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Advice about my daughter's relationship w/ Alcohlic Husband

Old 08-21-2010, 08:54 PM
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Advice about my daughter's relationship w/ Alcohlic Husband

To make a long story short...I recently left my husband in another state to bring my 2 year old daughter to be raised closer to my family. I didn't have family where we were previously living and I'd tried for the first 2 yrs of our daughter's life to raise her by myself (with very little help from him in any way...he technically stopped living with us when she was 4 months old but would still come around 3-4 days a week to see her). Once we moved (several states away) he stayed away expect for a few calls or texts for ME not her. After about a month (and a few weeks of me not returning his calls) he decided he wanted to talk to her more. I agreed as long as he was sober and was consistent. His consistency lasted a few weeks. Then he disappeared for a few days with no calls. He gave a lame excuse and then started calling her daily again. Recently though he disappeared again for a full week. This time she asked for him frequently and even finally told me one day "mommy daddy all gone." After a week he resurfaced with an excuse about his phone being turned off. I couldn't even respond. I don't like seeing him hurt my daughter. I decided after a few days of thinking that I would let him talk to her. He text me that it was "killing him" to be away from her and would call everyday no matter what. They spoke briefly because she didn't want to talk. He told her he would call the next day...and then didn't. He text me the following afternoon saying he had been stuck on the train and would call that night.

I don't know what to do. My gut tells me to just cut communication. I don't want my daughter to think this is love. I can't depend on him to call or follow through and I don't like telling her daddy is about to call and then that time comes for him to call and he doesn't. I'd rather her not know him like this. I'd rather tell her positive things and truthful things about him and let her know that if he gets himself together he will "be back". His family is telling me that I'm wrong if I decide this and that she will hate me eventually (however they were also the ones that said it's my job to help him get sober and I should leave my daughter with them so I can go to AA with him!).

Can anyone offer any advice??
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Old 08-21-2010, 09:23 PM
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Welcome to SR!

You have found a wonderful source of support and information. Please make yourself at home by reading and posting as much as needed.

We are open 24/7, but it gets a little quiet here on weekends.

I recommend the sticky (permanent) posts at the top for inspiration, wisdom and some of our stories.
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Old 08-21-2010, 09:37 PM
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Originally Posted by mmccoy View Post
I don't know what to do. My gut tells me to just cut communication. I don't want my daughter to think this is love. I can't depend on him to call or follow through and I don't like telling her daddy is about to call and then that time comes for him to call and he doesn't. I'd rather her not know him like this. I'd rather tell her positive things and truthful things about him and let her know that if he gets himself together he will "be back". His family is telling me that I'm wrong if I decide this and that she will hate me eventually (however they were also the ones that said it's my job to help him get sober and I should leave my daughter with them so I can go to AA with him!).

Can anyone offer any advice??
I am divorced. I had to remember that my expectations for my ex were not the same as my childs expectations for the dad. My expectations were those of an adult. My childs expectations were those of a young child that wants to love their parent unconditionally.

At 2, your daughter may not have the same sense of time-telling that you have. At her age, she may not understand the difference between "Dad will call you every other day" and "Dad will call every third day". A child does not understand calendar dates like we do.

It may help to let her know that daddy will call when he can. Be happy for her on the days she gets a call. And be happy for her on the days she gets to stay focused on her life with you.

I hope you and your daughter will build a peaceful life together in your new community. Have you considered finding a local Alanon meeting for face to face support? I moved, and one of the first things I looked for in my new community was Alanon meetings. Those meetings and SR have helped me to learn to make better choices for myself and my children.
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Old 08-22-2010, 03:57 AM
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welcome mmcoy-

i'm writing as the ex-partner of an alcoholic with a little girl far away from his previous relationship.

he is equally inconsistent with his phone calls and yes, the children suffer. he suffers.

he misses his calls if he has been drinking. he doesn't want to call if he is drunk.

since he is often drunk, he often misses his calls and comes up with similar sorry excuses, like his phone dropped in the river and stuff.

what his ex-partner did was to set a time for his call. it's tuesday at 7 and he calls a special phone that she turns on only for this hour.

i don't know if that is a solution or not, but it does permit him to establish contact with his little girl and it also leaves the family to get on with their life without interuption.

watching all this over the years, i have mixed feelings about it. i feel it is important that the father has an opportunity to have contact, for both the child and the father.

he misses a lot of his calls but does manage to maintain sporadic contact. when i listen to the calls, the little girl is delighted to share her life and he is always saying to her "i love you".

not really parenting, but i personally feel that BOTH the father and the child would suffer emotionally to not be in some contact.

it's a tough call but perhaps consider the special cell phone for a scheduled weekly call as a compromise.

