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Dad Crippled By His Own Selfishness

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… add one }
  • nannerdoman January 19, 2011, 2:59 pm

    Let her cut him off. As someone who was born with a handicap, I can tell you–she may never forgive her father, will certainly never forget that he said this, and frankly I’m on her side. Her dad bailed out on her big time. I agree with all the previous posters who encourage the OP to make sure this child gets some counseling.

    As for her age–eleven is the time when handicapped children are beginning to realize that their handicap is permanent, will not magically go away, and will affect the rest of their lives. Her reaction is understandable and legitimate.

    Ditto naming a guardian other than your ex in your will.

    Frankly, I’d go to the judge and ask that he lose his visitation privileges with all the children over this cruel behavior.

  • Kat January 19, 2011, 3:02 pm

    That poor child. She is certainly NOT being a drama queen. Apparently her father believes that disabled family members are not worth the effort of caring for. It doesn’t take much imagination to think that he would suggest she be “put in a home” when her mother can no longer care for her.

  • DLCF January 19, 2011, 3:27 pm

    As a child of an abusive alcoholic who was not made to be around the abuser if I didn’t want to be, I am absolutely furious on this child’s behalf. He does not deserve one moment of that girl’s time if she doesn’t want him to have any of it.

    It is not “tragic” to let an eleven-year-old cut off her father. “Tragic” would be when she is so devastated and beaten down by her father’s continual treatment of her that she hurts herself–or worse.

  • --Lia January 19, 2011, 3:35 pm

    There is a time-honored etiquette tradition on how to handle relationships we can’t get out of. The other writers are right that 11 years old is old enough to know what’s up with her father. She wants to cut him out of her life, but how? What’s the right way?

    Use the trappings of etiquette to be painfully, insincerely, politely correct. We do it when we write thank-you notes for gifts we hate. We do it when we invite family members we don’t care for over once a year. We do it when we smile and say we had a great time. This little girl needs to be taught how to do all that, taught why she’s doing it (good practice in the long run), and taught how to protect herself while she’s doing it (don’t get sucked in!). Note that I call this the “trappings of etiquette.” Not to be confused with the real thing! Real etiquette is being truly, sincerely gracious. I’m only talking about the package that comes in.

    Specifically: She should send him, her step-mother, and her half-sister birthday cards each year. They cost a stamp. If she has forced visitation, she should make them as rare as possible, and she should be as well behaved as possible. Just read a book and not bother the jerk. She should invite him to big events like graduations and weddings, smile, shake his hand should he show up, and glide over to other guests. If he’s stupid, he’ll congratulate himself. If he’s not, he’ll get the point. If she gets therapy to help her deal, the therapist should suggest these ideas. The idea is not to help her have a more loving attitude towards her father. The idea is to get through her contact with him smoothly. Etiquette is great for that.


  • The OP January 19, 2011, 3:57 pm

    Just to clarify-

    We are all currently in counseling, which is what is helping my daughter treat her step-sister in a better manner. I know people normally don’t get a good follow up, so, in the time since I have sent in my letter I have been quietly filing court papers in preparation to revoke custody. My ex has not seen either my 11 year old daughter or my 12 year old son since the incident.

    I have recently discovered that while my ex husband has been diligent with my daughters medical treatment, but his wife doesn’t like to be bothered and will often make her go to bed without it if he isn’s there, which apparently is most evenings when the kids are visiting. (She needs medical assistance using the bathroom) My son has filled me in on plenty of details, he was afraid to “tattle” but has finally confessed. He loves his father and has been afraid of the situation for awhile. My fuzzy feelings of “cut out your father” have been erased completely with my daughter’s current medical evaluation, which i got directly after that weekend due to some statements she made when we were talking. I took her to the hospital and she required out-patient surgery to fix the mess they had made. I am also filing criminal neglect charges. So, wish us luck. There will be no more visitations, only visitations supervised personally by me if i have my way and only if my daughter wants them in the future. My daughter is doing well now, and we will be seeing my boyfreind and his family this weekend (I don’t believe in living together before marriage, so we all see eachother about twice a month due to schedules and distance)

    Thank you all for your thoughts and concerns, it just justifies a difficult decision for me.

