Stepfamily Issues

Personal stories about stepfamilies, childhood and general family issues.

December 18, 2006

right and wrong thinking in families

Eunice, 56, is divorced and estranged from her daughter Her mother, 81, wants to effect a reconciliation between them - even though the daughter shunned her grandmother 25 years ago and appears to be quite happy with the way things are.

"I believe that some relationships aren't worth having and nobody is entirely right or wrong," says Eunice, "but my mother believes that all relationships are valuable and that life is based on absolute rights and wrongs."

"I don't like the situation between my daughter and I any more than she possibly does," explains Eunice. "It's not nice to admit to the world that you don't have a relationship with your daughter or mother, is it?"

"However, when that relationship involves abuse - in my case a daughter who is hard-wired by her father to heap scorn on me, treat me like a doormat and blame me for everything that goes wrong in her life - then it's a relationship we are both better off without," says Eunice. "I'm not saying I'm right and she's wrong, I'm just saying that when two people don't get along - whether or not the relationship is familial or involves abuse - then it is better for them to part company."

"It's not like she's short of mothers," adds Eunice. "She has a step-mother whom she preferred over me and a mother-in-law as well. If her relationship with them has soured over the years, then that's something she needs to take responsibility for as well."

"There are always going to be some people we can never have a win-win relationship with," sighs Eunice, "and my daughter and her father are top of the list of those people for me. It's as simple as that and most intelligent people understand my situation even though they may not have had the misfortune of marrying or giving birth to such people. Only abusers or unintelligent people would consider me 'evil' or 'misguided' or 'wrong' for ending a relationship with an abusive husband or an abusive daughter or an abusive anyone else."

"It takes two responsible and respectful adults to make a healthy and mutually enhancing relationship," adds Eunice. "Without respect and responsibility there is nothing but a victim and an abuser. The estrangement on my side doesn't mean I hate my daughter - far from it - I just believe we can both be happier with things the way they are now."

"I don't subscribe to my mother's view that mother-daughter relationships must be maintained at all costs," says Eunice. "From my past experiences with my daughter she has no respect for me, loves to play the blame game and refuses to take responsibility for the hurtful things she said and did to me. She's neither responsible nor respectful, so what sort of awful reconciliation is my mother suggesting for me?"

"If I wanted to be nasty I could bring up my mother's own relationship with her grand-daughter," says Eunice. "Right from the start my daughter didn't like her grandmother and when, at 12, she refused to accompany me on visits to see her grandmother I didn't press the issue. I just respected her right not to have a relationship with someone she didn't get along with."

"My mother wasn't abusing the girl or treating her disrespectfully," explains Eunice. "To my daughter, her grandmother was just old and ugly and boring and she didn't want to have anything to do with her. She was just that type of girl - more like her father than me."

"It's possible that my mother is forcing this reconciliation for her own motives," says Eunice. "She's getting on, may not have long to live, and may want to see her grand-daughter again - and see the great-grandchildren as well. If so, then she should not involve me. She can pick up the telephone and call her grand-daughter directly."

"Another motive may be a desire to see me do better in my old age," muses Eunice. "My daughter is in all the papers - she's a high flying businesswoman - and my mother may believe a reconciliation may benefit me financially. Presumably, if I groveled to my daughter, begging to resume the role of doormat mother and scapegoat for everything that goes wrong in her life, I might get some morsels thrown my way."

"I can see it now," sighs Eunice. "In return for doing her housework she would magnanimously give me a free meal, a few dollars and her castoff designer clothes that would make me look respectable enough to be presented to her fancy friends to sniff at with distain and disgust as the bad mother who dared to divorce the wonderful father of their friend."

"No thanks!"

"Also, right now her children would be going through the terrible adolescent traumas," says Eunice. "If I were to ever initiate a reconciliation with my daughter then it would be when her children are fully grown up. I don't want her little monsters looking at me with disgust and telling their mother that they don't want to see me because I'm an old, ugly and boring grandmother!"

"Another huge problem would be the inevitability of my bumping into her father again," says Eunice. "I shudder at that prospect, too!"

"While money definitely provides material comfort - which I appreciate as much as anybody, it can't buy the most glorious thing on earth that I enjoy every day - and that's freedom from abuse and hassle," says Eunice. "Or I did enjoy every day before my mother starting hassling me about reconciling with my daughter."

"It may be written in stone somewhere in the books my mother reads that mothers must stick with their daughters through thick and thin - and defer to their every whim," says Eunice, "but I don't subscribe to that, or any other sort of absolute right or wrong type of thinking. My mother is just lucky that I am the way I am, otherwise she wouldn't have had a relationship with me either."

"It all boils down to different personalities, and perhaps different generations, too."

"Freedom from flat-earth thinking led to the fastest evolution of the human race since records were kept," says Eunice, "and 500 years from now I can envisage a world so different from today's that the sort of problems we now experience in family relationship just won't exist. In short, there won't be any family. We'll all be genetically selected test tube babies, developed in artificial wombs and raised by robots. Perfect!"

"You can love someone without having a relationship with them - as I do my daughter, and I am sure my mother does, too," says Eunice. "So what's her problem?"

"I told my mother that it would be better for all concerned if she just minded her own business and let other people mind theirs," said Eunice, "but she seems determined to put me in the black light of someone who is wrong. And, no doubt, herself in the white light of someone who is right."

"Families, who needs them?"

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