I'm one of those deadbeat dads, but not by choice. I tried to talk to my daughter. I tried to be a part of her school. I tried to visit her when it was my time to visit, etc. It's the same old sob story, but I imagine my daughter is hearing a much different, much more negative story about me; probably something related to a callous disregard for her.
This is a common thing, yet very emotional, so I don't want this to get out of hand, but I would like to know:
What kind of relationship do you dads currently have with your now adult children? Are your children still estranged from you despite your best efforts? Or maybe in your kid's best interest, do you avoid the fighting and accept what others have thrust upon you?
Anyone can submit their comment no matter what their situation is, but I would especially like to hear from the successful fathers and what they have done to foster their relationships. I'm still trying and could use some ideas.
Well, I am sure this is not what you will want to hear but.... Most of the time children want space from their family members. It may not be that she hates you. Giving your children space shows them that you trust them and can give them freedom.
I am not fully understanding what has happened with your family. Making an effort is great but, trying too hard can have a negative impact. If you just try being yourself in front of them and not trying then things will come easier, hopefully. I'm not sure what a father would call their best effort. In the eyes of the kid it may look like they have an inability to let go. Generally accepting the circumstance and understanding what it is can help gain a new light on the situation. Some people just wake up one morning and look at things in a completely different way.
If the mother and father say derogatory things about one another it can have a huge impact on how the children perceive their parents. My parents never said anything bad to one another, even while they were alone together. It is one of those unwritten rules in relationships that you don't talk bad about your significant other. It shows the children that they don't really have to respect one, or both, of the parents. If the mother, or even another relative, is talking negatively about the father, this may be where the tension is coming from. However, sadly, there is not much that can be done about this. Freedom of speech allows people to say pretty much whatever they want.
If you really want to be a positive force in your child's life then you can set examples for them, without telling them you are setting them. Everyone makes mistake and if you have, take responsibility for them. This can show that you are an accountable person who is able to admit when they are wrong.
Wow, I've run away with this topic. I hope that some of this information helped.
Not saying things bad about Mom is important, but not saying anything at all seems to be harmful, too. What about Stockholm's Syndrome? If no one says anything about the bad things that happened and who did those bad things, how are the children to recognize the situation for what it is? Routinely keeping pertinent information from the captive is highly effective in creating a false relationship.
The Stockholm Syndrome is an extreme example, but it has some relevance.
I have struggled with how to confront my daughter with her abduction. I don't want to take every opportunity to knock my ex partially because I don't want to take a primarily negative approach. Nor do I want to say nothing because then she will learn nothing. One cannot make an informed opinion when having limited access to the facts.
Kind of like when you go to a job interview. It is a time to brag about yourself, but you don't want to brag about yourself because that is wrong. "Even an egg has a heart of gold." You need to present yourself -brag about yourself- in a tactful way without slamming all of your previous employers.
Another important thing is I can't force her to listen to me no matter how right I am or how wrong she is. She has to be like a sponge and want to learn. This is going to be tough.
An estranged parent and child getting together again can be a real problem unless certain barriers are broken down.
Have you asked your daughter how she feels about you?
Have you told her how you feel about her?
I do mean (really truly feel)!
Sometimes us guys can take things for granted. I have a son that needed
reassurance that I loved him, and that was when he was in his 30's. He and I had a long talk. I told him how much i loved him, and what some of the troubles were that his mother and I went through in our relationship without placing blame. He is in touch with me at least 3 times per week now. This happened over a lunch and an hour and a half of sincere communications.
This shows that even when they get older, they can feel unsure about their relationship with you. If you quit watering a plant, it will die. Once you start to make headway, you have to contribute positively and continuously to the bond between you and your daughter, through good times and bad.
Even if your daughter is younger, give her a chance to experience how you really feel on her time table.
Don't rush things. Try to show sincere interest in her activities, without too much pushing. Let her set the pace that she is comfortable with.
It takes time for children to experience the tribulations of life and relationships. These experiences will teach them that no one is perfect, and that things are not always as they appear.
Be there for her when she needs you, and offer her the option of being with you on other occasions without being pushy. Keep the relationship positive.
