Torn between shielding my daughter and needing her help
August 22, 2012 12:51 PM Subscribe
How can I encourage my adult daughter from my first marriage to voice her opinions in my current divorce proceedings (of my second marriage) without it feeling like I'm dragging her into battle?
posted by punocchio to Human Relations (22 answers total)
I am in the middle of a drawn out divorce. It’s drawn out mainly because my wife and I are not agreeing on the best custody arrangement for our kids, so we have to punt it to the court and the “experts”. Please, no judgments about me for not settling and “what am I putting the kids through”. It’s complicated.
My questions has to do with my young adult daughter (we’ll call her Tina) from my first marriage. I love Tina immensely. Although I only had Tina every other weekend (because when you become a dad in your mid twenties, that’s how you think things work) I have spent my life since my first divorce (when Tina was very young) ensuring she felt included in the family I created with my second wife and the two kids I subsequently had. We would do trips, holidays, and other daily things together like meals and movies and games. She loves her young siblings very much.
At the beginning of this divorce, Tina had told me many times what she thought the best custody arrangement for her two younger half siblings should be. But recently I have come to understand that she is stressed out, feeling that she does not want to be pulled into the divorce conflict.
I know it would be incredibly damaging to everyone for Tina to testify in open court. But I also know the experts need to hear her stories. I was hopeful that a judge or a custody evaluator would meet with her in private (they typically do) and hear her observations and opinions.
I know she wants to see a particular parenting arrangement for my younger kids, but I think she’s afraid of hurting her step mom (for however long she’ll be that). It’s different here because it’s not two biological parents, and Tina has really hated the way her step mom parents her younger siblings. And also since it was my wife who initiated the divorce, Tina disapproves of what that will do the kids’ lives, having lived through it.
For the record, I've never asked Tina to spy, badmouth, cut off ties with, or otherwise disparage her step-mom. I've told her that their relationship is their business. I've only ever asked her what her opinions are on the way custody should go based on what she's experienced in our family dynamic.
I don’t want to damage anyone’s relationship. I just want her to tell her story. What do I do?