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Just found out I have a 15 year old daughter.(60 Posts)
So right off the bat, I'm a dad - not a mum (hope I'm allowed). Not really sure I can even call myself a dad right now, but I'm definitely a bloke who has recent found out he's a father.
A little background, because I guess it's important... I never knew my own father. I had a step dad, and I wish I didn't, I don't have anything nice to say about him, he was a drunk and a violent one. My mum left him when I was 8 and I've never seen him since. Sadly my beautiful mum got sick when I was 13 and passed away, and I went into the foster system.
I met this girl when I was 16 at school. We we're proper opposites, I just always seemed to have a way of getting myself in a barney, whereas she, she was calm and a bit reserved and sensible and had her head screwed on. On paper it shouldn't of worked but in reality it did, we were really happy, her parents weren't impressed at all, but she ended up delaying uni and we went travelling.
We we're 19 and on a beach in Malaysia when she told me we we're done. She wanted to get serious and I wasn't the bloke she saw that with I guess. She went home next day, and it took me another 6 weeks to decide that me life was better with her it. So I went back home, but she was dating someone else. He was everything that I'm not, and everything that she was, and I decided that maybe that was how it should be. So I left again.
And I didn't hear a dicky from her for another 16 years.
...Till she contacted me on fb couple of months ago.
I feel like this is like chapter 2 now, so hold your hats.. She wanted to meet, but she kept pushing the date, saying she was ill or busy. I thought it was weird, till I met her early last month.
- She married this lad she met after we split up
- They raised a daughter together
- Only.. this daughter wasn't his
- He was a solider and he was killed on duty when this girl was 8
- Meaning my ex became a 'solo mum'
- And the kicker is that she, my ex, she got diagnosed with cancer in December, and it's, basically at a stage where there's not anything they can do to make it not, terminal.
............I didn't react very well.
It was just so much information so quickly.. I just couldn't process it. I did ask for a paternity test though.
To cut a long story short, we got the results of that a couple of weeks later, which proves what she says and so I met her again then...
I told her straight that I feel like it's fair enough if I wasn't the guy for her, but i wasn't a bad guy, I never treated her badly, and was never her right to decide that someone else could have been a better father to my kid. I'm a bit unconventional as people go, I'm a bit different, but I've always wanted my own family, I was disappointing that hadn't happened for me yet in life. I was always so sure that if I had a kid I'd do it right, they wouldn't grow up the way I did, I'd give them everything that I never had.
And I feel like it wasn't her choice to make, and she robbed me of the chance of all that. My dad left before I was born, I would never have done that, but she didn't give me a choice.
She basically said that.. at the time she didn't think I was ready (I probably wasn't - but I would of grown into it - I guess we'll never know now), and that she had fun with me, but that she saw this solid family with him, and he didn't want me in the picture.
I asked her why now? Like she must know other people, and if I was such a poor bet for a father before then why now.
And she said "Because she's your daughter Ollie180. I saw it in that first really proper school report she got 'DD gets on well with her classmates, perhaps too well as she chats too much in class, and definitely feels comfortable in the spotlight', and I've seen it everyday since more and more. I raised her, but my god she's your daughter! She's got such a kind heart, she charismatic, shes always glass half full, she sees the big picture but never has time for the details and sometimes she's so foolhardy that it scares me! Oh and there's only one other person I've ever met who lights up a room quite the same way she does!"
I didn't know what to say really, not a problem I usually have, but I just felt so many things at once.
And while I sat there she went "and because in the middle of all of this is a kid who's world is about to turn upside down. I wanted her to have a childhood like mine, because I thought that was right, I wanted that stability for her, (she started to get more upset) but that's not something I'm going to have been able to give her, and if there's anybody at all that could relate to her now then it's you Ollie, I know that it's you."
I feel so many things, I feel so sad for everything I feel like I've lost, and angry about it too. I also feel really sad that she's sick, cause I still care about her, I don't think that ever stops when you've loved someone. Then on top of that there's this 15 year old girl, and truth is I have been where she is, and I wouldn't wish that on anyone.
