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Ex-Wife Treating Daughter Poorly

Ex-Wife Treating Daughter Poorly

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Ex-Wife Treating Daughter Poorly

Hello folks, 

 

I'm writing this to query a forum and to unburden myself. So this may be lengthy. I got a divorce about 7 years ago. My ex had been pretty neglectful of me as a partner, mind you I wasn't perfect either.

 

At some point we had a daughter, then got a divorce after I realized I simply couldn't expect the relationship to get any more affectionate or enjoyable. By the way, I'm very proud of my daughter. She loves animals, and she's extremely compassionate and creative. I couldn't be more proud of her in fact. She's 9.

 

I found a new, loving partner, and though things haven't been perfect, we've managed to forge a deep bond with each other and our respective daughters. So I'm very happy with my personal life and with my family, and we all seem to be growing from the challenges we face.

 

My daughter's mother and I had shared custody for a while, then - when her mother decided that she was going to study to be a doctor - my current partner and I became the full-time custodians of my daughter. My ex is pretty neglectful. She only calls occasionally, about once or twice between visits (she gets my daughter every other weekend). I've tried to kindle a little bit more connection between them by encouraging her mother to call more often, but that dies out. I have ultimately decided that I am not the steward of their relationship, and I can't be responsible for my ex's drive to be in her daughter's life. 

 

When my daughter visits, she reports that my ex is buried in homework and doesn't spend any time with her (This was my experience as a husband, so I believe her). Slowly, my ex is losing her daughter. My daughter wants less and less to visit her mother, and seems more and more to understand that her mother doesn't really have the time of day for her. A couple of months ago, this all gushed out of my daughter in a sobbing catharsis at bedtime where she explained that she felt like her mother didn't even care about her, didn't really love her. 

 

It's hard to hear, but my attitude has been one of "this is her lesson to learn with her mother, and that - even if it's a **bleep**ty relationship - she still needs a relationship with her mother. 

 

Today, however, something happened to cause me to doubt that. My ex had left the house for a few days with her current husband and my daughter. She got my daughter to feed the two cats, which my daughter did. She fed them enough for one day - it was the habit she was in. Except that they were leaving for three days (ending today). Well, when my ex found out that my daughter had only left enough food for one day for the two cats, she got very angry, told my daughter that she needed to be more responsible, and actually said that the bigger cat might kill the smaller cat for food. And she said, furthermore, that if they arrived home and the cats were dead that they weren't getting new ones. And she suggested that maybe they had to give the cats away due to my daughter's irresponsibility.

 

Now I know this is pretty outrageous. I can't believe it. It realllly crosses a new line for me. SO. I'm going to talk to a counsellor (I **bleep** need counselling after this conversation), I'm probably going to find a therapist for my daughter. I told my daughter her mom was out of line, and that I didn't want her to carry any guilt about the cats, whereupon she informed me that she had already scratched and bitten herself after her mom had excoriated her for her negligence. I'm glad she trusts me enough to tell me about self-harming, and at least at some point I can counsel her a bit on that from experience, but one thing at a time right?

 

What I'm trying to decide is whether I talk to the mother about this. From what I can gather, she generally has a pretty short fuse and snaps angrily at my daughter often, and for small things. I've always wanted to be supportive of this mother-daugther relationship, but I am obviously feeling my first genuine doubt. Our current custody arrangement places my daughter in 50/50 care, week on week off, once the mother moves to the town we live in to begin her medical practice (which has taken 7 years of her motherhood, with nary a week or two in the summer for visits). She's made some very reckless parenting choices in the past, too, but this one absolutely takes the cake. & things seem to be getting steadily worse.

 

Anyway, Reachout fam, thanks for listening. Any input would be much appreciated, especially from someone in the profession. 

 

thanks to all,

JM


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Re: Ex-Wife Treating Daughter Poorly

hi @JohnMorrow ,

 

The whole situation you've described is extremely difficult, and I can totally understand why the ordeal has been so stressful and hurtful for both you and your daughter. The support and love that you have shown your daughter is incredibly admirable, and it's extremely good that she has such a caring role model in her life Smiley Happy 

 

The most serious issue that needs to be addressed, is your daughter's self harm. Self-harm is often used as a coping mechanism for a lot of people when they're really stressed, or down, however it can be a potentially dangerous one, and can lead to increasingly serious injury. It's really important that your daughter gets some sort of professional support or intervention for this, as then she can start to learn better coping mechanisms to replace self-harming. This is especially true due to how young your daughter is. 

