#116 Daughter should be spared pain of secret / Daddy who cares—or, an irresponsible blamer?
Original "Daddy Who Cares" (June 2) letter
DEAR ABBY: I am 45 and currently going through a divorce. My soon-to-be ex-wife and I have a 14-year-old daughter, "Gina." I have custody.
Fourteen years ago, when my wife became pregnant with Gina, we had talked about abortion. We even had an appointment scheduled, but on the day of the appointment we decided not to go through with it. I thank God that we did have our child.
Gina knows nothing about any of this, but my future ex has threatened to tell her. My daughter is mature for her age and intelligent, but I feel the time is not right for her to know. Given the situation, I feel she should hear it from me because of the close relationship we have.
Do you agree that the news should wait until the divorce is final and the dust settles, or should I tell her now? —DADDY WHO CARES
Abby's Reply to June 2 DADDY WHO CARES
Dear Daddy Who Cares: I see no reason your daughter should ever be told that she wasn't planned for and wanted. I cannot think of one single positive thing that being given such news — by either you or your soon-to-be ex — would accomplish.
Your wife may be so filled with anger that she is not in her right mind right now. And if she does pour that poison in your daughter's ear, the antidote is to tell Gina that you thank God for her every day and cannot imagine life without her. —Abby
Four replies from Abby Reader's
Reader reply #1 to the Original Daddy Who Cares
DEAR ABBY: I just had to respond to "Daddy Who Cares" (June 2), whose wife is threatening to tell their teenaged daughter, "Gina" she was not wanted. For me a person's most defining trait is not gender, age or race. It's whether or not he or she was wanted. The other traits are things that nature or society put on you. Once you know you were not wanted by the people who put you here, it can easily define you, and it brings pain that will never go away.
It doesn't matter how much you achieve or how much your parents say they love you. A piece of your life just doesn't fit. Those of us who carry this knowledge understand the sadness very well. It is something that can't be taken back.
So please inform "Daddy Who Cares'" wife that what she felt so many years ago is nothing compared to the sadness that "Gina" will bear and examine throughout her life. There is no unhappiness more lasting than knowing you were not welcomed into this world. —WOUNDED HEART IN NEW YORK
DEAR WOUNDED: Thank you for your heartfelt letter. Readers were extremely vocal on this subject and agree that telling "Gina" would be devastating and only cause her undeserved and unnecessary pain. Read on: —Abby
Reader reply #2 to the Original Daddy Who Cares
DEAR ABBY: Kudos on your advice to "Daddy Who Cares." When I was a teenager I overheard my mother tell a friend of hers that I was an unplanned pregnancy. To the best of my knowledge my parents never considered abortion, but nonetheless. It destroyed my self-esteem.
In the case of "Daddy," where abortion was considered and planned, I suspect the emotional damage would be far worse. It's a good thing "Daddy" has custody because the mother seems willing to disregard her child's welfare in order to get vengeance on her husband. You're right, Abby - absolutely no good can come from the disclosure of that information. —ONE WHO KNOWS IN CHICAGO
Reader reply #3 to the Original Daddy Who Cares
DEAR ABBY: I was a child who was both unplanned and unwanted. When I was 13, my mother, in a fit of anger, told me she wished she had the abortion she planned to have before I was born. It was then that I realized that the "gut" feeling I'd had all my life to that point and beyond was correct—my mother never wanted me. Neither of my parents ever told me the whole truth nor did they ever say how glad they were not to have gone through with the plan.
I have always had difficulty trusting my parents, and I have always known I wasn't wanted. Years of therapy have healed the deep wounds. "Daddy" should tell his daughter the story and also tell her how much he loves her and wants her in his life. And that he is glad they never went through with the original plan. If he does, she will be able to trust him and know she was not a "mistake." —DEEPLY WOUNDED IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
Reader reply #4 to the Original Daddy Who Cares
DEAR ABBY: Ever since I can remember, my mother has told me her "funny story" about how she was "horrified" when she learned she was pregnant with me and asked the doctor for an abortion. And as a result, I have struggled with low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness my entire life.
As an adult and mother, I can pinpoint this "amusing anecdote" as the root cause of many of these issues. I pray that the young girl in that letter never finds out that her parents considered abortion. No matter how many times her dad say [sic] he "thanks God everyday that she is here," the damage to her psyche will be forever. —Wish I NEVER KNEW
Gabby's Reply to Original "June 2 Daddy Who Cares"
Hi Daddy Who Cares: The greatest learning experience you can give your daughter (in support of her being whole and complete) is to relate to her incident-by-incident what you have done to your wife that incites such spiteful anger. Your wife is obviously dramatizing an accumulation of abuse (mostly likely the insidious leave-no-marks kind of non verbal abuse) that to most readers is incomprehensible; however, you and I know what it takes to trigger such anger.
Your letter is a covert make-wrong of your wife, as though she is sicker than you. You’ve turned an entire country of readers against her. That’s not only very powerful of you, it verges on evil, at best it's abusive. Furthermore, it serves as a model for your daughter on how to turn others against others and how to blame another for her creations. What she needs is for someone to model what to do when she finds herself surrounded by abuse addicts such as you and your wife. It's a shame that you have custody. She needs to hear from you both, separately, how you each masterminded the divorce, else, she'll have a warped view of responsibility, of who causes what in a relationship.
Your daughter needs to hear from you what you did to mastermind the divorce in such a way as to have others think her mother is sicker than you.
I assure you your daughter can handle the truth as well as you can. We already know that if neither of you share your considerations with her she will remain confused and incomplete for life. If you wait to tell her she'll angrily say, "Why didn't you tell me earlier?"
BTW: Both of you have communicated those "abortion" considerations non verbally. She doesn't know the specifics just that there are withholds in the space, it's been a persistent experience of being out-integrity—something's missing.
