Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,
My daughter is 14 and she had been complaining that she doesn’t want to go on visitations with her dad anymore. I don’t believe there is any abuse going on, or danger- just that her dad has always been quiet and introverted and just a overall bummer to be around. I’ve had it with him, that’s why we are divorced, and I feel bad forcing her to be subjected to the same thing I had to put up with for years. Should I go back to court? Can I? Again, he is not abusing her.
Unfortunately life is what it is. We don’t get to choose our parents. Although you were able to back out of your marriage, you can’t back away from the consequences of that relationship.
Your daughter’s dad will always be her dad. Since there are no safety or abuse issues involved you can’t stop visitations. If he wants them, it is his legal right. If he doesn’t show up for visitations take it as a gift and don’t micro manage him. Either way, your daughter will need to learn how to deal with her dad. She needn’t go out of her way to try to make him happy but at the same time she must respect his way of being for what it is.
It’s a good life lesson to learn you- can’t change people, but you can learn who they are and decide whether you want to add them to your life. If you’d known this you probably wouldn’t have chosen your husband in the first place. The best thing you can do for your daughter is to make sure you are a good role model. Choose carefully now who you add to your life and develop a healthy reciprocal relationship. If you henceforth make good choices it will go a long way to help your daughter’s future.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny says: this rarely happens, but I agree with Dr. Brilliant. You can’t let your daughter avoid her father because she finds him hard to be around. It’s a terrible lesson to teach her: “just avoid anything that you don’t want to deal with.”
Another aspect of this is that your daughter and your husband share genetic material. This means that they are similar in certain ways whether they like it or not. Accepting and trying to understand her father could help her understand herself.
And this brings me to a point- Mom, you talk about your ex as if he were a chronic cold you finally got rid of. If I pick up on your attitude from one question, your daughter picks up on it too. Stop regarding your ex as nothing but a mistake! It’s a very destructive way to present him to your daughter because if he was a screw-up, and she’s half him, then what does this say about her own potentials? Could she have inherited the dud qualities too?
Here’s a better way to look at it: you were two young people who had things in common, but grew apart. There were valid reasons you had for choosing your husband, along with the ones that really were mistakes. Talk to your daughter about the qualities you were drawn to in her dad. Show appreciation for him as a human being. What does it say about you if you just picked some total loser who is nothing but “an overall bummer”? Hey, you must be a loser too, Mom, to think this guy was the best you could do. What is your daughter supposed to think about her own potentials now?
I think there are some lessons for both you and your daughter to learn here. By all means, role model what a responsible, caring adult should be. But unless you get rid of the dad-bashing attitude, you are not role modeling any adult behavior to be proud of yet.