Our expert says:
Divorce support expert
this IS Totally the right forum! :)
It is the hardest thing to face when one parent is irresponsible towards his children. You probably want to "fix" it all, but don't be too harsh on yourself. You are doing the best you can under the circumstances. You are also facing your young daughter entering her young adult years as a teenagers, when many emotions are loosing their way in this new phase of her life.
For one, don't be phased by it and mostly don't try to fix anything. Life throws challenges at you and the best way to overcome them is to let the process take place, so, what to do?
Just be there for her...when she needs it. Acknowledge her feelings, however hurt they may be. You can't change who her father is or how he behaves, but you can change your attitude with her. Follow your gut feelings. What is it at first that you see in her behaviour? You mention you feel like she wants to live a make belief life, so tell her: It looks like you miss the life we had when your father was home with us? You must be missing him very much. Allow her to express her feelings. There are no right or wrong feelings. Feelings are. Let her feel them and express them and then tell her you understand, unfortunately things are different and can no longer be this way. If you can support her through this hard time, allow her to feel her feelings, she won't need to go to a psychologist. Validate her feelings...and just love her.
Through counselling teens I realised that what was most beneficial was to coach parents how to address their teens as opposed to trying to "fix" them.
Trust in your motherly instinct. Nothing can replace this.
I wish you all the best.
SADSA | The South African Divorce Support Association
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