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Single Dad Asks For Help Because His Daughter Thinks He's 'Going To Abandon Her Like Her Mom Did'

Photo: cottonbro studio / Pexels 
dad reading to daughter in bed

A 36-year-old dad reached out to the r/Parenting subreddit to help his 9-year-old daughter navigate a difficult situation, one that’s been compounded by the fact that her mom “has been out of the picture since the day she was born.”

The single dad asked for advice because his daughter’s worried he’s ‘going to abandon her like her mom did.’

He explained that his work days have been longer than usual, because of job cuts and the state of the economy; he’s been working 13 or 14 hour days. He said, “I’m out before she wakes up in the morning and typically I get home just in time to put her to bed.”

He described a recent incident in which he was stuck at work after her bedtime, and forgot to call and tell her he was late. “I got home to find her sitting on the couch literally in tears,” he said. “She was scared something had happened to me.”

single dad asks for help because daughter thinks he's going to abandon her like her mom didPhoto: Ron Lach / Pexels

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Since that night, his daughter insists on being by his side at all times. She goes with him to take out the trash. She stands by the door when he’s using the bathroom. She’s begun sleeping in his bed, instead of her own.

“I've tried to assure her that Monday was a one-off, I'm not going to make it a habit to work that late again,” he said.

The dad was seeking ways to help his daughter understand he’s not going to leave her, despite being at work for extended periods of time.

The solutions he’d come up with so far were to get her a cell phone and to set up a cot in his room for her to sleep on, yet he wasn’t sure what else he could do.

The other parents on the thread encouraged him to find extra care for his daughter, as they felt she’s still too young to be left alone for so long. They framed their comments kindly, yet also pointed out that his daughter was being neglected, even though that wasn’t the dad’s intention.

single dad asks for help because daughter thinks he's going to abandon her like her mom didPhoto: Mart Production / Pexels

“No wonder she’s feeling insecure and anxious,” said one person. “She might be physically safe on her own, but she’s not psychologically or emotionally safe.”

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Another dad suggested finding community assistance in the form of “church groups, neighbors, the school, [or] other family.” He spoke to the single dad directly, saying, “You sound like you’re doing your best nonetheless; that is definitely what she needs.”

Someone emphasized the fact that the dad is trying his best, yet his daughter is too young to be isolated for long periods of time.

They suggested looking into family therapy for them to attend, in order to work towards healing the daughter’s attachment wounds. Another person spoke to her abandonment issues, noting that, “Even for a child who hadn't previously experienced abandonment, waking up to an empty house, being left alone at home for hours on end, and then you being hours late with no communication would be scary.”

“You obviously want what is best for her while balancing what you think the priorities are,” stated someone else, who urged the dad to rethink his schedule. They advised him to “consider your lifestyle and what kind of life you envision your daughter leading as an adult, and make goals around that… for now, she’s still a kid who very much needs her dad.”

The advice from other parents veered into tough-love territory, remarking that the dad is working to care for his daughter, yet he still needs to assess how that care looks on a day-to-day basis.

The challenging reality of the American societal structure means working long hours and not having enough affordable childcare for any family, let alone a single-parent household.

Yet the comments came from a place of wanting the dad to find a solution; most leaned away from shaming him for leaving his daughter on her own, and leaned into helping him find an actionable way to care for her in a more involved way.

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers parenting, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.