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Can I Trust My Daughter’s Dad to Be with Her?

by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From New Zealand: I did not reunite with my daughters biological dad until she was 8 years old. She is now 15 and I am very worried that he may be planning something inappropriate. It all started when she was 14…her dad and I do not live together, but are engaged, and she used to go over to his place now and then for what we called “Daddy-Daughter” nights where she would sleep over without me. One weekend, he got pretty drunk and she says that he touched her breasts and butt, but this seemed accidental. However later, he was messaging her on Facebook, and I happened to read it over her shoulder and immediately lost my temper. He had typed that she should wear tight tops and tight jeans and be his “naughty metal girl” (they both like metal music). I confronted him about this and he claimed he had worded it wrongly. She has not been to his house by herself since. I am still getting this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach, even though both of them claim nothing has or will happen. He seems too desperate to have her stay over again, and I am not sure I can trust her either, as she adores her father and would do almost anything for him to please him. They snuggle up on the couch (I’m left sitting there on my own) and hug and kiss on the lips constantly. Am I being paranoid, or should I set boundaries? (PS, he knows I can literally ruin his life if I find out anything has happened)

No. You’re not being paranoid. Fathers do not kiss teenaged daughters on the lips or touch them on the butt. Responsible fathers don’t invite their daughters to be sexual objects (metal girl? Really?). It’s his job to give her a safe relationship. It’s also his job to show her how to be in a relationship by being in relationship with you, not her. She should be watching the two of you sit close on the couch. You shouldn’t be watching them! Please.

Draw clear, solid boundaries. Do not let her go to his place without you. Put an immediate stop to the hugging and kissing. Your daughter may resent it now but when she grows up and matures, she’ll thank you for keeping her safe. And please think again about whether this is the guy for you. Why would you want to be with a man who has so little respect for you and your child?

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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