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Recent Letter to the ElderWisdomCircle™

CHILDREN: Daughter Upset About Me Wanting to Date
Letter #: 379420
Category: Children

Original Letter

When I got pregnant with my daughter (she's almost 9 now) I made the decision that I would NOT be bringing men in and out of her life like my mother did when I was young. It has only been just the two of us since. But now I've decided I want to start dating again (as it has been a long long time)I have tried talking with her about this and she bursts into tears every time. She believes wholeheartedly that I will stop loving her and is adamant about NOT wanting a daddy.i understand her fears as I have experienced them myself as a child. I want her to have some kind of positive male role model in her life but do not know how to get her past this hurtle. Maybe I made a mistake in waiting so long to date, or maybe I'm trying too soon. Either way I'm at a loss of what to do. I don't want her to be unhappy or even resentful of my decision but, I'm also tired of being lonely.

Elder Response

I went through something very similar, April, when my daughter was about the same age as yours.  Although I also have a son, at that time he was living with his father and so it was just my daughter and I living by ourselves.  What happens in a situation like this is you have become your daughter's entire world.  You are who she depends on for security, companionship and fun.  My daughter viewed every man I ever dated as a potential threat to her place in my life....which was "Number One" as it continues to be to this very day.  The only other person who shares this space is my son.

What I did learn from this experience, April, is that although we are first and foremost mothers, we are also women with certain needs that cannot be met through the company of a child.  This in no way makes you a bad mother or even a neglectful one.  In order for both of you to achieve balance in your lives, she must learn that she can't have you solely to herself and you should be able to share your time, attention and yes, even love, with a man.  It's no different than if you occasionally went out with female friends.  There is that side of you which has to be nurtured and you are more than one-dimensional.  Your daughter needs to learn how to share you with the rest of the world or else your relationship with her could become unhealthy.  All you can really do, as I once did, is reassure your daughter that no one will ever take her place in your heart. 

I can tell you now that my daughter never improved over her remaining childhood years when it came to the men in my life.  She was always jealous, a bit spiteful and upon occasion even rude to them.  Of course I nipped that in the bud as quickly as possible and wouldn't tolerate her churlishness. 

I ultimately remarried when my daughter was 23 years old.  She was quite fond of the man I married and her once childish behavior had diminished through maturity.   I am confident the same will hold true for your daughter and although it will likely take some time before she is accepting of you dating, eventually she will get there.  It has been just the two of you for her entire life and so her possessiveness of you is increasing exponentially over time. 

I will leave you with this, April.  You get but one life.  This is not a dress rehearsal.  There are going to be times in your life when you must put your own needs first.  It is extremely commendable that you have held off dating for nine long years.  I believe it is more than time for you to explore that side of yourself.  Your daughter will not be neglected or even take a backseat to whomever you meet.  She needs to learn, perhaps the hard way, that life can't always revolve around her.  So long as you continue to spend quality time together, she will be okay.  What she may discover is that a new man in your life might add a whole new dimension and some unexpected fun.  She won't know that until you give it a try.  Even if she behaves as poorly as my daughter occasionally did, in the end you must do this for yourself as well as for her. 

Jump back into the water and get your feet wet.  You deserve a little excitement and joy.

Best Regards,

Linda


    

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