A brief background:

I have been divorced for 3 years now. My ex wife wants me dead, she made threats like "Both of us won't come out of this alive" near the end of our marriage. She has opened an assault case against me, the case is not over yet. In short, she made a huge scene one morning while dropping of my 5 year old, screaming for help and later sent my 5 year old to go look for help (like I had her handcuffed or something), seriously, I haven't seen someone behave like my ex wife did that morning. I went after my 5 year old since I do not want anything to happen to her, and of course, she's traumatized through the scene my ex wife made.

My ex wife wants to party, she had a new boyfriend which I actually liked apart from the fact that he was the lead singer of a band that had the following slogan "How much snake can you take". All the feedback I got from my 5 year was good. My ex wife sent him packing and is now on the market so to speak, partying away. My ex wife would drop my 5 year old at my parents place while not informing me, including my parents. At any point in time I have no idea where my 5 year old is, I can try and contact her mother, but she either, ignores the call, text or whatsapp. If I try and call on a wednesday afternoon to chat to my 5 year old, my ex wife would do say stuff like, she is in the bath, or she doesn't want to speak to you, she is playing outside. That trend ended up in me not calling anymore. I cannot trust a word my ex wife says.

My ex wife has no set schedule with me regarding when and where I may/may not see my 5 year old, it's always a game of ok, you can see her at 10am for instance on Saturday, then later on that day (Friday), she texts me to say that my 5 year old wants to be with me. I know, because I know the way she handles things, she didn't have an event planned on friday, but did manage to have an event at around 9PM on friday night. My ex wife does everything and anything she wants, I gave her a car and everything in the house we stayed in when getting the divorce. I literally left with my car and a bag full of my clothes.

Having an open assault case against me I have my hands tied behind my back, I can't say, display or hint to anything or she can go back and make some more trouble for me. Apologies for the way in which I try and explain things, I am very confused and miss my 5 year old badly. I am lucky that I get to see my 5 year old every weekend, but my question is the following: I am a programmer, I like to code until 3am or 4am, I might then sleep until 10am. When I wake up, I see a lot of calls made to and from my ex wife. Trying to get in contact with my ex wife is difficult as I've stated before. But, during those calls, my 5 year old asked my ex wife to come and fetch her, keep in mind, she was dropped off at 9:30pm friday night, at 10am saturday morning my 5 year old have already scheduled a move back to her mother. Who then knocks on the door a while later and leave with my 5 year old princess. Sometimes hours would go by while my 5 year old doesn't even tell me that she scheduled all this and pretend that nothing is going on.

I love my princess with everything I have inside, I do anything and everything to try and have a good relationship with her even though I do not know how to have a relationship to begin with.

Is there something wrong with me? I know I can't change anyone else, I learned that lesson with my divorce, I haven't had a girlfriend since. Is there something I can do to prevent my 5 year old from doing this, should I try to prevent this or is it better to have her with her mother if that is what she wants.

Any ideas are welcome, as I am alone, I live alone and wait for the weekend to be able to see my princess, I have no other reason to get up in the morning.

  • 1
    Welcome to Parenting.SE. Do you have any custody or visitation agreement in place from the divorce? Have you talked to your daughter about what she wants to do when visiting you and why she feels unwelcome (or bored, or lonely, or whatever emotions are behind her wanting to go home early)?
    – Acire
    Oct 3 '15 at 18:22

It breaks my heart to hear how badly things have gone between you and your ex-wife--this has no doubt been a VERY difficult time for your daughter (and you). Even an amicable separation is hard on kids, due to (at the very least) a significant reduction in the time they spend with their parents. Let's face it: even if the time is spent with each parent 50-50, they are used to having you both at once.

In your situation, it appears as though your daughter isn't spending that much time with either of you. Your ex-wife seems busy with her new life which, (unless it's open drug use or sex in the presence of the child, or abuse) you cannot control, as you stated. I bet this is at least part of the reason your daughter wants to go home. I'm only speculating, of course, but I know that MY kids always want the absent parent right up until the minute he or she walks through the door. Absence makes the heart grow fond, I guess.

There is not much you can do about your daughter missing her mother, nor would you want to. Although you portray her badly (no one here knows her or her side of the story--we must be objective), she is still your daughter's mother and she will remain the light of your daughter's life until she's quite a bit older. It would be a mistake to try to break the spell by talking badly about her to your daughter. Nor should you try to discourage her from wanting to go home (that's normal) however, I do think it's inappropriate for your daughter to be making phone calls and plans without your permission/supervision. (It's inappropriate for your ex-wife to be engaging in violating court ordered visitation either.)

