Dear Mr. Dad: My mother died when I was a baby and I’ve lived my whole life (I’m 13) with my dad and we have a very close relationship—or at least I thought we did. A month or so ago, he told me that he’d finally found the woman of his dreams and that he’s getting married again. I want to be happy for him but all I feel is sadness. It feels like he doesn’t love me anymore and I’m really jealous of his girlfriend. He spends a huge amount of time with her and that takes away from the time we used to spend together. I think he sees that I’m sad, but all he’s really says is that he wants me to be happy for him. That just makes me mad because it seems like he’s saying that I never made him happy. Am I wrong to have these feelings? I feel so guilty and have started to think about killing myself, just to show him how much he’d miss me. All I want is to get my daddy back and for him to love me more than he loves her. Please help.
You clearly love your dad, and there’s no question that the close relationship the two of you have had over the years is changing. I know it hurts, but it’s important that you let go, at least a little bit.
But before we get into that, we need to talk about what’s going on inside your head. Most people in your situation would feel sad or helpless, just like you do. Those feelings aren’t right or wrong, they’re just your feelings.
But there’s a big difference between sad and helpless and wanting to kill yourself. Please talk about these feelings right now with an adult you know and trust—a teacher, priest or rabbi, a close friend, your school counselor, or someone else. If you aren’t able to do that, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255). You could also text “HELLO” to 741741 or TEEN to 839863. All of these options are completely confidential and are staffed by caring people who truly want to help.
Now let’s get back to you and your dad. The fact that he’s happy now with his girlfriend in no way means that he wasn’t happy when it was just the two of you. There’s no chance in the world that your dad’s girlfriend will ever replace you in his heart. But the happiness he feels when he’s with you is very, very different than the happiness he feels when he’s with his girlfriend.
Before things get tense and uncomfortable, find some time for your dad and you two to talk. Do this when neither of you is feeling angry or upset and be sure you block out enough time so that no one will have to dash off in the middle. I’m sure that deep down inside you do want your dad to be happy. He needs to know that. He also needs to know that your feelings are hurt, that you miss him, and that you want to set aside some regular dad-daughter times. As a guy who’s been in your dad’s situation, I guarantee that if you approach him in a calm, non-accusing kind of way, he’ll respond positively and give you the biggest hug you’ve ever had.
Finally, think about showing him the email you sent to me. It nearly brought me to tears and I think it’ll have the same effect on him.
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