Depressed young mom of 3 seeks help

All Woman

Dear Counsellor,

I am 24 and have three children. I have been with my significant other for 10 years. I am frustrated and physically tired. My partner doesn't ever help me with anything. He works from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm and comes home and relaxes and expects me to have supper ready by 7:00 to 8:00 pm. He hardly helps with the kids unless they act up. On his days off he goes out and drinks and I am with the kids 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and never have any “me” time. When I ask for it I get laughed at by him and told that rearing the children is my responsibility.

This past weekend we went to his friends' house and he drank with them and I was with the kids watching everyone having a good time. He got mad because I wanted to go back home. I told him I felt sick and he took me home and went back to his friends' place. I was so hurt by his behaviour. I dont know what to do. I feel so unappreciated. My eight-year-old daughter is constantly talking back to me and giving me attitude. I am emotionally depressed. I need help.

There is the a perception that some men and women embrace about gender role responsibility that states that women are the sole custodians of nurturing and caring for the children. So in many families today the fathers are missing in action while the mothers are left with the burden of providing physical care and emotional support for the children. The fathers would come around if there is a financial need or when disciplinary action needs to be taken.

In your case your partner is physically present but emotionally absent. He seems to have neglected his responsibility as a father to provide emotional support and be a positive role model for his children. He is obviously from the old school where the man's sole responsibility is to provide financially for the family and he only interacts with the children, as you said, when they need some stern talking to. That's not enough, and he certainly needs to step up and start behaving more responsibly and integrate himself in the rearing of his children. Sooner or later the children will regard him as a stranger and he is going to wonder why.

One cannot help but feel your hurt and sympathise with you. You are evidently overwhelmed with the challenges of looking after the three children on your own with little or no help from your partner. And it's especially difficult when the children are young and impressionable. I must commend you and many like you who play the role of both parents in a dual-parent setting. In your case it is as if you are a single parent.

It is disturbing that your partner was insensitive to your cry for help and humiliated you when you requested some “me” time — something that he has a lot of when he goes out drinking with his friends. This behaviour is selfish and cannot be condoned and the friends he hangs out with are obviously no better.

Is there some member of his family whose opinion he respects, perhaps his sister, brother or parent to whom you can reach out to speak with him? And even if his father did the same thing to his mother this is no reason to continue the cycle.

I suggest that you sit with your partner and have a serious talk with him about his absence from the children's emotional development and the undue pressure he has placed on you. Let him know of your emotional pain and suffering. If he is not around to have that conversation, write him a letter detailing your feelings about his parental role and your hurt.

It is also imperative that you both receive couples' counselling and moreso, you need individual therapy as well.

Your daughter is no doubt reacting to the disrespect she observes meted out to you by her father and is taking advantage of your vulnerable state.

Stay strong and continue doing the best you can for your children. Take care.

Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to agapemft@gmail.com or powellw@seekingshalom.org. Check out his work on www.seekingshalom.org and his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MFTCounselor/.

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