I recommend that you tell her first, from love. —Gabby
PS: Do show your wife and your daughter this post
Gabby’s comments about the three replies to the Original Daddy Who Cares
Dear Writers and Readers: It's disheartening to realize that so few people know that traumatic experiences can be erased (completed). The following reply is only for readers who intend to complete a traumatic incident. It supports a communication model of open, honest, and spontaneous communication, zero withholds.
In communication coaching we say that there is talking and there is communication. With talking one's problems persist. With communication one's problems disappear. If one still has the same problem after they conversed with another then it's said that they zoned out and resorted to talking, that communication did not take place. We know this to be true because when communication takes place all concerned feel good, they are whole and complete at the end of the conversation.
Talking is unstructured. When two talk there's lots of repeating and restating and one or more lies aren't being verbally acknowledged. Some thoughts and judgments are stuffed, they aren't being shared spontaneously. There's an implied agreement between talkers that it's OK to hide certain thoughts from each other. Such conversations are characterized by irresponsible blaming, "they never . . .," "he never . . ., etc.". Most importantly, when a couple become stuck in talking the person who listens to the talker talk about his/her problem doesn't have an experience of having served, of being of value. That is to say, the dumper (the person who dumps a problem in another's space) has no intention to use their friend as a means of disappearing a specific problem. For example: Complainers dump misbehaving children problems in their friend's space, and, the complainer still has and talks about the same problem the next day.
The difference between talking and communicating is that all communications have beginnings, middles, and ends. How one measures whether or not communication took place is by looking at the end, the results. If, upon completion, all concerned experience being whole and complete then communication took place.
Interactions that don't end in mutual satisfaction are incompletes. Put another way, if you interact with someone and it doesn't forward them in their growth, if it doesn't support consciousness, then what happened was both parties were doing their imitation of communication. It looked like communication, it sounded like communication, and both may have parted feeling good, but, each still have his/her exact same problems the next day.
Another characteristic of talking is that all talkers, yes all, are enablers. Their leadership-communication skills are such that they empower their friends/partners in having mediocre relationships and stagnate addictions (unhealthy, overweight, drugs, abuse).
As pertains to a "you were unwanted" interaction between a child and parent: Notice I use the word "interaction" instead of communication (more about this follows): If, say, a mother dumps "you were unwanted" in a child's space and doesn't know enough to keep clearing the child until all considerations have been gotten, as obviously happened with the three letter writers, then those interactions, for each woman, are an incomplete. Both the mother and the child had become stuck doing their imitation of communication. Again, when communication takes place all concerned feel good upon completion.
As we read each woman's words we can get a sense of the upset they experienced (as they were told back then, "you were unwanted") and, each are still experiencing the same spectrum of emotions to this very day. The upset and anger and grief have not diminished very much, if at all. The charge is still present. If we were in their presence listening to them today we'd see facial expressions consistent with emotional charge.
For example: If I asked you, what you did on you sixth birthday, you'd probably not be able to remember. That incident, that experience, is complete. There's not only no charge about the pony ride, which at the time was extremely emotionally exciting, until you fell off the pony and broke your arm. There's not only no charge there's no memory of the fall. Now we ask, why? In part it's because the incident has been told and retold so many times that it went from being boring to being vaguely remembered.
Also, the anecdotal drama associated with an incident such as, "you were unwanted" is not healthy. What if research proved that "accidental" children are more trustworthy and the best marriage partners, that they can be trusted to tell the truth no matter the cost or how difficult. Then the "unwanted" story would take on an entirely different meaning. Part of what causes an upset about an incomplete (a less-than-mutually satisfying interaction) to persist is because the incident has become conceptualized. The anger and energy (referred to as a charge) associated with the interaction reveals that there is more to the incident than what is being remembered. The mind doesn't have full access to everything that was going on during and after the "you weren't wanted" interaction. In short, there is a lie in the telling of the incident. It has yet to be experienced fully.
For example: If one starts to get upset and cry when they think about the "not wanted" conversation they have yet to choose to experience the hurt and pain associated with the incident. They have not experienced the conversation. They went unconscious at some time during the interaction, most likely judging the mother, which took them into their mind, rather than to stay with the experience.
A common thread in the letters is an addiction to blaming make-wrong. Here they are, years and years later, still making their parent wrong for a mistake, worse yet for having the integrity to tell the truth. The story retold wreaks havoc on their children who are confused about what truths to tell and which ones to hide.
It's a given that many people are addicted to their drama, like an orphan who throughout life tells everyone their "poor me" story, they use it to manipulate outcomes and to explain and justify their behaviors and the results they produce. Some develop a mind-set, that the effects of a traumatic event can never ever be undone, "the damage to her psyche will be forever" and so they do what it takes to make this belief come true.
What's not being acknowledged are the millions of children who knew or intuited that there were considerations surrounding their conception yet, they have typical normal lives with no need to drag resentments into each new day.
The bottom line: The "you weren't wanted" communication is an important one. It introduces a child to the meaning of the words wants, intentions, and considerations.
For example: "I said I didn't want you. I said it was an accident, but here you are. Obviously I was lying because you're living proof of my intention, however unconscious I may have been at the time."
For those who wish to complete their experience of not being wanted I recommend that you seek a therapist skilled at Rescripting. Such a therapist designs and delivers personally customized scripts for you; they create/recreate the conversations you wish you had heard. The hearing of these specific communications, even years later, have the exact same effect as if your mother had spoken them at the time. You will live thereafter whole and complete. You can also write your own script and ask you mother to say the words you need to hear. You can also accomplish the same result via intention but it requires impeccable integrity —use the four free Clearing House processes.
Please check back from time to time for corrections/edits and always refresh your browser. (last edited 8/4/09)