Originally Posted by rmcarons
At what point however, is a Dad's involvement more bad than good. If he is teaching his son disrespect for women, and teaching his daughter she is worthless compared to her brother. When he physically harms them, and embarasses them with his temper in public. When is his influence no longer a positive thing. I don't have this to rely on because my dad was a good guy. When are they better off without a dad?
This passage struck a nerve with me. I mean, really, at what point do you say this does more harm than good? The values that dad is teaching them by being himself sound horrendous and much more harmful for their long-term self-esteem than knowing him does them good. And how in their minds do they square your apparently uncritical (to them) view of their dad, and desire for them to keep spending time with him? I know your hands are tied on letting him at them, but, from the kids' point of view, do they think to themselves, "Mommy must agree with him about such and such because she sends us to them." Compare to sending them to Catholic School if you're an atheist... kids to themselves: "Is Mommy saying we should believe in God and the Bible when she doesn't? Is she saying not to agree with her, to be different from her?"
That was my dilemma, and I struggled with it for a few years. I tried to keep my lips zipped on my real opinions of my dd's papa until finally, I decided that I simply could not agree with the conventional wisdom that knowing the dad, and not saying anything negative about him was the right thing to do. I decided that in our case, HONESTY was the best policy.
I decided I would tell my dd early on that although I was in love with her dad when we conceived her, and he had some wonderful qualities, he was not capable of LIVING those qualities for any predictable period of time. I explained that he was not a good person to be around children, as he did not think ahead, and did not understand how to keep a child safe and he did not understand how fragile eardrums are. He was mean and not safe. He picked fights with strangers and had road rages endangering both she and I as well as others, serving his angers. He made me feel bad about myself and due to his terrible upbringing, still harbored hatred for his own mother who did not protect the children from their brute of a dad, and sometimes that hatred came out on me. He would not get therapy for it. He controlled me as much as he could. He embarrassed me at every turn. He did not support us at all, yet demanded respect as if he did. He yelled constantly. He slammed doors until they broke. He sabotaged my car engine to keep me from leaving him. Etc., etc.
She's only seven, but she knows all of these things. I WANT her to know about him so that fantasies about him have some ballast keeping them fairly close to Earth. She still has fantasies, of course, as do I--that he'll change and be Mr. Wonderful. People are complicated and I realized early on that my dd was deep and seeing alot of these things, not only with us but with other people's families as well, and didn't want to confuse her with bullsh- while the reality was pretty plain to see. (Note: parent teacher conference: her teacher notices that she is more mature than other second graders, she and the other child of a single mom: her best friend.)
I want her to know why I won't live with him, why I would never trust him to take her for five minutes. I want her to notice that like so many of her friends at school with single parents, they live with their moms because they will be better cared for with their moms. And she is with me because I most assuredly WANT her to be with me, and WELCOME the responsibility and REVEL in the rewards of her company. And I do say often that I wish her dad also got to experience her wonderfulness, but he is just too messed up to get it. I say that to him, also, that he is missing out on the most pure love in the world, that no one will ever love him the way his daughter does, and no love is so healing and forgiving as a child's. But, he marches to the beat of a different drum. Or, as I have sometimes thought, the GOOD in him recognizes that the BAD in him should never be around this innocent child, and for that, I bless him, and acknowledge that there is something truly wonderful about him that most people will never appreciate: that he loves us enough to stay out of our lives.
I hope that she will have grieved for the loss of him sooner than it took me to grieve the loss of the PRESENT dad that I had, who, since my mother stayed with him forever, I was fooled into believing was somehow good and decent and right and whatever thoughts I had about him had to be wrong since SHE chose to be with him despite what he did. He incested me and whipped all of us kids unmercifully, taught me that boys count and girls don't. I am nearly fifty, and letting go of fantasies about a "good daddy" has been an interminably long, long process. I am only now beginning to feel free. (I've had MANY years of very good therapy--incest, which ended when I was under 7, and other child abuse can be an enormous mind-f--- that just takes forever, which is, in fact, preferable to suicide or committing murder, either of which could have been alternatives in my life earlier.
I'm for speeding it up grieving and healing. I don't want my girl to be fifty before she realizes that her dad really and truly is exactly what I said he is: easier to love from a distance. I give her plenty of other role models of decent men, and plenty of role models of women who are content being the heads of their households, and who, in fact, wouldn't have it any other way. I love men, love romance, love sharing life, and I want to create that in my life again. But it's okay being a family of mom and daughter. Nowadays, she says our family consists of she and I and whatever pets we have. She'll talk to him on the phone, but doesn't care to much anymore. She's letting go, and that's a good thing for her, I believe.