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wwyd? dad forcing 10 yr old on rollercoaster

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
hello, thank you for taking the time to read my post. i will try to keep it short, I'm really in a pickle and i hope some of you may take the time to respond. i am open to any suggestions or solutions as i have failed to come up with any of my own......

the history: my bright and loving 10 yr old dd is the product of a short lived and tumultuous relationship that was over by the time she was 1. Both of us (her dad and i) have since married and had children, he has a stepson. there have been some problems with the step-mom who i feel is overly controlling, overtly hostile to me and surreptitiously so to my dd. dd is a very intellectual child in contrast to her step brother. her step mom views this as timidity and has set about to 'toughen up' dd with the passive approval of dad. my dd has been forced to learn to ride a bike without feeling safe or ready to do so, has been called 'over sensitive' and is considered to be somewhat of a shrinking violet by her step mom. of course, i disagree with her views and i know of no one (teachers, family members, friends) who share her opinions.

(it sure is easy to venture into 'too much information', isn't it!?)

So, the current dilemma involves an upcoming ten day vacation to Mexico with her dad. dd had been looking forward to this, as it had been discussed that they would go swimming with dolphins (among other fun things -though this is her most favorite, to be sure. she is an animal lover of the highest order) She shared with me a few days ago that she was very worried because of plans to take the family to an amusement park where the largest roller coaster in Mexico is and that if she refused to ride this ride, she would not be allowed to swim with the dolphins. this is not the first time such strong arm tactics have been used on her to get her on a roller coaster. this last summer when her best beloved cousin was here on a rare visit, the girls (neither of whom wanted anything to do with riding a roller coaster) were told that unless they got on the ride, they would not be allowed to have the sleep over which had been planned. the girls got on and were terrified and upset.

I feel this kind of forced experience is not only frightening for dd, but i actually feel its a kind of torture. am i overreacting? dd says this last threat originated with the step mom but that dad joined in. i obviously need to have a talk with dad, but in the past, talks like this (where i am feeling the protective momma bear trying to claw out ) are fraught with potential disaster.

i need some guidence...... what would you do?
post #2 of 18
I saw this recently as well. A girl 8 or 9, was spanked very hard in public for being scared to get on the coaster. Her parents had paid a lot of money to be at the park and they were gonna get their money's worth. I honestly did not intervene but kept looking their way with what I hope was a concerned look on my face.
post #3 of 18
Can you speak to her dad/sm? Can you refuse to let her go?
post #4 of 18
If your relationship with the dad and stepmom is such that you intervening will just spark a fight, can you brainstorm with her how she can respond to stuff like this? Not just leaving her to the wolves, but helping her figure out how she feels about it, what bothers her, and what to do about it.

She's 10, so she may be getting to the point where you can help her problem-solve, e.g. verbalize what is the matter with what they've put out to her and respond to it. She may end up explaining to her dad that when he bullies her like that, she stops looking forward to doing things with him that she had thought would be a lot of fun, and that it makes her wonder how their relationship will look in 5 years. That might give him pause.

I would also ask her what role she'd like you to play - does she want you to help her brainstorm ideas? does she want you to talk to her dad/say no to going? does she want you to help her talk to him? Then you can talk about whether that would work.
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thank you, thank you, thank you and thank you.

I am feeling much more confident about handling this after reading your responses. i can tell by your questions and suggestions that you can understand the dynamics involved here...... they can be so difficult to navigate, can't they? i am learning this by doing it and there is so much to take into account and considerably more than i even realize sometimes!
So, thank you for your understanding.

To answer some questions..

Irishmom, i do plan on speaking with dad tonight when he comes to pick her up. i just have been unsure of how to best phrase it or what kind of words will not make him defensive but, rather, might help him understand her feelings. he is, in his heart, a sensitive person... only reaching that can be difficult. As for refusing to let her go, our parenting agreement stipulates that either of us can take dd for up to 2 weeks a year for vacation as long as 90 days notice is given the other parent and he has fulfilled that requirement.

