02-16-2011, 12:12 PM
I'll be starting Part 2 of the book tonight, and will probably read through the whole thing from there.
I guess I'm a bit cautious to post anything yet, because I'm wondering if finishing the book should be the first step, and then to come here.
If I am correct, please let me know. Thank you.
02-16-2011, 12:21 PM
As an example of what I mean, if I asked if it's proper to tell her that I do not condone the relationship, but cannot do anything to stop her, there might be something in the book that specifically addresses this. Therefore, I'd be wasting people's time asking such a thing here.
On one hand, I'm emotion-filled right now, thinking the worst, feeling powerless (and I guess it's not just a feeling, it's reality), and while I am finding a bit of peace from finding then starting to read the book, I guess I'm anxious to start helping her, and helping myself. On the other hand, I don't want to bombard the forum with questions that are answered in the book.
Anyway, thanks for allowing me my little rant.
02-17-2011, 07:56 PM
Probably best to finish the book first. As I recall (it's been several months) the last part talks about the adolescent brain, which is very helpful.
The main thing I took from the book is to stay calm. There are few disasters that parent's freaking out cannot make worse.
The truth is, there are many areas that we don't have as much control over as we wish. We can offer caring and attention, but not control over everything. The trick is figuring out what is our problem and what isn't.
02-18-2011, 01:13 PM
I appreciate your reply. Thank you.
I know "Doc Mike" had seen my topic here the day it was posted, but didn't reply. I wasn't hurt or upset by it, because I figured I was like most any other adult out there - looking for something from someone else, that needs to come from within (if that makes sense).
I did finish the book as I said, and have already worked on myself as a result. Doing the best I can (at this early stage) to recognize the things inside myself that do nothing to help this wonderful 15 yo girl.
The book covers, as best as it can, the variety of family situations (like divorce, single-parenthood, etc.), but of course, it cannot address every possible family situation. So I believe if I am to post messages here, it's best that I provide the specifics of our "family" situations. I placed family in quotes for a reason.
Jen was a little over 7 when I first met her. My girlfriend worked with Jen's mom (Sam), and they went from co-workers to friends comfortably quick. On this occasion, I was tagging along because my girlfriend wanted me to meet her new friend Sam.
We entered their apartment, and - you know how you don't just go walking all around someone's place when you first meet them, rather, you kinda just stand in their entryway, kinda hanging there a bit, jacket still on, and let some comfort settle in first? We did this. Where I was standing was met perpendicularly by the hallway leading to the bedrooms, and as I look down this hallway, I see this little face peek out past a door frame and stare right at me. Staring at me with that "who are you?" look, coupled with that oddly big smile that seems to say, "I don't know who you are, but you're intriguing me".
I remember that day vividly.
We adults talked about regular things through the next couple hours, all the while this little girl was injecting herself into as much of our conversations as possible, not rudely - but the way you'd imagine a 7 yo would do it. I didn't mind. She was entertaining the way kids are.
Fast forward to our drive home from their apartment, and my girlfriend tells me the story -- that Jen's dad pretty much has nothing to do with her, ever since she was about 2. He lives back in their home state (10 hours away), and Sam's boyfriend (Jeff) is the reason she's in this state, following him to a job opportunity. Jeff and Sam have been together since Jen was about 4, but for the most part, Jen and Jeff are like much younger sister and her much older brother. Jeff, by the way, was out of town for work that weekend, so I hadn't met him yet, at that point.
Sam had Jen when she was 18, and by 20 she was a single mom.
I was bothered by the thoughts of Jen's dad ditching the responsibility for his little girl. I was unsure of what to think of Jen's pseudo-bigbrother (Sam's boyfriend). But one thing I knew, was that I felt a sense of duty to give this little girl a good male role model, in whatever capacity I could.
Eventually, since Jeff was out of town for work a lot, Sam and my girlfriend would do stuff together. And that meant that Jen would tag along (can't leave a 7 yo by herself at the apartment). Moving forward a little more, there came a time when Jen would be asking my girlfriend what time I was getting home from work. It was always about the same time, but she'd still ask. Anxious to see me, I guess. I suppose the attention that I gave her was why she looked forward to my arrival. I'd help her with homework, talk about things that interested her (like dolls, and friends, and teachers, and crafts, and whatever a 7 yo is into).
If I move forward a little quicker (she's 15 now), we had developed a relationship that became father/daughterish by the time she was 9, with me often being the person she talks to about things. I would always remind her (at relevant times) of the selflessness of her mother, essentially raising her on her own, and she definitely loves her mom. I'm there for her sports, and also still for her homework, and issues with friends, and general life situations. I've helped her understand her mom's boyfriend better over the years (they're now married, and my girlfriend is also my wife now).
Generally speaking, up until she started high school back this past August, I would see her on Tuesdays, and Thursdays, where I would take her to sports, and talk about the stuff going on in her life, helping wherever she needed. She would also spend time with my wife and I on weekends, doing the same type of family stuff she would do at home, eating dinners at the table, and talking.
I'm sure this is a simplified version of the situation that this "family" is in, which makes sense because 8 years of life can't be summarized in a small series of paragraphs, but hopefully that's a fair summary.
So, for many things over the years, Jen has viewed me as the father-figure, and has specifically told me that.
Reading the book, there are stories of parents who have what they felt was the model kid, doing excellent in school, dedicated to sports, and otherwise being a great kid. And now this 15 year old has a boyfriend who is 17, and has his own car, and since she met him (provided we truly know when it began), her grades are no longer in the A zone, and she doesn't seem to know if she still wants to play soccer. She does have advanced classes, so being in the B zone is possibly(?) not a sign that her grades are actually lower, and she hasn't specifically said she's not playing soccer any longer, but tryouts are coming, and she talks nothing of them.
I know now that I must learn to think differently, because I see the absolute worst all the time. Something I think is a planning tool, but regrettably offers little solace, and rarely does the worst actually happen. It's a poison, I know. And I'm working on me about that. I think in the 3 weeks of their boyfriend/girlfriend relationship that they've already had sex, or done something anyway, and that scares me. And then I feel like perhaps I am short-changing her, that she hasn't done anything more than enjoy kissing.
But what it all boils down to, I think, is this:
Is it even possible for me to be the father? Even if her mother and I discuss things openly with her, working on ourselves where needed, and work on the negotiating with her, and responsibility, and consequences?
She's been such a big part of our lives, and we a big part of theirs, but can it be done with the same players, in the same situation, while she grows through this period in her life?
04-10-2011, 01:19 PM
Dear Sort-of Dad,
I'd suggest forgetting about specific titles such as "father" and more focus on the unique and powerful opportunity you have as an adult that she clearly values to shape the beliefs of this girl. Without that burden of the job title of "Father" you are free of a lot of the things that clutter up the normal father/daughter relationship (such as fights over messy rooms, curfew and so on), and thus you can cut to the chase of important issues in this girl's life, such as weighing the value of her self-pursuits (grades, sports) against the draw of boyfriends. So, yes, absolutely you can do much of the critical work of a "father" with her.
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