Brokenhearted - is there anything I can do?


Dear crystalwaters:

Greetings. First, you should be commended for your good parenting and positive stance on how to behave in the presence of your child. Now, here are my suggestions:

  1. Enroll her in counseling with someone that she feels safe with. While this can be used later in court if necessary, you should do it mainly because she needs a neutral person to talk to that will understand her dilemna.

  2. Help her define her own style in magazines, books, and by discussing that with her. She may like the style of your ex-husband’s new wife and while that will feel very threatening to you, it is normal.

  3. Keep a journal, that your daughter does not know about, of the things she comes home and tells you. Make sure to include dates.

  4. Talk to your ex-husband - now, I realize this may be useless, but let him know that you expect him to be a positive role model (even if only in a letter). Don’t be negative, only positive.

  5. Make sure that your daughter understands what type of feelings are normal and appropriate and which aren’t. Fear is not something she should feel around daddy. The counselor will help you with this.

Good luck…and let us know how things progress or if you need a referral.

Janet L. Fritts
Attorney with Rosen Divorce
4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 500
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607
919.787.6668 main phone
919.256.1665 direct fax

10925 David Taylor Drive, Suite 100
Charlotte, North Carolina 28262
704.644.2831 main voice
704.307.4595 main fax


The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service but a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action.


I have custody, my ex has visitation “as arranged”. I have allowed him to see her when he wants to, and luckily he has kept his time down to a few hours a week. Our daughter is scared of his temper, and will agree to anything he says during visitation to keep him from being “mad” at her. She craves his positive attention and will do pretty much anything to “stay in his favor”, including imitating his new wife’s speech and dress.

The problem - he makes derogatory personal statements about me, and asks her to agree with him. Of course she does. The more people present to hear her confirm his statements - the better. She comes home crying, because what she said wasn’t true, she feels bad about herself for saying it, she feels bad about herself for telling a lie, she feels ashamed and embarrassed and she doesn’t know what to do. I don’t either. She is only 8. I don’t really care what he says about me, he is a liar, and I got over that a long time ago. But it is not right for him to put her in this situation. He is torturing her.

In addition to all this, he tells her to lie to me, forbids her to tell me where he lives (of course I know, but he doesn’t think I know), and has now forbidden her talk to me about what they do and where they go during his visitation because “it is none of your mommy’s business”. He has recently remarried and unfortunately his new bride seems to be going right along with him in this behavior. And since he is remarried, it seems to me that he is stepping up his visitation time - and with two of them in the “game” - one of who she freely imitates - I am anticipating that this is going to get even worse.

Janet, I left this man because he tortured us like this when we were married. He was verbally and emotionally abusive and physically threatening (physical with me - not her). We were both afraid of him. Why does she still have to suffer? Is there anything I can do? This is SO NOT GOOD for her, neither short-term or long-term.

PS - I do not “daddy-bash” in return. But it is really difficult to explain - without excusing - a grown-up’s bad behavior to an 8 year old who can clearly identify the bad behavior herself.

Thanks -