Dad Crippled By His Own Selfishness

by admin on January 19, 2011

My ex-husband and I have been divorced since the kids were 3 and 5 years old, a girl and boy respectively. We divorced for numerous reasons, but one of them was that my ex had confessed to falling in love with a girl he met online.

Now 7 years later, my daughter still feels completely replaced. His “new” girlfriend was 17 at the time, but my ex-husband married her about 4 years ago.  This all might have gone better had step mom not had a 1 ½” year old baby when they met, which happens to be a girl.  My daughter has spina bifida, which has affected her lower body, but not her mind.  I have been trying to convince her for years that her step sister holds no blame for the way things went down, but my daughter feels like her dad left when the going got tough, and replaced us all with a new family, especially since he moved in with his young girlfriend three weeks after he left.   She has been rude to her step sister, really quite bratty. We have finally had a break through in her behavior, and she has started getting nicer.

Now to the idiot part… I have started dating a man who has custody of his mother (wheelchair bound, going through chemo) his 31 year old brother (autistic) and his 4 and 7 year old sons.  He is a fantastic, loving, and very tough man.  He takes care of everyone with grace, and has been fantastically kind to my children.  Both of my kids have been very positive about the new BF, and have been telling their dad about him.  He found out all of my new BF’s challenges, and started talking to me about how “crazy” the BF was to take care of people who needed so much assistance, and that if it had been up to him, he would have put the brother and mother in a home.  He said this unthinkingly in front of my daughter, who did not react well.

She suddenly blurted out in the middle of the conversation, “What if they were all healthy?”

He responded,  “Well,  then they wouldn’t have to be taken care of, but they aren’t. That is just why I would put them in homes. Too much work.”

She suddenly screamed, “Yeah we know you would have dad, that’s why you replaced me with step sister!” She burst into tears and went into the house and locked us all out. My ex just rolled his eyes at me and then GOT IN HIS CAR and drove away!!!

I called him and asked him if maybe he should come back and talk to his daughter, because I don’t believe that was what ended our marriage at all, but maybe she just needs to hear it from his lips. He told me, and I quote, “She is just being a drama queen and a baby, I am not going to pander to her temper tantrums, you can if you like.” And hung up.

Well, I unlocked the door and talked with her for a long time, several hours about everything, she was completely convinced that he just didn’t like handicapped people, and that he never has loved her. There is nothing I can say to change her mind, she doesn’t want to go back to his house or even speak to him. I don’t think she is really old enough to let her just write her dad off that way, despite him being insensitive. I have watched him improve and become a better father, despite some insensitivity, we went from supervised visitation, to over night stays, and he can now see the kids every 2 weeks for the entire weekend without his parents being there. I just feel like it would be tragic to let an 11 year old cut out her father. She is emotional, and a pre-teen. They have had some good times as well as bad, and she does admit to enjoying his company.

There is so much to this story, but I guess like her, I just wish he would make an effort to tell her he loves her and doesn’t care that she is handicapped.  0105-11

This is a good example of how etiquette is not all about you and one’s freedom of expression regardless of how that may affect others.   If Dad had a smidge of graciousness and self control, he would have kept his opinions to himself since he is neither part of the problem nor the solution in regards to how his ex-wife’s boyfriend cares for his family.   But hey!  Entitled, selfish people think the world needs to know their opinions on matters that are none of their business.

{ 105 comments… read them below or add one }

lkb January 19, 2011 at 7:48 am

My prayers go out to everyone in this, one of the saddest situations I have heard of.

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samihami January 19, 2011 at 8:03 am

This is one of the saddest stories I have ever read on this site. Normally I agree that children should not be permitted to cut off a parent. In this case, however, I think it is worth consideration. Why would you continually subject your daughter to someone who is so toxic that he hurts her and makes her feel worthless? His words and actions make it clear that he does not love his daughter. I know that’s harsh, but if you look at it objectively, based on what you have described, he is clearly a parent who sees her as a burden he would rather not bother with. I think you should accommodate him. She needs positive influences in her life, not a “father” who makes her feel horrible.

