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Something I learned from my daughter today

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posted on Feb, 17 2013 @ 09:31 PM
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In a couple of short months, my eldest daughter turns 12. I’ve always dreaded the notorious teenage years coming on, and even at her current age, my daughter is very much like her mother. Very boisterous, very confident as to whom she is, and not afraid to tell it like it is. In truth, as the dating years come on and I polish my firearms collections and hone my aim to include young men’s rear ends, I do actually pity the foolish boy who will take my daughter on. I suspect her sharp wit and devilish intelligence will be the bane of many young men, and be most likely more painful than any buckshot ever could.

As she has grown up, and gone from a toddler to a little girl and is now on the precipice of becoming a young woman, I recently faced a challenge outside the normal realm of being a father.

You see, my eldest daughter is not biologically my own. I took her on at three years of age, after her mother died of cancer at age 25. It was her dying wish that her daughter ‘not slip through the cracks,’ and it was a promise I have managed to keep, even though it cost me another marriage and almost emotionally destroyed me in the process. I eventually gained the opportunity to adopt her, and she now shares my surname, and calls me dad. This path, however difficult as it has been, has been worth it, bumps and all, and although I lost a part of my sanity I’ll never recover, I don’t regret a single day of it.

Despite this, she does know the truth. I’ve never kept from her the fact about her mother, and have always tried to be as honest as I could, regarding her heritage and what had happened to her biological mother. She knows she has passed on, although it was difficult to broach the subject when she was age seven. She never really asks too many questions about the whole saga, and up until recently she only knew her mother had died, not the how and the why of it all.

With the advent of someone new coming into my life, it looks as though the Templar family may again be expanding though, at least very slowly. Going on the previous disasters, I have no desire to rush into anything, regardless of how good it feels. The main thing I have considered very carefully, is the impact having a partner can and will have on my girls. For the last six years or so I have been single, and basically my daughters have pretty much had their dads’ attention 100%. Now, finding myself in a delicate balance to fit all three into my life, it has caused a strange and unusual thought that has arisen with my eldest daughter of late.

Recently my daughter began to ask questions about her biological parents. Nothing out of the ordinary, just what they were like, what kind of people they were. We got to talking quite a bit, and I finally managed to open up to her about her mother’s life, something that has always been hard for me to do. She then came straight out and asked how her mother actually died, and why I had never told her before.

I have to be honest, the second part kind of floored me. I guess I didn’t want to dredge up and lay out old memories about how her mother was at the end, and kidded myself that explaining to her how cancer silently kills was something she wouldn’t understand until she was older. I really thought I wouldn’t be explaining this until she was in her mid-teens, but here it was right now, a question right there, waiting to be answered.

So I was honest. I told her that I felt she wouldn’t understand how cancer kills the body until she was a little older, and that I was waiting for the right time to explain it all. Honestly, I did my best to explain how it all worked, and how her mother succumbed to the disease. She then asked me why it was her mother was so young when she died from cancer, as she thought it was something that only affected older people. I explained that cancer affects everyone, from young children to old people, in varying degrees. She digested all this information thoughtfully, and I asked her if she wanted to use the internet to study how the disease actually works. She did say no, but I suspect I will find her looking it up at some point, as my suggestion alights to study and schoolwork, something we tend to clash on quite a bit.

After a moment, I asked her why it was she thought to come to me now with the questions about her mother, as she has rarely, if ever broached the subject. Her answer surprised me even more. It would seem the new woman in my life has made quite an impression on my girls, and it has left my eldest daughter worried about where things are headed for all of us. She worries that this lady might just end up as her mother did, a memory at some point. I asked her if she remembered her mother at all, she said no. She has no memory of her mother at all. Granted, she was only three when her mother died, but I thought she would have had some residual memory.

I did try to explain to her that this relationship is a very casual approach by two people that is going extremely slowly, and that we will continue to live apart, at our own places and just hang out together, like friends. That, as a couple, we’re in no rush to be anywhere and will be for a long time to come. I don’t think she really understood the premise though. I can’t blame her really. Part of me even doesn’t.

