I have 11 year old twin daughters and have been divorced for 10 years. My ex husband is not an evil person, however, in my opinion he lacks basic parenting skills. I also believe he may have a mental condition they affects his ability to feel empathy toward others, though I am not a doctor and can't say for sure, and it may just be that he's chooses not to care about others' feelings. I know he loves our children on some level, but he consistently puts his needs before theirs and is very critical and dismissive if they have interests other than his own. For example, we have arguments often if they want to play a sport, go to a school dance, sleep over at a friends house or other activities that I feel are typical for their age and healthy for them. His argument is that these activities "cut into his personal time" and that he doesn't like sports and doesn't feel he should have to go watch them play when he could be doing something he finds more enjoyable. They are afraid to express their feelings to him about anything they think he might disagree with, including simple things like the kind of music they listen to. They have expressed to me that if they say or do something he disagrees with they fear he won't love them or want to see them. They adopt different personalities when he is around. Most of his actions are hurtful but not dangerous, but there have been times that he has failed to pick them up from an activity because he was "busy talking on the phone" while they waited alone outside and scared (they called me and I went and got them), and one occasion where he showed up drunk to pick them up and I refused to let him take them. He has told my children that his needs come before theirs because he has to take care of himself first.
I have tried for ten years to parent with him in a rational and calm way, and have not been sucessful. I have tried telling him in a kind way that he is hurting his relationship with his kids by not being attentive to their needs. I have accomodated him and allowed him to see the kids on different days so they can play on sports teams or see their friends without intererfering with their time with him. I work in a social services field and know how to negotiate conflicts in a non-confrontational way, and I try to respect my daughters desires to be in a healthy relationship with their dad. However, he becomes irrational and cannot have a non-confrontational discussion with me. I have had to call the police because he refused to leave my property during a disagreement that turned into him yelling and screaming at me in front of the kids. This was horrible for my kids and although they were angy with me for "doing that to him", I hope some day they can understand why I had to.
I am at the end of my rope with this man, and decided that if he wants to destroy his relationship with our kids then thats his problem. But I have a hard time sitting back and allowing my kids to be emotionally harmed by him. I spend many hours listening to my kids talk about how much his words and actions hurt them. I do not want to badmouth my ex in front of my kids, but I fear that when I don't tell them that some of his actions are wrong then they will grow up and form relationships with men that are not healthy. My kids also become angry me with when I disagree with their dad and want me to "comply" with anything he wants to avoid a conflict. They are very confused and so am I. I want to respect their desire to have a relationship with their dad but still instill in them that they have a right to be who they are, be placed first, and be loved unconditionally. I also don't know how much more I can "turn the other cheek" at his actions when they cause so much pain for my kids. I am planning on seeking counseling for them and myself but I don't know how beneficial it will be because he refuses to be involved in the process. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.
Yes... get counseling for the girls. Otherwise, they'll carry feelings of rejection well into their adult lives. Children can sense, at a very early age, how well or poorly they are received by their parents. I know, because I was raised with a father who was physically present; but was emotionally remote, detached and never showed affection. I grew up feeling unloved and unwanted by him which has, in turn, affected my relationships with men throughout my entire life (I'm 53). Also, I can relate to your children's anger and blaming you for the confrontations that you have with their dad. In truth, it's misdirected anger aimed at you; but rooted in deep feelings of disappointment that obviously can't be shared with their dad. They essentially have little or no verbal or emotional outlet to vent their frustration... except with you, their mom. So, do get help for them... a counselor can guide them and help them process their emotions in a way that you may not be able to. And, don't forget about yourself... you're in the middle of all of this... you need to take care of yourself too! My best wishes to you and your daughters.
Thank you for your help. I am looking into some counseling for all of us. At the moment I am talking to my kids as much as possible about their feelings about their dad. I try to emphasize that their dad might not be able to give them the kind of unconditional love they deserve and that nothing they do (like trying to be what he wants them to be) will "fix" him or make him understand that he is hurting them. Its a problem inside him that isn't caused by them, like a part of his heart is missing. I tell them for now to love the parts of him that they can, and that we will work together on coping with the things he doesn't do that he should. I am surprised and a little horrified at how much my kids seem to understand the whole situation. glad they see that he is wrong, but upset that they have to deal with this **** at 11 years old. One of my daughters cries because her dad lets her down, and one shows no emotion about it at all. I think she has written him off and expects nothing from him so she can't be let down. I don't know which daughter scares me more. I just hope that the positive I give them can offset the hurt he causes. I'm constantly on damage control, trying to set an example of what a good parent does. I also have a fiance, and we try to show them unconditional love. I wonder if the day will come when they distance themselves from their dad, and I wonder if this will be a good thing or not. After all, a person will only take so much pain before they cut off the person who is causing it. I am scared they will have dysfunctional relationships or self destructive behaviors as they get older if they can't fully get that he has the problem, not them. It must really suck to have a dad that doesn't truly love you. How does anyone deal with that, let alone a kid? It is so hard to keep the animosity I have for him out of my conversations with them, but I know I have to in order to keep from hurting them even more or it backfiring on me and making them resent me for bashing him.
Copyright 1994-2016 MedHelp International. All rights reserved.
MedHelp is a division of Aptus Health.
This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information.
The Content on this Site is presented in a summary fashion, and is intended to be used for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be and should not be interpreted as medical advice or a diagnosis of any health or fitness problem, condition or disease; or a recommendation for a specific test, doctor, care provider, procedure, treatment plan, product, or course of action. Med Help International, Inc. is not a medical or healthcare provider and your use of this Site does not create a doctor / patient relationship. We disclaim all responsibility for the professional qualifications and licensing of, and services provided by, any physician or other health providers posting on or otherwise referred to on this Site and/or any Third Party Site. Never disregard the medical advice of your physician or health professional, or delay in seeking such advice, because of something you read on this Site. We offer this Site AS IS and without any warranties. By using this Site you agree to the following Terms and Conditions. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.