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earthduzt's avatar

What can I do to help my daughter?

Asked by earthduzt (3215 points ) December 14th, 2010

I have a six year old daughter that is very much afraid of her own mother. I am divorced from her we have been divorced for about 5 years now. We have 50/50 custody split but my daughter stays with her during the school days and I have her (supposed to have her) every other weekend and I also have extended summers which is almost 3 months and all spring breaks, we rotate holidays. I pick her up from school every day and every day I drop her off it is a huge ordeal. She cries about how she does not want to go stay with her mom and basically crawls onto my lap and will stay there until I have to make her get out of the car (which I feel bad for doing).
Today as a matter of fact she got in the car from school and she started crying about how she wanted to go live with me, that she did not want to be spanked when she got inside. I asked her why would she be spanked and she replied back because I lost my jacket at school and mommy said I would get a spanking as soon as I walked in the door if I didn’t have my jacket. Now this is not the only time, this is every day this sort of thing goes on. Like I also said earlier I am supposed to have her every other weekend, but instead I have her every weekend, alot of times I keep her even on Thursdays and take her to school on Fridays and then keep her until Monday. There was an instant a few months back in where my daughter started crying again and I asked her what was wrong and she said she doesn’t like mommy, I asked why and she said because “I peed in the bed and mommy woke me up and put my face in it. I asked her if she has done that before and she said yes. I even confronted my ex about it and she said yes she did it to teach her not to pee in the bed. I didn’t say much to her when she admitted it but I did go home and called CPS on her. CPS did an investigation and basically just told her that it wasn’t very good to do that because it can wear down a child self esteem, case closed.

This sort of thing goes on constantly, now it’s just got to the point where my daughter is really unhappy living there, don’t get me wrong my ex has a good job, lives in a nice neighborhood all that, she even had a some this past summer with her new fiancĂ©. I’m just afraid that my daughter is being treated like “Cinderella” so to speak. The history goes far back also…When my daughter was born I was the one who held her, took care of her, fed her as my ex did not want to breast feed due to it “ruining her body”. There were times when my daughter was about 1 year old and I would come home from work and my ex would say she couldn’t stand the crying and gave her Tylenol PM to put her to sleep until I got home and could take care of her. My ex would go out constantly and not show up for 3 days at a time while I was at home tending to our daughter. This is how our relationship was. All this was mentioned during the divorce and we even had a child custody evaluator live with each of us for a week to see how our daughter responded to us. The CPS worker though apparently had a grudge against men and tried everything she could to catch me slip up and scrutinize me to stress levels I have never experienced before ever! While she barely did anything to my ex. In Texas it seems that the mother would have to be fully on drugs, prostituting herself out or clearly mentally unstable for them to even consider giving custody to the father.

I could go on and on about what goes on, but what I am concerned with now is the fact that my daughter is really afraid and dislikes her mother which to me does not seem normal for a child, they never did develop that bond because she did not do much with her ever…I take her to every doctors appt. I take her to the park, to the amusement parks, teach her things…I have been the one to accomplish all the little milestones in her life (i.e. potty training, learning how to swim, learning how to ride a bike, etc). I just don’t know what to do anymore, if I get hostile with my ex about it, she is the type to use our daughter as leverage against me, and that definitely would not make my little girl happy. I don’t want my little girl to grow up stressed out and unhappy, because right now she seems like an unhappy child. What should I do about hits, any opinions, advice would be appreciated. Can I take my daughter to some kind of counseling and then may they would recommend something? I just don’t know and it’s got me completely stressed out.
I am sorry for the long post and wall of text, believe me there is so much more, I hope you get the premise though

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27 Answers

cazort's avatar

Some of the things that you describe here sound like borderline abuse. It’s unfortunate that CPS and the custody system doesn’t work fairly, sometimes due to deep biases and cultural problems. You may have legal recourse though, but I’m not an expert in these things. And legal battles can get nasty. Do you want to fight that battle?

