Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Husband’s Pushing My Daughter Away”

I would like your thoughts on what to do about my husband’s relationship with our daughter. She is 12, and in a fangirl stage where she obsesses over pop culture, including superheroes, “Star Trek,” Sherlock, Firefly, Harry Potter, and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” among others. She also loves Broadway musicals and reading. She and I share all of these interests (I am a 12-year-old fangirl at heart), so we are very close. But her dad doesn’t share those interests and their relationship is suffering.

He wants her to watch history and science shows with him, and go hiking, camping and backpacking. But those are not her interests right now, although she does participate when he asks her to. The problem is that instead of at least tolerating her fangirling, my husband tends to disparage it, and roll his eyes. We can’t watch anything on TV or listen to anything in the car related to her interests while he’s around, and if we are talking about something he will sometimes break in and tell us to stop because it annoys him.

All of this has tended to push her (and me, to some extent) away from him. Yet, while lamenting that they are not closer, he simply refuses to engage with her on these subjects. Both of them are alike in that they are argumentative, particularly with each other, and if they disagree with each other or even have a misunderstanding neither will let it go, such that we end up with ridiculous escalating fights. He is also very critical — of both of us, but particularly of her lack of competitiveness (she hates team sports, and takes archery and piano but only for “fun”), lack of initiative, and being “uninformed,” to the extent that he gives her “assignments,” like reading articles from National Geographic and discussing them with him, which, of course, she resents.

I see his point to some extent. He’s trying to be a parent to her and teach her what he thinks is important for her to know, while I am trying to encourage her to develop her own interests and do what she loves. But his way is tearing them apart, to the point where she and I look forward to him traveling so we won’t have to tiptoe around him. Is there a middle ground? Please don’t suggest counseling – communication is not an issue, as we have talked about these problems over and over. I just wonder if there is an approach I have not considered. — Mother of a Fangirl

Well, how nice for you that your 12-year-old daughter is interested in all the same things you’re interested in! How easy it must be to cultivate a close relationship and enjoy time together when you both like the same stuff! Unfortunately for your husband, it’s not as easy for him to nurture his relationship with his adolescent daughter and rather than helping him — and by extension, your daughter — create a closer parent-child bond, you seem to be almost delighting in the “Us Against Him” mentality you share with your daughter (“we look forward to him traveling so we won’t have to tiptoe around him,” etc.).

But it isn’t you guys against him. You and your husband are partners and your job is to guide your daughter lovingly into adulthood, giving her all the tools you can to be independent, strong, and self-assured. You do her a disservice by being greedy with her time and attention. And, yes, you ARE being greedy, because as much as your daughter may genuinely enjoy your time together pursuing interests you both share, she is missing out on a relationship with her dad and all the things he can teach her through his interests. I understand how you might be torn — how easy it might be to embrace every second you have with her when you know all too soon, she’ll outgrow her “fangirl stage,” or at the very least, embrace additional teen-related obsessions, thereby reducing the time she cares to spend with you, and then soon after she’ll be leaving you and heading off for adventures of her own, away from you and her dad. This time is precious and it’s fleeting, and it’s understandable that you want to be … well, greedy with it. But you do so at your husband’s expense, your daughter’s expense, and possibly the expense of your marriage.

By not actively encouraging your daughter to spend time with her father, even if it means doing things she may not actively be interested in, you keep her from being the full person she could be. Who knows what interests of your husband’s she may learn to appreciate if she were more exposed to them. And who knows how their relationship might blossom if you and your husband would only make nurturing it more of a priority.

Obviously, this is as much your husband’s job as it is yours, but right now it seems he’s threatened by the bond you share with your daughter and is acting childish. That’s unfortunate (to say the least! If he had been the one to write to me, I’d be giving him an earful, believe me), but it only means you need to step up and be MORE parental, which includes putting your daughter’s interests first. And it’s in your daughter’s interest to have a strong relationship with her dad. So, encourage her to spend time with him. Express appreciation in your husband’s interests so that your daughter may learn to appreciate them — or at least be curious about them — too. Give up some of your precious one-on-one time with your daughter so that your husband can take her hiking or camping or to a science museum. She may still resent her father — and you! — for making her suffer through these things she finds boring, but the resentment will be short-term and the benefits will last much longer. I know from personal experience.

When I was a kid, I shared a lot of interests with my mom, too, and not as many with my dad. He liked baseball and trivia and languages and anthropology — all stuff I didn’t really care about. My mom and I both liked movies, reading, pop culture, and shopping. And while my mom certainly cultivated my love of our mutual interests, she also encouraged me to participate in some of my dad’s interests, too. I have vivid memories of being forced to attend Cardinals games with my dad because my mom said it was important. I was so annoyed! I hated sitting through long sports games. But you know what? I remember how happy my dad was to spend time with me and to share something with me that he was so passionate about. And to be 10, 11, 12, 13 and know that my sheer presence could make my dad so happy? That made me feel really loved and gave me a sense of confidence that is so, so important in a young girl (well, anyone, really).

Please do try to give the same gift to your daughter. Help her see the best side of her dad, even if he’s sometimes making it difficult. Make it easier for him to be his best self. Show interest in his interests. Build him up to your daughter while your opinion still means something to her. And relinquish some of your time with her so that your husband can have a chance to nurture his own relationship with her.

You may not see the rewards right away. It may take years and years before the pay-off is apparent. But nurturing these relationships between your daughter and both you and your husband while exposing her to things that may or may not be of immediate interest to her WILL help her be a more well-rounded, confident young woman secure in the knowledge that both her parents love her. It will also provide a model for her of living a rich adulthood, embracing passions and sharing passions them with the people you love (and showing interest in their passions!). Because your daughter may eventually outgrow her fangirl phase, but if you do your job right, she’ll never outgrow being a strong, confident, interesting — and interested — person.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].

247 comments… add one
  • avatar

    bethany July 2, 2013, 10:28 am

    WWS.

    Particularly this, “Help her see the best side of her dad, even if he’s sometimes making it difficult. Make it easier for him to be his best self. Show interest in his interests. Build him up to your daughter while your opinion still means something to her. And relinquish some of your time with her so that your husband can have a chance to nurture his own relationship with her.”

    My personal relationship with my dad was almost non-existent when I was a tween/early teen, except for those “forced” family moments. I was closer to my mom, and even closer with my friends in the neighborhood. I wanted nothing to do with my dad for a long time. But my parents both made an effort to do lots of family things together, even if my brother and I didn’t want to. 20 years later, I’m crazy close with both of my parents. I adore them and love them as people, not just my parents. I can look back on those time I was forced to go mini golfing with my dad and smile, because I know how happy it made him, and I always ended up having fun, too!

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      ktfran July 2, 2013, 10:53 am

      Ooh, that was common ground for my dad and sisters and I. Mini golf. Then ice cream after. One activity we all enjoyed!!!!

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    SasLinna July 2, 2013, 10:45 am

    I generally agree with Wendy, but would add that LW should talk to her husband about the critical view he’s taking of his daughter’s hobbies, the escalating fights between him and the daughter and his way of interrupting conversations between LW and her daughter that “annoy him”. Maybe they have “communicated” about this many times, but obviously there haven’t been any results yet! All these behaviors contribute to the problem and are probably making the daughter less inclined to spend time with him. In return, LW could offer to be extra supportive of the daughter participating in activities with her father that he’s interested in as well.

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      mf July 2, 2013, 10:58 am

      I strongly agree with this. It’s not cool that Dad is rolling his eyes at his daughter’s interests and hobbies. Although Mom does need to step up and encourage a stronger relationship between the two of them, it’s ultimately Dad’s responsibility to cultivate that relationship. And disparaging his daughter’s interests is the absolute wrong way to go about that. There’s got to be at least one thing that the two of them have in common. Maybe they both like pizza or Indian food or something; then Dad can take her out to dinner or cook with her. Even if they like different kinds of books (fantasy vs. history, for example), if they both like to read, Dad can take her to Barnes & Noble and buy her a novel and a cup of coffee. It’s not rocket science.

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    • avatar

      Bunnycsp July 2, 2013, 11:07 am

      So, here is the thing. My father did not appreciate the pop culture stuff and always reminded me that I was smarter than this. I was able to read teen magazines but they made sure it was balanced. I don’t think that as a parent, you are required to indulge in things you don’t approve of.

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      • avatar

        J July 2, 2013, 12:26 pm

        The things she listed that her daughter is into isn’t mindless pop culture. She’s not talking about the Kardashians, but is talking about shows/books that mature, intelligent adults like.

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        lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 12:43 pm

        Arguable.

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        MMcG July 2, 2013, 12:52 pm

        She’s 12 – at what age are you supposed to be more able to enjoy mindless pop culture!?! Can’t we at least celebrate that the things listed like Harry Potter probably indicate that the daughter is reading a lot of books… not a bad thing 😉

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 12:57 pm

        My comment obviously wasn’t clear. J said the shows and books listed are things mature, intelligent adults like. I was saying that’s debatable.

        There’s nothing wrong with mindless pop culture, imo, so long as its balanced with things opposite that. And totally agreed on the book front.

        Just saying that I don’t consider Buffy the Vampire Slayer a mature, intelligent show. And I don’t think that tv shows a mature, intelligent adult would watch necessarily means they are good shows to watch. I consider myself mature and intelligent, yet I’ll still watch mindless shit sometimes.

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        J July 2, 2013, 1:13 pm

        I didn’t say all mature and intelligent adults like Buffy or Star Trek, I’m just saying there are mature and intelligent adults who like Buffy or Star Trek. I’m not even saying all of the things listed are mature and intelligent, but that people can be smart and informed and still like these things.

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        lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 1:17 pm

        I’m just saying that indicates very little to me. Like I said, I consider myself a mature, intelligent adult, yet I read People magazine. I agree, of course people can be smart and informed and still like other stuff too. The point here is that Mom seems to allow her to only have interest in those things, which is bad. As you agree, there needs to be a balance and it sounds like Dad is the only one whose realized that.

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      • avatar

        Essie July 2, 2013, 3:32 pm

        The thing is, what the father is doing is rude. It’s rude to disparage someone’s interests, roll your eyes at them when they talk about them, tell them to stop talking about it because you’re annoyed. It’s rude for an adult to behave that way towards another adult, and it’s downright hurtful to do it to your child.

        He’s embarrassing her. He’s putting her down. Of course it’s going to drive her away from him. No matter how much mom “encourages” their relationship, the child is hearing “Dad thinks I’m stupid.”

        Did nobody notice this in the OP’s letter?

        “He is also very critical — of both of us, but particularly of her lack of competitiveness (she hates team sports, and takes archery and piano but only for “fun”), lack of initiative, and being “uninformed,”

        Yep. “Dad thinks I’m stupid.” “Dad thinks I’m not good enough.”

        Ya know what happens when Mom “encourages” the relationship and Dad continues to belittle the kid? The kid keeps it all inside because she doesn’t want to disappoint Mom, and the relationship with Dad dies.

        It’s already happening. You can see it in the fighting. She’s lashing out and pushing back because he’s hurting her.

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        lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 3:39 pm

        I agree, but the father didn’t ask for advice, the mom did and we all know you can only control your own actions, so because of that, I think the advice given was spot on.

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      • avatar

        6napkinburger July 2, 2013, 3:46 pm

        But if she IS uninformed, then it’s good for him to point it out and provide her with ways to become informed. She SHOULD be more informed and it’s good that her dad wants her to be. If he didn’t care, then that would be more worrisome. Just like if she says “like” every other word — someone needs to point that out and keep pointing it out until she does something about it. Or else he’s doing a disservice to her.

        You know at the beginning of the last indiana jones movie where indie comes running home and needs to ask his dad something but his dad makes him count to 10 in latin? In that instance, it is terrible timing and the dad should have listened to Indie when he came in in an emergency and the dad should have helped then and done the latin lesson later, but if that was a normal day home from scouting, then good for dad, because indie totally used that information later in life, even though it was annoying (and seemingly aloof) of his dad to be so demanding.

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        temperance July 2, 2013, 4:41 pm

        I wanted to make a point about the use of the word “uninformed”. My father would have considered my sister and I “uninformed” if we held an opinion that he didn’t share, even if we weighed both sides and did research on the issue. Her husband could be one of those people.

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        Bunnycsp July 2, 2013, 1:48 pm

        Intelligent people can like these things but does that mean that a father should promote them?

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        Taylor July 2, 2013, 1:19 pm

        Aaaaah! BtVS not mature and intelligent? My inner fan girl is all riled up now =)

        Seriously though, Joss Whedon writes amazing TV – his shows are some of the best the medium has to offer.

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        lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 1:26 pm

        Yikes, I should’ve known better than to comment on a cult show 🙂 Sorry! Blow out the torches!

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        Taylor July 2, 2013, 1:43 pm

        Hee =)

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        Bunnycsp July 2, 2013, 1:51 pm

        Run LBH. I will hold them off 🙂

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        Taylor July 2, 2013, 2:02 pm

        Grr. Argh.

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        lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 2:09 pm

        hahaha! Thanks bunny 🙂

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      • Roxy_84

        Roxy84 July 2, 2013, 3:33 pm

        Absolutely agree. Plus he writes strong female characters, which is good for any girl growing up to identify with

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        J July 2, 2013, 1:05 pm

        What is arguable? Please don’t disparage science fiction/fantasy as not being intelligent or low-brow for children and adults. Is there crap out there? Absolutely. But science fiction and fantasy can deal with the mature themes with a nuanced perspective- some of the stories in Star Trek were written to to deal with historical events like WWII. And musicals should be revered as an art form. Good musicals can be complex and beautiful and again, deal with some pretty mature themes. All of these are better that watching the Kardashians find new ways to make money or reading magazines that criticize star’s beach bodies.

        That being said, it’s important to have fun hobbies, and I agree with their is a balance.

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        Ammie July 2, 2013, 8:01 pm

        My sister and I grew up reading scifi and fantasy. I’m not gonna say that those novels were the sole reason she and I both ended up with lucrative and fulfilling careers in the hard sciences, or the sole reason why we’re both great writers and communicators, or the sole reason we didn’t have to pay for college (we both got full scholarships).

