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Parenting Issues This forum is for discussing any of the parenting issues involved in your divorce, including parenting of step-children.

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  #1  
Old 02-21-2011, 06:44 PM
canadamama canadamama is offline
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Default Daughter refuses to speak to father

I have two daughters, 9yo and 13yo. Their father lives overseas, and so access and communication is something we need to pay extra attention to, due to time zones and busy schedules.

Currently, he calls on Skype at 8AM each morning, and the girls leave for school at 8:30, leaving a 20-minute window for them to chat each day. For my part, I make sure that breakfast, getting dressed, morning chores, etc. are all done so that they are available for the call.

Their dad and I separated about 2 months ago; it was at that time that I came back to Canada with the girls (with his written permission). Since we arrived, our older daughter has resisted talking to him. For a while she was going along with the schedule (complaining to me, but going along), but recently (over the past few weeks) she has become more and more resistant, and over the past 2 weeks has not wanted to talk to him at all. I have tried talking to her about it, but all she will say to me is that she just 'isn't comfortable' and that she wants to talk to her friends (from the same time zone as her dad, and also only available at that time). The friends thing is kind of an excuse though, as she usually rushes through her morning routine to get online and talk to them, so she could easily find time to talk to her dad as well.

He initiated a text chat with her the other day, and was really pressuring her to start talking to him again. He wrote, "If you have decided that you don't want to have a relationship with your father then you should just say so." Of course she burst into tears at that and had no idea how to respond, so she asked me to help her. I sat with her while she typed back and forth with him, offering support and encouraging her to share her feelings as honestly as she could. She was asking me, "What should I say?" and I responded by telling her that I couldn't tell her what to say - she needed to find her own words, but that she had every right to express her feelings honestly.

He asked her if I was there with her, and she said that yes I was, but that I was supporting her, not telling her what to say, and his response to her was "Sure. OK." She was REALLY angry that he didn't trust her (especially since I had specifically said to her multiple times that I was NOT going to tell her what to say, but that she had the right to feel her feelings and express them), but she wasn't comfortable telling him so - she just changed the subject and refused to discuss the issue any further.

Later he sent me a really nasty note, accusing me of interfering in their relationship. I have tried everything I know apart from simply commanding her to sit and talk to him - I encourage, I remind, I make sure that both girls have the time and the means to talk to him on a regular basis. I have told her that talking to him is her right, and that if she ever feels like I am interfering in that she has every right to voice that concern (both to me and to him), because I don't have the right to do that. I don't want to go down the road of asking her to talk to him for HIS sake, as I already feel like he is prone to guilt trips and putting his own needs before theirs, and I want them to learn to listen to their own needs, rather than feeling like they need to take care of him.

I guess my question is: I know kids have a right to have as much contact with their parents as possible; do they also have the right to say no? My 13yo is telling me very clearly that she doesn't want to talk to him. She says that she loves him, and she is not angry at him, but that she doesn't want to talk to him because it makes her uncomfortable. I have tried to get to the bottom of it, but I'm not getting anywhere - she just doesn't want to.

I have been very overt about making sure he sees that I am making every effort to give her as much opportunity as possible to talk to her. I have talked to him about the efforts I have made which he can't see (such as suggestions I have made to her about ways that she can connect with him that might be comfortable for her), and I have also made suggestions to him about things he can do as well.

My concern is that now, in his sorrow that she won't talk to him, he is looking for a culprit. His letter to me was really nasty and based entirely on his assumption that I was 'coaching' her, and that I am inserting myself between them and trying to drive them apart, which is completely untrue. It would be much more convenient and far less stressful for me if things were good between them - this reticence on her part does not serve my interests at all, in fact it is complicating matters considerably.

So there's the basic question: I understand and wholeheartedly agree that children have the right to see and talk to their parents as much as possible... but what about when they refuse? How does the CP encourage and foster that relationship while still respecting their kids' feelings? Keep in mind this is a teenager, not a toddler.

  #2  
Old 02-21-2011, 08:23 PM
dinkyface dinkyface is offline
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Would it help for her to talk to a counsellor - I can see that she might not be able to sort it out by talking with dad or mom.

also, would it be possible for her father (and you too, I guess) to talk with the same counsellor? It sounds like he could benefit from hearing from another person that his attitude towards you is making her uncomfortable (sorry if I didn't get the main point about what is going off the tracks quite right).

My workplace EAP does over-the-phone counselling, I've found it useful.

Last edited by dinkyface; 02-21-2011 at 08:44 PM.
  #3  
Old 02-21-2011, 08:44 PM
canadamama canadamama is offline
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She also refuses to talk to a counsellor. I actually took her in to see someone and she sat silent the entire time. They eventually gave up and ended the session early. She has since told me she never wants to go to a counsellor, and if I send her I will just be wasting my time, because she won't talk to them.
The thing is, she is her normal, happy self most of the time, but on this she just clams up... she is normally an open, chatty kid who shares her feelings quite easily, but when I try to ask her about why she doesn't want to talk to her dad, she has nothing to say. She just 'doesn't feel comfortable'.
How much should I push this? It doesn't feel right to push her, but I am afraid of being accused of not doing enough to keep them connected.
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Old 02-21-2011, 10:08 PM
Pharah Pharah is offline
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1-2-3 Magic: Sometimes children don't understand what is best for them (especially a teenager) and having a relationship with their Father IS THAT important. If she refuses to have communication time with her Father, then restrict her from her friends (online or other) until she does. If she refuses to speak to a counselor, restrict her from something else she enjoys. Parenting in this type of situation is very difficult, you need to support him and he needs to support you.

It sometimes is difficult find a counselor that your child will talk to. Try the guidance counselors?

Last edited by Pharah; 02-21-2011 at 10:11 PM.
  #5  
Old 02-21-2011, 11:28 PM
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mama2bee mama2bee is offline
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If she won't talk to a councilor right now you can always try a teacher, family friend or any other relatives if they live near by. Someone she trusts and will open up to. She is hitting the teen years though and no matter how much you want to foster a positive relationship with him he may just need to understand that this is a rough time for her emotionally. Keep trying and just never give up because if you do give up then she won't see the need to try.
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Old 02-22-2011, 10:01 AM
Pharah Pharah is offline
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Surviving Your Adolescents
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