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Advice about Absent Parents
I am a single, working mother of a beautiful 2-year old daughter who has not seen her father in a year due to a court order based upon his heroin addiction. He moved out of our home when she was a year old and got messed up on drugs after he left. He has done nothing to try to get visitation and in fact his condition has deteriorated. This week he had open-heart surgery to replace an infected valve due to his IV drug use. Here's my question: My daughter has been asking about her daddy lately and I don't know what to tell her. I'm afraid if I tell her he's sick she'll be frightened. He has had no contact with her including by phone in a year. What can I say to her that will satisfy her curiosity without scaring her or making her feel abandoned? Thanks.
To the extent that the truth meets those criteria, that's where I'd start. You can't say he's sick, because she'll worry that you might get sick, too....you can probably say that he made bad choices and can't be with her anymore, or something like that.
No matter what she asks you --- what she really wants and
needs to know is that YOU are not going to leave her, no
matter what. Maybe that's the best thing you can tell her.
''Daddy can't be with you -- but I will always be her with you.''
I am English, and moved to America three years ago with my husband and five children. My sixteen-year-old daughter hates America and wants to return to England, where her father lives. I was never married to him, he never contributed any child support, he drinks and smokes cannabis in front of the children. He punched me twenty times on the head the day before I started a Maths undergraduate course at Cambridge University. I was a single parent throughout college, then he took out a custody case just as I started postgraduate work. He won: the English judge did not like women studying and parenting. After two years, I managed to get the case moved to the high court in London where the decision was reversed, and my daughter returned to live with me. But she had become attached to her father during this time.
If she leaves for England now, she will lose her chance to get a green card, which would be approved next year if she stays in the US. We have been here for three years, and she still feels that England is a better country. She also feels guilty for leaving her father behind - he refuses to visit her here, but I have flown her and her brother back to England each summer to visit him.
I have four younger children, and am married to the father of the younger three. My sixteen-year-old is very close to them, and yet wants to leave...She is in her senior year at high school, just one year from college... she hasn't applied yet. I would welcome any insight anyone has to offer.
Don't send her to live with someone who hit you. I can well understand that she is attached to him. Abusive relationships create stonger ties than nonabusive ones. That is why women have such a hard time leaving their abusive husband and that is why hazing is so common.
I suspect that she will resent your decision and pull away from you. I would suggest that you explore every avenue possible to improve your relationship with her. Even the best parent would need help under these circumstances.
I also suggest that you be completely honest with her. Don't badmouth him ("He's a bastard"), just tell her the truth ("He hit me"). If you are withholding information from her, she will feel justified in withholding information from you. You will both be better off with a full deck of cards.
Find out what it is that she doesn't like with America. Maybe it isn't America at all. Maybe her boyfriend is putting pressure on her to have sex. Maybe her friends dumped her. Maybe she is worried about college and feels like running away to England and becoming a little girl again. If she has lived here three years and only now wants to go back, I suspect it is some kind of teenage problem.
It is not too late to apply to college. This is a whole separate question. But she can go to community college anytime. And I hear the state colleges are desparate for students because the students opt to work instead, since the job market is so hot. I know a girl who got in for September after applying in the previous month. Maybe going to college in England would be a good compromise. She could wait a year, go live at college and see her father regularly then.
I am hoping that your daughter finds the best path for her. Anonymous
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