Is biological dad a bad parent?

(11 Posts)
ShesYourDaughter Mon 16-Dec-13 13:11:45

My partner and I seem to be having the Perfect Storm and Groundhog day running through our lives at the moment. I need to find a way to break the cycle as it is destroying our relationship, and exhausting us both emotionally.

Without going into too much detail we have had her two daughters and son live with us every other week for the last four years. It's now boiling up nicely, or not so nicely.

Oldest girl of 15 going on 16. She has all the traits of a teen, none of them extreme compared to the things some are suffering with their kids but enough to make you sit back in shock every now and then with the stuff she comes out with. We are to some extent but she now has a new tactic. Daddy.

Apparently on Saturday we made her late for her friends because we went shopping! She wanted a lift to make up for this, we suggested she hop on a five minute bus ride. Its a twenty minute walk but the weather was horrible. Adamant she was getting a lift she phoned her dad and then waited for an hour for him to turn up just so she could have a lift. Putting the hour to good use screaching, bursting into tears, telling us how bad her life is and how she has no money. Etc.

All of which we can cope with to some degree, although I find the attitude, the lies and the language harder to accept than her mum does. We try to have some structure in the family, house rules etc and also recognise she is a maturing person and give her some privileges none of which she appreciates and she has not learned to play the game of do it and negotiate better terms next time. She seems to have this state of mind that the only way we can show we appreciate her is to give her things and money, and do whatever she wants us to.

Our problem is her dad. He has adopted the path of least resistance to parenting so anything she wants or does is fine by him. Anything that involves making them do anything they dont want to, homework, exam study, dishes, tidying up after themselves, you name it it doesnt happen at his house.

After this weekends nonsense he sent a text saying he was happy for her to fail in her teens rather than find out what she wanted in life in her 40's. A not so subtle reference to his wife leaving him at that age. This is usually accompanied by a tirade of abuse aimed at me for having a hold over my partner and influencing the way she brings up the kids, and it's a shame they can't agree a common parenting strategy. Meaning his.

We're also fairly sure he's not shy in sharing his views with her at least which just gives her more buttons to press whe she decides to go off on one.

There's a huge amount more i could go into, from having to rush emergency sanitary products round to the girls because he can't buy them to them turning up every week knackered and dirty. But that's another post.....and he's dad so he can do no wrong.

I can't see how it's possible to give her any structure or boundaries to her behaviour while her dad refuses to do the same. We have talked and talked about how we can handle her differently but at the end of it all there are certain things were not prepared to let her get away with but where she has free reign at her dads house.

Is it possible, if we persist, to make her understands that when she's at our house there are expectations of behaviour, attitude, contribution to family etc while her dad sets none?

She can be a pleasure to have around but those times are getting rarer, she is more and more often an over indulged, spoilt, aggressive and boorish presence. Every other week is like having to train her to be human again after a week of running feral, it's exhausting and creating a lot of tension between me and my partner.

Should we just give up? On her daughter or each other maybe?

Petal02 Mon 16-Dec-13 13:21:09

You ask if the bio father is a bad parent. In short: yes, he is. He's your archetypal Disney Dad, usually a guilt ridden, non resident parent who won't engage in any of the less savoury or routine elements of parenting, usually because he's desperate to gain/maintain the role of Most Popular Parent, thus ensuring the child wants to continue visiting him.

We usually see Disney Dad from the other side of the fence - lots of us are married to such men, and find our lives/households ruled by gold-plated teenagers who are never given boundaries.

It's interesting (and very sad) that Disney parenting can cause such problems with the "other" household.

I'm hoping Catsmother will be along soon, she'll have some ideas which may help.

UC Mon 16-Dec-13 13:54:10

Second Petal's post - you need Catsmother!

It isn't always Disney Dads though. Mums can be disney too. I find it frustrating, as it is so hard to instil boundaries when they are undermined all the time by the other parent who panders.

All you can do is continue to enforce boundaries at your place (I am assuming those boundaries are fair and reasonable!). It is difficult, esp when the child is old enough to storm off and effectively manipulate the situation to get what they want. I worry for these kids, it isn't like this in the "real world". A rude awakening awaits, and it isn't their fault - they've learnt that these tactics work. Makes me sad and angry all at the same time.

ShesYourDaughter Mon 16-Dec-13 14:25:02

We think they are reasonable.

Be back at ten at weekends, let us know if you have plans. Ask if things are ok with us don't just tell us, and a bit of warning helps.

I do worry about the tactics she's developing, when I hear some of the stories she tells about school I worry that she's becoming at best manipulative, and worst a bully! Because she's used to getting what she wants.

I am amazed though, in all the time I've known her, she has never had a comeuppance of any sort. She has never had to feel the consequence of her actions. Yes, dad bales her out time and again and so do her friends but at school tests are cancelled or teachers off sick when she doesn't revise or do her homework. She is the luckiest person I know.

But she flunked her prelim exams, didn't give her the jolt I had hoped for. Dads paying for a maths tutor for her, but I'm not sure just sitting down with her wouldn't be a better option, we'll see. But now she can't wait to leave school because its too much like hard work. She's not dim, and she's not always lazy, she's just one of those girls who, whenever any one of her friends is doing something, she has to be there too.

She has her life plan. It's Dad will buy her a pug for her sixteenth and she's getting a mini for her eighteenth. Dad again. And she'll marry for money.

Hard to counteract that when everything in her life has so far fallen into her lap. And continues to do so.

