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Life of A Woman Who Lives With A Guilt Parenting Dad

OneTiredChick's picture

I’m not long winded in my real life but have learned to express myself through writing. It's one of the few things I do for myself to keep my sanity.

I'm in the beginning phase of "uncoupling" (trying to be fancy and PC here lol). After 11 1/2 years living with Disney Dad I need to regain the little piece of me that’s left and nurture it back into the person I was before meeting this man.  

So here's something I wrote a few months back....

Many divorced dads parent out of a place of fear and guilt. Fear that their child will not want to see them if they say no, and guilt over the divorce and more than likely only seeing their child every other weekend if the Mom has primary custody. This parenting style lends itself to a perfect storm of entitlement, selfishness and arrogance for the child. 

Have you ever heard of a strict divorced parent talk about turmoil in their home? Maybe the normal crap teens try and pull, but not the stomach churning, depression inducing ridiculousness that goes on in homes of divorcees who parent out of fear and guilt. It’s a slow process that begins with Dad letting little Susie stay up until midnight when she’s 6, maybe not caring that she didn’t eat dinner before giving her ice cream every night, making sure she gets a toy (or 6) every time the family walks into a store, having daddy crawl into bed with Susie every night to help her get to sleep (or having Susie come into daddy and stepmoms room and daddy inviting her into the marital bed). Each new "yes" such as saying yes to Susie wanting a sleepover seems to turn into the norm as opposed to a once in a while event. So now every other weekend there’s a half dozen girls staying at the house because once Dad said yes to that sleepover he didn’t have the balls to keep it as something special, a reward for doing something right, instead of the new way of life when Susie is at the house. 

As a child of a guilty divorced Dad gets older the power structure seems to morph. You can’t even really put your finger on when it changed as there was never really a time when Dad enforced stability, instead he always came off as a piece of taffy that’s sat in the sun.... wavering, pliable, folding in on itself, never taking a direct shape or position. Susie saw that as kids are much smarter than we give them credit for, and she knew she could use it to get all that she wanted (as most kids would). 

Children will test the waters in every family; it’s what kids do. It teaches them boundaries and negotiation skills. Children who are parented out of fear and guilt though are in a category by themselves. These children learn that no (if they ever hear the word) really means yes with just a small amount of pushback, that societal norms don’t apply when they’re with daddy (a can of cherry pie filling on a waffle for breakfast, McDonalds for lunch and pizza for dinner as opposed to at least one healthy meal that includes the color green? Sure!), that the word "excess" has no place in daddy's vocabulary (because we wouldn’t want Susie to feel underprivileged by not getting every damn thing she mentions when she says, "I wish I had ...."), and that they can effectively change the family dynamic with one question ("Daaadddyyy, why does stepmom have to do stuff with us? When she’s around you don’t give me ALL of your attention and I FEEL UNLOVED"). Now does Susie really feel unloved? No she doesn’t, but she wants to get stepmom out of the picture because many times stepmom is the voice of reason ("Does Susie really need her 17th pair of Ugg boots?"). 

By time Susie is a teenager the household is in turmoil and the family roles are flipped. Susie is now dictating to daaadddyy what food she expects to be present in the pantry upon her bi-weekly arrival (brand names are on top of the list, because DelMonte fruit in a can taste so much different than store brand). Susie has previously (most likely on Wednesday) texted Dad to tether him for the weekend. The text most likely included how Susie would love to go out to eat with Dad on Friday and Sunday, would love to go shopping with Dad on Saturday, making sure to include how she respects dad’s fashion sense to butter him up so his credit card can easily slide from his fingers, and maybe throwing in how there’s a new rated R movie that she’d love to see, so could Dad take her since she’s only 15. Now will all of this actually happen? There’s a good chance it won’t, but Susie has effectively tied dad’s hands behind his back because Dad will sit around in case Susie wants to do the things she mentioned. This succeeds in making stepmom madder than hell because it’s now guaranteed that Dad will tell her that him and Susie have plans all weekend. Is it the plans that piss stepmom off? Of course not. It’s knowing that this is the thousandth time that Susie has cut dad’s legs out from under him just to get under stepmoms skin, using Dad as a weapon against stepmom. Susie will NEVER go to dinner with Dad, go shopping with Dad (although she’ll take his credit card), and while she will have Dad take her and her friends to that rated R movie, he has to leave after the girls are seated. He will be an on-call taxi service and an ATM. And on Sunday when Susie is getting ready to leave and Dad expresses how sad he is that Susie didn’t spend a minute with him, she will promise her next weekend at the house all to him (yup, she just tied him up to get at stepmom another weekend) and she’ll look over her shoulder at stepmom when she’s walking out the door and laugh. 

