19 year old daughter has no interest in a relationship with her father

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by SeeingShootingStars, Jun 20, 2014.

  1. SeeingShootingStars

    SeeingShootingStars New Member

    Post 1 of 2

    I am new to this forum and after reading similar posts and the straight-up honest opinions of other members, I felt compelled to share my story and ask for your opinions.
    My daughter, Samantha was conceived when I was 19 years old. Six months into her mom's pregnancy, her mom (4 years older than myself) cheated on me with her ex-boyfriend of 3 years. This caused me much doubt as to whether or not the child inside of her was mine. In total fight or flight response, I moved from PA to FL before my daughter was even born for the first two and a half years of my Samantha's life. This quite obviously upset her mother, who finally decided to file for child support, approx. 9 months after Samantha was born. This prompted a paternity test, and I returned from FL to take the test. Because blood needed to be drawn from both myself and my daughter, her mother made a comment to my 9 month old daughter (although it was meant for me) "Look Samantha, Daddy gave you your first boo-boo".
    The paternity test came back showing me as her father, and I became very confused about how to move forward. Since I was only 20 years old at the time, I neither had the resources or wherewithal to contact a therapist for help and thought that I would be able to handle the situation myself. A year went by and I was still living in Florida, now knowing that I was a father. During this time, Samantha's mom would call me very upset, demanding that I come back to take responsibility for our child. It got to the point where I could no longer look in the mirror knowing that I had a daughter that I was not being responsible for.
    So after two and a half years in FL and having established the beginning of my career with the company that I still work for to this day, I moved back to PA to have a relationship with my daughter. I was met by her mother with resistance. I was introduced to my daughter as "Mommy's friend" for the first month or so that I moved back after which time she finally told Samantha that I was her father. Samantha's 3 year-old reply was a very cute "But I didn't ask for a daddy for Christmas"....
    The following two years were spent with myself and my Samantha's mother spending time together and separately with her. I was told during this time that if I were to leave again, not to expect to have any kind of relationship or contact with our daughter. This whole time her mother was dating a married man, in a very misguided attempt at a relationship. Finally the relationship ended with the married man and Samantha's mom met a man, who eventually became Samantha's stepfather.
    I should pause at this point and state that during these two years, I saw Samantha regularly both with and without her mom and had begun what I thought was going to be an enduring relationship with my daughter and her mother. It was to the point where I was invited to their house for holiday meals and I held the video camera at her mom's wedding. I lived very close and Samantha had her own bedroom in my home.
    Two weeks after Samantha's mom married, I was approached by her and was asked to sign over custody to her new husband. When I refused, Samantha's mom tried to further convince me to do it by saying that she would still let me see Samantha and I would not have to pay child support. She had no grounds for stripping me of custody, so when I refused, she did the next best thing (for her) - she had my Samantha's last name changed to her new husband's last name. Samantha's mom chose not to give our daughter my last name for a myriad of reasons and this is apparently why it was so easy for her to have it changed. I contacted multiple attorneys who told me that there is no way a judge would rule in my favor to have Samantha's last name changed to mine.
    Things went downhill from there. Prior to Samantha's mom getting married, we had a nice schedule worked out for Samantha to be with me every Tues and Thurs as well as every other weekend. I would begin to get calls from Samantha's mom saying she wasn't feeling well and would not be coming over this weekend, or Samantha decided that she wants to be with us this weekend because of (insert family event here). Tues and Thurs turned into just Weds.

    At this point, I filed for custody in court (without an attorney because I could not afford it). After Samantha's mom received the paperwork I was confronted by her and the step-dad, saying that if I decided to go through with this, they would fight it every step of the way and things would be made much more difficult and awkward for me as it pertained to Samantha. In other words, I would have to start picking up Samantha from the McDonald's (or similar establishments) parking lot instead of at their house. As I mentioned, I had been used to going to Samantha's mom's house quite frequently before she got married for random meals, holiday parties and meals, family birthday's, etc. My top goal was not to make my daughter feel uncomfortable and not to pressure her either way so as to not cause resentment toward me later in her life. I would express disappointment in not being able to see her, told her that I loved her and was excited about the next time I would see her.
    I also made a conscious decision to stay single, to be able to demonstrate to Samantha that I really enjoyed the time we spent together with just me and her.
  2. SeeingShootingStars