Eliza22 Tue 17-Dec-13 10:51:58

Oh God, I'm so glad I'm not alone. I have no advice to offer, sorry thanks but it IS a constant nightmare and I see mine going into the future for years and years and ....

My DH has finally written to his daughter (estranged for 2 and a half years) because she didn't want him to marry me. In the letter, he has vindicated me, against her actions toward me and my son, many times over. I have a feeling though, that this 20 yr olds tantrum isn't done yet. Nightmare.

ShesYourDaughter Tue 17-Dec-13 12:15:55

I'm conscious I don't like my partners ex, and I know when he picks up the pieces for the daughter it triggers a negative response from me which doesn't help.

I would like him to stay away from us when we have the kids but he is desperate for them to be involved in sports and constantly books them into things when we have them. He thinks that's fine if he offers to take them but its so disruptive, and to be asked first would be a courtesy. And because he never buys them anything that's not sports kit they're having to phone him and ask him to bring stuff we bought them clothes, make up etc, round when they leave it at his house because they're effectively moving house each week, lock stock and barrel.

I'd love a sanity check on this. 6 years after they broke up and he still uses my partner as his first baby sitter whenever he wants to go off and do something by himself. I think he should really be putting his kids first but that's another conversation.

This causes arguments for several reasons. He has a girlfriend, when it suits her, but he never asks her. He never tells the truth, can we look after them always turns into can we look after them and take them to some event he's booked them into. And if we say no, he sends abusive texts and tells the kids their mum doesn't want to look after them. Then there's an apology and another request, always slightly more manipulative. Just had a classic, can we look after them so he can go to some sports evening, answer no, abusive text, next day the kids would like to go and see the hobbit with their mum, he'll pay. Just happens to be the same date and time.

Am I being unrealistic to expect him to firstly recognise that they are no longer married and although they have a shared responsibility towards the kids, they don't have anything in common and she doesnt have to have anything to do with him regardless of whether he wants it, and secondly we have built a life between the two of us. It's ours, and it's private and he should do us the courtesy of leaving us alone. If there are problems with the kids we will let him know, apart from that there's no need for any contact between us.

I often ask my partner if things would be the same if he lived an hours drive away instead of five minutes.

Kind of gone off topic with the teen thing but it all sort of comes together in a crappy way when she goes off on one, because she always brings up the divorce, I'm not her dad etc etc

Loveineveryspoonful Tue 17-Dec-13 14:14:00

Poor you. This was our situation. Your dw needs to make things clear to her ex and stand up to him. He's manipulating all of you.
Dh exw used to do this, organize family does in dads time and rant at him if he refused... Call at all hours to rant "about the kids" and make him out to be a deadbeat dad if he didn't want to engage.
It was always about her. It still is, but since I've made it clear to dh that his ex is not running our lives or were history, he has taken to emails only contact, refusal to do her bidding, explained to kids that he was organizing their time with him (they were younger then) and their mother her time with them, etc. they understood immediately and accepted the situation.
He did sweat a lot though, it's not easy to stand up to controling, possibly narcissistic exes. Don't let this man drive you away. You sound a great stepdad.

ShesYourDaughter Tue 17-Dec-13 14:59:43

I'm no angel I'll admit that. I lose it with them, at times I have to take myself out of the situation and just go for a walk. Partner does not like this, she sees it as me walking out, I see it as sanctuary!

I have tried to get her to put the communication on a more formal footing but he just trots out the working together for the good of the children line. For a while she refused to take his phone calls, but he'd just get the kids to phone and then say he wanted to talk to her and she felt she couldn't put the kids in the firing line.

He's just one of these people that believes that whatever he wants to do is fine and by not going along with it you're being obstructive and that means he has the right to be rude and aggressive.

Loveineveryspoonful Tue 17-Dec-13 15:31:35

...actually he sounds much worse than dh exw!
All the more reason to get to grips with his behaviour.
Any chance you and your partner could get some third party counseling advice, just to help your dw see that she is being manipulated, I.e its not for the kids,,it's for him and his need to control? And why should the dc learn that such horrid behaviour is rewarded with obedience?
Is dsd already copying his manner? Should give her mum food for thought.

ShesYourDaughter Tue 17-Dec-13 16:00:07

Unfortunately yes she is to some extent. Difficult to know whether its just teenage years, genetic or learned behaviour.

But he's not a good example. We know he expresses his opinions about our relationship to the kids. He's not that high on emotional intelligence and is for ever saying stuff to his children that as an adult you'd find hard to fathom but as a child is heartbreaking.

But they love him and he can do no wrong, so we have to try and manage around him. My partner is very forgiving and she doesn't do confrontation. I suppose when you lived with somebody for years, and you know what they're like you're less likely to try.

The other thing that bothers me is he seems to think because they share children, she's some sort of best friend. So when he has trouble with the girlfriend he quite often asks if they can meet for lunch or make time for a heart to heart phone call. It's this split personality thing I find most alarming, but I guess that's how he managed to keep her under control in their marriage all those years.

Anyway, back to the kids... The adults can fight their own battles!

ShesYourDaughter Tue 17-Dec-13 20:05:19

And just to prove a point when I left the house this evening what was on the doorstep?

Flowers! With a note to DP saying sorry, signed with a X? How sweet.

He really must want us to take the kids this Sunday ! Who else passes up weekend time with their kids this easily?

And breathe......

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