Who is the selfish one here?

Ok–here’s the background. I left my husband in September because of his drinking, selfishness, bad temper, emotional abuse, and what I feared this destructive relationship was doing to our six year old daughter. He has a bad back and is in pain a great deal of the time…he’s on disability and doesn’t work.

Since then, he has stopped drinking, stopped losing his temper. He’s been going to church with my daughter and I and has some nice Christian men for friends.

He calls me pretty much every day and we see each other a lot. At first I was incredulous but now I think he’s really trying to make amends.

My daughter has a bad cold and I anticipate that she won’t be attending school on Monday.
I would like him to watch her. He told me that this time I should take a day off and be with her myself. When I pressed him, he said that she gets bored when he watches her and doesn’t like it when he just watches TV and she always wants attention. He watched her for two days a few weeks ago when she was sick. Then he started saying that I’m taking advantage of him. (the old competition thing again, just like before)
I told him that I thought she would be hurt if she knew he didn’t particularly want to spend time with her. He said that what will hurt her is when I make an issue of this king of thing. He says I don’t think his time is valuable. For crying out loud, I have a full time job and I’m with her 90% of the time. He stays home and watches TV all day. It seems to me that if he watched her for 8 hours one day in a week, he’d still six days to watch TV all day.
So, what I want is a guy who absolutely adores me and my daughter. I know he loves us in his way. At this point I just wonder if that’s enough to revive and sustain this relationship. Thoughts, anyone?

“Predictable, really I suppose. It was an act of purest optimism to have posed the question in the first place.” --John Cleese

I am

a) not a husband, and
b) not a father.

That said, I think a dad isn’t pulling his weight if he doesn’t want to be with his kid at LEAST half the time, if not more.

Being with your child shouldn’t be a chore. It should be a joy.

I am frankly jealous, sometimes, of my brother and his wife with my two nephews… of my friends with their kids… I wish I had a family… I hope someday I will… and I am positive that I will never gripe at my wife about the “chore” of being with my kids.

Just my thoughts…

  • Rick

Right on Bricker! If his child isnt important enough to him to turn the t.v. off for a few hours and spend some quality time taking care of her, then perhaps he’s not worth having in your life. Parents need to learn that when they spend time alone with kids they arent “babysitting”, they are “parenting” a commitment they made from conception.

If your daughter gets bored with him, maybe he should be a bit creative and think up some other activities away from the television.

We are, each of us angels with only one wing,and we can only fly by embracing one another

Doesn’t sound like dad and daughter have made a connection yet. If he’s been a non-participating dad (and it sounds like he has), then he’s gonna be uncomfortable and she’s going to be bored. It’d be almost like watching a friend’s kid, and some people just never “take” to kids. Even their own. Sad, huh.

From your daughter’s point of view, she undoubtedly loves her daddy and is hurt when he doesn’t pay attention to her. Especially bad if he hasn’t been around.

One part of me says do your daughter a favor and stay home with her.

Another part says think of something for her to do so she won’t be demanding something that her dad can’t provide right now. Get her some library books, or rent some videos, so she won’t be so “demanding” of her dad. (Geez, can’t believe I said that.)

Another part thinks dad is pretty damned selfish and narcissistic.

Good for him that he’s trying to change his life, but an alcoholic friend of mine told me once that sometimes people can quit drinking and still be assholes.

Just one question…just how bad is his back? Is he that physically limited?

Me? I’d read books, make paper airplanes, go for a drive, make some fun food, maybe watch a video, play cards, and do some other things that didn’t require too much physical exertion.

It’s hard for me to understand when someone doesn’t want to spend time with their kids. Hell, I’d joyously be a stay-at-home dad if some woman would be kind enough to support my son and me. And I’d even have dinner waiting for her as long as she liked chili cheese dogs, potato chips, chocolate pudding and lime Kool-aid.