        I AM going to say, though, that they are a *substantial* part of why all of that happened. We were really physically active and loved camping and sports, unlike the LW’s daughter, but those books made us voracious readers, which in turn made us verbally proficient, intellectually curious, and capable of exploiting our imaginations in sophisticated ways. I would challenge anyone who would suggest that the genre is a waste of time.

        I think the father’s criticism is a major problem, although I also think the daughter should be encouraged to become educated and skillful in the things he’s attempting to teach her too (life is better when you’re well-rounded and competent in a lot of things). But in general, I lol at people who spit on the nerdy stuff. It has legitimate and, imo, unassailable value in sparking the imaginations and intellectualism of people. Heck, where would we be without Star Trek? Not talking on cell phones, that’s where. 😉

        Tl;dr, I agree, let’s let the girl read.

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    • avatar

      temperance July 2, 2013, 12:45 pm

      My father (and mother, if I want to be totally honest) would criticize anything that my sister and I had an interest in, regardless of how much value it did or did not have. I hated being around my father because it was constant criticism about my interests, which frankly, felt very personal because I was deficient for not being what he wanted.

      That’s probably what her daughter is reacting to, and she probably sees her father as a bully. I know I did.

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    • avatar

      MMcG July 2, 2013, 12:50 pm

      Agree – i can’t imagine being receptive to spending time with my dad when it consists of him mocking what my 12-year old self likes AND assigning me reading assignments. At that age when your self-esteem is barely functioning (middle school was a bitch for me and most women I know, even if you were “cool” and confident) I can’t imagine how hurtful it must be for her to be mocked. Discuss that there are other things to talk about – sure. Roll your eyes!?! Way to become a teenager yourself dad.

      The LW can do more to assist, and certainly needs to break away from the us versus him mentality (it’s easier said that done) but at the same time she can’t force 2 other people to enjoy their time together. Where is the suggestion to ask the daughter what she may want to do? Isn’t there something vampiry that could also lead to a talk about scifi which leads to something the dad may like!?! Also, at what point does the LW start to teach her daughter that she should stand up for herself and her interests… hate to think about the precedent being set that we must always cowtow to the man of the house.

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    • avatar

      Matcha July 2, 2013, 1:36 pm

      When I was a kid in middle school, I clammed up and didn’t develop my relationship with my parents because they were critical of my interests. I was bookish, nerdy and fangirly – so I really connect with the LW’s daughter. I read ahead in my history textbook during class because I liked it so much. My stepfather and my mother told me I was “weird” and that I’d regret it because I’d never be popular or normal, or get boys to like me. Yes, this is the stuff a 7th grade girl needs to hear to boost her self-esteem.

      I would have been more open to doing different things if I wasn’t told that there was something wrong or bad about the interests I did have. I think this is what the LW needs to communicate to her husband. They can work together to work on his father-daughter relationship but if his attitude doesn’t change it’ll be that much harder.

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        Matcha July 2, 2013, 1:41 pm

        Also have to add that her father probably doesn’t realize it, but at that age I felt like criticism of what I took an interest in was equal to criticism of myself. (There was plenty of that too, but I felt like dismissing my nerdy interests hit the hardest because I felt like science-fiction, fantasy, history, video games and books taught me a lot of personal lessons about life, loss, and persevering. Saying they were weird made me feel like the lesser for having been touched by their stories. )

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      • avatar

        MMcG July 2, 2013, 1:47 pm

        Exactly! Criticism gets internalized so much more easily at certain ages and coming from certain people… something everyone should be more aware of.

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      • avatar

        6napkinburger July 2, 2013, 4:12 pm

        See, I think that is horrible of your stepfather. But I can’t help but think if you were only into cheerleaders, makeup and boys, that it would have been GOOD of your stepfather to encourage you to read more, even if it meant saying something along the lines that you’d regret not knowing more about the literary world or about current events. (even though his tone and demeanor sound indefensively harsh, cruel and mean.)

        So I think there is a bit of a content based bias at work in some of this stuff — you were already doing “worthwhile” things, so his dismissal of them was, in addition to being mean/cruel, just plain “wrong” (as in incorrect/inaccurate.) Though of course, there are ways to encourage a daughter to experience some parts of being a teenage “girl” which also are “good” (like trying to get them to go to at least one sporting event in high school if they have someone to go with, trying to get them to ask one person out on a date, to invite one person over to hang out, etc.) , so i guess it cuts both ways.

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        Matcha July 3, 2013, 3:30 pm

        Yeah, in retrospect, it probably would have been better for me to join a team sport – I actually wanted too, but 7th grade me was too shy to do it. I think there’s something to be said for being well-rounded. In my case, I’m sure there would have been something else to criticize if I was a different kid. The thing that really gets me is that my brother, who is not very bookish, isn’t doing that well in his classes and only my mother seems to care.

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  • avatar

    ktfran July 2, 2013, 10:49 am

    Wendy’s relationship with her parents as a young girl feels ridiculously close with my relationship with my parents. Cardinals games and all.

    I too liked pop culture and shopping and silly tv shows, much like my mom. However, my dad, who had all daughters, liked baseball and basketball and he was an outdoorsman. Did I love that stuff? Heck no! But I loved my dad and my mom encouraged me – and sometimes when I was being a brat prodded me -into hanging out with my dad. I helped with yard work. I camped. I hiked and canoed. I would go on drives to see the eagles, fished, endured Cardinal games and college basketball games. Would have I rather been at the mall or curled up on the couch with a good book? Most certainly. Do I look back on those times with my dad now and appreciate the time we spend together? Definitely. But I wouldn’t have done any of those things if my parents let me do what I wanted whenever I wanted.

    LW, you and your husband are a team. Act like one. Tell you daughter it’s important she spend time with her dad and why. Tell her how much he appreciates it. Tell you husband to ease up a little bit. I really think if said in the right context, you can support both your husband and your daughter. Also, help them find a mutual interest. A museum or something might be a good start.

    On a side note, two weekends ago I went on a family camping trip. For the first time in my life, I woke up at 5:30 a.m. to be at the stream, fishing pole in hand and waders on, to fly fish with my dad. Do you have any idea how thrilled he was? I enjoyed it so much, I went both mornings. Really not sure why I waited so long.

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    • othy

      othy July 2, 2013, 11:35 am

      I always hated fishing growing up, but it meant that I got to spend time with my dad, so I went. And whenever I caught a fish, my dad was the one to do all the ‘gross’ work to deal with it. Then we’d throw it back and go back to just hanging out.

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        ktfran July 2, 2013, 11:53 am

        I never did the gross stuff either. Although this trip, for the first time ever, I strung the fish after I caught it. Heck, I even had a stringer attached to my waders. So, so not like me.

        You have to admit, it’s kind of fun catching and reeling in the fish. But it can get super boring waiting for that to happen.

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        A La Mode July 2, 2013, 1:38 pm

        It’s a really nice time to shoot the shit and get your head clear – fishing can be very enjoyable, plus you have a free meal at the end of it! (I highly recommend looking into how to cook with your fish encased in salt, something magical happens.)

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      • avatar

        rachel July 2, 2013, 3:36 pm

        Ross was telling me the other day that his dad took him deep sea fishing a couple times when he was younger. His dad wasn’t a particularly avid fisherman, he just thought it would be a good father-son activity. Ross says it definitely would have been…if not for his tendency towards horrific sea-sickness.

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    lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 10:50 am

    WOW! Wendy, this advice could not have been better. Amazing job today!

    My daughter and I are a lot like you and yours. We are extremely close and love doing the same things. We are this little team of 2. I was/am (?) a single mom to her as her dad was never in the picture. Not for a minute did I think she was missing out on anything because of not having a dad, as she had my dad and my brother to fill those fatherly roles. Then my partner came along. Seeing him cultivate her interests and introduce her to things I never would have has been a blessing. Watching their relationship blossom into a father-daughter one makes me realize how lucky I was when he became family to us. She’s all the better for it. I think your daughter will be too, if you listen to Wendy.

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      MMcG July 2, 2013, 12:57 pm

      “Seeing him cultivate her interests and introduce her to things I never would have has been a blessing. Watching their relationship blossom into a father-daughter one makes me realize how lucky I was when he became family to us. She’s all the better for it. I think your daughter will be too, if you listen to Wendy.”

      lbh… based on the LW’s description do you really think this is the same as your experience? I mean you describe your partner (who sounds amazing BTW) as cultivating her interests and introducing her to things… which doesn’t sound like what this dad is doing. It sounds like this dad is a bit of a jerk, who when he introduces something and she isn’t into it – makes fun of her. What if your partner rolled his eyes and engaged in ever escalating arguments… would you keep pushing them together!?!

      I’m also coming from a place where I 100% agree with Wendy that her interests could also change next month or next year so it’s more about tone/approach/attitude than actual activities. He needs to learn to be a bit more respectful of his daughter’s choices… and to compromise which would be modeling good behavior for his child to learn.

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        lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 1:01 pm

        I definitely DON’T think my experience and this family’s are similar. I was just trying to illustrate (like Wendy did) to the LW that it can be amazing when a father with very different interests introduces a kid to something they may not otherwise have been introduced to, even forcefully to a degree. I agree Dad needs to work on himself and his approach, but Mom definitely does too. I think compromise and parental teamwork will go a long way here.

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        temperance July 2, 2013, 2:19 pm

        I actually agree with this wholeheartedly, and I’m happy for you, your partner, and your little girl!

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        lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 2:36 pm

        Thanks temp! I take little credit for how lucky I am. I just happened to end up having a pretty great kid, and a pretty great guy. I’ve definitely think I’ve learned more from my daughter than she’s learned from me.
        I do understand how easily this Mom could’ve gotten caught up in her ways of teaming up with the kid. I totally get it, but she’s just got to snap out of it and team up with Dad. I have to keep an eye on myself to make sure I’m more mom than friend. It can be tough sometimes, and obviously a lot funner to be the friend than the parent.

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle July 2, 2013, 10:51 am

    Hmm, I’m getting a different vibe from this letter than Wendy is? LW, I don’t think you’re siding with your daughter & creating an “us against him” mentality; you just seem to be describing how your husband’s attitude has made you feel more distant towards him as well. You also said that your daughter ~does~ participate in her father’s well-liked activities when he asks (& I do think you can do your part to encourage her participation, if you’re not already.)

    I think you should take Wendy’s advice about showing interest in your husband’s hobbies (hoping your daughter will take your lead), but you could also talk to your husband. Try to get him to nix the “assignments” things (because, I mean, UGH) and remind him that she’s only TWELVE—she’ll eventually grow out of the fangirldom. So there’s no harm in him humoring her while it lasts (& for god’s sake, letting her play a couple One Direction songs or whatever in the car). I get that maybe he feels like an alien within you & daughter’s girl bubble, but the way to fix that is not to strong-arm her into liking National Geographic.

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      honeybeenicki July 2, 2013, 11:56 am

      All other things aside, I’m actually a fan of those “assignments.” I guess I don’t know exactly how he does it, but in our house we have things like that but with politics/government because I believe it is truly important to understand our government, how it works, how it doesn’t work, and how our beliefs affect our views. We try to make it fun and do it as a family (not go to your room and read 3 Nat Geo articles and I want a full report) and often make games of it.

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        GatorGirl July 2, 2013, 1:21 pm

        Related- History Channel has some great programming that’s HIGHLY educational but fun to watch. How the State’s Got Their Shapes for one. Awesome show full of information. We watch those shows now, pre-children, but I assume we’ll continue to do so once we have kids. It’s awesome to have your children engaged in the world (government, politics, history, etc).

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        rachel July 2, 2013, 1:35 pm

        There are also a bunch of shows on the history channel or the science channel about science-fiction kind of stuff. I watched a show about what would happen if aliens were discovered, and I know there are some about how realistic certain science fiction shows are. Something like that might be a good intersection of the father and daughter’s interests.

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        A La Mode July 2, 2013, 1:39 pm

        There’s even more scripted shows re: that sort of thing. I don’t know why the father doesn’t like Star Trek, but shows like Eureka, Warehouse 13, and Revolution are all pretty good cross sections of fangirlyness and science.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom July 2, 2013, 5:07 pm

        We watched Eureka last year and our daughter loved it and talked about it with her friends. One of her friends had already seen the series and the others wanted to come over and watch the show on Netflix. They loved the entire concept and they loved the show.

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      Lily in NYC July 2, 2013, 12:12 pm

      I have to agree – to me the dad’s attitude is the problem here. My dad probably had no interest in my piano recitals or spelling bees, but he sure knew how to act like they were the most important things in the world to him. I would have been crushed if he rolled his eyes when I was excitedly talking about something. I don’t care that much about baseball, but my dad is a fanatic so I played catch with him in the backyard and had fun because we were spending time together. I thought Wendy’s first sentence was actually pretty snotty – which surprised the heck out of me.

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        lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 12:30 pm

        Honestly, I think those first two sentences were the best point Wendy made. It should open up LW’s eyes to the reality of the situation.

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        MMcG July 2, 2013, 1:01 pm

        Exactly Lily! And imagine the lesson you would have learned if your dad had rolled his eyes at your piano recital, etc…. I’m willing to bet you (and me and others) would have done the same thing back to him when he mentioned something that you didn’t like. The dad can’t have it both ways – being rude while demanding respect and attention.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark July 2, 2013, 1:18 pm

        Um, both piano recitals and spelling bees are CONSTRUCTIVE activities… Fangirling? Um, not so much. Parents have rolled their eyes at teenage pop drek for generations. Its no crime to roll your eyes at Buffy. Talk about missing the point. He rolls his eyes not at her accomplishments, but her timewasters… A rather big difference…

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        Taylor July 2, 2013, 1:21 pm

        It should be a crime to roll your eyes at Buffy.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark July 3, 2013, 1:13 am

        Wait, is it possible to watch Sarah Michelle Gellar try to act and NOT roll your eyes? Seriously? Talk about making a little go a very long way…

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        A La Mode July 2, 2013, 1:41 pm

        I agree with you to some extent. LW’s daughter should definitely be involved with some enriching activities, but there’s no harm at all in loving media. Maybe she’ll end up in the entertainment industry, or become a writer. Who knows? It could very well be a phase, too… I used to be obsessed with Sailor Moon but you don’t still see me walking around in a sailor outfit with a headband on.

