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What do you do when they figure out his shortcomings?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

We've been apart for 4 years now.  My 6 year old had a holiday concert at school today that she was really looking forward to.  She was so proud of her songs and had been working hard on them.  She told her dad last week about it and reminded him this weekend.  He told her last night that he couldn't get the day off work.  I wasn't there so I don't know her reaction but this morning when she was getting dressed and I was doing her hair she looked at me upset and angry-ish and said, "why can dad NEVER get the day off work when I have a concert???"  And the truth is, if he had any other job with a normal 9-5 day and a boss looking over your shoulder, it would have been believable.  But he is in an office with 2 other people, with the ability to work from home pretty much whenever he chooses, and a lot of flexbility to take the day off without charging it off as sick leave.  He will take the full day off for things like a doctor's appt in the middle of the day or because he needs to do laundry because he waited a month to get to it, etc.  But 2 weeks ago when one of our children was sick and I had an appt at the same time as her pedi appt, he was home all day but just COULDN'T take her to the doctor for me(making me miss a critical appt I'd been waiting for, as both appts were not capable of being rescheduled).  And this is ANOTHER school event he has missed for no good reason it seems.  Last week he missed our oldest daughter's chorus concert in the evening outside work hours without giving a reason.  So it's a pattern with him.  And I don't know what to tell them.  I told her I didn't know why he couldn't get the day off but that I would be there and I would videotape it for him to see later.  

To compound that, my oldest is 11 and hasn't seen her biological father in 9 1/2 years(obviously she doesn't remember him but she knows she has a father out there somewhere that is no longer in her life other than my exhusband who treats her like his own daughter).  She asked out of the blue the other day(in an inappropriate time to discuss it so I blew her off) why she doesn't see him.  The truth is he has no desire to see her.  I have never told any of my 3 children anything negative about their dads(there's 2).  I don't plan to start.  But there's no nice way to say that he is a complete tool and doesn't love her or want to be in her life.  She's 11.  She's curious.  I don't know how much longer I can delay and I've been dreading this as she's no longer pacified by simple "baby" answers like "well we live in our house and dad lives in his house in XXXXXXX."  

 

 

 

Thoughts on what to say?  I know it's two situations with different scenarios but it's 2 dads failing their children and not living up to the children's expectations.  And I'm trying to figure out a kinder spin than "your dad is a d-bag."

post #2 of 12

I can tell you what I *plan* to tell DD once she is old enough to ask specific questions about her father: "You can't control other people's actions"...now whether or not this will fly with DD if she ever does ask me why her dad never sees her, I don't know.

post #3 of 12

I'm new to all this, only a week into my separation, and I have spoken to the children yet. But I agree with explaining that you can control other people actions even if they hurt, I'd also empathise with how upsetting it is and try and make them see, as best you can, that they are not to blame and make them feel as loved by you as possible.

 

Im so worried about telling my children but plan to do it as soon as possible after Christmas. I think telling the truth is the best in any situation. Making it age appropriate of course.

 

Your babies are lucky to have a mama like you and when they are adults they will see their fathers for what they are. Hugs to you and your babies x

post #4 of 12

I usually go with "I do not not know why your dad is being this way.  You will have to ask him."

post #5 of 12


This is what i say as well.  "why can't we sleep at dad's apt?"  "you will have to ask him"  "why isn't dad coming with us to the xmas party?"  "hmmm, do you want to text him?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by lilyka View Post

I usually go with "I do not not know why your dad is being this way.  You will have to ask him."



 

post #6 of 12

One of the things I struggle with, is that glossing over part.  I don't believe in it.  Why tell a kid that a piece of sh++ is a piece of pumpkin pie?  When they figure out it 's not pumpkin, or pie, then their trust in you is eroded, along with the X.  Our situation is rather reversed...he was an abusive frack when we were together, and screamed at the kids and me constantly.  Now he doesn't scream at them, since he sees them two nights a week....It is a mind-meld, waiting for him to be abusive to them, or waiting for the next big disappointment.

post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by provocativa View Post

One of the things I struggle with, is that glossing over part.  I don't believe in it.  Why tell a kid that a piece of sh++ is a piece of pumpkin pie?  When they figure out it 's not pumpkin, or pie, then their trust in you is eroded, along with the X. 


yeahthat.gifclap.gif

 

you say it like it is.

