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What should I tell my 3yr old about her uncaring father?

5 answers
My husband and I moved to Israel recently because I wanted to be close to my parents. After a couple of months of non-stop fighting and problems, we decided to split up and he went back to the states (we haven't divorced but separated and now living on opposite sides of the world). My daughter and I moved into my parents apartment where we share a bedroom and a bed. My daughter will be turning three at the end of this month (Sept. 27). Her father has been gone for just over a month now and he doesn't show any interest in talking to her. So far, I have been the one calling him so they can talk and showing her pictures and talking about daddy so that she doesn't forget about him. But my mom says that I should just not mention him at all unless my daughter asks about him (which she almost never does). She also says that I shouldn't call him anymore or send him pictures or videos of her or update him on her at all unless he asks (which he never does). He still speaks to me every day online and he is the one who always initiates contact with me but he never asks about our daughter so it makes me wonder why he talks to me at all while also wondering why he doesn't seem to care about our daughter. I should also mention that he has a 5yr old son from a prior relationship whose mother is a party-er/drug-user (she's quite young and very self-serving) and the poor boy is currently being tossed between his mother's grandmother and his paternal grandmother (two single, elderly women) because there is nobody to take care of him. I wanted to adopt him but now that his father and I are separated, the chances of that happening are slim. I feel so much for him but there is really nothing I can do for him. I have to first take care of my own daughter.<br><br> When we split up, we agreed that we would stay friends for the sake of our daughter. But just like he never made any effort to stay in touch with his son before (I was always the one calling my mother-in-law and sending gifts and keeping lines of communication open between them when we were together), I have high doubts that he will be able to maintain a relationship with her if left to his own devices (though he has no trouble maintaining an online relationship with me, for some reason). I really thought that the four of us would eventually be a big, happy family but now that dream is torn to pieces. I'm left with a lot of confusion but again, my daughter is priority one.<br><br> So what should I do? Should I just cut them off from each other by never mentioning one to the other unless one of them mentions the other first? Should I remove the responsibility from myself and wait to see if he shows any interest? I don't want my daughter to feel bad that daddy doesn't care about her and I also don't want her to blame me for her not having a relationship with her father. But at the same time, I don't feel it should be my job to keep the relationship going without any help from him. If he wants a relationship with his daughter, he needs to do the work. And if not, then she should learn what type of man her father is and that it has nothing to do with her. She has three people that love her endlessly and tirelessly, myself and my parents. We treat her like the absolute goddess that we believe she is. So I don't think she should ever feel that she is unworthy of love or that she is to blame for her father not being in her life. She doesn't seem to miss him or notice his absence so much (maybe because he was never really very involved in her life when he was around) but she's so young that I think maybe she doesn't really understand yet. Anyway, I want to do what is right for her regardless of how I feel about him. I'm just not sure what the best thing for me to do is. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance. Sorry for the long-winded question. It's a very complicated situation.

answers (5)