After this she pretty much left the subject where it was, simply saying she thought this new woman was awesome, and I should be happy with someone. Basically, it was her way of saying ‘this person is approved.’ In a way it’s kind of a relief, as I expected the complete opposite. I said to her if she had any more questions to just ask, that I would and always have been honest with her. She just says ‘I know,’ and takes off.

What I learned from all this is that sometimes you may think your kids aren’t ready to understand the realities of life, especially when it is a subject that is not easy to bring up, such as death and disease. We do our best to shelter our kids from these realities, but in truth, they generally have it all figured out before we even bring the subject up, and are much hardier than we give them credit for sometimes. And while I don’t look forward to the teenage years as much as I have the past, I understand now my daughter is just as switched on to the world as I’d always hoped she would be.
edit on 17/2/2013 by 74Templar because: grammar




posted on Feb, 17 2013 @ 09:48 PM
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Wow, my friend. That's an incredibly unselfish thing you did, even though it cost you. Kudos for your commitment and promise kept.

I bet, from what I know of you here and from what I just read, that you are an amazing father.

Your children are lucky to have you.



posted on Feb, 17 2013 @ 10:14 PM
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reply to post by smyleegrl
 


I do try.

This latest development had me worried, and I can't say I didn't feel a little selfish taking on a relationship. Confirmation from my girls actually meant a lot to me, it shows they are growing up far too fast. It has been a hard road, but at the end of the day some things are more important than money or even sanity.
edit on 17/2/2013 by 74Templar because: spelling...



posted on Feb, 17 2013 @ 10:19 PM
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Originally posted by 74Templar
We do our best to shelter our kids from these realities, but in truth, they generally have it all figured out before we even bring the subject up, and are much hardier than we give them credit for sometimes.

Thank you for sharing this.

This forgotten understanding of parents towards "children" is a crucial part of "why we are where we are" today. Kids have always been much smarter and more capable when treated as viable people rather than ignorant idiots.

Best to you in the future on your interactions with a genuine human being regardless of their apparent age.

/hug



posted on Feb, 17 2013 @ 10:27 PM
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reply to post by ErgoTheConclusion
 


I've always believed that, as much as roll my eyes at people who treat kids as though they aren't in the room when discussing them.
The amount of times adults say silly things like "how old is she?" or "what does your daughter think?" when they are both standing right there. The looks you get when you reply, "They're right there. Ask them." Its priceless really, and shows just how little people sometimes value the contributions of kids.
edit on 17/2/2013 by 74Templar because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 17 2013 @ 10:38 PM
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You did the right thing and you are 100% correct.

You see, I was (am?) in somewhat of your daughter's position. My biological dad was gone after birth and I grew up after age two, with my mom's new husband to whom I call Dad.

While my mom never lied about the past and my birth, she never came forth with detail. Even as I asked at eleven, fourteen.. seventeen...

I went behind her back, and did my research, and found closure with my biological father.. then called her up and asked her what her opinion would be if I was to do that, that I already had done..

Eventually truths came out, and it got very messy for a few months. I was 20, and she had continued to say she was "waiting for the right time". I mean, if I was not ready at twenty, when would I be? Really Mom? I came to realize she was really just in denial, and/or scared of that past.

We both eventually found that out of the two of us, she was the one who actually needed the help, and talking to.

Everything has been resolved I believe, and our relationship is stronger than ever- but, I do believe you can avoid that kind of mess as a parent. Sure I believe in masking a child from the hardships of life- a little, when they are young. But probably when they ask, and prod, it is time. This would probably be early teens, or even before.

Then again, of course, there is no "correct" way to raise a child. But from my experience, this might be close.

Kids these days are tougher than many think, perhaps its the street smarts required to live in our current, violent, technological society. Times have changed.

-AA
edit on 17-2-2013 by AsarAlubat because: spelin'



posted on Feb, 17 2013 @ 10:57 PM
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reply to post by AsarAlubat
 


I'm glad that someone who understands it from an inside perspective has posted, and thankyou for your words.


