Life Advice


Health & Spirit

Back Off, Dad!

Carolyn Hax on

Dear Carolyn:

I am divorcing my husband of 10 years. We have an 8-year-old son. There are issues of emotional and verbal abuse, and I have finally gotten to the point where I am strong enough to end this relationship.

My husband and I are trying to be civil through this process for the sake of our son. My father has stated that my husband will always be a part of the family and will be invited to all family functions at their home, and I will just have to deal with it. Right now, I feel I can handle it; however, my husband is going to start dating, even though we still live in the same home (he is working out where he is going to live). Sex has always been very important to him, so I can see him hooking up with the first woman to come along, without regard to how this person will relate to our son.

My father has stated that my husband's "lady friend" will also be invited to the family gatherings. I don't want my son to grow up stressing about special occasions, but I don't think I will be comfortable having my husbands future girlfriend there -- at least not for a while. My father's response: "Too bad." Other members of the family have told my dad that the girlfriend should not be invited until I'm ready, but my dad told them it's his house and he makes the rules. I have talked to my husband about this, but he said, "You're the one who tore our family apart, so you're going to have to live with the consequences. If you get hurt, that's on you."

I feel like I'm between a rock and a hard place. I want to be an example to my son, showing him how to behave in difficult situations, but this might be too much for me, and I don't just want to avoid the family gatherings -- we have a big family so there are a couple each month -- because this is MY family. What do I do?

-- Back Off, Dad!


Rock and a hard place? Try abuser and an abusive place.

The best example you can set for your son is one that teaches him neither to act like his dad and granddad, nor defer to people who do.

No decision you make about this situation will set that example unless it grows from a fundamental understanding that your abusive father poured your emotional foundation, and your abusive husband built on it.

You chose to divorce your husband knowing, no doubt, that he'd punish you for it; that took significant strength.


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