There's no discussion to be had over what I do, I'll be there for her, as much as I can possibly be. She's my kid, and I always promised myself I wouldn't let any kid of mine down.
I just, it's hard..... so far I've met her once. Only like an introduction really, for a couple of hours with her mum too. It was okay, it was a bit awkward. But I'm going to see her again this week, her mum's taken a bit of a bad turn so they've been to the hospital quite a bit. I'm going to try and take her out just me and her.. It's so difficult though.. like i knew when i was with her that I was trying to hard and I was probably coming off like a tool. I just want so bad to like make up for 15 years of history that we don't have. And then at the same time this girl is going through a horrible horrible time, so she's hardly in the best place for 'fun trips out'.
I don't know what I'm asking really.. I guess I'm just reaching out for advice..
How do I play this?
How regularly should I be seeing her? talking to her?
How tf do I parent a 15 year old?
Sorry that ended up such an essay, I just feel like no one I know knows how to help, or what to say.
Oh wow that is really tough. Your head must be spinning.
I suppose all you can do is keep meeting up and do whatever you can to build a relationship. It's so hard under the circumstances. But let her know you're there for her and she will still have a parent in her life.
You sound absolutely lovely. I wouldn’t swap my dad but if i has to, you’d do
I’m not surprised you’re feeling turbulent. This is an incredible thing to have dropped on you all of a sudden. But you sound like you have a lot of love to give, and someone to give it to, and enough emotional intelligence to take that carefully and slowly.
Is there any way you can move to where she is and keep the rest of her life as normal as possible? That is what I would want for my dc if anything happened to me. I would prepare to step up fairly quickly, especially in the current circumstances. I would see what your and her financial situation would be. You probably only have 3-4 years of intensive parenting before she is ready to go solo, though she will need you around for the rest of her life.
15yr olds are all different- mine is generally lovely. I would avoid going in too heavy handed, that ship has sailed but in a supportive uncle style but willing to say no if push comes to shove. They are at the stage where they are preparing for independence anyway so that needs to be encouraged and issues talked through.
You'll work it out as you go. You come across in your post as a really lovely, intelligent and emotionally aware person. Very sad that you've missed out on so much, and I'm sure you must be angry, hurt and upset about that. But you've now got an opportunity to draw on your obviously considerable inner resources and your own childhood experiences to help your daughter get through this terrible time in her life.
I hope you manage to build the relationship you both deserve and wish you the very best of luck
Wow, talk about a Rollercoaster of emotions. Good on you for standing strong and meeting her.
In regards to parenting a 15 year old, don't.
That ship has sailed but, that doesn't mean you can't have the best relationship! She sounds like you have the same personality type, she needs that now more than ever. It is a hard time for you but more so her, if she is someone who texts /WhatsApps a lot I would recommend getting to know her and chatting daily that way, less pressure while you get to know each other, then you can see what she really enjoys and bond that way.
I genuinely wish you the best! She will likely be the best freind you'll ever have its just going to take time less awkward the better
Your DD is probably feeling just as confused and shocked by this as you, and feeling quite angry with her mum and guilty about that, or struggling to express the anger because her mum is sick.
To be clear, is her mum asking you to take responsibility for your DD in the event she dies? What other family does the girl have?
I think there are practical issues to figure out and your DD is old enough to take part in those conversations.
I would be very honest with your DD and say it's been a huge surprise, and you have regrets that you missed out on her past but you want to be part of her future, if she will invite you in. Let her take the lead, if she's not sure what contact she wants, suggest you meet regularly in a neutral space for brunch and start to get to know each other. Even better suggest going for a walk in a local park when the weather is nice - it's often easier to deal with heavy emotions or awkward silences when you're moving and not face to face.
