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would i be unreasonable to tell my daughter the truth about her father?

(21 Posts)
saycheese Thu 23-Jun-11 10:21:41

have 4 children, husband left 6 years ago after having an affair, he now lives abroad and has done since he left. Since he left he has seen the elder 2 twice for a few days and the youngest 2 once, and that was only because i was in intensive care so he didnt really have a choice.
The oldest 2 were the only ones who missed him when he left, my youngest daughter wasnt really fussed as he had worked away when she was little so she didnt really react at all, my youngest son doesnt know him at all as i was pregnant when he left.
I used to beg him to see the children, i said i didnt want money i just wanted him to see the kids. my oldest daughter was upset and angry for ages because he wouldnt see them. He doesnt phone either so very little contact over the years. The oldest 2 have accepted this is how it is, but when i was ill last summer (in intensive care) my ex had to have the kids and he swore to them things would change and he promised them he would see them, and phone etc. He told my youngest daughter he would be here at christmas (last christmas) she spent the day crying looking out the window saying he will be here he promised. i told her beforehand he wasnt coming, that he will be busy with work but she kept saying he promised.
he did phone a few months ago to tell the kids he had a new baby, i spoke to him at that time and told him i had already been through the hurt of the oldest 2, and now my youngest daughter keeps crying for him, so he needs to see them more regular and phone/email more often as it wasnt fair on the kids to be left wondering if they will ever see him again.
he hasnt phoned since and missed my youngest 2s birthdays.
My youngest daughter asked me yesterday if she could see her dad in the summer, and i said i dont think so. She cried herself to sleep. I dont know how i can make this better. She asked me if she could phone him, and i said i dont think he would answer but we can try. He didnt. I dont know what to do for best, she has put him on a pedestal because she didnt know him.
Should i tell her he isnt interested so it stops her thinking he will see her. It brakes my heart to see her like this but ive tried everything to get him to see them. but then if i tell her that she will wonder why and whats wrong with her that he doesnt want to see her.
he lives in holland so its not like its the other end of the world. my youngest daughter is 9

ZZZenAgain Thu 23-Jun-11 10:23:21

poor girl. He sounds like a hopeless case to me.

How old is she?

saycheese Thu 23-Jun-11 10:23:52

sorry my paragraphs have disappeared, here is an easier to read version
have 4 children, husband left 6 years ago after having an affair, he now lives abroad and has done since he left. Since he left he has seen the elder 2 twice for a few days and the youngest 2 once, and that was only because i was in intensive care so he didnt really have a choice.

The oldest 2 were the only ones who missed him when he left, my youngest daughter wasnt really fussed as he had worked away when she was little so she didnt really react at all, my youngest son doesnt know him at all as i was pregnant when he left.

I used to beg him to see the children, i said i didnt want money i just wanted him to see the kids. my oldest daughter was upset and angry for ages because he wouldnt see them. He doesnt phone either so very little contact over the years. The oldest 2 have accepted this is how it is, but when i was ill last summer (in intensive care) my ex had to have the kids and he swore to them things would change and he promised them he would see them, and phone etc.

He told my youngest daughter he would be here at christmas (last christmas) she spent the day crying looking out the window saying he will be here he promised. i told her beforehand he wasnt coming, that he will be busy with work but she kept saying he promised.

he did phone a few months ago to tell the kids he had a new baby, i spoke to him at that time and told him i had already been through the hurt of the oldest 2, and now my youngest daughter keeps crying for him, so he needs to see them more regular and phone/email more often as it wasnt fair on the kids to be left wondering if they will ever see him again.
he hasnt phoned since and missed my youngest 2s birthdays.