  • wimpy January 19, 2011, 3:58 pm

    OP, you need to let your daughter defend herself from this horrible bigoted man.

    It worries me that you are making excuses for his behaviour and trying to dismiss her as “oversensitive” when in fact, it seems to me that all her arguments are 100% legitimate. It also seems like her perception of your ex’s character and the reasons for your divorce is accurate; I don’t know why you’re trying to convince her otherwise.

    Like someone said upthread, it’s a real possibility he may have treated her even worse when you weren’t present. It doesn’t sound like she could feel safe in telling you if it were the case without fear of being doubted and dismissed.

    I hope this post doesn’t sound too harsh, but I think you’re being far too careful trying not to alienate a man who has treated both you and your children horribly and he’s getting away with more bad behaviour in the process. Stop making such an effort to defend him from the consequences of his actions.

  • Numa January 19, 2011, 3:59 pm

    I’m sorry, but you have lost your mind if you let this man continue to see your daughter. I speak from experience when I say that you will most likely see the day that she will blame you for allowing that horrible excuse for a human being to go on treating her like this. Your daughter is absolutely correct about her assessment of him. I’m sorry for the other little girl, but if you allow her to stop seeing him, then that problem will be solved as well. Please, I’m begging you, stop this now before it is too late.

    I have never seen anything posted here that has disturbed me more than this story does. Again, please do not allow him to destroy this child.

  • WrenskiBaby January 19, 2011, 4:00 pm

    I completely agree with Skoffin. It if has gotten to the point that your daughter has earnestly said “I want to cut my father out of my life” (or similar words) out loud, then you should give the idea some serious thought. These strong feelings have come from a bad place and bad situation. Let her out of it. Give her the power to be in control of whether this source of unhappiness (dad) is allowed to continue damaging her.

  • livvy January 19, 2011, 4:00 pm

    I’m with the majority – I wouldn’t force her to spend time with him, and I’d suggest counseling too, so that she can see that it isn’t her fault for not being perfect, it’s his for being far more flawed than she. I’ve seen too many episodes of “Intervention” that start out with a background like this – parental abandonment being the underlying cause of drug/alcohol use in later life. Better to start early to try to make sure she’s as well-adjusted as she can be. The only thing I would “make” her do is be nice to her step-sister…her hurt feelings toward her father don’t make it ok for her to hurt other people.

    I was wondering though – why did he have to “work up” to unsupervised visits? It makes me fear that he had other more severe failings as a parent than his callous and unfeeling ways. As others said, if he’s that bad when you’re there, what’s he like when you’re not?

  • Kimberly January 19, 2011, 4:03 pm

    I’m afraid your daughter is right. As a teacher please let her teachers know what is going on, and please please please see if you can arrange a neutral party for her to talk to about her feelings.

  • LMVattimo January 19, 2011, 4:05 pm

    OP: I feel for you. My younger brother has Spina Bifida that has affected his lower body but not his mind, and it is truly amazing how crass and idiotic people can be. For example, my fiancee’s family has some interesting ideas about physical and mental perfection…but they know damn well not to let a WHISPER of that get anywhere near us (my brother lives with my fiancee and I). My brother is an incredibly intelligent individual who is definitely smarter than I, and is going to college to be a Chemist. Despite these facts people still sometimes assume that his difference means he is less of a person.

    Let your daughter cut off her father. If he asks you why, tell him to talk to her. I would also let the judge who is overseeing custody know about this occurrence, so he can’t claim later that you “poisoned his daughter against him” or some other garbage.