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        Jennifer July 2, 2013, 3:24 pm

        She’s doing archery and piano, I’d say that’s enriching

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        MMcG July 2, 2013, 1:51 pm

        So because you think something is a timewaster you get to mock people for their interests… at 12. Just because you don’t like Buffy and have introduced a bunch of facts that don’t exist in the letter (your comment below about what the dad has been putting up with for years!?!) doesn’t mean that the Dad is 100% correct in ramming his opinions down his daughters throat.

        There’s forcing your kids to do something outside of their comfort zone, normal range of interests… which I am ok with… and then there’s refusing to listen to music in the car EVER? No.

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        Bunnycsp July 2, 2013, 4:45 pm

        Don’t you think that much of parenting is ramming things down their throat. Eating vegetables or just trying any new food? going to museums? my parents made us go to church every Sunday then come home and watch meet the press. We were forced to have shockingly good table manners and we shook hands with adults from the age of three. Is it forcing or is it parenting?

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        lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 4:47 pm

        HA! Very good point.

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        MMcG July 2, 2013, 5:38 pm

        1. I don’t see the comparison between telling a small child about healthy eating habits and forcing them to eat veggies and this situation. Fruits and veggies are healthier than potato chips – that’s a fact. What music you like or books you read is a matter of personal preference, and really its rude to mock people for their personal taste just because it doesn’t align with yours unless there’s racism or violence or something.

        2. At a certain point isn’t parenting about teaching your children to be healthy, functioning adults – not just robots who do what they are told? Shouldn’t some autonomy be introduced at an appropriate age? I mean freak out and force your kid to read something if they can’t, not if you don’t like that they choose to read Harry Potter in their free time. By all accounts this 12 year old has healthy, varied, age-appropriate interests and I’m not sure why dad can’t serve a little honey with his vinegar

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        Bunnycsp July 3, 2013, 9:24 am

        Actually, we don’t know this girl but based on this letter, I think that the father is very concerned that she isn’t well rounded. That is why he is pushing her to explore new things.

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay July 2, 2013, 1:53 pm

        Yeah, ditching a piano recital where the child is performing a talent or whatever is different from rolling your eyes at a TV show they like.

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        Amber July 2, 2013, 2:19 pm

        wow… I actually agree with BGM 100%.

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        Jennifer July 2, 2013, 3:28 pm

        Everyone can have a relaxing hobby. Why are we judging other people’s interests? What is this site, a Master’s program? I don’t understand the amount of hating on fandom today.

        Also hi BGM. I don’t comment a lot but wanted to say I often like your comments.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark July 3, 2013, 1:14 am

        Hi, Jennifer!

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        Lily in NYC July 2, 2013, 4:32 pm

        Anytime someone starts a comment with an “um”, I don’t bother reading it because it’s bound to be condescending.

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        lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 4:37 pm

        Ha, so true Lily.

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      J July 2, 2013, 12:23 pm

      I got the same vibe you did. I was shocked that a father is rolling his eyes and telling his daughter that her interests annoy him. He doesn’t have to like Star Trek, but he can respectfully engage her when she talks about this topic.

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      MMcG July 2, 2013, 1:00 pm

      Yeah – the dictating that she can’t even listen to songs sometimes in the car is way over the top. I mean when she was a toddler did he demand that the Disney tunes never be played in favor of classical!?!

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      MsMisery July 2, 2013, 1:00 pm

      FWIW, I didn’t get that vibe either, Fabelle.

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      Jennifer July 2, 2013, 3:22 pm

      I was all set to like this until you said “she’s only TWELVE—she’ll eventually grow out of the fangirldom.” Why is it not ok for adults to like these shows?? (directed at the view in general, not you Fabelle) Am I not a read mid-twentysomething because I like them?

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    Older and (hopefully) wiser July 2, 2013, 11:03 am

    I think what needs to be addressed here is the the primary relationship in a family–the marriage. You’re bonding with your daughter at the expense of the relationship with your husband. I’ve been there. But when I turned my attention towards nurturing my marriage, even though the kids got less attention, they started feeling more secure. Mommy and daddy love each other. Mommy and daddy present a united front. It makes them feel safe. It gives them a model for their own m

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      kerrycontrary July 2, 2013, 11:06 am

      I think this is a great point. I’ve seen a lot of mothers and teenage daughter relationships that are so close that the mother sort of pulls away from her husband. She gets too invested in her daughter’s life. It’s great to have an involved parent, but it’s also good to take a step back and take time for yourself and your marriage.

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        lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 11:13 am

        Huge!! Also, at some point, the kids will leave you and then what will you do? My plan is to lock mine in the basement and bribe her into going to a local college.

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        honeybeenicki July 2, 2013, 11:57 am

        Hey, that kind of worked for me. My mom begged me to stay close so I went to one about 3 hours away but it was in the city she grew up in and all of my family was there. She didn’t even have to lock me in the basement.

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        lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 12:00 pm

        Haha, I know your story honey, and am very jealous of your mom. My dream is to just have a commune where all my family lives together 🙂

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        honeybeenicki July 2, 2013, 12:06 pm

        My mom is super-duper awesome. It’s her birthday today 🙂 So I’m taking her out for a steak dinner and then we’re going to watch fireworks (which she has decided the city has put on for her). I was hoping to be able to tell her that she has a grandbaby coming, but it’s still too early to know.

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        lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 12:31 pm

        Happy birthday to your mom! And my fingers are still crossed for you 🙂

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        bethany July 2, 2013, 11:31 am

        Very good point.

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    kerrycontrary July 2, 2013, 11:03 am

    WWS, especially “You may not see the rewards right away. It may take years and years before the pay-off is apparent.” Your kid may not always enjoy the activities you make them do, but part of being a parent is helping them develop into a good adult. And the activities that your husband wants your daughter to do aren’t horrible, they are actually really good for her. What’s wrong with a daughter that is well-informed by national geographic and knows how to make a fire? She may not be interested in that stuff NOW, but it can sure come in handy later. When I was a child my mom dragged me to countless art museums with my sister. They loved it, I hated it. But in college I fell in love with art history and now I actually take days off work to go visit art museums! And yeh I hated going to home depot with my dad but I know a lot more about home maintenance than some people. So you need to be more encouraging of her spending time with him and stop acting like a little club. And your husband needs to grow the eff up and be supportive of your daughters interests.

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    Older and (hopefully) wiser July 2, 2013, 11:04 am

    marriage.

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    Stephanie July 2, 2013, 11:04 am

    I agree with what Wendy said, but I also think the dad needs to show interests in her interests. I grew up with a dad who I had a lot in common with. Team sports, outdoorsy, tomboyish stuff. My brother did not. And they’re relationship suffered because my dad never made an effort to step up and show interest in what he was interested in. If it doesn’t come from both sides, it’s hard to want to do something with the other person, if the other person doesn’t do anything to see your side of it.

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    Liquid Luck July 2, 2013, 11:05 am

    I agree with everything Wendy said, and your daughter will certainly benefit from spending quality time with him, even if they aren’t doing things that she necessarily enjoys. It’s great that the LW naturally shares so much with her daughter, but the girl needs to spend time with her father as well, even if it doesn’t seem like the most interesting thing at the time.

    However, he also needs to learn to compromise. For every outing he chooses and she doesn’t like, they should also choose something together that they can both enjoy (for example, she’s into Star Trek and he’s into science, so go to a space museum). And every once in a while, he needs to do something he doesn’t like because SHE wants to do it, and he loves her. If she’s expected to learn to take an interest in HIS hobbies, it’s fair that the same be expected of him every so often.

    Lastly, he should NEVER tell his daughter that things she likes “annoy” him. I don’t care if they actually do or not, he’s the adult and she’s the kid here, so he needs to act like it. Belittling her favorite things will only cause more resentment and make her even less likely to want to spend time with him. Twelve year old take everything personally, so if he’s saying “I hate your favorite book, it’s so annoying,” she’s probably hearing, “You’re stupid for liking that,” even when it’s not what he means. Do not let that behavior continue.

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      lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 11:08 am

      Haha, are you saying I should stop saying that listening to Taylor Swift on repeat is annoying?

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        Liquid Luck July 2, 2013, 12:02 pm

        Obviously, but that’s just because you’re wrong and not because of the certain, lasting trauma it will cause for lil. The fact that you can’t appreciate the beauty of T-Swift’s prose is mildly concerning. You shouldn’t belittle her hobbies because she’s more cultured than you 😉

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        lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 12:04 pm

        Too funny, LL.

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      MMcG July 2, 2013, 1:06 pm

      “If she’s expected to learn to take an interest in HIS hobbies, it’s fair that the same be expected of him every so often.”

      YES x 100000!!!!

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      Matcha July 2, 2013, 1:45 pm

      I think visiting an air and space museum if she’s interested in Star Trek is a great idea. Or if she’s interested in other fantasy series (ex. Game of Thrones? Okay, maybe I wouldn’t want my 12 to read that…) they could go to a history museum that has exhibits about the War of the Tudors that partially inspired the novels.

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  • avatar

    J July 2, 2013, 11:07 am

    I would suggest planning outings for just your husband and your daughter – maybe to an arcade, out to a movie, mini golf,etc so that they can spend time together by themselves. It sounds like your husband feels really left out and is more just reacting than being proactive about changing things.

    Having them spend time alone will foster at least appreciation for each other’s interests and give them bonding time alone to build the relationship and find common ground now that your daughter is growing up.

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    Addie Pray July 2, 2013, 11:13 am

    NIIIIIIIIIIIIIICE RESPONSE, WENDY! Now I’m crying at my desk, for some reason.

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      Addie Pray July 2, 2013, 11:17 am

      Really, Wendy, that was perfect.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom July 2, 2013, 11:15 am

    If your husband wants a good relationship with his daughter he must first quit disparaging her and her interests and he must quit rolling his eyes. If he constantly puts her down she will not like him and she will not respect him because she knows that he has no respect for her. She can’t meet him halfway if he is putting her down. Respect is the bedrock of any family and you need family members to respect each other, the belongings of each other and the interests of each other. Without respect there will be no relationship. Neither father or daughter should make disparaging remarks about the other and you shouldn’t make disparaging remarks about your husband. I’m guessing that you probably make comments about him every so often to your daughter.

    Counseling could help because communication is an issue here because no matter how much you’ve talked about it nothing has changed. That means the communication isn’t effective and it may be that your husband has to hear this from someone outside the situation. He is into science so a consultation with a trained professional may be exactly what he needs.

    Try to find something that they can both enjoy, maybe small doses of togetherness at first. Things like going for ice cream. Our daughter just turned thirteen and she loves Star Trek, Dr. Who, Cat Warriors, fantasy books, theater and acting and swimming. She is also noncompetitive. One thing that works is to invite a friend along because then she looks forward to the activity and has fun and at the same time she is still interacting with parents. At this age I wouldn’t try to force her to do activities she doesn’t like because it just results in lots of anger and bad attitude and whining.

    Instead of a camping trip they could go for a bike ride together, with a friend, or walk a trail in a local park. If she likes Star Trek and Firefly and he likes science they might both like going to a science museum. Or, find the show about the science of Star Trek. Surely, they can find a few places where their interests overlap a little bit. They have to come at this from a position of mutual respect.

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      J July 2, 2013, 12:21 pm

      Totally agree on the respect issue. He is an adult and should act like one- his daughter will model her behavior off of his and what she is learning now is why bother respecting those with different interests.

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        MsMisery July 2, 2013, 1:02 pm

        THIS. One of these people is an adult and one of these people is twelve.

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      Spyglassez July 15, 2013, 3:00 pm

      My husband ‘s father always disparaged his interests when he was younger. His father worked out of town 5 days a week and was hunting on the weekends during hunting season, so my husband would see him maybe one day a week. His dad was hyper critical that my boyfriend was interested in computers and cello, not hunting and fishing. And my husband tried; he can shoot bow and arrow (his dad’s favorite) very well, can recognize animal tracks, knows a number of out-doorsy tricks….it was never good enough. And his dad didn’t want to hear anything about my husband’s interests. If his dad had listened when my husband wanted to talk when he was a boy, perhaps my husband would listen to his dad now. By contrast, my dad wanted me to play softball and had no interest in the books I used to read. But while we would toss a softball back and forth to help me work on not flinching, he would let me rattle on and on about whatever inane thing had my interest (I didn’t read much fiction, beyond Harry Potter, but I read a lot of nature books, so I would talk about whatever animal I had been reading about recently. Usually sharks.). Do you think he liked listening to my fangirlish squees? No. But he let them happen, and would use them to talk to me about other books or stories that would expand my horizon. I felt like he was listening, he felt like he was involved…..

      So maybe Mom here does need to let go, and open the daughter up to a better relationship with Dad. But it sounds like dad needs to remove the ginormous stick from his ass and let his daughter fangirl. I’ve grown up to be a very accomplished writer, and my dad loves to read what I write. If he hadn’t put in the time when I was a kid, I doubt we’d have that relationship.

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  • lemongrass

    lemongrass July 2, 2013, 11:25 am

    When I was 12 I was into makeup, boys and candy. My father did not indulge in those with me but we had a great relationship. He took me for drives, walks, to plays and out to restaurants. He showed me culture, gave me an enjoyment of the arts and it was one on one time that was genuine. He broadened my view of the world, showed me things that I wouldn’t have seen without him. I am a much better, well adjusted adult because he did this instead of pretending to like whatever show I was watching at the time. Being a parent is more about shaping your child to be secure, well adjusted, happy (etc!!) than it is to have fun with them although you should have fun while doing so. Parent first, friend second.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom July 2, 2013, 11:46 am

      Your dad was probably not rolling his eyes and making disparaging remarks about your interests. The dad is setting the tone for the relationship here and it is one of disrespect for anything that isn’t your own interest and his daughter is probably picking up that attitude and acting in a reciprocal way.

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      temperance July 2, 2013, 12:51 pm

      This makes me so deeply jealous. As a kid, I was really into the idea of going to museums and seeing plays, but my parents refused to indulge me on it because they wanted me to like the outdoors, hunting, etc.