Sounds like my kind of meal… does it come with tums? :wink:

We are, each of us angels with only one wing,and we can only fly by embracing one another

I agree with you on this one. They grow up so fast. He should be keeping her every chance he gets while you work. It’s not the point of making it easy on you…it’s the point that he needs quality time with his daughter. The TV should be the first thing to go. He can do other things with her. Stick to your guns.

“Do or do not, there is no try” - Yoda

Gail, the smartest thing you ever could have done was to leave this man. I’m probably opening myself up to being raked over the coals for what I’m about to say, but I’m going to say it anyway. Alcoholics are the most manipulative, selfish, abusive people you could ever be around.

Everything is about them, and how they feel. You are never part of the equation (and unfortunately, neither is your daughter). You, and what you’re going through, do not matter to them in the least. They will piss and moan about their hardships, and yours can be damned.

It has been my experience that people who drown themselves in drink do so because they have very deep underlying problems that cause the drinking. Those problems don’t disappear miraculously when the drinking stops. This man needs phychiatric help, not just a church social.

Frankly, if it were me, I’d quit worrying about what’s “fair” and “right” about how much time you each spend with your daughter, and worry about your daughter having proper care when you can’t be with her. Screw being equitable to the lugnut who lays on the couch all day, every day, whining about his bad back (it’s certainly not bad enough that he can’t sit in a pew at church). Then, when he finally wakes up from his self-indulgent, lazy-assed, tv-induced coma, he may just actually ask if he can spend time with his child.

Get a lawyer. Draw up a legal separation agreement that ensures you have sole custody of your daughter. IF he has any interest in taking part in her upbringing, make him fight for it. And I don’t mean you have to make it ugly - just don’t include him and he’ll HAVE to demand it if he’s interested - and then he’ll (hopefully) appreciate having it more.

And most of all, don’t let him continue to get away with vicitimizing you by making you feel like it’s all your fault. Get yourself to an Al-Anon meeting (or one like it), and learn from people with experience what you can do to counter the effects of his abusive behaviour.

Get your daughter into counselling as soon as possible. Separation and divorce are hard enough on a child. Having a parent who clearly doesn’t want to spend quality time with them makes it even more frightening and difficult for them to cope. Start having her spend more time with other family members, especially male family members like her her grandfathers, if possible.

I pray that you have a supportive family that won’t encourage you to go back for more abuse, but who will be there to pick up the slack and be what a real extended family is supposed to be. I wish you the very best of luck, as I know the road ahead will not be an easy one. Just don’t lose heart, or lose sight of the fact that your (and your daughter’s) emotional well-being is at stake here.

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” - Anne Frank

You cant make be a father, god knows I have tried with my ex.
You can
a) miss a day, and care for her yourself
b) drop her off with him, and she will come to her own conclusions about the jerk.

the first one is the good mom thing to do, but realiatically, do the second. She will have to face this someday.

Next time he wans to do something with you, tell him you have something on tv you want to watch.

Most regulars know my feelings towards my son. Succinctly, I’d give my left nut to spend more time with him.
What time I do have with him, I make the most of.

That being said, let’s not throw this poor sap into the heap of ex-lovers, husbands, boyfriends, aquaintances, which some ladies here are willing (and eager) to stack as high as the stratosphere.

He’s made significant inroads, already improving himself to the point where Gail feels comfortable leaving their child with him.

They now have to find a niche where both of them can exist, comfortably, together.

Shortly after my ex-wife left me, I was scared to hug, kiss or even give a time out to my son. “What if he tells his Mom, and she gets it mixed up and tells her lawyer or the cops…?” Shifting into overdrive, my mind was destroying the quality of time I could spend with my son. I still don’t know if it was as uncomfortable for him as it was for me.

Listen, Gail.

Give the guy a little time to learn how to be a Dad again. He may be uncomfortable around your child and is looking for excuses so as to excuse his conscience from torturing himself. Give the guy some support, and let your kid know you are behind him too.