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Yarnspinner January 19, 2011 at 8:20 am

Agree with Samihami. Dad thinks that new boyfriend should “put away” his Mother and brother? Maybe it’s time for daughter to do the same. “Well, Daddy, you don’t like to be around handicapped people, I will spare you the trauma.” If there is karma, Daddy will reap it in buckets later on. Hope he doesn’t object if his much younger wife or child decide he’s too much of a burden should he have an accident a stroke, or come down with a debilitating disease.

I also hope this little girl gets some counseling to help her deal with her issues, but her feelings are her feelings and I think she needs to cut Dad out of her life for a while…he’s clearly bad for her.

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Julie A. January 19, 2011 at 8:20 am

That poor little girl. Sounds like it is time for the mother to stop sharing so much personal information. She should keep it about the kids only. I wonder if the girl is in counseling, she should be. :(

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Bint January 19, 2011 at 8:21 am

This is so dreadful. For anyone to be that bigoted and despicable in the first place in bad enough, but this shows having his daughter has taught him nothing, and it should have done. To know your own parent feels that way about a group you belong to is devastating for anyone.

I would be very surprised if your daughter ever forgave him, and in truth I would stop trying to persuade her that somehow what he said doesn’t count towards her. He thinks handicapped people are a burden and wouldn’t bother with them himself. Your daughter is handicapped. You can’t just make an exception and think the rest doesn’t apply to her. She knows how he feels regardless of what you tell her, and nothing you say will change anything.

She has a loving family apart from him – better to be there and forget the ex until she changes her mind. What if he did say, “I don’t care you’re handicapped”? She’d just say, “Yeah, but you clearly have a problem with everyone else who is!” Nobody is happy to be around a bigot who is making an exception just for them.

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Wheelchair Bling January 19, 2011 at 8:22 am

Frankly, it sounds like he DOESN’T love her and DOES care that she’s handicapped. I appreciate that you’ve gone to so much trouble to raise your ex-husband, but there’s only so much you can do.

Basically he told her that he doesn’t think it’s worth the effort to keep a handicapped person at home, and he wouldn’t do it. In other words, if it weren’t for you, she’d be in foster care or an institution. She isn’t being a “drama queen” to be hurt by that!

You need to protect her from her father. Tell him to shut his big mouth – and make sure you have another guardian named in your will.

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Bint January 19, 2011 at 8:22 am

PS He doesn’t like handicapped people. He’s made that very clear. It’s pretty obvious a handicapped person will assume he doesn’t like them either, because tragically that’s the natural conclusion.

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TheOtherAmber January 19, 2011 at 8:43 am

Having grown up with an abusive father, I can tell you that kids are a lot more perceptive than we give them credit for and many times see things that adults either miss or don’t want to admit. OP, you get to witness your ex’s behaviour around your kids when you’re present, but not when they’re alone with him or at his place. If he’s acting like that towards her when you’re there, how do you think he’s acting when he’s not being watched? Chances are that your daughter is correct, and he doesn’t like handicapped people and treats her like she’s “damaged”. Please don’t push her to be around him if she doesn’t want to – if he wants to be with her then he’ll make the effort, and if he doesn’t then you just need to accept that he’s even less of a man than you thought he was. But pushing her will just make her feel like her feelings aren’t valid and don’t matter.

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SHOEGAL January 19, 2011 at 8:49 am

I believe the daughter has every right to cut off her parent and I think you should allow her to do that. She is young and immature but her father does nothing to ease the turmoil and it is unhealthy & detrimental for her to be around her father right now. Perhaps in time she’ll see it all differently – and in the process he’ll learn to be more senstive to his daughter’s needs.

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Jules January 19, 2011 at 8:59 am

I grew up without my biological father who never wanted me. I’m not going to lie, it was tough. But your daughter is old enough at 11 to decide who she wants to spend time with. If that poor excuse for a father is interested in her at all he will try to talk to her on his own. It’s not your job to excuse his wrongdoings. Be on your daughter’s side, she needs you. She’s drawing the line at someone making her feel worthless. That’s a healthy reaction, don’t take that away from her.

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Julia January 19, 2011 at 9:09 am

I don’t think it is a good idea for a child with a disability to ever be in the unsupervised care of someone who has explicitly said that caring for such a person is “too much work” for him.

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Melissa January 19, 2011 at 9:11 am

It’s so sad, but I think the writer’s daughter is right. What a selfish man.

