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She’s still upset her dad left us

Solve your life dilemmas with expert advice from Maura O’Neill

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Childhood stress can impact adults later

Childhood stress can impact adults later

Childhood stress can impact adults later

Dear Maura: My daughter is 24 and still has questions for her dad about our divorce. He left when she was eight years old. I thought we handled everything quite well. I tried to move forward as best I could for my daughter’s sake. Her issue is with her dad because he never talked to her or let her ask questions about why he left. He was going through a difficult time with work, and we had drifted apart, but there’s nothing he couldn’t have discussed with her even when she was young. He could have put these things into a language she could have understood. But he never did. She grew up with all these pent-up feelings and never got a chance to open up to him, or should I say he never allowed her to ask questions on any level. Now she is in her mid-20s and still wants to talk to him. She’s strong but I’m encouraging her to go to counselling first. Do you think that’s necessary? She says I’m fussing, but I think it would help her to discover what she really wants to say to him. She has regular contact with her dad, by the way. Answers: As a child she absorbed some tension and stress, no matter how much you tried to protect her. But it’s good she has a relationship with her dad. There are different angles to this situation. She has questions stored up from when she was very young. In the intervening years, these have gathered another layer as she considers this time in her life, looking back as a young adult. It would really help her to talk with a professional. She will be able to articulate key questions from a place of healing and understanding. He owes her answers but, vitally, he needs to really listen to his daughter to allow both to move forward in a relationship strengthened by letting the past go.

I feel no connection to my new home

Dear Maura: I’ve recently moved into my new house, but it doesn’t feel like my home. We built on a site given to us by my husband’s family. I don’t feel any connection to this building which is all it is for me. Of course, we’re delighted to have been given a gift of the site but now I feel crowded out by my in-laws. The house isn’t nearly finished inside.

My husband has encouraged me to do anything I want decorating the rooms. I should have said something ages ago. I didn’t so I can’t really complain now. So many of my friends are still renting and they think I’m lucky.

Answer: There’s something creating this sense of dissatisfaction, of frustration that you are living in a house that your husband built and you had no say in. This is the outward layer of your unhappiness. But what lies beneath this? What is triggering these feelings of unhappiness. Is it your in-laws? The design of the house? The location of the site? Change can influence us in many ways.

Perhaps try acknowledging gratitude for what you have, focus on the positive and on decorating the house to make it your home. If these feelings persist, I advise you talk to someone who can help you excavate the root of these emotions.

Email your problems to

  • Dr Angela Brokmann dr.angela@sundayworld.com
  • Maura O’Neill maura.oneill@sundayworld.com

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