My youngest daughter asked me yesterday if she could see her dad in the summer, and i said i dont think so. She cried herself to sleep. I dont know how i can make this better. She asked me if she could phone him, and i said i dont think he would answer but we can try. He didnt. I dont know what to do for best, she has put him on a pedestal because she didnt know him.
Should i tell her he isnt interested so it stops her thinking he will see her. It brakes my heart to see her like this but ive tried everything to get him to see them. but then if i tell her that she will wonder why and whats wrong with her that he doesnt want to see her.
he lives in holland so its not like its the other end of the world. my youngest daughter is 9

saycheese Thu 23-Jun-11 10:25:40

she is 9. but she forgot all about him really when he first left, as she was so young, she never asked about him or anything, this all started for her when she met him for the first time last summer.

MorelliOrRanger Thu 23-Jun-11 10:26:15

Not sure if you should tell her hes not bothered or not but your poor little girl. sad.

He's being a bit of a prick really isn't he? Poor you having to clear up his mess.

Can you email him and ask him to make more of an effort or at least let him explain to her the difficulties if he's not answering his phone.

ZZZenAgain Thu 23-Jun-11 10:28:20

It is an age when I think it is very natural that a girl is thinking more of her father and who is he

I think probably I would not say anything if possible because she is very soon going to be of an age where she will figure it all out for herself I am afraid. It is going to be painful for quite a while I expect.

What a jerk

ZZZenAgain Thu 23-Jun-11 10:28:38

sorry about the tipos...

saycheese Thu 23-Jun-11 10:36:35

I have emailed him several times over the years as it used to be my oldest daughter who got upset. And i thought explaining to him how upset she was getting when he phoned to tell them of his new baby, had got through to him. obviously not.
So what do you think i should say? i know when she comes in from school she is going to ask if he has replied.... or can we try phoning him again?
I heard my oldest daughter talking to her last night and my little one was saying i want my dad, everyone at school has a dad except me... and my oldest daughter said ' i'll be your dad and i'll even talk like this and did a butch manly voice! was sweet but its not going to stop her asking why he wont see her? I know him well enough to know he wont answer phone, or reply. im guessing he may phone at christmas. sorry i just need to know what to say before she comes home as i dont want to make it worse.

jesuswhatnext Thu 23-Jun-11 10:37:38

hmm! i feel for you and dd - i had a very similar situation - dds father has not seen her since she was about 18 months old, she is now 19 - she used to ask about him when she was little (before i met dh, who has bought her up) - i told her that her daddy did love her but was not a very 'grown up' grown up and didnt know how to be a daddy so he went away. stuck in my throat of course but i never truely slagged him off - anyhoo, it seemed to work, she is a wonderful well ajustded girl.

so in essence, i think i would keep it as simple as possible for her, tell her YOU will always be here for her and that sometimes daddys are just not very grown up.

Maybe tell her that some people are just not very good at being parents, and it's because there is something wrong with them and nothing wrong with the child they are neglecting, that she is a lovely and very lovable little girl, and her dad doesn't come around much because he is not good at being a dad - it isn't because of anything she did wrong.

loiner45 Thu 23-Jun-11 10:46:52

could you tell her something along the lines of "I think he tries to be a good daddy but he's just not very good at it?" If you don't think he gives a damn then it's really hard to be honest but not to destroy them sad.

Mine are older, but coming to terms with a runaway dad who has lied to them about the OW (there wasn't one, yeah, right!) so I've taken the line of "yes, he lies, but I'm sure he believes what he's saying to you, he convinces himself it's true" which I'm sure he does! I've had to go down the route of 'he's not an evil person, he's just making lots of big mistakes right now' i think if you can make sure they know it's his failings without being nasty about it then it will be easier for them. Maybe "I think he's very wrong not to be in touch with you, but perhaps he gets upset when he thinks about you being so far away? he still should get in touch though".

I'm just shocked at some mens' capacity for cutting their children out of their lives - my x now has a step family so is playing happy families with them, its devastating to our DCs sad

dolldaggabuzzbuzz Thu 23-Jun-11 10:47:21

That is heartbreaking. I really feel for you op. I went through exactly the same as you with my 2 DDs. Their father went to live in Holland when they were 6 and 7 and would only get in touch now and again.

