How do I best support my daughter with the knowledge her father doesn't love her?

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Parent Peer Supporter

How do I best support my daughter with the knowledge her father doesn't love her?

My daughter's father has chosen to be absent since she was a baby. He rang when she was 8 and she spoke to him for a while, then didn't want to speak to him the next time he called. He's very hateful and abusive towards me, and that set him off, so contact was ended. She's never known anyone from his side of the family as they chose to support him.

 

In 2014 she got in contact with a cousin from his side (she has probably 15), and then contacted her father through them. He came to Sydney and we met up. She said he didn't make her feel like she thought he would and she wasn't that impressed by the whole thing. He'd been with me to see her psychologist who warned him that might happen as she's never known him or what it's like to have a dad. She advised him to be patient and send a quick message and a photo weekly, whether she responded or not. He was annoyed she called him by his name and wouldn't call him dad, and he ended up telling her how horrible I was and thenabused her numerous times, then kept calling the police saying he was worried about my daughter's safety. She hates talking on the phone to anyone bar me or her friends, but I had to force her to speak to the officer so they knew she was alive and okay. They called him back and he was told to leave us alone. This was when my daughter started isolating and refusing school again.

 

He has now found a loophole to contact me, but my daughter still wants nothing to do with him. I talk to her about him but to be honest I don't what to say when she says to me 'I know he doesn't love me,' and she tells me all the reasons why and I can't argue with her. She compares what I've dealt with from her to her fathers reaction to her not feeling like he was her dad immediately.

 

I can't imagine not having a loving dad. How do I help her not let it impact her so much? 

Prolific scribe

Re: How do I best support my daughter with the knowledge her father doesn't love her?

Hey @taokat sorry i didn't get a chance to tackle this sooner.

 

I'm so sorry to hear that things didn't go well when your daughter reached out to make contact with her father. I can hear how incredibly painful and distressing this has been for both of you Smiley Sad. We're here and listening if you need to talk through that more.

 

I guess i just want to quickly consider safety first, is there a risk that he could use this "loophole" to continue to harass or be abusive? If that's the case, would you like us to help find some supports to helps stay safe from that?

 

I think as far as helping to reduce the impact goes this is tricky. I think it's okay to experience some pretty intense feelings around this, it's natural and a part of processing an incredibly tough experience.  So to just be there for her through that, to listen and to show her the love, respect and support you have to give her as an amazing mum will be a huge and wonderful thing.

 

Without talking to your daughter i can't say for sure, but i feel like i am hearing some grief and loss as well as perhaps guilt about not feeling like they were able to do what their father wanted. She might not understand that the way he reacted is a product of the issues he carries with him and hasn't been able to resolve and not in any way her fault or have anything to do with the great person she is. That's something she could explore with us over on the youth forums, with a counselor and with you.

 

I think i need to chew on this a bit more and i imagine @Ngaio-RO will have much more wisdom on this than i do when she's back in tomorrow. Perhaps some community members who have been through similar experiences could share too. For now; let us know if we're heading in the right direction.

 

 

Parent Peer Supporter

Re: How do I best support my daughter with the knowledge her father doesn't love her?

Hi @Ben-RO, no problem! Thank you for your reply. Yes, I'm flipping between sadness, hurt and anger, and seeing these messages makes me shake like a leaf and feel sick when I first see them, it's crazy. My daughter's angry with her father, but that's the cover for her hurt because her language around herself is pretty hateful and derogatory. She thinks his rejection and behaviour must be because she's so f'ed up, she says. I listen and it's so hard sometimes, I feel hate him for adding to her pile. 

 

I don't know if I did the right thing, but I thought it was. I told my daughter her dad had messaged asking me to make contact again. I didn't want to make a choice for her, in case she wanted to try again with him. That's how she knows. 

 

I've now banned him from the page from both his accounts. He's blocked on phones and social media. If he creates another account and makes further contact, my next step would be police. Although they can only call him at this stage. I'm not sure what more I can do, so if anyone does have more ideas that'd be great, thank you.

 

I'd agree with you - there's a feeling of loss and sadness. She needed him to be patient and give her time which he couldn't do, then was really nasty. I mention to her about the youth forum, but always met with a no. I'm going to try not mentioning it, and just leaving the details in her room. 

