My husband and I have been married five years, but we dated 12 years prior to getting married.
We both have two kids, mine grown and gone, but he still has a daughter, almost 21. She is a lovely girl who desperately needs help. Her parents refuse to see it though it’s plain as day.
His daughter is sweet and kind and causes no problems. She doesn’t do well in school and has always been in learning disabled classes. In all the years I’ve known her, I could see her struggle and give up at everything.
Her father just treats her calmly and quietly and says, “Try harder next time.” That amazes me. I couldn’t figure out why she never had tutors or one-on-one help. Many times my husband tried, but if his daughter complained she was tired, he would simply kiss her goodnight and let it be.
Her mother is an educator herself and works at a college. Long story short, her mother is a bit of a mess, especially with finances and decisions. She lost her home through poor money management and she can’t seem to get her life in order.
Since she was six, this girl has lived with her mom during the week and spent every other weekend with her dad. That’s why we waited to marry. She managed to graduate high school, but honestly I don’t know how. The school used their “discretion” to promote her.
It’s so sad. I tried for years to encourage my husband to get her help, but each time he says he and her mom will handle it. The poor girl has no friends, doesn’t drive and has never been on a date.
It seems her mom and dad are too caught up in their own careers to get a grip on this and time is slipping away. This girl cannot tell time on a regular clock, has no grasp on using money and can’t tell you how many quarters are in a dollar. No, I am not making this up.
She now lives full-time with her mom. Can you believe that? I mean how about trying to get her a job or academic help at her college?
My husband keeps saying, “Well, she needs more time to mature.” I say, “Are you kidding me? She has issues. If her mother were to become ill, or God forbid, pass away, she would have to come live with us.”
I’ve tried to convince him she needs professional help, but he says she’s his child and he knows best.
Zoe, 40 years ago a man walked into a London clinic and said he couldn’t see anything to the left of his nose. This man, after a recent brain operation to relieve headaches, had lost half his vision even though his eyes were normal.
Stranger still, he could reach for and touch things in his blind spot, though he couldn’t see them, and often accurately report what was there. This condition of splintered consciousness is now called blindsight.
Your husband and his ex suffer from a different kind of blindsight. They see their daughter’s problems but act as if they can’t. It’s as if they think admitting her problems labels them.
The only one who can act is you, and the first thing you must do is establish a baseline for your husband’s daughter. Only then can you speak to what is going on. Contact someone competent to judge the basis of her problems and arrange a meeting, perhaps informal, just the three of you for lunch.
Later, as you learn more, make friends with people in an organization focused on her particular needs. This girl is nearly 21. She may be interested in getting help. Perhaps neither parent will care as long as it doesn’t involve them and isn’t known by their peers.
~ Wayne & Tamara
Column for the week of November 23, 2015
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