How good of terms are you on with your ex-wife? It sounds like she has a lot of problems and is having a rough time. You might make things better indirectly, by repairing your relationship with her. I don’t know if this is realistic or something you’d want to take on, but it’s the only avenue I can think of here, if you decide not to pursue legal action.

I think counseling is also a good idea. It might give you some ideas of how to improve your relationship with your ex-wife, and it also might empower your daughter both to be assertive, confident, and happier

The most important thing here is for you to show your daughter that you love her. Focus on loving her, not on the negative things that her mother is doing or that she’s afraid of. Focus on giving her concrete coping mechanisms and ways to keep thinking positively when things aren’t going her way. If you teach her that your ex-wife is the “bad guy” this will just backfire…just show her love and do your part, and that’s all you can do. She will come out okay in the end…some people come out fine even when no parents show them love and I’m sure that if you are a loving, supportive parent, that will be more than enough, and her difficulties with her mother will give her strength and be a growing experience in the long-run.

YoBob's avatar

Have you considered simply asking your ex if it would be easier on her if you took over full custody? It doesn’t have to be a hostile thing.

deliasdancemom's avatar

Maybe your wife would be willing to relinquish her custody? Is there anything she wants out of the deal? Does she have to pay you$ you could tell her she could stop paying if she signed over her rights?

chyna's avatar

Even if you had to pay her child support while you had the child, I would try that angle, anything to get this child living with you.

earthduzt's avatar

@cazort our relationship between each other is fine…there is no animosity there at all between us. She is just a very controlling person. As far as my daughter goes I show her all the time I love her, I am strict with her so I don’t want anyone to think she goes to daddy’s house and it’s Disneyland there and that is why she just wants to live with me. I am strict with her but also realize she is only 6 years old…I tend to use positive reinforcement.

she would never relinquish custody, first off and foremost she loves the child support and the tax money at the end of the year…which I could give a crap about..I would be willing to continue to pay child support if she would let her live with me. Again though if she relinquishes her to me, she will feel like she has lost control and it would in her eyes make herself look bad to her peers that the mother does not have the child. She is a very narcissistic person.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Based on what you’ve said, why on earth did she want any form of custody? For the support income alone? If that’s the case, perhaps you can make a private deal with her in some way to buy off her demand for shared custody.

Considering that your daughter can look forward to another 12 years of this, and your ex doesn’t seem to have her heart in any relationship with either of you, this doesn’t seem like an impossible task. Things were nowhere near so bad between my wife and myself when we separated, and my kids were much older, in their late teens already, so my son went with her “to look after her”—and regretted that—and my daughter stayed with me and never looked back.

Your daughter definitely needs you now.

Cruiser's avatar

Be very careful. At 6 years old a child finds that adults can be manipulated and so can certain situations especially when out in public. You may soon see her outbursts gradually worsen again especially in public. She may start stretching the truth and depending on your or your ex’s reactions to these situations you could soon have an out of control daughter.

Reign her in now while you have a chance. Continue to love her and show her support as children need to feel safe. But limit her choices and make them clear and definable with win win solutions. Also talk with her and listen. Let her express all her thoughts and make sure you tell her each thought and feeling she has is important. Also unless there is clear cut abuses, it may not be wise to bring your ex’s parenting skills into question or your daughter will exploit your lack of support for how she raises her daughter.

I just went through 3 years of pure hell with my son who started breaking bad at that age under similar circumstances and may be able to help you further if interested.

deliasdancemom's avatar

Perhaps she can be convinced if the $ continues and you allow her to occasionally take your daughter on social engagments….she will clearly be on her best behavior if her friends are watching.

earthduzt's avatar

The reason I do not get hostile with her is because as it is right now I have her more than she does except mon-fri ever week, and like I said alot of times it is Thurs through Monday I have her every week. Holidays we are supposed to rotate and the way it is and has been is…for example, this Christmas is her Christmas with her, so I have her for the first week up to Christmas Eve then she has her from Christmas day until school starts back up, that is the way it’s supposed to be. The way it really is, she picks her up on Christmas day and drops her back off the next day and I have her until school starts…this is how it is for all holidays.

rss's avatar

A good first step might be to keep a written list of 1. things your daughter says to you that make you question her mom’s ability to properly care for her 2. things you have witnessed yourself that make you the better custodian and 3. things you do to care for your daughter (ie, doctor visits, school pta meetings, your role in setting up playdates or other positive activities etc).