I think it's amazing you don't sound more bitter, I would be chuffed to find out you were my dad. However she's a teenager so she might not have that maturity to reach that conclusion yet. Play the long game, you may find not only do you end up with a strong bond with your DD but also in future, maybe grandchildren too.
Good luck xx
You know what op
Your going to be just fine ,more than fine
You know what makes a crap dad ,your already determined your not going to be like that ,lucky girl ,she’s going to be ok with her dad.but she will need a lot of support as she looses her mum
Wow what a post.
Reach out to her. Tell her you’re there for here, in whatever capacity she needs when she needs it.
Tell her about yourself and why you weren’t in her life (without blame). See if you have any common ground. Tell her how you met her mum and any funny stuff you remember.
Tell her how lucky you feel to know you know have a lovely daughter.
Of course you've got a lot of feelings, but now your not the number one person. Now your daughter is the most important person and she's about to go through the worst time in her life. You don't need to do fun days out. You just need to be there. And being a 15yo girl she's probably going to give you a hard time. Thats just what they do.
Of course this is a massive shock, but what a wonderful one. You have a daughter! My first piece of advise is to completely let go of the past. What happened, what didn't, what you never knew doesn't matter now. All that matters is today and the future you make with your child. She is undoubtedly going through a very difficult time with her mum being ill and getting to know you. Talk about a lot to handle for anyone, never mind a young girl. Just talk to her, get to know her and really listen. Text her often just to check in and to let her know you are there to support her. I'm sure you will be a brilliant father.
Wow - you sound amazing. What an extraordinary story and so much to go through.
So many wise pieces of advice given here already.
For me there are two aspects - the practical and the emotional.
Practically - What does this mean day to day? Is her mum asking you to take over at some point ? If so, what will that mean, living, money and are you able to have those practical conversations now with your ex partner? Is there other family involved?
Emotionally it’s even harder. I am a single parent of a 15 year old girl. It’s tough. However it’s obviously also really special. You can’t really parent anymore, it’s now more about being there, being a rock through everything , making them feel safe, having channels of communication open. I find they will talk to you about tougher things if you’re already talking about shallower things which means finding something that they’re interested in and showing genuine interest helps relationship - (my daughter and I have bonded in her teenage years over certain music/ watching videos of bands on YouTube etc).
I am genuinely full of massive respect for you and wish you all the very best at this really difficult time .
So what's the plan for this 15 year old?
Who is her Guardian? Who is taking care of her whilst her Mum is in hospital?
There will be agencies and charities out there with the skills to support you, Social Services even. Sorry I can't be precise. Marie Curie may be able to point you on your way.
Wow thank you guys!! It's all great advice, and it means a lot to me!!
@TW2013 Yeah, so I live about an hour away at the moment but I've actually only been living back in this country for just over 2 years. I lived in south africa for quite a while when i was younger and more recently I was living in the Caribbean. So other than my work I'm not particularly tied to the area I'm living in now. And I can drive to work anyway so moving closer is definitely something I could do, and definitely would do quicker if her mums health is going to deteriorate quicker than maybe they thought.
@Goth4moths Thank you!! So I said i'd pick her up from school on Tuesday and spend some time with her 1on1... not quite sure what I'm going to do with her yet, I need to think about that. But hopefully it'll be okay and then i'll give her my number in person and then maybe try and text her a little bit.
Haha thank you, I'd like that you know. I hope that it isnt all too far gone and that we can still have a relationship, because yeah, if she's like her mum describes her, then I reckon we could 'proper get on'!
@HathorX For sure! One of the most 'real' things she did say to me when we met was that "it's hard to deal with this having been kept a secret from me, at the same time as dealing with everything that's happening with mum" and I told her that I thought we were in the same boat on that point.
I get it, I lost my mum, but I wasn't dealing with all these revelations at the same time. It's.. a lot!
Yeah, it's hard and I do feel sad about it, but feeling sorry for yourself doesn't ever change anything or make anything better, so whats the point! Haha yeah, maybe this is my chance at the family i've always wanted - its unconventional, but then when has anything in my life ever not been!
