Should I Try to Force My Ex. to Build a Relationship with Our Daughter?

Updated on September 27, 2010
L.V. asks from Milwaukee, WI
19 answers

I am in the process of getting seperated after 10 years of marriage. We have a nearly 2 year old daughter who we both love but a big part of why we are breaking up is that my soon to be ex. thinks family life is inconvenient. He seems to want to spend time being a parent only when he has nothing else to do (things to do might include go to the gym, watch t.v., etc.), or when I force the issue. We are starting to talk about how we will handle things when we sell the house. He works 4-12 so he wont' see my daughter at all during the week unless he wants to drive her to daycare. He doesn't seem to have much interest in taking her regularly for visitation either... should I try to force him to agree to regular weekend visitation for the sake of my daughter having a relationship with him? She loves her dad and it is really sad to me that he wouldnt' make the effort without me pushing it.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Thanks everyone for the responses & advice. I have never been on this site before today... I love it! I am really sad that my soon to be ex doesn't show any motivation to spend time with our baby girl. SInce she was born there hasn't been a single time he offered to take her, give her a bath, feed her, put her to bed or take her to the park... when she & I are together he might pop into the room and play for 5 minutes but that's about it unless I make a request. I liked the idea about putting a minimum amount of time into the settlement agreement. I'd like them to spend time together even if he doesn't want to just so that my daughter will be used to him and comfortable around him as she gets older. My family is 10 hours away by car and I've told him that if he isn't active in our daughters' life it doesn't really make sense for me to stay in a state where I have no family or help with our daughter. His sister and I are good friends and she is a great Aunt but the parents are a little strange and I don't really want my daughter spending time with them unless her dad is there too. It's sad because my family is so great and we are only staying here so that my daughter can have a relationship with her dad but that doesn't seem to mean much to him.

Featured Answers



answers from Anchorage on

You can not force it. I guess I would hope that some time away would cause him to miss her and would cause him to reconsider, but often times people are just too selfish to do what is really best for a child. Just love her with all you have, for you can not control him.

More Answers



answers from Provo on

I will happen if he only wants it to happen. It sounds like he doesn't so it is best not to force the issue. The girl will be the one who will pursue a relationship with him when she is older and if it works for her then it will be great.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You can't force him. If you couldn't convince him when he was living in your house how will you make him when you aren't there? He can take her to his apartment, but you have no control as to whether he pays any attention to her once there.

I would encourage him for your daughters sake. Call him once in awhile and invite him to come see her if he is uncomfortable taking her alone. Does he have family? Maybe his mother will help.

For the good of your daughter I would avoid anger and make offers while understanding you can't make him do anything.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

If you can't accomplish while you are married to him, how will you do so after a divorce? This is something he has to want and not even a judge can make him be Dad. My opinion, you show her the love and let their relationship be what it is. Maybe your daughter won't share your opinion and will just love him for who he is.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I spent the first year and a half after leaving my ex-husband trying to orchestrate a relationship between him and our son. Ultimately, his issues were too big for me to fix and my son was left disappointed and unfulfilled at best, even when he DID get to see his dad (neglected and abused at worst).

Invest your energy where it there is actually a pay off. Stay open to a relationship between him and your daughter, but focus on building a fantastic relationship with your daughter YOURSELF and surrounding her with other loving supportive people. She'll need it if her dad refuses to step up.


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

You cannot force anyone to do anything. You cannot force anyone to have feelings they don't already have or to behave the way you think they should. It would be nice for him to have a relationship with her and he might feel differently as time goes on, but I cannot see how it is going to benefit your daughter if the time spent with her dad is something that he is being forced into. Have you considered counseling to try to get down to the bottom of why he feels the way he does? Is he aware of the statistics that compare daughters with that have involved fathers in their life vs. those who do not?

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

No I would not force the issue. It will not spare her any hurt in the future and will only cause confusion for her and frustration for you if this is how he feels about it.
Best Regards,

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I agree you cannot force it. Once he's on his own, he made find that he misses her, or he may look openly at his friends and coworkers who are involved fathers. It sounds like he needs to mature. A lot. I don't think that forcing visits makes for a good relationship, and it can make for a bad one. I would make sure that the divorce agreement offers reasonable visitation with some flexibility but also some protection for you so that he can't just decide to not show up and then you have to cancel any plans you made. I would make sure that child support has nothing to do with whether or not he visits her. None of this "I don't see her so why should I pay for her?" business that some guys pull.

You can have her draw pictures for Daddy and give them to him when he sees her, or mail those to him if he doesn't (no cover letter that he may resent). Just put her name in the return address spot. Send a photo now and then even if it's by email. No comments implying that he hasn't seen her in ages and therefore might have forgotten what she looks like - just "I thought this picture was cute and that you might like to see it."

And I would make sure she has many other people in her life so she knows that she is loved by family and friends.

I married a man whose ex tried everything in the book to prevent him from seeing his children, so I think it's great that you are trying to encourage a relationship. But you can't force it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

No-because if he resents being with her it will be apparant to her and will hurt her immensely. You should look at it as avoiding, in my mind, what is one of the most tragic parts of divorce-that the kids lose all stability as mom and dad toss them back and forth. You will go forward and build a life for her that is secure and loving without relying on him. If he can be there at all that would be great but I would not let her know that it upsets you.