Having this in writing will strengthen your case if you decide to seek a custody change through the courts. I also suggest looking at http://www.lawhelp.org which has some information on custody issues as well as links to legal services orgs that might be able to give you an idea of what issues you would face in the court system.

earthduzt's avatar

@CyanoticWasp yeah she really does need me, the look in her eyes when her mother came out of the house this afternoon yelling at her to get out of the car..she turned and looked at me as to say “help me” it was heart crushing.

WestRiverrat's avatar

At the very least get your daughter into therapy. At worst the CPS people may believe the therapist’s word over yours if it comes to abuse charges.

At best it will help your daughter cope with her mother.

earthduzt's avatar

@rss yes I am going to start documenting everything…it’s just I have lost faith in the custody courts…seeing how my ex would post pictures of her going out with her friends (while we were married and had a child) she was clearly drunk in the pics and there were alot of pics mind you, that even had the date stamped on them. Courts basically ignored them.

earthduzt's avatar

@WestRiverrat that is exactly what I am thinking, maybe a professional therapist can recommend to CPS or something of that nature

earthduzt's avatar

@cruiser exactly and this is what I don’t want is an out of control child. I love her all the time and let her know, like I said I have her ALOT of the time and that is what I don’t want my ex to do if I start getting nasty with her, she will then adhere to the true custody agreement.

rss's avatar

@earthduzt showing that a parent is unfit is hard and often things that make someone a “bad” parent are not the same as being an “unfit” parent. So don’t give up hope – just keep cataloging the things that go on and when things start moving in abuse/neglect territory then you can take it to court.

I also second the idea of checking in with a therapist – it will definitely be beneficial for your daughter and might be help for a custody claim too. Good luck!

selkie's avatar

Document, document, document.
Take her every opportunity you can, Every time she will let you create a log of every instance she is late for pick -up extends her absence or is unable or unwilling to have her. Offer to take her so that she can spend time with the boyfriend, or any other time its convienent and remind her that you’d love to rearrange your day or activities to accomodate. After you have established a patern, present her with a “plan” to make it more conveinent for her, assure her that she can see her whenever she wants. Show her what a bother the day to day custody can be and slowly migrate the visitation to a schedule where her needs are being met best…and for your daughter as well. For a time continuing to pay child support and allowing her to keep the tax exemption… then suggest a review of the custody arrangements whereby you have tons of proof of the actual custody arrangements (the new schedule that she has been amiable to for all this time). Show your documentation of the actual time spent at your home/care. Then let the court decide. Be sure to do some counseling with your daughter to be sure there are no underlying issues…like abuse or even sexual exploitation, many of the behaviors sound to me like cries for help, with others in the home there may be something going on there.. god forbid even from the child’s mother.

earthduzt's avatar

@rss yes thank you, I also figure now that my daughter is old enough to speak her own feelings to “these people” it might make things easier as well..she was a year old at the time of the divorce so she really couldn’t say much.

earthduzt's avatar

@selkie great advice, thank you

skfinkel's avatar

I would not go into the courts if you can help it. The courts want mothers and fathers to be involved in raising their children, regardless of the individual circumstances. It sounds like you are getting much time with your daughter, and that is good. Like @selkie suggested, maybe you can just gently take your daughter off your wife’s hands more and more. If the money isn’t important, then keep paying and I wouldn’t even go to court to change that—just pay what is expected, and perhaps you can just gradually get more time with your daughter. One thing, though, I wouldn’t talk badly about your wife in front of your daughter. You can let her talk, but the negative stuff about her should not come from you. Even with all the problems you have described, she is the girl’s mother, and she has to deal with her for the rest of her life.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
earthduzt's avatar

@skfinkel absolutely, I never talk bad about her in front of my daughter as I really do think it is important for both parents to be involved…but there does have to be a limit on how much I can take my daughter crying hysterically about not wanting to go to her mother.

