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earthsister
earthsister, Parent
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 141
Experience:  Home Child Care Provider, and mother of 4; two pre-teen boys and twin baby girls.
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I am a divorced father with 2 teenage girls aged 14 & 17 years

Resolved Question:

I am a divorced father with 2 teenage girls aged 14 & 17 years old. I have been with my 2nd wife for almost 6 years and the girls get on really well with her. She is a pre-school teacher and when it comes to presenting a united front on discipline she knows exactly what a spouse should do.

However, my ex-wife is totally different in her parenting style and it is causing a lot of friction with my girls. I have 50/50 custody of the girls but whenever I discipline them and introduce consequences my ex-wife sides with them, is vocal with her disapproval and allows the girls to stay with her indefinitely if they are angry with me or dont like my rules. As result one of my girls is now living with her mother full time. The situations that led to this are as follows:

1 year ago (when she was 13) my daughter stayed at a friends house and I only found out later that she was on a bus at 9pm at night. The friends parents obviously didnt think there was anything wrong with it. I was angry. My ex took my daughter to the police station to make a statement because a man on the bus that night was making lewid suggestions to my daughter and her friend and it was frightening and upsetting for her.

4 months ago I saw my 14 year old hanging out at the train station with too much make up on and chatting to boys at 6pm at night. My ex said there was nothing wrong with her doing that at night. I wanted to put a rule in place whereby my daughter would be at home by 5pm every night. My ex said I was too strict. It was harmless.

3 months ago my daughter asked if she could go to Zumba class after school and then stay with her friend overnight. I said I preferred she didnt sleep over during the school week (only on weekends). Her report card for the last year has been consistent Cs & Ds. So I said no and she argued with me for hours. I told her to stop arguing or the consequence would be that I would ground her. My daughter threw a tantrum and said she would go and live with her mother then. My ex picked her up from my place and my daughter stayed with her. The next day my ex sent me a text saying my daughter didnt want to see or speak to me & would be staying with her indefinitely.

1 month ago my 14 year old asked if she could spend a school night at a friends place. We found out she wasnt at her friends house. She was in fact hanging out at the mall with boys at night. The parents again didnt care enough to make sure they were home safe. My daughter lied to me and my ex about where she was.

Last week my daughter asked if she could stay at that same friends house. I compromised and said that her friend could come to our house instead. My daughter argued and argued with me and then decided to stay with her mum for a few days because she was angry with me. Again, my ex allowed her to do that and told me that I was too strict and that obviously consequences dont work with children. She said the court says teenagers can stay with whicheve parent they want and I cant stop them. I believe the reason consequences dont work with my girls is because my ex allows them to run to her house to escape consequences or "No's".

FInally, I said to my daughter... I over you and you are always welcome at my home but not until you are prepared to accept the rules and consequences in my house. So until you are prepared to do that, you have to stay with your mum.

I feel like my ex undermines my authority and the girls always think I am the bad guy because their mum is more lenient with them. Naturally they prefer to stay with her because they get to do what they want. I am at a loss what to do.

I have tried counselling with my ex but when they suggested she do things differently, she said she didnt like that counsellor & wanted to see a different one. Talking with my ex gets me nowhere because she thinks she is the only parent who knows what is in the best interest of the girls. Naturally, when my girls see we dont have a united front... they play on it !! BIG TIME. It is destroying my relationship with my girls but I feel helpless. I cant be a father to them. I sometimes feel like I am just here to hand over money every month and nothing else.

I have asked my ex politely if she would please allow me to parent my way when the girls are with me. I also suggested that instead of ganging up with the girls against me, that she say... "Girls, when you are with your dad you have to abide by his rules and consequences". But she refuses to do that.

I miss my daughter not being here. I know I she would love me more if I gave into her but I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX that would be good for her. I want the girls to be safe and I want to give them boundaries. But I'm not allowed to be a father to my own children. I am worried that one day my 17 year old will run to her mum for the same reason. Although she hardly ever gives me a reason to deny her requests. I trust her implicitly and she is very responsible.
Brian
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  earthsister replied 2 years ago.

earthsister :

Good morning, I would like to assist you today. I just need a moment to read through what you have written.

earthsister :

I do understand your frustration in feeling that you cannot parent your daughters the way that you think is best because your ex allows them to escape to her. That can leave one with a feeling of helplessness, and I am sorry that you are going through this negative experience with your daughters.

earthsister :

When you do sit to talk with your daughters about these same concerns that you have voiced here, how does the conversation usually go?

Customer:

I do it calmly and explain the rules and consequences but I feel they dismiss me. I get the distinct impression (either by words or rolling of the eyes) that they support whatever their mum says. They dont seem to have an opinion of their own... they are walking, talking little imitations of their mum. They think her word is gospel. The eldest one even tries to tell me "how to parent" and gives me lectures which sounds like it has come directly from her mother's mouth. So I panic and try to end the conversation quickly because I know they dont want to talk about it and I know they dont think what I have to say is worth listening to.

earthsister :

I understand. And when you do voice your concerns to your ex-wife, does she ever leave any kind of room for compromise; and also do you?