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  • findingtheearth

    findingtheearth July 2, 2013, 10:32 am

    I think what Wendy is missing in her response is dealing with the father’s attitude towards his daughter’s interests. I know my father and I did not share a lot of interests when I was growing up – I read a lot and was introverted. My mom and I enjoyed science fiction and fantasy books, while my dad liked hunting and only has read maybe 10 books in his life. However, now as an adult, he appreciates my intelligence and how much thought and research I put into topics, even if we don’t agree.

    I think some of Wendy’s advice is accurate, you need to encourage the relationship between father and daughter. You also need to encourage your husband to be respectful of his daughter’s interests. A lot of them could lean into things he likes – Firefly could lead into an interest in science.

    I think the bottom line is that she is twelve- all of her interests could change in a year or two. Both parents have to work on appreciating her interests and her, while asking her to explore theirs as well.

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      Amber July 2, 2013, 12:05 pm

      She did address the father’s behaviour:

      “Obviously, this is as much your husband’s job as it is yours, but right now it seems he’s threatened by the bond you share with your daughter and is acting childish. That’s unfortunate (to say the least! If he had been the one to write to me, I’d be giving him an earful, believe me), ”

      However, it’s wife that wrote in. She can only control her own behaviour, which is why Wendy is addressing hers and not his.

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        MsMisery July 2, 2013, 12:56 pm

        But how are they supposed to co-parent and guide this young girl into being a productive young woman if the LW is only addressing her own behavior and attitudes? I mean, you can’t FORCE a kid to like camping. I don’t know where that gene comes from… I know I don’t have it. I tried to go fishing with my dad a few times when I was younger and it was the most boring thing on the planet. And then it was like ok, you don’t have to do that (not that I ever DID have to, I wanted to go, and then discovered it sucked). But the dad is giving the kid homework? She may come to appreciate some of her dad’s interests in time, but I hardly think forcing them down her throat is a good way to do that.

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay July 2, 2013, 1:04 pm

        I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking a child camping who doesn’t necessarily like it that much. When my family went on vacations as a kid, I didn’t get a say in where we went. My dad tried to practice volleyball with me even though I was awful, but I wouldn’t call that trying to force me to like it. To me, those things just come along with being part of a family. You don’t always get to do the things you want and sometimes have to compromise. I wonder, though, if it would seem less like forcing if maybe the mother and father both liked to camp?

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        MMcG July 2, 2013, 1:44 pm

        I think it would seem less like forcing if he wasn’t being a dictator about other things… I mean maybe if she could listen to her music or a Harry Potter book on tape in the car on the way camping the daughter would be in a better mood 😉

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        Marjoralynnia July 3, 2013, 2:36 pm

        Asking her to read a National Geographic article is hardly onerous. I grew up with my dad frequently clipping newspaper articles he wanted us to read, and instigating family learning moments around the table. Of course, few 12-year-olds are really *excited* to have to read stuff from the Wall Street Journal, or to be asked to do mental math about ROTH versus traditional IRAs. I did so out of obligation and obedience, but now that I’m older, I certainly appreciate what I learned, and wish I had paid more attention than I did. He still clips those articles, and even though he and I are a ways apart politically, I can always trust them to have something well-reasoned and thoughtful to say.

        I think the good sign is that LW’s daughter’s interests tend towards the geeky. Sci-Fi is a great gateway to get kids interested in science–there was a museum exhibit traveling around called “Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination,” and there’s a similar one about Indiana Jones and archaeology. Mythbusters and other shows have done a number of episodes on sci-fi meet reality, too.

        Generally, I’ve found that geeky fandoms have more respect for and interest in learning than, say, those who follow the Kardashians would. I really think there might be a way for dad and daughter to meet in the middle here. Help her get excited about the real science and history behind the fiction she enjoys.

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    Older and (hopefully) wiser July 2, 2013, 11:36 am

    I have 2 boys and after a few years of action figure battles, Iron Man and Dr. Doom started going to the mall. (Kept me sane)

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  • Astronomer

    Astronomer July 2, 2013, 11:40 am

    I got a very different vibe from this. Listen, this dad sounds exactly like my dad when I was 12, down to insisting I be more competitive, and why can’t I play sports, and so on. Within a year of this, my dad became abusive. He started throwing me out at 13 for reasons like my friend being weird, my hair being weird, my music being terrible, etc. Basically, I had never been the kid he wanted, and he eventually snapped and took it out on me.

    I recommend that the LW keep a very close eye on this. My mom and I were not friends like this, and she let my dad’s bullying escalate to keep the peace. It may be up to this mom to protect her daughter, especially if the fights she describes keep getting worse. And let’s face it–the daughter is about to become a teenager. Of course the fights will get worse as she challenges boundaries and pushes back against his authority.

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      Jennifer July 2, 2013, 3:33 pm

      That sounds awful, I’m, so sorry. I hope the LW sees your comment.

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  • othy

    othy July 2, 2013, 11:41 am

    My dad and I developed a healthy give-and-take relationship when I was this age. We’d do something he’d want to do (touring a waste water treatment plant… seriously), and then we’d do something I wanted to do a couple weeks later (he took me to see Rent when I was 13!). I realized at a young age that compromise was an important thing in a relationship. We didn’t have to share the same interests, but it was spending time with each other that mattered.

    Because my dad took the time to foster this in me, it has not only made my relationship with him stronger, but with others as well. There are times I don’t have any interest in my husband’s hobbies, but I know that if I go with him to a Magic: The Gathering tournament this weekend, he’ll accompany me to see the new Pixar movie when I want to go. Learning about give and take in a relationship is very important for a 12 year old (who can often be very self-centered at that age) to know.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom July 2, 2013, 11:50 am

      This!

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      ktfran July 2, 2013, 11:50 am

      You raised a very good point that I didn’t even mention. My dad would also try to do things we liked. He let us put makeup on him. He would watch Full House or something with us. He also occasionally went to movies with us.

      LW, you should probably – rationally – explain to your husband that eye rolling is unacceptable. So is telling your daughter that the things she listens to or your conversations are annoying. I really think that both your daughter and husband need to learn compromise and I think you are in the very best position to teach this.

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 July 2, 2013, 11:52 am

    WWS, and YOU need to stop pulling away from your husband, because he doesn’t have the same interests as your daughter. You don’t always have to act like a 12 year old girl in her presence. You got a long with him just fine before she got in to this stage in life, and you need to act like a grown-up every once in a while, because this guys is losing his wife and his daughter, partly because you want to be her friend more than her parent all of the time. I get that it is tough to have her be mad at you sometimes even though you really enjoy the things she does, but that is just part of being a parent, and keeping a healthy marriage. I do also believe that your husband really does need to at least embrace a couple of her interest if he wants her to embrace the things he likes. I would let him know that you are going to encourage her to hangout with him more, but he needs to also every once in a while do something she loves.

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      Essie July 2, 2013, 3:36 pm

      She’s not pulling away from the husband because he doesn’t have the same interests as her daughter. Dis you see this:

      He is also very critical — of both of us, but particularly of her lack of competitiveness (she hates team sports, and takes archery and piano but only for “fun”), lack of initiative, and being “uninformed,”

      She’s pulling away because he’s hypercritical of her AND their daughter. They’re bonding against him because he’s being hurtful to both of them.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 July 2, 2013, 3:53 pm

        “You’re mad at your dad, not at me! I forgive you!”

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        Bunnycsp July 2, 2013, 4:30 pm

        Essie – I think you are looking at this through your own pov. How many parents have to watch a certain movie a million times or have to listen to a certain band on repeat. I think most people worry about their daughters if they aren’t active enough and lay around watching tv or reading too much. Or raising a child who should have a bigger perspective about the world and what is going on. Maybe raising a daughter with a social perspective. You can look at him as a mean bully, like you do, or an involved father who is trying to raise a well rounded child.

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        temperance July 2, 2013, 4:50 pm

        I firmly believe that there is no such thing as reading too much.

        Regardless of your beliefs, from the facts laid out, he is not an “involved” father. He wants to force his daughter to conform to the kind of person who enjoys the things that he does, and cutting her down for not being competitive (which usually means “involved in team sports”) and forcing her to do homework to his liking is not the same as an involved parent working to help his child become “well rounded”. She’s interested in piano, archery, musicals and science fiction. I would call that well-rounded.

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay July 2, 2013, 4:34 pm

        That’s still not OK. If you’re having problems with your husband because of how he treats you or his parenting style, then you need to handle it with him, not by forming an alliance with your daughter against him. I’m not saying that to excuse the dad’s behavior if he’s being mean, but if the LW truly wants to do the best thing for her daughter, she needs to do something that 1) Doesn’t encourage her daughter to dislike her dad and 2) Actually makes him stop being mean, because what she’s doing now clearly isn’t working.

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    painted_lady July 2, 2013, 11:53 am

    Your husband and your daughter are both geeks at heart, which is encouraging. That means there’s a common ground there, even if it’s the size of a postage stamp. What kind of history and science is your husband into? Find a common ground – you’ve got to. Or find something neutral. My dad actually doesn’t have a whole lot of interests, and if he does, he doesn’t like them enough to pursue them. He likes baseball, but he doesn’t want to go to games, he likes golf, but he doesn’t ever go, he likes history, but he doesn’t really like books, he’ll watch something about the JFK assassination if its on the history channel but can’t be bothered to pop in a DVD…gift giving, really, is impossible, as is spending time with him that doesn’t involve eating. So the fact that there are things that he likes doing is a good start, and the fact that he wants to do those things with your daughter is excellent.

    My first question is, would he want you to go with them when they go camping/hiking/whatever? If he doesn’t mind, that would probably be a good show of support to begin with. If he feels like that’s going to impede their time together, then fine, you’re off the hook. I would suggest, while lending an ear to her feelings about her father, gently suggesting she go to him and tell him, without whining or accusing (I don’t know that she does either, but I know that tends to shut people down) how his rejection of her makes her feel. Addressing issues with the person who’s causing the problem is just a good habit to get into, you know? And aside from all the other suggestions people have made, like neutral activities such as mini golf and ice cream, what about a trade? “Absolutely Dad! I’ll go hiking with you, and I promise to go with an open mind and not complain about it. I’d like you to point out the things that you find fun or interesting along the way so I can see it from your eyes…and then next week, the new Star Trek movie is out on DVD, so I would love for you to watch it with me. I’d love to tell you about the things I like.” She’s a kid, with a kid’s sense of fairness, so that would probably be a good compromise, because right now, he’s asking her to do all the changing. You wouldn’t even ask that of an adult; why do you expect a kid to be okay with it?

    Lastly, the article idea isn’t a bad one, but he’s going about it all wrong. Instead of, “I want you to read this by this day, and then we’ll have a talk,” how about, “I found this and thought it was interesting. I thought you might like it because of x,y, and z. Give it a look and let me know what you think.” I’m notorious for doing this to family and friends, but you know what? I’ve never had anyone go, “Oh my gawwwwwwd, PL, whyyyyyyyyyy? It’s so longgggggggg!” But that means he has to find something that *will* interest her, which means he’s got to make some effort as well. Some article about historical events that are echoed in Firefly, for example, or some new technology that brings us one step closer to Star Trek, or the genuine history of witchcraft that was included in Harry Potter. No, it may not be the precise thing he’s interested in, but you can’t just share an interest with someone by demanding it. My dad really, really loves talking about the 60s, and some aspects of it, like the space race, I care about but don’t really find compelling enough to discuss, but other parts, like the JFK assassination, I’m fascinated by, so we talk about that a lot, along with the Civil Rights movement and what it was like to watch (he was there!), and Vietnam, but he doesn’t care much about the hippie culture, so even though I love that, we skip that. I mean, really, isn’t that how you build a relationship with anyone? Find your shared interests and go from there?

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    • Lindsay

      Lindsay July 2, 2013, 12:58 pm

      I agree mostly with your last paragraph, but I wonder how close the LW’s perception of the “assignments” is to reality or whether it might actually be closer to what you described. If this girl is a only child and is used to having her mom love all the same things she does, then she may not be particularly receptive to reading about something that doesn’t interest her or doing things she doesn’t like. Anyway, a person shouldn’t be forced to read something they find boring, but I think that it’s reasonable for the dad to try to encourage that so that she grows up knowing there’s stuff outside of her pop culture interests.

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      • avatar

        painted_lady July 2, 2013, 1:27 pm

        That’s true, I had that thought that maybe the mom and daughter’s perspective on assignments was skewed. But I do think, however he’s approaching it, the dad needs to come from a starting place that’s going to pique the daughher’s interests.

        For example, I taught my theatre kids “The Crucible” this year. Middle schoolers – and initially, I tried to explain the history of the Salem witch trials as well as McCarthyism before we read the play. It was nothing but glassy-eyed stares and yawning. My mistake – then we read the play and watched the movie, and they went NUTS for the story. They had all sorts of questions about those eras of American history, and we watched a couple of documentaries, and then I get my kids coming in and going, “Hey, there was a thing on The History Channel this weekend about Salem, and I made my dad watch it!” And then in American history, they were studying colonial America just after we read it, and so I get the history teachers going, “Holy shit, thank you! They actually like this stuff!” So it was this wonderful little springboard into history for them. That was what I meant about finding articles that the daughter would be interested in at first.

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay July 2, 2013, 1:31 pm

        That’s awesome! I thought “The Crucible” was awful, but I definitely went to Salem this winter and got really into the witch trials and all the history there.

        You’re right, though. If he can target things toward what she might like, then she’ll probably be more receptive. And he’d be more likely to help her find an actual interest, not just an ability to tolerate.

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        lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 2:59 pm

        Exposure to anything is great for children. Things they like, things they sorta like, things they don’t like. Anything! You will learn from all of them. My dad said to me that the best thing you can do as a parent is expose your kid to all of their options and let them decide from there. I don’t know if its The Best thing, but its very important and I’m glad for all the things he exposed me to.

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay July 2, 2013, 4:30 pm

        Definitely! I actually wish my parents had exposed me to more things, even things I didn’t like. My mom put me in ballet because she thought it would be cute, which was fine, but I wish they’d made me do a sport for a while or a musical instrument. I think my athletic and musical skills would have benefited a lot if I could have had practice early. (And those are two things I didn’t care for as a kid that I really like now.) Same thing with intellectual or cultural topics. When I got to college and met all these kids who’d been exposed to more high-brow stuff than I had, I definitely felt like I had to play catch-up to at least even have an opinion on this stuff.

