My daughter wants me to give up my partner

Dear Suzie,

I will try to keep this brief!! I have two children, one with Autism who is now in a lovely placement after many years of fighting the authorities (he is 18), my daughter is a young 17. I married in 1988 to a man who turned out to be very mentally abusive, I was crushed by him and so were the children. I eventually escaped the traumatic situation with help of the court, he has still continued to be a very difficult person to deal with over the years, including sacking me from my self employed job in promotion and taking over it himself, including all the money (don’t ask it’s too complicated!!), The courts did nothing to help on this score, he has NEVER paid child maintenance, again CSA did nothing, even after private interview, said they understood and agreed, but didn’t have the resources, basically I have been let down in all legal areas with no support.

I have a partner, who, brought up the children with myself, i.e. care, attention, love and financially (did everything and more that her father should have been doing). We did however find out that there were complications later on involving my daughter and the son of my partner (I am cutting this bit short) this has been dealt with legally!! So, a mess you would say? Yes, it has been all round, and a very painful experience on top of the past issues. My partner and I have been devastated through this. My daughter moved out to her fathers last year, and of course he has used this to attack me and my partner, He is poisoning her mind towards me and my partner even though, it was us who were always there through her tender years (he has been warned about his emotional blackmail before by the authorities, but took no notice).

As a result, any little contact that I receive, usually the odd call, is very strained between us, as she is more or less saying that I need to give up my happy relationship with my partner or else she wants nothing to do with me. I know that deep down she is still fond of my partner(who still loves her), but, she would dare not say this in front of her father as he would never allow this. She has experienced problems at his house, but still will not come home.

I am very hurt through this situation and feel trapped, as I don’t want to let anyone down, but also feel that I should not be backed into a corner like this. I am convinced that if she was not with her father, then she would be able to make up her own mind, it seems that I am in a no win situation, I am very depressed and don’t know what else to do! People have suggested that I should just wait for her to grow up and come to me instead, but at the same time I don’t want to let her down. At the end of the day, my partner and I have never hurt her, but her father has, but she just wonâ t listen. Can you offer some advice please? This is obviously just an outline of the problem.

Thank you.

It sounds like a really distressing situation and I do feel for you. And yes, wouldn’t it be nice if your abusive, destructive ex would put your children first and see now much his behaviour hurts your daughter? But the truth is nothing you can do can change him – only he can see the error of his ways and do something about it. You aren’t responsible for what he does. And, the more you try to tussle with him for your daughter’s loyalty, the worse it may get. Your responsibility is for yourself and your own actions, and only for those.

So, my advice is to look to yourself. You have, all the way through this sorry saga, done the right thing. You’ve been there for your daughter but allowed her to have contact with her father – who, although he may have been a pretty sorry excuse for a partner is her Dad and she deserves and needs contact with him. Continue to stand up for her right to be with him, while also standing up for your own right to manage your life as you see best. She may well be standing by him because she knows how wrong and destructive he is – kids often do that!

Tell her you love her and will always love her and will always be there for her. Tell her the door is always open for her. Tell her you know she loves her Dad and so she should. Tell her it’s up to her where she lives and that she is welcome to spend time with both her Dad and you. And tell her that your partner is your partner and remains your partner. If she wants to take a break from you while she comes to terms with that, that’s her choice and you’ll be here for her when she returns. But you have no intention of giving up on him and your happiness just because she’s struggling to come to terms with the divided opinions of you and her Dad.

Remain calm, loving and accepting of her but also able to respect and stand by your own feelings and needs and sooner or later she will come round.

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