(Names have been changed)
A friend recommended your book “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters.”
In some ways it is validating, other ways it’s incriminating.
We have an 18 year-old daughter from my wife’s first marriage. My wife has always encouraged me to parent her kids. That hasn’t been a problem; I love them like my own! Especially Jules. I have been a part of Jules’ life for 9 years. When Amy and I got married, Jules was overheard telling her friends and cousin that “now I have two daddies!” I couldn’t have asked for a warmer welcome. Between then and her 16th birthday, Jules and got to be very close. She’d go everywhere with me, sit next to me, lay in the hammock and talk. No matter where we were Jules would talk to me about everything!! When she reached adolescence, she would tell me about “cute” boys and ask me questions about boys and relationships. One of our most cherished bonding experiences was brushing her long brown hair after she got out of the shower. I’d brush until her hair was dry and we’d talk, joke, tease and laugh! She would tell me her hair turned out the best when I brushed it. I looked forward those moments with great anticipation! One other thing, she’d fall asleep on the sofa with my arm around her and I would carry her to her bed and tuck her in. Jules was open, forthright and affectionate. Her mother told me I was much more of a father to her then her natural father and that I knew her much better. Raising and being a part of this beautiful girls life far exceeded the joy of raising boys!
Then Jules turned 16. Almost as though her birthday was some sort of deadline, she abruptly stopped talking to me and was no longer interested in doing anything. She even stopped asking me to brush her hair! I felt like I lost a child! It was heartbreaking! I told my wife multiple times of my concern and she’d say, “It’s just a teenage phase.” Then last week my wife was talking to her ex about Jules and HE of all people asked Amy, ” What happened between Tim and Jules? They are not close and it doesn’t seem like she wants to be around him.” Finally!! Some validation!
I’ve tried to talk to Jules a few times over the past two years to see what the matter is, but she just denies there’s a problem. At the risk of sounding like a wimp, having her ignore me has been one of the hardest and most emotionally painful experiences of my life!
Then as I was showing my wife some of the things in your book, she just said, “you are not her father.” Then went to answer a call and did not return to the discussion.
If you have any insight, I sure could use the help! I cannot imagine loving a daughter of my own blood more than I love Jules!
Tim in UT