Missing childhood events can impact adult relations

missing childhood events can impact adult relationsFor the last couple of years my eldest daughter has not spoken to me and I don’t really know why? You do a lot of soul searching and try to piece events together to get some sense of her saying that she “wants to distance herself from you”

She has recently married and you guessed it, I was not invited to the wedding! No walking her down the isle, no spending time with her prior to the wedding reminiscing about life and the wonderful possibilities that lay ahead. No meeting her future husband or her new extended family, just shut out. I did not do anything that deserves this punishment.

My relationship with her I believe was loving but less than satisfactory due to the restraints that were put upon us. When she was only a little child of 2 years, the family court said I could only see her on every second weekend. Making the most of it, we were Melbourne’s biggest tourists. I kept myself available for that weekend. I didn’t seek out career opportunities because it may have had me working away from home, I didn’t take on a girlfriend because I wanted to be completely available to her. Those weekends seemed to come around quickly, it was 52 days out of 365 a year and I cherished every one of them.

I sought counselling in the early days to deal with the grief of missing her and coping with a non supportive mother. They told me “maintain your commitment and don’t argue, just be her knight and shining armour and she will realise you are a good dad and a committed one when she is older”. In the weeks between I would send her a card or a CD single of what ever was a popular song for that fortnight, there must have been shoe boxes of them if they were kept? but I think the forces were against me from the start!

She very quickly had a step-father and two step sisters, an instant family versus a single dad every second weekend.

Looking back I liken it to getting in the ring with Danny Green, it was never going to go my way.

Separation from your child causes sadness, heartache, regret and shame, not to mention the belief that you’ve failed at one of life’s most important tasks. Never for one moment would I have believed that I would be rejected for no apparent reason or no explanation?

Confused and at a loss to understand why I have been cut out of her life, I went searching online for answers. It seems that instances like this are often rooted in issues that go back to childhood. Issues and feelings that were never dealt with during childhood such as a conflicted divorce which can cause pain and anger that can fester. Then a “triggering incident” occurs later in life, often leading to an argument, and then the child cuts the parent off.

The arguments that can trigger these events can be a little as where to have Christmas dinner? In my case it was over her inability to attend the theater which opened up a can of worms that I was never expecting.

It has been very hard for me to comprehend what I did to push her away, in my mind I chased her and been available all her growing years (every second weekend) until late teens. However there are some critical moments that play a huge role in the ability to connect in the early years that may result in suppressed anger and disappointment.

Answers I have uncovered recently that I wish I had of known earlier. Questions like:

  • Were you there for their school plays?
  • Did you attend parent teacher interviews,
  • Did you help them with their homework?
  • Did you go to their birthday parties?
  • Did you take care of them when they were sick?

Knowing the answers to these questions gives me insight into how my absence could have contributed in her ability to walk away.

I was never avoiding my daughter it was the set of circumstances we were in, I regretted every day that we were apart.

My ex wife and I did not have a co-parenting relationship, I had to constantly fight for fair access even though there was a court order in place. At one point I was denied my agreed access so I headed immediately back to court and had it reinstated.  This went on during the early years which killed any future healthy communication between her mother and I. Attending any joint events I felt like I was not welcome and I didn’t want my daughter to see that.

Regrettably I couldn’t attend her 21st, I was completely torn between going and not going. The anxiety I felt was overwhelming. Lots of old “so called” friends that deserted me like rats leaving a sinking ship were going to be at the party. I had become very distant and removed from that circle of friends due to our divorce. Even my best friend of 25 years sided with his fiance at the time and chose to distance himself from me.  To attend what I perceived to be the “lions den” caused over whelming anxiety, I just couldn’t do it! .

I discuss my feelings in depth with my daughter and I thought she understood my position, maybe not… I cant help but think what is happening now could be part of that unresolved festering anger ?

I know that an apology may not heal all wounds, I still wish I had the chance. She refuses to communicate and won’t return calls or messages after repeated attempts on my part, so I have pulled back. You can’t force something, at some point you need to come to peace with the fact that you did everything you could to be the best dad that you were allowed to be.

I will be the only father she will ever have.  I hope that one-day when she has children of her own, she will understand the undying bond between a parent and a child and imagines what I went through as a separated dad seeing her sadly only 52 days a year.

I will always love her and I hope for reconciliation.

Some of my reference material from my online searching has been through:  The secret side of anger ,  Why adolescence don’t appreciate their parents , How to heal a rift with your adult children , Is anger ruining your relationships

Comments

  1. Nathan says:

    Great read… I am into the first 2 yrs and I wonder what else I can do always having to be the one calming the situation from the anger.
    Treading lightly to still be told you abandoned your children.
    How will my children see it..in the years to come.

    • Peter says:

      Hi Nathan,

      Separating is not abandoning your children, have peace knowing that. Not if you are there and want to co-parent and jointly look after their financial well being . …”How will they see it in years to come” I think it all depends on the road traveled and the influences they have. I was unlucky but you have to operate as if it will all be ok and keep on being involved with as much as possible.

      Best wishes M8

  2. John says:

    Whilst reading this article I was taken back as I could be reading my biography.
    I have a 6 year old son who is the light of my life, the circumstances are almost identical to yours at the same time.
    I have committed to my boy and foregone countless opportunities and never put myself before what I believe are his best interests.
    I have been fearing that the constant poisoning by his mother, family and new partner are starting to take its toll. After learning of your journey I am dreading even more what may lay ahead.
    Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Peter says:

      HI John

      Stay in there and just be patient, When we stay on the right side of them and have nothing to regret in the way we have treated them, it gives me and I hope it helps you to know that we tried our best. We can stand tall knowing that we did everything we could in the time we were allowed to be apart of their life. I hope your son grows up to realize this and has the common sense to know the difference between what is right and what is wrong.
      Best wishes to you M8

      Peter

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