Is My Dad Is Too Attached to My Daughter?

Updated on March 31, 2010
J.S. asks from Scottsdale, AZ
14 answers

I would love to hear other parents' opinions on an issue that seems to be causing tension at my place. First let me say that my dad has made it known to everyone in the family that my daughter, who is now 8 years old, is his favorite. I moved to another state 4 years ago, and ever since that time my dad has flown out to see my daughter about every 6-8 weeks. He stays with us for at least a week to nine days each time.

Well now I am in a relationship with a wonderful man who feels uncomfortable with my dad around. (My dad will not acknowledge my boyfriend or me when we walk in the door sometimes; or my dad will be rude and answer with one-word answers and not try to have conversation). My dad comes very often and loves my daughter very much. He tells my daughter that she is his heart, his soul, his blood, that he would die without her (that is a bit much for her to handle in my opinion, but that's a different story).

My dad has a copy of my keys, and he knows that my boyfriend is over but he doesnt knock before he lets himself in the apartment. I am starting to worry that when I move into my boyfriend's house, my dad will want to stay there every 6 weeks, making my boyfriend uncomfortable. I dont want to break my dad's heart, but he is just too intrusive.

I guess I am asking if it seems like his 5 hour flights every 6 weeks seem to be a bit much. And if you think he is visiting too often. Thanks so much. Any feedback would help me.

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answers from Houston on

Hi J.S,

I have read your post over and over again. I had decided to not respond. But I feel like I have to. I know these are things we don't want to think about and I'm sorry to even go here but I was abused as a child and reading your post has set off many alarms for me. Please talk to your daughter. Don't give names. Just ask questions. Has anyone ever told you not to tell me something...even family (remind her you won't be mad at her no matter what). Has anyone touched her where she souldn't be touched etc.... If you don't feel comfortable...get a small nanny cam.

I'm so sorry to even throw this at you but you would want to know now and put a stop to it. I truly hope I'm wrong but all of this sounds too familiar to me.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Do NOT let him have your house keys.
That is really not good.

Next, I think your Dad has an overly displaced "love" on your daughter. Its a bit much...
How does your daughter feel about it all? I mean, that is a lot of OVERT attention on her and not real normal.

Next, you and your boyfriend have NO privacy with your Dad around... and taking 5 hour flights every 6 weeks seems a bit much... weird in fact.

And change the locks on your door.
You need to have your own life.... and you do NOT have to be at the whims of your Dad...
Is your Dad married?

I think, it all seems a bit weird, your Dad's behavior. Almost obsessive... that is not healthy for your daughter either....

I would really talk to your daughter about it... if anything inappropriate happens to her, by your Dad, she needs to feel she can tell you....

And, you do NOT have to "allow" your Dad to stay at your place or your boyfriend's home... whenever he comes to visit.
He needs to ask permission first... or stay somewhere else.

All the best,

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I agree with Susan's advice, too. This is not a healthy relationship, and until you address that with your dad, it will be like trying to ignore an elephant in the room.

See how this comment feels:

"Dad, it's wonderful that you love my daughter so much, and that she's crazy about you. AND there are very difficult consequences of your visits that don't meet our needs: lack of privacy, lack of consideration for my boyfriend, and most of all, a lack of emotional boundaries between you and my daughter that leaves her suffering and anxious every time you visit. I know you don't want to leave her hurting, so I need to set better boundaries here, because you have not. Here are my new expectations: –––––––."

There's no doubt that your dad will be puzzled at best, and angry or hurt at worst, by any changes you require. But someone (you!) has to move this situation in a healthier direction. This approach, making an observation about what's happening now, telling how you feel about it, and making a request or stating your needs clearly, will probably be the most honest and least hurtful way to begin making a much-needed change.

Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Tucson on

I think you need to set boundries for your dad. I am also concerned about his attachment to your daughter. I hope you supervise your father and if he is alone with your daughter you need to question what they do. He does not sound healthy to me and the big flag is your boyfriend does not feel comfortable around him and your father does not communicate with the adults as well as the child. Open Your Eyes and Ears
Do not give him a set of keys to your boyfriends house. If he can afford to fly so often then he should be able to afford a hotel room.Do Not Leave Him Alone with your daughter

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

Hi JS,

I haven't read the posts here, but I want to say that it's important to realize that if you love your boyfriend and want to eventually marry him, your father has to take a back seat in your life. You were his daughter - he had the time and experience of raising a child already. Your daughter is not his daughter and shouldn't be treating her as such. It takes away from the relationship your boyfriend will hopefully have as her stepfather. Your dad should act like a grandfather instead. Her being so upset when he leaves shows that she is seeing him as a father figure.

I hope you can get this across to him and him accept it. You'll have to tell him before he comes that he cannot have a key because he isn't accepting your family's boundaries by the way he shows disrespect to you and your partner's privacy. His short answers may very well be how he would treat any boyfriend of yours, so perhaps your boyfriend will just have to accept that he will have an uncommunicative father-in-law. Of course, if he is just really there to see your daughter, and you and your boyfriend are just how he gets to be with her, than that's a separate problem.

Good luck putting limits on your dad's visits.

All my best,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

Can't imagine a father using a key without respecting his daughter's privacy, old or young. I'd suggest a chain lock on the doors when added privacy is necessary....also a "sit down" discussion on your right (and your boyfriends right) to privacy and how he needs to respect that or limit his visits.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Definitely not healthy. Maybe innocent but definitely not healthy. 1- are there other grandchildren? 2- WHY does he need to have a copy of your BEDROOM door key for petes sake?!?! Ignoring other people in your life isn't good either.