If she wants to know about your relationship with your ex, keep that in as positive a perspective as possible. Negative remarks about an ex can only
confirm negative things that your ex has said about you.
An elderly lady said something to me that has always stuck.
she said, "When kids are little, they step on your feet. When they grow older, they step on your heart". You have to be up to that challenge with patience, love and understanding. Time does heal most wounds.
I hope the best for you
jerry l, I don't speak with her at all, neither do I know where she lives or anything. I had spoken to her about 3 years ago when she was 13 or 14 and we visited a bit. I couldn't speak a bunch as I was at work, but we had some good words. The last phone call I received from her was when she told me she didn't want to talk to me because she kept getting in trouble and didn't want that.
Before, I would have been furious that Mom would do that. I would have promptly hired an attorney and gone to court yet again. Instead I told her that I understand and that it is hard. I told her to hang tough and if she felt like she wanted to call, she sure could. I also had the most awesome opportunity to inform her that I was Blogging on MySpace, so if she wanted to learn keep some form of contact she could. The Blogging idea was her idea to boot!
I have not plainly asked her how she felt nor did I tell her my feelings. I would not have done that either, but now I will. Sometimes I get caught up in what I should or shouldn't do that things become too complex. Simple and sincere ought to be the best approach for us. Thank you for that idea.
DoltForHer, Patience may be the only answer. Who knows. Children can have a need to contact another for several reasons.
1. The need to know.. She may just wonder what has become of you.
2. Needing someone to share her worries and concerns with, or needing someone to share a happy experience, or something she is proud of accomplishing.
3. Needing advice.
4. having problems relating to her the custodial parent.
5. Just plain lonely
6. Wants to know more about what really happened
You can add more possibilities.
Contact will happen again. Just remember to be patient. Children eventually reach a point in their lives where they realize that it takes two to tango in any relationship. They will be able to read between the lines and figure out some of the problems you have had in the past, including your faults, and will certainly be able to figure out their mothers actions by the behavior she has been exhibiting during the years you have been separated.
Stay positive and upbeat. Those attributes are a magnet for good relationships. Keep your chin up. You really sound sincere and that's what counts. Good luck.
Well, I'm not a dad, but I sense that you are sincere in your efforts. I took a look at your profile. Your daughter is at the almost impossible age. She hears, as you say, a different story. It may be hard for her to think otherwise if that's all she hears.
But don't give up. If you made mistakes, go forward.
Keep showing up and letting her know you care. I hope some of the fathers will respond.
rebekahELLE, making a sincere, honest effort will likely make a difference. If it doesn't, I will know that it wasn't because I was trying to manipulate Ariel into allowing me to be her dad. Even if what I was doing was for her own good, people don't like to be messed with. It seems a lot of parents do that. Not just to villanize the other parent, but sometimes to be too marshmallowy.
A dad I know does almost everything except breathe for his adult children. I'm sure they like all the money and gifts and having him cook for them and care for the grandkids and the lending of his car, but what he is doing is trying to manipulate them. Instead of allowing them to be adults, he is trying to do anything he can to persuade them to continue a relationship. Maybe this works for him, but I can't see how that is good for his kids.
It seems to me if a dad is to have true success, he needs to treat them age-appropriately. This could easily drive a dysfunctional, immature 25-year-old away and ruin any chance of relationship. That's a worse-case scenario, but how to directly deal with that possibility? Don't know.
She's 16 - even girls from the most stable families think their parents are idiots. My dad was a complete and utter bastard throughout our childhood years, and the time for leaving home could never have come soon enough, yet we all still maintained contact with him as adults. Problem was we hated him and it was all through a sense of obligation that we even spoke to him. He never called us, never apologised for anything, never took an interest in our lives, never asked how we were... it all had to come from us to reinforce how special and unique he was. We certainly never felt loved.
A young adult female has many competing interests... for her father to rate, I think he needs to demonstrate the best attributes of a well adjusted male adult and be truly interested in her. My definition of a forging a "worthy bond" at that age is simply to provide a rock-solid safe place for her to fall - one that she knows and trusts will be there.
