Q. I am a 39 year old mother of two beautiful children who has been through a lot of difficult times in my adult life. My first husband left me for his girlfriend, my second husband (the father of my children) was abusive and eventually had a massive stroke, leaving me to raise my two children alone. And after a long period of grieving I married the love of my life about a year and a half ago. He has been absolutely wonderful to my children and I.
The problem is my parents. They believe that because of my previous two marriages that I am unable to make good choices. They didn’t agree with my getting remarried, especially because of my children. They’ve strongly voiced their opinion that my sole devotion should be to my children, and that “sharing” my attention with a man should not have to happen. They question most of my major decisions about my children and say that I’m an unfit mother. But my goal has always been and continues to be the well being of my children!
How do I get them to understand that I am an adult who is very capable of making good decisions on behalf of my children, and that they need to keep their criticism of me to themselves?
A. First of all I believe you are a concerned mother because you took the time to write this question in an attempt to educate yourself about possible solutions
Your first husband cheated and left you. That can happen to anyone. Even when we think we have chosen a good person, they can cheat, lie and betray us.
Your second husband was abusive. You did not say how he acted out the abuse or when you first experienced the abuse but sometimes people can mask their behaviors and we do not see the “real person” until after we sign the marriage license.
You had a “long period of grieving.” That sounds appropriate and normal. The fact that you are with someone who is “wonderful” to you and your children is a blessing.
Sometimes we are unable to get other people to understand our life and sometimes it just doesn’t matter. What matters is you and your children have a good life. I suggest you live your life and enjoy this man who loves you and your children.
Try to ignore (as much as possible) the comments made by your parents. Have a mantra that you can say when you are irritated by things they say, i.e., “this moment will pass.” “it doesn’t matter what they think,” “my children and I are lucky to have this wonderful man.”
The energy you give to their negative, critical, offensive words should be saved for you and your family. Limit the time you are around them. You could confront them and set boundaries when they cross the line with you. Give up trying to get them to understand. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen.
Vicki L Mayfield, M.Ed., R.N., LMFT Marriage and Family Therapy Oklahoma City
If you would like to send a question to Vicki, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org