 

I'm sorry, I've babbled on a bit, but yes, you're heading in the right direction! Your compass is spot on Smiley Happy

Mod

Re: How do I best support my daughter with the knowledge her father doesn't love her?

Hey @taokat, it sounds like you really do have your daughter's best interest at heart. It's also important to know, in my view, that as she gets older she will appreciate your support more and more, and the relationship she has with you I do not doubt will be a wonderful pillar for her to grow into a fabulous young woman. As someone who had a father show no interest in me from five years of age, I can definitely relate to what your daughter went through. Unfortunately my mother was not a decent support, but I was lucky enough to have a wonderful grandmother who helped guide me through the process.  Much like yourself, she was quite stuck with what to say around the topic of my father, but as young women we grow and we observe and it becomes clearer and clearer that the issue doesn't lie within ourselves but in fact with the father in question.

 

You are doing a marvelous job. I am wondering if you and your daughter have tried family counselling together? Or if she would be open to it? On the subject of what more you can do about him, I am not entirely sure but your local legal aid could be a great start, a lot of free legal services that can give basic information on the easiest next steps Smiley Happy 

 

Look forward to hearing from you again,

- Bree / RO

Parent Peer Supporter

Re: How do I best support my daughter with the knowledge her father doesn't love her?

Hi @Bree-RO, thank you for your reply. I appreciate you sharing with me, and it's so sad that our stories aren't unheard of. I'm relieved you had your grandmother to help you through. 

 

Thank you for sharing with me your words about young women growing and realising the issue is not with them. That really let me exhale, and gave me some faith that she'll get through this and be okay. 

 

My daughter and I do have a strong bond these days, and I'm lucky that she talks with me about so much. I hope always to be a trusted support for her, and your words are very reassuring.

 

Can I ask what your grandmother said or did that you found the most helpful or healing for you?

 

Yes, we have had family counselling before, and at the moment my daughter has a psychologist she sees every few months. We've brought our next appointment forward as my daughter is feeling like she needs her meds changed or increased. It may be something we can work through without those changes, but we'll wait and see.

 

Legal Aid is a good idea and if does make contact again I will definitely look ionot what services they offer.

 

Thank you again Smiley Happy

Prolific scribe

Re: How do I best support my daughter with the knowledge her father doesn't love her?

LHi @taokat . I just read your story ,

wow this must be so painful to navigate . I  am always,  always, gobsmacked by parents who decide to opt out of their child's life .For me the instinct to love and  nurture is so strong I think I would rather cut off my right arm than not see my precious two and I know my husband would too . It's so hard to fathom isn't it ? Why would he do that and then come back in and suddenly expect to be Dad and not ease into it at her pace ?

It's mind boggling , how one eyed some parents can be in their attempts to create bonds  in the teenage years when they have done no ground work . It would be funny if it wasn't so tragic . What is also difficult to fathom is that he was willing to miss out in all those years of watching his beautiful daughter grow and develop . He missed out so much and she missed out even more ! Yet he thinks he can just jump back in again as if nothing has transpired.   I can understand this must hurt you and frustrate you enormously! 

You have been Mum and Dad to her over the years and your depth of parenting knowledge , passion for your child and desire to make her into the best person she can be is evident in every post you make on this forum . She is very lucky to have you .

 

You asked what you could say to her to ease the knowledge that " he doesn't love her "

( I am not sure if he does , or not,  I don't know him )  but I understand that is her perception , and perception is reality . To negate this for her, and say she's wrong , he does  love her " in his own way "  may be counterproductive if this is what she is experiencing and is how she interprets his interactions and lack of . It's her reality after all . I would also NOT concur with her either , this will not be good for the processing of her feelings of being rejected . Best to stay neutral  and focus on empathy .

 

 I would try these possible  options ( in your own words ) if you have not done so already . 

 

1 . Some inidividuals in this world cannot give away what they don't have . Her birth father is probably a damaged soul  who was  probably unable to recognise what he had and how much he was self sabotaging by not being Dad .  He may regret that now and the anger he is expressing is a sign of his frustration and fear he now feels in his remorse .  

