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night two, daughter howling for dad, barely holding it together

(14 Posts)
fizzyone Tue 25-Sep-12 21:07:19

I've lurked on this board (and others here) for a long time, agonising over the decision of whether to end it with my daughter's dad. The other night, he came out with yet another nasty comment and I finally told him it was finished. I feel a bit removed from my feelings but also sad and daunted about the path ahead. However, I think I've made the right decision; most of my worries about the future are about logistics and how my daughter will cope rather than feeling like I will miss him or can't live without him... and I know it's early days; but tonight was just awful. I've told my daughter (3.5) that mummy and daddy haven't been getting on very well and that we are both sad but that he is going not going to stay with us anymore (he's had his own flat for 2 years now, round the corner, but for the last couple of months has been staying with us 'to see how things go'). She didn't really seem to react much at the time, but tonight when I was getting her ready for bed, she was acting up and when I told her firmly to stop, started howling for her dad, sobbing etc. I really had trouble holding it together myself, straining not to cry in front of her. It will get better, won't it?!

TodaysAGoodDay Tue 25-Sep-12 21:10:58

It will get better, I promise. She's only little, she won't remember for long. I left my DS's dad when DS was 2.6, ok a bit younger than your DD, but he remembers nothing about us all living together. Seriously, she will be fine soon, as soon as she realises that screaming won't make her dad come back. It's a very trying time, but it really does get easier. Chin up, you can do this.

BertieBotts Tue 25-Sep-12 21:14:13

Oh lovely, of course it will get better. She's just hurting and it will come out in odd ways when you least expect it. She will be okay, times like these you just have to love them through it.

She's not lost her dad, she still has him nearby, and you've so done the right thing - I don't know your backstory but if he was making nasty comments then it wouldn't have been a happy house for her longterm had he stayed.

Give her a big hug and tell her it's okay to miss him and be sad. And know that this time won't last forever and she won't be sad forever, she'll adjust to the new way that life is and probably be happier, overall. And you will be too. xx

TodaysAGoodDay Tue 25-Sep-12 21:15:04

Sorry, more to say. When she cries, give her a big hug and tell her it's alright to be sad/angry/whatever emotion she displays. And don't feel you can't cry in front of her, she will find out that you have feelings too. It's okay to talk about feelings, and it is certainly okay to have a cry.

kinkyfuckery Tue 25-Sep-12 21:15:08

Do you know what, I know this will probably go against what most other people will say, but I'll say it anyway. If you want to cry, cry! Don't feel you have to "hold it together". Sometimes our children benefit from knowing that we are human, that her feelings of upset aren't trivial and that you are feeling it too.

It does get better though. My DD1 was also 3.5 when I ended things with her father, and she was utterly heartbroken. Now, it's just the way life is.

stealth hug

DoubleYew Tue 25-Sep-12 21:16:19

Everything is always worse when you are tired. She will get used to the new set up.

Now she is out of the way in bed, its your space to cry - if you need to!

Once things settle down you'll start to see the positives of not having that bad atmosphere, not dreading hearing him come in.

MrsRhettButler Tue 25-Sep-12 21:21:12

Dd1 was 6 when me and xp broke up, she'd lived with him her entire life up until that point, it was hard at first and sometimes she still mentions it being nice when daddy lived ith us but (only 3 months on) she has totally come to terms with it and is happy enough with the situation.

As long s she feels secure in the fact that you both love her and she will still see her dad/can call him whenever she needs to she will soon be back to normal smile

I've cried in front of dd a little bit and she knows it's ok to be sad about things.

fizzyone Tue 25-Sep-12 21:32:46

thanks everyone, i suppose i know it will get better but the guilt is horrible. i haven't told anyone in real life yet and have been keeping it in but your lovely supportive responses have let loose the floodgates now. And thinking about it you are right, that maybe it doesn't do her much harm to see me being sad too... I have told her I am sad.

One problem is that he has always said that 'he can't conceive of being a dad without being with me', i know that's very weird, just one of the many problems we had... and he has been threatening to just disappear and take as long as it takes to get over it, that i'll never know when he'll manage to face me again (coudl be a week, could be a year he says) and that i'll have to take the responsibilty for 'depriving our daughter of her father'.

