Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Heartbreaking question "why did you have me if you don't love daddy"? How to respond.(22 Posts)
Ok so as the name suggests, I'm riddled with guilt right now. I know most parents feel guilty a lot of the time for things which are usually out of their control, but recently, I just feel overwhelmed with it and here's why....
I was with my dd's (7) dad for almost a decade. We were never married and looking back, even though we were engaged, I knew we never would actually end up tying the knot. We loved each other and in some ways still do, but I was never really in love and we just weren't right for one another. I should have walked away years a go, but I became pregnant quite early on in our relationship and because the love was still there, I carried on working at it, convincing myself that my feelings were normal and that I should just accept them and continue the relationship.
A couple of years a go, I realised that my bisexuality was coming to the surface. I became interested in a woman and eventually, me and my ex broke up. I didn't have an affair. I left because I knew these feelings were developing and I couldn't fight them. I'm a strong believer in fidelity and there's no way I could of cheated on him. I spent some time alone, but then eventually, the woman I became interested in, confessed the feeling way mutual and we are now together and have been for a year. We now live together with my dd, who adores my gf and still has a good relationship with her dad and sees him a lot.
Unfortunately, I fear I've been quite naive as to how my dd has coped with the break up. In the beginning, of course she struggled when I explained to her that mummy and daddy were no longer together, but she seemed to cope and adapt quite quickly. After a couple of months, we all just got on with the new routine and outwardly dd seemed happy. Recently though, she seems very confused and I'm starting to detect resentment.
This morning, when I dropped her off at school, she asked me why I didn't marry daddy, like xyz or her friends parents and my sister and her husband.........didn't I love daddy etc. I was bombarded with questions and I didn't know where to start. I explained that me and daddy loved each other when we had her and that we'll always care about each other, to which she replied "then why can't you live together and get married then?" I was genuinely really surprised because she's seemed very happy living with me and my gf and has a very good relationship with her dad, who we never bad mouth or anything. She then started asking why I was with a lady and not a man. I have tried to explain same sex relationships to her and I knew that it was something she'd need to gradually process in her own time, but she seems more confused the more time goes on.
I genuinely don't know how to handle this. I already worry massively that she could potentially get bullied because her mum has a gf and not a bf or husband. It doesn't help that she has her own social issues. We're at the beginning of getting her assessed for possible ADD, or ASD, so she's already struggling to fit in. I can't help but feel immense guilt that I'm making her life even harder. It's not that I'm ashamed of who I am, but I suppose I have struggled coming to terms with my sexuality and actually, the more time goes on, the more I struggle. We don't exactly live in an open minded area and I don't know of any same sex parents in our village, so we do kind of stand out I think.
When she asked me why I couldn't just stay with her dad if I still cared about him, I felt terrible because I started to wonder if maybe I had been incredibly selfish and that I should have stayed with him. I know this feeling is silly really, as I know it's not really not healthy to just stay together for the children.
Any advice? I just don't know what to do or say. It's so important I get it right. She's at such a delicate age.
Sorry for the length.
I think you have to present this to your DD as a fait accompli. An adult decision that's been taken between adults and one that she has no influence on... didn't cause, can't fix. Very good that you emphasise that everyone loves her... you, Dad, your partner etc. Really don't get into the area of adult love, sex and so forth because she really won't understand the dynamic and can't be expected to.
As for your sexuality, the same applies. You and your girlfriend are a matter of fact. She is a 'special friend' for now and that's all your DD really needs to know.
Could you put it quite simply:
- mummy loves DD forever and that will not change.
- daddy loves DD forever and that will not change.
- mummy and daddy did not love each other enough and they are now happier when they are not together, but that does not change their love for her.
I think you just have to say that for adults a relationship can be very important and that neither of you could be happy staying together. And while it would be lovely if the three of you could all live together and be happy, that isn't the case, and instead both Mummy and Daddy can be happier living separately and of course you both love her very much.