 

2. His poor attempts at reconciliation , which have turned to custard  is evidence that he  STILL does not yet ,  have the ability to create  a harmonious relationship with her and that he has failed to take it upon himself to educate himself fully  about emotional intelligence , integrity and  repairing emotional wounds in himself and your daughter in the years they have been apart .    It is an indicator of an inability to self reflect and self awareness, a very common trait in those who have not done, a lot  of self work .(  Putting you down and being abusive towards you  her Mum , is a reflection of this)

Don't tell her this  verbatim ! but do tell her that some parents have a lack of awareness and still have a lot to learn in life about love . Some adults take years to evolve and do the right thing by their children and sometimes their children surpass them in many ways when it comes to relationship building . 

 

  This is very sad for him and for her but it's the reality , and we have to deal with where he is mentally right now .  Sometimes good people do stupid things , even bad things and make very poor choices . No matter how much we love them we can't have them in our circle right now if they are unable yo express their love in positive and contributing ways . 

 

3 People can't change  about themselves what they don't acknowledge and take responsibility for , he sounds still very "stuck" . In this way  maybe it is a good thing he is not in her life right now , as he may bring chaos and more hurt especially if there has been no growth or emotional evolution , she is possibly better to protect herself from him at this stage .  

 

4. Some deeply hurt   individuals are unable to demonstrate in their behaviours what real love looks like and feels like - They were never taught and it was never modelled for them in a really healthy way . They really struggle - maybe he is perhaps one of those people .  

 

 

 5. Adults who grow up in a less than adequate  environment  and or have mental health issues, often have cognitive dissonance around freely saying the words  "I  love you ' but are unable to  freely show that  love in their behaviours towards that loved one . It's like , all care but no responsibility . Saying you love and then showing it can be worlds apart for some people . 

 

6 .  Heap her with praise on how she had developed as a wonderful person  with great attributes and abilities  despite the lack of his influence on her life - thus  that may very well be a blessing !  

 

7. She is not responsible in any way for the Father not being there . It was never about her , and it's still not about her . He has his own demons . 

 

 8. Focusing on self love and the evidence around her that she is loved enormously by others who know her deeply is proof she is lovable and has much to offer herself and the world . 

 

9 . Of all the girls in this world you could have been a Mum to - you got her !  Lottery ! And you are therefore the luckiest Mum in the world . 

 

10. If she desperately wants connection with him , in the future , then get her to write down  how that would look and what are the boundaries she needs to implement . She could write him a letter saying such things as we can share time if you accept that I call you by name and we stick  to safe topics,  such as , what we are up to , and sharing jokes and anecdotes. She has a right to her boundaries and these may help ensure he does not say abusive things about you or her and sticks to the mutual script ! Then she is empowered and knows when she should walk away . 

 

11. Building a relationship takes time and effort and energy . Maybe a hot choccy once a fortnight might be all she can do at this stage ,  If he's committed he will agree to her terms . 

 

Many of of these points may seem a llittle too " adult " for a teen , but from what you have told us before your daughter is very emotionally intelligent and you have  rich and nuanced discussions about feelings and behaviours and what is acceptable. 

 

Hope there is some small take away here ! 😊

 

Mod

Re: How do I best support my daughter with the knowledge her father doesn't love her?

G'day @taokat - under the correct username now Smiley Happy

 

Yes certainly I can recall she used to tell me to seek love within, focus on what was before me, spend more time with my Pop and other male role models. However, at times she did slip up and would make blunt statements about him and the kind of person he was. At the end of the day reflecting back I understand, and I think we all understand as we get older family is not just blood, I have other male role models I look to in this life Smiley Happy I just needed to push through that similar pain your daughter is going through to understand. 

 

The strong bond between you two is beautiful and something you should both be proud of. Sounds good about counselling coming forward a bit - you're doing all the right things I reckon! Please let us know how you get on with LegalAid or similar Smiley Happy 

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Parent Peer Supporter

Re: How do I best support my daughter with the knowledge her father doesn't love her?

Hi @taokat

That is a really tough situation for both of you but of course for your daughter it must raise so many emotions, questions and difficult feelings that at times she doesn't know how to manage.

Firstly in my opinion having ONE parent who a child trusts and knows they are loved unconditionally by can go a very very long way and I can hear that the bond between you and your daughter is doing just that. You are a force to be reckoned with and she knows you are there for her Smiley Happy

I can relate a little in that my ex husband and my daughter have had a fraught relationship all their lives .