    SeeingShootingStars New Member

    Post 2 of 2

    When Samantha was five, she told me (with her mom standing right next to her) that she wanted to start calling her stepdad "Dad" and that I could be "Daddy". This was after less than a year of her mom being married. I was dumbfounded as to how a 5 year old child could have thoughts like this without influence. It was not explained to me by her mom, and again my top goal was not to pressure my daughter either way, so I could say nothing else but OK.
    As Samantha got older, she would start calling me directly to cancel time that had been previously scheduled on the "calendar" which became increasingly necessary as she now had a step-brother, friends to see and what seemed to be multitudes of family events to attend with her mom's side of the family. I began to realize that these were just excuses so that she did not have to come over. Again, I did not pressure her or make her uncomfortable because of the decisions she was making, but I did begin to express to her that I was concerned that she didn't want to come over and she told me that she was getting a lot of pressure from her mom and that it was easier to say "no" to me.
    By the time Samantha had turned 11, our time together had been diminished to dinner on Wednesday nights when she could make it, and occasionally a couple hours at the mall or something of that nature on the weekends. She stopped sleeping over all together. I kept a bedroom for her until she was 14 years old, at which point I moved to a smaller home, due to the expense and the unnecessary extra space in my old place.
    At this point, I began questioning our relationship and asking for more time with her. As she got older, Samantha did not like this and told me that it makes her want to see me less when I "complain" about not seeing her. On several occasions, this lead to a more heated exchange of words involving her needing to understand that I am her father and other back and forth arguments about the silliest things that lead to some sort of blow up which would ultimately lead to her not wanting to talk to me for months at a time. After these times passed, I would be able to finally see her for dinner or something, but the process would repeat. This happened three separate times, during which I time I was seeing a therapist regularly, who recommended that Samantha and I do counseling together. Samantha did not want to participate in counseling so I went on my own and learned a lot about how family systems operate.
    I backed away. Again. I apologized for pressuring Samantha and told her that I was there for her whenever she needed. I never had the experiences that a father and daughter would typically have. I know this because I have a sister and see how her and my father interact. Samantha did not involve me in her college selection process even though I offered to co-sign loans for her college. Her mom and step dad decided to lend her the money for school directly and within a period of three months, they had sold their house, purchased a much larger one, obtained a home equity line of credit and loaned her the money directly.
    She is now in her 2nd year of college. I deposit $160 a month into a bank account for her. She tells me that she doesn't need it and I don't have to do it. We barely have a relationship and I fear that I will become even less important to her as she begins her own life.
    What is causing me to write this is that we just got back from a 5 day vacation, during which time she acted as if she did not even want to be with me. Thinking that I could change something about myself, I approached her and said the following: "It is quite obvious to me that you don't prefer to spend time with me. Without rehashing the past, I would like to know what I can do different moving forward so that we can start a new relationship as adults." Her reply was "I don't know". I told her that I didn't need an answer right now, but if she thinks of anything to please let me know because I would like to have a meaningful relationship with her for the rest of her life. She does not seem to think that there is any problem, but I can tell you for sure that there is and this was not the first time we have had similar conversations.
    The ultimate reason for me writing is for advice. I have a better job opportunity 800 miles from where I currently live, which would involve me moving 12 hours away. I can stay where I am professionally and try to do more to improve my relationship with Samantha (although I don't know what else I might be able to do - any suggestions are more than welcome) OR I can take the better job opportunity, advance my professional career and hope that Samantha comes back to me when she is ready to have a relationship. I have spent days on end crying about this most recent problem and simply cannot come to accept that my daughter is not interested in getting to know me better. I realize that she is moving on to her own life now and that I should move on with mine. My therapist tells me that I need to accept this and move on with my life.
    Any help or advice you can provide would be much appreciated. Thank you in advance.
  3. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    That is a sad story, SSS. I'm not really sure how to respond...she seems a little different than our own set of dysfunctional young adults.

    That being said..she is an adult. You have done all you could to have a relationship with her, and you probably DO have a relationship with her, just not one that is fulfilling to you right now. I have two "personal experiences" to share with you--one, I was a 19 year old girl myself once, with an estranged dad and parents in an unhappy marriage that finally (thank goodness) ended when I was 20. I always saw my mom's side of things...my dad was moody, distant, volatile, cold, controlling, inexplicable. When they got divorced I was happy. My mom stayed in the family home and I had to make myself go visit my dad from time to time (like, once or twice a year). Eventually, in my 20's, we kind of developed a relationship...I finally understood that there are two sides to any story...I got used to his flaws..and I loved him. He died suddenly when I was 30. I'm glad I had those years. I don't know what happened to make that happen, except that he was, always, sort of "out there". I will say that when they first divorced he moved about 100 miles away and I never once saw that place. Later he moved about 1500 miles away and I flew out there to visit him. Before he died he bought a place about 2 hours away that was a pain in the neck to get to, but I did go, and I was there on his 60th birthday, for a lot of weekends (of my own volition) and also Thanksgiving a few days before he died.
    So things can change. Just continue to do as you are doing and they may.

