Dear Straight Talk: I went through a divorce a little over a year ago. My oldest daughter, 17, has totally disconnected from me, and I don't know how to get our relationship back. Have any panelists been through this? Do they have tips for reconnecting? -- Sad Dad in Carmel, Calif.
Hannah, 18: My parents divorced when I was 5. For many years I harbored resentment and blamed my father "for leaving." It softened only with time and growth. I realized I loved my father very much and became grateful for any time we spent together. To show your daughter you care, be there for her in every way possible. Prove that you did not divorce from her, too.
Leah, 20: The divorce hurt your daughter and her anger is being directed at you. Call her up, invite her out, attend her events. Even if she is rude or says hurtful things, never give up. In time, she will see how much you love her and want to be in her life. She will move past this -- just be patient and caring.
Katelyn, 17: Ask her if she would like to talk. Listen to her side of the story and apologize for whatever you did. Don't pressure her to take sides between parents. Stay open, loving, and willing to take things as they come.
Taylor, 15: My parents divorced when I was 8. I love them equally, but if one were to start bashing the other, or they were fighting a lot, I'd lose respect. Give your daughter time. I'm sure she loves you. Ask her to lunch, drive her to school, anything. She still needs a father so don't stop trying to connect!
Dear Sad Dad: I'm so sorry for your situation. The panelists' comments are as heart-wrenching as their advice is solid. I agree that it will help if you apologize genuinely and regularly for the breakup (regardless of your role). In addition, don't put her mother down, check in often, make frequent efforts to get together, honor birthdays and holidays, attend her events, and keep a caring heart no matter how rude or silent she is, or how much time passes. Rude treatment can be an opportunity to say, "Ouch. You must be so angry at me. I'm so sorry. Tell me everything that's on your mind." Be the mature one. Think in archetypes: she's the Scared Little Girl, you are the Wise Kind King. Lastly, kids are never too old to be told that it's not their fault and that you love them -- out loud and regularly. -- Lauren
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