Have hope. Adult relationships provide a wider viewpoint. She may well come round of her own accord with a little more life experience. I would have actually loved my dad to take an interest in my kids - perhaps all would have been forgiven if he had of.
Give her a little more credit than being a sponge for her mother's contempt. She may well see through that later, to her mother's detriment.
know one, I remember when I was 16. My parents were jerks! What parent isn't when their children are 16? I had forgot about that.
You suggest role modeling. Role modeling is the most powerful way to parent for me. Most of my efforts do focus on how to improve myself so I am able to provide more than just words for her, but when things get emotional, sometimes I want to lash out at all the injustices and the people behind them. Will I be man enough should things get really heated? I guess time will tell.
Providing her with a safe, comfortable place is important, but I don't want to give in to all of her demands for the sake of comfort. Establishing fair and moral boundaries will create a discomfort should she have never been given those boundaries. Short term it would shake up her world, but long term, she would have more comfort and safety then she may have ever known. This takes time, though, and most people don't want to take the time and energy to endure change no matter how positive it could be.
I'm afraid to give her credit, because when if she truly doesn't deserve it? Paradoxically, I think even if she doesn't deserve it, I should give it to her. Kind of like trust; it's a Catch-22. Trust is earned, but you can't earn trust until someone freely gives a little of it.
Being a parent is harder than I ever thought possible.
Being a GOOD parent is the hard bit
I think she's too old for boundaries to come from you. What she needs is lessons on how to set her own. Be the man that teaches her how a man should treat a woman so she doesn't grab the first idiot that comes her way (speaking from experience). Teach her how to repair her mistakes. Teach her how to say no. Teach her how to bounce back from disappointment. THOSE things provide the safe place to fall for the emerging adult. She'll thank you later when her maturity allows it.
When you say you're afraid to give her credit, I wonder whether that is your stumbling block - the thing that holds the relationship back. Maybe its you that needs to earn her trust? I don't know - I don't even know you!
What you do for her is not a sacrifice on your part. She didn't ask for this. Didn't ask for a broken relationship above her. What she DESERVES is
someone she can depend on, always... And just let her be. It's not easy for her either.
I truly wish you well
Good point on the boundaries. I remember when she was a toddler and she would do something. I would be taken aback because I didn't know that she could or would do that. So I learned from it and thought, "Cool. Now I know what I'm doing." Then she would grow and what I had just learned didn't work anymore or was at least less effective. Then when I figured that out I thought, "Ha! I got it this time!" Except she would grow and mature and I would go through the same thing. Eventually, I learned that I never had it down for more than two weeks and that she would always mature in ways impossible to foresee.
Except now the time frame isn't a week or two, it is an imposing several years. I had a hard enough time trying to figure her out when I was raising her; now it seems impossible.
I do agree that now is the time to foster independence instead of placing boundaries. My idea of being a competent parent is to provide appropriate boundaries when the child is young and systematically remove the boundaries to prepare them for adulthood. I missed the first part and I need to let that go.
I must remember that she is much closer to an adult now. Even now my mind thinks of myself as a younger man, but when I do young-man stuff, my body is quick to remind me that I'm 40-years-old now. I need to remember that for Ariel and not regress.
I also like how you had a sense of obligation to see your dad despite the lack of his involvement. I worry that Ariel won't come back, that she won't see me, and that I will never have the opportunity to re-establish our relationship. I wonder if most children have a strong desire to see their estranged parents? I suspect they do.
I need to keep stuff in perspective, too. Even under the best of circumstances, young adults make tons of mistakes, many of them quite painful. Being a good parent requires that we step back and allow them to make those mistakes on their own so that they may learn. (As long as those mistakes aren't obviously lethal.) Now that Ariel and I are near that point, that is something I would like to work on. I hadn't thought of that until speaking with you. Thank you.
For many years after my divorce, my exwife disparaged me to our two kids. Four years after the divorce, because I was very consistent in contacting my kids, despite them turning me down for get-togethers, conversations, vacations, etc., my kids came around. The clincher was their mom kicked them out of the house several times as teen agers, and having nowhere to go, they called me. They had to sleep on the floor because I had nowhere else to put them.