  • Fox January 19, 2011, 4:22 pm

    Saying “of course your father loves you” does not mean anything coming from anyone but her father. It is not your responsibility to make sure she knows her father loves her*- it is his. I’m sorry to say, but you can not repair the relationship between them.. only he can. You can, however, continually remind her that she is loved and accepted and treasured by you and the rest of her family, and that her spina bifida is a part of her, but it is not who she is; she is an intelligent, beautiful, wonderful young woman, and anyone who can’t see her for who she is is the one losing out.

    This entire situation is heartbreaking, but I have to agree with other commenters that she is old enough to choose not to see her father. My sister is a very sensitive individual who wears her heart on her sleeve, and she has suffered with low self esteem her entire life because of the negative comments she was forced to suffer growing up from our father and grandfather. If there was a way I could have shielded her from those hurtful comments, I would have taken it in a heartbeat. There is no reason to expose your daughter to such a toxic personality if it will only hurt her, regardless of the fact that he is her biological parent. He made choices that were hurtful to her, announced his beliefs about the “worthiness” of people which classed her as “unworthy”, and then when he found out not only that he hurt her but that she is specifically sensitive to that sort of talk, he dismissed her feelings as a tantrum. That does not sound like he has any desire (or ability) to be a father to her.

    *Assuming he does. He sounds like a Grade-A ***hole to me, and perhaps he really does think less of her because of her condition, in which case you need to have a very delicate discussion, not calling out her father specifically, but letting her know that if anyone thinks in that way, it just shows that they are a horrible, ignorant person and not worthy of her time.

  • gramma dishes January 19, 2011, 4:24 pm

    The father sounds far more infantile than his own kids! Anyone who would make such a remark to his daughter in her circumstances is not only not a father, he isn’t even a man. One might even question “human”!

    Counseling for the girl is in order for sure. Maybe for Mom and brother too. But we all know that good old ‘dad’ is not going to go to counseling. After all, there’s nothing wrong with HIM. (In his world.)

    I don’t think he does love her, unless there are definitions of love I’m unfamiliar with. So stop telling her that he does. That either disrespects her own (accurate I believe) observations and/or makes you a liar. So just stop it.

    This girl should never be forced to spend one more minute with her father under these circumstances. Go to court if you have to to get that changed.

    Then, once visits are no longer mandatory, leave it up to her. She gets to say and frankly, I don’t think her father will give diddly squat one way or the other. He’d probably actually be relieved to just not have to deal with her. Frankly, it’s far more likely that her “handicap” is an embarrassment to him. He produced something that wasn’t “perfect”.

    Hope the new boyfriend sticks around. He sounds like he has all the right stuff her father so grievously lacks.

  • jen January 19, 2011, 4:26 pm

    Props to the OP for being mature and calm in this situation. I think many of us on this thread have probably grown up with parents who are no longer together. It can be much more difficult when both parents are forgetting their child’s feelings, and concentrating on their own.

    As for the father, what a heartless human being. If her daughter wants to limit her time with him, I think that should be respected. This is something that will probably affect her all her life. I wonder if it would be helpful for her to write a letter to her father, telling him how she felt. I doubt he’ll be very responsive, but maybe she’ll feel more at peace if she’s had a chance to truly express herself.

    On a side note, I wonder if the OP is recording these comments. The father doesn’t sound like he’d make much of an effort, but just in case he ever does try to pull some nasty custody-related tricks she’ll have a record of reasons why he shouldn’t get anything.

  • kudeenee January 19, 2011, 4:27 pm

    I have to agree with Melissa. The dad’s true colors and feelings were verbalized in front of his precious daughter. How should she feel and act? He would put away handicapped people instead of taking care of them and that is essentially what he did with her–he left the family and left you to take care of her.

    I would not force a relationship between dd and her bio dad. I don’t know why the OP would want to. Let it go and see what happens down the road. Sounds like OP has found a gem in the new bf and that bf can become the father that her dd needs.