Stepmom will have stopped trying to be a family a longtime ago at this point. The nice dinners she used to make, being sure to put emphasis on preparing only foods Susie would eat have gone out the window. One too many times stepmom would have made a huge dinner, making enough for the half dozen girls at the house, only to have Dad throw it away because Susie suddenly stopped liking what was made (only to piss stepmom off) and huffed until Dad took 6 girls to the restaurant Susie requested. Of course the very next day when Dad asked Susie what she wants for dinner that night (because Susie decides what the family now eats) she would say the exact dish that was thrown away the night before. Instead of Dad saying, "No Susie, we just threw away that meal" Dad will get in the car and go buy the previously wasted ingredients. "IF" Dad has found his balls and asks Susie why she said she didn’t want it the night before, he'll be told, "Dad, you know I’m a teenager and I’m prone to waver back and forth" and Dad will laugh and shake his head and tell her she’s hysterical while stepmom is turning 18 shades of purple and smoke is exiting her ears. Susie will look at stepmom and laugh, knowing that’s just enough to throw stepmom into a tizzy that will ensure she'll either get her keys and leave or hide in the bedroom to regain her sanity. 

The topping on the cake is the state of the house after Susie goes back to her mother, who runs a tight ship and doesn’t allow disrespect to her husband. Stepmom will be so exhausted that the first time Dad says "boo" she will blow a gasket. This will begin a fight that lasts just about 10 days, 2 days before Susie comes back and starts the process all over again. During those 10 days stepmom will have to hear how she’s so mean to Susie, how stepmom doesn’t understand children (because Susie told Dad years ago that she’d never come back to dads if he had a baby with stepmom, so stepmom only has a dog), and the fight will devolve into a war, Dad and Susie on one side and stepmom standing alone on the other side. 

There will be 2 days every 2 weeks that Dad and stepmom get along, possibly even getting promises from Dad that he will not cave to Susie’s demands. Dad may even tell stepmom that he sees Susie can be a handful, but always correcting his criticism of his daughter by saying, "She’s a normal teenager. They’re all selfish and out to get what they want. Susie is no different and you’re being unfair thinking she’s any different than how you were at 15". Stepmom bites her tongue HARD because that personal attack has been used dozens of times before and Dad always apologizes for it, but quickly forgets his apology when he uses it again. 

And so life goes on in this unhealthy cycle with a divorced dad who parents out of fear and guilt. 

(The story is true, the name of the child has been changed to protect the stepmom, who can’t say the child’s real name without vomiting)



Simpleton21's picture

Ugh, the guilty daddy syndrome is so nauseating for sure!  My SO is terrible with this, he even told me once that he ruined SD's life by getting a divorce!  Really?!?! SD is the most spoiled, entitled child I have ever met, she wants for nothing and plays BM and SO like a fiddle!  I told him if that was the case go back to BM and fix it and give her the life she deserves with her real parents!  *bad*

Thankfully my SO can't afford to spoil her like the example you gave....and I would never stand by and watch all that!  That is too much!!!!! I already had some major blow ups over smaller things that I will not tolerate.

secondplace's picture

Funny, when I was reading this, I thought, "this is quite a tall tale!", not even thinking it could remotely be true.   Wow, good for you for "uncoupling" if this is how your life is/was.


OneTiredChick's picture

My mom always says she wouldn’t believe it if she had not seen these things for herself lol! You have no idea how much I wish it was a tale. 

Simpleton21's picture

That is extreme and I thought reading all the way through that it was an exaggeration of things and hoping it wasn't real.  However, I am thinking if my SO could afford to do all that for precious little SD he would try.  I would have to leave a situation like that.  No way would I be able to handle that crap!  

Dovina's picture

I love the way your words captured the realities of a Disney Dad , Disney Princess, and exhausted dumbfounded SM. NY best seller says a must read!!.

OneTiredChick's picture

Thank you Dovina Smile I’ve often thought that one day I’d put all my diary entries together and see where it goes. But I’d be too embarrassed to let most people know that I put up with this for so long.  

Simpleton21's picture

I agree it was very well worded and I would read a lot more if you wrote a book!  Don't be embarassed!  We have all done things we aren't proud of!  You live and you learn!  

Dovina's picture

People, especially SP's would empathize and your experiences would resonate with us. It would make so many have the AHA moment "I'm not crazy". In fact the embarrassment would be on ex DH, and princess would hold her head in shame on how she was (well maybe not, it depends if entitleds have a conscience).

Rags's picture

Now,  what are  you planning on doing different in all of this? 

Welcome by the way. I hope that you find this to be a good place to vent, contribute and to pick  up some good advice and perspective from others who are living or have lived the adventure of the blended family dream.

