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Need Some Help Answering Questions About An Absent Father

My daughter is 2 1/2 years old now. Her father and I have been off and on for the past 4 years. He is an alcoholic and drug addict. He went into a Christian rehabilitation program in 2011 for 7 months and came out seemingly different. However, he seemed to learn only new "lingo" to convince people that he is changed and sober. But, he is not. After 3 months of living together again and my child building a memory of him, we are now split for good. He has not tried to contact her in over 3 weeks, does not pay child support, has been using drugs and alcohol again, and recently lost his job. -To explain to you how severe his case of addiction is, on April 26th, our daughter fell and bust 3 teeth out of socket. She had to have 3 removed and a 4th was a possibility. Thankfully, she was able to keep the 4th tooth. The doctors in the ER that night gave her a toddler prescription for pain which was Tylenol and a small amount of hydrocodone in it - which, she did well without. But, when she was able to eat solid foods and was definitely in the clear - Her dad stole it and pretended that I lost it at the babysitter's and then admitted that he "took it and threw it away because she didn't need it anymore." By that point, I had already bust him with beer, marijauna, and prescription medication. So, I knew he drank her medicine. Now, she is always asking about her daddy. Before he came out of treatment, she had no clue who he was because we had been seperated for over a year. However, in the last few months that we were trying to make our "family" work, she has created memories of him and asks about him every night. I started off by telling her that "Daddy's at work." That was sufficiant. Then, I realized that after a couple of tantrums as she'd scream at me "I want to see daddy!" I knew I needed to give her a better explaination. She's quite the smart little toddler, as all kids pick up on things quite fast. So, I started to explain that "Daddy lives at his house and we have our house." I tell her that "We're a good team!" Right now, that's working. But, she calls other men "Daddy" For example, the little girl at the babysitter's dad is "Daddy" to my daughter. She also called a best friend of mine's "Daddy (and his name). Last night, she called to me asking again to see her daddy and I said to her "Well baby, he lives at his house and we might not see him" (He is also without a vehicle and is from another state) I don't know what to tell her except that he's at his house and we might not see him for a while. I have no clue where or when he will resurface. I really wish at this point that he would just give me full parental rights. I have raised her since she is 10 days old on my own and I have always been the one to provide all 3 of our needs. In fact, he has past referred to me as the "bread winner in the family". But, he will let her go- not for love or to be present in raising her, but because of his pride. His own father was an addict and died when he was 13 tragically in a jet ski accident (intoxicated) and crashed into a boat. He was then raised by an abusive step father and his family is not even present in my child's life. They all live in separate states. They have sent her gifts and cards during the holidays. But, her paternal grandmother has seen her only 3 or 4 times in the last 2 1/2 years. My daughter does not even know who she is, or who her father's family is. Am I doing the right things? I make sure to call dinner time "Family Dinner Time" and play time "Family Play Time" and everything is "Family ---- Time." Last night is the 1st time I told her that "We probably won't see daddy again for a long time and that I didn't know if we were going to see daddy again." She continued playing and I asked her if that was "Okay?" and she was completely fine and happy and said "Yes." I should mention... she's a very happy little girl who wakes up and falls aslepp with a smile on her face every single day. I tell her I love her constantly. She's very bright and we sing and play games, and read constantly. We count, we do chores together and sing songs while we do, and I have her on a very structural and consistant routine everyday and night. But, I'm so worried for her future. I don't show my feelings except constant feelings of joy and love for her. But, I have tears of fear coming to me as I write this. I did not come from a split home. In fact, I have a family where my mother and father's siblings are all married - no one in my family was ever divorced and I just have no clue how to deal with this situation. It is so foreign to me. Any words of advice? Anyone?
rands2010 rands2010 31-35, F 2 Responses Jul 30, 2012

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You have to also know kids call people mom and dad all the time its totally normal. They hear other kids calling their parents mom and dad.

Okay first stop telling her lies! Explain that daddy loves you but is really sick and it is not safe to see him while he is not well. Explain that you love her and will try really hard to make things better. Know he may never get better and it isn't worth it to hold on to a broken man. He will only hurt your child and cause damage to her growing heart. Don't feel bad about him leaving feel good about doing what is best for her. Nothing else matters but her safety!

