Not Quite What I Expected

As you probably can tell if you read my blog, I love my two kids very, very much.  While I’m extremely fortunate to have Ankle Biter live in the same city with me, I only get to see my daughter (i.e. Rugrat) twice a year as she lives a plane ride away.

I made some mistakes in my youth and let my daughter’s mom move to another province. It’s a decision I’ve regretted ever since.

One of the things that I wish I could go back and change is her upbringing.  I mean, last month when she was down to visit for a vacation I expected to have a fun-spirited eleven-year-old ready to hang out with her dad and his/her new family (i.e. my four-year-old son, my amazing girlfriend, and her two awesome daughters).

What I ended up getting was an ungrateful, selfish little girl who wants to dress-up like an adult and be treated like an adult, but who still acts like a little girl.  A girl who got pissy when she couldn’t get everything that she wanted at the drop of a hat.

Harsh words, I know…but unfortunately, they’re true.

I’m sure I’ll write more about this vacation over the coming weeks and how it has affected me and my relationship with Rugrat, but for now let me just say that my little girl isn’t quite the girl I expected her to be.

Is that fair?

Maybe I’m being a bit too harsh in my thoughts, but her attitude was disappointing…it was frustrating…and worse, it was completely out of my control.

I know I’m not alone, though.  I’m sure there are other single parents out there (especially single dads who don’t have their kids full-time) who feel like they don’t have adequate influence over their kids.  Maybe they feel like their children aren’t turning out to who they want them to be and feel as though they are slipping away from them.

How can you help raise a child if you only see them periodically?


21 thoughts on “Not Quite What I Expected

  1. There is definitely relationship slippage when you don’t live with your kids and combined with the teen computer-centric culture, it can be tough to deal with when they are around. Your experience isn’t different from other dads, all you can do is continue to love and miss her; don’t view her as difficult, she was just a fish out of water in your environment. You are in a good position to stay connected to your daughter via facebook, twitter and email; just imagine if this was 30 years ago, you wouldn’t be able to connect virtually like you can today.

    1. You’re totally right.

      And I can appreciate her being a fish out of water…I was, too. I guess it was just her view on things like how families are supposed to act. She didn’t want to have fun with us even though she was down to visit us. And when she DID have fun, she quickly realized it and stopped herself.

      It was just frustrating. But you’re right…all I can really do is just continue loving her the best way I can.

  2. I feel for parents who don’t live in same province as their child.It is so very sad in amny ways,especially when one is a loving parent who WANTS to help raise them.

    Sadly if one only sees their child a few times a year,from anywhere from 2-4 weeks maximum I think one isn’t able to have anywhere the same experience of parenting/raising a child. It’s noone’s fault but it means as of now you haven’t been able to help mold and teach her much in the 11 months you don’t see her(even if you phone,email,write etc a lot).

    My only advice would be to try and also add in a couple of visits to her in HER city.Perhaps through the blogosphere or kijiji you can find a dirt cheap or free place to stay and book a few flights when the seat sales are on for the year.I know this still is just a few short days but to be around her school,her friends, perhaps the step parents if possible, and mostly just HER
    would be invaluable. For a child that is truly special when a parent comes specifically to them to see just them and them alone.

    I do feel for you.Must be a very difficult and emotional thing not being involved in your daughter’s everyday life especially since you are obviously such a loving father…..

    In a dream world that family would move to your province….

  3. God, we know how you feel. We have a little girl who we live 6 hrs away from, and it is so hard to see her because she is not what we expected. If you find a good answer, let me know.

  4. I am not a single parent… But I feel for you. I am so sorry you don’t get to see her more often. I know this must be hard and painful for you. Are maybe able to communicate more over Skype or just phonecalls and emails?

    I don’t think it’s harsh to call it like it is but I know its disappointing to you too. Hope it gets better in the future…

    1. The problem is that she doesn’t like spending a ton of time with her own family in Ontario (her mom, stepdad, two sisters) so asking her to spend MORE time communicating with me is a lost cause. She just doesn’t want to talk very much. I’ll certainly keep trying, though.