Just say no.

Loverock used smilies, and see where it got him?

I apologize up front if this follow-up post raises your hackles.

Do you take advantage of your ex? You mentioned that your child was sick the last time you had him watch her. Monday she’ll be sick and you want him to watch her again.

Do you ever insist he must watch her when she’s healthy? Do you let him see her and have her anytime he wants or must it fit into your schedule?

We know you think you are a better parent than he is. You’ve told us as much. Have you told this to your daughter, too? How about through your actions?

I understand that you have a full-time job and still watch her 90 percent of the time. “For crying out loud,” whose competing now?

Just some thoughts from a Dad who doesn’t want to see another Dad get torpedoed.

Just say no.

Loverock used smilies, and see where it got him?

I’m glad Chief Scott weighed in with a balancing opinion. But my feeble opinion is to first take care of your daughter and yourself. BTW, my Ex is an alcholic, so I know exactly–exactly–what you’re talking about.

FWIW, some alcholics can kick the booze and come back to their true selves. Others are “dry drunks”, i.e. the drinking stops but the underlying problems remain. With dry drunks, the emotional vacuum and abuse remains. They’re just sober while they do it.

This sounds harsh, but he sounds like a commited victim. He’s dried out but turned into a contented couch spud who thinks that time is “more valuable” than spending time with his daughter. Having his daughter as part of his life, and making himself part of her life, should not be viewed as an unfortunate interruption in his TV lineup.

There is no way you avoid the hurt coming down the pike for your child. Even if you try to spin and soft-pedal his emotional distance and self-absorption, she will inevitably see it.

It’s a dismal choice and no one can make it from you. But–strictly my opinion–if you maintain a stable, loving home for her she’ll be able to weather the blow that her father is just a human with limitations.

You can’t solve his problems, but you can warp your life trying. What you can do is make a good, solid, sane life for you and your child.

All the best, no matter what you do.


ChiefScott seems to be of the opinion that you should look to yourself before pointing out the splinter in you X’s eye. This is a very valid assertion and cannot be underestimated.

A brief pause for contemplation

I, being a product of a divorce, don’t believe you should give the guy a second chance. Your decision to leave him in the first place was sound and no one (not him, your family, his family or anyone else) has the right to question that. To inflict a self-absorbed, alcoholic loser on your daughter is just not fair to her. Use him if you must. Perhaps absence will make the heart grow fonder, but I doubt it. He’s not being nice, therefore he sux.

Inertia’s entire philosophy in two words - Be nice.

Hey, Veb and I simulposted with more than a few words, therefore we must not be the same person.

4 or 5 months is pretty a pretty short interval to turn your life around. I’d wonder what his long term goals are with the “changes”, have you asked him ? A lot of men just aren’t that good at the day to day parenting stuff because they never learned. I work with a guy that has 2 kids (ages 3 years and 4 months) that’s never even changed ONE diaper for Godsake ! I’ve changed a few thousand diapers as a dad and I feel sorry for HIM because he refuses to be an active father and hold up his half of the bargain. But he was raised to see the “childcare” aspect as a mother’s job and figures he’ll just take the baseball games and whorehouses later.

It sounds like your ex is trying but maybe just doesn’t have the tools in his toolbox.
Maybe buy a new board game and drop it off with her along with a frozen pizza.

“Hope is not a method”

I agree with everything Shayna said - except that IMO, the alcoholism is secondary to the abusive behavior. Avoiding alcoholics will not help you avoid abusers. I have never known an alcoholic (intimately), yet all of my adult relationships have been with emotionally abusive men. In addition, my father was abusive. Finally, my uncle is one of the most abusive men I have ever met, yet he is neither an alcoholic, nor a smoker; in addition, he is and has always been active in the church. In short, it’s the abusive behavior that should be your first concern.

You ask if it’s enough that he loves you in his way for your relationship to work. In a nutshell, no. He also needs to respect you and treat you well. And to take responsibility for his behavior.