Over time, I got closer to them. Wounds healed. I told them their mother was the only one they would ever have, and even if they hated her as much as they hated me, it's better to try to keep working on the relationship than to bail and cut off. My daughter married, but during wedding preps she had a lot of run-ins with her mother. I coached her about being adult talking to another adult. I refused to intervene. It wasn't my place. In the end, her mother came around because it was either that, or be disinvited from the wedding. They are learning how to be friends.
I believe that some relationships will always be toxic, but I also believe that when it comes to parents, we should learn from our stupidity and mistakes, own up to it freely, and talk to our kids about our short comings. And through it all, remain consistent in our approach to life, lessons, and love. Most of all, consistent in letting them know they are loved.
One child went through anorexia, alcoholism and heroine addiction. I told her I couldn't save her from herself, but I would love her and make sure she didn't have to face it alone. Today she is sober, employed, happy, blogging, and married to a fantastic guy. It takes time. It takes time to heal and move forward. The process can't be rushed.
Despite my shortcomings, stupidity, mistakes, short sightedness and all my other flaws, my two kids are the two things in life I did right. I didn't do parenting right, but I got to have them in my life, and they have made me the richest of men. They are fabulous human beings, full of flaws and short sightedness, and we can now laugh a little with each other as we examine these things together without fear of judgment or threat.
My kids are the best part of my life. The journey has been excruciating, but there no joy greater than to be where I am with them now.
Daniel, you say you encouraged the kids' relationship with Mom. I'm not sure I'm able to do that. I would have a tough time trying to encourage Ariel to have a relationship with an abductor, a kidnapper. Mom is a criminal. Would I encourage Ariel to have relationships with a criminal with no desire to change? Maybe I'm being unfair or too emotional, but these are the thoughts in my head and I'm finding it hard to change these particular thoughts.
And dealing with anorexia and addiction is tough. If Ariel has to deal with that, I wonder if I'm man enough to truly help her? My hat's off to you. I would like to think I'm that kind of man, but experience has taught me that I'm not as tough or as smart or as competent as I like to think I am! Ouch!
You obviously did something right. There is a reason your kids have eventually succeeded and that you now have a good relationship. That gives a lot of power to your words. I don't understand all of what you are saying, but I will truly consider them.
Like I should allow Ariel to consider what I say instead of pushing her? It isn't going to happen overnight, but I sure wish it would. I wish it was all over and everything was OK like it used to be.
I would like to hear what your daughter would say about what you did or didn't do to bring you guys together again. What would she have liked you to do different if anything?
No relationship is dreamy, let alone perfect. My kids know that I love them regardless of any action they may take. As for their mother, every mother is different. My ex is quite a bit different than your ex. Every situation is different, therefore, requires unique action. It's not prudent to enable a kidnapper and criminal to continue their behaviors, so I agree with you.
My kids would immediately list my faults. They have sore spots with me. It's not all good. But they know that I care about them and that I will not use force in trying to get my way about anything. The difference is that my kids are now adults, and I respect their decisions. If they are in a situation that I believe may bring harm to them or others, I talk to them about it and point it out. Otherwise, I am usually supportive of what they want in life.
I'm not a great dad. But I love my kids and they love me. It's taken quite a while to get to this point. The thing that gives me encouragement is simply that we are at this point.
Well, I am not a dad but I am the daughter of parents who split when I was 17. My dad left - going off with another woman - and the relationship I had with him broke down. The problem was different from yours - I took the side of my mother, and he was not great at communicating. He didn't ring much, didn't make arrangments to see us. If he had made a better effort I believe things would have been better. Your situation is somewhat different, but I just wanted to say that my relationship with my dad is perfectly fine now - things often work out in the end. I grew older, with an ability to view matters in a more mature and insightful way. I see him only occasionally, because he doesn't live that close to me, but he has a good relationship with myself and my two children.
