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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 09-19-2019, 11:59 AM
Tired_Dad Tired_Dad is offline
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Default How to save a relationship with your child

Hello all,

I've recently received communications from my youngest (D17) stating that I failed her as a father, she doesn't see a relationship with me in the future and hopes I'll be happy with my NEW family going forward into the future. She's said goodbye I've been trying to get together with her for the last 5 months and had sporadic contact with her over the last 2.5 years. I've seen it slowly dwindle downwards and it's really bothered me. She's been in therapy for 2 years and stopped going earlier this year (as she stated she didn't need it anymore). Needless to say... that's when our visits stopped at her request. She is always dealing with anxiety issues and seems to fall back into depression quickly. I'm going to be going to see her later today (basically a surprise visit) to sit and talk calmly about the text message (and will be coming to her daily until we've talked it all out). She "avoids" confrontation (like her mother) and I wasn't raised that way... this needs to be talked out. I hate asking, as parenthood doesn't come with a manual, but could really use some insight. Thank you for your time.
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Old 09-19-2019, 12:12 PM
rockscan rockscan is offline
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Is there an issue with your ex? Perhaps she has influenced her and made her feel this way?

I say what Im about to say from the experience of an alienated child.

Being a teenage girl in your parents divorce is difficult. No matter how old you are or when it happened, it is very difficult emotionally. Even with therapy and supporting parents there are things that influence your feelings. The comment about your new family is telling. She may not feel that she has a place in your life or that she has some importance. If she has influence from her mother it will be compounded.

I would not recommend surprising her as it will trigger her anxiety and make her angry towards you. Kids who suffer from depression and anxiety want to feel supported rather than ambushed. While your intentions are good, you are doing this for yourself.

If you insist on ambushing her, I recommend your conversation surround supporting her and her feelings. You will need to acknowledge her sadness and anger and frustration or whatever she is feeling and respect it. For instance, I am sorry you are feeling this way, I love you very much and want to help you feel better. I would very much like to be a part of your life and need to know what I can do to have that.

You also need to not get angry or try to force her to do what you want. It hurts to not have your child in your life but there are feelings and reasons she has for this decision. You may not agree with them but you have to acknowledge them as hers.

I highly recommend instead to email her. Let her know that she is your number one priority. That you love her very much. That nothing in your life makes her unimportant to you and that she is part of your whole family, not separate to your other kids. Ask her how you can support a relationship together. How you both can work together to help her feel that she has a place in your life and that she is wanted.

You also have to be prepared to accept that she may still continue to feel this way and push you away. You can still reach out to her and remind her you love her.

Whatever you do DO NOT say things like “im your father” “i will not accept this” “you must do xyz” “your behaviour is out of line” etc.
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Old 09-19-2019, 12:40 PM
Tired_Dad Tired_Dad is offline
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I'm not going to make her feel guilty or anything like that. I want to be there for her. Be a part of her life. I love her and her sisters so much and will refuse to give up on them. There has to be influence from her mother. My middle daughter has recently started to come around and it's been very good so far. My problem is that I've only been communicating with D17 via text (written) and it hasn't gone anywhere. She stated that actions speak louder than words, so I'm going to take action. I expect her to be angry, yell, bombard me with all kinds of things... but it's an outlet. I cannot sit on the sidelines anymore and expect a teenager to be mature enough to know how to rebuild this relationship. That's what a parent does. That's my job to be there for her and take in all the yelling, crying or whatever comes my way. I won't defend myself, just let her vent. This is what a Father does when he see's his relationship with a child start to dwindle away. I have to at least try... I've got nothing to loose now.
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Old 09-19-2019, 01:00 PM
rockscan rockscan is offline
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I went back and read your previous posts and saw that there was influence from your ex.

It is a terrible position for your child to be in. I can safely say that the turmoil between my parents took a toll on my siblings and I.

Hug her. Let her be angry and let her vent. But just put your arms around her and keep telling her you love her. When you live in a house where you are told repeatedly that your father doesn’t love you it destroys a part of you. She needs to feel that love.