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Firecat January 19, 2011 at 9:13 am

Seconding the recommendation for counseling for your daughter. And, honestly, even if she doesn’t want to see him now, that doesn’t mean she’ll necessarily feel that way forever. So why not give her a break from her father if that’s what she wants? Why shouldn’t his insensitive and nasty comments in front of his young and vulnerable daughter result in the consequence of him not seeing that daughter for awhile?

But I would keep the lines of communication open with her, and tell her that if she doesn’t want to see or talk to her father right now, that’s ok. But if she, at some point, does want to see or speak to him, then she can tell you. And I think she’s also old enough to start knowing that her father is her father, and he does love her as much as he can, but that doesn’t make him an admirable human being. And that has nothing to do with her and everything to do with him.

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Just Laura January 19, 2011 at 9:19 am

I agree with samihami – if the father is causing this much stress in the child’s life, perhaps the child is better off with less contact with him. I applaud the OP for taking time to explain that the disability has nothing to do with the divorce. Children need that reassurance.

Since this is an etiquette site, I do want to point out that “wheelchair bound” is poor etiquette. I’m not trying to attack the OP, as I’m sure she didn’t intend anything malicious by the use of the term.

Source: Etiquette for Dummies, pg. 322.
http://books.google.com/books?id=HGno_t1crwwC&pg=PA322&lpg=PA322&dq=%22wheelchair+bound%22+poor+etiquette&source=bl&ots=y9Tg1CKJoB&sig=kVLPQkF7lZfxrQiAGjLXd56wrUI&hl=en&ei=BvI2TcaZC8G88gbzj_HUAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&sqi=2&ved=0CBoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

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jan January 19, 2011 at 9:22 am

I think the daughter is probably correct. I agree with Flora that counseling would be good for both daughter and dad.

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Ali January 19, 2011 at 9:26 am

I do feel for the step sister though. It’s not her fault the father treats his own biological daughter that way.

For the message to get through to the Dad, this needs to be explained not as a replacement issue but as a respect for his own daughter issue. If that doesn’t get through, the guy has no hope whatsoever.

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acr January 19, 2011 at 9:29 am

It seems really sad that all in this situation, the 12-year-old girl (who already has to deal with having a terrible disease) has to make all the accommodations. Unfortunately, I think she’s right – her father DID replace her and his whole family. He makes her feel disposable. OP, why are you encouraging her to run after his love and settle for the crumbs? If she wants to step back from this relationship, I think you should let her. After all, she has a new family now to – your BF and his family. Let her replace her father with a better one.

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DGS January 19, 2011 at 9:45 am

This has very little to do with etiquette, and a lot to do with some pretty disturbing family dynamics. Dear OP, you sound like a lovely and gracious soul, a devoted mother and a great human being. Please, please, get your daughter into counseling. She clearly has a lot of (perhaps, justifiable) anger towards her father, who sounds like a very insensitive, boorish man. It would do enormous good for the whole family to be in therapy, as well as for your daughter to have individual therapy, particularly as she heads into her teen years. She needs to address her anger towards her Dad in order to be able to have healthy relationships with others in her life down the line, and your ex-husband, and his current wife should be involved in counseling in order to learn how to parent sensitively, compassionately and effectively. He needs to understand that his daughter is not having a temper tantrum; that she does feel an enormous amount of self-doubt, rejection and hurt, and if he loves his child and wants what’s best for her, he needs to take the time to address this before it becomes even more of a festering sore. Also with a new boyfriend of yours in the picture, all co-parents (you, ex, ex’s wife, your boyfriend) need to be on the same page as to parenting the shared children, consistency, rules, expectations, etc. Family therapy would help you address this in a neutral and supportive environment and teach you healthy strategies of coping with some difficult situations that may come up. Please, please, get your daughter and the entire family some professional help.

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jenna January 19, 2011 at 9:47 am

I think the daughter would do well with some counseling as well, because as a child it must be really hard to get through this…a borderline abusive (I agree with Flora) father and a disability.

I do think that while in most cases a child shouldn’t be allowed to cut off a parent (exceptions being abuse of any sort or certain serious crimes), that in this case, the child’s wishes should at least be considered. If I were the mother, I’d at least entertain asking for a re-introduction of supervised visits, or lessening visitation and deciding that when the child is a teenager and has some form of developed judgment that she could decide whether to continue the visitations at that point (without having to wait until legal adulthood). Something, at least, to show that her mental well-being is important and being cared for and her wishes are being heard, even if they can’t be fully granted.

