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How do I help my nine year old daughter with her self esteem issues, when her biological father is of no help? She is struggling a little at school. I feel it is because of laziness and her teacher shares my feelings, her father rarely sees her and said infront of her and a room full of people that she should have never gotten out of the 2nd grade nevermind be moving on to the 5th grade next year. He seems to believe that she doesn't understand the basic concepts, and has commented that she doesn't even know the alphabet, because sometimes she mixes up the letters. Well sometimes I do too, that doesn't mean that either one of us is stupid. My husband and I signed her up for spring soccer hoping to help her self esteem, social skills, and get some excersize. She wants to play also. I want my child to succeed and she wants to please everybody, she can be a bit of a busybody which is another issue we are working on, in our family. Her dad seems to want to be the pal instead of the parent by undermining everything I say or do for her. I tell him whats going on with her and he justs laughs as if it is a joke. It's not a joke, she is a child. I believe she has friends at school it is not my job to be her friend, it is my job to be her mom. How do my husband and I help her with all the conflict with her biological dad? Trying to discuss anything with him as I have mentioned is like talking to a wall. Please help me, I love my daughter and want what is best fro her. She has a right to have a relationship with her dad even if I don't feel he is actually behaving like a parent.


Tara Paterson Replied: Dear parent, I commend you for tuning into the issue, asking for support, and for recognizing that your daughter may be receiving mixed signals from what she hears from you and what she hears from her father. I feel there are a few different issues going on here. One could be confidence which lends itself to self- esteem and the other may be lack of focus due to emotions she may have, based on things that have been said to her. Often if a child hears a parent say things like "she should never have gotten out of the 2nd grade," it can subconsciously register as "I am stupid." It is reinforced by her difficulty in school which in fact may be simply that she needs a little extra help or a different style of teaching to assist her with the things she may be having difficulty with. I would strongly suggest you offer her the most supportive, connected environment while she is with you to give her a strong foundation for the times she is with her father. I would also encourage you to have a heart to heart conversation with her. Explain to her what the role of a caring parent is and how you love and support her. Her greatest asset at building confidence and self- esteem is you. You would be amazed at the effect of an honest to goodness conversation. Remember with anything you say, even about her father, use positive, loving words and be honest even if you need to correct her father's comments or behavior. We as parents are as accountable for the things we say as children are for the things they say and there is nothing wrong with saying- "what your father said wasn't a very nice thing to say and I don't agree with him." As simple as that. Communicate with her; ask her questions; allow her input; and respect the feelings she shares with you. Her needs are met by bringing peace and balance to her inside world and you are the best resource to assist her with that. I wish you all the best.
Posted On 2007-06-07 12:46:23
Brenda Bercun Replied: You describe a very complex situation. It seems like your daughter is dealing with some real challenges. From your description she may have some kind of learning issue that should be evaluated. Many children appear to be "lazy" but it is really their way of coping with not being able to do the work. I am sad to read that her father is capable of humiliating his daughter in the way you described. I wonder what he was hoping to accomplish by his actions. It's unfortunate that you and her dad have not been able to create a healthy co-parenting relationship. It takes maturity and a true commitment from both parents to work together for the best interest of a child. From my experience as a therapist of children and a coach for divorced or separated parents I know that the greatest gift a parent can give their child/ren is the commitment and practice of co-parenting. With that said, if parents are unable to make that commitment than the child continues to experience family dysfunction. The results of this on a child is damaging to their sense of self, and self worth. So what can you do? I would encourage you to have her learning style evaluated. This way you and she can understand what her learning needs are and how they should be addressed. I would also encourage you and her dad to seek co-parenting counseling so that you can learn how to raise your daughter honoring both your roles in her life. She is a part of the two of you and that needs to be honored. If her dad is unwilling to do this or if this is unsuccessful, I would encourage you to get your daughter a therapist who can help her understand her situation and help her cope with the things she has no control over as well as her socialization skills. I agree and support you in your thinking that you want to be your daughter's mom, not her friend. Part of being her mom is enjoying her company and having fun together. You want her to know that she can trust you and that you are there to help her learn and grow. You want to create a relationship with her based on love, caring, accountability, responsibility and commitment. You want her to come to you with her struggles because she knows that you will listen and help her problem solve with out shaming or humiliating her. You want to help her manage disappointment, and frustration. You want her to be able to celebrate her successes when she has learned a new task, completed a challenging task, did the right thing etc. You do all this by being present, paying attention and role modeling these skills yourself. You can only be accountable and responsible for your own actions. If her father is unable to be a positive person in her life, then it is totally up to you and her step-dad to be that. But always, always be a model of respect towards her dad. He will always be a part of who she is.
Posted On 2007-03-21 01:33:38
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