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      • avatar

        temperance July 2, 2013, 4:52 pm

        I had the same experience at college! My parents are/were anti-intellectual, though, and wouldn’t let me go see ballets, theatre productions, or hit up museums because I was trying to “put on airs”.

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  • avatar

    rachel July 2, 2013, 11:57 am

    LW, your daughter sounds awesome. I’d love to hang out with her. Your husband sounds like a jerk. I know you said you don’t want to hear about counseling and your problem isn’t communication, but really? You’ve talked about this “over and over” and your husband still interrupts your conversations because they annoy him? He is clearly not getting the message.

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    • bagge72

      bagge72 July 2, 2013, 12:04 pm

      Meh, I wouldn’t call him a total jerk, I can see getting frustrated that not only does your daughter not enjoy the samethings as you, but now all of the sudden your wife doesn’t either, just because your daughter doesn’t. It must suck to have go some where with the two of them, and because your wife wants to be best friends with your daughter, you probably can’t even talk with her while they are together. I do believe he is some what of a jerk with the fact that he really doesn’t put any effort in to anything she likes though.

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        rachel July 2, 2013, 12:06 pm

        I’m sure it’s frustrating for him, I just think he’s reacting in a jerk-ish way. The eye-rolling and making the daughter feel bad about her interests is not cool. And something about him wanting the daughter to be more competitive just struck me the wrong way.

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle July 2, 2013, 12:11 pm

        It struck me the wrong way, too. The way he’s acting could be a response to feeling alienated, I’m sure, but right now it seems he’s trying to run a bit of tyrannical household (with the assignments, & the verboten music and television). She doesn’t want counseling, but maybe parenting classes? I’m sure BOTH the LW ~and~ her husband could benefit from those.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark July 3, 2013, 3:53 am

        Music or even musical pop icons was, curiously, NEVER mentioned specifically by the LW. To me, I imagined them insisting on listening to Buffy podcasts in the car… Something that would make me either toss the ipod out the window or leave certain people at the curb…

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        painted_lady July 2, 2013, 12:15 pm

        Yeah, funny thing for me was, my dad put me in basketball, and he was surprisingly non-pushy about it, but he was constantly telling me I needed to be more aggressive. I thought for years that I was incapable of being competitive, and all of a sudden I’m in a sport that has me knocking people down and finding bursts of speed I didn’t know I had…turns out I just hated playing basketball and gave no shits. And my dad is so crazy into going to my games – Walter said he was yelling his head off at the last one.

        I think the dad most definitely needs to be happy with the daughter he has, and not spend so much energy trying to shame her into being the daughter he wants,

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        rachel July 2, 2013, 12:17 pm

        Your last sentence, for sure.

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        J July 2, 2013, 12:18 pm

        So he should act like an adult and not take his frustration out on his daughter by telling her that her interests annoy him. He should be talking to his wife about how he feels alienated when it is the three of them, but this is an issue between him and his wife. He

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow July 2, 2013, 1:40 pm

        What?! I didn’t get the sense that the LW is only liking or disliking things to get closer to her daughter. It sounds like she and her daughter just happen to share the same interests. The whole time I was reading the letter, I was thinking, “Shit – if he acts like this toward his daughter, how does he treat his wife?!” He rolls his eyes and tries to get them to stop talking about stuff that they’re interested in. I get that he’s probably feeling left out, but that’s not cool. I’d hate it if a parent did that to me and I’d hate it if my partner did that to me too. Of course they have an “us against him” mentality when he acts like that.

        I’m also a 31-year-old “fangirl” so this might not just be a phase that she’ll grow out of, haha.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 July 2, 2013, 1:50 pm

        I didn’t say she was liking or disliking things to get close to her daughter. I said that she is acting like she has nothing in common with her husband anymore, because she likes the samethings as her daughter, and that is all she ever talks about.

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  • avatar

    honeybeenicki July 2, 2013, 12:04 pm

    I agree with Wendy here. But I would say that Dad needs to try not to do the whole disparaging remarks thing. But he also doesn’t need to pretend to like whatever she is in to. It is definitely a good idea for the LW to lead her daughter by example by showing an interest in Dad’s interests and even suggesting an outing that he would like or that all of them would enjoy. And like I said above, I like the idea of “assignments” to widen your daughter’s horizons. Maybe not the way it is being done (which I’m not sure how that is) but it is possible to make it fun and even do it as a family. Educational trivia game, reading articles and discussing them together or in a game format. During the summer especially, our kids both have “homework” that may include working on actual homework-like assignments or getting a privilege after answering X number of questions correctly on our American Trivia game (history, pop culture, geography, etc).

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  • Lindsay

    Lindsay July 2, 2013, 12:12 pm

    WWS. I feel like this could have been written by my mom, to an extent. She and my dad didn’t have much of a relationship, so she kind of looked to me to be her BFF, and I had a lot more in common with her. My dad was also much more stern, and as a shy kid, he made me sort of uncomfortable at times. I was an only child, so my mom’s attention was nice, but I do remember thinking as a child that I wished she was “normal” in that she was more like a mom than a friend. My parents eventually got divorced, and I actually think without that, I might not have such a good relationship with my father (who I am much more like as an adult than my mother) or the family on his side, because of how my mom made it “us against him” when I was little.

    So, based on my experience, it’s not helpful to your daughter to make it you against him. Don’t talk negatively about her father. Encourage her to have fun with him. Maybe even consider making those things, like hiking or whatever, family events, so that it’s not a choice between a fun thing with mom and a thing she doesn’t like as much with dad. Be her parent and let her friends be her friends. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy shared interests together, but just do so as mother and daughter, not BFFs.

    I think you should also look at your marriage, because in my observation, the “us vs. them” thing often stems from problems between the husband and wife, which drives one of them to try to make their child an ally, whether it’s just to have a friend or as a way to outnumber the other person. I’d definitely address his eye-rolling and tell him it is likely going to drive her away, but I also think that if you make an effort to stop excluding him, you might find his behavior improving.

    I hope that you can in the process of all this also try to strengthen your marriage, because when your daughter gets new interests in two years or doesn’t want to hang out with her parents or even when she moves out of the house, your husband is going to be the one who you’re left with.

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    • Lindsay

      Lindsay July 2, 2013, 12:22 pm

      Also, I want to tell an awesome story about my dad. When I was a kid, my mom was always kind of a dick about going to see my dad’s family, so it was usually just him and me. Anyway, we had to go visit one of his aunts who was dying in the hospital, and my dad admitted to me that he didn’t WANT to go and said he was dreading it (which was not something he’d normally say to me), but that sometimes you have to do stuff you don’t want to do. And that’s always stuck with me, and I find myself thinking about it a lot whenever there’s something I don’t want to do but that I know is the right thing.

      So, don’t deprive your daughter of the sort of things you learn about life when doing not fun things with one of your parents. Making your kids do shit they don’t necessarily like a lot is just life.

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        ktfran July 2, 2013, 1:36 pm

        I can’t like both of these enough!!!!!!!

        I honestly think both parents are at fault. But I also honestly think that the husband/dad might not be such a jerk face if he wasn’t 100% put on the back burner. And I really do think he has been 100%, maybe even 110% put on the back burner.

        Parents should be parents and kids should be kids. And don’t EVER talk negatively about one spouse to your children. EVER. I mean ever.

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  • avatar

    J July 2, 2013, 12:15 pm

    I’m sorry, but the father is an asshole. The daughter goes hiking, but the father can’t say anything nice when his daughter talks about her interests. If he wants her to take an interest in his hobbies, he needs to feign interest in hers. Why can’t he ask simple questions about what is her favorite episode and why? The daughter will then learn to respond in similar (asking others about their hobbies, showing genuine interest, accepting of differing hobbies). If the father wants his daughter to respect his interests, then he needs to be the adult and show her how adults should behave and respect hers. And this is his responsibility too. The wife should be supportive of his efforts, but he needs to act like a grown man and stop being so selfish.

    I used to whine like crazy when my dad tried to teach me about cars or home improvement, or talk about politics. But he never stopped trying, and even if I was a brat, he still acted like an adult and never sunk to my level. Eventually I grew up and learned to appreciate these things, and I can look back and say “wow, my dad was so great and modeled the type of behavior I should show.” Also, my father took me to the new Disney movie every year. He never rolled his eyes at me or made me feel less because of what I liked.

    Also, by disparaging the hobbies of the daughter, he is also disparaging his wife’s interests. My husband and I have very different interests, but he does not roll his eyes when I talk about them. Seriously, this guy is an asshole.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark July 2, 2013, 12:17 pm

    How frustrating for your husband that you have turned your daughter into a clone of all the things about you that are probably annoying to him… Things he has quietly tolerated for years… But now are somehow totally taking OVER your lives. Yes, I know firsthand how much some Buffy fans just need to shut up about that blasted show. I recall all too well how some can turn every god damn conversation into a deep Buffy exploration… So, yes. I can well grasp your husbands ongoing eye-rolling and snappish annoyance. He probably reached Buffy overload YEARS ago and now here it is every morning at the breakfast table.

    And of course…. This is NO accident. Look, I’m sorry, but your hand here is rather plainly seen. How so? For starters, almost NONE of the things your daughter is a “fangirl” of are even vaguely STILL hot among her peers. Okay, Harry Potter… maybe. But are there REALLY that many teen “girls” into Star Trek? Meanwhile both Buffy and Firefly are all ancient history as far as teens are concerned… Worse, Buffy is VERY annoying to anybody with an even vaguely high IQ. (Okay, okay, I am projecting here, but again, I had way too many friends who were all way to into Buffy back in the day. I simply didn’t get it.) My point is, you have cultivated these interests in your daughter. (Which is fine, I guess. Up to a point. But you seem to have past that point long ago…) Just as your husband has tried to cultivate in her his interests. Camping and hiking… which FRANKLY are much better for her both physically and psychologically in the long run. Oh, and he thinks TV can actually teach somebody something more relevant than the fact that it’s both rather silly and stupid to be a Vampire Slayer… Not too mention angst-filled. Moreover, his interests could actually — I dunno — help make her a more well rounded person. Yours on their own will just isolate her as, frankly, many out there find “fangirls” and “fanboys” annoying. And not just to me and your husband.

    Look, I had a great relationship with my dad. Did he take me out to Madonna concerts and listen to me babble on endlessly about her latest video. Um, no. Did my mother? Again, no. You don’t have to worship the same pop culture icons to have solid relationships. Frankly, I don’t know ANYBODY who had such strange mutual worships WITH their parents… I dunno, back in the 1980s most parents were actually grown ups, I guess.

    You don’t have to be your daughters fellow geek and her best friend to have a good relationship. Neither does your husband. The idea that you want your husband to now turn into what YOU probably secretly have always wanted him to be — a fellow fanboy! Dream! — is the crux of your real issues here. Oh, how fun for all three of you to just sit around endlessly for hours while the dvd player spins Buffy endlessly… And then, next, comes Angel!

    Um, it ain’t going to happen.

    Our differences are what make people interesting. If everybody liked the same things, the world would be rather boring. And for your husband to expect your daughter to have more than your own vapid interests, REALLY doesn’t make him a bad parent. I’d say the exact same thing if your roles were reversed here, and somehow she ONLY wanted to watch the History Channel and go hiking. Then I’d tell you to keep pushing for her to spend time with you. But even then I would tell you to be a little more hipper and current than Buffy… 😉

    PS — I also don’t get why going camping and hiking versus Buffy-ing are mutually exclusive. If your daughter is still willingly doing these activities… I dunno… since most teenagers are rather bratty and self absorbed and not keen on doing things they don’t enjoy… I’d hazard a guess she finds them more fun than you would like. Or even… more fun than you would.

    One teenager in the house is bad enough… But TWO must be exhausting. Grow up, already. Seriously. Your days of Tigerbeat should be long tempered by now.

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      TECH July 2, 2013, 12:27 pm

      I have to agree. Buffy was popular in what, 1997? Before the 12 year was born. So how did she find out about it? Ostensibly through her mother.

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        A La Mode July 2, 2013, 1:51 pm

        Oh trust me, the Buffy fanbase is alive and strong… just go check out r/Buffy!

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        Jennifer July 2, 2013, 3:38 pm

        How dare she share her own interests. Her daughter should stop liking it just because her mother likes it.

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    • Lindsay

      Lindsay July 2, 2013, 12:27 pm

      This day is going down in history as the first day that I’ve ever agreed with every single word you’ve said, BGM. But yes, to all of it.

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      lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 12:28 pm

      I’m breaking out in hives. I agree with you, again.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark July 3, 2013, 12:54 am

        Uh oh… some you will be called BSLBH. bitter_straight_lets_be_honest and your journey to the darkside shall be complete…

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        lets_be_honest July 3, 2013, 9:47 am

        Ha! I was afraid the BS stood for something else.

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      painted_lady July 2, 2013, 12:29 pm

      I completely agree with you on Buffy. I just don’t get it. But believe it or not, a lot of my nerdy students do like Buffy – quite a few of them go to conventions, and as far as I can tell, they’re just giant nerd festivals, so it’s actually kind of easy to encounter something that was popular 15 years ago because where there are nerds, there is Buffy.

      But if you’re saying that getting the daughter into these things was some deliberate, malicious move on the part of the mother, I doubt that. I mean, maybe? But, for example, my mom used to watch I Love Lucy and Alfred Hitchcock Presents late at night, and during the summers, I’d stay up late, and I gradually developed a taste for both of them. I love all things Hitchcock now, and not because she brainwashed me – if she had her way, I’d also love The Three Stooges and The Twilight Zone, and I’m not nearly as crazy about those. So I was just assuming it happened similarly for LW and her daughter. Maybe not, though.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark July 2, 2013, 1:12 pm

        It wasn’t deliberate. But it was annoying. And her ongoing view that this somehow makes her the better parent is definitely bordering on malicious…

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      • courtney89

        courtney89 July 2, 2013, 5:37 pm

        I got into I Love Lucy and Bewitched thanks to my mom!! haha

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    • bagge72

      bagge72 July 2, 2013, 1:12 pm

      I agree with this, except, I don’t think the mother was intentionally pushing these shows on her, it probably just happened. When I was growing up, I always watched The Andy Grifith Show, My Three Sons, and Leave it to Beaver, because those were the shows that were on, and I love those shows, but my father didn’t force me to watch them, it was just what was on TV at the time. Like my sister loves Elvis, because my parents use to always listen to the Elvis hour on Sundays on the local oldies station, I didn’t like Elvis then, so choose not to listen to it, I put my walkman on with Metallica, and Red Hot Chilli Peppers in it. Sometimes those things just happen. But I agree with everything else you said.