I'm not telling her lies! That's a bit offensive. The truth is that he works offshore - so, that leaves him absent and he lives somewhere else. Agonicole - I appreciate your words. But, telling my child lies is far from reality. She's 2 1/2 years old.

Correction - He work"ed" offshore and that put him on a 28/14 schedule - lost that job, tried a land job and lost that one. So, he has been gone most of her life. I do tell her that he loves her and we look at pictures and I talk about how we're a family and live in our house and daddy's our family too but he lives in his house. I refuse to tell my 2 1/2 year old child that "Daddy's Sick and Not Safe" -I understand your point. But, Age - Appropriate, please. That's a conversation for her as she gets more matured, I believe. I don't lie to her. I don't sugar coat anything. But, I'm not going to build a fear in her of her father. I want to try to answer this and handle it as she brings it up. I don't bring up his problems to her. She's too little for that load right now.

As a child of a drunk I know what its like to have a mother that believes you can still be a good parent while drinking your life away. I watched as my father got worse and went to jail for drunk driving. If he isn't going to control he illness you have to understand she will watch him get worse and know he is sick. My early memory is of my father drunk at my 4th birthday party.

You want so badly for him to be better but you aren't doing anyone any favours by acting like he isn't making himself sick. By acting like he isn't hurting everyone around him your just making the situation worse.

I appreciate all of this. I've made the decision that he can't be around her. He can take me to court if he wants and let them decide. But, in the past, because he became very harmful and destructive we had a protective order. So, that could help me in the future if her were to try and get custody. But, he hasn't even made any attempt since July 8th to even talk to her. The last time that he saw her was on (or around) June 25th. He seemed normal and was a very loving and playful father. However, as we left the park for their "visit" he got angry with me when I asked him about helping me with child support and went into a rage about his father dying when he was a child and all sorts of things that were very ugly and my baby was in the back seat of the car. I started to drive away and in front of everyone at the park, he yelled at me that I was a stupid "C" word and a ***** and right then and there, I knew he was not coming around us, or her anymore. That last contact made with her was on a phone conversation in which I had on Speaker so that I could monitor the conversation and he was pleasant, sounded sober, and they talked about her princess cartoons and she mostly played and didn't say very much. It's such a sad and heartbreaking situation. As she gets older, especially when the subject of drugs and alcohol come up, I will be honest with her. I pray that as she grows up to know why her father isn't present in her life, it will deter her from using alcohol and drugs. As a mother, I couldn't imagine missing any moment of her life. These last 2 1/2 years have been the most incredible years of my life. I couldn't imagine anything being greater that my daughter. She's electric. She's a very strong willed child and a smart little girl. We have a happy and healthy home and in the time he has been gone which is now going on 2 months since we have split up (for good) and the last month that he hasn't seen her, she's continued to live a happy life. But, her confusion about "daddy" is setting in and she is missing him dearly. That's what is so hard to watch. But, I know this is the best thing and that he can't be around her. He can't be trusted. On top of everything else, he is a pathological liar and a great con artist. He knows how to play people and he tries to play with people's minds. But, I will not allow that to be done with my child. She is way too precious and special for that. Her innocense will not be destroyed by his selfish and addictive ways. I am so sorry for what you endured as a child. Your story is helping me to understand. I worry so dearly - What will happen in my daughter's life? How will this effect her as she grows up and becomes a woman?? I had both of my parents there. I won't be able to relate to her experiences in life without a father because I did have mine and I hate him for doing this to her. But, I don't ever let show that I do. I always put on a smile and I stay focused and I'm one of those silly kinda cheesy moms that makes sure that she knows she is first and most important to me. I will tell her that her dad loves her and I do. But, I know that he can't be around her. When I found all of what he was hiding (beer, weed, pills) that was the last straw. -wait... let me take that back --- when he admitted that he took our child's pain medicine, that was the most disgusting and sickening thing I'd ever heard... so that just topped it all off and I knew she would never be safe around him.

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