My parents are in their early 70s. They divorced when I was quite young: I’m their only child. I mostly lived with my mother and saw my father at weekends, but they both took the best care of me that they could, and I love them both dearly.
My problem is that I have a small child now, and it’s just much easier to spend time with my father than my mother – both practically, and, more and more, emotionally. He lives with his second wife in a roomy, messy, welcoming house; my mother lives alone in a small cottage full of things I worry my son is going to break.
He is warm and accepting, and gets on with my partner like a house on fire, breaking out the good whisky after dinner and so on; she is brittle and judgmental (and still snaps at me if I say anything remotely positive about him, 30 years on).
They live in the same part of the country, so I always make sure we pay a visit to “Granny” – but should I feel guilty that my father is seeing more of my child than my mother is? After all, she saw more of me than he did while I was a child.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appI should say, there’s no way we could have either of them to stay – our flat is too small.
Lily, via email
Family doctors say that patients often run through a list of minor ailments before finally getting down to the problem that’s really troubling them. Your letter is a bit like that.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appYour mother’s cottage is small, but your father’s place is roomier… mum’s is full of breakables you worry your little boy will smash, whereas dad’s is reassuringly messy. So far, so what?
Then we get to the actual issue. Your mum has turned into a rather unpleasant person, while your dad is fun to be around. Ah. Cue daughter-guilt. She’d rather hang out with delightful dad than miserable mum. And she feels bad about that.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appWell, don’t. Lily, we reap what we sow. If your mother is difficult to be with, “brittle and judgmental”, hostile to anything pleasant you say about the father you love, you wouldn’t have a pulse if you didn’t prefer spending time with him.
Of course, you should continue to pay visits to your mum, even if they’re done out of a sense of duty more than anything, and live in the hope that her nature improves. But don’t feel guilty about making more visits to your dad’s. That’s human nature, and it’s absolutely nothing to reproach yourself for. Honestly.