Family

Do I have to explain to my daughter why our relationship was difficult?

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When my eldest daughter was little, she cried a lot. I was alone, separated from her father, I felt overwhelmed and I was violent with her. The girl I had with my new companion is 15 months old and everything is fine with her. I'm afraid my oldest (9 years old) is suffering from this difference. Should I talk to him? Solange, Nancy

Claude Halmos

Psychoanalyst

responds

Thank you for your letter, Solange. She shows great lucidity, great courage and great love for your daughters. Life with the eldest was difficult. Because you were alone, of course. But also probably because you relive unconsciously, through it, your own childhood. A terrible childhood (which you mention quickly): you were raped by your father and beaten by your father-in-law. You do not say anything about your mother - who has not protected you - but you can wonder what she is and what she made you live when you were a baby. The ghost of your own infant life probably had to be there (unconsciously) between your first child and you. And his presence probably explains why you felt overwhelmed. And that you were violent as maybe we had been (or had wanted to be) with you.

Conscious, from that time, of your distress and of what you were imposing on your daughter, you had the courage to call on a psychiatrist, who helped you. Thanks to this work, you are today, with your second daughter, a calm and peaceful mother.

But you suffer from thinking that your eldest daughter was not entitled to this mother, that she probably knows it and suffers from it. I think it would be good if, as you have the idea, you take back with her everything that happened by explaining it to her. That is to say, by explaining to him your own childhood. And by allowing him to say all that she has to say (even and especially if she wants you). You will show him that you have never ceased to love him and you will give him his story. Which is a gift of inestimable value.

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