  • badkitty January 19, 2011, 4:31 pm

    Kudos to the OP for being so generous and forgiving as to try to defend a man like that, and for not falling into the easy trap of bad-mouthing the ex to the kids. While relations with a non-custodial parent will inherently become strained in those difficult pre-teen years, I would suggest that if he’s currently adding more pain and unhappiness than benefit to her life, the two of them should avoid spending time together until she they are really ready for one another. There is no reason that her choosing to miss a few scheduled visits now should mean that she’ll never see him again, and it might do both of them some good. But if seeing him right now makes her feel unloved and insecure, then the visits aren’t doing HER any good, and ultimately the visits are for the benefit of the child and not the parent. Fortunately, it sounds like she has a solid relationship with her mother, and that will serve to keep her grounded while she works through her feelings toward her father. Who knows? Missing her visits for a few months or even years might convince him that she’s not just throwing a tantrum and force him to examine his feelings and attitudes.

  • Nyx January 19, 2011, 4:40 pm

    poor girl 🙁 Mom, you need to back off trying to push your daughter to see her father. He’s obviously a shallow jerk who goes for appearances rather than content. You daughter has every right to feel the way she feels and she probably senses that dad prefers the step sister over herself. This is probably not the first derogatory comment he’s made in front of her about such things. If anyone is “damaged” here its him and his stupid brain. What a petty, selfish little man. She’s better off without him. And the new man in your life sounds like a much better role model for her anyways. And he certainly knows how to treat people like WHOLE people and not second or third rate humans.

  • Iris January 19, 2011, 5:21 pm

    I know everyone else has said this but the notion that she should spend time with a dreadful man “because he’s her father” is simply wrong. I think if you force your daughter to spend time with her father you will be teaching her that her feelings are not important to YOU as well. If she has to go due to a court order then TELL her that – don’t make it seem like you are not supporting her.

    After my parents split up I had certain custody arrangements with my father. He was never cruel to me like the dad in the OP, but just never really cared or engaged. At age 11 I decided that he clearly didn’t really want me there and I wouldn’t be going anymore without any blow up like this – kids really do know when someone doesn’t love them. Fortunately my mum didn’t try to pretend and just calmly supported my decision without coming down on either side. If I ever wanted to visit my dad again I felt as though she’d be fine with that, either way.

    With regards to the counselling issue – it is very difficult to be a child that has a parent who doesn’t love them. Our whole society is based on the idea that parents love their children, and she can see this in you as well (thankfully). So there is always a feeling that there must be something wrong with YOU and it’s not a good thing for a child to go through. I had some counselling when I was a child to help me deal with those immediate issues and then I needed some more as a young woman embarking on serious relationships. I have been through hating my father because he ‘made’ me feel like I was a bad kid and now can accept that HE is a flawed person who probably did love me as much as he is capable of loving anyone and that I am no less deserving or worthy of love than anyone else. Please help your daughter to make this journey.

  • PrincessSimmi January 19, 2011, 5:44 pm

    Counselling is an important part for lots of people in realising that they are not the person with the problem – they are normal, but there is nothing they can do to change their Father/Mother/Sibling/Other Extended Family Member. I really hope this poor girl will one day understand that her Dad is nothing more than a sperm donor, and considering the way he acts, that is how he should be treated. The Boyfriend seems perfectly capable of showing this girl and her brother and Mother what a true Father should be – loving, caring, and consistent in his treatment of others.

    I was in counselling for years to try and make me into a ‘normal person’ – I’ve only now just realised that while I AM normal, my family is NUTS. Never ever force your child to see a counsellor that is giving you a discount as a ‘friend’ as they may not be capable of being objective.

    To the girl from the story – hang in there, Sunshine. There are many people who love you and care about you – focus on them and yourself. If you’re happy and content with who you are, nothing else matters.

  • LilyG January 19, 2011, 6:19 pm

    Aw, little peanut-please give her a hug from me.

