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Thursday, 14 September 2000

Messed Up Mom

Written by  Dr. Marc Gelkopf, PhD and Elisabeth Gelkopf-Belais, SW

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QDear WholeFamily Counselor,>

I just stumbled across your site as I was looking for some kind of help for my problem...I hope that you can offer some advice. I hope that I am doing this right but I don't know...if not I am sorry...

I am 30 years old, the mother of three children: A son who is 12, a daughter who is 10 (both from my first marriage) and an adopted son who is three (from my current marriage).

This is my problem: My husband and I (we have been married for almost seven years) do not get along...he does not get along with my older children. My husband has really bad anger problems. He yells, cusses, screams, threatens and on occasion hits the kids. He has not done any real physical damage but I am afraid that someday he will.

There never seems to be a moment of peace in our house...not unless it is just my husband and I and even then, we usually end up in an argument about the kids. It seems like we don't even like each other anymore. Oh, I know that he loves me (if he even knows how to love). He tries to show us he loves us by buying us things but we need love and affection...we need to feel safe and protected. Gifts are nice but they just aren't what we need. He never has a kind word for the kids. He always puts us down...he says he is "joking" but it is just meanness!

To make matters worse my ex-husband just got out of prison. He spent over seven years for sexually abusing our daughter. He now has visitation every week with our children (supervised by my husband and I). I have been so unhappy for so long and being faced with my ex on a regular basis and seeing how he has "changed" made me believe for a while that I was still in love with HIM! I hated myself (and still do) for these feelings...but as I said, I am just so unhappy...I gave in to these "feelings" and have had an affair with my ex.

I am so disgusted with myself...what kind of person am I???? I have just in the past couple of days come to realize that I am not "in love" with my ex....I am not even sure that I like him...I just wanted to feel loved...I am done with that situation...I had never really let go of him totally before now. I was only 13 when I met him and he asked me to marry him...I had loved him more than 1/2 my life and didn't know how to let go and I was afraid to...

Now the kids are even more messed up than before...they want my husband gone and they want their dad to come home. This just isn't going to happen...I feel like I am taking their daddy away from them again. I hate myself for the mess I have made of everything!!!

I am sorry that this is so jumbled but my thoughts are jumbled....back to my current situation...I have stayed with my husband (current) because of the money...I owe my parents over $1000 a month...this is over and above my regular bills. Because my credit got so messed up during my first marriage/divorce everything I own is in my dad's name.

My dad is now retired. I can't stick him with these bills and there is no way that I could make enough money to pay them on my own. And I have stayed because I don't want to take another daddy away from my kids and I don't want to take the baby's daddy from him...but this cannot be a healthy situation for any of us. I feel so trapped, so alone and afraid!!! I just started going to counseling myself, the kids have gone off and on for several years but my husband refuses to go and refuses to take anger management classes. Where do I go from here?

My children have very bad behavior problems because of everything they have suffered...I feel like such a bad mother because I have made so many bad choices. I love my children more than anything else in the world...it just seems like I can't do anything right!!!

Messed Up Mom

ADear "Messed Up Mom",

You are not messed up, dear mom. But you are right about what you feel. You do definitely feel that your mothering is not what it should be and is not what it could be. You feel confused because you feel trapped, helpless, and have the feeling that whatever you do is wrong, and will make things worse. Therefore you also have guilt. Guilt for making the wrong decisions. So fear and guilt are what accompany you in life, wherever you go, whatever you do, whatever you think.

There are a lot of issues that you're dealing with. In this letter we can only help you to identify what are your most immediate and pressing concerns and how to go about solving them. We shall not discuss your relationships or the issues surrounding your love life or even your unhappy childhood, for these are less important.

It is your role as a mother and the welfare of your children that need your immediate attention.

So we shall now state what we believe are the most important facts of your life right now:

  • Your husband is being physically abusive to your children.
  • Your husband is being emotionally abusive to your children
  • Your ex-husband has been sexually abusive to your children and you are very concerned about his reentry into your lives.

Are we correct?

If so, you have to be clear about the following:

You cannot permit your children to be physically or emotionally abused. It is entirely your responsibility as a mother and no one else can or will do it.

We want to help you to take responsibility for your children. Here are our suggestions on how you should go about doing this.

Go get help at the social services where you live. Talk with a social worker and talk to him about the dramatic situation you and especially your children are in. You may have to go to report any abuse to the police. We know it is a difficult step, so you might want to get support.

Put your children in contact with a social worker. Let them talk to him/her about their problems.

Now the following has to be clear to you:

You have often made wrong decisions in life not because you are a "bad person," you are not, but because you have been guided by fear and guilt.

Furthermore, you have often made the right decisions in life, but they have left you full of guilt (such as taking away your children's abusing daddy from them). This makes for all the confusion, fear and guilt you might have about making any decision at all to protect your kids.

It is therefore very important to get professional help in making the right decisions. A professional can help remind you what you really care about and can help give you the support to make the right decisions.

What is important is your physical and emotional well being and that of your children.

Dear Loving Mom, just do it...

Marc Gelkopf, PhD, and Elisabeth Belais-Gelkopf, SW

Last modified on Monday, 16 January 2012 19:01
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Dr. Marc Gelkopf, PhD and Elisabeth Gelkopf-Belais, SW

Marc and Elizabeth are a husband and wife team of psychotherapists who work with individuals, couples and families.

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