Teenage daughter wants no contact with her dad
10 June 2021 at 10:50 am #55031
Sky Blue Belle 50Participant
My ex and I split up 7 years ago and divorced soon after. We had been married for 18 years.
We have a daughter who is now 15. When my ex finally left for good he moved towns to be nearer his job (about 30 minutes away by car) and he’s since married and lives there now with his wife and her daughter from her first marriage, who’s also 15.
We have an informal arrangement where she spends every other weekend at his and until recently it worked pretty well. When she was younger she adored her dad and used to love going to his. I encouraged this, as I didn’t have my dad in my life growing up and never wanted that for her.
When my daughter was about 11 she said for the first time that she didn’t want to go to her dads that weekend and I explained why she needed to go, that she would be fine once she got there etc. And to he honest, she did have a good weekend and came home quite happy. But over the last few years she has been saying it more and more often and more recently was giving me the reasons why she didn’t want to go, she didn’t get on with her stepmum/sister and felt that her stepsister was prioritised over her and treated differently. I voiced her concerns to her dad and tried to sort things out and encouraged her to continue going. Then she was coming home and telling me that her dad was criticising her hair and clothes, his wife would join in and sometimes his parents too. So I contacted him about this to sort it out and he basically said it never happened, or she misunderstood him. Sometimes when he picked her up they would argue in the car on the way to his and he would call me and ask me to sort it.
Over the past few months though, things gave really gone downhill. When schools went back last September my daughter got in with a new group of friends and went off the rails for a while. Her behaviour changed and her schoolwork suffered and it all came to a head over Halloween when I discovered she had been lying to me. I don’t want to go into detail, but it was serious enough to get the police involved. There were consequences, she was grounded, I took her phone and she’s still banned from a few social media platforms. The police being involved and the thought of what might have happened to her (as well as what did happen) seemed to bring her to her senses. I explained to her why she couldn’t be involved with that friendship group any more and she readily agreed, I changed her mobile number so they couldn’t contact her and she went back to her original friends. With the help of some counselling I was able to work with her, draw a line under what happened and move on and she’s now back to her old self and ashamed of how she was then. Her dad hasn’t moved on quite as well, he brings it up in arguments, threatens to tell her grandparents and tells her if they knew what she’d done they would hate her and disown him.
The relationship between my daughter and her dad has now broken down completely. In March, her and her stepsister fell out over a boy. Her dad and stepmum got involved, took her stepsister’s side and made lots of phone calls and messages calling my daughter names and basically hounding her because she had started going out with her stepsister’s ex boyfriend.
My daughter is really upset and can’t forgive them for the way they treated her and spoke to her. Their response is that everyone said things they now regret in the heat of the moment and they want to move on.
My daughter hasn’t been to her dads since March, hasn’t seen him since April and now won’t speak to him at all. Her dad wants me to punish her for not seeing him and wants me to force her to go to his. He keeps trying to force the issue and I think that is making matters worse.10 June 2021 at 8:02 pm #55165
Force her?! He should be absolutely mortified that she doesn’t want to go and making the effort to change that. At 15 most kids don’t hang out with their parents much, but in her case I can completely see why she doesn’t want to. It’s his own doing, it’s not your problem if she isn’t interested!11 June 2021 at 6:58 am #55187
He’s definitely making matters worse and I completely understand why she doesn’t want to go. Punishing her for choosing to protect herself and protect her mental health is a ridiculous suggestion on his part.
I’d just say that she’s 15 now and is old enough to decide for herself if she wants to see him or not and that you’re staying out of it. But perhaps if he showed more patience and understanding he’d win her affections back over time. Forcing her to do things will do more damage. Then leave it at that.11 June 2021 at 8:04 pm #55204
I know kids can lie and your daughter hasn’t always been honest but when she says she doesn’t want to be with her dad – the right thing is to really listen to her and support her in these wishes. It sounds like this is what you are doing. I believe what she is saying regarding how she is treated, even if it isn’t as severe as she says, I believe she feels this and it sounds best for her not to be staying with them at all – unless and until they change their behaviour.
Your ex sounds like the child to be honest, using his child to meet his own needs through and through whilst refusing to reflect on why she doesn’t want to see him.
I think you will do your daughter a real favour by letting her know you fully support her decision. She does not have to stay over. But, possibly ask her if she would consider other ways in which to re build.the relationship with her dad. For example, days out somewhere , dinner, trips to the cinema.l without having to stay over. Would he even be bothered to do that and would she want to? I think that’s a good start in this situation. If she is adamant she doesn’t want to he needs to really look at himself and figure out why his own daughter feels so strongly.
I think you’re doing the right thing not making or encouraging her to stay. I appreciate it means you have no time for yourself. Also, will he be subject to paying more maintenance money if she continues not to stay over . I imagine this is often a huge motivator behind these things sadly.12 June 2021 at 9:03 pm #55234
Sky Blue Belle 50Participant
Thank you all so much for your comments, its easy to doubt myself so its really helpful to know that someone who is neutral in this thinks I’m doing the right thing.
As far as maintenance goes, we have an informal arrangement there as well. To be fair to my ex, he has always followed it religiously, always in full and on time. It occurred to me a few weeks ago that technically he should be paying more since the calculation is based on the number of nights she stays over each week, which is currently zero. But I haven’t broached the subject with him as it does feel as though I would be kicking him when he’s down. And at the moment we are managing.
I agree with the comments here which suggest that we try to rebuild their relationship slowly and gradually. I think its probably the only way, unfortunately it hasn’t worked so far. Back in April I invited him over to walk the dog with her so they could chat in neutral surroundings. She insisted I go too, which I did, and he was not happy about that at all. A couple of weeks later she invited him to go with her to watch one of her friends play football, and again insisted I go too. He at first was implying that it was some sort of set up on my part to spend time with him (it really wasnt) then he accused her of using him as a taxi (I don’t have a car).
I’m running out of ideas if I’m honest. Every time he says things like this he just pushes her further away.13 June 2021 at 8:07 am #55243
I think that’s sensible ref the maintenance. If you can cope then just leave it for now as he will then be motivated to see your daughter for the wrong reasons and he will no doubt mess it up.
Could you speak to your daughter’s and ask her if she would consider seeing her dad without you there. Ask what you could do to make her feel confident seeing him alone – e.g being on the end of the phone if she needs to call ( take it she has a mobile). Would she do something fun like a game of bowling. Just him and her. As much as he sounds like a pain in the add, I can put myself in his shoes and would hate to have to have my ex watching over things. That will make him really resentful.
As long as he is willing to do something without his new partner or any other kids around it will show her he is willing to try. Maybe see if your daughter is willing, then speak to him and say you understand that he wants time alone so if he is happy to see her on his own doing such and such activity you will support him in setting it up and making it happen.