‘Mum was broken when dad left – I’m angry he’s back on scene after 30 years’

‘Mum was broken when dad left – I’m angry he’s back on scene after 30 years’

Dear Coleen, I’m a man in my 30s and my dad left home when I was nine and my sister was 12. It was a relief at the time, as the atmosphere at home was toxic and there were constant arguments between my parents, which were not nice to witness.

My mum was broken when he left and I suppose my sister and me ­naturally sided with her and hated my dad because of it. I don’t really know the ins and outs of their relationship because my mum never wanted to talk about him or the marriage.

Although he was supposed to see us once a week, it only happened a few times at the beginning and then we never saw him again or knew of his whereabouts, and we just got on with our lives.

To cut a long story short, he’s been in touch with us via our uncle and would like us to send him a letter and photos of our families.

I’ve talked to my sister about this and we both feel angry that he now wants something from us after being absent for so long.

Should we do it or just communicate via our uncle that we’re not interested? I’m not sure I see any value in having a relationship with him after 30 years of no contact. I’d love your opinion.

Coleen says
You have to ask yourself if you’ve drawn a line under it and don’t want him in your life or if you want answers. I feel like there’s anger in your letter, which suggests to me that you haven’t put this to bed properly.

I know if I’d harboured anger and resentment for 30 years, I’d probably want answers, even if at the end of it I decided I didn’t want to have any kind of relationship with him, and then the line is drawn.

I know I’d want to hear his side and I’d want to know why he disappeared and why it took him so long to get in touch. Maybe he couldn’t explain things to you when you were kids.

Maybe he’s lived with terrible guilt and wanted to make amends, but didn’t know how. Only he can tell you.

If you don’t feel you need that closure or to open up something else, then be honest and communicate that via your uncle.

Or maybe the first step would be him writing to you directly before you decide whether you want to write back and send photos.

I’m guessing you’re probably worried about being disloyal to your mum, but why not chat to her about it? I hope if I were in her situation, I’d tell you that if you needed to find answers, then to go and do it.

She might not react like that and she might have good reasons for not supporting you, but it could still open up a conversation.

And don’t forget to tell her how incredible she was as a mum and how much you appreciate how hard she worked to bring you up on her own.

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