And he is still being abusive. He is using guilt to get his way: your “taking advantage” of him; you don’t think his time if valuable; even more damningly - “you will only hurt your daughter if you make an issue of this kind of thing”. Ha! He’d love you to think this. Buy into this thinking & he’ll pull it out every time you want him to do something. He uses guilt and abuse because he has learned that he can get his way by throwing a stompy fit. Do you really want to reward him by letting him have it?

First of all, do not argue with him when he tries to use guilt or abuse to get his way. Look him straight in the eye and say “That is not acceptable behavior. I’m not going to talk to you until you apologize & learn to treat me well”

Secondly realize this:
You do not deserve abuse.
You deserve to be treated with love and respect.
You will not get him to stop being abusive by reason, argument or love. Believe me, I tried for 11 years.
If he (or anyone else) abuses you, treat him like the dog that he is. If he persists, banish him from your life.

Thirdly, realize that your daughter is learning what is acceptable behavior in a love relationship from you and your husband. If you can’t protect yourself for yourself, protect yourself for your daughter’s sake. Look at what your husband is doing: would you want your daughter to be treated like this? What would you say to your daughter if this happened to her? Because I guarantee you, if it continues to happen to you, it will happen to your daughter.

Finally, consider whether you want your daughter to be spending time with this man. If he abuses you, he will also abuse her. Growing up with abuse can have a direct impact on her self-esteem, her probability of alcohol & drug abuse, and her probability of ending up in an abusive relationship. I agree with Shayna that counseling in recommended for your daughter.

Good luck & remember: never settle for less than the best for you and your daughter


inertia pontificates:

So, since your parents screwed up you’ll hold it against the guy automatically?

Let’s not just leave our men and take their children away 'cause it’s best.

Even if he tries to rectify his faults, we should kick him in the balls because your Dad was an apparent shitbird.

inertia then reiterates:

So if she does let her daughter see her father she is inflicting a loser on her daughter.

Keep your daughter away from him and he might change,but I doubt it. Can you feel the positive energy, folks?

He is not nice (ergo,won’t watch the sick child so as not to inconvenience the mother) so he sux.

How long should she wait before she puts a contract out on his life, inertia?

Just say no.

Loverock used smilies, and see where it got him?

I must say here, and make it perfectly clear, that if the ex-husband is indeed still drinking and still abusive, Gail should write him off… the quicker the better.

But he must be making some positive moves.

If he wasn’t, Gail would be the “shitty” parent for foisting her daughter on an abusive alcoholic so she wouldn’t have to take off from work.

And yet some of you still wish to string this guy up by the balls, making his life as miserable as possible, just to make yourselves feel either more powerful or under control. It doesn’t seems as though some of those opinions are taking the daughter into account.

Just say no.

Loverock used smilies, and see where it got him?

Gail has he ever been abusive to your daughter? I re read and realized I missed the part about him taking your daughter to church. Is this something he did before?

My ex was a crappy father when we were together. I, as well did 90 percent of the parenting. He was verbally abusive to myself, but only on one occasion was he like that to our son.

He is not an alcoholic. Try as I might in the beginning, I honestly didnt think he would ever make it to “dad” status. I have never bad mouthed him to my son because I think that some day they just might make it as “dad” and son. He tries and is actually now starting to ask for more time with his son which is a big step. I never ever deny him time and he is learning that an 8 year old doesnt want to spend his life in front of the tv or at art galleries. Maybe you could suggest activities for him.

We will never be back together, and as long as the ex is making an honest effort to be a good dad, I wont get involved in their relationship. Different circumstances I realize. Maybe first you really need to decide whether you want him back in your life.

We are, each of us angels with only one wing,and we can only fly by embracing one another


Learn to cook macrobiotically and you’ve got yourself a deal.

The trouble with Sir Launcelot is by the time he comes riding up, you’ve already married King Arthur.