I have to admit it has been a bit of a steep learning curve in figuring out what to tell and what not to tell my daughter in regards to both her parents. Her father is the bigger conundrum, and due to legal reasons I can't go into too much detail, but I can say he is very much alive, but is currently serving time so to speak. He abandoned her when she was just over a year old anyway, and is very much not the sort of person I ever want near her.

The problem is, what if she wants contact with him? I can tell you it is something that keeps me awake at night at times. I know deep down he doesn't care and most likely doesn't want anything to do with her, and she is on the verge of understanding that. I guess when the day comes, which will be soon I suspect, I will need to tell her the truth and let her make up her own mind.

As for her mother, it was a very difficult subject to broach, but really comes as a lifted weight to be able to tell her the truth, no matter how painful it is. I always knew one day she would ask the details, and I had resolved to always tell her the truth, even if she didn't fully understand it at the time.
edit on 17/2/2013 by 74Templar because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 17 2013 @ 11:34 PM
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This is the best thread I have read all year on ATS. Thank you for sharing.



posted on Feb, 17 2013 @ 11:48 PM
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reply to post by mrperplexed
 


Thankyou. I just needed to get it out really.



posted on Feb, 18 2013 @ 02:43 AM
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reply to post by 74Templar
 


For the last six years or so I have been single, and basically my daughters have pretty much had their dads’ attention 100%. Now, finding myself in a delicate balance to fit all three into my life, it has caused a strange and unusual thought that has arisen with my eldest daughter of late.

Recently my daughter began to ask questions about her biological parents. Nothing out of the ordinary, just what they were like, what kind of people they were.

Everyone will be fine if everyone is treated equally. That is the most important. That no one plays favorites. Thats a divide and conquer control thing that spreads poison in relationships.

Your daughter will probably not mind a new member of the family. Maybe she chose this moment to ask about her mom because it came up or it was convenient. Do you have photo albums or any mementos that could help her discover more on her own? Like old addresses or family members on her mothers side, that sort of thing. You could leave things "laying around" so she can explore it by herself if she wants to.

Like "No big deal, but heres some stuff I kept." And then leave it at that.



posted on Feb, 18 2013 @ 03:13 AM
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reply to post by intrptr
 


That's the beauty of wisdom and age. You know that it needs to be an even spread to work, especially where children are concerned. My new gf has two kids as well, although they are both teenagers. It is a very unorthodox relationship we have, very open and not anywhere near serious. Basically at our age we are just having fun and sharing time.

Unfortunately all of her biological family members (on her mother's side) have passed on. Her grandparents died when their mother was about 18, and her uncle died when she was about five, under circumstances I can't discuss on ATS due to T&Cs, but you get the idea.

There are photos of her family, including pics of her and her mum on the wall in our house, so it is never far away. I guess the only record left of them is what's in my mind, another reason I don't intend to keep anything from her.



posted on Feb, 18 2013 @ 03:15 AM
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S+F OP

That was very inspirational to read, I dare say that if more parents were like you the world would be a far better place. Your daughter is very astute for her age and I have no doubts that is in part because of your upbringing. I believe you are correct in that it was her way of "giving you the go ahead." Of all things we impart onto our children honesty is one of the most important right next to compassion and tolerance.

You may not be her biological father, but from what I have read you are the type of father that many kids would long for. It takes more to be a father than just getting someone pregnant and you are a great example of what it means to actually be a father.

You are right in taking it slow getting into a relationship, but don't be afraid to ask your kids thier opinions either. I am sure that they would want you to be happy and do realize that people have a desire for relationships in order to pursue thier own happiness and well being.



posted on Feb, 18 2013 @ 03:33 AM
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reply to post by 74Templar
 

Thanks for the reply. I can see you care deeply and have things well in hand. I salute you.



posted on Feb, 18 2013 @ 03:36 AM
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reply to post by Darkphoenix77
 


Thankyou.


Actually both my girls' intelligence surprises me and sometimes scares me. They are both very switched on and know what is going on around them all the time. As I said, I fear for many young men's sanity when they venture into the upper teenage years. I suspect long before my boot ever gets near them, they will already be a drooling mess.