I really HATE guys like that BTW. So immature and selfish.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Wow, doesn't it break your heart that his priorities are so screwed up? He is going to miss out on so much with his and your wonderful child. The best thing to do is do what is best for your child. Also always take the high ground (I can tell you are already).
Let him know right now you are willing to work with him on visitation, but your daughter will need stability in her life. Children thrive on schedules and routine. If he really feels like he cannot do that, then leave him to his own problems.

You know many men are just not good with young children. They have no idea what to do with them or care for them, but once the child gets older, the dads realize, Oh, she can ride bikes with me, she can jog with me. She can go camping. I can take her to the movies.. We can actually eat out. Stay up a little later..

So be prepared for all of a sudden he will want to pop back in with her and be ready to be super daddy.. It will be so typical it will be comical to you, but do not let him know..

I am sending you strength.. Each night will be "girls night!"..

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Hickory on

I feel for you, I truly do. I have 2 children and their dad walked. No matter how I wish things would be different they are not. I now have all the rights to my children and praise God for step dad. He does it all, doctor visit's when sick, getting up at night, and all the fun things.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Salt Lake City on

well i don't think that you should force him, cause when he does take her he will probably just ignore her the whole time. give him all the opportunity you can to spend time with her, but if he doesn't take it then it's his loss. in the end he will be the bad guy not you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Don't force it, but be careful about standing in the way of it, as well.

The wording in my decree essentially establishes minimum visitation in the event that my ex-husband and I can't agree on a schedule. Lucky for me, unlucky for my daughter...he doesn't bother to make any effort really. He's seen her twice this year and I took her to him. It sounds like he needs some flexibility and you may well need it in the future too.

I would document when he does/doesn't take visitation. Situations change all the time and information is power.

Many states require that support be paid through their agency, even if they don't require it, I would request it. It leaves enforcement up to them and will help you stay out of the middle of it.

You will face hard times. My daughter asks for her dad even though he has practically no contact with her. Give her a lot of reassurance and be careful about what you say about him--at any age.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I'm sad for him. I have a wonderful 10 1/2 yo girl. We enjoy lots of activities together. I do remember back when she was two and I was sort of an 'outsider' when it came to caring for her. Her mom was awesome at it and also liked it. There were times when I felt I could not do it 'just right' and he might be feeling some of that.

I hope he can see the big picture! I could not imagine not getting to be with my little girl. We have a 55/45 % schedule now. He could do the 'daycare' duties from 7 - 3!!!!! You are super amazing for even promoting and being willing to even stay in the same area just so the unaware dad can have a chance with his daughter. Daughters need their dad's too! If it has to go the other way it will be sad for both of them! Have the dad ping me if he needs some 'perspective'! Good Luck!


answers from New York on

Yes you need to do whatever you can to help your daughter have a good relationship with her father, its so important for her! My son and daughter had a GREAT stepfather who couldnt love them any more than he does BUT they ever got over the feeling of rejection by my first husband. Encourage him to see her for two hours at a time, just a quick trip to playground or ..... and maybe when she is older and he is older (men mature really late-how many older men do you hear about having great relationships with their kids from second wife after ignoring kids from first wife-thats because they finally grew up and learned what was important in life ) so yes. for now and maybe years to come- you have to be the only grown up here, helping these two connect -give him suggestions for things to do with her and places to take her and encourage him to share his interests with her as she gets a little oder- does he like sports? cars? doesn't matter that she's a girl they can find some interest to share. Pack her a bag with healthy snacks and water bottles and her favorite toy to keep her happy Just pretend to yourself he is her teenage brother and you want them to have a relationship despite their age difference and try to overlook his immaturity(sorry this will make you crazy and it shouldnt be that way!) I'm saying this because I feel so bad for my kids and what they felt growing up, they said they wondered what was wrong with them that their own father didnt care about them, were they that unlovable? Its all about her and what she will miss, not him



answers from Redding on

You can't force someone to have a relationship with their child.
You just can't.
Hopefully he will come around and build a relationship with her.
There's a difference between encouraging and forcing.
Things may be easier once you're through the separation process.

Best wishes.



answers from Minneapolis on

naw dont force it-but in the divorce make sure a visit time is set up-and follow it-if he doesnt show up document it-if he loved her that much it wouldnt be a 2nd thought-as she gets older dont tell her about the visitation-just builds hopes to high if he dont show up shes crushed-just go on with your life-went thru the same-one day he will wake up an realize what he lost...good luck



answers from Charlotte on




answers from Sioux Falls on

You dont force people to do anything.

How well does it work when you feel forced?

Give opportinities to be involved, open the door to options, dont subject your daughter to neativity.

If you give plenty of opportinities for your ex to be involved, it is up to him to make the choice. Dont complain about his choices, just go forward.

There may be special events, thes may be an easier fit for him. In a public type setting, limited time to be available, and not in his court of responsibility. (Like gong to a sporting event or something. He can be there, but not in charge of how the venue is presented, and the time of the event is structured so he wont fell like he has to cut something short)

Do not complain about him in fornt of your daughter, even though you want her to understand how you feel. Try to say you dont like how somethng is done, not that you dont like what he did.

Stay focused on your daughter, keep a clear mind, and go forward.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions