When I asked her if she is upset with her father, she said, “No. This is exactly what I expect of him.”
Not even a goodbye?
He doesn’t think he’s a dead beat dad, she does. I wonder what he sees of himself. He has never managed to make time for her. She will be 15 in a few short weeks. He typically sees her between 2 and 4 times a year for one night at a time. He almost always has someone else with him. He seldom manages to find alone time for her, and when he does, according to her, he spends the time on the internet or his Wii. They don’t talk and when they do, she leaves the conversation defeated and realizing how little about her he knows. Add to that the fact that he does not take the time to listen so he will never really know her. She has asked him several times in the past to stay at his house longer and spend more time with him. He always tells her no and gives her some lame excuse.
He has been serving time in Iraq since August. We knew that he would be coming home for a visit, but did not know when. We had told him several times that she will have ski competitions and won’t be able to spend much time with him if he comes on a weekend. This didn’t seem to matter. Apparently, he came back home last Tuesday. He will be in town until March 4th. On Friday, he and his girlfriend drove into town supposedly to watch our daughter’s ski competition. Although the drive is less than 4 hours, he did not arrive until around 7:30. We all met for pizza. When asked where he was staying, he was evasive and would not tell us. We knew that he was staying in a local tourist town and can only summate that they spent the weekend in an elite hotel (he never did tell us where he was staying).
Saturday morning, daughter needed to be at the mountain at 8:00 for her competition. Sometime around 9:30, he and girlfriend showed up and began sending text messages for daughter to meet them in the lodge. Let’s review the fact that she is on a ski team and in a competition. Did he really think that she was going to be able to suddenly run to the lodge? Furthermore, did he really think that she was on the mountain skiing and checking her text messages? This is nuts to me. They finally did meet up and ate some lunch together. He and girlfriend ended up leaving just after they ate at about 11:30, before the real competition began.
That evening, he text messaged her around 6:30 asking how her day was. The conversation was brief and ended abruptly as they usually do. That was the last that she heard of him. She never saw him again on Saturday and there was never an effort by him to try to meet up with her. They were to leave town at 7 this morning so that his girlfriend could be back to work tomorrow.
So, this weekend that he supposedly set aside for his daughter, he spent about an hour with her at dinner with all of us on Friday night, maybe 30 minutes with her at the ski lodge on Saturday, and that was it. He had been asked to stay during the week so she could skip a school day or two and spend some time with her. His response was simply that he was too busy.
This is characteristic of him and what I expect of him. It hurts that this is all that his daughter can expect of him and that he keeps widening the gap. It won’t be much longer and she won’t have anything to do with him. She doesn’t like to talk to him now because he tries to parent her on things like sex and drugs, yet he isn’t even involved in her life enough to know how these issues effect her or how much to say. He puts her into categories based on quick judgments. He has accused her of being into witch craft based on a star necklace from a gumball machine that she wore. He was insistent that it was a pentagram. It was not. The list is long and I can do is sigh.
Any words of wisdom? Dads, what do you say?
My daughter’s dad and I divorced over 14 years ago when she was 8 months old. For the first few years, he really had nothing to do with her. When she was three, I moved to another state. We lived there for two years. When we moved back to state number 1, he got involved with her life although it was somewhat spuratic. None the less, he developed a relationship with her. A few years later, I graduated college, got a job and moved away once again. They now live about 3 hours apart…except for the fact that he is currentlyon duty in Iraq.
I was talking with him online moments ago. After 14 years, we have a great relationship. Of course, we were talking about her. One part of the conversation I happened to mention that she wants to go to Australia for college (we live in America). His comments were pretty negative about that wanting to know how she plans to pay for it and if I have won the lottery. While his points are valid, I have an opposite view. While I certainly don’t know if her dreams to go to Australia are realistic, I am not going to kill them. I want her to pursue them. Explore them. Find out what it would take to make that happen and then try really hard to make those dreams come true. If there comes a time when she decideds that it just isn’t practical, so be it. In the meantime, let her dream.
The second is an ongoing problem. He schedules time with her, but rarely alone. He likes to bring his girlfriend along. While my daughter does like his girlfriend very much, the reality is that she doesn’t see her father much and she would just like some time with him. They are not married, they do not live together, she is “just” a girlfriend. In fact, she is one of many that my daughter has had to spend time with when all she wanted to do was spend time with her dad. I’ve metioned this to him before but it doesn’t change anything. If only he knew how much this bothers her and how invaluable it makes her feel. There aren’t many years left with her, she’s almost 15.
If I could give parents any advice, one would be to let your children dream. Don’t squander their dream. Help them to explore it and see if there is anyway to make it happen. The other piece would be to find time to be alone with your children. These bits of advice are true whether you live with your children or not. If we don’t let our kids dream, where is their hope in life? If we don’t take the time to spend with our kids, how will they know that we care? Talk with them about everything. Tell them how valuable they are. Cherish them. Share their dreams.