My daughter’s going through a “nasty stage”?

I just don't careI’m still a little rattled about not being called on Father’s Day by my daughter.

For those not in the know, the Rugrat lives in Ontario and I only get to see her a couple of times each year (normally once in the summer and once in the winter).  She just turned 10 in January and has been having a pretty rough time this year making friends at a new school and (seemingly) going through an early puberty.

So after waiting until Monday night to see if she would call, I sent an email to her mom on Tuesday morning.  I told her how hurt I was and basically put it all out there.

I’m hurt…I’m missing her like crazy…I’m constantly regretting ever agreeing to let her move…I’m sad…I’m confused.  I explained why I felt the way I felt and that I wasn’t sure where Rugrat’s head was, so that made me question myself as a father.

Here is the (lengthy) response:

Todd, I totally understand what you are saying.

Let me just tell you that you are not alone. Rugrat did not say Happy Father’s Day to (CBG edit: her stepfather…to be known going forward as Steps) or give him anything, either.  She decided not to stay home for the majority of the day. We did not even see her for the most part.  I let her go to her friends for a sleep over on Sat. and told her that she was to be home early in the morning because it was Father’s Day and we all wanted to do something together. She did not come home until a little after lunch……Steps told me to just let her do what she wants because he was hurt as well and did not want to make her stay home because that would make him feel that the only reason she was with us was because we made her.

I call it her ” You just don’t care” stage. Just to confirm with you that I did bring it to her attention that she should have called you. I know that it probably hurts 10 times more than Steps because you are so far away. The only thing that I can say to both of you is this is one of those “nasty” stages in growing up that we all need to try to deal with and hope it passes as quick as possible. I feel really bad that all these things are getting to you the way that they are.

I hope you know that Rugrat is not mad at you for anything at all, she is not upset with you, or anything along those lines.  If it helps….she did not say Happy Mother’s Day to me either, nor did I get anything.  However, Steps did make her stay home for awhile so we could all go out, and I did feel bad because I did feel like she was there, not because she wanted to but because she was made to.

Not to try to turn this around and make this all about me but I hope that you and Steps both realize that I am stuck in the middle of this circle.  Because I feel bad and guilty for you…..and then for Steps….and then I feel bad for myself.  I try so hard to make things better and to try to make everyone happy, so no one has to feel the way you are feeling right now.  I totally understand why you two come to me first though, that is perfectly understandable, I am glad that you do.  This “stage” is so hard because it makes me realize that I cannot be her friend, I have to be her mom.

Again Todd, I am so sorry for the way you are feeling. If you would like me to talk to her about this and the way you are feeling I will do that for you. Just know that Rugrat loves you very much.  Right now, in her eyes, her friends need to come first.

I hope that you are not upset with me as I need you as well on my side, for all these nasty “stages” that she is going to be going through.

I gotta be honest…I’m not sure how to digest this.  Her and I get along well and have always been really good at keeping each other informed on how Rugrat’s doing and what she’s going through.  So if this is her interpretation of events, then I believe her.

Rugrat...growing up too fast?

Rugrat...growing up too fast?

But should I push things?  Should I stress her job as Rugrat’s mom to “force” her to call me or to arrange a phone schedule?  I mean, the last thing I want to do is have Rugrat resent me or roll her eyes thinking…“Jeez…my DAD is on the phone AGAIN.”

The whole thing just breaks my heart, though.  I’m CERTAIN that in Rugrat’s eyes, she’s just enjoying the summer and everything’s fine.  But it hurts…ESPECIALLY knowing (sit down for this one) that she won’t be coming to visit this summer.

Yeah…I know.

Due to financial restrictions (it’s her mom’s turn to pay for the trip), Rugrat won’t be able to come visit for a couple of weeks like she normally does.  Yes, it really sucks.  REALLY sucks.  I’ve had a few weeks to digest the news so I’m not as hurt or angry as I was initially, but Father’s Day just increased those feelings again.