Customer:

I guess I would FEEL like compromising if I felt it would go both ways. I have compromised many times when I have had no choice because she and the girls attack me and I hate always being the bad guy.


my ex does the obligatory listening to what I have to say but then speaks over me and tells me I need to learn how to interact with teenagers. Then she does exactly what she wants. I didnt even have a choice what school my girls went to. I give my opinion, she listens, argues with me, then ignores it and does what she wants. So communication is virtually non-existent at the moment because I cant see the point of doing it.

Customer:

So in short, I always feel I am compromising and she is not. Most of the time I absolutely disagree but I am tired of being the bad guy.

Customer:

So I give in many more times than I feel comfortable doing.

earthsister :

It's truly going to take compromise from both you and your ex-wife in order to establish consistency in the discipline of your girls. When you do talk to your ex wife again, be respectable, but completely blunt and honest with her. Tell her how you feel that your parental authority is completely undermined when she allows the girls to come to her, and that it is doing nothing but hurting your relationship with your daughters, and their growth and development as young women. Tell her that you are willing to compromise if she will. It doesn't have to be all your way, it doesn't have to be all her way, but in having created these children equally, and even further having legal 50/50 rights of custody, it is only right, and fair that you two meet half way in how you raise your daughters. I do understand that this may seem to be impossible, but it will take a joint effort.

earthsister :

Give her the harsh reality of the many young girls who end up pregnant, sexually offended, or even worse, simply because they were allowed to do what they want when they want. Let your ex know that this is not what you want for your daughters, and that she doesn't either.

earthsister :

talk to your girls with this same bluntness and truth. Let them know that you set these rules and boundaries because you care about them. Explain to them that you are a man, who was once a boy, and you know how many of these young men think. You love them too much to make it easy for them to find trouble (by hanging out late, in areas and around people that they shouldn't)

earthsister :

Your job as a father is to protect them. And that is all that you are seeking to do; not to make life difficult for them, but to keep them safe so that they can grow into intelligent young women who will have the best lives possible. I know all of this sounds simple and cliche, but I am sure that you feel many of these things as well, and it is true.

Customer:

Believe it or not, I have said those exact same words to my ex. And I have said them respectfully. She does always insist on communicating but the reality is that she doesnt believe what I am proposing is in their best interest. So she doesnt feel its right to do anything that is not in their best interest. In fact, the words "in the girls best interest" are what she uses to preface every conversation and justify why it should be done her way.


 


I have also sat the girls down and explained to them why I put these rules and consequences in place. Just like you said. I even said to my ex and to the girls the bit about "me once being a boy and how they think". It just falls on deaf ears.


 


I must admit that when I come up against a brick wall so often that I feel defeated and sometimes it ends up in arguments and sometimes out of frustration, I am not as respectful as I should be. I have said to her that I think her parenting is too soft and that makes her angrier.


 


I guess there is no other way except to try again. I honestly think there are ulterior motives in play here. When I met my current wife, my ex took it very badly. She put the girls through hell and burdened them with guilt over her inability to cope and her emotions (even though she initiated our divorce). She doesnt have a man in her life at the moment and she has always said, she is happy to have the girls full-time. And when they were younger, she said once she bought a house and a puppy dog for them, they would prefer living her and that I couldnt do anything about it once they were teenagers because it is then their choice. We live in a tiny 2 bedroom apartment and my ex's prediction came true. They prefer to be at mums cause they have their own room, a puppy and a swimming pool.


 


As long as this continues... she will get what she set out to do and that is to have the girls full time.


 


But yes, I guess I can give it one more try. Thanks


 


 

earthsister :

I understand, yes that has to be very frustrating. The girls are at the age where they want independence, and what better place to get it than at mom's. When it comes to situations like this, sometimes the best thing to do is to just step back. Let your girls know that you are there for them whenever they are ready, and that you are even willing (if you will be) to sit with them, and develop some house rules together (this may help them to feel that you are giving them some freedom of choice). Don't pressure them to be with you, but be there for them, and communicate with them, and spend time together having fun with them as often as you can (movies, concerts, etc). Use these times to have those extra father/daughter talks, and assure them that why you may seem so hard on them is strictly because you love them.

earthsister :

Whenever you feel peaceful, calm, and prepared, give a conversation with your ex another try. Suggest again that the two of you develop a style of parenting together that will be universal to both parents' homes, and will be supported together, rather than you two going against one another with the children choosing sides. When you're ready, try to encourage your ex to meet half way, and get on the same page in how the two of you parent, so that the girls have the most stable upbringing possible.

Customer:

Thankyou, I will.

earthsister, Parent
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 141
Experience: Home Child Care Provider, and mother of 4; two pre-teen boys and twin baby girls.
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