In regards to your daughter's relationship with her mum, it's a good idea to have a frank conversation with her about what is going on first. Realistically, there isn't a lot that can be done without have a discussion first anyway. I think a lot of the points you've raised here are extremely valid, and would be good to bring up with your ex-partner. It might be a good idea to have a chat with your counsellor and plan out exactly how you want to bring up this issue, but I think it's important to talk about how your ex's behaviour is making your daughter feel, and what you think needs to be done to improve the situation. 

 

It might also be a good idea to talk to your daughter about what she wants, and what she thinks would best improve her relationship with her mum. This information can also be a really good guiding point for the conversation you will have with her mother, as you can also act as your daughter's advocate and bring up the things she needs from their relationship as well.

Let us know your thoughts and how you go!! 

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Re: Ex-Wife Treating Daughter Poorly

hi @JohnMorrow ,

 

The whole situation you've described is extremely difficult, and I can totally understand why the ordeal has been so stressful and hurtful for both you and your daughter. The support and love that you have shown your daughter is incredibly admirable, and it's extremely good that she has such a caring role model in her life Smiley Happy 

 

The most serious issue that needs to be addressed, is your daughter's self harm. Self-harm is often used as a coping mechanism for a lot of people when they're really stressed, or down, however it can be a potentially dangerous one, and can lead to increasingly serious injury. It's really important that your daughter gets some sort of professional support or intervention for this, as then she can start to learn better coping mechanisms to replace self-harming. This is especially true due to how young your daughter is. 

In regards to your daughter's relationship with her mum, it's a good idea to have a frank conversation with her about what is going on first. Realistically, there isn't a lot that can be done without have a discussion first anyway. I think a lot of the points you've raised here are extremely valid, and would be good to bring up with your ex-partner. It might be a good idea to have a chat with your counsellor and plan out exactly how you want to bring up this issue, but I think it's important to talk about how your ex's behaviour is making your daughter feel, and what you think needs to be done to improve the situation. 

 

It might also be a good idea to talk to your daughter about what she wants, and what she thinks would best improve her relationship with her mum. This information can also be a really good guiding point for the conversation you will have with her mother, as you can also act as your daughter's advocate and bring up the things she needs from their relationship as well.

Let us know your thoughts and how you go!! 

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Re: Ex-Wife Treating Daughter Poorly

Thanks, I will Smiley Happy Talking to my counsellor this morning. 

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Re: Ex-Wife Treating Daughter Poorly

My only suggestion would be to find an activity that your daughter and her mum both enjoy. Perhaps spending less time together but making sure the time is well spent and offering positive reinforcement would help. My mum and I are quite different and haven't really connected well over the years and I'm closer to my Dad. Things with mum and I weren't good for quite awhile, although my parents were together. We have more in common now and Mum really helped me out with my kids when I wasn't well. Maybe it would be good to have a friendly chat with your ex about ways of staying in touch better with your daughter, even if she is busy establishing her medical career. She could send a text a bed time. Read stories together. Go shopping. Maybe in this situation, it could be a case of less is more. 

My son has had some issues with self-harm and we have sought professional help and he has OT and psychology through the NDIS. Does her Mum know about the self-harm and the implications of that?  Maybe she's overwhelmed and she doesn't know what to do or how to connect with your daughter? Could be great at study and very intelligent but not necessarily good at connecting with people? Sometimes people need help nutting out what seems very simple Simon to others. Explaining something like that to your daughter might be helpful. Maybe explain to her that not all parents take to parenthood like a duck to water but reassure her of your love. That you are there for her and love her deeply.  One of my favourite kids books about healing and recovery is Bob Graham's "How to Heal A Broken Wing". I read that with my kids a lot when they were small and I was sick. 

Hope that helps. 

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Re: Ex-Wife Treating Daughter Poorly

I just figured I would do a quick follow-up - I had a chat with my daughter's mother. It didn't go great - she always kinda weasels out of stuff, and I'm not really the kind of person to force a confrontation. I did tell her that she appeared to be losing her daughter, and since then there has been a little improvement in their contact. Covid is restricting things a little now and she has to stay with me full time for the moment (which my daughter is all for). 

 

Anyway, there's really not much i can do about her mother. I'm just trying to be as loving as I can be to my daughter, and make sure the right boundaries are set and respected when it comes to coparenting. 

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Re: Ex-Wife Treating Daughter Poorly

Hi @JohnMorrow , thanks so much for updating us on how you're doing. I'm sure it would have been a really difficult conversation to have, your daughter is really lucky to have you in her corner. 

 

You mentioned in your last post that you were thinking of finding a therapist for your daughter, did you end up finding anyone for her to chat to? You may already be aware of this, but the government have recently announced an increase to the amount of sessions with a psychologist that you can access with a medicare rebate, you just need to see a GP to get a mental health plan to access those. How is your daughter doing at the moment? 

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