Hi Dr. Laura,
I had a mother who often during my childhood I would wish my dad would divorce and take my sister and me with him. I often believed and still do that she simply did not like females. My brother, who was into drugs, alcohol and problems with the law could do no wrong in her eyes. No matter what he did, she would bail him out. Yet, with my sister and I, nothing we did was worth her attention. On my 16th birthday, she didn't speak a word to me the entire day. On my 18th birthday, she bought my older brother a new car because, as she said "He deserved it more than you". She didn't attend my high school graduation because she was tired and didn't believe it was important to be there. For 4 years, I played softball. Not once did she come to a game or drive me to a practice.
So, let's bring in my dad. He was raised to stick by your wife no matter what. Yes, he hated the way she treated me and my sister and he did what he could to make it up to us, but at the same time not make my brother feel like he wasn't important. He made sure, after working 10 hour days, to practice throwing a softball to me. He would leave work on a break to take me to practice even though I offered to walk. He made certain to go to all of my games. And, on my birthdays, he made sure I had a cake with candles and at least one present to open up. His cards were always hand written with "hang in there" and "don't ever believe you are not loved", etc. He did what he could to convince me that my mom's lack of love was not something I did wrong. He always made sure to let me know that he was proud of me. My brother was a biological child, however my sister and I were adopted. He always made sure to tell us that even though we were not of "blood", that we were his children just as much as his son. My mom would often say that adopting us was the biggest mistake she ever made because having a son was all she needed.
I thank God every day for my Dad. He did the best he could given the situation. To this day, I unfortunately have a ton of resentment toward my mother that even at the age of 50 I don't believe I will ever overcome. However, my dad made sure that I knew he loved me and was proud of what I accomplished. He showed me the right way to be a parent and every day I remind my children they are loved and appreciated and that I am proud to be their mom.