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      GatorGirl July 2, 2013, 1:16 pm

      Yup.

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      Milla July 2, 2013, 1:22 pm

      I teach freshmen in college, and a lot of them are still Buffy fans. My partner teaches high school students and they went NUTS for Sherlock this past year.

      Also, seriously, have you been on Tumblr? It’s full of teen girls going crazy for Star Trek.

      Also, this is tangential, but I’m always amused/annoyed when people are criticized for being geeks but if the topic at hand were sports, no one would say a thing. Apparently it’s socially okay to go to games and paint your face and do whatever sports fans do, but Buffy marathons aren’t.

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        lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 1:32 pm

        HA! Trust that Mark would have PLENTY to say if someone wrote in replacing Buffy with sports.
        What’s ok is to have a balance. Whether it be balance sports with history, Buffy with science, it doesn’t matter.

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        Milla July 2, 2013, 2:19 pm

        Yeah, I wasn’t responding so much to Mark re: sports but to culture as a whole. It seems way more acceptable to be a nut for sports but if you watch Buffy? Forget it.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark July 3, 2013, 1:06 am

        Honestly, no matter WHAT the mom was a fan of — my response would have been the same. **Disclaimer, I am a HUGE fan of the Original Star Wars films and even buy toys from those films when I am depressed — which means I have an ALARMINGLY large collection. Most of which are tucked away out of sight. Honestly, it doesn’t dominate my life… My improv group had NO idea I was into Star Wars until it came up in a scene and my knowledge of it was rather startling to ALL involved. 😉 But talking about that kind of shit non-stop is just BORING. Unless it’s, you know, the lastest Madonna tour or album… 😉

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        A La Mode July 2, 2013, 1:52 pm

        Are you on Tumblr? I’m dying for new people to follow!

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        Milla July 2, 2013, 2:21 pm

        I am, but I mostly just read others, so I’m boring. Too little time to post!

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    • KKZ

      KKZ July 2, 2013, 1:24 pm

      I’m guessing the teen might be into the more recent iterations of Star Trek, the latest movies to come out of that franchise. And with Netflix and Hulu and all that jazz, getting all caught up on Buffy and Firefly and Star Trek and other shows that are “ancient history” with most of today’s teens, is not all that hard.

      Hell, even “back in my day” it wasn’t that hard. I was born in ’87 so ‘grew up’ in the 90s, yet was still exposed to a LOT of 80s pop culture through reruns and radio and older peers.

      I’m not trying to argue with you Mark, I see your point and agree with much of it – I just think it’s possible that the daughter is the one who introduced Mom to some of these things, and Mom became a fan.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark July 3, 2013, 1:09 am

        If the Mom is copying her daughter’s interests with such a vengeance it’s even more creepy…

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      Christy July 2, 2013, 1:41 pm

      Have you read Tumblr recently? TONS of teenagers are interested in Buffy, Firefly, and (new) Star Trek. Just saying, they’re definitely still popular.

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        A La Mode July 2, 2013, 1:54 pm

        It makes me very depressed that the new Star Trek movies are so popular when the brilliance of DS9 and TNG are all but forgotten amongst our youth 🙁

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        temperance July 2, 2013, 4:56 pm

        The episode where Picard experiences an entire lifetime with a wife, children, grandchildren etc. only in his mind is one of the most well-written and saddest things ever produced on television.

        #2 only to Jurassic Bark.

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        A La Mode July 3, 2013, 3:07 am

        “The Inner Light”, frequently hailed as one of the most poignant sci-fi television episodes of all time. I also really enjoyed “Measure of Man” which was the episode where Data’s “humanity” is put on trial. From Voyager, for some odd reason, “The Q and the Grey” really struck a chord with me and actually made me challenge all of my beliefs regarding what is beyond humanity. Good stuff all around!

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark July 3, 2013, 3:16 am

        Hah! My best friend is in that episode! “The Inner Light…” Seriously. I went to on a three week roadtrip with her last spring (LA to New Orleans) a year ago in January… And then we went to Bali for two weeks. She played Meribor… (spelling.) One of the strangest experiences of my life was attending a Sci-Fi convention with her on a lark where we learned she is on a Franklin Mint plate!!

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark July 3, 2013, 3:26 am

        You probably know this already — but Meribor = Picard’s daughter…

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      • KKZ

        KKZ July 3, 2013, 8:45 am

        Wow, I’m glad I’m not the only one whose beliefs on the cosmos/humanity have been influenced by Star Trek. Seriously, the concept of the Q is what puts me on the agnostic end of atheism.

        And the Inner Light is a great episode, I watched it recently on Netflix.

        One of my faves is when they all de-evolve into more primitive forms and Worf-monster hunts Picard around the ship.

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      A La Mode July 2, 2013, 1:45 pm

      You know what, I thought you were going to lay in hard when I first started reading, and I was thinking to myself “Oh fuck, he’s going to hit on all her worst innermost thoughts and she’s just going to run screaming away from DW”… but frankly, I think you are completely right.

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      Jennifer July 2, 2013, 3:37 pm

      Um, I’m in my twenties and all my friends like these things. Most of them are women. Just because FOX cancelled Firefly doesn’t mean it’s not awesome anymore.

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        lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 3:55 pm

        Damn, this is like the last thing I would think commenters would get all riled up and defensive over 🙂

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        6napkinburger July 2, 2013, 4:06 pm

        I finally watched Firefly for the first time last night with my bf who has been begging me to watch it with him. (To be fair, I tried a couple of months ago when we started dating, but i couldn’t understand a word during the fight scene, it was late and there was another 1.5 hours, so he turned it off so I could “give it my full attention” “next time.”) It actually kind of rocks once you get passed the first 20 mins (or watch them with subtitles). I made him put on 2 more episodes before we stopped because we HAD to go to sleep.

        So as a clearly NOT fan girl, it’s pretty good! Plus, I like Rick Castle. He’s so dreamy, if not annoyingly alpha-male-y.

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        Spyglassez July 15, 2013, 3:10 pm

        My husband is a HUGE Firefly fanboy. I think it still disappoints him that I don’t enjoy it, and haven’t watched it all. Well, it made me sad that he didn’t want to hear all about “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” when I read that.

        Actually, my husband’s a pretty big fanboy in general. But he’s so cute when he’s excited about something.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom July 2, 2013, 5:53 pm

      I don’t think the father wanting the daughter to broaden her interests is the problem, it’s the way he is going about it by demeaning her and her interests and trying to cram in his own interests. You can share your interests in a positive, fun way or you can try to force them on the child and he seems to think that forcing them on the child while belittling her is the way to go.

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  • Copa

    Copa July 2, 2013, 12:26 pm

    I think I read this differently than Wendy. I didn’t read an “us vs. him” vibe at all.

    While I do agree that you should be encouraging your daughter to share your husband’s interests with him (and that includes showing an interest yourself), LW, I think a lot of this falls onto your husband doing kind of a crappy job at parenting. The way he is reminds me of my dad who, when I was growing up, if I was doing something HE didn’t see the value in — like I was watching the “wrong” shows on TV (GARBAGE, he’d call it), for example — would force me to turn it off. Meanwhile, he’d try to force what he thought was important onto me. We were never close because by the time I was a teenager, I felt like I couldn’t be my own person around him and like I was always walking on eggshells so as not to pick the “wrong” activity to occupy myself with. It took me a VERY long time to develop my own interests and become my own person — I think you’re right to encourage your daughter to be who she is and like what she likes. I had — and to some extent probably still have — some self-esteem issues that stemmed from my dad’s iffy parenting. He’s a good person, but our relationship as two adults is not a close one and at times feels forced on my end because I still don’t know how to be myself around him.

    So, yes, encourage your daughter to take an interest what your husband likes. But he’s an adult and should show an equal interest in what his daughter likes instead of disparaging her interests and rolling his eyes at her. I’d even argue that as the adult here, he should be putting in more of an effort to accept her for who she is and take an interest in what she likes, instead of the other way around.

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    temperance July 2, 2013, 12:34 pm

    I disagree with Wendy’s advice on this.

    The LW’s husband sounds like my father. My father only wanted sons, so he decided that his daughters were going to get into sports, hunting, home repair television shows and walks in the woods. (I should note now that I have 2 sisters and a brother, but this is before the younger two were born. He was much kinder to them.) I hated, and still do, all of those things. I resented how I wasn’t allowed to pursue my own interests, and how the only interaction from my father was doing something he wanted or berating us about not having his interest and how stupid our own interests were.

    My favorite things in the world when I was a kid were books, baton twirling, girl scouts, dance, and trivia game shows. I was so bad at the sports I was enrolled in that I would cry and beg not to go back, because I was the worst and everyone let me know it. (This led me to be labeled as “the quitter”.) My parents didn’t take me to the local library because they “hated driving”, but they would drag my sister and I on hours-long drives on some Sundays, with stops in the woods to walk around for no apparent reason. These were followed up by hours and hours of This Old House, which we were required to sit through for “family time” but we weren’t allowed to speak at all during the show, lest my father miss something. Our grandmother let us watch Bambi as a treat and I cried and cried, so my father responded by tricking me into eating venison the next week, and then as soon as I ate it all, telling me it was Bambi’s mother. (I threw it all up and cried. I was like 7.) He then referred to it as anti-hunting shit, and we weren’t allowed to like it.

    We still don’t have a great relationship, mostly because he is an authoritarian asshole in a lot of other ways, but if he wasn’t such a bully and tried to meet my sister and I halfway, we probably wouldn’t hate him as much as we do. So, tell your husband to make an effort with her rather than making her feel like shit about her choices.

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      lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 12:46 pm

      Oh, This Old House. I guess all dads watch that 🙂 Wow, you just brought back memories!

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        temperance July 2, 2013, 2:12 pm

        You are actually the only other person not from Scranton that has known what the show was! Unless you are from PA, of course.

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay July 2, 2013, 2:20 pm

        I watched it when I was a kid. By myself, though. My parents weren’t interested in that stuff. Not from Scranton either!

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        lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 2:33 pm

        Nope, not from Scranton. My dad had a This Old House sweatshirt even!

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      • Copa

        Copa July 2, 2013, 2:38 pm

        …there are people out there who don’t know what This Old House is? 😮

        Did anyone else ever watch Home Improvement? I still find it hysterical that they incorporated a rivalry between Tim and Bob Vila in that show. 🙂

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        temperance July 2, 2013, 3:04 pm

        YES! I thought that was actually really funny.

        Apparently I am super wrong about This Old House – my college friends would just give me a blank stare if I brought it up.

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        rachel July 2, 2013, 3:33 pm

        I think This Old House was all over…but only we know Miss Judy.

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        temperance July 2, 2013, 4:29 pm

        Heck Yes! I actually found her on Facebook a few years ago, lol. I think she may have deactivated.

        My grandparents have a VHS of her wishing my cousin and I happy birthday. We were so thrilled.

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        GatorGirl July 2, 2013, 2:39 pm

        I’m from PA, and I watched entirely too much This Old House as a child. Entirely too much.

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    bethany July 2, 2013, 12:34 pm

    I just wanted to point out that even though the LW says the dad rolls his eyes and makes comments about how their behavior annoys him, we dont’ know the context of that.

    It could be something as silly as him walking into the kitchen when they’re talking and him jokingly saying something like “There’s my two girls talking about Buffy again!” and rolling his eyes. It doesn’t necessarily mean “I hate it when you talk about Buffy. You are so stupid, get some real hobbies.”

    My feeling is that it’s closer to the first scenario, and the LW is making it seem worse than in is.

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      GatorGirl July 2, 2013, 12:36 pm

      That was my guess too. More of a “this is silly” than “y’all are stupid” eye roll.

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    • Lindsay

      Lindsay July 2, 2013, 12:43 pm

      Agreed. I was trying to figure out how to phrase it. I think he’s going a little too far if he’s making disparaging comments about her personality, but I absolutely hate baseball, and if I married a guy who loved it and we had a son who was obsessed, I know that I’d be rolling my eyes at them. I do that with everyone I know who likes baseball, which probably makes me annoying, but it’s what I do.

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      rachel July 2, 2013, 12:45 pm

      Hmm, maybe. For me there were clues that it went further than that (the wanting her to be competitive and giving her reading “assignments” for instance), but it’s possible that because these are her interests too that she’s being overly sensitive about it.

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      J July 2, 2013, 12:51 pm

      The letter says the daughter can’t watch what she is interested in when he is around. It also says the father is critical about her lack of competitiveness, initiative, and how she is uninformed. When combined with the eye rolling and disparaging, that all adds up to he isn’t joking about it.

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    • Copa

      Copa July 2, 2013, 12:58 pm

      I assumed it was more than just playful eye rolling because of the added detail about disparaging remarks.

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    SherBear July 2, 2013, 12:39 pm

    This sounds a lot like my childhood! My Dad and I had similar interests so it was real easy to build a relationship with him – with my sister not so much, he didn’t know how to relate to her as she had all the same interests as my mother. I was an athlete and a complete girly girl (still am), so my dad got his sports buddy and princess in one child – my sister was not into sports or girly things. On the other hand it takes work for my mom and I to have things to bond over – most of our conversations revolve around cooking (her passion that my sister did not pick up) and our dogs (unfortunately our dogs don’t get along – but we still trade dog stories all day). It takes a bit of work to plan activities when she comes visit me in Chicago (my parents are happily married, but visit me separately) – but we bound over food and shopping for kitchen stuff! This year I took her to the Botanical Gardens – not my first choice of activities, but it was a nice day and the gardens are pretty. I just told her she wasn’t allowed to ramble off all the names of plants/flowers unless I specifically ask as I really don’t care (it would be like me telling her sports stats all day). We laughed because the one garden that got me actually excited and interested (the Japanese gardens) was her least favorite – and is also my dad’s favorite type of gardens. At a certain point you just have to laugh at all the differences and enjoy the fact that the other person is having a good time!