Bottom line is don’t make it about you or your ex. Don’t spend the time defending yourself. Be in the moment with her demonstrating to her that you love her unconditionally and with all your heart.
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Old 09-19-2019, 01:11 PM
Tired_Dad Tired_Dad is offline
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That you very much and hope she will let me hug the living s$*t out of her!!! It's been way too long and I can't take this distance anymore. It kills me every day to know that she's living this way. I wish I could take her away from it all, but my daughters are their mothers protector right now and there's nothing I can do about that. I will be there for her and let her vent it all out. This won't be a one time thing... it will take a lot to regain this relationship and I'm prepared to put in the work. Thanks again!
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Old 09-19-2019, 01:28 PM
rockscan rockscan is offline
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My husband has gone through it too. He would give anything to wrap his arms around her. Its terrible to not have your kids in your life and its equally terrible to not have your parent there too! I wish you luck!
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Old 09-19-2019, 10:21 PM
Stillbreathing Stillbreathing is offline
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Rocksan has some very good advice. Your daughter may have been negatively influenced by your ex but it’s also a part of their normal development to withdraw from their parents and switch their focus to their friends. Whatever you do, don’t give up. If you do, this will be seen as abandonment and reinforce her negative feelings. You can respect her right to not see you at present but tell her that doesn’t change the fact you love her and always will. Continue to text her and always end with I love you or a heart or sappy meme. Continue to invite her over, especially for important occasions. You can tell her on her birthday or at Christmas that you have a present for her but need to give it to her in person.

Remember that love and hate are on the same continuum but opposite ends. As long as she’s angry there is hope to slide the scale back towards the love side.

Is there any way you can bite the bullet and ask for your ex’s assistance? I’m sure you ex would tell you why your daughter doesn’t want to see you. If you listen without getting defensive ( even if you think it’s bs), there may be some grains of truth. Even if your ex is a raging lunatic nutbar, if you use the right language it might help.
For example, if you start by saying you know she’s done an amazing( say it like an actor would say this word not in the context you really mean) job raising your daughter and you don’t know what to do to get it back on track and does she have any ideas.
Point is, sometimes if you bite your tongue and choose your words carefully, you can turn an enemy into a co-conspirator.

Good luck and no matter how long it takes, don’t give up on her. She’ll eventually come around.
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Old 09-20-2019, 12:06 AM
Karma2016 Karma2016 is offline
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Don’t give up. Continue to ask how her day is, how school is, make plans to see her, etc. I have a daughter too who is now 21. When she was 17, she was ready to cut ties with me as well. I persevered, she went away to school and matured and she is not the same self-cantered daughter she used to be. It’s a phase. It was difficult to not give up, but I knew in my gut she was smart enough to realize I wasn’t the “mom-ster” her father made me out to be. We have been in a good place with a loving relationship for a while now.
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Old 09-20-2019, 09:36 AM
Tired_Dad Tired_Dad is offline
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Thank you all for the great advice! I did what I said I would do. I went to the house, sat on the front porch and waited. She finally came home and didn't run away or avoid. I asked if we could talk and she agreed. She initially broke down and started to let it all out. It was painful, but necessary. I needed to hear it and she needed to say it. It wasn't easy for her and I'm so proud she had the courage to face me and say what she needed to say. I'm going to keep pursuing her and will not give up on her... no matter what. I know her mother has a great deal of influence on her, but I will never again bring that up to her (as I did in the past). This is between her and I and if SHE ever brings her mother into the conversation, I will remind her of this (in a friendly and calm manner). It's not perfect yet, but it's a start and I'm so happy she at least sat and talked with me for a while. I've been passive for too long and won't be anymore. I'm going to call (not text) and show up... physically! We were always so close and so similar. We can get there again, I know it. Thank god for this forum and all of you in it. It gave me the strength to move forward with it.
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  #10  
Old 09-20-2019, 09:42 AM
rockscan rockscan is offline
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This is awesome. At the end of the day she is your baby and all she wants is to know you love her. I wish my dad had been like you!!
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