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Old 01-15-2002, 08:40 PM
Susan Wilkins's Avatar
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The Uninvolved Mother

Dear Susan

I'm dealing with a situation that is extremely difficult for me to understand, let alone know how to handle. My stepdaughter's mother (non-custodial obviously) spends very little, if any time with her daughter. She always has "something else" going on that doesn't allow her to see her,i.e., work, school, etc. My husband keeps going out of his way to call her and make his daughter available to her mother but to no avail. The mother never initiates a visit, calls her daughter maybe once every two weeks to "talk" but doesn't seem to show any sincer interest in spending any time with her daughter. I attend my stepdaughter's school events, take her shopping, do the "mom" things with her, yet we, my husband, and I know it's important for her to see her mother. I am so tired of my husband always calling "her" to see if she has time to spend with her daughter. It seems he's forcing the relationship on his daughter and I'm not certain that is a good thing to do. I feel as though her mother needs to be responsible for making the effort to spend time with her daughter. It seems as if my stepdaughter is confused about how to feel towards her mom. She is a very bright ten year old who is very mature, but really struggles at times with how she feels about her mother's apparent abandonment. The other night she was crying because she "didn't really miss her mom and didn't know if it was bad to feel that way". We always offer for her to spend time with her daughter is we have plans for an evening or weekend that can't include his daughter. Yet she never or rarely will take her and his daughter most always ends up with a sitter or her grandmother. "Our" daughter is blessed with many caring and loving people in her life. Is it healthy to force a relationship with someone who doesn't seem to care. I guess my question is, should my husband stop pushing for the relationship or is it his "parental duty" to see to it that his daughter spend time with a mother that doesn't seem to have the time for her?
Please help!

-"Nine"


Dear Nine,

I think that perhaps it is crucial to handle the outcome of the uninvolved mother properly. You didn't say if the child was aware of the many unanswered requests for parenting time, so I can't surmise as to whether or not the child is affected by merely just being "aware". If she is aware, discontinue including her in the loop. Present her only with the requests that are met with a positive response and encourage her to have a good time. Let her know that you understand her relationship with her biological mother is not like most others and that, that, doesn't make her any less of an individual. Point out all of the other great influences she has in her life and let her know she will be just fine. It sounds as though the child feels guilty for the emotions she has as a result of her mothers indifference. I would think that, that was fairly normal and that she needs to know that she need not feel guilty as the situation did not surface as a result of her own decisions, but those of her mother.

Good Luck!



Best Regards,
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