Thank you everyone for the advice, really appreciated.

john65pennington's avatar

Okay, here is your answer from a grandfather that has had two daughter in laws in just the same situation.

Find you a large tablet and a new ink pen. you are starting a diary of the events leading up to your question on Fluther. you will need days, dates and times of all of the above that has occured or is now occuring. you are building a case against your ex and the court needs proof, not just words. if you do not have a camera, buy one. take photos of your daughter and any marks you find on her. also, photos of days her mother has threatened her to the point of tears. take a photo and add this to your diary in words. i assume you have had an attorney throughout this ordeal. once you believe you have enough physical evidence to ask the court for full custody of your daughter, then contact your attorney and set a date. photos speak louder than words. they tell the whole story. good luck. john

klutzaroo's avatar

Take her to a therapist immediately. Tell them that you are concerned that she’s being abused and that you may be seeking full custody (which you need to do if she’s not capable of parenting) and you need them to document what’s been happening and what they hear when they talk to her with a mind toward going to court if necessary. Then see what you find and what you need to do from there. If there’s abuse, they’re required to report it to CPS. And they will keep up with it.

Make lists. Document everything. And if you need to take her to courts to get full custody and keep your daughter from being abused, do it. But do it in such a way that you’re completely prepared and are able to make it as short a process as possible for the sake of your daughter.

skfinkel's avatar

From what I have learned about court, and from what I have heard, it will cost buckets of money and unless the mother is literally destroying the child and she is covered with welts, there will be no change. Crying hysterically that she doesn’t want to be with her mother will not create a change. Her mother would have to be drunkenly beating her and that would have to be seen on tape—for a change. Narcissists, while horrible for children, seems way too subtle for courts to identify and make a change in custody. I think the wisdom of the courts (if it was ever there) is gone. (Who really believes that it is good for children to be traveling back and forth between two households? whoever thought that up has much to learn about child development.) Since you already had the custody eval, there is little hope that would change. You should be keeping a record. And if you see real abuse, you must report it. But, it seems to me that your situation is better than it might be, and if you just keep helping out the mother by taking your daughter more, as a convenience to the mother and without reducing the money she is getting, you might end up with the result you want without the drama, the expense, and the very dubious outcome.

earthduzt's avatar

@skfinkel you’re right about the courts being muffed up about what they think is right for the child. You know when the custody eval came to visit me and lived with me for a week, she was very impressed with the way my daughter responded to me and the way I handled her. She was so impressed that she made a recommendation to the courts that I have her 1 week and she keep her 1 week…I had to pass on that one, talk about rotating households…that would have messed her up completely I believe, she would have no sense of a home then for sure.
Also, you are absolutely right about it costing tons of money, we paid our divorce separate she paid her half I paid mine…it cost me 35 thousand dollars in where it cost my ex $1800.00.
I will though definitely start to keep records of anything and everything regarding this situation for “just the in case”

Again thank you for the advice, well taken.

likipie's avatar

I can understand the mother being upset about her daughter losing her jacket, but a spanking isn’t appropriate in this situation, to me. I have no problem with spanking a child (my mother spanks my little sister, and it works) when it’s used in the proper way. The wetting the bed thing; she’s treating your daughter like my mom does our dog when she pees in the house. Children should, under no circumstances, be treated like animals!! I’m sure the girl knows what she did, but she has no control over it! It probably happened because she’s stressed out from having to deal with how her mother treats her! Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to change the state’s rules. It appears to me that your ex wife doesn’t want your daughter around, even when she was born it seems like your ex didn’t like her. Have you ever talked to her about letting your daughter spend more time at your house?

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