    The other story is that I am the mother of a 20 year old young women. She was FROM HELL from 14-18. She hated the air I breathed. Once she told me I was toxic. It was exhausting, and it brought out the worst in me...I threw her out once, had endless fights, once pulled her hair before throwing her out...it was awful.

    And then...somehow...she kind of outgrew it. She said she appreciated all I had done for her, and she was sorry. Honestly we are better at a distance..we sometimes have very lovely conversations, but if she is home for too long it gets strained. I don't know what happened. I know I both gave her space and didn't totally let go.

    So...I think you must go on with your life. She isn't little, you aren't sharing custody. She may like you more if she doesn't feel crowded, even though you don't crowd her. Stay in touch. Keep depositing the $160 (if you feel you should). And fulfill your life. At least in my world a lot of parents parent their adult kids from a distance. It is OK for you to do it too.

    Good luck to you.

  4. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Firstly I would say that your daughter is acting like a lot of people at that age, whatever their family circumstances. She's an adult now and is in college and starting out on her independent adult life. You don't say much about yourself, are you married? in a relationship? do you have other children? As your daughter is an adult I don't think you should consider her when deciding what to do about your career. It's not really relevant. My children are mostly grown up and live all over the place. I don't really see what location has to do with relationships with adult children.
    I think you have done as much as you could over the years as a non-resident parent and you have been there for her throughout most of her childhood. I am a step-mother and my husband is a step-father. We both have our own children and they have step-siblings, step-parents and half-siblings of their own. It's a bit of a mess but it works fine for us. You have to be relaxed about it all. There can be lots of problems and issues in step-families and, reading through your post, it sounds like you've done a really good job overall throughout what can be difficult years when, if truth be told, a lot of absent parents can lose touch.
    I think you should be grateful for all the positives and happy that you and your daughter have had a close relationship and still have a relationship that is now naturally changing as she grows up. You need to accept this and move on with your life and continue to be her father of course, but be the father of an independent adult and be glad.
  5. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    I missed this.

    I don't get this sorry, in fact I'm really uncomfortable with it. Some people may even construe this as being a bit creepy.

    How does having one daughter exclude you from marrying or having other children?

    Have you told your daughter this? It's a huge amount of intensity, responsibility and pressure to put on one child.
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2014
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I think I get it, LucyJ, and I don't think it's creepy at all. He is sorry he made some bad decisions while very young that basically cost him a relationship with his daughter and he is acting as if she is five years old and that doing this may help him HAVE a relationship with her. And it could...if she was five.

    However, this is a grown woman now who grew up with a stable home and another man, unfortunately, who she considers her father. He was there. He raised her. This man did not fight for custody of her in court so he didn't get a place in her life. She is obviously thriving and well adjusted.

    Sir, I agree that you should move on. Nothing will be gained by continuing to not have a new relationship or raising other children. If she ever wants to come to you, leave the door open, but I wouldn't base my entire life on this issue. You don't need to punish yourself. She had a good life and now it's your turn, I hope.
  7. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    SSS, welcome. It's unfortunate that your daughter's mother felt the need to exclude you from your daughter's life and obviously that influenced your daughter's perceptions. Now at age 19, your daughter is an adult and she gets to choose what it is she wants now. Even if those choices are the result of negative perceptions based on her mothers judgements of you.

    At this point, it appears you've already done all you can do. If I were in your shoes, I might have dinner with my daughter and lay all the cards on the table. Tell her you love her, you had always wanted to have a relationship with her, but for whatever reasons, it didn't work out as you had hoped. That you are always available to her, you will always be there for her, however, at this point, you are accepting that she doesn't feel as close to you as you would like and unless she has some serious objections to your next choice, you've decided to move to advance your career.

    I think at some point we need to be honest with ourselves and see the situation clearly. It is what it is. Sure you wanted it to be different, but it isn't. I don't believe it's a good idea to put pressure on your daughter to feel something that at this point she doesn't feel. Perhaps, if you tell her the truth as in how much you wanted to be a part of her life, how much you love her and that you're open to having a relationship on the terms she decides................and then let go and move forward in your own life................she will at some point feel free to make a different choice where you're concerned..........or not. But whatever she decides, it seems that it's prudent, timely and perhaps even necessary, for you to move forward in your own life now.