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Purple Penguin January 19, 2011 at 9:50 am

11 year olds can be pretty darned astute when it comes to people, and sadly, I think this girl has her father pegged. The LW can insist that her daughter participate in any court-ordered visitation and be civil to her father until she reaches her majority, but frankly that’s the best this man can expect to get, and more than he deserves.

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Michelle P January 19, 2011 at 9:52 am

OP, you’re a better woman than I am. I would have knocked that man down by now. You are trying to do the right thing by encouraging a relationship; that’s being a good mom. I’m in a similar situation with my ex and my daughter. I wouldn’t encourage or discourage your daughter being around her father. Just keep being the good mom that you are; she’s old enough to realize what a pig the man is. God bless you both, and your obviously wonderful BF.

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LBC January 19, 2011 at 9:58 am

I’d say the daughter is a lot smarter and more mature than her father in this one! I hope she does get some counseling.

I wouldn’t make her feel obligated to include her father in her life if she doesn’t want to. I’m mildly autistic (not enough to handicap me much but enough to have made me a weird kid, who grew up to be a weird adult). Thankfully, my dad is also mildly autistic, and we’re one big, happy, weird family. I cannot imagine what kind of Hell my life would have been had I been the only oddball in a “normal” family. This loser has made it clear that he thinks handicapped people are burdensome; I seriously doubt that the daughter will ever believe that that doesn’t include her.

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Meow January 19, 2011 at 9:59 am

I think by and large, children do know what they need. It certainly sounds like she needs to cut this unfeeling man out of her life.

As seen on the forum, there are a lot of adults who stay in a toxic situation out of feeling of obligation, or guilt that the person who is making their life miserable will be hurt if they are cut from their lives. Children are a lot more able to make a difficult (or, what adults perceive as difficult) choice like that. If someone is mean to you, you don’t hang out with them. If someone obviously has so much disdain for who and what you are then they are not worth the trouble of trying to win them over. Instead surround yourself with those you do love, and who love you back. I don’t think a child is ever too young to know who makes them happy and who makes them feel worthless. This is in my opinion a situation where the child knows best. OP, please let your child create the distance she needs to insulate herself from his callous behaviour.

As has been said in the posts above, this is truly a heartbreaking story, I feel so badly for that little girl.

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Daisy January 19, 2011 at 10:04 am

Your daughter is entitled to feel how she feels and shouldn’t have to submit her feelings for validation. If she doesn’t want to see her father and knows he doesn’t love her, it’s on him to make things right, not on you to smooth things over or on her to pretend he isn’t a self-centered jerk. Do get her some counselling so that she can believe she is lovable just the way she is. Unfortunately, no amount of counselling is going to improve your ex enough to make him a decent human being.

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Wheelchair Bling January 19, 2011 at 10:11 am

‘I don’t think it is a good idea for a child with a disability to ever be in the unsupervised care of someone who has explicitly said that caring for such a person is “too much work” for him.’

Julia, that’s a very good point. Is she able to care for herself? What happens if she gets sick or falls – will he take care for her if he can’t reach her mother? And what happens if other people mock or bully her – will her father back her up, or tell her they’re right?

This is way beyond etiquette. The mother needs to be thinking of whether the child’s father will protect and care for her…and like I said, needs to appoint another guardian. What happens if the mother dies, or gets disabled, or has to work two jobs?

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Lilya January 19, 2011 at 10:33 am

Being related to someone, in any way or form, doesn’t automatically grant a “Never have to apologize for trampling all over my feelings” card.
I agree with all the other posters who say OP’s daughter should be allowed not to see her father if she doesn’t want to: it’s not her who should apologize.
Also, as TheOtherAmber said, kids are more perceptive then we like to think. I’d really like to see this man intercat with Daughter and Step-daughter: your daughter may be reading too much into things, but from what he said and did, it doesn’t sound likely

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Chloe January 19, 2011 at 10:34 am

Going with what most others have said – if she wants to cut him off, let her. She’s 11, she’s aware of her feelings and the goings on around her, and she knows who she wants to spend time with. She might forgive him eventually, but to force her to see him while he had *just* hurt her even more, is completely traumatizing to her.