You ask if there is something wrong with you, and I interpret that as "what am I doing wrong/what can I change." (What's wronv with you is not a question we can answer here!) The most obvious thing that needs to change is your work schedule! You say 1) that you "like" to code in the wee hours of the morning and 2) that your daughter doesn't like spending time with you because all you do is sleep. I assume you have control over your work schedule since you say you "like" to work those hours. however, you don't like that your daughter wants to leave and can make arrangements to leave as a direct result of this choice. If you are getting up at 10am, your daughter has been "unsupervised" for at least a few hours (or more depending on how early she gets up-my 5 year old gets up at 6:45 even on the weekends-in your case that would be almost 4 hours alone!) This has got to change! You need to find out what time she gets up and then arrange to be before her or at least at the same time.

If you can't change your work schedule, which is totally understandable (I know that I can't change mine, for instance) then I would suggest you find a babysitter for the morning so that she isn't alone. Or, if she still naps, then the other alternative is to get up with her (albeit not very well rested) and then make up the sleep by taking a nap at the same time she does.

Once you both are on the same schedule, you will have eliminated the opportunity to reach out to mom to make plans. At first, I'm sure she will still want to call mom and/or want to go home. I don't think it would be a bad idea to let her make a supervised call (just to talk though, not to make plans) at first. However, you have to work on making your house her home away from home if you want to eliminate the homesickness. As soon as possible, you should start establishing a new routine with her to replace the unhealthy one you have now. Start first thing in the morning. Have breakfast together. Take a walk to watch the world wake up. Whatever you do, just be present. Fill up the time with things she likes to do so she doesn't have time to think about home. You don't get to see her that often so make the best of it. Don't spoil her, but do make an effort to make her feel she is a priority to you.

With that being said, you need to take care not revolve your whole life and emotions around your daughter. A 5 year old cannot be the center of your universe and the sole focus of your attention/love. It is very unhealthy for you and for her it is a burden. I would highly suggest that you get some counseling to help you be a more balanced person. A divorce is a major event-most people need to talk to someone to get through it. Your daughter needs you to be healthy and to model healthy relationships (both with her and with others in both romantic and platonic way.)

In the meantime, you could think about joining a library or a playgroup where you both could get some socialization with other kids/parents. If your daughter makes friends at your house, it will be another reason to want to stay with you and not try to return to her mother's. If you live in the same neighborhood as her mother, you could even set up opportunities for her to see her usual friends so she doesn't feel like she's missing out on her weekends with you. If you are afraid her mother will attempt to interrupt a playdate (at a friend's house) to get your daughter, make them at a playground or public place so you can stick around to watch.

As for the behavior your daughter exhibits where she is keeping things from you (she made plans but said nothing): It appears she doesn't trust you. At this point, there is nothing directly you can do--trust is something that takes time to earn. It is unfortunate that you are the one she lost trust in, but it is not uncommon for the non-custodial parent to suffer this consequence. I would suggest you set a clear expectation with her that as her parent, she is not to do things without your permission. Set out other rules as well, give her examples of behaviors that are unacceptable, and give her consequences she can count on should she disobey and establish a reward system should she choose to behave. Follow through with them if she breaks your rules, and reward her if she chooses to behave appropriately. Although it may seem counterintuitive that punishment will make her trust you, believe me it does because she learns that you stick to your word and that she can count on you. Believe me, she needs that now more than ever.

My final bit of advice which I give with trepidation since if borders on legal advice which isn't allowed here is to seek protection of the court that established your visitation if your ex-wife continues to cut into your time with your daughter. I don't know where you are, the unique facts of your case, or the laws in your jurisdiction, but generally, one parent should not be able to take the child from the other without permission. If this is happening, contact your social worker or whoever is handling your case. You have done the right thing so far by not making a scene and respecting your child's wishes but you have every right to see your daughter during your appointed time. Children don't always know what's best for them-it's our job as parents to choose wisely for them at times, and in your case since you and your ex-wife don't agree, the court exists to mediate. Take advantage of you need to but only after you've done your part to resolve the situation on your end. You need to prove to your daughter and to the court that you are capable of acting in her best interest, and protecting her time with you is ultimately in HER best interest.


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