not the Dad she might have wanted

Dear Suzie, I just watched your programme ‘stepfamilies’ on the BBC and was in tears for most of it. I just had to e-mail you to let you know the effect it had on me.

I am 28 and have recently decided to stop seeing my father who has always found it very difficult to show me emotion, love, affection or just general interest. My decision to stop seeing him was a hard one to make and a very upsetting one. Why? Because I have explicitly asked him to show me more love and give me more of his time over and over again, since I was a child. More reently we had a heart to heart for the first time and instead of making things better he made them worse by saying some unforgivable things. 

I was so fed up of being disappointed by our relationship and the big talk that we recently had that I called it a day. 

He and my mum split up when I was 3 and I have a step dad who I don’t get on too well with. I identified with so many parts of the programme and think the main reason I was so tearful when I watched it was because I wished I’d had you when I was 6 – to stop all this fall out happening. 

Counselling has helped me somewhat but I still feel very hurt and raw about what has recently happened.  I thought I was coping with my decision well until i saw your programme tonight. Just had to drop you a line to share my feelings. I wish my Dad could have seen that programme too.


I too wish you had had someone to talk with when you were 6! I feel so sad for you, especially because I know kids tend to blame themselves when parents let them down. Just like so may kids in your position, you ask or wish again and again for the parent to give you what you need, and again and again feel rejected and disappointed.

The main problem is that the parent in question may be incapable of coming up to the expectation, NOT because they don’t love you but because they themselves have a history of being let down. You learn how to love and show love by being given love. He simply may have no model upon which to base those skills. And that’s why he probably said such awful things – he feels frustrated, at a loss and very, very guilty. People who feel bad often lash out at others.  


Maybe he did see the programme. Maybe if it’s repeated you could ask him to. Whatever, it might help you if you could forgive him for not being the dad you might have liked and most certainly forgive yourself for being the child he found it so hard to show love to. I’m sorry it made you cry – but glad you could see you weren’t alone in your feelings and experiences, which was my justification for letting Becca cry and showing the sequence. It helped her. Hope it helps you too! All the best.

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