He once went as long as 18 months with absolutely no contact. And no I never told them the truth about their father, I didn't understand it myself, I didn't know what to say and I knew it would sound cruel. I just tried my best to give them a happy childhood.

He got in touch with them when they were 9 and 10 to tell them they had a new brother. He returned to the UK with his wife and they had another child. They now live 15 miles from us.

My DDs are 18 and 19 now. My eldest still gets 2 buses to see him when he wants her to babysit. Youngest was never close to him so doesn't make any effort - same as him. My eldest DD tells me she is glad the way I have brought her up and shes seen for herself what her dad is and wouldnt have liked to hear me tell her that her dad wasnt interested when she was younger as she thinks it is really cruel.

I think your doing a good job raising your DCs alone, I'm sorry but I believe saying nothing is best.

loiner45 Thu 23-Jun-11 10:49:09

lots of x posts! glad we're on the same wavelength - and really glad it seems to have worked for your daughter JesusWN!

ChairOfTheBored Thu 23-Jun-11 10:50:30

I'm so sorry you and your children are having to go through this, it's heart breaking.

My Dad left when I was 4, and was quite rubbish at keeping in touch, seeing me when he'd agreed to etc. It was hugely upsetting for me obviously, and for my mum, who had to deal with a very sad little girl who didn't understand, so would sometimes blame her, at a time when everything else had been turned upside down too.

I will always be grateful and full of admiration for how she handled it, and herself. Despite the huge temptation to put the blame where it rightfully lay, she remained very neutral, and never allowed me to see how she felt about him and his frequently disappointing and unreasonable behaviour towards me, his daughter and her as his wife (then ex-wife).

I have a great relationship with my Mum now, and an OKish one with my dad (some 25+ years on, we're starting to fix things). My mum's approach enabled me to see the reasons for his behaviour when I was mature enough to deal with it, and the protection from the reality of it meant that as a 4 year old I felt secure in her love for me.

I guess I don't have any advice, but wanted to tell you, and jesuswhatnext what a great thing you do for your children in shielding them from the harsher reality of their fathers' behaviour. Much admiration for you both.

Allinabinbag Thu 23-Jun-11 10:54:29

Oh, this is heart-breaking, what a sod. I agree with SCGB, that explanation that he would like to be a good Dad, but he finds it very hard but it's nothing to do with you, is a good one. I still can't get over how someone can build up a relationship with a child and then just leave them, it's the cruellest thing to do and (and I rarely say this), probably better if he has just completely disappeared.

dolldaggabuzzbuzz Thu 23-Jun-11 12:29:56

Oh yes! A few years after he did return to the UK I got in touch with the CSA and started getting some money for my DDs. smile The money stopped after a few weeks. He still owes loads, but thought he'd get away with it now they're adults but CSA say that he will have to pay back from when I first made the claim. Hopefully will ease things for DDs, 1 starting uni this autumn.

DoMeDon Thu 23-Jun-11 12:41:28

It must be heart breaking for you as he doesn't deserve the tears of your DC. What an utter callous bastard. What SCGB said is what I would advise too. Tell the truth in the kindest way possible, he's not good at being a daddy, it is his fault not hers. I would also strongly advise him to NEVER promise anything to your DC again - he needs to understand how his lies/disappointments hurt them. I bet you could happily de-bollock him - I know I could and I don't even know the twat angry

redwineformethanks Thu 23-Jun-11 12:52:22

I'm inspired by stories about mums protecting their children. One of my friends had a similar experience as a child. Her parents separated, Dad went overseas and had little or no interest in her. Every week my friend's Mum made my friend sit down and write him a letter saying what she'd done at school etc, which her Mum then posted. Eventually, many years later, he began to show an interest in her and they now have an OK relationship, although she is well aware of his shortcomings. More importantly she is so full of admiration for her mum, that is made them even closer as she began to appreciate that if her Mum hadn't done that, she would probably have no relationship with him. Imperfect though he is, she is glad to have him in her life

