Dear Thelma: My daughter blames me for being an irresponsible mother

  • Family
  • Sunday, 05 May 2019

I used to have a happy family. Then my husband started to work outstation, coming back once a week to see the children.

One day, he asked for a divorce but I said no because our children were still young then and I knew he would ask me to take the children with me.

One month later, he told his mother about his intentions and after that, his sister questioned why I should have the children as they don’t carry my surname.

My husband then told me I could not have the children and that his mother and sister would take care of them.

Now my children are all grown up and my eldest daughter blames me for not taking care of the four of them when they were young, saying I was not a responsible mother.

After my divorce, my ex-husband did tell me to go back and see the children regularly. I would cook for them whenever I visited.

He used to give me some money but then his mother found out and told him not to give me too much money as I would buy things that were not worth it.

I feel his family members are trouble-makers and my ex-husband listens to them.

After my husband met another woman, he stopped giving me money. Whenever I ask for money, he would scold me.

Please help me explain to my daughter about the past. If not, she will keep blaming me and think that I have not been responsible for the four of them.


I suspect from your letter that you didn’t have a lawyer or a family who helped you make sure the children were raised by both their parents. As such, your kids have been brought up entirely by one side of the family. That is not a fair or proper situation.

I am a bit puzzled as to why you expected your ex-husband to give you money after the divorce. As he had the children, he might have reasonably asked you to contribute to their upbringing.

Also, your letter doesn’t mention how often you saw your children when they were growing up but I take it that you are in contact with at least your eldest daughter but that your relationship is not a good one.

My best suggestion is that you sit down and write a letter. This will help you get your thoughts in proper order.

Write it several times until it is right, and then give it to your daughter. Once she has read it, you two can have a good conversation and see how you can move forward.

If I were your daughter, I would want to know a few things.

Why did you not keep the kids and ask your husband to support you financially? I’m not suggesting any judgement here, but that is usually how divorced couples arrange childcare. She may feel abandoned, so it’s important you explain your reasoning and circumstances clearly to her.

Why did you not visit the kids daily? Again, a daft question because you were probably not living next door. What you need to remember is that your daughter feels you didn’t want to see her. So, explain your circumstances so she understands your reasoning.

What did you do for your kids? It need not be a laundry list but do mention two or three occasions when you were there for them. Maybe you went to see them at school? Or saved up to buy them a gift they really wanted? Or took them to the park to play? Recollections like that will reassure her that you do love her. Why do you want to connect with her now? You have only mentioned to me that you don’t want her blaming you.

But surely there’s more than that? I am thinking it’s because you love her and want her in your life. If so, you need to say so. Your daughter is not clairvoyant and she needs to hear the words.

Look, this is not going to be easy, so be honest and if you’ve made some bad decisions, own up to them and ask for forgiveness.

Finally, don’t badmouth your ex’s family to your kids. Chances are they love them very much and they won’t want to hear your opinion on this. It’s unfair, but that’s life.

Spend your energy on building a positive relationship with your kids. That means taking it slowly and focusing on mutual love and respect.

Is something bothering you? Do you need a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on? Thelma is here to help. E-mail or write to Dear Thelma, c/o StarLifestyle, Menara Star, 15, Jalan 16/11, 46350 Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Please include your full name and address, and a pseudonym. No private correspondence will be entertained. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, usefulness, fitness for any particular purpose or other assurances as to the opinions and views expressed in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses suffered directly or indirectly arising from reliance on such opinions and views.

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