Eleanor's Words, I find it interesting that you are the second person to have a dad bail out, yet now your relationship is fine. I've spoken to a number of estranged dads and the result has been less than ideal. Admittedly, most of the problems result from the dads overcompensating or being bitter and not letting go. A couple have given up and don't try anymore despite the fact that the kids are now adults and no boundaries exist except for the ones created by the dad.
Be consistant: -Kids see through inconsistancy ,and they always feel safe with safe and relaible parents.
Be Realistic -Dont promise her the moon unless you can! Be honest, if you cant be somewhere, be ok about telling her that. But your presence should outwiegh your non-presence.
Be Patient: Butterflies will come to you ,if your wait and not the other way around.
Just do al the simple stuff genuinely and one day that moody girl/woman will be all grown up, and think that youre the best thing since sliced bread!
P.S My dad raised 4 daughters alone ranging from 7yrs -13yrs.
I understand under different circumstances ,but my point is I,like many here were once the same age as your daughter.
Great post by the way ,Im sure your hearts in the right place,and everything will turn right side up eventually
Eagle kiwi, consistency is one of the most comforting things you can give to your kids. I totally agree.
Being realistic is something I have down pat. I have a hard time not doing what I said I was going to do or to embellish. To tell a white lie when I'm supposed to tell a white lie is something I can't really do and that can be problematic at times.
I'm having trouble with patience. Your analogy is spot-on, but there are certainly times when one needs to reach out and take action. I'm not saying I'm impatient, though. For example: Should I hire a private detective when she is 18 and go find her? Or should I wait? Maybe I should find her, but only make the first move if she is in the depths of addiction or suicidal or some such dire situation.
I do believe that if I do the right things by planting those seeds, that they will germinate as she gets older. Almost all kids go haywire, but they usually come back to Earth when they mature because of the what their mentors have previously said and done.
Not all kids make it, though. I'm afraid of this happening to Ariel. Will it be because I waited too long? Or will it be because I didn't wait enough? I wonder if parents second-guess themselves a lot when their kids don't turn out so well.
No-one can tell you what to do,and I relise you are seeking clarity ,bouncing ideas around etc.
I am in a similar situation myself,that being said ,individuals are different so alter the scenerio somewhat.
I just know that if I were her ,I would want and expect my father to make himself known. I might not run to him with open arms,but I would certainly want to see the door open-open wide.
Also look at it this way ,if something terrible happened to you or her ,that prevented any more contact ever again, wouldnt you have wished you had acted sooner.
I often make decisions like that : Would I look back and regret ..etc etc.
Just make the contact ,shes probably on Facebook,most kids are.
Where theres a will.theres a way.
My situation is reversed; I’m the daughter to a dad who absconded but later returned.
My dad held me for about 5 minutes as a newborn, and then I never saw or spoke to him again until I was 15.
We rushed into all the dad/daughter stuff that we had missed out on and we spent a lot of time together. His wife had always stopped him making contact with me and when we did meet, it was behind her back. They eventually split.
But contact with my real dad became on and off and I realised that I actually have a better father/daughter bond and a more consistent relationship with my stepdad who has been there for me since I was 4yrs old.
Even though my real dad was the one who initiated contact in the beginning, for some reason, he began to back away. At first, I tried to maintain a good level of communication with him, but I realised that if it wasn’t for me making the effort, we would probably never speak or see each other, so I felt like there was not much point in pursuing a father/daughter relationship that wasn’t there.
Now we don’t speak that much anymore, Christmas and birthdays... that kind of thing.
He may have backed off because of my stepdad, I don’t really know.
But, if I were you, I would maintain contact as much as possible because that way, she can never say or feel that you didn’t at least try.
I think eaglekiwi was right, consistency is very important. Just make contact and maintain contact as much as you can.
A common theme here seems to make myself available. The other one is not to force the issue.
Making myself available has come along very well so far. Ariel suggested to me writing on the Internet, and I've been consistently doing that for about 3 years. I'm also making things at home as stable and as comfortable as possible should she come back. Even before she was born, I was at the doctor's appointments, etc. Maybe I'm bragging a bit, but I am proud of that.
Even if I don't openly force the issue, I would still have a desire to push things and that will have a negative impact. I would like to work on being relaxed and go at her pace.