He basically admitted that he sees her as a burden, and he’s an insensitive jerk. I’m also withe the others on the counseling suggestion. I can only imagine how toxic your ex is when you aren’t there.

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TheaMaria January 19, 2011 at 10:39 am

I would take this instance and my daughter (so she can say her own piece) to the judge handling the custody arrangement.

A parent who says that people like his own child need to be thrown out/put away =/= a parent who should have unmonitored visits. And if your 12 yr old states a preference never to see her father again because she feels he doesn’t respect her personhood or love her….that’s something that should be known and on the record!!

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Xtina January 19, 2011 at 11:09 am

The daughter should certainly be allowed NOT to see her father if that is what she wants—it is not doing her any good to be forced to be around a father who, by his very actions, demonstrates that he must not care for her very much. Why torture her emotions? The ex will most certainly live to realize the error of his ways and regret the way he’s treated his own daughter, and *if* she sees fit to forgive him someday, then the choice is hers. OP, don’t waste time and breath trying to put apologetic words into the mouth of someone who is anything but. Don’t do his smoothing over; it will eventually make you look less credible to your daughter. As the old saying goes, let him hang himself with his own rope.

My stepdaughter is now 21 and I’ve been married to her father for most of her life; there have been plenty of times when I’ve tried to do the smoothing over for some transgression of my husband’s (thankfully, he and his daughter have a very good relationship, but her being a very sensitive girl, he can sometimes disappoint her as he tends to get overwhelmed with work and do things like not call when he says he will). When a child has been “left behind”, there is always an underlying doubt, a nagging feeling that the parent they don’t live with doesn’t care or love them—the reassurance has to come from that parent, not someone else. I can only imagine what it feels like to a child whose parent literally did up and start a new family—this was not the case with my husband (he and his ex had been apart for a couple of years before he moved here and even met me), and we still have had little insecurity crises over the years.

OP, just make sure that YOU love your kids and give them the reassurance they need that they have a loving family who wants them.

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Elizabeth January 19, 2011 at 11:14 am

I haven’t read the other comments. I want to speak to my own experience. The best thing I did was cut out my father. I am the oldest of four and we all have problems with him. I know I am not the reason for my parents divorce, but I am sure I am a factor. He was a poison in my life. I told my mother point blank at 16 that is what me or him. I think he may have said something similar. Two years later, when I was about to move, she chose. . . And now she is with someone wonderful who treats her with respect and treats my siblings and I with respect. You boyfriend sounds amazing, so she is not without a “father figure”. Maybe some therapy to help her through this. The worst thing you can do is force it. In the words of my aunt to my mother, “You are not in charge of his relationship with his children, he is.”

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SJ January 19, 2011 at 11:19 am

Poor thing!

Maybe after a few weeks, months she will feel less angry. I had several instances that I felt incredibly angry at my own father’s insensitivity and I had no intention of talking to him again. I always ended up deciding to.

However, I must say that I can’t fully relate to her condition or the horrible things dad said.

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Enna January 19, 2011 at 11:26 am

That is a shocking opinoin for a father to have to his daugther. From what the OP has said his new wife is younger then him – how would he feel if she abandons him for a younger model when she believes he is too old and too slow? I’d say if the daugther doesn’t want to see her Dad anymore because of his hurtful bigoted comments then that’s her choice and if he complains then just explain it to the courts. It wasn’t unreasonable for the OP to ask her ex husband to reassure the daugther that it wasn’t her fault the marriage ended. She is not being a drama queen.

To a point it is natural for argurements to happen when marriages ended and families become extended and blended but this is beyond the joke. To be as judgemental as that towards the OP’s new partner does smack of jealously that the ex husband is not around to look after the children because he left for another woman (not her fault the marriage broke up) and this new partner seems to be the caring sort. It’s one thing to say “if someone is too seriously ill” it’s another thing to make the judgement without knowing the full facts. Someone can be disabled and live a very independant full life or need some support so long as carers can provide the support.

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Shiksagoddess January 19, 2011 at 11:32 am

OP: why do you think your daughter should not cut off her father? Because he’s blooooood? He’s made it more than clear he is uncomfortable around “less than perfectly healthy” people – including his own daughter. Why on earth would you force these two people together? I think everyone should back up, re-group, and at the very least, undergo counseling.

