‘I’m disgusted with how my daughter’s father treats her – I want to cut contact’

In Lalalaletmeexplain 's hit column, readers ask for her expert advice on their own love, sex and relationship problems.

With over 200k Instagram followers, Lala is the anonymous voice helping womankind through every bump in the road. An established sex, dating and relationship educator, she’s had her fair share of relationship drama and shares her wisdom on social media to a loyal army of followers. Every week thousands turn to her to answer their questions (no matter how embarrassing), and her funny, frank approach to love and relationships has made her the ultimate feel-good guru.

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Dear Lala,

I’m 36 and was in a situationship for three years. I was a mug throughout the whole thing. My gut told me, but I stayed anyway.

After two years, I fell pregnant. He told me he didn’t want the baby, but I was 34 at the time and desperate for one, so I told him I was keeping it regardless. We continued to see each other.

During the pregnancy I found out that he’d been sleeping with other people, I was upset but not shocked. He barely told anyone that he was expecting a baby and he remained the same after the birth, he said it’s because he’s not happy about it. He has another child who he sees every weekend, but he’ll go weeks without seeing mine. He won’t agree to a schedule and just says he’ll see her when he sees her.

My daughter is now over a year old, and he’ll only see her if I bring her to his house for a few hours every couple of weeks. I’m disgusted about how he treats and excludes my daughter. His cousin is now involved and is trying to talk him round and shame him into seeing the baby more. He says he doesn’t feel love or anything for our daughter and basically that I’ve made my own bed so I should lie in it. I know this is my fault because I didn’t listen and had the baby anyway, but I didn’t expect this from him as he was there for the whole pregnancy. His family are planning to force him to take the baby there soon. They get together every Sunday and have invited my baby five times in a whole year. It’s exhausting battling him and his family to care about his daughter.

I’m thinking about cutting off all contact. I don’t want my baby around people who don’t want her but at the same time I don’t want to be the reason my daughter is missing out – even if her contact with them is rare. It’s breaking my heart and affecting my mental health. I feel like my life would be much easier if I just cut contact altogether, but I feel awful for my daughter, even if her dad is a raging narcissist. Do I grin and bear it, or should I tell him he can’t ever see her again?

Lala says…

It can be hard to understand how someone could have a child out in the world who they have no contact with. To those of us who love our children or the children in our lives, it feels impossible to imagine abandoning and rejecting them, or any child for that matter. I feel like if someone just dropped a random baby at my door, I’d fall in love with it. But we can’t expect everybody to be the same or force them to share our ethics and morals, as much as we’d like to.

You cannot force a man to feel an attachment to, or create a bond with a baby, especially if he’s a narcissist as you described. Narcissists can easily have zero empathy for the child and how it might impact on them, they will be more concerned about how having this baby makes them look to the outside world or how it impacts on their own life. They don’t like the fact that you took away their ability to control the situation, so they need to take back control by doing the opposite of what you want them to do. As far as he’s concerned, stepping up to be a dad would be letting you win, and a narcissist will never do that.

I don’t think that his cousin shaming him into stepping up is a good strategy, shame isn’t an emotion that breeds positive outcomes, shame is more likely to have him retreating and digging his heels in further. This is not a man who wants to be told what to do. He’s treated you and your daughter terribly and it’s understandable that you’re deeply hurt by this. You’ve done your best by trying to encourage contact and you should feel proud of your commitment to making sure that your daughter feels loved and wanted. But you can’t control his or his family’s feelings towards her, and you don’t need to.

I know that the thought of your child growing up and feeling abandoned by their parent is a hard thought to bear but those feelings are not guaranteed, it’s not an automatic thing that every fatherless child has daddy issues. Children need secure attachments but that doesn’t need to be with their biological relatives, secure attachments to your family and wider network and a strong foundation of love at home will see your child through. You can find ways to explain the absence of dad that will help your child to understand that she wasn’t the cause.

Personally, I don’t think you should cut off contact, you don’t really need to, they’re not in regular contact anyway. But I think you should stop trying to encourage it and find a way of accepting that this is how it is. You’ve done your best. Battling to get people to love your child is bound to be a headf**k, so end the battle. Focus on you and your baby, focus on letting go of any expectations of him and on any fears you have about the future. The future will work itself out. I would leave the door open so that they can never accuse you of being responsible for his absence, but I would stop initiating contact. He knows how to reach you, and I think it’s more likely that he will if he thinks that you’ve given up the fight, but don’t do it with that in mind, give up the fight for your own sanity. It will be his loss far more than your daughter’s.

For support with single parenting issues contact Gingerbread.


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