She’ll be spending Christmas with me…which is awesome.  I just saw her in March for two weeks…which was fantastic.  I need to emphasize the positive aspects and try to not stress the negatives.

She’s 10.  I just don’t know what to do right now.  Do I push the issue?  Do I let her enjoy her summer now that she’s finally found friends after an entire school year of feeling isolated and on the outside looking in?

When I was her age my parents made me go to church every Sunday.  It got to the point that I didn’t want to go to church anymore (and I still don’t go to this day).  I don’t want to force her to call me.  I want her to WANT to talk to me.

So do I just put on a brave face and let her come to me when she’s ready?

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22 responses to “My daughter’s going through a “nasty stage”?

  • Frustration « Sunshine on My Shoulder

    [...] Last night, during my nightly phonecall with CBG, we talked about what was happening with him and his daughter regarding Father’s Day. [...]

  • mommasunshine

    Hey you.

    I think I already told you that in my opinion, a child of 10 is old enough to be told when they’ve hurt someone’s feelings. I mean, it would have to be done carefully, but her actions are having some very real consequences on other people, and I think she needs to know that. Your relationship isn’t just about HER – it’s a two way street, here.

    I can absolutely appreciate the fact that you don’t want to push her, for fear of pushing her away…but you miss her, too. You also have needs. And while, yes, you ARE the adult here and better able to understand and accept things, I think you’re allowed to ask for a certain amount from her – like more frequent phone calls.

    I can see a lot of difficulties coming your way in the future, just because raising a teenage girl is going to be tough…and especially being physically separated from her as you are. Try not to let it get you down, though, sweetie. You’re a good dad…and while she may forget that for a while when she’s going through her “I hate my parents” phase (which many, many teenagers do, by the way), she will, eventually, come around again.

    Hang in there, and remember that you have a lot of people to turn to and lean on who care about you a whole lot….

    xo

  • Laura

    Having a daughter that just turned 10 in January as well I can relate to a lot of this. The boys and I tease her that if it is not in Little M world then it means nothing to her.

    I still think the ex dropped the ball…I don’t even speak to my ex but I do remind the kids when his birthday comes up or fathers day that they need to call and acknowledge the day. And that in it’s self is a struggle with my middle one, but that is a whole different story lol.

    A few suggestions:

    Call your daughter and just casually mention that you missed hearing from her on Fathers Day.

    Call her everyday.

    Does she have a cell phone?

    If not I do suggest getting her one with unlimited texting. And you text her everyday! The girls love texting…my daughter has one and I text her every morning when she is with her dad…it helps to keep us connected.

    If the cell phone is a no go how about her own e-mail?

    Find out the names of her friends and ask about them…become part of her world…and in return she will become part of yours again.

    The older children get the harder it is…

  • Ashley

    I agree with Sunshine. At the very least, she’s old enough to know she’s hurting people.

    Different people respond differently, but if I thought for a second I was hurting my Daddy, I’d be changing my world to make it up to him.

    But then again, I’m 27 and she’s 10.

    I still think that letting her see the people she’s hurting might not be a bad idea.

  • Kalie

    Its far better for rugrat to know you are hurt and upset than to assume you don’t care. Knowing that you expect to hear from her, even if she may consider it to be a drag and take her away from her friends, is also the same as knowing that you care what she does and care about her. Its not the equivalent of being forced to go to church.

  • Alicia

    Hey CBG! You gotta remember: YOU’RE YOUR DAUGHTER’S FATHER! (And a great one at that!) But you shouldn’t take all of her phases/stages/growing pains personally. She’s gonna go thru so many phases and changes – in the blink of an eye – from Daddy’s Little Angel, to playing one parent against the other, to teenage rebel. However she acts, she still loves you deep down, but she’ll sure have a funny way of showing it! You have to be the parent – you have to call her every day (or however often) and make 110% of the effort here because, honestly, kids are kids and just aren’t capable of caring about anything beyond themselves – it’s all about them!!!!