- the shiksagoddess

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Serenity January 19, 2011 at 11:42 am

What a horrible, uncaring, poor excuse for a father this “man” sounds like. He is clearly showing that he does NOT care for his daughter, and that handicapped people in general leave a bad taste in his mouth. At 11 years old, your daughter IS old enough to decide what she wants, and who she wants to be around, and she should not be forced to be around someone who is so callous towards her. The damage done by that far outweighs your desire for her to have a relationship with her biological father. And perhaps the only thing that will open his eyes to his abhorrent behavior will be the realization that his young daughter doesn’t want anything to do with him. And if that doesn’t change him, then she is far better off. It will only be his loss in the long run..

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AS January 19, 2011 at 11:44 am

“She is just being a drama queen and a baby, I am not going to pander to her temper tantrums, you can if you like.” : Heck, yes – she IS a baby! This man is talking about his pre-teen daughter who is dealing with disability and not some girl in her 20s or above.

I don’t know how divorce laws and rights of the parents work; but I agree with Ali – why do you (OP) want to put this girl through more traumas from a man who evidently is extremely self-centered and immature to care for a small girl who is his own daughter? Maybe she is better off without him. I am happy that you found a man who is strong and sweet enough to lovingly take care of everyone, and still have it in him make a good impression on your children. I hope all of you find the father-figure that your children miss in him.

Also, as other people said, maybe counseling would help.

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Goldie January 19, 2011 at 12:16 pm

My goodness, what an absolutely awful human being. I don’t know who do I feel worse for, the OP’s family or this guy’s new family – how must it feel, living with a man who would throw you under a train if something bad happens to you, and who can be so vile to his own child? Makes my head spin. I agree with everybody here, esp. with Firecat @#13 in that the father and daughter may reconcile later, but now it’s definitely time for a break. The guy thinks that he’s done nothing wrong and it was his daughter who threw a “temper tantrum” (???) He needs to at least reconsider this before they can have civil communications again.

Julie A. #4, it doesn’t say in the letter that the mother was sharing anything – the kids were. I see nothing wrong with that. A 10-year-old and a 12-year-old should be able to tell their father about their lives (which the new BF is very much a part of) without being afraid they might hurt his feelings.

OP, you and your BF both sound like amazing people. Best of luck to you both!

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Wink-n-Smile January 19, 2011 at 12:17 pm

He’ll always be her biological father. However, he is not acting as a FATHER, here, and has, by his callous disregard for her feelings, lost her confidence, and possibly her love.

If she doesn’t want to talk to him, she should be allowed to avoid his company, and/or communication with him. When he’s ready to apologize for hurting her, HE needs to be the one to make the first move.

An apology is meaningless if it’s not accompanied by actual remorse and a determination not to make the same mistake again. That’s why your apologizing for him does nothing to ease her mind. He still feels the same way, and will continue making the same mistake.

I agree – she should be allowed to cease communications with him, if she desires, until she’s ready to take them up again. If that means he has to beg for forgiveness, then that’s what it means. She may just need to cool off for a while, and realize she misses her Daddy.

She’s 11 years old – the hormones are raging, and this is one of the most trying times. She’s liable to cry at the drop of a hat, let alone a ton of bricks statement that people like her are too much work and need to be put away. Give her the space and time she needs to heal.

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Zhoen January 19, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Why are you trying to convince your daughter of self evident truth? My mother often tried to insist that my unloving father loved me, which made me feel like I was going crazy. At 11, she is capable of rational thought, and the respect of being believed. Don’t pile on criticizing her father, but let her express herself without contradicting her well-argued stance. You can’t make her love her father, nor make her father love her, but you can make them both hate you by forcing the issue. Don’t further insult her by dismissing her as “emotional, and a pre-teen.”

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irish January 19, 2011 at 12:55 pm

This is such a devastating story, but after my first reading I went away to ponder it and came to the same conclusion as acr. At least your daughter has a male figure in your wonderful boyfriend, and you know he won’t make her feel worthless.

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Calliope January 19, 2011 at 1:07 pm

I’ll chime in with the others who agree with samihami. To ask this girl to continue to spend time with her father despite his thoughtless and cruel words is to ask her to be more mature than her father. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she is, but still, that’s a lot for an 11-year-old to bear.