Mammastar2, I love your ideas and i do strive to give dd smart coping strategies as best i can. I wish that her dad and step mom were of the same mind...... i know how typical it is to blame the other parent or to say that the other parent is the one who does not understand. only, its true in this case and it is unfortunate for dd. step mom has very obvious (not only to me but also to the teachers of her son and to family members) anger and insecurity issues. it has been a long road just getting her to the point where dad and i can talk alone without her interference, still quite often she runs her interference behind the scenes.... creating huge scenes and accusing him of taking my 'side' (?!?) she seems to see dd as a object which she needs under her control and dd becomes the unfortunate victim of step moms insecurity. this creates further conflict when dd tries to communicate with her dad, (since step mom plays the heavy in most issues, she is not someone dd feels safe communicating her feelings with) so her communication with her dad is turned into a competition of sorts.... does that make sense? most often she chooses not to share herself with her dad for fear of starting conflict with step... her dad does not see it this way, however.... he has stated that he thinks dd can talk to him.

anyway I'm rambling... and I'm sure my own issues are showing.....

i hesitate to encourage dd to take on this situation by speaking openly to her dad and step mom because i fear that doing so may create a situation where she may feel attacked simply by their expressed disagreement with her views. I do not trust that dad and step will be respectful of her opinions or will recognize her courage in speaking up for herself. i worry that it could be interpreted as defiance and put down as such.... this would be an immeasurably bad influence on dds self confidence. no matter how well i try to prepare her to handle things, she still is a ten year old girl who is no competition for a defensive adult. i don't want to help her walk into a no win trap, of course.

despite my assuming the worst of dad and step mom, it just may be that this approach will work...... the communicating with them......

thanks to all who took the time to reply, i will let you know how this plays out.

post #6 of 18
Are you afraid she will be hurt on the roller coaster?

It seems a bad tactic for your ex to do in so far as bonding and building a loving trusting relationship. But that will really be his and her issue wont' it?

You can't make your ex be a better person than he is.

YOu can't fix who you choose to be her father at this point.

What you can and should do is give her tools to talk to her father. Give her tools to stand up for her own needs. You might also consider giving her tools to overcome her fears because it isn't useful for us to be paralyzed by things that are not in fact dangerous.

Her father isn't going to change so dealing with him and the person he is may well be one of the tasks of her life. You can help her with that or not. You really can't change him and bemoaning him isn't really going to help either. I think your best bet is helping her to learn how to manage what IS in her life and her father and her step mother and their flaws are what is in her life. They are not going to change.

I am sorry they are...but they are.
post #7 of 18
Is there anyway that you can plan a dolphin trip with her so that she knows she'll still get to swim with dolphins even if she refuses the roller coaster? It might help her have the strength to speak up for herself.
post #8 of 18
Originally Posted by moondiapers
Is there anyway that you can plan a dolphin trip with her so that she knows she'll still get to swim with dolphins even if she refuses the roller coaster? It might help her have the strength to speak up for herself.
: That's exactly what I was going to say
post #9 of 18
I wonder if it would be any use trying to explain to your ex that the tactics her parental figures are using now will be more easily and freely employed by her peers later... ie, what will happen someday when a clique of kids tells her she can only hang out with them or do some cool activity if she smokes or drinks or engages in sexual behavior? Will he see the logic in this?
post #10 of 18
Originally Posted by MommyMine
Are you afraid she will be hurt on the roller coaster?

It seems a bad tactic for your ex to do in so far as bonding and building a loving trusting relationship. But that will really be his and her issue wont' it?
I think this is more than a "bad tactic". I had to speak up as someone who was TERRIFIED of roller coasters as a child. Had I been forced/coerced to go on one, I would have had a panic attack and probably gotten very ill (vomiting, shaking, etc.). Fear can be incredibly powerful and can make the ride VERY unsafe for someone, physically and emotionally. I could never understand why friends would try to pressure me into riding one--if it wasn't fun for me, but just made me upset, why would I want to go on it? Why was it so important to them that I did? Luckily, these were just friends...had one of my parents tried to strong-arm me into going, I would have been devasted--such a huge violation of trust and lack of understanding. What parent wants their child to be frightened and sick?

