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helping my poor dd come to terms with her crap dad (long)

(20 Posts)
Handywoman Mon 01-Dec-14 18:24:22

So 18 months ago I kicked out my inept, abusive stbxh. For a gist of what he was like here's the thread

He has moved out and bought a flat very nearby (about a mile away). I tried to co-parent/facilitate with his relationship with the kids. But he repeatedly used this to further abuse and project his anger on to me. I've been in therapy since April. I decided cut contact with him down to an absolute minimum, I resigned as diary secretary and told him that if he wanted to be involved in the kids school lives etc. he would have to sign up for school e-mails, find out what was going on and engage with the dc himself. He has dc EOW overnight (ridiculously minimal contact given that he's up the road) leaving me with responsibility for absolutely everything. He makes no effort to be in touch with them in between fortnightly contact. I told him that dd1 needed to see more of him a while back, but it didn't result in any more effort. He hasn't turned up to any parents' evenings, Christmas concerts, doesn't even know whether they eat packed lunch or school dinners. Even though he has now bought a flat he has not so much as bought them a toothbrush to keep there. Has not sorted out their rooms and they are still sharing a mattress on the floor. He knows the square root of f*ck all about their lives really. He has gone off with a new set of friends, and no longer sees any of our mutual friends. This unfortunately seems to add to the 'separate-ness' of him.

My eldest is now 11.5. She is very sensitive and extremely mature (but still only 11.5). She has hit puberty in full force. She has also started secondary school. Stbxh is pretty out of touch with dd1's life now. dd1 is now seeing what her Dad is like, and is struggling enormously with the fact that he is now so 'out' of her life now. dd1 barely speaks about this to me, feeling torn about not betraying him. But when she does speak about it she gets extremely upset and incredibly tearful. Last night she was beside herself and extremely distressed. I feel like my own heart is being ripped out, seeing her so sad. I feel helpless, because this is Who Her Dad Is and there's nothing I can do about that. It's like a slow and awful bereavement for her. I can't suggest counselling for her because she would absolutely hate it.

If anyone has had to witness this, is there anything, anything, I can do??? If anyone else has been through this, please talk to me or just hold my hand while I hold hers.


AnyFucker Mon 01-Dec-14 18:29:44

I haven't been through this but I remember you and feel for your daughter. Poor girl !

I think you are right though, there is not a jot you can do other than support her through this. The rose tinted spectacles of extreme youth are slowly being removed and he, by his own behaviour, is being shown for the Waste of Space he is

You can't protect her from that knowledge, I am afraid

RandomMess Mon 01-Dec-14 18:36:53

I wouldn't rule out counselling because you think she would hate it - she may prefer to have someone that she sees as being neutral to vent at.

PortofinoVino Mon 01-Dec-14 18:39:05

I have been through this.......and what AnyFucker said is so true.

It is heartbreaking though.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Mon 01-Dec-14 18:46:56

I have been through this, OP. I'll hold your hand.

I'll also tell you that YOU will be your daughter's best ally in her life, the one that she can count on. Does she have brothers? If so, where does she 'fit' with the ages? I have three and was the oldest child, only girl.

She's coming up to a difficult time, puberty is very hard for everybody, I think, but it's particularly difficult for girls.

I hope you don't mind but my thoughts get a bit jumbled so I'll put this in bullet points and hope you can make them cohesive if they're any use to you.

* Please don't lie to her ever about saying that her dad loves her when it's patently obvious he doesn't care. You can liberally tell her that you do, of course and that he's too stupid to realise what he's missing.

* Give her permission to not see him, to not love him, to want nothing to do with him if that's how she feels - and be prepared for lots of tears and back-tracking whilst she comes to terms with that.

* Tell your daughter that her father is able to have access to his children and that you'll never do anything to prevent that but that you will, absolutely, protect her and her sibling(s) at the first hints of any trouble.

* When your daughter tells you that she wishes a random actor/pop star/whatever was her dad... don't feel guilty for having paired up with your ex and tell her that it was the one (or however many sibs she has) good thing that he ever did and that you wouldn't change her for anything.

* Is there any male role model in the family/close friend circle who could take more of a role with your daughter? I would say that this would be a very good thing if it were possible.

