Corinne was twenty-two when her dad left and moved in with his girlfriend. She’d always been close with him and comfortable in their relaxed relationship, and felt lucky about that. But everything changed when her parents separated.
The night he left, he came to Corinne’s room and sat with her on her bed. He told her how sorry he was that this was happening and how he deeply hoped that they would continue their close relationship after he’d moved out. He explained that he’d fallen out of love with her mom and was really happy in his new life. He said he believed she’d be glad that he’d found real happiness and he wanted her to get to know his girlfriend who he said was a wonderful person. He gave Corinne a hug, but she was frozen – in a state of shock and deeply confused. She loved her dad but at that moment, hated him too.
Her mom was devastated. She cried and cried, stayed in bed most of the time, and pretty much stopped eating. She was inconsolable. Her mom told her all the details of the affair that led to the separation and how her father had lied for a year and a half, telling them he was on business trips when he was really away with the other woman.
Her father reached out to her many times but she couldn’t respond even though she was deeply conflicted. He’d text her and she wouldn’t answer. He’d invite her out to dinner, but she made excuses and didn’t go. How could she go out and have a nice time with him when her mom was home suffering? Eventually, he stopped trying and told her that he’d be happy to see her but she had to contact him. Part of her wanted to but she couldn’t figure out how.
The Rupture in the Adult Child and Father Relationship When Dad Leaves
This painful rupture in the adult child and father relationship is all too frequent when dad leaves mom, particularly as a result of the father’s affair. This is a tragedy because the child loses his or her connection to the father. The father loses his relationship with his child. The mother knows her child needs a father but can’t sanction that relationship. Sometimes, with time, the adult child and father find a way to reconnect and resume a different kind of relationship. Sometimes, the rupture is never repaired.
If you’re either the father, adult child, or mother in a scenario like this, I’d love to hear your story. I’m an author and psychotherapist who is writing a book about this and am hoping to crack the code on how to help all three parties heal the hurt. You can fill out a survey here.
As a family therapist and divorce recovery specialist, I’m looking for answers. How can young adults reconnect with their fathers following all the ugliness and drama that’s at the core of so many divorces? How can we take care of the grieving moms so they can support that reconnection? How can we separate the father/child bond from the mother/father fiasco?
By filling out the survey, you will be helping me dive into the depth of this complex situation so I can offer insight and healing. I particularly encourage fathers to participate.
Vikki has an active international psychotherapy practice. She is the founder and director of the Sedona Counselling Centre of Montreal, where there are thirty therapists offering a full range of wellness services to the community. www.sincedadleftmom.com