Mary in Crossville writes:
My mom and dad divorced almost nine years ago and it never really affected me until recently. My dad remarried not too long after my parents divorced, and my step mom and I used to be real close but we aren’t really anymore especially now since she has kids of her own. My dad and I used to be real close but for a while now he hardly ever calls me and when he does he tries to outdo everything that I say has happened to me. When I got my new computer, we exchanged emails so it could be easier for us to talk. I’ve emailed him several times, but he has yet to email me back. I don’t know what’s going on with him, but it’s really starting to bother me. I used to be daddy’s little girl, but here lately, I’ve been feeling like he’s outcasting me. I just wanted to know if you could tell me what might be going on with him. Thanks for your help.
Time passes and things change. You will always be Daddy’s little girl, but you don’t need him the same way you once did. He sees you as your own person, and really isn’t aware that you are craving more of his attention than what he is sharing with you. Fathers tend to get scared and tend to withdraw a bit when they realize that their little girl is now a woman. He hasn’t disowned you or tried to make you feel like an outcast – he just believes that you are doing well.
Most of his energy is geared toward his daily life, and the younger kids, which does leave less time for you – but not less love for you. It’s a natural cycle to be close with your parents, drift apart and then regain the closeness. Much of this is directly related to what is going on in individual lives. Things have a way of pulling our time, attention and energy in different directions, as is the case with you and your dad.
Your father has a pretty full life, which doesn’t always leave time to respond to emails – yours or other people’s. He means to respond, but doesn’t get around to it, and assumes that everyone understands. The silence isn’t meant to be hurtful, it is just hard for him to balance life and fit everything into a day.
Your father isn’t necessarily trying to out-do or compete with you in your conversations, it’s his ego kicking in. There is a lot of stress in his life, and it comes out while he is trying to hide it in these conversations.
You haven’t been replaced in anyone’s life or view. Sometimes it can be hard adjusting to the fact that your place is now at the big table with the rest of the adults, rather than the small table with the other kids. The easiest way to correct the problems you are having and re-bond with your father, and step-mother, is to talk with them. Tell your dad how you feel in a positive manner. Let him know that you miss him and the closeness you once shared, and propose that once a week the two of you get together via phone or Internet and spend some time. If you want to take it a step further, spend some time with your father and step-mother. While it may take some effort, the more time you spend with your father, step-mother, and siblings – the more integrated you become in that half of your family.