looking at yourself? Not during the whole fiasco of that alcoholic relationship? or the aftermath of your own drinking/dating binges? or when every one of your daughters stopped speaking to you? You never thought that YOU yourself might have some issues that need addressing? Seriously never once crossed your mind?
    Your girls were young when you put them through the drama of that alcoholic relationship. You are very thin on the details of what that guy did. You also have no details on what Hal apologized for. Why are you putting your daughters through all this BS?

  2. anonymousse says:

    You know you make bad decisions. This will be one of them if you continue. You have put your kids through so much, and this could be he straw that breaks the tenuous relationship you have.

    Don’t choose this guy over your children. What you should do is look into therapy, not be dating to fix your problems.

  3. Bittergaymark says:

    LW1) if everybody in Your life is against you marrying Hal… NEWSFLASH: the problem with Hal.

    LW2). You’re daughter is quite foolish. But then — so are your ideas for coping with this. ?‍♂️ I suspect she’s be home sooner than you think.

    1. allathian says:

      Hal sounds like the tip of the iceberg. This woman is troubled, and I don’t blame her daughters for going LC. LW, get some therapy, STAT.

      1. Bittergaymark says:

        Agreed. The LW would do well to re-examine her life much more thoroughly. She needs to take some more responsibility for years of poor decisions. Her daughters have a lot to be angry about.

        Hal seems like yet another really bad decision.

  4. Prognosti-gator says:

    LW1: You come across as someone who “needs to have a man in your life.”

    No particular man. Good. Bad. Whatever. Just as long as you have one.

    Since your divorce, you’ve had an abusive relationship, a bunch of drunken dates, and now a relationship with a guy everyone seems to hate. It’s like you are afraid to not have someone there.

    Maybe you need some time to be single and kind of focus on who you are and what you need. Nobody is going to be the right fit for you if you don’t have a good idea of who you are.

  5. LW1 – you clearly have really bad judgement. You spent 10 years married to an alcoholic and you likely have a drinking problem as well. You have made bad choice after bad choice for years and your daughters are frankly sick of dealing with the messes you make. You had multiple options to put them first and you chose not to, over and over until whatever your ex did was so bad that you couldn’t sweep it under the rug.

    You can’t make your children like you. But damn, you seem to be making every choice that works best for you – not your family. And then you expect your family to just swallow the horseshit you’re doling out without complaining.

    LW#2 – if you want your daughter to come home, then stop trying to control this situation. Tell her that you’re not sure it’s the right move but she’s an adult and you hope it works out. But if it doesn’t, she can come home if she needs to.

    I suspect you’ve tried to control her and restrict her from making any mistakes or having negative experiences that she doesn’t know how to be an adult and make cautious choices. Running off to live with someone after two weeks means she’s either running away from you – or she has no idea that she’s in a honeymoon period and that these intense feelings are temporary.

  6. LW1 – it sounds like your daughters have made boundaries to protect themselves after years of abuse. It must be upsetting and exhausting for them to live through so many bad decisions affecting them and they now have a choice to not be involved. I hope you get some help to reset in your mind what healthy relationships are.

    1. Sadly it sounds like they have learnt to be angry, confrontational and may well repeat your mistakes in life.

  7. bloodymediocrity says:

    There’s so many red flags in the way LW1 wrote this letter.

    ” There were a lot of issues with him, but I continued to stay until one day two years ago when he did something to my girls”

    “my kids went to my parents and told them personal things”

    What “things” are we talking about here? It sounds like the writer has put her daughters in harms way with her choice of men and then is in denial about what’s happened.

    It’s *possible* there may not be something wrong with this particular guy (though I *extremely* doubt it) and the family is sick and scared of being put in harms way by the men the writer has chosen to bring in to her life.

    1. Or simply that the guy is an ass, treats the LW like crap and the daughters and rest of the family are sick of cleaning up the mess. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s financially abusing the LW – making her pay for his bills, sitting on his butt all day, whatever, and the LW is begging her parents for a little cash here and there. If I were her parents or her brother, I’d be furious that I was being asked to fund these shenanigans.

  8. LW1: I think the best gift that you could give to your daughters would be to allow them to cut you out of their lives. Get married to Hal, leave him, whatever: Tell them you’re eloping and they’re not invited and just give them the out.
    LW2: Absolutely send the text sounds like a fantastic idea and is absolutely the act of a totally stable and not-at-all toxic individual

  9. LW1: Really, really consider therapy. You went from a 10 year toxic relationship, which ended two years ago, binged and then met this man within two months. That’s a lot. I don’t think you gave your self much time to heal between relationships, and i can see why your family is concerned.

    LW2: Your daughter is in an age inappropriate relationship. There’s obviously something off about your two’s relationship which i’m sure led her to where she is now. Therapy for yourself, and give your daughter the space she needs so that when it’s necessary she can come back and she’ll come back to a healthier you.

  10. LW1 – sounds like your relationships with men has been one long dumpster fire, and you brought your children along sitting in front row seats. Besides your bad choices and decisions, I see a really selfish and dramatic person.

    First, why is your whole family involved in your relationship messes and know inappropriate details? Second, since your whole family IS involved and has issues with the current situation, why aren’t you listening? If you’re getting everyone involved in your business, expect ‘feedback’.

    The bigger issue here is that you need therapy to understand why you’ve made bad choices and learn from them. Put Hal on hold, you’ve got work to do, big girl stuff. Or you’ll just experience more of the same drama for years to come just like your track record. Seek better for yourself.

  11. LW2 – for your young adult daughter to move out as soon as she meets someone, she’s running from something. I’d wonder why she’s desperately seeking her independence and taking The First Opportunity to do so. I wouldn’t reach out to the guy with threats, you need to keep channels open. Unfortunately you have to wait it out, and in the meantime be reflective on your behavior in your relationship with your daughter, a young woman seeking to grow. Then you’ll be better prepared when this quick romance fizzles out.

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