General Question

Jesus_Ezekial_Jesus's avatar

Every day that passes that I am not able too see my daughter feels like my own personal hell. Any advice from the single parents (especially single fathers) of fluther to help me cope?

Asked by Jesus_Ezekial_Jesus (138points) March 27th, 2009
31 responses
“Great Question” (3points)

It has now been four months since her and my ex left. Time has not dulled the pain. The one day a week I see her is just not enough.

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Answers

FGS's avatar

Do you have the ability to get on a web cam with her? That’s how I keep my sanity, when I get to see and talk to my son on web cam via Skype on Sundays.

Jesus_Ezekial_Jesus's avatar

@FGS Unfortunately, Olivia is only eighteen months old, and keeping her in one place long enough to interact via webcam is simply an impossibility. I try to talk to her on the phone, where I tell her I love her, but being so young, I don’t even think she knows it is me.

elijah's avatar

You can get more visitation through a court order. Since your daughter isn’t old enough to go to school, you have a better chance of getting more time.

FGS's avatar

@Jesus_Ezekial_Jesus I can understand how that’s tough. DON’T stop talking to her…EVER. Even if it means that she may not understand for a bit, she will.

marauder76's avatar

You are clearly a loving and thoughtful father. Even that one day a week makes you a central figure in her life. Make the most of the time you have with her, and trust that your relationship will continue to grow over the years.

Skype is a great idea. Maybe you can arrange w/ your ex to keep it running for a certain hour every day, almost like a TV show that’s on. Then Olivia can come talk to you as much as she wants to. Even if she isn’t talking to you, just watching her toddle around & play will do you a world of good!

augustlan's avatar

I just wanted to say I’m sorry you’re going through this. Kudos to you for being such a loving dad.

cak's avatar

I’m so sorry for you! Let me just say I would have given my eye teeth to have my ex want to be so involved in my daughter’s life. Like @FGS said, don’t ever stop talking to her! She’ll know it’s daddy, I know at 18 months it’s hard for her to express it, but she knows it’s daddy.

Do they live near you? Is there any flexibility in the visitation?

cak (15858points)“Great Answer” (3points)
RedPowerLady's avatar

Perhaps in your off time you can work on projects for her. Things that she will enjoy. Set up activities you can do while you are together. Start a photo album or memory journal that she can cherish when she is older.

Here is a little personal note. It won’t ease your pain but maybe it’ll give you some comfort knowing that one day a week will make a HUGE difference in your daughters life. Don’t stop with that.

When I was a kid I only saw my father on summer vacation. Very occasionally on holidays. And I adored the time we spent together. Still thinking back on that time I have no bad memories. And I didn’t really realize that he should have been there more (like in a two parent household). The only thing that bothered me was my parents talking bad about each other.

Jesus_Ezekial_Jesus's avatar

@cak One of the problems here is my work schedule. I am a mid-manager at a restaurant. I work 10am until 8pm 6 days a week. I have tried to work out something more favorable with the job, but I am stuck at this point. And quitting is simply not an option. Until the higher-ups in the company hear my pleas and let me work different hours, I am stuck in my current arrangement.

@RedPowerLady The memory journal I think is a fantastic idea. I think perhaps that it would take the edge off the pain to be doing something constructive for her, even though it would not be with her. And I think it would be great to have something physical to remind her of daddy/daughter time. Thank you.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Jesus_Ezekial_Jesus You are more than welcome.

elijah's avatar

Have you tried looking for another job? I’m not saying quit your current job first, because i understand thats not an option. A job that prevents you from being a parent isn’t the best choice.
I am currently unemployed, and the main reason I am not finding a job is because I’m not willing to put my family second. Unfortunately most employers don’t care about families today.
It’s a sad situation for parents and children.
I hope you can work something out so you are happier.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@elijahsuicide Same with me (in relation to finding a job bit).

cak's avatar

@Jesus_Ezekial_Jesus – while waiting for then to hear your pleas, do some of the suggestions on here. She’s a lucky little girl to have such a loving dad. I really do hope things `change for you – the sooner the better, too!

cak (15858points)“Great Answer” (2points)
Jesus_Ezekial_Jesus's avatar

@elijahsuicide I have thought about it, and even applied to several places. But I have found nothing that matches or exceeds the positives of my current job. Remember, I also have a financial responsibility to my daughter, and that is the one thing in this whole mess that seems to be going right. I will continue to pursue other opportunities, but I have little hope for it. I think that my best chance is to try to make my current arrangements more favorable. I do, however, hold individuals like you in the highest esteem for looking out for the family first.

MacBean's avatar

Olivia is a lovely name.

Jesus_Ezekial_Jesus's avatar

@MacBean I wanted either Claire or Jillian to be her name, but was overruled by her mother. And I am so happy I was. My daughter wouldn’t be as sweet with any other name, I think

Zen's avatar

@Jesus_Ezekial_Jesus First, my heart breaks at your story. I have been lucky enough to have been given the opportunity and wonder that is raising my children post-divorce. They are now grownup.

