I suspect a lot of people share my problem. My two adult daughters, both in their 20s, want almost nothing to do with me as a Republican and Trump supporter. They are two different people with different situations, so they express their contempt differently, but it’s there just the same. This problem is compounded by the fact that their mother and I divorced when they were teenagers, so even in the best circumstances, communication would be difficult. I believe their mother’s contempt for me preceded the politics and helped poison my relationship with the girls—though, of course she denies that.
So it’s too late for family counseling. But I have a new wonderful wife, and after some serious health problems, I have a new life. I want to share all this with my daughters. Both my girls live hundreds of miles away. I wish they would call, but they never do—in fact, they seldom even pick up the phone. What can I do to salvage the situation?
You are certainly not alone in being ostracized from family due to your political beliefs. I’ve had a number of other readers describe this phenomenon.
As regards the particulars of your situation, first of all, I’m truly glad to hear you have found a new life. I think your story really shows the silver lining of serious health issues. Enduring pain and difficulty can really help us remember what’s truly important in life.
So how to salvage your relationship: Since your situation has been a while in the making, it may take a while to undo, so I would start by mentally preparing to have great patience and perseverance. There’s a special place in every woman’s heart for her father, and if your daughters feel they have lost you, there is a wound in them that only you can heal.
Secondly, I would focus on the personal and avoid politics. There is a cultural revolution going on in America right now and as it’s playing out, Republicans and Trump supporters are seen by many as threats to public health and safety. Of course all this is very complex and adds an extra layer of difficulty to your quest, so unless there is really something your daughters want to hear your thoughts on, I would advise not bringing politics up at all. If they do charge at you with some accusation, I would ask to defer the conversation until they are not in an emotional state.
Before you reach out to them, I would reflect on what the divorce and the situation that preceded it might have felt like to your daughters. They surely experienced some pain, possibly even fear, and maybe hatred for themselves or you. Young girls rely on their fathers for protection and stability, and no matter what the reasons for the divorce, it would still have left them more vulnerable.
I’m assuming here that since you have now come into a new you, that you probably have the strength to look at yourself in the past and see where you fell short and perhaps unintentionally hurt your loved ones.
Since they don’t seem altogether comfortable with phone calls, I would reach out to them in a format that allows them to take in your words in their own time. So a letter or email. Consider what you think each daughter would respond to best. You could consider asking them to simply read your message, without any pressure to respond, and that you will write again in a couple of months.
Something to consider would be to keep your first letter brief, tell them you love them, that you’re sorry for the pain you caused them, and that you hope to heal your relationship. If you feel up to it, you could also invite them to share their feelings with you.
And if your first attempts are met with no response, or even if they are met with anger, I would try again, and again and again. Hearing something multiple times makes it believable (as propagandists and advertisers well know!).
By persevering, you will break down the walls of resistance, and words of truth and love are inherently more powerful than propaganda.
And my final thought, since you have a wonderful new wife, lean on her for support and advice. I understand that it can be really hard for men to fathom what goes on in the minds and emotions of women, and she may be able to help read the situation as it evolves.
Dear June, I have a sticky situation and I would like to know what to do. My problem is this, our granddaughter, beautiful and smart, at the age of 13, is sleeping with her mom and dad. Is this situation her fault or her parent’s fault? So my question is this: Should we as grandparents just act like we don’t know about it or is it wrong for the husband and wife at the age of 46 to allow this to occur?
Dear Concerned Grandparents,
Speaking as a parent myself, I would say that many issues children have can be attributed to their parents, but I would not assign any blame; rather, try to fully understand what is happening and why.
Given the age of your granddaughter, it is certainly out of the ordinary that she is still sharing a bed with her parents, but the most important question here is whether the situation is immoral. If you have any inkling that something untoward is taking place, then please consult a professional for advice. My answer is going to assume the situation pertains only to co-sleeping past the time that kids naturally grow out of it.
In many cultures throughout history, parents and sometimes even grandparents have shared beds with young children. I don’t see any moral issues with this, although there are safety considerations. Since your granddaughter is past the age when safety is a concern, I won’t address this issue.
By the time children reach puberty, most families naturally start sleeping apart, but this isn’t always the case. A friend of mine recently told me she slept with her mother until she was 15, due to the circumstances of the house perhaps more than true preference.
Do you know if your granddaughter and both parents are happy with the arrangement? In many families, the fathers end up sleeping by themselves because it’s not comfortable for them to sleep with children.
And do you know why they started sleeping together? Was it from infancy? Or was there some sort of trauma or illness that made them feel a need for more physical closeness? Also, are they continuing to sleep together out of habit or because it makes them feel close or because they find it has some benefit, for example the parents know exactly what time their daughter is going to bed and that she’s not up online at night?
Knowing some of these answers will help you judge what course of action you should take. If anyone is not happy, it’s probably time for a new arrangement.
To find out these answers, perhaps you or your husband can tactfully approach whichever of the parents is your child. If you wish to express that the arrangement seems strange to you, do this in the spirit of inquiry and concern for their well-being, not judgment. Really try to better understand their perspective.
If you get the sense that all are happy with the arrangement, then I would let it be, as it will probably end naturally. If you find there is an unhealthy emotional dynamic, perhaps your conversation will help to start to untangle the situation.
If they’re all happy with the sleeping arrangement, I wouldn’t worry that it will interfere with your granddaughter’s development. At this time when families in America are being torn apart, perhaps they’re instinctively holding each other close. A good reminder to us all to cherish our dear ones and hold them close—even and especially if we don’t agree with or approve of their viewpoints or choices.
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