The Real Housewives of Orange County's jolly time in Ireland quickly became an intense, emotional scene when Kelly Dodd brought up Tamra Judge's daughter and her difficult family situation during the ladies' pub crawl, which ended in Tamra hyperventillating and sobbing in Shannon Beador's arms (clip above).
This was a far cry from the intimate moment the two had shared when Tamra first told Kelly about the turmoil in her family while the two were at Meghan King Edmonds' house. "It's hard for me to talk about. It breaks my heart," Tamra told The Daily Dish this summer. "It was something I really wanted to keep off the show, and it's so big in my life that it's just too hard. And I feel like at this point if I can help others go through it, because divorce and when kids separate and pick sides, it's not uncommon. But people don't want to talk about it because they feel like, oh they're a failure. Well, Spencer lives with me full-time, Sidney lives with her dad full-time, and it's actually a heartbreaking situation because he doesn't talk to his father, and Sidney doesn't talk to me. And the only time they see each other is when they pass each other in the hallways at school. It's not the way I want it, you know? I beg and ask that we can fix it, but it's got to be from both sides."
Tamra first opened up about what had been going on in her family during last season's RHOC reunion. She revealed that she hadn't seen her eldest daughter Sidney after she decided to live with her father, Tamra's ex-husband Simon Barney, full-time, even though the two have joint custody of their three children: Spencer, Sidney, and Sophia. She then explained that Spencer wouldn't speak to his dad and chose to solely live with Tamra.
Though it was difficult for Tamra to discuss her familial issues, she said it had an impact on her relationship with Sidney. "After I opened up about it on the reunion, all hell broke loose, and it was kind of a breakthrough in the sense that we were communicating," she told The Daily Dish. "It wasn't necessarily the best communication, but we were communicating."
Unfortunately, Tamra said that communication didn't last. "And then it kind of just goes back into I don't hear from her," she said. "But I text her once a week, tell her I love her, I tell her the door's always open for her, and let's just try to get this family back together."
Tamra said she has received support from perfect strangers after sharing her story on RHOC. "Oddly enough after all this, I talked about my situation with the divorce and my children and all this, I had [an] overwhelming amount of people sending me emails from children that have gone through it, which were the most interesting emails," she said. "And their advice to me is, 'Don't give up. Just keep texting her. My mom or my dad stopped communicating with me because I wouldn't communicate with them, but you know what, every time I got a message from them, it made me feel good. So even though you don't think [Sidney] wants to hear from you, keep texting her, call her, do everything you can. Let her know that the door's always open.' So that's what I keep telling people."
Tamra said that many viewers have a misconception that she lost custody of Sidney, even though in reality, she and Simon have joint custody over all three of their children. "Sidney chose to go live with her dad, and there was nothing I could do about that. At 16 in the court's eyes, even at 14, they can choose whatever they want. Spencer chose to live with me," Tamra explained. "So I don't think it's right. I think you're not an adult until you're 18, so you shouldn't have a choice. Unless you're being abused, hurt in some way, you should not have a choice. You need both parents in your life."
That's why Tamra will continue to speak out about the issue in an upcoming documentary called Erasing Family, which will examine divorce, parental alienation, and the court system. "It's so common. I didn't know it. I thought I was the only one. I felt like, 'Oh my God, what did I do to my daughter that she hates me so much? What did I do?'" Tamra said. "And I've read up on it and I've learned so much, and if I can help somebody else... Like, don't talk bad about your ex, especially in front of your kids. Don't do it. Nothing good comes out of it. All it does is put them in the middle."
However, Tamra said she is optimistic that her family will be reunited one day. "I am very hopeful that my situation with Sidney and Spencer will be fixed. I want Spencer to have a relationship with his father. I don't think it's good for kids not to. But I can't. I've tried to force him, I've tried to make him, he doesn't want to," she said. "So it's been very, very difficult. And I pray every single night. Just God, please, just watch over this family. Help them, get us all back together. I think that it's gonna happen. I think that everything happens for a reason. Everything does. So if it's a learning lesson on my side or on his side or the kids' side, everybody's gonna come out [a] better person."
Watch Tamra give an update on her son Ryan Vieth, below.