* Make no excuses or give reasons for your ex's lack of focus and attention because they always do sound like excuses and it's very easy to turn them into 'sticking up for him' to her detriment (in her head).

I really feel for your daughter and for you. You sound like a very nice mum indeed. I found life without a dad very hard (he's still around but I haven't seen him for 10 years or more and don't want to). When I was young (5 or 6), I would randomly go up and hold men's hands and chatter away to them. I didn't know that I did this but apparently it was often. My mum took to keeping me on a very close watch. I was obviously missing a dad. He didn't leave till I was 17 but in my head, he'd never been there. sad

So sorry for you and your daughter, OP. You'll get through it, you really will. thanks

AnyFucker Mon 01-Dec-14 18:50:04

That sounds like sound advice

TalkingintheDark Mon 01-Dec-14 18:53:38

That's really heartbreaking, I'm so sorry.

I would say the most important thing you can do for her is just endlessly reinforce that his crapness is in no way anything to do with her. Ie, it's not because she's not worth bothering with that he doesn't bother, it's not because of anything she's done or failed to do, or anything about her as a person; it's all because he is deficient and inadequate and doesn't know how to love.

I know this is stating the bleeding obvious, but sometime the obvious is exactly what needs to be stated, over and over again. The pain of not being loved by a parent cuts so very deep, and it's almost standard procedure for a child in that position to blame herself for that lack of love, whether consciously or unconsciously.

And remember that she does have something very important going for her - she has a mum who really does love her and cares so deeply about her, and that at the end of the day makes all the difference. Also, the fact she is getting distressed and sharing that with you, however painful it is for her, and for you to witness, is actually a healthy sign - far worse if she internalised and suppressed it all. You are the one who has given her the safety to do that.

TalkingintheDark Mon 01-Dec-14 18:56:14

X-post with LyingWitch - yes, very good advice.

Handywoman Mon 01-Dec-14 19:49:15

Thanks so much for these replies, they are so helpful. Dd1 is the eldest of 2 girls. She has a tough time at school as she is dyslexic. Plus all the disruption of changing new and old friendships, being organised at school etc.

Dd2 is 9yo on the spectrum and is occasionally quite confused about dad living elsewhere and finds the transitions, upheaval of packing PJ's/cuddly toys etc tiring. But is mostly in a bubble and not often thinking about him.

dd1's struggles are more grown up and painful.

To my surprise I do have a wonderful new man in my life. A very respectful man who himself is a wonderful dad to his own 9yo dd. gradually, very gradually, she will hopefully begin to get to know him. She's met him a few times but it's early days.

I also have a lovely family and we are planning to all go away together next summer.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Mon 01-Dec-14 20:10:44

I really hope that works out for you, Handywoman, I would have loved for my mum to find somebody kind and attentive, somebody I could send a father's day card to. I sent one to Danny DeVito's agent for him a couple of years ago. I don't know why. Always wanted him as a dad, either him or Peter Ustinov. blush

It sounds as if you have your head screwed on with what your children neend. DD1 obviously needs the time and attention and possible distraction of this man and his child.

I really wish you well. thanks

AnyFucker Mon 01-Dec-14 20:11:42


You and your girls will get through this thanks

Windywinston Mon 01-Dec-14 22:14:01

OP, I have been the child in this situation, at a similar age to your DD1. What's happening is that because you are no longer managing him, she is now seeing him for the father he's always been. Counselling is a good idea as young girls often blame themselves for situations like this and it's totally wrong. She may find it far easier to talk to a stranger than to you, because she will know that you have your own feelings about this all.

She will eventually come to terms with what he is like, in the meantime it's really important that she doesn't blame herself. In order to do this, don't force access, talk to your ex and explain how his actions are affecting your DDs, but ultimately he will be the father he wants to be, and it sounds like he wants to be a shit one. You need to love her enough for both of you, it sounds like this won't be a problem for you.

If it helps, I have a wonderful stepdad who was the only male role model I needed growing up. Far from mourning the absence of my father I'm glad that I don't feel any pressure to put more into our relationship than he did from the age of 11 onwards. I see him once every few years (he moved overseas when I was 13 and pretty much cut contact at that point) and we get on ok, but I don't feel he deserves the headspace of me being sad or resentful for what went before, I just get on with my life. Your DD will too.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Mon 01-Dec-14 22:32:44

I really like your post, Windywinston smile

Windywinston Mon 01-Dec-14 23:19:55

Thank you Lying. I really had to share my experience as I know the pain this little girl is in, but she won't always be.

maddy68 Mon 01-Dec-14 23:25:44

I've been the child in these circumstances. Your child will find out soon enough what a crap parent they are. The first rule is never ever bad mouth their dad. No matter what a fuckwit he is she will still love him warts and all.