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Brenda January 19, 2011 at 1:08 pm

I’ve made my opinion very clear before, but I don’t believe there is any reason to maintain contact with a parent who is nothing more than a sperm donor. Tell the daughter she doesn’t have to see her father again ever, unless she wants to. And quit going out of your way to protect this guy; he hasn’t earned it.

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Abby January 19, 2011 at 1:14 pm

How horrible for the OP’s daughter. When I was about that age, my dad made a flippant remark about my HAIR and I burst into tears. He had no idea why it was so upsetting (truth is I don’t remember either anymore), but my dad made every effort to apologize because he saw how upset I was and he cares about me. I cannot imagine my own father making such a thoughtless comment about something so much more important than stupid hair and calling me a “drama queen” when I got upset, instead of apologizing and reassuring me he somehow didn’t mean it.

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Csl January 19, 2011 at 1:16 pm

This is such a sad situation, not just for your daughter and son and yourself, but also for your ex’s daughter too – she’s going to grow up thinking that “Dad” will only love her as long as she’s perfect- that that love is dependent on not breaking a leg, being in a car accident, or developing a chronic illness.
If you aren’t doing family counseling right now it might be a really good idea to have both your daughter and son and yourself see a therapist together, not just to deal with the issues your ex causes, but also to help them transition into a new life with your new spouse.
We’re wishing you all the best.

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Anon January 19, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Let her make the decision. You doing it for her will cause her to resent you. What you’re doing is forcing her to keep in contact with a man who is damaging her self-esteem. My mother still tries to do this with me, expecting me to be a loving daughter to a man who treated me like crap all my life. My self-esteem was so damaged, my mind always filled with questions about my own worth. Leave it. This is a situation where the only thing you should do is reassure her that she is not the reason her father left, but allow her the right to make her own decision regarding how much contact she wants with him.

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Skoffin January 19, 2011 at 1:34 pm

It’s very hard for a child to be willing to cut off a parent. I had an abusive father and still wouldn’t take that option despite feeling unloved and being hurt. I think for the girls sake… let her choose what she wants from her father. This is a despicable man and the daughter should cut him off, or at the very least be allowed to do so. If the father cares at all for his daughter then he needs to step up and fix it, it will not magically be resolved just by forcing the girl to have to be around him.

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Jen January 19, 2011 at 1:38 pm

My half sister decided to cut her dad out of her life when she was younger than the poor kid in this story. He didn’t seem very upset by this, which is probably a sign that it was the right decision, and in the 25 some years in between then and now, she’s never indicated that she regretted it.

It sounds like he’s far more of a burden to her than she is to him. It does seem like a big decision for such a young girl to make, but I think she would be justified in cutting him out of her life if that’s really what she wants. Forcing her to spend time with him, especially when he’s so unapologetic, might case even more resentment and hurt feelings.

Oh, and I echo the suggestions for finding a good counselor.

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Just Laura January 19, 2011 at 2:13 pm

I want to echo Elizabeth’s sentiment:
“You are not in charge of his relationship with his children, he is.”

Excellent.

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Heather January 19, 2011 at 2:26 pm

So instead of cutting her diseased father out of her life you want your daughter to grow up with a man who treats her like a second class citizen? How exactly is her life going to be better knowing this man? At eleven she’s shown that she has more gumption and class than this so called adult male.

If she doesn’t want to see her father, don’t make her. He’s emotionally abusive. If he was molesting her you wouldn’t make her see him, why should this form of abuse be taken any less seriously?

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essie January 19, 2011 at 2:30 pm

The OP needs to see a lawyer ASAP. If the sperm donor ‘s providing any financial support at all, it’s possible that she won’t be permitted to unilaterally name amother guardian for her children in the event of her death. It’s clear that the SPerm donor (SD) would, immediately put the child in an institution – and probably insist that her brother stay away from her – such a waste, you know. From SD’s attitude, as indicated here, the OP’s boyfriend wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance of getting custody (“Your Honor, the guy already has too many defectives to care for; how can he possibly handle another one?”)

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Shaw January 19, 2011 at 2:52 pm

I agree with TheOtherAmber. Kids that age are very perceptive.

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