THE SPLIT HAS TRAUMATISED OUR DAUGHTER
I separated from my wife two years ago because of the arguments – she threw things, drank excessively and now has serious health problems because of it. Social Services were involved and my son of 16 and daughter of 12 now live with me. My son wasn’t too affected but it has had an impact on my daughter, who is quite shy. A year ago I started dating another woman whose seven-year-old daughter has accepted me. But my daughter still ignores my girlfriend. When she comes round, my daughter hardly speaks to her, hides in her room and never wants to go out with us. I have talked to her but I think she may be scared for some reason. My lovely girlfriend’s approach to parenting is with routines, whereas I am quite soft. When I go to see my girlfriend, I worry about my daughter so I often rush back home. Also my daughter texts me when I am with my girlfriend, which annoys her. All of this is putting a strain on our relationship. I want to make both of them feel special but I feel totally split. Children and teenagers often find it very difficult to accept their parent’s new girlfriend or boyfriend. Your poor daughter has been through so much with an alcoholic and now seriously ill mother, witnessing violence and a divorce, so she needs to be handled with the utmost gentleness and love. Your girlfriend needs to recognise that she is dealing with a very frightened little girl whose mother was so disturbed that she couldn’t be trusted with your daughter on her own. It concerns me that your girlfriend gets annoyed when your daughter texts you. She needs to put herself in your daughter’s shoes and see that she has effectively lost a parent and right now really needs her daddy and lots of understanding from your girlfriend. Unless your son is around (and gets on with his sister) or there is another adult at home, your daughter is too young and vulnerable to be left on her own for any length of time. I suggest that she sees a child psychologist for further help and support.