  • junctionmama

    That’s tough CBG, very tough.
    Ten years old, eh? That is early for this kind of behaviour…

    I agree with the pp’s. She needs to be aware of how her actions affect others. She is old enough for it. You cannot keep pussyfooting around the issue because you are afraid of her reaction.

    She needs parenting. She might not like it, but parenting = people care about you. If people let her do whatever she wants, it will damage her self esteem in the end.

    Yes, she loves you. She needs to be taught HOW to love I guess.

    Sorry if I’m being a bit too harsh, but I deal with teens on a daily basis and I know that when they act like your daughter, they are screaming for attention. And tough parenting might just be the attention that she craves.

    Hugs to you sweetie, you are doing your best… :)

  • Lady Mama

    Oh that’s tough. You can’t force her to call you though… it sounds like she’s going through a difficult phase (I know what that’s like) and perhaps she’s trying to figure out her emotions. I think it wouldn’t hurt to talk to her about how you feel. The best thing you can do is to be honest with her.

    But do remember that this is probably just a phase that she’ll grow out of. Her not calling doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you.

  • QTMama

    While I understand the “nasty” stage, I’m also in agreement with the fact that she is old enough to understand that she’s hurting other people’s feelings. Also, and this just is ME talking, if I were the mom she’d have been forced to make the phone call. It would have taken little time and effort on her part, and done a whole world of good for you.

    While at her age, life is all about her, for her, the fact is she did something wrong here. I am always reminding my daughter that this is not the “Emilee” show, and that respect for others is a MUST.

    I’d stop pussyfooting around, as the other commenter said, and I don’t mean to sound harsh either. But again, it’s not the Rugrat Show.

  • T

    Yep, I’m in agreement with all of the above. You should be able to tell her that your feelings are hurt. She can be selfish about some things but that is not acceptable behavior to dismiss another’s feelings.

    That’s just me.

    It’s not the Father’s Day thing. You don’t have to put her on a guilt trip. She just needs to learn the lesson that her actions — notice I said her actions, not her — hurt someone and she should be held accountable for her actions just as we all are.

    Just my .02.

  • kristal

    my daughter went to live with her dad when she was 10, as heartbreaking as it was i had no choice in the matter. She was just like your daughter is now. I just let it go, as much as it hurt , i let it go. Its somethign with girls.. things get better and it may be here just adapting to a new enviromoment. I know she loves her daddy, u will always be here daddy and one day she is gonna come running to you , just gotta give her time. i hope my comment hasnt upset you at all……((hugs))

  • karma

    one last comment to add to all of the above

    i too encourage my son to call his dad, and see him and think of him, but i dont know if you should be TOO hard on your ex.as this is the first time she has has been through this too (im assuming… unless she has other children) and is also learning the ropes.

    try to work together. but YES push to get as much information on the rugrat as you can!! you are her dad and have JUST as much right to be informed.

    and

    kids are strange. they love you. but go through weird stages. girls sometimes earlier than boys. and all kids are diffferent. try not to take it personally. but feel free to express your feelings :)
    :) xoxo

  • Canadian Bald Guy

    Wow…a LOT to sort through. I’d like to thank you all for taking the time to write your comments. I appreciate the effort and I’m reading each one carefully…

    Sunshine — You’re a dozen shades of awesome, my dear. Thank you for letting me vent last night. You’re definitely the sunshine on MY shoulder. :-)

    Laura — Thank you for the suggestions. I’ve already set-up an email account, but she’s rarely on the computer at all these days. Which, really, I should be happy about…too many kids are stuck inside and don’t get outside nearly enough.

    Ashley — I’m thinking it’s something I should probably tell her. Not in a “you should feel guilty” way, but just an “FYI” way.

    Kalie — Excellent points. Maybe it wasn’t the best analogy, but it was what popped into my head when I wrote the post.