I have a dear friend (whose wife was the neighborhood "grandma") who molested one of his granddaughters for a while (until she told him to stop, and he did. but eventually she told others and it tore the family apart and he is now a registered sex offender, but not one that I fear). Anyway, his wife said at the time that she thought it was sweet they had a special bond. He knew it was wrong but rationalized that he was "teaching" her love. Sick and unacceptable but at the time.....

Anyway, it CAN happen and HAS happened. Be extra vigilant and never leave them alone. I'm sorry. You need to be sure that inappropriate boundaries aren't being crossed (many are already, but the most important one as well????)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

favorite of who? are there other grandchildren?

I'm not quite sure what to say... I know I LOVE every minute i spend with my daughters, and I would think when they grow up and have their own children, i would feel the same about them as well. If they lived far away from me, and I could afford it... I would try to visit as much as i can. I think it's great for her to have a grandfather who loves her so much. think of the alternative... how would you feel if he wasn't involved at all?

the part about him dying without her though is a bit much.

As for him coming into your house, I would tell him that he needs to knock, and to acknowledge your boyfriend. Maybe he can stay at a hotel, and maybe you can change the locks, so he no longer has the key until he gets the point?

I hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I agree with what everyone else has said about this being very unhealty and possibly dangerous for your child. Please make sure you talk to her and if you have access to the resources, I would try to see a professional counselor since they could possibly see things you don't.

As for the visit to the boyfriends house...ask him to stay in a hotel and DO NOT give him a key. There is no reason for him to come and go freely at your house. If he is there to visit you and your daughter, then he can come over for dinner and during the day when you or your boyfriend are home to monitor the situation. I would not worry about hurting his feelings, he does not seem to understand boundaries (your bedroom key), so for the health of your family, you need to make them very clear.

Also, you don't really have to answer this question, but were there any times that you felt uncomfortable with your dad when you were younger?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Flagstaff on

Obviously you are uncomfortable with the situation or you would not have posted your question on here. I see both sides of it. On one hand it is awesome that your dad has the time and money and desire to come visit you and your daughter so often. I live in Arizona and my family lives in Oregon and I wish I could see them more often. Every 6 weeks though and staying with you for a whole week each time, is a bit much. How did it end up that he is visiting so often? Was it you wanting him or needing him to come and inviting him or was it him wanting to come and inviting himself? Has he helped you financially and so he feels like he needs to be there to help you more? Why is it that your daughter is his favorite? Is she the oldest or youngest or something else? How often does he see the other grandkids? What does the rest of your family think about it? On the other hand he could have a inappropriate relationship with your daughter. The fact that he says that she is his heart, blood, etc is ok, he has a special bond with her and wants her to know that. But if he tells her that he would die without her that is a little extreme. I think you need to have a talk with your dad about boundaries with you, your daughter and your boyfriend. I am a believer in being honest and open even if it hurts someones feelings. Tell him how you feel. Let him know that you and your boyfriend need privacy and let him know how often you would like him to visit. It sounds to me like your dad has been there for you and your daughter while you have not had a man in your life. Now that you have that man in your life your dad needs to realize that and step back a little. Be honest with him and tell him.



answers from Phoenix on

YES!!! He sounds too intense. "I would die without you" is, in my opinion, something one adult says to another. It sounds kind of dependent and an 8 yr old does not deserve that kind of responsibility. As to the fact that she is his favorite and everyone in the family knows it - not fair to any one else and not fair to your daughter. Does the rest of your family feel resentfull? I would be worried about your daughter's relationship with her cousin(s) when she is older. My 12 yr old niece is an only child and my parents raised her for the first three years of her life. Until these last few years, they would go miles out of their way to help her and her mom and it seemed like my kids and I had to be on the verge of starvation before any help was even offered. I have 3 girls ages 6-11. My oldest daughter has moments when she is resentful toward her cousin. I have had to work very hard to show both my niece and my daughter that they are on the same level. They do love each other but from a young age they saw they weren't treated the same. My mom tries to keep it even but my stepdad (who is the only 'dad' I have ever had - his name is on my birth certificate) still bends over backwards only for my sis and her kid. Sounds bitter, sorry. You sound like your life is headed in the direction you have chosen for happiness. Don't let anything spoil that for you. You may need to remind your dad that you are an adult now and your house rules need to be followed by anyone who visits or stays with you. Good Luck. Be happy.



answers from New York on

i sent Brenda a flower because i was thinking the same thing. kind of odd your dad to be soo attached to your daughter,



answers from Boston on

Personally this seems excessive to me. Is he lonely? Does he not have a lot going on in his life? I'm guessing he's not married or dating anyone...

Its great for anyone to love a granddaughter but to say that he would die without her is a little strong, especially for an 8 year old to hear. He definitely should visit a little bit less especially when you move into your boyfriends house, and especially since it makes him uncomfortable. If everyone was fine and dandy with it, that's great, but they're not, and it sounds like your not ok with it either but don't want to hurt his feelings.

Try to talk to him about his obsession and that maybe he shouldn't visit quite as much, using as much tact as possible while getting the point across. You don't want him to resent your boyfriend (although he probably will), but you have to respect your bf's feelings too.

Sometimes its hard to balance boyfriends or husbands feelings with your family's, but its worth some effort to help everyone get along. And if everything blows up in your face as it sometimes does, just do what you think is best for you and your daughter.



answers from Phoenix on

it sounds more of a mental thing on your dads part....or I would be worried something more is going on.

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