Monday, August 17, 2009

I don't get it...I just don't get it

How can a parent not call their child for an entire summer? For that matter, how can a parent stay out of their child's life for 7 yrs? Both are exactly what has happened to my precious daughter Stephanie.

From 1999 - 2007 her biological father was completely out of her life. He never called nor did he ever see her. In late 2007 I received a letter from a lawyer that he wanted to see her. After very careful consideration, not to mention a drug test, talking with him through a mediator to get some things straight and on the record, she finally saw him. Although it was awkward at first she soon grew comfortable and for several months he treated her like his daughter. But then, earlier this year he changed. He started treating her differently. He treated me and Joe differently. He suddenly got it in his head that we were rich. I have no idea where that came from. We suspect that his money ran out (he had been showering her with gifts, eating out and various other things). It seemed that since we owned our house and a little acreage plus the horses we were suddenly rich. Of course nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is that Joe and I have worked hard for what we have and we have saved and spent our money wisely. Not to brag it is just the truth.

Steph shared a few things with me for several months but the day that she told me how he was treating her versus his roommate's son I recognized it immediately. It was exactly how he used to treat Ryan the last few months of our marriage. He would treat the roommate's son really nice, do anything for him, take him out to eat, etc. But when it came to his own child he would be completely opposite. Mean is what it is. Treat her badly. No physical abuse but mental and we all know that can be just as bad, if not worse than physical abuse.

That was all I needed to hear. The day she told me that on the phone from his house was the last time she has seen him. That was Memorial Day this year. Since then she has talked to him twice. Both times she confronted him with his behavior and his reaction was to act like a child. He started raising his voice and interrupting her. She tried to talk to him but finally hung up on him. He just kept interrupting and she is just like me, can't stand that.

She sent him an email with pictures of her leg after Dakota kicked it showing her in a soft cast hoping it might get a reaction from him. We never heard anything. No phone call, no email, nothing. She finally felt one afternoon she just had to do something so she called him to tell him a few things. He didn't answer so she left her feelings on his answering machine. That was the first part of July and still nothing. Finally Saturday night she was talking to her dad (Joe) and she told him how much she was still hurting from it all. He and I were both surprised. We thought she was past it but in hindsight I can see how she wasn't. It wasn't finished. She still had questions that deserved answers. So, she asked Joe to call him to find out what was going on.

Sunday morning Joe did just that. Called him to talk. Naturally nothing was his fault, he was waiting for her to call him. He told Joe about the 'nasty message' she left and blah blah blah. Joe told him that he was the adult and should have been the one to contact her to try to work things out. Basically it was a lot of BS and excuses that didn't amount to a hill of beans as my mother would say. He asked to speak with Steph but she wanted no part of it. What hurt her the most during the conversation was when Joe asked about the email Stephanie sent him showing her leg in a cast. He just kept saying he had not been online. He never once asked what happened to her and if she was OK. He was too busy trying to convince Joe that it wasn't his fault and he didn't know. Can you imagine? Finding out your child has had an accident where her leg was in a cast and not asking about it? That spoke volumes for her.

He called later on that evening and she talked to him. She had lots of questions about things that he did/said when she was younger. He was so wrong in every one of the cases but he would never say he was sorry. He never told her that he loved her. The only time he did say he was sorry he put it like this...."OK, I'm sorry.....happy?" with a very sarcastic tone in his voice. Her mouth just hung open. She couldn't believe it. Shortly after that she just handed the phone to me. I told him with a very calm but firm voice that all she wanted was a sincere apology. That she needed to talk about all of this stuff in the past and hear him admit and explain it. She needed to hear that he loved her and wanted her in his life. I told him that he needed to put his own feelings aside and act like a grownup and think of her and what she needs. After all, that is what parents do. The thing is he is not capable of being a parent. He can't say he is sorry and mean it. He can't be what Steph wants him to be.

I talked to her later on and just told her that the best thing she can do is accept the fact that he will never be what she needs and to just move on with her life. I know that is easy for me to say, but not so easy for her to do.

She told me last night that she is glad to have her family. She has a mom and dad that love her and show their love. She has a boyfriend that she loves and he loves her. She has good friends and generally is a happy teenager. She will have to learn to accept that he will never be a part of her life. But that will take time. Meanwhile she will be happy. She will be loved. She will be OK.


Lou said...

The older she gets, the more she will realize how lucky she is to have Joe and not her real father.

I was obsessed with finding my real father when I was younger. What I found was not so nice, and I was finally able to appreciate how my stepfather took care of me and my mother.

MichelleSG said...

That is rough. Lou is right, as she gets older she'll be able to see this all better. I have one of those parents, the not parent parent. There are people out there in the world that have no business being parents. Sadly they still have kids but just knowing that they exist doesn't help their kids much. She has you and Joe, she is still a very lucky girl.

dAAve said...

It takes all kinds (as is often said).
I hope she can find a way to distance herself from him and just let him go.
Pray for him.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Reading this is like deja vu. You could be talking about my daughter's biological father to a TEE!

I know there are times that it bothers her that her father doesn't have more contact, but then when he does, she doesn't like the way he acts.

The only thing I have been able to tell her, since I didn't have the greatest dad in the world either, is that "The world is full of self-centered, selfish people, unfortunately you have one of them for a father. They are incapable of being any different so if you want a relationship with them, you have to take them on THEIR terms. If that doesn't work for you, then that means you are a better person than they deserve to have in their life anyway." The only thing I have been able to offer is an ear to listen to how it makes her feel and safety and security in the fact that I LOVE her and know what a great person she is.

The rest they just have to work through.

fernvalley01 said...

Too bad, but she is a great kid and she is right she has a great family .

Anonymous said...

My heart goes to Stephanie, I know just how she feels.

Amy said...

It is just going to take time to get past all of this! Steph is strong and she has a supportive family, she will be okay.

As a mother, we hurt when our children hurt and it's a pain that cuts to our very soul. You and Joe are doing the best for Steph and it shows in her maturity and ability to handle this situation.


Syd said...

I am sorry that Stephanie had to find out that there are people, even close relatives, who can't give what they don't have. She might benefit from Alateen or Al-Anon to work through this stuff.

Anonymous said...

Older or never gets easier. My dad is that way (parents are divorced)...I'm 26 and I still have a hard time accepting that he just...doesn't really have me as a priority. Not that I think I should be #1...but enough for...I don't a birthday card or something...

Pam said...

Poor Steph. My own kids have gone through this also. What a wonderful example she has in Joe!!!