Original Air Date:
Friday, January 25, 2008
Adult Child of Divorce - Melissa:
38 year old Melissa is married with 3 children, but still struggles with her parents divorce when she was 11. Melissa's mother, Rosemarie, was very angry after her separation and let that anger get in the way of taking care of her children. Melissa's 2 sisters did not appear with her on the show. Melissa says her frustration with her mother is that she "can't own up to those mistakes and get passed them - and I can't get passed them if she won't admit them." Melissa struggles to get over her pain because she doesn't think her mother understands how deep her feelings really are.
Gary Neuman Helps Melissa and Rosemarie:
Gary explained that "feelings don't go away just because we're older" that they "are time travelers" and adult children will continue to experience the same feelings from childhood, Gary helped Melissa with confronting her mother so that she could address the negative voice that is still prominent in her life. With this help, Melissa was able to say that she wished her mother wouldn't have shut out her and her siblings just because her father shut out her mother. Rosemarie was able to hear that the way she held on to her anger changed the dynamic of the family. Melissa felt that the conversation was a good start.
The King's - A Broken Family with Adult Children:
After 16 years of marriage, Tim and Colleen's relationship became difficult and they ended up getting divorced 9 years ago. Their 3 daughters: Jessica(24), Amy(23) and Mollie(20) are still struggling with the separation. Colleen admitted that she blamed Tim for everything and wanted him to look like the bad guy and the one in the wrong. After the divorce the girls suffered because their mom shut down and their dad worked all the time making them think that he didn't care how they managed with him gone. Colleen was emotionally gone from the home and Tim was physically gone - leaving the girls to deal on their own.
Gary Neuman Helps the King Family:
With Gary's help, the girls felt comfortable to open up to their parents. Mollie was able to express that her mother was too open about the divorce and sharing details about her father that she just didn't want to hear. Colleen shared that Amy's anger scared her - but Gary was able to explain that Amy wanted to be understood and told that she had the right to be angry. After the family opened up for the first time since the divorce, the girls shared that their situation felt hopeful and they realized the 5 of them are still connected making their family not feel as broken.
Adult Child of Divorce - Tina:
Tina, a 35 year old wife and mother was 6 when her father sat her down to tell her about her parents divorce. Tina expressed that the pain grew when her father didn't show up to scheduled events and times when he said that he would - even to her police academy graduation when she was 29. When her mother started dating again, Tina felt that she lost both of her parents because they were both focusing on themselves. Years of her father not being there for her created trust issues in her life. Tina expressed that she "wants to let it all go but doesn't know how."
Gary Neuman Helps Tina and Her Parents:
Tina's parents, Terry and Victoria, appeared on the show for Gary Neuman to offer his help. Gary had suggested to Terry that he write a letter to Tina explaining to her how he felt about the way he had acted which he read to her on the show. Tina's parents admitted that they knew she was hurting but never talked about it. After hearing her parent's apology Tina felt she could begin to heal and move beyond her pain - and in the process develop a new relationship with them.
Gary's 5 Rules for a Successful Confrontation with Your Parents:
- Set your intentions: know the goal of the conversation before it begins.
- Define the rules for your parents: explain to them that the discussion is not about blame, but about helping them to understand.
- Don't attack: express your own feelings instead of criticizing your parent's mistakes.
- Be specific: don't speak in generalized terms, give your parents specific times you were hurt or heard something you weren't intended to hear.
- Resolve for the future: figure out a plan to keep the conversation going and continue the healing.
Extra Tips from Gary Throughout the Show:
- Many times kids are looking for understanding and not an excuse to screw up in life.
- Parents need to know from the start that they are not a bad person and should be able to apologize for mistakes.
- Parents should not defend their actions, but explain them instead.
- Many kids need to have information pulled out of them because they are afraid of hurting their parents.
- Parents need to be able to handle the situation and take the information without getting their feelings hurt.
- Have respect for the original family.
- Badmouthing the other parent will end up working against you - your child will end up hating you for taking away a relationship that they won't be able to get back.
- Have the conversation - make the phone call, write a letter, or get a mediator if necessary.
- It is crucial for adult children to address their feelings from childhood so they don't carry them into their own marriage and family.