My daughter is now 16 and still goes through an internal battle of guilt, hurt , and anger over their lack of relationship . He lives in the next suburb , my son goes there 5 nights a fortnight , she chooses not to now and he barely makes any contact with her

I have always tried to come from the angle that her father just 'cant' . He can't show her love in the way she needs . He can't put her first - ever . he just can't . It wouldn't matter what she did , who she was , what was different - it all comes down to he can't .

I'll never forget a counsellor I used to see years ago before I divorced my ex - I was going on and on about him and my counselor just said - put it this way - you are expecting him to do xyz ( say be able to understand he needs to be more involved emotionally ) but it's like expecting a person who is in a wheelchair and can't walk - to get up and start walking !!

And that helped me see in a way that it wasn't me and it wasn't my daughter . It's all him

And I've tried to impress that on my daughter as much as possible because they do internalize it and do blame themselves . My heart sank when I read your daughter said that about him not wanting anything to do with her because she had f*d up so much

I also focus on all the other people who my daughter has - and that helps her realise yeh hang on - all these people think I'm pretty ok - dads the exception maybe it is him !

There's no denying it has to hurt. And she may spend a few years with the help of therapy processing it and putting it somewhere where she can let it sit without too much pain .

In the meantime she has a mum who has her back and that's so important . Your bond is obviously very strong and I can hear your distress at being helpless but you are doing so much by just being the strong loving and supportive mum that you are .





Parent Peer Supporter

Re: How do I best support my daughter with the knowledge her father doesn't love her?

Thank you all so much for your responses, which have all given me some great advice and support. 

 

@Breez-RO thank you for sharing what your grandmother said to you. I love it, and I think it's what we should tell ourselves! I'll be taking that on board and using it Smiley Happy  What a wise woman your grandmother is. My daughter has lovely male role models too, so I'm happy about that. It's a great point you make about needing to push through the pain to understand. I'm going to talk to my daughter about that.

 

@motherbear you have provided some fantastic ideas and advice, thank you! I wish I could print these responses out so I could easily read them each night, to get some of the missing bits into my vocab. I hope that makes sense! I cannot understand how her father could have walked away from her. It might sound weird but I've always felt he was jealous of her. He was horrible to me when I was pregnant, burnt my first pregnancy journal, then stole my second one when we finally broke up. I could go on and on.

 

I have explained to her that he cannot give what he doesn't have, as you say @Beingme2017. She is very emotionally mature and I can have these chats with her. She's amazingly switched on, but believes, as she has been taught and has learnt herself, that it doesn't matter what issues you have, you can learn to not be abusive and aggressive. It's never okay. 

 

I'm sorry for your daughter too Beingme2017, that her dad can't put her first. Your counsellors words are so true! Thank you for sharing your story. Impressing on my daughter that it is him, and not her, will be something I'll really concentrate on.

 

I really appreciate all your suggestions and your lovely comments, thank you. I'm taking it all in at the moment so my brain is feeling full! I'm feeling encouraged and so much better equipped now. Smiley Happy

 

 

Prolific scribe

Re: How do I best support my daughter with the knowledge her father doesn't love her?

This does resinate with me and the family who were/n't my family from birth. I didn't really find anyone I gelled with for the past 40+ yrs. So only talk about it when pressed by the MH teams. Hurt, distrust, unloved, not cared for, who was I and where did I belong. It was overwhelming more so as I got older. I talked it really didn't help but I had to for my own safety. When your girl talks she is allowing herself to deal with reality of all those nasty selfish ppl we deal with. I lied at times to shut ppl up and protect myself. As a teen I think that was my coping mechanism.

I don't know the other side of my family at all - what I don't know I can't be hurt by. I guess it took me years, we seem to concentrate on the hurt rather then the happiness.

I moved forward and away, the sadness never really ends but with maturity it becomes something you have more control over.

 

I am now going through a similar situation but quite different. However, my girls can discuss it any time they like and ask tonnes of Q's. They trust me and they trust the MH team they deal with. If the meeting doesn't go well in yrs to come they know what happened with me and understand in their little teen brains that mum survived it and so can we.