So I'm quite nervous about him not being very cooperative on coparenting and consistency for our daughter's sake and find it difficult to say when she will see him because he hasn't told me anything. Having said that, he did text me today to ask me to get her to phone him so he could talk to her so it may well be a case of him being a drama queen to try to stop me from ending it. what a minefield ahead

crackcrackcrak Tue 25-Sep-12 21:48:44

She will be fine. I left dd Das when she was 2.6. A while back she did get quite emotional about it but routine and consistency will always help. She still dies all the same stuff and has a recognisable week. I was v strict about exp not disrupting her routine and Cafcass were v supportive of that (not everything mind).

6 months later she has had routine contact established for quite a while and she's really v settled and this seems to improve month by month. I has to learn that her asking questions and wanting to talk about her dad are not the same as being upset and traumatised - I really beat myself up about it in the past but it's ok now. I put a positive spin on things and encourage her to talk about what she will do with dad and what she needs to tell him (I mean about fun days out and achievements etc)

BertieBotts Tue 25-Sep-12 22:19:38

Something which helped me was someone saying if you'd made the decision to live apart for any other reason - say, he'd joined the forces, or was working abroad, or if it wasn't Daddy going but a much loved older sibling leaving home, you would not feel this sense of guilt because it's just what happens in life. Of course, you'd empathise with her and understand that it was heartbreaking for her in that moment but you would see the bigger picture as an adult and know that what was happening was for the best, or even, just the way it was and there's nothing you could do to change it.

You wouldn't feel guilty about any of those things, so there's nothing intrinsically about "Dad leaving home" that you should feel guilty about, it's just conditioning that makes us feel we've "failed" at the relationship because the relationship/keeping the family together is the woman's "responsibility". It's not. It is, obviously, very sad that things have worked out this way but it's just part of life like everything else and your DD will be sad and unsettled for a while, but she will adjust and move on and accept the new way of life, which is of course also a totally acceptable way to live.

DoubleYew Tue 25-Sep-12 23:38:35

Hinting that you won't see your dc if you split up is a horrible manipulative thing to do. Shows you care more about hurting and controlling your partner than what is best for your child.

Don't put any barriers between them obviously but don't engage in any convincing him to see her either.

Once you get in a pattern of contact you will feel better as you'll see how it can work long term. You have to separate him as your (ex)partner and him as her dad so you can chat to her about what she has done with Daddy without your feelings about him getting in the way. As she gets older she'll be able to organise more of her relationship with him herself, so that will be easier on you.

cestlavielife Wed 26-Sep-12 10:12:42

she is picking up on your anxieties...

keep phrases to say like "you will see daddy on saturday. now lets get on with what we need to do" .

agree with looking at it like if dad was away on work or something you would not feel guilty nor would you accept her hollering for dad like this. be firm but calm.

"daddy cant be here right now but you will see him soon/ next week "

"daddy doesnt live here any more but that is ok you will see him soon" .

i think cut out feeling sad and telling her you feel sad.
tell her it is ok because it is a better and dad and mum will be happier and she will get to do fun things with dad and fun things with mum and it is ok,

get books like "two of everything" to read with her

www.amazon.co.uk/Two-Of-Everything-Babette-Cole/dp/0099220628

and let her talk while you read

daisybtw Wed 26-Sep-12 20:25:31

fizzyone Nearly in tears myself! You've made a very brave decision. My son sometimes asks why his dad and I don't live together and I'm pretty frank with him. I tell him that me and his daddy don't love each other any more, but that we adore him. The problems you're experiencing with your ex will straighten themselves out along the way. Just be sure to be very business like about organising who spends time with your daughter when. Put it in writing if you can. These first steps are tough, but you've done the hardest bit, now you've just got to hang on in there with your daughter and give her plenty of reassurance and love. Good luck x

fizzyone Wed 26-Sep-12 21:09:17

Bertie that makes a lot of sense, thanks for giving me a different perspective. Agree with keeping things business like and the books are a good idea too, but I might wait until it is really apparent that she actually will have 'two of everything' when/if her dad pulls himself together a bit.

I have a weakness in getting too easily dragged into defending myself against the accusations that my ex levels at me so I was quite proud of myself today when after some toing and froing over email about him seeing her, and he told me 'thanks for ruining my life', I managed to ignore it and stick to the business in hand - nor did I get tied up with trying to convince him to see her. Not that it did result in any arrangement but baby steps I guess....

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