I look forward to reading  your thoughts and ideas.

lala-land's picture

wow, this is my life times 3 ( I’ve got 2 princesses, SD22 and SD27, and 1 prince, SS24) with ever other week visitation until they turned 18 and the icing on the cake was a PASing Disney BM.  Talk about spoiled, entitled kids. I’ve been with my husband for 18 years and all of his kids still try to manipulate him with guilt trips and requests for money.  You certainly expressed better than I ever could the effects of poor parenting on families and the ridiculous lengths that some parents go through to keep their kids happy.

thinkthrice's picture

word for word.  You are giving me flash backs from the years 2004-2009!!!  And this is with all THREE skids.  
Fortunately for me, my skids all PASed out and Chef (my SO) didn't have ANY funds after the BM (Girhippo) left him with quite literally the shirt off his back ONLY.   There was NO way he could legally pursue his speck of parental rights on the CO (which isn't worth the paper it's written on).

Tiger7's picture

I also thought this was a made up exaggeration of events.  I'm grateful I waited to date again until my kids were older (when the youngest went off to college).  Didn't want to date a man with kids but did it anyway but I'm glad they weren't real young.  Pretty sure I wouldn't have dealt too well with that.

Good luck  - hope everything works out for you 

AlwaysSmiling's picture

I am part of a closed/secret group on facebook: Support group for anyone living with Mini Wife Syndrome. There's not many of us, just over 100 in the whole group (from all parts of the world). We share experiances and frustrations and try to offer friendly encouragements & tidbits of advice to each other. The women in the group have become a lifeline for me! I don't know how I would have survived this last year without them!

OneTiredChick's picture

I hate seeing other people in the same boat as me, yet it’s also comforting to know I’m not alone. What I always find amazing is how many different ladies (and men’s) situations are similar. Is there a secret Disney Dad manual being passed around that we don’t know about? 

AlwaysSmiling's picture

LOL, I know exactly what you mean. It's like they go to class to learn exactly what to do and say in order to make the most inappropriate fathers. To the rest of the world, they appear as a loving, doting dad, but those of us with the inside view, we see them for the trainwrecks they are. I was friends with my boyfriend for many years before we started dating. I just never really saw him around his daughter that much. I enjoyed seeing his FB posts about him showering her with attention, and taking her on daddy/daughter dances, and selfies that he would take with her. But when we started dating and I saw how bad it was, it was all about her, all the time. When she is around, life revolves around her, and when she isn't it seems that's all he thinks about.  I have disengaged with so many things. I don't go in public with the two of them anymore- no need to, I'm just a third wheel.

At first, I just felt at first that there was something wrong with me for being jealous of his affections towards his daughter. But with the help from my support group, I can see the difference from just normal jealousy, and then me disliking his abnormal/perverse behavior. 


Simpleton21's picture

Sadly, all the things you mentioned in your first paragraph are the same things that attracted me to my SO, thinking he was a wonderful dad.  Funny how the very thing that attracted you in the first place is now so disturbing.  You just don't see how bad it is until you are living in it!  STEPHELL!!!!!  

AlwaysSmiling's picture

Yup, sadly, I used to think he was going to treat me the same way. NOOOOPE!

He gets dressed all up to go anywhere with her, and will wear stained up clothes and cut off shorts when out with me. 

They get dressed up for their yearly Daddy/Daughter dance with new matching outfits and the date includes dinner at a fancy restauraunt. Last time I mentioned dancing to him, he told me that his dancing days were over. 

You never get anything special, just for you. Like, if we go camping, then she just has to go camping too. Can't have anything that is just for the two of us. 

Always always always 2nd place in his mind. It really is a special kind of hell.  

invisastepmom's picture

That sounds like my life. Except I have to deal with Daddies little boy who is 20 now yet reverts to a baby when he doesn't get his way


Claire52's picture

Great read. My husband just constantly gives his 3 grown up kids (25, 19 and 16) cash whenever they text and ask! My 25 year old SS has more disposable income than me! They are all also constantly down or stressed or throwing dramas about something in their personal lives (none of them seem to have any mates) and his phone rings constantly to resolve their issues (they don’t live with us). He grows resentful that I don’t have same worries with my kids (1 of my kids still at home) and we end up arguing as he’s honestly hard to love when he’s full of bitterness that my kids are emotionally stable and his are clearly not (long story - ex wife emotionally unstable, blames everything and everyone for all her misfortunes). I’ve had 12 years of this now and it looks like it’s getting worse as they get older. They barely speak to me as I’m brushed to one side most of the time (always been the case). 

I invested so much time on them growing up, but found I am now trying to forget them a bit more  they’re older as I need to try to get on with my life (my own kids have had enough of their dramas too). it’s just hard to be around a man who’s down about his family almost every day. I’ve tried listening, helping, nothing works he won’t take my advice carries on with his style of parenting.