Advice: The Endless Fallout of Divorce and More

The (Endless) Fallout of Divorce

My 20-year-old daughter will be commissioned as an officer in the army and graduating with honors from college this may. She also recently became engaged to a wonderful young man. She was also a stellar athlete. Her father and i separated in 1989, divorcing in 1991. Neither my ex nor any member of his family has had any relationship whatsoever with our daughter. No, her father never paid child support. And yes, i encouraged him and his parents to have a relationship with her. Now, as she graduates, her father, grandmother, and other members of their family are making attempts to involve themselves in her life. I am very angry that they waited until the hard part is over and pretend that they had anything to do with her success. I even feel hurt that she would want anything to do with them now. So many wonderful things are happening for her now, and i really want to be glad that these people are doing anything at all.

Val

Uh-oh, you have stumbled over the endless fallout of divorce. It won't ever go away. You must learn to live with it and the complex feelings it always generates. Your anger and hurt are thoroughly appropriate and understandable. But here is an immutable fact: it takes a man and woman to create a child, and every child yearns to have and to know both parents. That's not to say single parents can't do a fine job of raising kids; they can, and many do.

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Parents who love their children must recognize the child's fundamental longing for two parents and impose no guilt on them for wanting, having or even initiating contact with a long-absentee parent. Remember, to a child, parental noninvolvement feels like rejection; it is a fundamental wound to the self. And in enjoying contact with missing family, your daughter may be basking in confirmation that she is indeed lovable.

By the way, if your daughter is the mature person she seems to be, the subject arises naturally and you can speak without rancor, it is ok to tell her once-only once-that you are glad these people are now in her life (because the more people we have in our network, the better off we will be in life) but that you have mixed feelings about them because of their earlier nonparticipation.

The trick here is to not consider your daughter's embracing of her father and/or his family as a rejection of you. Children know very well who paid their dues, who helped them with the homework, who made the toast and tea when they were feeling crummy. But it's of little value to them unless that knowledge comes without strings attached. The less guilt you place on your daughter for knowing the rest of her family, the freer she is to treasure your contribution to her well-being. Having worked hard to create a loving daughter, you should be pleased she herself can exercise that skill.

"Fat, Fourteen and Hopeless"

I am 14 years old and weigh about 210 pounds. I have tried to eat healthier, drink plenty of water, exercise and the whole shebang. But nothing I do seems to work. Everybody at my school is like a size 0-9 and I'm a size 16-18. I always feel left out, never go to the swim parties my school has because I do not look halfway decent in a bathing suit, and I cant even find board shorts that fit right and give me the coverage I need. Help me find something to do about my weight that is not expensive, and actually works.

The one who is fat and hopeless

First of all, do not be hopeless. You can lose weight and keep it off.

Weighing more than you want to weigh is not the end of the world. Losing weight is not going to turn you into a different person. So right now focus on being the person you want to be.

It would help if you had clothes you felt good in, and indeed there are cool clothes available in your size at many stores and online. Catalogs like Lands End and L.L. Bean have good active wear in a range of sizes.

Dieting requires an effort and takes time. So you have to be in good mental shape for it. You should know in advance, and expect in advance, that there will be times when you won't stick to your diet. That's fine. Just get back on board the next day, or the next meal. What counts is the longer haul.

There are no real tricks to dieting. You need some physical activity, like walking or jogging or working out three times a week or more. You need to drink water. And you need to eat wisely. Salads (with only a little dressing), fish, vegetables, soups. Get your carbohydrates from fruits and veggies as opposed to breads and pastas. Plan your meals in advance. And have in the house some foods that won't sabotage you when you feel like eating. Low-cal crackers without fat. Dried tomatoes. Fruit, like oranges and grapes.

You can have some splurge foods too. Try a frothy, filling shake made with 2 tablespoons of real sugar, a heaping tablespoon of cocoa, 2 heaping tablespoons of powdered skim milk, and a bit of cinnamon, cardamon or vanilla. Put these in a blender with some water and some ice, and you'll wind up with a satisfying low-calorie, no-fat drink.

Start now, and write in a couple of weeks.

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