In your case, I'd be wary of criticising him as children can idolise a parent they're not in contact with, but I'd try to make some sort of excuse for him, if you can do that without it being a lie

I agree you should ask him not to make promises he can't honour

saycheese Thu 23-Jun-11 13:04:45

it his heart breaking... i have spelt it out to him what he is doing to them, my oldest daughter blamed me for him leaving for years. i wish he hadnt told them about the his new baby. that was cruel phoning out the blue to say you have a new sister, they were all excited and wanted to meet her, but he hasnt phoned since and wont answer phone. Thats partly why youngest daughter wants to see him so much.

i messaged his girlfriend via facebook.. she was the other woman, but she seems really nice. she told me that my ex has told her i phoned and told him he is never seeing them again!!! she said the whole time she has been with him she puts the kids photos on wall and he puts them away in a drawer as it hurts him too much to look at them, and the kids mean the world to him! i told her that none of that is true and told her i have been begging him to see them for the last 6 years! and the last time i spoke to him it was to tell him he is hurting them and he needs to see them more than once in 6 years! she said she would try and talk to him but then messaged to say that i havent to message her again as ex had told her its none of her business and she has to keep out of it. So it looks like he has made up his mind to not see them and blame me. i have never stopped him seeing them! cant believe he has turned this around to say im stopping him seeing them. if thats his excuse then why hasnt he seen them all this time, except for when he had to cos i was so ill.

gymbunnynot Thu 23-Jun-11 13:08:46

It is so difficult. I grew up like this with a father who suited himself and disappeared, in fact left us so in the poo it is hard to believe.

My mother was vile about him, horrible but I was too young and idolised him and his absence.

I sort of believed it would all be ok if and when he came, but he never came.

At eighteen I found him and gained a relationship. At 29 I decided never to see him again as he is a waste of space.

Now at 39 I understand that there was nothing my mother could do or say, he is a deeply damaged man who was too spineless to be there for his children.

My feeling is that unfortunatly there isn't much you can say about her Dad all you can do is support her if she can't accept this. If she has him on a pedestal as I did with my Dad, it will be hard for her to hear anything about him. She is nine, perhaps she is projecting what a picture book Dad is and hers isn't which she can't deal with.

Don't be horrid about him (however much you want to string the b*gger up) Depending on how she is processing her thoughts will depend on how she deals with it but it is a process that will take time for all your children to adjust to and make the peace with.

Be assured that with your love and support, your children will be fine and in the end he is the one that will be lost.

And look after yourself, it is a tough one and will take time.

youarekidding Thu 23-Jun-11 13:36:42

saycheese I can empathise with you as being the parent who doesn't want to slag off the father but has to listen to how wonderful AWOL daddy is.

My Ex-P didn't take to parenthood and accused me of becomming boring. He continued his party lifestyle and commited adultary - I kicked him out. I was living abroad at the time where ex had grown up.(hes british though). DS was 13 months.

He lived 5 minutes away by car (20 by bus) and worked in the village where me and DS lived (and him until I kicked him out). He never mde an effort to see DS even saying if he had him every other weekend Sat-Sun when would he ger to go out?

Eventually I had to make the decision to return to the UK for support and we had a private agreement that maintence would be used for contact. This happened 8 months after I left and we visited for a week.

Since then no money has been forthcoming for contact or uniforms nothing. He has even not given money for DS birthday before now when he always did.

He rings twice a year if we're lucky. We received an invite to his and his fiances wedding to which I've not and not going to reply and then he rung a month later.

DS gets so exited and like your DD waits for the next call as promised but it never comes. sad

I find myself making excuses for his father but like some of the suggestions here so may adopt them for future convos.

OP YADNBU. Not in a million years and he'll regret not having a relationship with your 4 wonderful children.

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