I don't think there's any reason to lie about your GF and call her a "special friend", you can just tell her that some people love people of the opposite sex and some people love people of the same sex. I probably wouldn't go too much into bisexuality unless you really want to - it should be enough to explain that ladies can have a boyfriend or a girlfriend and men can have a girlfriend or a boyfriend.
I suppose the easy answer to "why can't you marry daddy?" is that "I care very much for your dad and he is a lovely person, but I am in love with X, and one day me and X might get married." I don't think it's difficult for children to grasp "love" like we love children, friends, pets, and "in love" which is something that happens between grown ups and is special and different and might mean that you get married.
I am guessing that at some point you were in love with your ex? So could you not explain that to your DD, even if it is a white lie, that you were in love with him at the time you had her, and while you thought it would last forever unfortunately grown-up kind of love doesn't always work like that and instead you love X now.
Someone had a great explanation for "how babies are made" on here a while ago which included a very matter of fact mentioning that sometimes a man and a woman can make a baby by accident. Although not sure if that's exactly helpful/appropriate in your situation.
I think it would be so much easier for me to move on and help her understand, if I was 100% sure that I'd done the right thing. I'm 100% sure of my feelings for my gf, but I almost feel like it wasn't my 'right' to have what we have and that maybe I should have just accepted that I didn't get that feeling with him that I get with my gf. Our problems went beyond lack of lust, on my part. There was no respect really. He wasn't particuarly nice to me and looking back, I don't think I was always nice to him. I felt loved by him, but evidently, it wasn't enough.
Thank you everyone.
Dd is aware that my gf is my gf and not just a friend who lives with us. I want her to feel as stable as possible. I think if I was to pretend that she wasn't my gf, dd would be even more confused and possibly, angry with me in the not too distant future. Also, I don't want her to think that there's anything wrong with same sex relationships. The problem is, I feel like she's feeling unstable and stability is so important for a child. I think she feels pulled between me and her dad, even though we have a decent relationship and we don't fight (anymore) She lives with us and sees her dad once or twice a week. She thinks that she has 3 homes and I'm not really sure how I feel about that. We used to live with my parents, so that was her first home, she now lives with me and my gf and has done for the past 6 months, but her dad is now in a relationship and she will be moving in with him in the next month or so. He wants dd to see his home as hers, which in one way I agree with, but in another, I think she should feel that she has one home for stability reasons. I don't know if this is right or wrong if I'm being honest.
Oh and dd does often ask if me and my gf are going to get married and says that she would like us to. Then other times she says that it's weird for a lady to marry another lady. I understand her confusion, obviously. She's surrounded by dc's with mummy's and daddy's, most of whom, are still together.
We have spoken about marriage, but I guess that's another story, because whereas my parents accepted my gf and welcomed her into the family(surprisingly), my mum particuarly, doesn't really believe in same sex marriages and so, I wouldn't really want them there. I am very close to my parents and the idea of them not being there would be crushing. I know they would come if they were invited and outwardly seem happy for us, but I couldn't have my mum there, knowing that the tears weren't of joy, but of disappointment. It should be a special day and to say that would taint it, is a massive understatement.
It just sounds like she has a bit of thinking to do with her dad's new gf/living arrangements.
It sounds like you're telling her all the right stuff, she just might end to hear it a couple of times for it to sink in. I'm sure once the new situation with your ex is settled your dd will feel more secure, it's just that there is a new unknown factor in her life and it's making her question everything else.
...Might need to hear it...
I can remember this phase. I'd never actually lived with my daughter's father but she was always in contact with him. I tried to explain to her that life isn't always tidy and if we HAD married we probably would have split later and that would have been worse.
To answer the title of your post, my dd has asked similar, and I tell her how thrilled I am that she was born. I say that her dad and I didn't do a good job of being together, but we did one fantastic thing together and that is to make her. We're not a "success" as a family in conventional terms, but we're a success because we made her and are delighted we managed to do this great thing.
