wanting to "divorce your kids" ?
October 8, 2009 8:52 PM Subscribe
How can I help someone who has three young children but who doesn't want to be a mother anymore?
I know that this sounds completely irresponsible and selfish and cruel but I would appreciate help if you can take the time to read the details.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My friend is a strong person, intelligent, sensitive to people but has struggled with empathy and compassion - not second-nature to her.
This woman is educated, has been employed in care-taking occupations with high stress and high responsibility. She stopped working after her first child was born. She and her husband had been married for seven years before they had any children. She was never sure if she wanted them, but he did and in her late thirties before the clock stopped she had a boy and then two years later had twin boys.
Since the twins were born, her husband was downsized and then went into training to become a police officer which meant he was away for six months training. Since he graduated they have been moved three times in four years. She feels that he has changed significantly because of his new occupation. Their relationship is disintegrating. She had to set up a separate email account just to communicate with me about this because her husband reads her email.
He has never had much patience with the children - a nice guy but without the education she has had and with a background of famiiy dysfunction - an abusive father who was a heavy drinker - a tough man who raised lots of kids on very, very little money.
What this means is that she is largely responsible for home and kids and she is at her wits end. I've been giving her some of the most obvious kinds of advice - find playgroups, multiple birth support groups, counseling, a sympathetic minister or woman's issues worker of some kind. I've told her to take time for herself, time with just her husband, sports and arts with the kids, exercise for herself - she has tried to do much of this but when they try to go out he gets called away (few officers in their small rural town). When she hires a sitter - if she can get one who will sit twins plus one all under 6 years old - she says she comes home to a destroyed house and broken toys/equipment and sometimes bruised kids (from falling, fighting, tumbling). It sounds like they are quite a handful.
I know that the children may be reacting to all of the moves and the obvious tension and tiredness in their parents and from the very little I have seen these two have two conflicting parenting styles.
Finally, I asked her to try to focus on a few things that she felt made her the most unhappy and then we could brain storm ways that she could get help with them. I asked what she would change most if she could change anything and her reply was to never have had children in the first place.
She has felt this way for at least the last six months, probably longer.
We live 2,000 miles away from each other. I can visit but not for long. They live in a small isolated community now with few sophisticated resources. She has little in common with the other mothers in her community though she has joined the parent council at the local elementary school that her oldest has begun to attend. She just can't see her way to going back to work full-time but has returned to on-call service a day or two a week.
She is trying to find a lifeboat but nothing seems to hold. How can I help?
I am quite anxious about the direction this is going and I feel too old to offer to take care of the children for more than a week or two if she felt no other way out than to leave. My daughter is 30, newly married, not ready for children yet either. I have a career, live in a tiny space, have been single for over 25 years - retirement is still 6 to 7 years away. Though I love children, I have already raised one alone - I can't do it again.
But she is very alone. No siblings anywhere nearby, parents both deceased and no close friends to speak of because of the frequent moves, in-laws far away. I'm frightened for her. I know how hard it is to be a good parent even though I wanted and adored my child and loved (love) being a mother.
Is this just an expression of stress or are their some people who reject their children? I'm so worried that the kids have already been seriously affected by this. I'm worried about her state of mind. Can post-partum depression last for years, or turn up years after the children are born? I'm worried about what stress can do to a man who knows very well how to use a weapon. What can be done?
I've got some parenting books to send her but it feels like so little.