    Alicia — I think I need to take more of an aggressive approach and stop being so passive when it comes to talking to her. I want her to call me, but if she’s just being a kid…then I’ll NEVER talk to her (lol).

    junctionmama — I think you make some valid points. I appreciate your thoughts. :-)

    Lady Mama — You’re right…and that’s just something I need to continually remind myself. I can’t let “phone calls” = “signs of love”. They’re not directly related.

    QTMama — You’re awesome. :-) I think her mom needs to take a more active role in “forcing” her to call me, for sure. I’d do the same if the roles were reversed.

    T — Your $0.02 is ALWAYS welcome, T. Mwah!!

    kristal — I’m sorry to hear that you went through a tough time like that. I’ve gotta remember that things will get better with time…and she might not even realize how she’s making me feel, so I can’t just assume she’s feeling a certain way, y’know? I appreciate the comments.

    karma — Awesome advice. Thank you. And you’re right, this IS the ex’s first kick-at-the-can with this…so there shouldn’t be anger directed at anybody. I’m certain we can all get this worked out in a pretty tolerant way.

  • SingleParentDad

    Tricky, and heart wrenching. Perhaps stressing that your angst is really her angst, and that you are worried about her, but proud and love her very much at the same time. You are right to focus on the positives fella.

  • lilmissbridget

    Todd,
    Your ex’s email was a bummer to read. She made it seem like it was your 10 year olds fault. “She didn’t come home til after lunch…” She’s only 10! Her Mom should be telling her “I’ll pick you up at 9am on Sunday blah blah blah” because a 10 year old isn’t mature enough to make their own decisions.

    It was nice of your ex to responmd to your feelings, but she basically blamed the Rugrat. I would try and move on. Just call her and let her know how much it would have mean, and she will get the hint. Imagine how she’d feel if you didn’t call on her birthday? As she gets older, she will mature and realize these things more. Take care!

  • Barry

    CBG- you are in such a tough situation. i will start by saying mommasunshine is spot on, so no need to rehash.

    I also hate to be a bit negative, but I could care less how her STEP feels! You are her dad. Her email was pretty cool until she started in on the self pity junk. PLEASE! You get to see her twice a year and she is complaining? If she told your daughter to be home by lunchtime, she should be home by lunchtime. Period! End of story! If she doesn’t set the rules now, your daughter will run all over her when she gets older.

    Having said that, I also understand you don’t have a whole lot of leverage. I really like the idea of sending her a cell phone with text messaging. It is a great line of communication.

    Hang in!

  • Canadian Bald Guy

    SingleParentDad — Thanks. I’m hoping that I can turn this all into a positive, for sure.

    lilmissbridget — Yeah…I kinda thought it was odd to let a 10-year-old come and go (relatively) as she pleases. Sigh. But I’m definitely dialed-in on her mom in terms of changing things around.

    Barry — I very much appreciate the comments. Thank you.

  • ian

    Gotta be tough… when i was working/traveling a ton, it was not fun being away from my 3 girls all the time – can only imagine what it’s like for you. Not to mention the ‘no call’ thing…

  • vinomom

    Very interesting post and the comments are really varied!

    Having been hell on wheels at 10 years old (I was much harder at this age than in my teens) I tend to agree with Alicia more than anyone else.

    It’s ok to be hurt and to let her know your feelings were hurt, but you can’t take all the stages personally. I love the texting idea someone else posted though. It’s a great way for quick and easy communication.

  • This new place

    Wow, i am sorry. That must me tough. It shocked me that your daughter is just two years older than my older one. When mine doesn’t want to talk to her dad on the phone, and it is time for their DAILY call (because he calls for them), I hand the phone to her and it is not an option for her to not talk to him. And if there is a family event or something that needs to happen, my children would not be allowed to stay at a friends’ house overnight past when she is expected home. No offense to your ex, but a ten year old is not old enough to be in that kind of control…. whether it is her stepfather or you (or your exwife). Her email to you sounds like she is talking about a seventeen year old who was out past her curfew. It is nice you two can communicate that way though.

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