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Should I tell my teenager her Father passed away??

Should I tell my teenager her Father passed away??

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Casual scribe
Kokobear23

Should I tell my teenager her Father passed away??

Hello, I just joined this forum...I could really use some advice on this asap! I don't know what to do or how to go about it.

 

Quick context: when my daughter was 4 weeks old, I found out her Father was into serious drugs regularly ( the hardcore stuff) ..cheated on me the entire time I was pregnant...basically living another life behind my back, and wasn't the person he had been pretending to be. I moved out (10 minutes away) thinking he would get his act together and contact us shortly after. Who wouldn't want to see their baby? Years went by. No contact from him whatsoever.

 

I never filed for child support, we've lived in almost poverty all these years on just my minimal income. My Parents had advised me not to file for support because with that, would come visitation. And If he was still using drugs, obviously not the person/lifestyle for a child to be around.

 

15  1/2 years went by.

 

Not a single phone call, no birthday cards, no contact of any kind. Every year I thought of him. 'how is it possible someone doesn't want to see or even know anything about their own child' 'how is it possible to absolutely not care'.


I never met the 'right guy', thus my daughter has never had a Dad. I suddenly started feeling that I should try to contact him, see if he wanted to develop a relationship with her... and after 15 1/2 years in 2020, I tracked him down (he had moved 5 hours away) and contacted him. Not to point fingers or even ask why. I wanted to 'welcome' him, nudge him...to be a part of her life if he was no longer using drugs and if he wanted to. I just wanted to know moving forward, if he wanted to meet his daughter and develop a relationship with her. We spoke twice over the next few weeks and texted a few times. He said he no longer did drugs. Obviously, I didn't know if that was true or not.

 

Over the next 4 months, I kept asking if he wanted to meet her, to get involved. His answer was always the same . 'Yes absolutely', yet over those 4 months, he never even asked anything about her. Literally the only thing he asked about her in 4 months was 'is she gorgeous'. And I was always the one messaging him, not the other way around. Each time, I only asked one thing. The same thing. 'do you want to have a relationship with your child? what are your plans? how can we make this happen?' He took no action, no plans were made to get to know her, meet her... he didn't even talk about making plans down the road. The old adage ' actions, not words'...


I also contacted his mother around the same time to get her two cents and see if that would help nudge him to get involved. I had met her once when my daughter was born. Very kind person, excited about having a grandchild.

I was very surprised to hear that after all these years, she was in complete denial that her son wanted nothing to do with his daughter. She even blamed ME for him choosing not to be a part of her life. She said that I 'wouldn't let him' see her for the last 15 years.How can a Mother not let the Father see their child, when the Father never attempted to see the child or even make contact of any kind?

I couldn't believe the absurdity. I told her quite the opposite was true. I always wanted him to come in and be Dad, be a part of her life. You don't need an invitation to contact your own child. I reminded her that even if what she was saying were true, and I never wanted him to be involved, legally I wouldn't have been able to keep him away if i wanted to. She was in complete denial about the truth even 15 years later.


I have spoken with my daughter now 17, about him 2 or 3 times keeping everything vague. I did not tell her about the drug usage..not wanting to paint a negative image in her mind about her Father who shes never even met. I simply told her he and I had both decided it would be best that I raise her with help from her Grandparents (my Parents). They have both been very involved throughout her life, my Father stepping in so to speak, being the male/father figure in her life.

 

She has never brought the subject of her 'Father' up, never asked about him, which I find odd/unnatural. I feel I haven't discussed the topic with her enough. She has to think about him. What he's like, what he looks like, if she looks like him...All these years, wondering why he's out there and has never made contact with her. She has probably thought about it her entire life, but has kept it all in. There is no way, this has not caused her pain. I should have taken action sooner. A long time ago. I should have tried to find out if he was still using drugs and if not, tried to get him to step in and be her Father. I also should have made it a point to get out there on the dating scene, marry a good, stable man who would be a step Dad for her instead of being selfish, not ready to marry, and never really trying to meet anyone.


Last year, after being in contact with him for 4 months, I got a call. He passed away. They did not know why yet as it had just happened. My guess is drugs. Heavy usage over the years would do it for a 40 year old. But that's just a guess.


Sorry, this is longer than I thought. Anyway, to any Parents with some insight/wisdom, I would really appreciate some advice. My questions are:


- I feel like I need to discuss him with her. What do I say? I don't even know where to start.

- Do I tell her about the kind of person he turned out to be..his lifestyle..the drugs etc..or paint a positive picture of who he was instead?

- What do I say when she asks 'why has he never made contact with me'?

- Do I tell her he died or wait on that part?

-If I tell her he died, should I say he passed away a long time ago so she will think that that is the reason he never contacted her vs (the truth) :he never wanted anything to do with her, could have made contact at any time the last decade and a half and just recently died? B/C that is how she will make sense of it in her mind, as anyone would.

 

-The other Grandmother( his Mum), that blames me, wants to be a part of her life. My daughter has not met her. Should I initiate a relationship between them? Tell my daughter about her? My only hesitation is: how would that make her feel after finding out her Father who she never even got to meet, just died and now instead of being able to meet him, she's meeting his Mother.


Thank you for reading my 'essay' and any advise is appreciated.

Community Manager
Iona-RO

Re: Should I tell my teenager her Father passed away??

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Hi @Kokobear23 

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us and for reaching out to get some support. It sounds like you've been through so much, and I firstly wanted to say well done for being such a great mother and looking after your daughter on your own all this time. It's also amazing to hear that you reached out to her father to try to reconnect them, I imagine this would've taken a lot of emotional energy for you to do. It's really commendable and something I hope you feel really proud of yourself for. 