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  • courtney89

    courtney July 2, 2013, 12:41 pm

    Well, I feel like I may offer a different perspective on this.
    Wendy, I too got the “us against him” mentality from this LW. So, I have actually always been closer with my dad to be honest. He was my softball coach for most of the 10 years I played, I LOVE sports, we have gone together to countless games over the years, just him and I, I go to him with any car/computer/cooking/etc question I have, I can talk to him about anything, I have always been his little girl (Not to say I’m not close with my mom, I am) and that father/daughter relationship I had with my dad growing up, I wouldn’t change it for the world. On the other side, my sister hates sports and has ZERO in common with my dad and I would say prefers my mom to him. LW, I think encouraging your daughter to spend time with her dad is so important. The opposite gender relationship in a family (IMO) kinda shapes future relationships your daughter may have with boyfriends. A talk with your husband about encouraging ALL of her interests (NOT belittling them) and being her own person is crucial at this age. And also, him treating her with respect and letting her know he values her, well that will also help shape her future relationships where she will know she deserves to be respected, valued and loved. Did I fight with my dad as a teenager? Heck yeah. Did we always get along? No. Did I always do things he would agree with necessarily? No. But he always treated me like an adult and respected and loved me and I think he had a huge hand in making me a pretty confident 24 year old woman and I know what I want and deserve from boyfriends.

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    • cmary

      cmary July 2, 2013, 1:14 pm

      I was just trying to say basically the same thing, but it got all garbled. Well-said, courtney. I’ll also add that it needs to be understood that belittling interests and eye-rolling is not okay from the daughter either- if you’re seeing it from her to him it needs to end now. If both parents are making an effort to connect, I think 12 is an acceptable age to understand that things aren’t always about you, and sometimes we do things for other people just because we love the person if not the activity. So yes, foster her interests, but cultivate in her an ability to relate to other people and appreciate their interests too. Would I have said, at 12 or 13, Hey Dad, how’s about a trip to Home Depot on this fine Sunday? No, but we went, because that’s how we spent time together- projects and DIY fixes. And we always managed to have fun and more than a few laughs. And in the end it’s the time together, more than what you’re actually doing, that makes the difference. Also, now I know how to fix stuff.

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay July 2, 2013, 1:36 pm

        Definitely. I feel like the mother may be inadvertently teaching the daughter that it’s OK to make it all about yourself. And if the mom feels this strongly about it and him “interrupting” them, I would bet that she complains about her husband to her daughter, which is not OK.

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    Sophronisba July 2, 2013, 12:42 pm

    There’s alot wrong going on here, the parents should definitely get counseling to learn better communication and parenting skills. The father is totally out of line with his dismissive and unloving ways, but so is the mother, big time. Placing a child in the position of having to be loyal to one parent at the expense of the other parent is heinous and very damaging to the child.

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    ebstarr July 2, 2013, 12:44 pm

    Awesome post, Wendy… The whole time reading the letter I was feeling a bit sorry for the dad, but mostly in the sense of “Wow, sucks for him that he’s such a big fat pain in the ass and no one likes him.” Then I read your response and realized even if he is a pain in the ass, Mom has lots to work on too. So insightful!

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    sarolabelle July 2, 2013, 12:02 pm

    LW, what kind of music does your husband like? I know that we all love the music from our generation. Does he like the 80s music? At 12, anything my dad would listen to I really had an interest in because I never heard songs like that. Maybe he can break out the old Van Halen or Metallica for her to listen to and you know, maybe she will just really like it.

    In the Summer of 1993 when I was 12 I went through a serious Tom Petty phase and my dad LOVED it. He played the songs over and over and he had albums (and still does) and he would play them and copy them to the cassette so we could listen to them in the car together (pre CD times).

    But you know what. I would rock out to Tom Petty in my room while playing with my Sanrio boxes that were full of Lisa Frank erasers. I read baby sitter club books and was part of the “official fan club”. Loved Jurassic Park and Baywatch of all things. Haha!

    Here’s a pic:

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      painted_lady July 2, 2013, 12:07 pm

      Ha! My dad got me into the Beatles and Hendrix, so I hear that!

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        lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 12:15 pm

        Lynyrd Skynyrd and Jim Croce!

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        bethany July 2, 2013, 12:28 pm

        I’m still mad at my parents for allowing me to grow up without listening to Led Zeppelin. There’s no excuse for that.

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        painted_lady July 2, 2013, 12:33 pm

        Yeah, apparently mine were fans all along, but there were no records in the house, unlike the other two. I discovered them in college and came home like, “HOW DID YOU NOT TELL ME ABOUT THIS?!” And they were kind of blasé, like, “Oh, we didn’t? Weird. We think they’re awesome.” It was infuriating.

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        lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 12:33 pm

        Finding out the music my parents listened to opened up my eyes to who they used to be. I assumed my mom was always just “mom like.” I remember our reaction (me and my bro) when we found out she liked Led Zeppelin 🙂

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        bethany July 2, 2013, 12:36 pm

        My parents listened to “Oldies”. I literally didn’t know that the wonders of Classic Rock existed until I got to college. So sad.

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    • KKZ

      KKZ July 2, 2013, 1:11 pm

      I inherited a great taste in music from my dad. It was always classic rock radio in the car, and at home he usually had some background music going, often from his own enormous collection of CDs that included everything from classic rock to blues to zydeco. (My parents’ zydeco phase was an odd one.) And my dad is a veritable warehouse of rock’n’roll trivia – when a new song came on, he’d often share a fact he knew about the band (“Did you know Rush is a three-person band, and that the bassist is the lead singer?”), or tell us about a concert he went to in his youth (he’s been on stage with Ozzy, y’all, “close enough to see the O-Z-Z-Y tattooed across his knuckles”), or quiz me and my brother to see if we knew who the band was or what the song was. I loved how proud and impressed he was when I got the answer right, or parroted back some of his trivia.

      Tom Petty’s “Southern Anthem” was the first CD I ever owned. And I got into the Beatles at a VERY young age – I used to listen to cassette tapes before I fell asleep, but got bored with the same-old Sesame Street and Little Mermaid, so I asked them for something new. They gave me a mixtape with a whole bunch of different Beatles on it, and I am still a huge Beatles fan to this day.

      I don’t remember how old I was, but I distinctly remember the night they gave me that tape and told me what was on it. Not knowing who the Beatles were, I thought it was something ABOUT beetles, and asked them “Is it interesting?” 🙂

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      Eagle Eye July 2, 2013, 1:30 pm

      I would just like to briefly brag about my dad and how we’re going to this awesome music festival together this summer!!!

      In all honestly though, I call up my dad now to hear about all of the new great bands out there!

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    MMcG July 2, 2013, 1:12 pm

    When I was 12 I thought New Kids on the Block was a real legitimately talented band. Seriously, though I obviously realize the error of my ways now 😉 My point being that while my dad exposed me to things that interested him, he also jumped feet first into things that interested me and NEVER EVER made me feel silly or stupid because I was a 12 year old who liked things that other 12 year olds did. He didn’t tell me “The Right Stuff” was a terrible song, he tried to play me some Beatles or Eagles to open my mind. I don’t get the sense that the dad is making any effort to get to know his daughter… he just wants a reflection of himself… and is acting like an immature ass in the process.

    The LW should do some serious work in building the bond, and working on her marriage, but I would make sure that the dad is putting in just as much effort. And LW, just because there is communicating going on around you doesn’t mean that your family has good, healthy, communication. I wish you hadn’t been so dismissive of counseling or parenting sessions (or PAIRS workshops, they are designed for couples but work great for family relationships as well!!) because I think that as the teen years progress you will need some better strategies to deal with the 2 strong personalities that surround you.

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      redessa July 2, 2013, 2:33 pm

      Hold on there, NKOTB are STILL awesome! Seriously, have you heard their new stuff? I wouldn’t say they are musical magicians or anything, but they can still put on a good show.

      My dad did tell me they were awful back in the day but he still bought me all the tapes and magazines and t-shirts and let me plaster my walls with their posters and drove me to their concert. 🙂

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        MMcG July 2, 2013, 3:51 pm

        Fair enough, NKOTB fan!! My fave was Joey for the record…

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        redessa July 2, 2013, 9:22 pm

        Jordan was my fave back in the day. I don’t know that I really have a favorite anymore I just like that they’re together again.

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    Milla July 2, 2013, 1:16 pm

    I think the dad sounds like kind of a jerk, and here’s why— growing up (and now, let’s be real), I was a total geek for many things, including Star Wars (and I was born in ’84, so it was years behind the times for me, too). My dad patiently put up with— and even encouraged me in my obsessions. I wanted to read 800 crappy Star Wars novels? Awesome. He’d take me to Barnes and Noble and buy me a new Star Wars fan magazine every time. He was just happy that I was excited about reading. I desperately wanted to be an astronaut? Cool! We watched Space Camp WAY too many times and tried astronaut ice cream together. Obsessed with dolls? He did research and found these beautiful Gotz dolls for my sister and I.

    Sure, he dragged me out on hikes that I hated, and I was a brat and pain during many of them. But what I really remember is my dad listening to me tell him about whatever I was interested in. I’m sure he didn’t really care about the Anne of Green Gables books or obscure Star Wars characters. But that he made the effort to give me my interests. He wasn’t invested in making mini-hims at all, and I am so grateful for my dad. To this day we have a great relationship, and now I’m able to make the same efforts for him. We garden and cook together, and sometimes share favorite TV shows. I even managed to convince him to watch Firefly (he loves Jayne. Thinks he’s hilarious).

    I think the disparaging, if nothing else, has got to stop. He’s got to find ways to connect his interests with hers. Interested in science? Pull up plans of Serenity and compare them to the Space Shuttle. Go to a murder mystery night and talk about Sherlock. Camping? Make it a game. Bring stakes with them in case vampires show up. I promise, the daughter will remember and cherish the efforts.

    But for practical advice: board games. Really truly. They’re a great way to get people who don’t necessarily share a lot of common interests involved. LW, would your husband be up for a night of board games with you and your daughter? A game of Munchkin would be fun for all its geek references for you, and is playful enough that your husband might enjoy it. Or other strategy games (Small World, Ivanhoe, Nuns on the Run) might be a great way for all of you to connect. A good game will bring out the competitiveness in everyone.

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    • BriarRose

      BriarRose July 2, 2013, 1:36 pm

      Great suggestion! A perfect starting point would be just a general interest activity, like board games or going to get ice cream.

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      • theattack

        theattack July 2, 2013, 1:37 pm

        Especially a board game like Cranium where everyone can shine in what they’re good at, and it can be good to pair up with someone you’re different from.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 July 2, 2013, 1:47 pm

        Yeah, unless you get something you can’t do like spell backwards while jumping on one foot, then it just sucks, and you feel stupid.

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        Milla July 2, 2013, 2:21 pm

        Or it’s hilarious— I have seriously never watched football in my life, so I once got called on to do a touchdown dance. I had NO IDEA what that was, so I did the can-can. We all died laughing.

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      • theattack

        theattack July 2, 2013, 2:44 pm

        hahaha!

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      temperance July 2, 2013, 2:09 pm

      I am a huge fan of Pandemic – it’s a co-op game, so you play against the disease and work as a team. I love it.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom July 2, 2013, 6:00 pm

      I’ve always found board games to be boring and so does my daughter. She occasionally plays them with her friends but she could care less whether she wins or loses because she doesn’t care for them and so she isn’t invested in the game. I don’t think there is any one size fits all strategy.

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        BreezyAM July 2, 2013, 11:59 pm

        One of my MILs (I am so lucky; I get three, FML) has a serious issue with me I mean epic butt hurt level, because I CANNOT do board games or card games. Someone gets one out and I want to vomit. It’s like a circle of hell specifically for we of the ADHD. YUCK. Can’t even describe how much I hate hate hate them!! I can’t concentrate, I get bored, shit distracts me, I have to deal with the kids/dogs/etc… and then people bitch I’m not there to play, then I play badly as I’m not paying attention.. so I try to get out of it then get all snitty reactions since I’m not joining in having fun. FUCK BOARD GAMES. MAY THEY DIE IN LOTS OF FIRES.

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      vizslalvr July 2, 2013, 10:34 pm

      Settlers of Catan! It’s great because it’s competitive but also forces cooperation (you need to trade for resources to gain points in the game).

      My family was big on card games and board games, but my dad didn’t participate much, which bummed me out. It’s not his thing, and as an adult I respect that (now the two of us nerd out talking about law related stuff since I just got my J.D. and he’s an attorney, and I’m sure the rest of the family wants to stab us). But as a kid/teen, I wanted him to play. Which sort of circles back to point that even if this dad doesn’t connect with his daughter’s interests, he really should make an effort. Perhaps the suggestion of planning an “event night” or “game night” type of thing where each family member gets to plan one a week? That way, everyone gets a say and is sort of forced to share each others interests.

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 July 2, 2013, 1:31 pm

    One other thought is that, maybe this really isn’t about the daughter, but about her and her husband, she references herself a lot in this letter, and maybe she really has a problem with the way he treats her, but she just doesn’t want to admit it. It is just another thought though really, because going back and reading it again she includes herself in everything her husband gets mad at.
    “He is also very critical — of both of US”
    “WE can’t watch anything on TV or listen to anything in the car related to her interests while he’s around, and if WE are talking about something he will sometimes break in and tell US to stop because it annoys him.”
    “Both of them are alike in that they are argumentative, particularly with each other, and if they disagree with each other or even have a misunderstanding neither will let it go, such that WE end up with ridiculous escalating fights.”

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    • Lindsay

      Lindsay July 2, 2013, 1:38 pm

      Yeah, the letter makes me really concerned for their marriage. It’s almost like she’s commiserating with her daughter as though he’s her father also.