I know full well if they weren't happy with the relationship thing I would have seen the signs already, or they would have just come straight out and told me. One thing about kids, mine especially, is they are always completely, and bluntly honest when telling it like it is.



posted on Feb, 18 2013 @ 05:03 AM
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reply to post by 74Templar
 




Actually both my girls' intelligence surprises me and sometimes scares me. They are both very switched on and know what is going on around them all the time.


No surprise here. In fact, I would suspect no less after reading your OP and learning the type of father you are. They are lucky to have you.



He abandoned her when she was just over a year old anyway, and is very much not the sort of person I ever want near her.

The problem is, what if she wants contact with him? I can tell you it is something that keeps me awake at night at times. I know deep down he doesn't care and most likely doesn't want anything to do with her, and she is on the verge of understanding that. I guess when the day comes, which will be soon I suspect, I will need to tell her the truth and let her make up her own mind.


You are right- that day may come soon. It is nothing to fear, but your daughter will want truth, and yes- will make up her own mind. Contact between me and my biological father was something my mom feared as well, but hiding that fear really did not help her out much.

I believe there is a certain spark that exists in all people born into a family that is not, or partially not biologically their own. There certainly was for me, and though I knew my mother was apprehensive about it, I just had to know certain things about a character that produced half of my DNA (it doesn't help that I physically resemble him, much more than my mom I'd say).

He is too, not the greatest of people. But that spark...

Point being- your daughter has watched you her whole life, and in some way of course- become you, learning from your decision making skills and brains. When/if the time comes that she want contact with her biological parent, be completely truthful still, and I can guarantee that she will continue to respect you- more than ever in fact. And if she makes choices when she is old enough, perhaps ones that you wouldn't personally make, be wise in your counter decisions- but keep in mind that mistakes are how we learn and grow, and are necessary in life.

Best of luck to you and your daughter's future.


-AA
edit on 18-2-2013 by AsarAlubat because: (no reason given)
edit on 18-2-2013 by AsarAlubat because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 18 2013 @ 05:04 AM
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i have found with my daughters that the best time to pass on information of this nature is when they ask, a couple of times i have underestimated them to my own detriment, it is not a mistake i plan on making in the future



posted on Feb, 18 2013 @ 05:22 AM
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thats very interesting



posted on Feb, 18 2013 @ 06:14 AM
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reply to post by 74Templar
 


Kudos Templar... your daughter (YOUR daughter!) is a very, very lucky young lady to have a father who actually loves and cares for her, as deeply as you so clearly do. I would hazard a guess that roughly 95% of 25 year old males who were put in a similar position wouldn't have been seen for the dust... and your daughter's life, devoid of both a loving mother and father, a safe and caring home environment in which to grow up, lost in a cold, faceless and horrific federal system as nothing more than a 'number' in a databank somewhere, would have been a very different story indeed than one you're sharing with us now.

If I may be so bold my friend as to offer you some thoughts, based on some similar personal experiences (some tenuously so... some, not so much actually)... and it's not confined to having the exactly same reasoning and rationale for the procurement of my 7mm08 Sako, numerous assorted Mossberg 12-guages and an old rocking chair purchased the day the first of my two daughters were born either! I laughed somewhat too knowingly to myself when I read that in your post... I soooo know that drill brother! haha.

In short, can I just say... You're doing everything right. You've done everything right (and far more than most would have) and you'll keep doing everything right too. Trust in that... trust in the fact that you know how to make the right decisions when it comes to this next phase/stage of your life and with what may (or may not, it's all good) come of your burgeoning relationship with your new lady.

You've already said your daughter has 'Approved', so that's the BIG hurdle cleared without incident!