The other one I would like to work on is attitude. My attitude is pretty good and I'm not one to freak out about stuff, but when confronted with stuff like this, I wonder what I'll do. I'm not Superman, and I am bitter about this situation, but I hope to not bring that caustic attitude into our future relationship. I guess we'll see what kind of a man I really am at that point.
Your situation came about differently, but your feelings and questions are ones that probably parallel Ariel's feelings. Thank you for your comments.
Yes, our situations are different, you seem to have made much more of an effort.
Also, I don't really think her age should affect what you do now. Just because she is young now, she will still be able to reflect back on situations once she is older and with an adults pov.
I don't think you should force it, make yourself available but also make your natural enthusiasm be known. Otherwise, she may look back one day and not remember your efforts, which would be sad for both of you.
I hope it all works out for you in the end.
What a great way to put it! Don't force the situation, but rather maintain my availability and continue to show my sincere enthusiasm. And I can't be enthusiastic for our relationship while being terribly bitter about all the bad things that have happened.
My mother left my dad when I was four, and it was me who re-established contact with him when I was an adult.
We met up a few times, but he said that his second wife (with whom he had two more children) "wasn't happy" about him having contact with me, so the meetings petered out and I was left with a card on Christmas and birthdays, plus a cheque in each.
I would rather have had regular, open contact than the cheque, but I settled for the cheque. In hindsight, I should have said to him: "look mate, either you're telling the truth about your wife. In which case you should grow a backbone and stand up to her. Or you're using her as an excuse to hide behind. In which case, stuff your birthday cards and your cheques." (Can you tell I have issues about this subject? )
Fast forward to December of last year. I got a phone call from my half brother (whom I'd never spoken to before), saying that dad had died after a six month struggle with cancer. Was I coming to the funeral, the half brother asked me, because it would be a bit awkward if I did... his mother and sister "weren't happy" about the idea of me going.... blah blah blah.
I had a short, abusive exchange of emails/phone calls with both mother and sister, and that's it. End of.
Blech. Just goes to show that just because you share DNA with people, it doesn't mean that they're nice people, or that you have anything in common with them.
To the OP: your desire to be there (and to be there in the right way, without being "in your face" about it) for your daughter does you great credit. I would say hang in there and find some low key but effective way to make it clear to her that the lines of communication are always open, while taking care not to slag off her mother.
"Just goes to show that just because you share DNA with people, it doesn't mean that they're nice people, or that you have anything in common with them."
I also had trouble with his other family. Prior to my dad making an effort when I was 15, I had tried to find him when I was 11, I found his address and made a (very brave) visit with an older friend at the time. But he had just been sent to prison and his wife practically bit my head off just for standing in her drive way, she wouldn't even open the door to me, she just leant out the top window and shouted abuse down saying that I couldn't just come back into his life etc.
Some people are just horrible, nothing we can do about it.
My dad actually has 6 kids from 4 different women (by the last count, which was a while ago now), he has been called Santa due to driving out on Christmas morning to different houses with a sack of gifts.
But I'm too old for that now, so I just get an email.
And jealous - jealousy has got to be the top motive for behaviour like this.
The tale I got was that my dad's payment of child support/maintenance to me/my mother was the key factor in preventing Second Wife from enjoying the material perks she felt she was entitled to: a bigger house, a second car, and (big one this) a dishwasher.
So I'm supposed to feel guilty because my father's payment of child support stopped SW from being able to bin the Marigolds?
I agree with the jealousy because at the time it felt like the way she saw me was more like some random ex trying to steal him away than his first child.
Some people are very shallow.
lol at the marigolds.
I actually hold the opinion now that I have probably turned out better because he wasn't there. My half brother (year younger than me) who grew up with him, never got an education and is now a drug addict always in and out of prison.
>>>>Coulda been me!<<<<
Yeah, same here - I think I definitely turned out better than I would have done if my parents had stayed together. Maybe I'm poorer in financial terms, but I'm probably more broad-minded and tolerant than I would have been, and less prone to use hypocrisy and emotional blackmail as a way of interacting with people.
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