He may turn into a great dad later on, my dad was much better once I had grown up. Maintain the contact for your childs sake.

She will know what he's like dead down. He will also have some great qualities which you must try not to squash

sugarsinner Tue 02-Dec-14 04:57:13

Is there another male family member who can take your daughter under their wing a bit? My Dad was really useless growing up, was aggressive and knew nothing about me. Luckily, my Grandfather on my mum's side became a large influence in my life and sort of made up for it.
I think it's important to make up for her Dad's negative influence on her life with a positive male one if possible as it could affect her future male relationships.
My first 3 boyfriends didn't give a toffee about me, just like my Dad and I accepted it as the norm. I then met my lovely DP who is a reflection of my Grandfather in many ways and such a positive influence in my life.
I guess she just needs the love and support she isnt getting from her Dad from other sources.

PedantMarina Tue 02-Dec-14 05:46:35

All I can add is, the single most important message you can give DD is that her feelings are valid. I grew up in a situation which raised a lot of questions about things, and emotions to work through, and unfortunately the GPs (who took over raising me) had a standard MO of not discussing things or acknowledging my emotions, even the "normal" ones, like friend-making.

And YY to a counsellor.

Finally, keep a lookout for DD2; her "bubble" is screaming at me.

Wishing you all serenity.

demoska1 Tue 02-Dec-14 06:14:48

I could have written your post...
My exH left traded me in for a Harley Davidson and a younger model when our ds was 5 mo, we had girls of 2 & 5 too. He became so wrapped up in his playboy life style bragging about "being free" etc etc that he basically forgot he had children. Even denied to csa that he had them!
That was 17 yrs ago...I did all I could to encourage him to have contact, I wanted the c to have a good relationship with their dad despite my own feeling towards him, his behaviour (e&pa) and long string of ow. I never bad mouthed him to the c.
Whenever the c became upset about him breaking promises, behaving badly, being a d**k in front of his relatives while he paraded them round I just listened, hugged, cried with them or laughed with them. He didn't attend any parents evening, school/college events, hospital stays, he missed the lot.
I guess your c need time to grieve the loss of their dad too. Just continue to be a good mum who is not afraid to share some of the hurt. Eventually the c will work it all out for themselves.
I now have 3 very good grounded kids, 2 working ft, 1 doing an apprenticeship. Their dad sits alone and drinks himself to sleep, no w want him, can't afford his motorbike bike, no friends, kids have their own lives and rarely see him. He never rings them. He doesn't know anything about their lives.
Your doc will be ok. There will be other males in your family who will be their role models.

cestlavielife Tue 02-Dec-14 14:24:42

some counselling would work there are diff types and the right kind would help, she might get benefit from art or music therapy for example rather than direct talking.... my dds suffering from their dad, currently have a very good sw who is involved. school are trying to encourage oldest o use their services, they have art therapy and direct counselling.. we did go to good family therapist (not with their dad, the option was there to include him but dds said no...) and some of the tools and strategies were helpful.

in our case my ex wants to be involved but goes about it the wrong way... currently sees dd2 eg to go swimming but he uses time to tell her everything about how crazy her mum is, what I have done is wrong, etcetc...sw heard this today from dd2 as a follow up visit to an incident involving dd1 (when ex assaulted dd1 tho in his view he was just being fatherly....hence involvement from sw) last month.....and has today been to see ex and has said will make it v clear he is not to do this. dd1 doesn't wish to see him. sw also saw dd1 and was trying to encourage her to see counsellor. sw very much on dc side.

anyway as was said above. out role is to be supportive, to acknowledge, to listen... help them grow up to deal with the situation and be strong. there is extra support out there, thru gp at first instance or via school.

Windywenceslas Tue 02-Dec-14 16:10:22

Cestlavielife I'm so sorry for you and your girls. I'm glad you're getting the right help

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