    Sometimes when we are able to let go of our own cemented viewpoints, it allows the other person the freedom to make a different choice. I wouldn't expect that to happen, yet it could happen.

    In the meantime, go live your life so that you can be an example to your daughter of someone who is happy, peaceful and living life to the fullest. That in itself is a gift to her.
  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think this is a very sad story that happens all too often. My son had a child when he was 19 too but she was only 2 and a half years older than him. She also wouldnt allow the baby to have his last name which is something that has ticked our entire family off for all these years. We do have a lot of contact with her though. In fact, she is mad her last name isnt the same as her father and baby sisters. She doesnt understand and I have a feeling she may change it when she gets older.

    Now about your relationship with your daughter. My parents were married my entire childhood but my mother did her level best to turn me against my father. She told me horrible things about him so I wouldnt like him. It was bizarre. When I was 18 or 19 they finally divorced and I figured I was pretty much done with him. Well, time has a way of putting things into perspective. As a small child I had no idea of what my mom was doing but as an adult I could see him for myself and I actually liked him! I ended up having a much better relationship with my dad for more years of my life than I did those first 18 while my mother had control of me. In the end it was my mother who I had a much more difficult relationship with. My father ended up dying in 2010 and he was my everything.

    I think you should have that conversation RE spoke about above. Tell her how much you have loved her all this time, tell her you are proud of her and how you know she will do wonderful things in the next few years but tell her you understand that she is torn. Tell her you have got this wonderful job opportunity and you have decided to take it. You will always be her daddy and if she wants to come visit for her to just say the word. Something like that.
  9. SeeingShootingStars

    SeeingShootingStars New Member

    Thank you for all of your replies to my post. I really appreciate being able to gain neutral, third party, insightful thoughts and opinions of others completely detached from my situation. It is very impactful - even moreso than my therapist.
    In order to provide some clarification:
    I moved back from Florida when my daughter was almost 3 years old, and made the conscious decision to remain single so as to focus my attention on helping to raise her. She told me on several occasions during this time and in the years following that she enjoyed having time with just me and her. As she got older and started pulling away, I stayed single in an effort to show her that she still had my undivided attention when she needed it. Obviously this was me fooling myself into believing that things would change back to the way that they were, but obviously this was not the case. This later became a personal matter for me in that I became accustomed to and still enjoy being single. I have started dating again in the past year and must admit that it has been a long time and things have changed!

    As MidwestMom has noted very accurately and better than I ever could myself,
    I would also like to emphasize again that I have been single since my daughter was born, including the time I came back into my daughters life when she was 3. She let me know when she was younger that she enjoyed the time with just me and her.
    In the beginning, I believe this was the right thing to do. I stayed single as she grew up in a misguided attempt to try and have things back the way that they were when she was younger and to show her that I was still available anytime she needed. I never said this to her outright, as I am fully aware of the pressure that this puts on any child.
  10. helpangel

    helpangel Active Member

    She's a grown woman so there is very little chance she is ever going to run arms wide to greet you with the excited "daddy" bursting from her lips. Most healthy teens want as little to do as possible with their parents even when living under same roof with them.

    For what it's worth about the only time my kids acknowledge my existence is when they need a ride, want money or me to cook something.

    When you said she told you regarding $160 monthly deposit, didn't have to, she didn't need it... at first I was confused, none of my kids have ever been known to turn down "free" money. After I thought about it maybe she thinks of that deposit as having strings attached? Like because of the deposit she feels obligated to spend time with you? I'm not sure just speculation on my part.

    Anyway if it were me I would take the job and let her know anytime wants to visit or call would love to see or hear from her, if needs anything you are only a phone call away. Also instead of depositing the money in her account would deposit it in my own account (separate account from your regular account) and bank that money. Years from now if she is getting married, you handing her a cashier's check for 20K with explanation "I'm father of the beautiful bride of course I want to contribute to your special day" will go a lot farther then monthly deposits (especially if she feels it had strings attached)

    Speaking as a single mother who hasn't seen child support in over 10 years I wish more men were like you, she was truly blessed with a caring loving father who didn't shirk his responsibility to this life he helped put on the planet.

    As with anything on the net use what you can and disregard the rest. wishing you peace and success in the new job.