Perhaps you could write a letter a week. Like a diary of sorts, as you are obviously the sensitive and literate type. Mail it to her, and keep a copy on your pc (or photocopy your handwritten one, if you prefer writing).

One day, when she is old enough and able to read, she will have a collection of letters from her dad, telling her how much she had been loved, and what had gone on in his life while they were apart. I am writing this spontaneously, so it is just thinking out loud what I would do. Or try to do.

Hang in there buddy. Everything will be alright.

galileogirl's avatar

Maybe you can work out a schedule where your days off are together, 1 at the end of a work week and 1 at the beginning of another. That way you can pick her up at 7pm, have her 2 days and take her back 9 am. That way you are with her for a 60+hour block every 2 weeks. There is also nothing wrong with stopping by and taking her out for a walk or 30 min @ the park after work. That is more time than some fathers devote to their children.

I would have loved it if my ex gave me regular breaks. The trick is to be pleasant and not bring up personal stuff during pick-up and drop off. And don’t use the time you spend w/your dayghter as an excuse to reduce your child support.

laureth's avatar

I don’t have any help. But you do sound like an awesome father! I wish I had had a father like you!

A memory/scrap book sounds like a tremendous idea. You could even write her “letters” to read when she’s all grown up.

miasmom's avatar

Is your ex willing to let you spend more time with your daughter? Maybe you could do breakfasts with her a couple days a week? Even if it is only for an hour.

nebule's avatar

@Jesus_Ezekial_Jesus My son’s father hasn’t seen him in over a year. My son is 29 months old and he’s seen him 3 times. He is simply not that interested and never has been.

I admire your heart and intention. RedPowerLady has got it spot on… I think there are things that you can do constructively for her whilst you are not with her but I would fight fight fight for more time…

I really hope things work out well for you both xxx

Jack79's avatar

I saw this post when you firs posted it. I did not answer, because I wanted to take my time and tell you all about my own experience. I have not seen my daughter since Christmas Eve either. And in my case it’s actually a lot worse, but at least it will get better.

I know what you’re going through. And no, it does not get any easier. I don’t know how things are with your ex, but if you can at least salvage some sort of respect for each other and are able to communicate somehow, this will be best for everyone involved, and especially Olivia. In my case I cannot even communicate with her lawyer.

There are only two things I can say here. The first is that you must really be prepared to put in a lot of effort if you plan to keep in touch. You have to travel whenever you can, take every opportunity to be there for her, work out things with your ex so that at least you get Olivia when for example, your ex wants to go on holidays, and so on. You’ll be paying though the nose for a child you’re not even allowed to visit. And if you don’t, you may even lose her forever. And she will of course be told what a monster you are, and later on won’t want to pick up the phone. But remember, this is not personal. It’s a self-defence mechanism children develop to keep their own day-to-day sanity. My own daughter is not quite there yet, but I am not so sure whether this is good for her. Perhaps she is in even more pain than she’d be if she just let go. Incidentally, the same is true of many fathers, so don’t feel guilty if it happens to you.

The second thing, is that Olivia will always be your daughter, no matter what. Even the worst fathers in the world get a second chance. It may be biological, I don’t know. But I have a friend who’s a real jerk and left his wife and 4 daughters in order to go and live with some prostitute. It has been more than 2 years now, and he never even visits. Yet the girls (3 of which I am very close with) all adore him, and say the best things about their father. I have another friend who hadn’t seen his daughter for 25 years. And now they’re catching up.

I know how hard it is not to be able to see her everyday. I am not even allowed to call mine, not even on her birthday (last Friday). But it will all work out in the end. The most important thing you can give a child is love, and as long as you keep doing that, you will get all that love back one day. I’ve seen it happen with others, and I know it will happen to you too. Good luck my friend :)

nebule's avatar

@Jack79 I know your situation…but I just wanted to say that not all mothers that have custody of the child inform the child that their Dads are monsters. My son’s father is an idiot and arguably a monster for not wanting to be in his life…(even though he says he does…and blames me for him not being here) but I will not brainwash my son into thinking something that is not the truth and I certainly won’t be telling him that his father is a monster. I will tell him the truth when he is a lot older. I will take responsibility for what I need and in the meantime I will do my best to make his life full and happy even without a father. And so far…so good.

Zen's avatar

It is probably one of the hardest things to do – and time makes things easier – but it is vital to dis-associate the dissolution of marriage (or partnership) with parenthood.

We usually find it too difficult to separate the two: you split up for whatever reason, you dislike, even disrespect your S/O – but this should have no bearing on how the child will view the person as its parent. A person who is a “bad” partner could be a wonderful parent. They are two completely different things.