  • Christina January 19, 2011, 6:29 pm

    Why does the daughter NEED to have a relationship with that twit? Yes, he’s the biological father, but that’s ALL he is. She’s better off not having that thing in her life. Trust me, my sperm donor ‘loved’ me, until he got his sons and then I was promptly thrown away, because I am just a girl. I know this because my paternal grandmother told me so.

    So, yeah, let your daughter kick him out of her life. He doesn’t belong there anyway.

  • SJ January 19, 2011, 6:32 pm

    Especially in light of the OP’s further information, I agree that she, the daughter, shouldn’t have to be around this man.

    She may move on from her hurt and forgive him, but that will speak of her maturity, not his.

  • Alice January 19, 2011, 6:50 pm

    OP – I’d like to add myself to those saying to allow your daughter to remove her father from her life. I’m the product of an abusive alcoholic father and a codependent mother. I cut off contact with my father at 17 after numerous physical and emotional assaults. (I’d like to note it’s the things he said that still bother me). My mother tried to force a relationship, including bringing him to events uninvited. I stopped speaking to her when I was 23.

    Should my therapist and I decide I need to see them for emotional closure or to attempt some sort of relationship, I’ll go find them. Don’t force your daughter to loose both parents.

  • Catwhisperer January 19, 2011, 7:17 pm

    My advice to OP has nothing to do with etiquette but everything to do with the relationship she has with her daughter.

    Get a referral to counselor or therapist. Both for you and your daughter. You are dealing with a situation that needs expert help.

    Smart people know when a job isn’t do-it-yourself. Be a smart person and get a referral to a counselor.

    Good luck.

  • Cordelia January 19, 2011, 8:28 pm

    There is no good reason to force this girl to see her father. He may feel some kind of affection for her, in a way, but it’s obvious that he doesn’t love her the way a father should. Cutting contact between them is his loss, not hers. If he improves as a father, let him apologize to her after she’s had some time to get counseling and reaffirm her sense of self-worth, and let her decide whether she wants him back in her life.

    Also, is this coming from a country where adults are allowed to date 17-year-olds? Where I come from, that’s statutory rape.

  • PrincessSimmi January 19, 2011, 10:17 pm

    Addendum – Every person is beautiful, just in different ways. It took me a long time to learn that, and hopefully this little girl’s father can learn it too.

  • jenna January 19, 2011, 10:37 pm

    Thank you, OP, for this update. Though it’s not “happy” news in the short run – I am really sorry that your daughter had to have surgery to correct the mess they made when they didn’t treat her properly – in the long run this is best for your daughter.

  • Elizabeth January 19, 2011, 11:01 pm

    I am glad to hear you are going to court. Things will get better. And the further from your lives he is, the happier you will all be. I promise.

  • Rebecca January 20, 2011, 12:03 am

    I have no advice to offer; thankfully I have no experience with this sort of thing, but I just want to say that I think the father said those things about it being “too much work” to care for handicapped people as a deliberately cruel act, rather than in a moment of thoughtlessness. Perhaps he wasn’t consciously thinking, “I want to say something cruel that cuts to the core of my daughter’s emotional issues” but I would certainly call it emotional abuse and quite calculated on some level.

  • Adica January 20, 2011, 12:38 am

    Thanks for the update, OP. You are doing the right thing, no matter what anybody says (though I doubt anyone but the father would argue), and I’m very glad she is seeing a counselor. I’m studying to be a psychologist (not of the counseling variety, though), and it always hurts me to see or hear about a person who needs or otherwise would really benefit from counseling and doesn’t get it for one reason or another.

    A strong, positive male figure (which is what your bf sounds like) is what is important in a child’s life (and/or female, too, of course); whether this person happens to be the biological father or not is irrelevant, unless it is important to the child (which, in this case, it is not). I wish you luck in your court case, though I doubt you’ll need it. Your case seems rather strong on its own.

  • essie January 20, 2011, 6:32 am

    Cordelia, re: “Also, is this coming from a country where adults are allowed to date 17-year-olds? Where I come from, that’s statutory rape.”

