19 February 2019 at 11:59 am #21240
Hi all, first post here so apologies if I waffle a bit to give context!
I found out last March (by finding him mid overdose) that my husband of nearly 7 years had been seriously abusing class A drugs for more than a year, since our only daughter was just a few months old. It explained so much of how much he had neglected and abandoned us over that period, which I thought was just due to being overworked and stressed at being a new father.
I tried to support him through recovery but, after several relapses and discoveries of further deceptions including cheating and stashes of drugs and needles in our house, I told him I wanted a divorce last June. I got a court order that I would have full custody and he should not have access without me being present and supervising. He fought it and accused me of abusing him by restricting his access to the daughter he had barely communicated with for several months. The court saw through it and awarded me exactly the order I asked for. He insisted that he at least be allowed to see her every week at least once, with the proviso that he not see her for a month if he relapsed again.
Wind forward a few months and the last time he saw her was 9th December, so it’s now over 10 weeks since she saw her father. First he was away, then he couldn’t come with no reason given, then he was ill, and now he just says he can’t come again.
My worry is that I just don’t know what effect this is having on my daughter. She is a highly intelligent and talkative 2 year old (2y3m to be precise) and occasionally mentions Daddy in the same phrase as Mummy, Grandma and Granddad (who we’re currently living with to support us through this difficult time). I don’t know whether she’s doing this because she remembers him and misses him, because she hears other children at her nursery talking about their Mummy and Daddy and just assumes that’s what you say, or somewhere in between. And most significantly, I don’t know what kind of effect it is having on her seeing her father so sporadically – e.g. weekly for a few weeks, then not for 3 months. I dread the questions about when she’s going to see Daddy again. What do I tell her?19 February 2019 at 1:10 pm #21247
I think you have to keep it very simple. Just say that daddy sometimes isn’t very well and sometimes he’s poorly or has to get lots of sleep.
But he loves her lots and is trying to get better so he can spend more time with her. What else can you say?
Bear in mind that children aren’t good at judging time so she may not realise how long it is between visits.19 February 2019 at 2:48 pm #21248
Yes – I agree with the above response.
Telling the truth as simply as you can is the best way for your toddler to understand now and to grow up with an understanding. She will be talking about daddy because that’s what her friends and the stories she is read do – but you are her whole world and so if you tell her about her daddy and how he is trying but he is very poorly, she will not only understand and remember this but as she gets older she will respect you for telling her the truth. What’s important to her is that you are there for her and that you love her very much – not that her daddy is not.
hope that’s helpful.
keep your strength – sounds like you’re doing an amazing job with her.19 February 2019 at 6:28 pm #21263
Agree with the above, she’s old enough to understand that in her own way and you’re being as honest as is appropriate for her age.
This could be a very long road for him even if he was genuinely trying his best it might not be enough to keep him clean for the long term.
I think you’re doing everything you can to protect her and give her stability-keep doing what you’re doing20 February 2019 at 12:49 pm #21286
Again agree with the above, and ditto for any partner suffering from mental health issues of any kind. Keep it simple and also make sure nithing derogatory is said as regardless of the situation that will make the child feel unstable. Reassurance is key as it will be a confusing time for them.21 February 2019 at 8:37 pm #21320
Do keep things simple for yourself and your daughter. The bond between the two of you is the primary one she needs and that is important above all others. It will be for a long time. Other relationships between the child and other people are, albeit positive, not as important at this stage. The two of you are safe and looked after. Your ex has now the luxury of time to clean his act up: regain health, stability and keep up with his duties. Do not overthink what your daughter says. You will have the opportunity to frame it according to the situation, over time, and in accordance to your daughter’s needs and ability to understand. All the best!