Jack79's avatar

I’m just preparing Jesus for the worst (and btw my ex doesn’t have custody, but that’s irrelevant, since my daughter wouldn’t listen to her anyway).

I of course know of mothers who are mature enough to put their child’s interests first, but in most cases, even unwittingly, you’ll let the odd comment slip. Bashing your ex is just as common as the father buying fancy presents once a year and letting the son watch porn and drink alcohol at age 11 in order to “make up”. It’s a trap we can easily fall into as parents. And I have even done so myself, despite doing my best to avoid it. Ok, I’ve never fed my daughter chocolates, but I did buy her an extra present for her birthday, a big red bag which I stuffed with clothes and toys (the one her mum wouldn’t let her get). The original present (a pair of shoes with her name on them and a card I drew myself) would have been more than enough.

Jeruba's avatar

A friend of mine told me at the age of 30 that she was still bothered when her long-divorced parents badmouthed each other: “Whenever she says things about my dad, half of me feels like shit.” Might be hard to remember, but it seems to be important.

Zen's avatar

I once told my mom that whenever she said bad things about my father, whether true or not, all I got was my mom saying bad things. Period. I told her I didn’t want to associate her with saying bad things, and that it didn’t even matter about whom she was saying it.

elijah's avatar

My parents trashed each other for years, bitter angry pain was dumped on us every day. It was the worst thing you can ever do to a child.
I had my son when I was 17. I was dating the father for 2 years, but after my son was born he disappeared. He told everyone I wouldn’t let him see the baby, he went around lying about how it was all my fault and how fathers had no rights. He actually never wanted to see him, even though I told him he should. He needed someone to blame for his actions, and it was me. He even would “cry” to my ex best friend and say how unfair it all was to him. It’s been 14 years now. He’s never once even sent a birthday card.
I met my husband before my son was one. We were together 8 years, he was the only father my son has ever known. He wanted to adopt my son but we never had the money. When we divorced, he ended up getting a new GF who basically told him it wasn’t his real kid, and of course the weak little man let the girlfriend define his role. My son has been abandoned twice.
I have a very hard time understanding how a man can’t see his kid. I understand it is a time consuming process, but through court a father has every right as a mother. I think a lot of men play the victim card when in reality they don’t actively fight for the child. They make the mother into the guilty one to ease their minds, so they don’t have to admit the truth.
I am not implying this is the type of father you are Jack, I do not know your personal case. I do know mothers who use their children against the father, or for more money. It’s wrong. I got my child support order when my son was 6 months old, $50 a week. I’ve never went back for more. I know how much he makes and I could get 10x the amount, but I never have.
My point is if one or both of the parents are too immature to work out something, the court is available for all of us. Keep copies of all the paperwork you have filed, all the attempts you have made to do the right thing for your daughter. I know that someday my son is going to want to meet his dad, and I’m ok with that. I have to swallow the years of resentment and let it happen. If he even tries to tell my son I’ve ever prevented him from seeing him, he won’t have one single piece of paper to support his claims.
You guys sound like good dads in bad situations. For your daughters sake you must never stop fighting, because one day she will have questions. Be ready for it.

Jack79's avatar

I know what you’re saying elijah, and I’m neither offended, nor accusing anyone, since every case is different. I have seen many fathers that don’t care. But I can also imagine why someone in my case would have given up ages ago. What keeps me going is my infinite love for my child, as well as the practical ability to keep going – I have the mental, moral and even financial strength to keep fighting for her. And since I feel fulfilled in my life in every other respect (careerwise etc), this has become my #1 priority. Or actually, all that matters. I have even quit my job so I can focus 100% on getting my daughter back. But I’d never blame someone else for giving up. This is too much for anyone, even for me sometimes.

“Rights” is a huge issue, but I’m more interested in my obligations than my rights. I am a big kid, I can take care of myself and handle the pain of not seeing my daughter. But she can’t. And I have obligations towards her, not claims on her. It’s my duty to help her, at least that’s how I see it.

Unfortunately where I am now all this is just a theory. I spoke to the DA on Friday. She knows my daughter is illegally held by a mother that has no custody, but won’t do anything about it (I had a hard time persuading her to even ask a policeman to politely ask my ex to accept the presents I had bought). The law just doesn’t want to get involved. If I were a woman, my ex would be shot dead by now, questions asked later. But anyway, that’s just me, and it’s a unique scenario, involving some very sick people. Hopefully it will all be sorted out soon.

I just wish Jesus finds the strength to deal with everything life may or may not throw at him.

Jack79's avatar

@Zen that’s exactly the trick I used ;) my daughter never missed her mum when she was with me, I even forced her to talk about her, and kept defending her against my daughter’s own accusations. I always said she had to do as mummy said when they were together, not matter what. Different home, different rules. At the other place she gets beaten up everytime she says the word “dad”.

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