    In most US states, the age of consent is 16 (http://www.ageofconsent.us/); the OP says he met her online, so no clue as to when they started dating. What I find interesting is that, at 17, she already had a 18-month-old child! Do the math.

  • HonorH January 20, 2011, 6:52 am

    I, too, am glad to see the update. OP, it looks like you’re doing the best you can in a very trying situation. At this point, revoking visitation–especially for your daughter–looks like exactly the right thing to do. What a poor excuse for a father your ex has turned out to be! I hope your new relationship blossoms into something wonderful for you, your kids, and his family as well. He sounds like a quality man, and your daughter’s going to need a quality man in her life in the coming years.

  • Nyx January 20, 2011, 8:26 am

    OP-thank you for the update. I hope your court cases go well in favor of your daughter. Sounds like it was a bit of hell for her but at least its over now. Its really sad that a parent would neglect their child the way your ex has. And his new bride certainly isn’t a prime example of a human. Here’s hoping your relationship with you BF thrives because he sounds like a much better person for everyone involved. And here’s my good wishes that you daughter thrives as the smart, whole person that she is.

  • Xtina January 20, 2011, 8:57 am

    Good luck, OP! Well, there you go–proof positive that ANYONE (you, your family, the court system, the world in general) who ever asked whether or not her father should be allowed to have custody or really, even see his daughter–he and his wife treated her so badly while she was in his care that she had to have surgery as a result. I’m glad you all are moving on.

  • samihami January 20, 2011, 10:24 am

    I am reminded of my best friend growing up. We were 11 when we met, and are now 46, so we have quite a long history together. When we met, her parents had recently divorced and her father very quickly remarried to a woman who had children. Not long afterward they had a baby together. My friend “X” has spent her entire life trying to win her father’s love. He never, ever took advantage of visitations while she was growing up. He never called her on her birthdays or Christmas-and he only lived (and still lives) about 30 minutes away. She would call him and he would not call her back.

    Finally, when she was old enough to drive, she would take it upon herself to go to his house. She was never invited, but she wanted his love so badly that she kept going back. I went with her several times and found that the stepmother hated her and her brother–she only wanted HER kids in their lives. The step siblings were nice enough and were happy enough to socialize with her (and me). The dad, even when she was right there in the house with him, barely spoke to her. He would never come right out and say it, but it was very clear to me that he did not want her to come around.

    Year after year she would be broken hearted because she just couldn’t accept the fact that her own father does not love her. When she married and had her first child, she named him after her father. Of course, that made no difference. He had a brain tumor at one time and no one told her-she found out well after the fact. He moved to a different neighborhood and did not tell her-she found out the hard way when one day she went to visit and found he didn’t live there anymore! He will not give her his cell phone number. Still she pursued him, convinced she could “win” his love.

    X and I had a falling out about 10 years ago and did not speak at all during that time. Just a few weeks ago we rekindled our friendship. Unbelievably, her father was one of the first topics of conversation to come up. The dynamic has not changed. She still has the undying hope that her father will come around one day and love her. It’s obviously NOT going to happen. He has his wife and the children she gave birth to and that is all he has room for in his life.

    I guess my point in telling her story is that sometimes a parent genuinely does not love their children. It’s just true. And it is clear in this case that your daughter HAS been “replaced” by his new family, just as my friend was. My friend didn’t get any therapy (and probably never will) and still suffers to this day for it. I’m glad you posted that your child is getting therapy. This is the sort of thing that can haunt her forever if it isn’t dealt with.

  • RP January 20, 2011, 11:48 am

    OP – I’m so sorry that your ex is such a lazy, selfish person that he and his new wife refuse to care for your daughter during visitations. I am glad that your are holding him responsible for his criminal behavior and that the therapy is helping your daughter.

    As has been said, you’re doing the best you can in a rough situation so kudos to you.