@LynetteScavo Yeah, no, I get that. It's harder on her than me I know! And I know it's not going to be like a fun daytrip.. I just think it'll be easier to do something than just sit in her dining room again!
@Aquamarine1029 Yeah you're right! I think I keep forgetting that because its all so much so fast. But you're right, I was trying to explain to my ex as well because I think she thinks she inconveniencing my life, but the only thing I wish is that she'd inconvenienced my life sooner!! I want my daughter in my life, 100% I do!
@HathorX @Lilactimes @ElspethFlashman Yeah so, practically... my ex is defo looking at it from a point of view of her coming to live with me.
Financially.. I'm not well off. I spent most of my life working for non-profits and when money was tight as long as I got bed & board I wasn't too worried about getting paid - I didn't think I had anyone else to provide for!! I did say this to my ex though, although she is (unsurprisingly) pretty well off, had a whole career in real estate. She was just like 'don't worry about money, I can make sure that you and her and alright with that, I just want her to have a proper home, I don't want her to end up in care, you must understand that' (and of course I do understand that. I experienced the good, the bad, and the non existent during my time in the system).
Other family.. she has an 'aunt' who is her "dad's" sister, but she lives out in Australia, so she hasn't actually seen her very often.
My ex isn't in hospital permanently yet, so DD is still at home with her, and staying at her best friends house when my ex is in hospital.
Obviously though, as like a timescale of how long that can last, I have no idea!
@Shouldbedoing I have such a tainted view when it comes to SS
I know SS are a mixed bag and your early experiences weren't good, but don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. They are a resource to be used.
From a practical point of view your DD needs her own social worker, someone independent from everything that can support her with what she wants.
Are you and your DD messaging each other much? It's a good way to get to know each other - not huge long messages more about what you've both done, names of friends etc.
Oh I would find yourself a really good therapist/counselling as becoming a parent throws a lot of shit up from the past!!!
The 15yr old needs to be in the driving seat. She didn't ask for any of this. Give her some control. Make yourself available. Your job is to support her.
Wow, what a huge amount to take in but a blessing to have a daughter despite it being a shock.
You obviously have your head screwed on and are a sensible person so it's a case of taking things slowly and getting to know your daughter at her pace at the moment. It won't be easy but good luck to both of you
@RandomMess She's having counselling at school, my ex told me that. Other than that I don't know at the moment, and I feel like I kinda just have to follow their lead. I don't feel like I can go charging in telling them what they need to be doing or not doing y'know.
No, not yet! I'm seeing her for the second time (first time just the two of us) on Tuesday, I'm going to pick her up from school. So hopefully give her my number then and add her on Whatsapp or Snapchat or whatever it is she wants to use, and then I think you're right, hopefully that'll be quite a low pressure way of getting to know each other a bit.
You need counselling for yourself, so many conflicting emotions for yourself! Be warned most people 15-25ish are self centred and still maturing.
Being a parent or parent figure to teens and early twenties is a shock 😂
So basically your ex wants her daughter to live with a complete stranger that her daughter has met only once so far?
This is the most batshit and irresponsible thing I've ever read.
I also find it entirely unlikely that there is no grandparents or other aunt's and uncles or Mum's best friends on the scene.
OP, what a story, it has made me teary. You sound really lovely. Sorry you didn't have the best childhood and sorry it's all now fallen at you at once. That's a huge amount of news to take in. And a huge mix of emotions, good and bad.
I think whilst the precious time with your DD has been stolen from you, this might be a beginning of a fantastic relationship between the two of you. There are tough times ahead of her and the fact you'll be there for her will be invaluable. I don't have any advice for you at all apart from be yourself. Be calm, patient and surround her with love. Your relationship will grow and no doubt deepen - from what your ex partner says, you are similar souls. Don't forget to look after yourself too, counselling would not be a bad idea. A tornado has just gone through your life and nothing will ever be the same. You need to talk about this.
Wishing you the very best of luck