Getting on a roller coaster is not about being "tough"--at least not the kind of toughness that counts in life. It's a leisure activity that some people find fun and other people don't. If you daughter's stepmom is so concerned about her being "tough", then why does she try to pressure her into giving in to things she really doesn't want to do? That's asking her to be submissive, not tough and firm in her beliefs.

I don't know what the answer is (I think you have some good ideas above), but, as someone who's been there, I wouldn't blow this off (which you're not doing, of course).
post #11 of 18
I am feeling for your dd. I do not enjoy rollercoasters. Being terrified is just not fun for me!!! Now that I am an adult, I breath a sign of relief and say, I never have to do that again ( I wasn't forced, it was "just" peer pressure). I think this is terrible, I agree with your wording of "torture." Some one who isn't afraid of roller coasters (the dad and sm) just wouldn't understand. I agree they are making her "submit" to show she is "tough." I don't know the answer, but since your dd has already tried a rollercoaster and didn't like it, what's there point? Are they going to force her to go on rollercoasters year after year until she smiles about it? What is the goal here? (I would ask them.) If she smiles through this one will they be done with their mission? Geesh! I think this is the kind of thing that would make me not like a parent (the dad, of course) when I grow up. I would feel like I wasn't protected.
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
i just wanted to give a quick update on the roller coaster situation...

they left yesterday and although i wish i could say it was resolved..... it wasn't.

when i first posted after dd came to me with this, i had told dd right away that i would be talking to her dad. she did not seem upset by that, and even seemed relieved saying that she did not want to go if she had to ride the roller coaster.

well, i was girding my loins for the talk with her dad, and reaping copious benefits from the responses to my post. one of the suggestions which was made here and i took was to ask dd what she wanted me to do. did she want me to talk to her dad? did she want some suggestions for talking to him herself? and i was surprised by her response... she did not want me to talk to him. she wanted to do it herself. we discussed some possible ways to approach the subject and some possible ways to avoid conflict or misunderstanding.

ours is a shared parenting arrangement with joint legal and joint physical custody, so after the shuffle of Christmas i asked her about it. had she talked to her dad? she said no but she was going to. when he came to get her that afternoon, i asked her again (privately) did she want me to talk to him? she told me no. and that is the way it was left.

the vacation is scheduled to last 10 days and i will let you all know the outcome. i hope she has fun.... with or without the ride!
post #13 of 18
I hope it goes well for her.
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
thanks alot, Irishmom for your input and for your good wishes!

post #15 of 18
I'm only just reading this, and hoping for the best for your dd. This sounds like an appalling situation. I can't imagine having been forced onto a roller coaster as a child. I never did ride them, because they were so terrifying to me.

If your ex and his wife think that your dd is a shrinking violet, they're crazy. I can't imagine having the guts to even contemplate swimming with dolphins when I was 10. I'm not sure I could do it now!
post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
she didnt have to ride the rollercoaster because there was no rollercoaster.
apparently a little joke on her by dad and sm. you will forgive me im sure for not laughing like a hyena at their brilliant comedy.

no dolphin ride either, the place is still being built.

dd had a fantastic time there in mexico and i am very glad that she did. it is a great opportunity to be able to travel esp at such a young age and so im really pleased that her dad was able to afford her such an opportunity.

alls well that ends well i suppose.....

post #17 of 18
It was a joke??!!

That's pretty insensitive, wow. I bet your dd was relieved, under the circumstances, though, and I'm glad she ended up having a good time.

post #18 of 18


we were thinking about you here in dc.
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