The Teen Doctor

Answers to your questions about adolescents

I'm Leaving My Family

I Am A Mother & Am Getting A lot of Backlash For Leaving My Kids

Dear Dr. G.,

I am leaving my kids and divorcing my husband. There I said it. If you already think that I am a terrible person than you can skip this letter. If you read through it which I sure hope you do then I have some questions for you. Listen, I always thought that I wanted to get married and have and raise kids but the truth is that I don't like the whole family scene even though I do love my kids. I have been miserable since starting this family business and I would much prefer to live alone. My husband already knows that I am leaving him. He is not happy but he loves the kids and I am sure that he will continue to be a great father to them. Maybe he'll even find a better wife with whom he can raise our kids. Just so you know our kids are two girls ages 13 and 15. They get along well. They are also good students and have nice friends.I'm just not suited to this motherly role. I have been working with a therapist and an attorney and I will be seeing my girls once during the week and every other weekend.

Here are my two questions:

1. Why does everyone react so negatively when I tell them that I am leaving my girls with their father? He is a very nurturing and loving father.

AND

2. Would my girls be better off if they didn't see me except for the holidays?

Please help me. Goodness, knows I need your viewpoint.

A Mom Leaving Her Kids

 

Dear Mom,

I am very glad that you wrote to me and of course I read your entire letter and will try to help you to the best of my ability. Let me first answer Question 1. Why does everyone react so negatively when you tell them that you are leaving your family? I believe that mothers see themselves as the primary nurturers of their children and are less likely to see fathers as nurturers. In your case, this does not appear to be the case. You describe your husband as nurturing and loving which is a wonderful combination for the parent who will be living with the kids most of the time. Also, many mothers can't imagine leaving their kids so they assume that you are doing something bad since you are doing something that is not consistent with their value system. Listen you are doing what is right for you and perhaps even for your kids. I am sure that they have sensed your unhappiness for a long time. You may even be a better mother to them when you move out and have a lifestyle that makes you happier.

Regarding Question 2. Of course you should continue to see your teenagers. Abandoning them would be terribly hurtful for everyone. It sounds like you have set up a clear schedule for spending time with them. It is very important that you are consistent with this schedule.

I have a final recommendation. Do not tell your kids that you dislike being a mother. This could leave some dreadful scars. Instead, tell them that your life as it was wasn't working out and that you will continue to see them, be involved in their lives and that you love them.

Please get back to me after six months or so and let me know how things are going. I wish you all good luck.

Dr. G.

For more articles like this please see my website:

http://www.drbarbaragreenberg.com/blog.html

Barbara Greenberg, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of adolescents and their well-intentioned but exhausted parents.

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