But as subtle as your mentioning of it was (and when put together with what you said about your daughter's new found interest in exploring more deeply, the question of who her mother was and what she was like as a person etc) it also sounds like she's quietly preparing in her own mind just what it might be like to have a mother figure in her life... one she's without a doubt pondered in the past, for no other reason than trying to understand that particular dynamic from watching and analyzing the relationships her friends have with their mothers... you know she would have aye?? How you manage this... and you will have to to some degree or another, is something that I'm pretty certain, based solely on what and how you've shared to date and the way in which you've couched that information here, you know exactly how to manage this with great success.

The one thing you're going to have to do though, and is the unfortunate and unavoidable byproduct of this whole 'discovery process' your daughter's embarking on, is the question of her biological father and the need she'll have to answer those slow-burning questions that will naturally come to the surface. As much as you want and need to protect her from this guy (however dark or unspeakable the reasons), you've got to let her take that journey herself... to answer any nagging questions or to just hose down any lingering curiosities she'll naturally have about who this guy is and what he stands for and represents. She WILL come back. She knows where it is that she is truly loved. She knows who stood up and gave her a chance, a life, a future... and it wasn't that spineless F**k-Knuckle. She knows.

The single most import thing that any child who's had an upbringing that most would deem 'unorthodox' or 'different' to the norm, or who have had their foundations shaken in some way shape or form, only ever require one thing and one thing only... the knowledge they have a home they can always return to, where the door's always open, their room is always ready and how they left it and that they have at least one parent there who loves them unconditionally.

She knows.

So many people under-estimate the intelligence of children, treat and speak to them as 'children' (something I've never ever done with my two) or misjudge how incredibly acute their perception is of their surrounds... your daughter's now of an age that she understands, at a very rudimentary level to be fair, that her Dad's got an opportunity to be happy on another level again... for himself and not for any selfish reasons by any stretch. She sees what to 12 year old girl, who's never known what it is to have a matriarchal figure around her, must be an incredibly exciting prospect for her, especially as she clearly likes this lady, but above all she knows, at some level deep down, that you deserve this shot at happiness after all that you've done.

She knows.

Kia Kaha a Arohanui Aotearoa New Zealand.

Be Strong and Much Love from New Zealand.



posted on Feb, 18 2013 @ 06:38 AM
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reply to post by AsarAlubat
 


I have to say my worry stems not from her wishing to know her father. I have no issue with her wanting to know who her biological parent is, or knowing about him. Let's just say I'd feel a hell of lot more safer he was never alone with her, or around her for any length of time.

If I could discuss why, it would make more sense, but due to legalities I can't divulge too much. All I can say is, he is where he is due some pretty despicable acts against people, and this had gone on since he abandoned her, until he was caught a few years later. In any event, it will be at least another five or so years before he even has the chance to reconnect with her, if that be his wish.

The truth is, and it may sound harsh for me to say this, is I do hope he never wants or has any contact with her. He made his choice when she was one, he made his choice to go down the path he did, and he paid the price for it. But again, if the question arises as to her father, and who he was, I will tell her, without being biased. I think deep down she knows, as I have always been there since she was little where her home is, so that doesn't bother me all that much. It's just another one of those hurdles you have to face, conquer and move past really.



posted on Feb, 18 2013 @ 06:50 AM
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reply to post by salamanda
 


More concerning than what will happen at the end of the barrel for any potential suitors is the broken limbs and bones they will receive should they put the moves on either of my girls. Both have been taught Judo by myself, and have continued their studies on into Taekwondo themselves, and are very proficient in it. In any event, I don't think I need to worry too much about their well-being, as they could potentially kick the crap out of anyone that crossed their paths if need be. I keep the shotgun collection as a reminder that someone is watching, whether you think so or not.


I never considered the angle of my girls accepting a mother figure before you mentioned it. My eldest daughter was only six when my last marriage went south, my youngest two, so they have never really had a strong female role-model before now. I have a housemate who is in her early twenties, but she is more like a big sister to them both than a mother figure. In any event, I guess it is something completely new for all of us, and to be honest still feels a little strange after all this time just being us. But the general consensus in the house is I'm apparently less grumpy since the new lady arrived on the scene, and that is something all three girls in the house share, and were more than pleased to tell me...


I thank you for your kind words sir.





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