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        MMcG July 2, 2013, 2:26 pm

        Yeah, and you definitely don’t win the parenting award when you focus more on getting your kid to be your ally, as opposed to sticking up for your child. Either the Dad’s behavior is bad enough that she needs to draw a line and tell him to stop with the eye-rolling and turning off the TV for no good reason; or it isn’t and she needs to prioritize her marriage and get back to being team parent.

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  • meadowphoenix

    meadowphoenix July 2, 2013, 2:27 pm

    Well I disagree with the context, but not the actual content, of this advice. I do think the LW should encourage her daughters interest in her father and her fathers hobbies, because I think that’s good parenting in general.

    But the problem here is not that the daughter dislikes her dad’s interests. It’s that she’s finding she doesn’t always like her dad. It stated in the letter that the daughter does try to be accommodating. But no amount of time spent is going to make an experience with someone who doesn’t really respect you as you are more enjoyable. The dad needs to get over his superiority complex and then the daughter might stop pulling away.

    As a counterpoint, I loved all the things my dad liked and he tried to do things I liked. But since I knew his motivation for liking things was less about me than it was about his own inadequacy, and I didn’t actually like him as a person. That time was never truly enjoyable, no matter how much I enjoyed myself because I just wasn’t compatible with his personality.

    On the flip side, my mother was much like LW’s husband in that she always encouraged competitiveness and athleticism and things she thought were good. If LW’s husband is making LW’s daughter think that she’s less of an awesome person for not having the skills he wants her to have, instead of saying these skills will make her a more awesome person, than that’s probably the main reason she’s pulling away. A “my worldview is the best worldview” type of parenting works out for no one, as my mother found out.

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    • Miss MJ

      Miss MJ July 2, 2013, 3:13 pm

      “It’s that she’s finding she doesn’t always like her dad. It stated in the letter that the daughter does try to be accommodating. But no amount of time spent is going to make an experience with someone who doesn’t really respect you as you are more enjoyable. ”

      Yes! THIS is the problem, not the fact that a 12-year-old girl likes 12-year-old girl things. Sounds to me like not only is dad not interested in or even bothering to take an interest in any of his daughter’s interests, but he also disparages them and her – calling her uninformed, lacking initiative and uncompetitive – and bitches because she isn’t more like what he wants her to be like. Great lesson to learn from your dad. Frankly, her interests sound pretty varied to me for 12: reading, pop culture, sci-fi, archery, piano and Broadway. If dad were interested in making an effort, he could find some common ground there and use that to tie into what he is interested in. But, of course, that would require HIM to take an interest in something his daughter likes in order to find that common ground. He’s not interested in that because that would require work and compromise on his part. Instead, he’s insisting on discussing National Geographic articles via reading assignments then criticizes her afterword in escalating arguments. A few years from now this guy’s daughter interests may have changed, but she won’t be bothering to talk to him about it or anything at all, most likely. Sad. The advice to the LW is good, but she cannot change her husband’s behavior. And it’s his behavior that is the problem and his behavior that needs to change here.

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    Emily July 2, 2013, 2:48 pm

    You always give good advice (duh!) but this might be the best I’ve ever read here. Really so good and so true! Well done, as always, my friend.

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    KL July 2, 2013, 2:55 pm

    I’m going to disagree here, Wendy, and say that I think your response is filtered through your own happy, loving experience. To me, there are some red flags in this letter; the father’s ridicule of the daughter’s interests, and his labeling her as lacking initiative because she’s not into the same things he is, jump right out at me. I experienced an adolescence where most of my interests were labeled “garbage” and where I was told my lack of interest in playing sports was a character flaw that would doom me to failure as an adult. I think dad is being a bully.

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      temperance July 2, 2013, 3:05 pm

      This is exactly my experience, too. It’s interesting how the commenters with nice, loving parents saw this one way, and those of us with our experience saw it as something much darker.

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        Jennifer July 2, 2013, 3:14 pm

        I had loving parents, and I thought Wendy was off and the dad seems a bit off and sounds degrading. My parents did stuff with me because I wanted to and vice versa, of course that’s important! And they never put down my interests (which at the moment are the same as the LW’s).

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        temperance July 2, 2013, 5:01 pm

        My interests are pretty close to hers (and yours!) as well, which is probably why this struck a chord with me. My parents still make fun of me for a movie I wanted to watch when I was 8 because it was “so awful”. (It’s not in the “joking” way, either, but in the “Temperance never gets to choose another movie again” way.)

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        Matcha July 2, 2013, 3:25 pm

        I second this. But since we don’t know which type of person the girl’s father is (bullying and hurtful, or rude/stubborn yet ultimately well-meaning) I think it’s helpful that people who had experience in this issue can comment. Man, thinking about those early teenage years still strikes a nerve.

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        ktfran July 2, 2013, 3:53 pm

        I was thinking this too. I see it as a dad getting short changed and mom monopolizing time with daughter. I still think he’s acting out like a child. But I see why he would so I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. Others see him as a bully and a hole. If the later is the case, I would seriously consider whether or not husband wants to change and work on himself and if not, I would maybe get out.

        In reality, I think it’s probably somewhere between the two extremes and I think the LW has a chance to strengthen her bond with her husband and the bond between child and dad. To do that, I think she has to be less invested in making sure child is 100% happy 100% of the time and I think she has to rationally explain to her husband how some of his actions are being perceived. I really don’t think this situation falls entirely on the husband. I mean, people always try to paint themselves in the best possible light and their opponent in the worst.

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay July 2, 2013, 4:26 pm

        Yeah, I think it’s going to be hard for her to get her husband to listen to her parent to parent if he’s already being alienated.

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        temperance July 2, 2013, 4:37 pm

        I think you are probably right. I would truly hope that he doesn’t realize how personal his criticisms are to a 12-year-old girl (because, if he kept doing it, then he would absolutely be the bully), and that he actually cares about having a relationship with his daughter more than molding her into his ideal child.

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    Jennifer July 2, 2013, 3:02 pm

    Before reading Wendy’s answer you and your daughter sound awesome! How are those pre-teen interests? Scifi and fantasy have an adult audience for a reason (and a lot of the scientists on your husband’s shows were inspired to study it because of Star Trek and the like). He sounds like a domineering and boring person. Sorry but I don’t understand why you married him.

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      Jennifer July 2, 2013, 3:11 pm

      Sorry Wendy (and LW) I think your answer was as wrong as it was long. He should show her that he can make an effort to enjoy her interests and encourage her in the same spirit to enjoy his.

      A parent should NEVER make fun of their child. I don’t care if he thinks her shows are boring his wife and daughter deserve respect. I can’t believe you didn’t address that.

      I’ve been following you for years and while I don’t always agree with your answers I think this was the most misguided and off the mark. I hope the LW looks to the comments because she is not wrong to feel hurt and confused and could have used guidance which I don’t think you supplied. Encouraging both of them to try more and be respectful would be a good start. However, he is an adult and should know that assignments will not help them grow close.

      And LW- anyone who tells you Firefly is not a good show doesn’t know what their talking about! How does an interest in science and creativity equal boring? Good luck!

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        lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 3:14 pm

        She wasn’t responding to the father though. What would be the point of responding to him when he would not be the one reading it?

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        Jennifer July 2, 2013, 3:43 pm

        I think she should have given more advice for the LW about dealing with the husband and his responses to the daughter. The comments seem to be about split on this issue. I’m peace-ing out.

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        6napkinburger July 2, 2013, 3:39 pm

        “A parent should NEVER make fun of their child.”

        Gotta say, I disagree with the extreme nature of that statement. Otherwise, how are kids going to learn tolaugh at themselves? A parent who can laugh at themselves when they mess up, and teaches the kid to laugh at themselves and to see the humor without feeling attached is key. And some of that happens by making fun of your child. Otherwise they’ll never be able accept the ribbing and teasing that happens in life.

        I’m not saying that its ok for parents to openly derisively mock their children or laughing at their failures or their humiliation. I’m not saying that it is ok to be cruel because “kids need to grow a thicker skin.” What is “ok” depends on the temperment and personality of every child. But everyone needs to learn to laugh at themselves if they accidentally trip and spagetti plops on their head, when they are home surrounded by loved ones (and the oppurtunity to change clothing). Saying later that night “will you ask the spagetti head to pass the salt” IS making fun of their child — and it is healthy. So I can’t agree that it is never ok. There’s a true difference between good natured humor and cruelty (even if some people claim it is the the former when it is really the latter) and kids need to be exposed to the former.

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        MMcG July 2, 2013, 3:57 pm

        There’s making a light-hearted joke when something is spilled, and then there is telling your child that what makes her happy is stupid. Huge difference – one is laughing with you, one is laughing at you… and I think when your daughter is 12 and you are having trouble getting along that it is on the adult/father to go the extra mile and make sure that you aren’t being a jackass in an effort to be humorous.

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        6napkinburger July 2, 2013, 4:01 pm

        Right, but it didn’t seem, to me, like Jennifer was allowing for that distinction.

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    6napkinburger July 2, 2013, 3:17 pm

    I just have to say, I have NEVER felt comfortable choosing what to watch on tv if I’m in the same room as my dad because I know he thinks 95% of what I’d want to watch is annoying. Even now, as an adult, when he says he doesn’t care and I can pick whatever, I know that isn’t really true — I put on “say yes to the dress” and he’ll be like, ok, well, not this. Same with the radio in the car — I like country or musicals, he can’t stand it, there’s no way I’d put that on. (I remember one long drive when i was little where we ran out of all other cd’s and they suffered through it for a little while and I was happy as a clam, but eventually they couldn’t deal with it anymore).

    And that is kind of ok… out of respect, if he hands me the remote, I put on things he’d like, not what i like. (Though I do try to find the stuff I like the best of the stuff he likes.) . Yes, he makes fun of my sister and mother and i whenever we talk a lot about “Girly” things, like makeup and hair, which I find annoying and a little jerky; but I don’t think he’s “failed” at parenting because of it. You just have to learn to ignore that.

    I can’t think of a single interest that we shared from when I was a teenager that I didn’t learn from him in some way. I went through an accapella phase and a disney phase and a pop punk phase, a “Growing pains” phase, and on and on, and he rolled his eyes and helped me set the VCR, but wasn’t willing to watch it. But he read the paper and talked about the articles, so I started reading the paper and talking about the articles. I wanted to spend more time with him so he took me golfing with him early in the morning, even though I didn’t know how to play. He did crossword puzzles so I sat down next to him so I could learn and now we do them together. By virtue of him going about his business, I was interested and wanted to participate. I think it’s great that he invites her and wants to share his interests with her. The fact that he is open to sharing his interests with her is key — that’s going to be where the relationship develops.

    But he can be a great dad regardless. He(now) jokes that he and my mom missed out on the music of the 80’s (and therefore don’t know any of it) because they were listening to “the wheels on the bus” on repeat for the entire decade. He and I read together every night when i was little, and I remember reading beauty and the beast with him, which I can’t imagine was his first choice. He’d come out and hit the ball or play catch or Horse. My point is that he is sort of entitled to have a threshold of finding the interests of a 12 year old girl annoying. And he doesn’t have to hide that. If anything, his dislike for it will help it belong to her more fully as she learns to separate herself from her parents. I’m not sure why people think it makes you a bad parent to tell your kid that you don’t enjoy some of the same stuff they enjoy and that they can do that when you aren’t around.

    Plus, I gotta say, I don’t love ripping into the mom for being “Greedy” , when it is understandable to want to foster such clearly shared interests with her daughter. That doesn’t mean she shouldn’t modify her behavior, but her desire is understandable and it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Which is exactly why she wrote in.

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    A La Mode July 2, 2013, 3:22 pm

    For some reason I keep imagining LW’s husband as Red Foreman and her daughter as Eric…

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      bethany July 2, 2013, 4:59 pm

      Haha! Love it.

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  • veritek33

    veritek33 July 2, 2013, 4:06 pm

    I actually had the opposite relationship growing up. As an only child, I didn’t have to share my parents, and I just happened to love the things my dad loved. I fell in love with football and cooking and baseball, which were things he loved. My mom hated most of those things and really didn’t make an effort to get involved. My mother attended maybe a handful of my softball games in the 10 years I played competitively.
    Do I wish she’d made more of an effort to hang out with me sometimes and like the stuff I liked? Yes. But am I mad at her now? No.
    She may not have attended every softball game, but she never missed a dance recital or play, and always made sure I had a clean uniform for those softball games and a snack to take with me.
    This mother needs to chill out a bit. And so does dad. You don’t have to love Justin Bieber and Broadway to just ask the kid why she loves it so much. How about trying to find an interest that all 3 of you could enjoy together?
    I wish I’d been closer to my mother growing up, but now that I’m almost 30, we’re as close as can be, so maybe it’ll just take a few years. But mom, don’t do the us versus him. I think my dad was guilty of that sometimes and he really regrets it.

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      6napkinburger July 2, 2013, 4:19 pm

      Nice name 🙂

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    BreezyAM July 2, 2013, 11:48 pm

    I’m a mom of a 14 yr old version of this LW’s daughter… mine is going to One Direction on Thursday, and will be spending all of Wednesday and Thursday both preparing for this epic event. Oh and she’s also going hiking with her dad this weekend because I told her to suck it up and get her ass in gear and tell her dad she wants to go, oh and she’s also taking spinning classes with him this fall because her size 0 ass isn’t gonna last forever with the way she eats spaghetti since she shares my DNA. This is actually not difficult. She has to do something she doesn’t like from time to time. Oh and get this, occasionally, I orchestrate it so he’s not the asshole no-fun mr knitknots type, and I do unfun things, like make her come serve soup at a homeless kitchen or walk dogs at the SPCA or help our elderly neighbour do various stuff. WTF you’re her mother not her BFF get it together and help your husband round her out!

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    Diana July 3, 2013, 7:53 am

    I was struck by the fact that your husband’s eye-rolling is the number one signifier of contempt – an emotion that is known to signal marital unraveling and other relationship dissolution. Please implore him to realize that if one of your daughters’ peers was reacting similarly to her, the two of you would deplore that child as a Mean Kid. Why should your husband treat her that way??

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    Taylor July 3, 2013, 1:43 pm

    I know, Buffy was the weakest link in Buffy (is that irony?). But the show as a whole, awesome.

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