It’s not unusual for siblings to have very different parental relationships. I would even guess it’s probably more the norm and with Two Kids And A Fish’s story, I’m wondering if divorce reinforces those differences or changes them? Two Kids and A Fish had two daughters aged twenty-one and nine at the time her marriage ended. Both kids have the same parents but they have very different father daughter relationships. Here’s Two Kids And a Fish:
[contemplate1] My ex doesn’t have a relationship with the oldest. They don’t talk. There’s no communication. He ruined that relationship and so, she wants nothing to do with him. She doesn’t want to talk to him; she doesn’t want to see him.
By the time we separated, she was already over eighteen so she wasn’t subject to a parenting agreement. And he’s only reached out to her once or twice. She lives with me and she’s in college.
It does make it harder for my younger one to go to her dad’s. She doesn’t quite understand what happened between them and I’m not going to give her the dirty details.
I don’t think my younger one remembers the way my ex treated her sister; the aggressive behavior towards her and the verbal abuse. I don’t think she remembers any of that. So sometimes she can’t understand why her sister doesn’t want to see dad.
I’ve told her that he didn’t treat her respectfully, he didn’t treat her the way that a father should treat a daughter. I made it clear that there wasn’t any physical abuse or inappropriate touching or behavior but he hurt her emotionally, mentally. So far that has been enough. I think sometimes she doesn’t fully grasp it. She can’t see that side of her father because she never experienced that.
He gets on well with my youngest. She’s all she has left. She’s his world and I think he’s on his best behavior with her.
My youngest does remember how he had treated me and she does remember how bad it was. She recalls being in the old house and that we weren’t really like a family in the old house either. She has told me repeatedly that she remembers me trying to make it better and trying and trying and she remembers him not budging and not wanting to help make things better in any way.
He lives about fifteen minutes away. He lives with his parents. My youngest has one overnight stay a week and then every other week it’s four days/three nights. Totaled it’s about ninety-nine days a year.
It’s hard for her going between us … all the packing and having to take her bag to school. That part gets to her.
Because my ex lives with his parents my eldest only sees her grandparents once in a while. They’re not as close as they once were and she does miss that. When there are get-togethers, if he is there she will not attend it. It’s just a very uncomfortable situation for her. My in-laws understand. They don’t know the details but they know. All of them, every single one of his siblings and his parents heard the way he used to speak to her and so they know.
Being aware that your children likely have very different parental relationships may help you as you walk the tightrope of co-parenting with your ex. It may help you understand not only the interactions they have with your ex but also the different interactions they have with you. Another interviewee, Ashley had a very distant father daughter relationship which she didn’t understand until her late teens. Esther Adler became alienated from her children and especially her eldest. With parental alienation, the alienating parent can be successful alienating one child but not another and the beginning parental relationships is a factor.
But it doesn’t have to be all bad. If one your children has a better rapport with your ex than you, then could you partner with your ex to have the conversations your child doesn’t want to hear from you? That’s what married parents do? That doesn’t have to stop just because you’re divorced.
How does your relationship with your kids differ and how does it compare to the relationship they have with your ex? How does it impact your parenting?