Having been in a situation similar to the one your daughter is in, I know how important a relationship with her father will be. She may be a little young to undertand things now but there will come a time when she wants to know her father. When that time comes it will be very important for you to have kept the relationship going.My parents divorced was finalized when I was about three. I saw him once in a while and his sisters sent me presents and cards at holidays and birthdays on his behalf. The last time I saw him before becoming an adult was when I was 7. When I was little I never felt like anything was missing, my family was me and my mom and it was what it was. But as I started getting older, beginning around age 12, I really wanted to know my dad. I was 24 before we started up our relationship again and while I am glad we did, it's been four years and we still don't know each other. I don't feel much love for him, though I know he loves me a great deal. I missed out on a lifetime of knowing my father and his family. No matter how hard I try I cannot force myself to have feelings that simply aren't there and I will never have a close relationship with him, his sisters, or their families.I don't know why he doesn't seem interested in keeping up relationships with his children. It could be that he just doesn't care much, or it could be that he cares so much that it's just too painful. I don't know. His reasons are his own and hopefully one day soon he will realize that he's been making a big mistake. In the meantime, you owe it to your daughter to keep their relationship going as best you can. It may be a lot of work for you and it may be painful at times, but it's the best thing you can do for her.My mom kept me from knowing half my family and that has complicated my relationship with her. I feel robbed of my family and I am angry that she let her negative feelings toward them impact my life this way. Your daughter may feel differently as an adult, but chances are she will want to know her father. Do what you can to keep them in each other's lives.
I know exactly how you feel, except my daughters father left when I was pregnant. I spent a lot of energy and time trying to encourage a relationship between them and eventually it became to much of a burdon on me. When she was younger(shes 3 now)  she would ask about him, and I made sure to always talk about him only when she asked. If  she asks to call him I let her even though I know he probably won't answer. It's a difficult balance because I know I atleast tend to feel guilty, if I lie for him I feel like I'm being dishonest with my sweet girl but if I tell her the truth I feel like she is hurt in a way no child should be.At the end of the day I decided I would no longer lie to her (after talking to a pyhscologist) and when she asks why her daddy isn't around I tell her the truth. "I'm not sure because her step dad and I couldn't imgaine spending time like that away from her." Then I always tell her that her bio dad is doing the best he knows how to do and he still loves her very much.It took me a long time to understand that even though I know one day my daughter will wonder why her father isn't around and have some insecurities about it, I just can't control it. I try to have as many positive people in her life as possible, so that when that day does come she will atleast have a great support system to lean on.If you feel like you may be able to mend the relationship with you and your husband and work things out for the better continue talking to him and encouraging the relationship between him and his daughter as well. As far as your daughter goes, you can keep pictures up but don't mention him until she does. Especially if she gets upset about it. I wish you the best of luck, I know what a trying time this can be.
Thank you both. It's good to hear two different view points and I can understand both of them. It's very hard to decide what the right thing to do is. VforVenture, you said that your mom prevented you from having a relationship with your father and his family. Do you mean that she actively prevented it? Or is it just because your father didn't try to have a relationship with you and your mom didn't put forth the effort to make up for your dad's lack of effort? Because if the latter is true, I don't think it's fair to blame her for his inadequacies. But if she did actively deny your father a relationship with you, then it's a completely different story.In my case, I really want my daughter to have a relationship with her father. That is why I've been doing whatever I can to update him on what is going on with her (even though he seems uninterested) and in calling him so she can speak with him. I'm trying whatever I can to keep a relationship between them. But I feel that it the burden of maintaining their relationship should not fall solely on my shoulders. If he can't even make the slightest bit of effort, then why should I? I don't know what his reasons are for acting the way he does but it is infuriating to me because I really don't want my daughter to get hurt.  KayKaysMommy, I agree that it is never a good idea to lie. You just have to try to tell her the truth in the gentlest way possible (like you said you do). I tell her that daddy is in America, where she was born, and that one day we will also go back there. Though I omit some things, I tell her that daddy had good reasons to go back and that it has nothing to do with her. I have thought about having a serious discussion with him to let him know that I really want them to have a relationship but am not willing to do all the work. I want to tell him that if he wants a relationship, I'll be happy to do whatever I can as long as he shows some interest (even something as small as asking about her when he talks to me). I have no problem calling him since I know that it's hard for him to call me long distance and I have a skype account that allows me to call the U.S. for free. But it would be nice if he asked me to call him or if he just asked how she was doing without me having to bring it up. I just want to tell him once and then see what he does. And if he still continues to be uninterested then I may as well just stop calling and stop trying because it's not worth the hassle.
It's such a balancing act. But what you're saying all sounds right. Encourage him to have a relationship with her until it just becomes too much for you to handle.My daughters father left when I was pregnant and never really became involved. I continued to try and involve him until she was 2, by then I had enough and it was easier to just let go of all the stress of trying to make him know her.A heart to heart with him could change the whole situation, it could just be he assumes you will bring up anything important and that if she needs him you will initiate contact. Maybe he just needs a little push into the right direction.
The thing is that he was there with her from the time she was born until just recently. I think it's important for them to maintain a relationship so that she doesn't grow up not knowing her father. We do video chats and she gets so excited to see daddy but on the other hand I'm also worried that she doesn't understand why she can't see daddy in person and why he can't come see her. It's hard.

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