 

I actually had a very similar situation happen to me when I was growing up - my parents split up when I was a toddler due to my dad's alcoholism, he moved away and had no contact and then he passed away very suddenly when I was 11. So I can definitely empathise with your daughter. I was much the same and kept a lot of what I was feeling inside - for me, I think it would've been easier to talk about if my mum had brought it up more. I understand that can be really hard to do, because I imagine it's a really traumatic thing for you to talk about as well. So I think finding a way to do that in a way that is safe for both of you is important, if you decided to open up that conversation a bit more and more regularly. 

 

Ultimately, it is completely up to you how you handle this and what/how you decide to tell your daughter. Drawing from my own experience, my mum told me as soon as she found out that my dad had died and I really appreciated that honesty. Dealing with a family member dying is always difficult, but dealing with one you didn't even know, adds a whole other aspect of grief to it. So if you decide to tell your daughter, it might be good to make sure you both have some supports in place to go through that with. Whether that be friends, other family members, your GP/psychologist/therapist, or all of the above. We have a couple of articles that might be helpful for your daughter if you decided to tell her, here and here.

 

How are you feeling about potentially broaching the subject with her? If you were in her shoes, do you think you would rather know the truth?

Casual scribe
Kokobear23

Re: Should I tell my teenager her Father passed away??

Hi,

 

Thank you so much for responding. it sounds like you went through something quite similar and I'm so sorry you went through that as a child! I agree with you that I should tell my daughter. Its so different though since she did not know him. I want to know if she planned to find him and if so, this will be quite devastating for her, never getting to even meet him.

My question now is about her Grandmother she has never met. She seems like a kind person and I would like to introduce my daughter to her. My only hesitation introducing them and my daughter starting a relationship with her is when I contacted her for the first time two years ago, she was angry with me, blaming me for not letting her son see my daughter( he never tried to contact us in 16 years and I never filed for child support) Obviously, since he never tried contacting us, I could not have 'kept him away'. I tried telling her this on the phone, and she wouldn't have it, cutting me off.

The opposite was true, I always hoped he would contact us, but he never did and I made the decision after 16 years to contact him.So the Grandmother is still in complete denial after all these years that her son never wanted anything to do with my daughter. That anger and those feelings she has, would be expressed to my daughter I'm sure, and my daughter may believe that misinformation as preposterous as it is, which would absolutely damage our relationship. So I'm not sure what to do, and when I tell my daughter the news about his passing, I would like to share about her Grandmother( if thats the right thing to do) 

Please let me know your thoughts. Thank you!

Community Manager
Iona_RO

Re: Should I tell my teenager her Father passed away??

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HI @Kokobear23 

 

I'm really glad to hear you were able to get some support from my previous message, it's such a big situation to tackle by yourself, so I hope you feel a bit less alone now Smiley Happy

 

It sounds like the relationship you've had with your daughter's grandmother has been quite upsetting in the past, do you think she would have the same kind of reaction now? 

 

I'm wondering if you think it would be better to chat to your daughter about her father first to give her time to process that, or to talk to her about her father and grandmother all in one go?

 

There's going to be a lot of emotions she'll have to go through, and will need time to figure out how she's feeling and what support she needs. And I'm sure it will be an emotional rollercoaster for you too! Better Help are an online counselling service that have specialists around grief that might be helpful for you & your daughter to make an appointment with. There's also a list of online grief supports here that you can have a look through.

 

What are some things you're doing for yourself to take a break from dealing with all of this?

Casual scribe
Kokobear23

Re: Should I tell my teenager her Father passed away??

Hi there,

 

Thank you again for your message. It does help a bit to discuss this with someone. And thank you for the links you sent. I found a new counselor for my daughter to start seeing. The one she was going to last year was not the right fit, so that should help her.

I do agree with you that the two topics should be discussed separately.First telling her about his passing, let that sink in then after some time, tell her about her Grandmother. But i just dont know about that.

After I tell her about his death, what are your thoughts about introducing her to her Grandmother she has never met? And to answer your question on that, the Grandmother no doubt still holds the same vile opinion of me, blaming me for her son choosing not to be a part of my daughters life.

 

If they meet and develop a relationship, that opinion would no doubt be expressed to my daughter. It shouldn't be a complicated situation, but it is. If she didn't blame me for her sons decision, I would love to introduce them. No reason not to. That is the only reason I'm doubting if I should. Imagine someone hating you, blaming you for something, all these years (17) holding that opinion, probably talking about it to others so the idea is drilled into your brain etc....my daughter could very well be convinced of these beliefs the Grandmother holds and start blaming me as well. I have to be careful making this decision... thank you!

Community Manager
Janine-RO

Re: Should I tell my teenager her Father passed away??

Hi @Kokobear23 , 

 

It's great to hear that your daughter found a new counsellor- finding the right fit can be such a gamechanger. 

 

I can imagine that it would feel like such an impossible decision for you, knowing that it's such a complicated situation and that her grandmother may  still hold those feelings towards you.  I'm wondering if it might be helpful for your daughter to be involved in this decision, and possibly to work through approaches with her counsellor?  

 

You sound like an incredibly strong person - I'm wondering if you have much support for yourself? I was a sole parent myself and I know how draining it can be carrying these worries- do you have people in your life that can help to support you at the moment? 

 

It can feel impossible to find what feels like the 'right' answer in situations like this, but it sounds like you're a loving, strong, and thoughtful parent- and having someone in like you in her corner will be so important for your daughter as she navigates this situation