Asking About Their Father

In the car, out of nowhere, after a shopping excursion to spend his hard-saved allowance, my middle child asks me “When did our father ask you to marry him?¨.
I tell the truth, the exact day we decided to be together (we did not date) and then explained that we never did have an official ceremony, that his father never got to it.
He asks me what the weather is like that time of year. He asked me why we decided to be together. I told him because he was a good person, I was a good person, and I really loved him and his family. He asks if this is before his father became ill. ¨Of course¨ I tell him. I said ¨I loved your daddy more than anyone, and he was a heroic person when we met, but I would not have liked him if he had been mean (that was their choice of words, initially) when I first met him.¨ I told him that if being mean comes from being sick, it still doesn’t make it any easier to live with. He agreed, immediately, and did a little parody of his father screaming at us. Then he changed the subject, and started talking about his purchase.
Whoa.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Asking About Their Father

  1. Jay

    Sounds like you handled that well, and you definitely made him feel like he’s safe asking you any questions he may have in the future. It’s almost funny how big a deal this probably felt to you, while he seems rather blase. I don’t know the whole story here but it sounds as if you’ve made sure they’ve had lots of help and support and as a psychologist myself, it sounds like it’s paid off.

    • I have avoided portraying their father in a negative light. Middle child did not speak of his father for over a year, and when he did, he was always on the verge of tears. I can count those exchanges on one hand.
      So for him to bring his father up as if he were curious and not on the verge of a meltdown did floor me. Especially after they found the picture last week, showing the same lack of concern. No trigger.
      In the absence of a supportive family I think their treatment team is even more crucial, mental health professionals are showing them how to cope and accepting them how they are/feel. They just don’t get that from anyone else but myself.
      I have more support from the professionals who are treating them than I have from the community or my family. Thank you!

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