I mentioned the other day that the girls' father has not called in some time. At first, Sylvia did not want me to call him and bug him about it, but the other day, it became apparent that I simply had to for her sake. I told her I would tell him it was against her wishes, but that I was doing it anyway because she's my little girl, and I don't like it when anyone hurts her.
I called X at his parents' house and found out he's no longer living there. He's done more damage to the people that love him, and he's not welcome there anymore.
Last night, I had a PTA committee meeting so I picked the girls up pretty late at my parents' house and we talked on the way home.
I've learned, through all my past experiences, that honesty is really the best way to go when it comes to talking to the girls about their father. I told them that no one really knows where he is right now, and that I don't know if there will ever be a situation where it's safe for them to see their dad.
Sylvia cried, but she didn't disagree. She's come a long way. She no longer defends her father, but it doesn't change the fact that it hurts her. She still finds it hard to admit that she's angry at him.
I asked her if she wanted to go to the feelings doctor again, and she said yes. We also talked about her going to see her counselor at school today so she may do that. Riley also wants to go to the feelings doctor, but really, I think she just likes the play therapy. Okay by me. Can't hurt.
Riley takes all of this differently than her older sister. She has no trouble getting in touch with her anger at her dad. Whether or not she ever sees or talks to him again, he long ago lost his opportunity to be the person that she would ever turn to in a time of need.
Jessica Gottlieb found a study that states that fathers that engage in high-levels of anti-social behavior can actually cause more harm to their children the more they are around them. The abstract ends with "Marriage may not be the answer to the problems faced by some children living in single-parent families unless their fathers can become reliable sources of emotional and economic support."*
Now, we all know this is something I've been saying for a long time, but the past 24 hours have made me consider whether it's really better for the girls if they never see their father again. However, as I told Sylvia, we're not deciding forever right now. We just continue to take these things as they happen. I don't know any other way.
*Life With (or Without) Father: The Benefits of Living With Two Biological Parents Depend on the Father's Antisocial Behavior
Jaffee, Sara R.; Moffitt, Terrie E.; Caspi, Avshalom; Taylor, Alan
Child Development, v74 n1 p109-26 Jan-Feb 2003