I have two daughters - 8 & 10 - myself and my ex have been separated for three years. The children live with me three nights a week and I play a very active role in their lives.
My ex is the type of parent who feels the need to feel like she is the No.1 parent, when we were together she tried to marginalise me as a parent - I was regularly put down and criticised in front of the kids, she is all about control, is quite needy, someone who always thinks she knows best and finds admitting any fault at all very difficult.
Anyway, my the eldest is showing signs that’s she’s beginning puberty. I am very open minded and I more than happy to talk about any worries she might have. I also want to learn more about female puberty. It’s all because I want her to feel calm and confident to discuss anything that’s bothering her regardless of which parent she happens to be with at that given time.
My ex’s attitude is that girls don’t want to talk to their Dads about anything to do with periods or their bodies or sex etc, and she’s fostered and encouraged this attitude with my daughters. Actively promoting and fostering the attitude that girls should feel embarrassed to talk to their Dads about such things.
I’ve tried to tell my ex that I don’t think that is right and that it’s is an old fashioned attitude, and that, most importantly, it’s better for our daughters mental well being in a separated family that they feel empowered to discuss these issues at both homes and with both parents.
I accept I can never know as much as a woman, and I accept that my ex is better placed to discuss these issues but I want my ex to work with me and encourage my daughter to feel she can discuss these things with me too - I want her to feel like we’re a team who’re each more than capable of helping her.
But instead my ex tells me I’m making it all about myself and that I’m selfish for wanting to get my daughter to discuss things with me that my ex has now taught her she should be embarrassed to discuss with me.
The way I see it children from separated homes need to feel like they can discuss anything with either parent, so they never feel uncomfortable. But every time I’ve talked about wanting to talk about these things with my daughter my ex has been very dismissive of the role of Dad’s in this situation, tells me I’m clueless, and basically says stay out of it, even though I can’t do that because my daughter is with me three nights a week.
She told me today that my daughter is “terrified” of starting her period when she’s in my care. My reaction was to say that we should talk to her and reassure that it’ll be fine and I even asked my ex to tell me what it’s like for a woman etc, to which replied “I’m not educating a 40 year old man about periods.” Her solution is that my daughter phones her if anything like that happens while in my care.
I’m well aware my ex is a manipulative, controlling, devious and needy individual, but I just care about my daughter’s mental well being and would really value any thoughts on how to handle this situation from fellow Dads. I’d also like to know if any Dads disagree or agree with my approach.
One thing I did do was buy her an age appropriate book for her to read about puberty, but my ex ridiculed this in front of her and basically told me I was stupid for buying it, as a result it’s just gathering dust.
Anyway, thanks for reading, fellas. Any opinions welcomed
one suggestion, when they are next out with you in a supermarket, quietly ask your daughter if she'd like to get some sanitary products to keep at your house. Just an ice breaker acknowledging that you know what's happening and then leave it at that for a while.
Thank you for being so open about your situation. It is never easy talking to children male or female about puberty and what is happening to their bodies, so well done for having a positive attitude and wanting to communicate with your daughter about the matter. I would keep trying with the age appropriate book, leave it some where discreet in your home, let her know it's there and say if ever she needs to talk you will be there to listen. Perhaps keep asking her (not all the time ) how she is feeling? Is she feeling well in herself ? Keep reassuring her and let her know that you are quite prepared to talk about growing up and all the changes that will be happening to her. Even if she may be a little embarrassed, she will know that you care and want to help.
Perhaps also you could buy some sanitary products and leave them at your home, tell her they are there and the different types you have, so that when she begins her periods, she has some control over what she uses. This gives her options too.
Wow, 3 daughters, you will have some interesting times!!
I hadn't really considered this until reading this thread (its been last thing on my mind) plus when I do see the kids I'm more being the fun dad rather than the parent (I'm aware I need to be the parent but find it difficult as always worrying ex will cut off contact and so have justified it by saying I will once I have a CAO) and so have not crossed the bridge re puberty.
I'm defo going to give this some thought and read up on it.