7

The last time my 10-year-old daughter saw her dad she was 6. He would come and see her whenever he had time or when he wanted to show off to his friends that he is a dad.

When I got married, he started tripping, because my husband was raising my daughter. He made problems for all to the point my daughter was scared because he threatened to take her and kill us. Police got involved, it was crazy and I try to keep it from her but she overheard some of the threats her father was saying. He is not in her life and when he was, he was there barely. She remembers when he promised her on her birthday he was going to come and never showed up.

Now she is 10 and she cries every day asking me "Why can't I have a real dad like everyone else? Why don't he want me or don't love me?" I tell her we all love her and her step-dad loves her very much but she is missing her dad but she doesn't want anything to do with him. What should I do?

  • this isnt good enough to constitute a full answer; she needs to learn that a father is not necessarily also a dad. She wants the latter and rightly so. Your husband seems to be doing a good job and being a step dad is really not easy. – bigbadmouse Jun 12 at 8:53
8

Her situation is very similar to that of children who were adopted, except that one of her parents is her biological mother. Adopted children ask many of the same questions that your daughter is probably asking. Why wasn't I wanted? Why am I different? What is wrong with me? Was it my fault I was "given away"? What did I do wrong?

You might try looking into some of the excellent books written to help adopted children wrestle with these issues. I would start by making certain that she knows it wasn't her fault. It sounds like there is something terribly wrong with your ex-husband and if you can help her to understand that her biological father was unable to be a "real daddy" because of his illness, you can help transfer the blame to where it belongs without making her feel that she must stop loving her father or that she needs to defend him. Join her in her regrets and you can both grieve together for what was lost, and perhaps you can both find healing.

6

My gut instinct.

There's something going on. Your daughter has a problem, which she feels only a "real" dad would solve. It's strange that after four years of not seeing her biological father, she is now crying every day. Perhaps she feels she cannot confide in you, so the crying is a manifestation of her frustration.

Is your rapport with your partner a happy one? Are there are any fights? Do you spend time together, alone, and have fun? Do you go out together as a family? Does she feel accepted by your partner's parents?

Have a chat with her teachers, find out how she's doing at school. Does she have friends? Is she popular? Tell her teachers that your daughter has been acting moody at home recently (no need to tell them the whole history if they don't know already) and you're wondering what the cause might be.

You don't mention if she has any half-siblings. If there are any, ask them if your daughter has talked to them about her biological father.

If the problem is her biological father's absence in her life, consider whether visiting her paternal grandparents might be a way to fill that "void". Has she ever seen seen her paternal grandparents? Were you on good terms? Have you stayed in contact? Perhaps now is the time for your daughter to build a rapport with them. If, for whatever reason, you feel this might jeopardize your daughter's safety or emotional well-being then leave well alone.

Spend some time alone with your daughter, helping her out with homework, or doing the shopping and ask her what's bothering her. If she replies she misses her dad, ask why she needs to see him so badly. Listen to what she tells you, above all she must be able to talk about her dad without any interruption. Encourage her to open up without passing any judgement, be as neutral as possible. Here I am in agreement with Francine DeGrood Taylor's advice: “I would start by making certain that she knows it wasn't her fault.” So reassure her she is loveable, beautiful and cherished by everyone in your family.

You might discover what triggered this anxiety, which I think is the key to this problem.

2

I've got 2 possible solutions:

  1. Get her step-dad to spend more time with her and to take her out anywhere she wants to go. This will get her to see him as her dad rather than her step-dad.

  2. Let her real dad try to redeem himself. If he cares about her then he will put the effort in. Almost 5 years have passed since he last saw her, chances are he has matured and become more responsible.

In my opinion, only use method 2 if method 1 fails.

P.S. Give method 1 some time to work it's magic.

Good luck.

  • 2
    No. Her biological father lost any right to try to redeem himself when he threatened his child. He sounds downright abusive, and as such should not be allowed near his child again. Even if in the future he does seem somehow to fix his problems, the child's safety should be the first concern. – user14172 Sep 24 '15 at 20:28

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