Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My 13 year old daughter

I am a single parent of 3 kids, sons 19, and 16, and a daughter 13. The boys dad isn't in their lives so I have had to teach them everything. I have been separated from my daughters dad for about 5 yrs, and have always been the primary caretaker of all of them. She has been seeing her dad every other weekend during this time period, he has never taken her during spring or summer breaks, he just pretty much stuck to the weekend warrior schedule, even though I have always said he could spend more time with her, he had other things to do.

My daughter and I had discussed at some point when she became a teenager she might want to live with him (he is remarried now). During the holidays she spent 3 weekends in a row with him, the most he has ever spent with her. Up until then she has been a happy teenager, except the arguing with her brothers which to me is normal. However, when she was to come home, she called me and said she had been unhappy for awhile and wanted to try living with her dad, this kind of hit me out of nowhere, there were no signs, I talk to my kids, we have good communication at least as far as i am aware.

I found out that apparently when her dad and his wife had her this last weekend they went (ghost hunting) and left her with one of the members of the group overnight who happens to be (a psychic) and they had a long talk because the woman said that she sensed my daughter was feeling sad. It was after that my daughter decided she was unhappy with me and wanted to live with her dad, which broke my heart. Her dad said that he would like to get to know his daughter before she is all grown up, and i reiterated to him that he had always had the chance to see her more, but that it was his choice to not. Still when he gets her on his every other weekend, he will make plans to go ghost hunting and leave her with one of the members of the group, which i really don't agree with. Her attitude when she came back from his house (he lives with his grandpa) was sooo sad, that hurt me. It has taken 3 days for her to start acting like her normal self and talking to me again, and now she is going back to his house for the weekend again, every time it takes her awhile to re-adjust when she comes home.


She gets used to everything being about her, and doing alot of things and getting things. I can't afford to do something every weekend, or buy things for her like that, which obviously makes her unhappy. I feel like she is choosing materialistic things over me. I want her to be a strong and positive adult, so I am strengthening all the issues of being a teenage girl, like self esteem, how to deal with peer pressure, communication, being strong enough not to follow what other kids do, things like that, and what scares me is he has never raised any kids and has always made comments about how much she eats and her weight, which when she comes home i have to undo. She loves to spend time with him because as she says he acts just like a kid.

I unfortunately have to act like an adult most of the time. I am scared that if i let her live with him, he will have more to offer and she will never want to come home. I have talked with her brothers about this and they tell me to let her go, "The grass is not always greener on the other side" and that she really doesn't know how good she has it with me (her dad was a step dad to them for about 9 years, and after we separated I found out that he had been abusive to them when i was not at home, it took 1 year of being away from him before they could actually look another person in the eye, and their self esteem went up profoundly). I really don't know what to do, I have pretty much decided to give her some space, and not touch on the subject because the last time I tried she got really defensive, and give it until summer starts and let her try it during the summer, he should have a house by then and his stepdaughter is supposed to come back to live with them (his step daughter wanted to live with her dad she was 8yrs old so they let her and she changed her mind 2 weeks later by my daughters dad said no to her coming back and so she has been living with his wife's parents since last year, and he only had her for about 6 months when they first got married, and made a comment that he couldn't wait to get rid of her, if that tells you anything).

I guess i am asking for some sort of advice on how to handle the situation, in my opinion she acts like a typical teenager with all the ups and downs, and i can deal with that, I have already been trained by her brothers, however, I don't think her dad can handle that, and will probably let her do things I wouldn't. Can you please tell me something I haven't already considered. I know this is really long, sorry.

Answer: Dear Anita:

I can hear your pain. I need you to know it isn't any easier to let them go even when they are all grown up and moving on to good things. You will still feel the pain of letting her go.

I think your sons are right in that she probably won't stay. I do imagine however that you have a legal say in whether or not she goes. If you believe she is not physically safe then you have the right to say no. Will she be happy of course not.

In the meantime, trying having more fun with her. I know that as the mother you end up being the adult but trust me when I say you can let down a little and be some fun too. It doesn't take money to have fun with the children and they won't see you as less than an adult just because you sometimes let your hair down and be a kid again with them. Possibly this is what she is looking for from you (just reading what you wrote).

It does not sound like this move would have a good impact on her and if his other daughter didn't last probably he is not ready to raise children. His needing to get to know his daughter before she grows up says this is still all about him not her. What about her getting to know her father before she is all grown up or making it up to her that he has not taken every opportunity to show her the attention a girl craves from her father.

Children get their self esteem from the same sex parent and their relationship skills from the opposite sex parent. He has not taken this responsibility seriously and now he regrets it however his regret is not more important than her stability.

Outside of this regardless of whether or not she goes with him, you are her mother. You raised her and even though she is going through a rough spot you need to know YOU WILL ALWAYS BE THE MOST IMPORTANT VOICE IN HER LIFE. Even when she wants to convince you otherwise. Stop feeling so insecure and realize you are important to her.

As far as the fighting between her and her brothers I hope these are only verbal battles and there is no physical or emotional abuse involved...??? I only make mention of this because many parents allow inappropriate behavior because they believe it is normal for siblings to fight. Sibling violence and sibling emotional abuse is something our society has yet to identify and address and is sorely needed.

Hopefully, some of this helped you. This is truly the hardest time for most parents. You and she will get through this one way or another. This too shall pass. It gets better. They are way more adult when they are say 22-27. Hang in there! Trust you have done a good job!

Best Wishes!

Knowledgeability Clarity of Response Politeness

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Comment: Thank you, that helped me out quite alot, I needed someone from the outside to give their opinion.