Dear Diane Column — December 31, 2011

Dear Diane,

When my daughter was nine, I left her father because he loved drugs more than he loved us. I eventually married a wonderful man and have been widowed for six years. My daughter is grown with a family of her own.
Recently, my ex came back into my life, and he has been sober for several years. He apologized for the past, and wants to pay me back child support, which he is doing. He has a good job, and he seems like a different person.
Every part of me wants to get back together with him, because I loved my husband, but I never stopped loving my daughter’s father. He says he never stopped loving me either, but wasn’t good enough for me until now.
My daughter is furious with me. She won’t let her children see him, saying he’s not her father. She’s told me that I’m being a fool, and he’ll just hurt me again. I know that he was a pretty bad person, so am I wrong to believe he’s changed? Right now we’re just friends, but I think about him constantly.  Do I need to let this go? Is there a chance for us or not?


Dear Confused,

You have been away from this man for many years, so you no longer can say that you know his character. It’s important to start from the beginning, and being friends is the right place to start.
Your daughter has no doubt been very hurt by the past, and her attitude towards her dad is understandable. It will take time for her to trust his motives, but paying back child support is certainly a start. I don’t see him winning her trust for a very long time, but if he continues to be a responsible adult, I see her attitude softening.
Now is a time to watch and observe the behavior of your ex. Does he follow through when he makes a promise? Does he respect your need to go slowly? Time will tell if the changes are more than skin deep.
On a positive note, I see that this man has come a very long way, and his motives feel pure and well intentioned. With patience, you may discover a new, more mature love with him. Go slowly, and enjoy the unfolding.


Dear Diane,

My daughter is about to turn twelve, and she’s fat. I grew up being teased for not being skinny like the pretty girls. It was horrible, and I still am not over it. I’m always going up and down a size or two, and I know that’s a bad example to set. She’s sweet and smart and really nice to everyone, but I know how kids can be. How can I help her lose weight without making her think I’m rejecting her? I just want my daughter to value herself and have good teenaged years. Any insight is appreciated.


Dear L.D, 

The most important thing you said is that you want your daughter to value herself.  You can help her with that by reinforcing the wonderful qualities she does have.  Intelligence, kindness and compassion are amazing gifts for someone so young, and you are right to be proud of her. She will learn soon enough what is valued by her peers, but she will learn the most about herself from you.
Start with accepting that you are also a wonderful, compassionate and loving individual, and that weight has nothing to do with your value as a person. Your struggle with weight has become a lifestyle, so it’s time to throw out the scale.
Instead of a number, focus on a healthy routine, and include your daughter in what you learn. If walking a few times a week is good for your health, encourage your daughter to walk with you sometimes. Focus on experimenting with new fruits and vegetables, and emphasize the healthy adventure of learning to ride a bike. Take a nutrition class and invite your daughter to go with you. With a focus on health and strength, you will find that your self esteem grows along with hers.
I see wonderful changes up ahead for you both, so enjoy the journey. By this time next year, life will be so much better!


Dear Diane,

Almost every day I come home to find my husband asleep in his chair, clutching the remote and snoring. He started a home business about a year ago after he lost his job, but he keeps putting off advertising “until the economy gets better.”  We can get by on what I make, but I’m tired of seeing the same depressing thing every day. I don’t know how to get his attention, and I’ve talked ’til I’m blue in the face. How do I get my husband back?


Dear Frustrated, 

I sense that your husband is very depressed, and afraid of yet another failure. By refusing to advertise his business, he doesn’t have to face the possibility of placing all of his efforts into a losing proposition.
It’s time to talk frankly with your partner and tell him what you observe. If he doesn’t get his business moving, he’ll never succeed at it. Unless he commits to the effort, he’s already failed.
I see that it’s hard to get him to go to a doctor, but you might try creating a deadline to help him get motivated. “If you are not more involved in your business within a month, let’s set an appointment to talk to the doctor.”
Help him to establish a regular working routine again by tackling certain responsibilities daily. Ask him to complete his tasks while you work, so that you can come home and relax together.
Whenever the two of you talk, remind him of all of his past successes, and elaborate on how skilled and accomplished he is. All of us lose confidence at times, so getting him in touch with his inner winner will definitely help.
I see your husband being back on top within the next two years, so hang in there!


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