How Do I Build A Relationship With My Teenage Daughters That Are Uncomfortable With Me?

My wife recently filed for divorce. That is OK; we’ve not gotten along for years. But the hard part is - my daughters are uncomfortable with me. I have done nothing to cause this type of alienation. (I haven’t been a perfect dad, but I have NOT abused them!) I believe my STBX has specifically driven a wedge between us.

A bit of background on the girls. 3 girls, each of them very different. I will refer to them as 16yo for the 16 year old, 14yo for the 14 year old, and 12yo for the 12 year old. We also have an 18 year old son with whom I have a great relationship.

16yo has always kept to herself. As a child we had a decent relationship but about 11 she began pulling back from me and clinging to her mother. The past years she doesn’t even want to be around me. My STBX in the middle tried to encourage me to reach out to her, but in reality facilitated her not liking me. STBX always sided with 16yo and undermined any parental authority I had in disciplining her. (not punishing her – just talking about issues.)

September 2009 16yo accused me of sexual abuse. Children’s Services did a formal investigation and determined the allegations were unsubstantiated. But that was enough for my wife to move out and eventually file divorce. 16yo still does not want to be around me and hasn’t been since September. I have written her several letters which she has not opened.

I was very close to 14yo as a child, when 16yo pulled back I thought that could never happen with 14yo. But it did. Not as intense. More - just uncomfortable.

I was very close to 12yo as well – until last Sept as a matter of fact. Now she is just not sure because she just doesn’t know what’s going on.

I have had visitation about two hours a week since Sept. STBX plans an activity and is there – I am more of a tag-a-long. I cannot even talk to the girls without STBX being part of the conversation. It tends to be very uncomfortable – a chore.

It is clear to me SBTX has perpetuated the alienation. What she has said (and not said) causes the girls to be very uncomfortable around me. They ‘had’ to move out from our property – 15 acres where they grew up and we all loved? Dad’s not allowed to be around us in church? They are probably thinking “It must be really bad”.

Starting in a week or so we will have supervised visitation at a local YWCA supervised by a trained staff member – NOT STBX! But it will be awkward and I’m somewhat concerned how to handle it.

I have no communication with the girls. 14yo and 12yo both ‘friended’ me on facebook – but generally do not respond to personal messages. Only if it is a factual thing then they might answer but they do not open up and talk. I’m pretty sure they are afraid of what their mother might think.

Does anybody have suggestions how to connect with them?
mikebob mikebob
46-50, M
2 Responses Jul 11, 2010

Thanks, Dartist. that does help.

When you have this meeting with your daughters, first reassure them that you will always love them and that the breakup was in no way their fault. Bring a special treat for each of them that you know they will like. It does not have to be something big but a way of letting them know that you are thinking about them while you are apart. Ask about their activities and friends. Assure them that you are alright and that you wish for their mother to be happy in her future life. <br />
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Teenage girls use FB to interact with their friends so little contact is normal concerning you about anything personal. Tell them that you are and always will be interested in their lives and what they are doing. Any accomplishments in their lives can be met with "Good going! I am so proud of you!". Keep comments about your STBX out of the conversation unless they bring something up and then discuss her in a calm way and stress that you want her to be happy and that you wish her well. Regardless of her actions, she will always be their mother. <br />
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I hope this helps in some way, mikebob. Peace,D.