    As for the ex’s new family, I wonder what they’ll do should he decide that they no longer meet his conditions for he has certainly shown that his love is conditional. I can only hope that step-sister does not become injured or ill enough to require extra care.

  • deddeddie January 20, 2011, 12:02 pm

    Thanks for the update OP. Goes to show that sometimes when our teens have a severe reaction it’s often because of something deeper they are unable to express. Obviously her father’s actions had been telling her that he didn’t want to be bothered, long before he came out with the atrociously insensitive words that set her off. Kudos to you for digging deeper and finding out what was really going on.

  • deddeddie January 20, 2011, 12:04 pm

    Oh and good for you for teaching her to treat her stepsister kindly. That can’t be easy to do, but it’s not her fault she’s trapped in such a mess of a family.

  • Wink-n-Smile January 20, 2011, 2:59 pm

    Wow, OP, thanks for the update!

    While I’m glad the father took care of her medical needs while he was there, I am shocked to find out that most nights during the visitation, he wasn’t even there! What’s the point of visiting, when your host is AWOL?

    I just edited a long string of swear words on your children’s behalf. Thank goodness you’re taking the steps needed to protect BOTH of them. Your daughter suffered terribly (SURGERY! She needed surgery to fix their mess! And she’s “being a drama queen and a baby”?!?!?! SURGERY!!!!), and your son suffered, as well, although not the same way. He was being taught to be cold, callous, and conditional in his “loving” relationships. And he felt the pain of watching his sister suffer. Fortunately, he has your BF to teach him how to have healthy relationships, and what it truly means to love.

    Kudos to you, for taking care of this, and I wish you and yours all the best.

  • Kriss January 20, 2011, 8:10 pm

    Boy does this hit a sore spot. My mother is disabled and had a hard time growing up dealing with it (even with an understanding and caring family!).

    I know you’ve updated but I wanted to address something in your original post. You mention that she is emotional and a preteen as an excuse to encourage her to not cut him out of her life. I think the exact opposite. At that age she is emotionally vulnerable and callousness like your ex has shown is damaging.

    You’ve updated that she is also being physically abused and it breaks my heart. I feel for your son too, who I’m sure was torn between a responsibility to protect his sister and not wanting to make waves. Being a mother myself my heart breaks for you too, knowing that this was going on and your kids were too frightened to say anything. Good luck OP!

  • Eisa January 21, 2011, 2:36 am

    I was also born disabled. If my father had said that, I would never have wanted to be around him again. He would have just proved that if he feels that way about others, there is no way he can avoid feeling that way about me.

    With the update–good luck with the charges and I hope you all can heal, OP. Especially your daughter.

  • Cat January 21, 2011, 2:22 pm

    It’s your decision but you might want to rethink this. I had an abusive brother. Mother said I “had to let him do whatever he wanted to me because, if he did it to anyone else, he’d have to go to jail.” She added that, if I tried to tell anyone or get help, she’d tell the police that I was the one at fault and I’d be the one in jail.

    She died when I was 22. I have not seen my brother in 37 years. He says, “It’s so sad that I have no family.”

    I think it’s sad that he abused the family he had until she no longer wants him as anything but a very bad memory.

    You keep letting your ex husband abuse your daughter and she might just decide to let you become a bad memory when she attains her majority.

  • Lizajane January 21, 2011, 2:52 pm

    I usually read all the replies before I post, I haven’t this time and apologize, but I want to get this on quickly.

    Good on you for seeking counseling. Definitely keep working on your daughter with regards to her feelings about her step-sister (transference clouds dealing with the real problem). I’m getting from this that not only is the Dad a colossal jerk, his wife is a real part of the problem here and is probably exacerbating the whole thing. As a step-mother I have no sympathy for this at all.

    Eleven year old girls ARE notoriously dramatic (I’ve survived 3). Sounds like your daughter is normal on that. However, she actually has something to be dramatic about. Her safety and health are in jeapordy when she visits them, so I would do what you’re doing and do my best to get only supervised visitation. Unfortunately, I don’t see that as making your ex straighten up, only giving him an out, but so be it.

