The Atlantic

Dear Therapist: I Can’t Deal With My Mother’s Hatred of My Father

During my parents’ divorce, nearly 30 years ago, my father kidnapped me. He and I now have a good relationship, but my mother has never forgiven him.

Editor’s Note: Every Monday, Lori Gottlieb answers questions from readers about their problems, big and small. Have a question? Email her at

Dear Therapist,

Following an acrimonious divorce from my mother, my father kidnapped me during what was supposed to be a weekend visit and hid with me in another state for three months before I was found by the police. He spent a few weeks in jail. I was 3 years old and have no memory of this whatsoever.

While my mother hasn’t spoken with him since and occasionally reminds me that she still hates him, she agreed to a settlement that allowed him partial custody every other weekend, because she thought “every son should have a relationship with his father.” But when I was a teenager, I started to notice her shift to being angry about my having a relationship with him (at age 16, I had the right to stop the twice-monthly visits).

I understand my mother’s problem with him, but I am 31 years old now, and the man that I grew up around and know now as an adult is someone who

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