In your shoes, I'd emphasise how positive it is that there is love surrounding her and all of you. How amazing for two people who love each other (thinking now of you and your girlfriend) to find each other in an unexpected place. Focus on the love and joy in the situation rather than feel you have to justify or explain it away.
He wants dd to see his home as hers, which in one way I agree with, but in another, I think she should feel that she has one home for stability reasons.
This is a really difficult one. My ex-H has DC once a fortnight, and refers to his house as DC's home. Tbh, given the way the relationship was before we split and the fact that I have always been the primary carer, it is really hard not to see it as a threat.
I think, however, from a child's perspective, it is important to feel they have a place in both houses, and that there is no issue with them moving between houses. It does sound like your DD has had a lot to deal with in quite a short time; your GF and you have only been living together for six months, and now her dad is moving in with someone else. It is perfectly normal, I think, for her to ask questions about things, as she is at an age where she will realise that most of her friends are in either 'traditional' families, or heterosexual stepfamilies (sorry, can't think how best to phrase that) and wonder how to place her own situation.
As to the question why did you have me if you didn't love daddy? - I think you have to answer honestly from your heart and no-one can tell you what that answer would be.
It is good that she is able to express her feelings and ask you these questions, though.
I do think that girls in particular go through a "happy ever after" stage and they want you to conform and be a normal family. I told my daughter that she had two parents who loved her, and she got on well with her dad - which was more than I ever had. Perhaps I let the bitterness of my childhood seep through, but I wanted her to see that although it was an unusual arrangement (though not that unusual these days) it worked.
massive cross post there...
You just have to be honest and tell her what you have already.
Adults grow up and change they fall out of love just as your DDs friendships change and develop as she grows up.
IME DCs take most of junior school to gradually learn that the world isn't always fair, that things aren't always black and white and most of all that adults have complexed mixed up feelings too.
It's part of growing up, you get a lot of questions along the way.
I just want to say that your DD is very little, still. At this age, they are trying to make sense of themselves and the world around them, and they tend to think in, oh, big building block concepts, if that makes sense? Mummies love daddies, get married and have babies, that kind of simplicity. So when something doesn't fit the simple pattern, they ask questions. Lots of questions!
All children do this, I think, regardless of what is going on in their lives.
It can be disconcerting or embarrassing, but I wouldn't over think it too much or feel that you should have done something different. If she wasn't asking about this she would be asking about something else.
So - unless she's showing signs of great distress- I would just see this as her attempt to make sense of the world, and nothing to be worried about.
..reading your post again, you mention resentment and confusion.
So although difficult questions are pretty normal for children in this age group, could some of the children at school have made her unhappy at all? I see you are worried about potential bullying. I wonder if it's worth asking her if there's anything particular on her mind that's made her ask about this.
wyrdy, yes, she has mentioned that some of the children in her class have been 'a bit mean' to her. She can struggle getting out her feelings and can be very sensitive and emotional though, so sometimes it's difficult to know what's really true and what's been massively embellished. I have spoken to the school several times about my concerns, but they always say that they haven't seen any of what my dd is describing. We all know how cunning some dc's can be if they're teasing another dc though. It sounds as though the teasing is happening when teachers aren't in ear shot, like play time for example. She told me recently that some girls on her table said that she was annoying and weird and would pretend to be friends with her, only to then tell her they were only joking. God kids can be cruel, but unfortunately, it's their word against mine and dd's. I don't want to come across as complacent or accepting of this, because I'm certainly not. It's difficult to know where to go though, when you're not entirely sure what's going on.
Going back to the guilt and as I mentioned before, I often feel like I'm making her more of a target for bullies. If I heard that she was being teased or bullied because her mum had a gf, I'd be incredibly angry yes, but I'd also feel like I was responsible for it. I feel so sad for her. She must be so confused about everything. I love her more than anything in this world and all I want is the best for her.