 

my kids have different fathers, who randomly ended up in the same state (not a place i or they are from...very odd indeed). while they might be beautiful people in their own right, they don't do a damn for their girls and it is so disheartening. i do not talk about them....and rarely does it come up for my girls. i am trying to figure out how to be real with them without crushing them, as i don't want their dads to become this faraway fairytale fantasy. so....i guess i'll be reading alongside the op. for now, i really have been lucky (?) that they are so far removed from each other that it doesn't ever come up....
 

 

post #8 of 12

At this point in my life I call things what they are. DS knows what his father is and why is lives where he does.  (If you are in the private lounge you know the details).  I can't sugar coat it for him.  DS is 11.

Last week I got the question "Why didn't X send me a christmas check"  X has sent a check in the past.  My answer?  Honestly, DS, I don't know, last I heard X lost privlidges again and is mad at everyone.  But we don't have direct contact with X so I can only tell him what I hear 3rd and 4th hand.

I am honest with DS. I always have been.

post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the thoughts all.  I've been doing the "I don't know why" answer and also when it's appropriate saying that I will be there and I am really excited to see the concert or whatever it is.  But it doesn't seem like enough because she's starting to see that he's just blowing her off and doesn't have a reason to miss important things in her life.  I made a vow to myself 12 years ago when pregnant with my first daughter never to speak badly of my children's fathers but to always let them figure out the situation on their own.  I don't want to shelter them but I know eventually their hearts will be broken.  It's a hard line to walk.  I like the answer of "you can't control other people's actions" because I feel like it isn't negative or falsely positive and it's a valuable life lesson straightaway.  

 

Thank you so much for the thoughts ladies.  I really do appreciate it.  I don't know any single parents in real life so being able to have you all right here is invaluable.  In some ways, being single is old hat to me in the routine of the days and lack of support from a partner and relying only on myself.  But in some ways, the situations that are arising as my children age and see their dads in a whole new light is just uncharted territory.  

post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by provocativa View Post

One of the things I struggle with, is that glossing over part.  I don't believe in it.  Why tell a kid that a piece of sh++ is a piece of pumpkin pie?  When they figure out it 's not pumpkin, or pie, then their trust in you is eroded, along with the X.  Our situation is rather reversed...he was an abusive frack when we were together, and screamed at the kids and me constantly.  Now he doesn't scream at them, since he sees them two nights a week....It is a mind-meld, waiting for him to be abusive to them, or waiting for the next big disappointment.



May I ask what you say to them then?  I wholeheartedly agree with you.  My oldest daughter's father left us when I was pregnant.  He has chosen to have no part in her life for the last 9 1/2 years.  There's no way to sugarcoat what a tool he is.  It has just never come up until now thankfully.  But I don't want to speak badly about him.  I want her to figure it out on her own without my views coloring her opinion.

post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by justmama View Post



May I ask what you say to them then?  I wholeheartedly agree with you.  My oldest daughter's father left us when I was pregnant.  He has chosen to have no part in her life for the last 9 1/2 years.  There's no way to sugarcoat what a tool he is.  It has just never come up until now thankfully.  But I don't want to speak badly about him.  I want her to figure it out on her own without my views coloring her opinion.


  

She already knows. She is probably waiting for you to validate her thoughts and feelings.  There is a difference between speaking badly and being honest and truthful.  I would make some time to have a talk about ex and answer questions, get her view and explain the situation.  If your dd is 9-10 yrs old, she knows.

 

You live where there are no single parents?  Really??  I bet single parents are all around you and you just don't realize it.

post #12 of 12

I just tell them the truth.  They know about mental illness, from me explaining about neighbors we have had.  They are children of an alcoholic.  So they know about that.  It is actually harder right now, when he is being nice to them and not abusive.  They are thrilled that he is not drinking when he is around them...of course, he is stoned and goes to sleep at 9, while they are awake taking care of themselves...I have found that kids really can understand mental illness, and addiction.  Some illnesses make you walk funny (arthritis) some make you act strange or be abusive.  They had a year of supervised visits, and then he won unsupervised visits in October.  He has really towed the line and done well...not really because he has become a better parent, or less of an alcoholic, but because he is a sociopath and he has found his next victim (his 22 year old girlfriend) and in order to keep her he has to keep up the visits with his kids.  So they are snowed now...but they see the beer cans his garbage, and etc.  Don't you remember knowing stuff when you were a kid, much more than some parents gave you credit for?  Kids learn a bit about war, and robbery and 'bad people'.  It sucks to own the knowledge that their dad is bad people but....the mental illness framework does help some, because kids have also learned about other illnesses doctors can't cure.

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