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Old 08-22-2010, 08:07 AM
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This is a tough one. I have to disagree with naive on a few things I'm afraid.

Children assume that parents are honest with them, and even we as adults have a very hard time dealing with the lies, the manipulations, the crazyness. Alcoholics don't stop lying when it comes to their children, they lie to them and manipulate them also.

I don't think this is in any way healthy for the child, and quite frankly I'm uninterested in what is best for the alcoholic.
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Old 08-22-2010, 11:27 AM
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Yes, Naive, he does have set times. Set times, which I have actually let HIM decide so he can't say I'm making an unreasonable day/time for him. He doesn't have a steady job (works random jobs on craigslist or whatever) and who knows where he is living. I've been with him for 9 years so I'm completely done trying to do what's best for him. What I have a hard time deciding is would it be better for her to be completely away from him and when she is of an age where she can make up her own mind if she'd like to try connecting with him (and this is assuming he doesn't clean up and straighten up sooner than that) by all means I would support her and support her even further regardless of the outcome. Or, is it better to continue this pathetic relationship and let her just find out on her own the disappointment that will surely result. It seems everyone I know that comes from a childhood with an alcoholic parent, has such a hateful feeling about the parent even now. So I guess I was just wanting insight from others as I'm torn which is the better of the two horrible options. Yes, my daughter does like talking to him but at 2 she can't fully understand that he was supposed to call and didn't...but at say 4 she will and by then she will have more of a relationship (whether good or bad) and more of an understanding of what's going on.
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Old 08-22-2010, 11:37 AM
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this for me is by far the most painful part of my relationship with stbx AH.

We have 2 children aged 7 and 2 their father sees them most weeks but lets the m down consistently, arranging to come over, then delaying it and delaying by days. The 2 year old sees her father far less than her brother, as he has an evening with his dad once per week (I breathalyse him before handing son over), I have offered the same for her, but he has not taken me up on that.

their dad loves them, very much, as much as he is capable of loving anyone, but his love doesn't translate into consistent demonstrations of that love.

To some extent, my daughter has no reference framework of what a "father" is, so although she gets upset when he leaves, and she seems to miss him sometimes, right now it is not a huge burden on her, but I expect that to change. I have a picture of him in her room, I talk positively about him and how he loves them, if she asks where he is (and she does) I say he is at his flat, if she asks if he's coming here I say I don't know (which I honestly don't).

I try and do the same positive narative with my son, but he has a different understanding and is keenly upset when he is let down, he is angry and sad. If his father cancels by text and I have to tell him, he often tells me he hates me (as the messanger and the safe one to be angry with). I let him vent his anger, I validate his feelings and when he wants I hug him and tell him I love him and that daddy loves him. we have talked about daddy's illness, how he drinks too much alcohol, and how that can affect his behaviour, but doesn't affect how much he loves his children.

I believe, from reading around the subject (and I know not everyone will come to this conclusion) that it is better for my children to know their father, with all his inconsistencies, and lies, and manipulation, and to support their knowledge that he loves them, and they him, whilst trying to provide a secure, consistent, loving safety net for them to explore their relationship with him.

The alternative, trying to take him out of the equation, has clear damaging effects for children, a sense that they are unworthy of love. They will not forget that they are "supposed" to have a father, and I feel, in our particular circumstance, that a relationship with someone who is very far from perfect, and the freedom to explore their feelings about that is better than the total abandonment that complete no contact would bring.

I can't control how he is as a father, or their relationship with him. This is more difficult and painful for me, because I have to pick up the pieces, but I do beliive it is in their best interests. Your situation, and assessment of it may vary, and I am sure you will come to the best decision for you.

I tried not letting son know when his father had said he would come over, so that he would not be disappointed when he didn't, but that back-fired: he would be constantly anxious, not wanting to go out anywhere, in case dad popped over and we missed him. So now I pass on all the messages: if dad says he can't come over because he has a "terrible cold" I tell him that dad says he can't come over because he has a terrible cold (and not with any emphasis, but I am not stating that he HAS a cold, just that is what he says), it will not be long before ds questions why daddy is sick so often, or why these colds aren't apparent the next day, and when he does we'll talk about that.

I'm not sure I'm doing the right thing, and I'm not sure I have all the skills this requires, but I am trying to be honest, and protective and its a hard line to tread.
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