    My question is about your son. Does he still want to see his father and will you let him? My sister’s ex was a complete jerk all around the spectrum, but she never bad mouthed him in front of the kids (an amazing accomplishment). Admittedly, I don’t believe he was ever a danger to their health or safety. They all eventually learned the truth and formed their own opinions. But it was at different times for all of them. They have as healthy a relationship as possible with him because they know what to expect and aren’t disappointed any more. As for him, he’s grown older and realized, I think, alot of his mistakes. When he tries to be super-dad, it doesn’t fly with the kids (all grown up now) but they are gracious to him within their own boundries. I believe that’s because their mother let them learn on their own.

  • MollySue January 21, 2011, 6:59 pm

    I’m with most of the others here – the OP seems like a lovely person, but unfortunately her daughter is a much better judgement of character. Frankly, I think she’s right. He probably does love his kids; but nowhere near as much as he loves himself. I’d say that the second that anyone other than himself got sick in his new family, he’d be out that door like a racehorse.

    It is dreadful that you get genuinely caring men being kept from their children when morons like this are being pandered to by a family that deserves much better.

    Well done on being proactive and hopefully your daughter will come to regard your new boyfriend’s attitude as a better and more acceptable role-model to see how REAL men and fathers should behave.

  • Liz January 21, 2011, 7:35 pm

    Just a note re: age of consent. In many states, including mine, the literal age of consent may be 16 but that doesn’t mean there are no restrictions and that once a person turns 16 they are free to associate with just anyone. If the age difference is more than a certain number of years (4 where I live) it would still have been illegal for a 16-year-old girl to be running around with a man who was more than 20 years of age. Good for you OP for taking the steps to protect your daughter!

  • Twik January 23, 2011, 9:31 am

    This is a heartbreaking story. I agree with everyone, this man is a sperm donor, not a father. I think he *was* trying, in an oblique way, to tell her that she was “too much trouble”, and that she shouldn’t expect him to look after her, or even care about her. Tell her it’s his loss, and let her move on.

  • Mrelia January 24, 2011, 11:28 pm

    OP, it’s good that you encourage your daughter to separate her feelings about her half sister from her Father’s actions. The man is a creep. It’s neither child’s fault that they are burdened with a father who is so callous and hurtful.
    I’m also glad that you’re taking legal steps at this time. There’s a saying that “Safety trumps etiquette.”
    Allowing his own daughter to suffer physical harm due to neglect is too far. He hurts her through his uncaring attitude and no doubt this also puts an emotional strain (guilt, resentment, confusion) on the son. The kids need to know that their wellbeing is more important than keeping the peace with a bully.

  • bmyster January 26, 2011, 2:34 pm

    I think it’s best that the OP’s daughter never see or talk to her biological father again. He said extremely hurtful things to her. When she visited him, he wasn’t there. And, she required surgery to fix problems that happened on the visits. To me, all of those shout out “He doesn’t love his daughter and is a danger to her (through neglect)”

    In contrast, it sounds like the OP’s new boyfriend is a wonderful, loving man and will more loving in 5 minutes than the biological father can be in a lifetime.

  • mir January 30, 2011, 11:33 pm

    my parents divored my freshman year of college. a year later i had a severe, disabling stroke. when my father found out about it, i was taken off the insurance, but then he had to put me back on since the stroke was the result of months of clotting in the brain rather than an instant incident. as much as i appreciate the insurance, it’s not worth being in contact with someone who just does not care for your wellbeing. the father influences so much in a child’s life, there is no point in crippling your daughter furthur with your husband’s piggish behavior. she needs a man who can treat her like the daughter she wants to be.

  • nannerdoman January 31, 2011, 12:04 pm

    I hope that the OP’s son is not allowed to be with or stay with his dad either. I’d hate for him to be exposed to that attitude about disabled people, including his own sister.

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