You sound lovely, forever.
I'm so sorry to hear that the others have been unkind to her. As you say, the school saying they haven't seen anything doesn't really help, nor does it mean nothing's happening. Children do quickly learn how, and where, they can get away with unkindness to others.
I know someone who struggled to get an ASD type diagnosis for their child, as she seemed to be on the borderline of this, or something similar. She suffered low grade bullying at school. The difficulty for her mother was in getting her to communicate, because the symptoms made it harder for the child to understand what was happening, or to tell anyone about it. It was a very difficult time.
So I can understand how distraught you must feel. But although you feel that somehow you've made dd a target or made things worse, it's really not something you've done. You love your dd very much, that's clear. But you really shouldn't feel burdened with so much guilt. Children can be cruel about anything. Clothing, accent, wearing glasses, being bad at something, being too clever, facial characteristics, having a nice car/not having a nice car...
The main thing is to support your dd, and be kinder to yourself. I feel your own distress has been exacerbated by your daughter's, so perhaps it would help to support dd, be kind but strong for her - while at the same time seeking some support for yourself?
Thank you, wyrdyBird.
I think you're right when you say that my distress has been exacerbated by my dd's. When it's just me and my gf, I am usually quite confident about who we are and if anyone has a problem (which they do sometimes, for some bizarre reason) I don't let it bother me so much.....usually. But when the 3 of us are out, I am always on edge, especially when we're local. This can make things very difficult between me and my gf, because she wants to do what couples do, like hold hands etc, but I will often hold back and it can really upset her. I think she's much more comfortable with who she is. I am her first gf and even though she's had long term boyfriends, she definitely identifies herself as gay and not bi. Like I said before, I think I'm still struggling to come to terms with my sexuality. I would have thought that the more time went on, the easier and more 'normal' it would feel, but it really doesn't. My gf has actually suggested that maybe I look at getting some help, like counselling. Maybe it's something I should look into.
Ok, so I had another chat with dd last night. She wasn't upset, but the questions she was asking were really hard to answer. She asked who her main parent was and so I told her that she had a mummy and daddy, just as she did before and we are both her 'main parents'. She didn't seem satisfied with this answer and insisted that your main parent is the one you live with. I told her that if she likes, she can think of our home as her main home, simply because this is where she spends most of her time, but she'll never have a main parent. Not sure how much this went in. She then asked if I had a gf, does this mean that she'll have one when she's older. This was such a tricky one. I told her that this isn't something she'll know until she's much older and it's certainly not something that she needs to give any thought to now. Not sure if that was the right answer or not tbh. When me and my gf first got together, she was saying things like she was getting married to so and so in her class (a girl) and would draw a picture of them. It's so hard, because I don't want to tell her it's wrong, but I know that the only reason she's said that is because she's seen me with my gf.
It would make things so much easier if we mixed with other gay couples I think. I know my relationship is nothing to be ashamed of, but when you really are 'the only gay in the village', it's hard to see past your little bubble and remember that there are loads of lesbian couples around, they're just not here. Even seeing other same sex couples on tv makes me feel less alone and more relaxed with myself. God that sounds really sad doesn't it. Would just like to get on with things and just appreciate how lucky I am to have found such an amazing person, who is wonderful with dd and loves her to pieces and who I feel a connection with, I have never felt with anybody before. I think if I could feel more at peace with who I was, I would be a better, stronger parent for dd and I'd be able to help her more.
It must be tough, Forever.
Try not to think of her questions as 'heartbreaking'. She is information-gathering, and she sounds bright and curious and articulate which is all wonderful.
My DC are often asking who they can marry, can they marry each other, can they marry their friends, can they marry me, etc, I just mumble that you don't have to get married, you can decide later...
I think you're dealing with everything very well. Maybe find some books for her with gay characters in - 'Tabby Mac tat' has Pauline and Pat if I remember rightly!
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.