  5. This is going to sound funny but I have these same feelings about Rascal’s kids.

    I LOVE those boys but dang… there are some things they do that I know drives Rascal crazy. And I’m all, “Let me at ’em! I’ll fix them right up!”

    Funny, right?

    I guess all that we can do is make the best of our time with them. Influence them as much as we can. And love them despite their imperfectness.

    Hopefully, they’ll offer us the same.

  6. She’s a tween girl. Not unheard of. I understand the frustration though. Im thankful that my daughters dad has zero influence in her life. I know he would just teach her how to be selfish, impatient, and greedy. Just keep showing her love and support. She will thank you for it later.

  7. I think you *HAVE* to consider the age…even two-parent households have a tough time with this age. I have an incredible relationship with my 12 year old daughter who is bright and funny and awesome all the time (unless her favorite pair of jeans isn’t washed!) But I have a girlfriend whose daughter, 13, is just dark and drama all the time. Some of it is the age. She may have resentment toward you right now b/c of the distance. Keep trying–that’s all you can do. Reach out, let her know you love her and do the best you can. It has to be hard when you don’t have them living close to you…it was a big decision my ex and I made–we live 5 miles from each other and share physical custody of both kids. She may turn out to be exactly what you expected after she makes it through this tough time called puberty! I wish you patience and love with her!

    1. Yeah…I’m sure most of it is her age. I don’t know if there’s any resentment although there might be. I just hope that she grows into the young woman that I always dreamed she could become.

      My fear, though, is that she’ll try to become a woman sooner than she needs to be.

  8. At first I thought it might be because she felt like an outsider in your / her new family (could be a small part too) but once you said she is the same way with her mom’s side, I also feel most of it is due to the age. I have a granddaughter that is 11, and she comes over here every day after school until her mom gets off of work. Honestly, I never know which one of her will walk in, the happy 11 year old, or the moody 11 year old. Thinking back, I clearly remember my now 16yr old granddaughter being the same way at that age. Ug. Just keep reminding yourself it is not YOU that she hates, right now she hates everything. Trust me, while it may seem like forever, she will outgrow it. Just keep doing everything you are doing now, including letting her know how much you love / miss her. She may not acknowledge it, but deep down, it will mean the world to her.

    1. Oh I know she doesn’t hate me. She just doesn’t know how to love and that’s frustrating.

      She actually emailed me yesterday asking me to download something and send it to her.

      No “Thanks for the vacation” or “I miss you”. She’s all about “gimme gimme gimme” and that’s not what my family is about.

      I just wish I knew how she was REALLY being raised, y’know?

  9. CBG, I don’t post here as often as I could, but I want to thank you for posts like these. I’m still working out the separation agreement/parenting plan with my soon-to-be-ex, and quite frankly, your experience is (hopefully) going to help me avoid making some of the same mistakes.

    Of course, I’m sure I’ll find even bigger, more problematic mistakes to make, but that’s how it goes, I suppose….

  10. I’ve been wanting to comment on this SO badly but I feel like if I say what I want to I’ll come off like such a bitch and that’s not what I want to do. When I read this it made me so mad and I’ve been trying to figure out why. I guess someday when/if my daughters are less then picture perfect I can see my ex husband complaining about how I raised them. It’s easy to do when you’re a backseat parent (him not you) and some of that anger came out when I read this. Also I feel bad for a girl at a horrible age and in a confusing situation. Cut herself and you some slack please.

    1. I’d like to think that I’m not trying to set her up to be “picture perfect”. Maybe I am. I just wish I had been a more positive influence in her life and that I wasn’t so distant…which is something that I feel is my own fault.

      I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining about how she’s being raised as I’m sure her mom is doing the absolute best she can. I just think if given the opportunity today that things would be different…in a more positive way for everybody.

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