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Dad tells daughter to consider his sister as a role model instead of her cheating mother. AITA? UPDATED

Dad tells daughter to consider his sister as a role model instead of her cheating mother. AITA? UPDATED

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"AITA for telling my daughter to consider my sister as a role model rather than her mother who cheated on me?"

I (32M) finalized my divorce with my ex wife (32F) last year because she had an affair. It took huge mental toll on me and also our daughter (14F). In spite of the pain I was feeling, I never bad mouthed about my ex wife to my daughter because she was her mother.

However, my daughter knew everything that happened, and she told me many times how conflicted she was feeling, given that mom was her role model. Over the past few months, I have re entered the dating scene and have started going out on dates.

My sister (30F) has been kind enough to come over for the night and be with my daughter, because I’m usually out at night with my date at a hotel or at her house. I don’t want to introduce any of my dates to daughter till we’re in a serious relationship.

A couple of months ago, my daughter again brought up how she was feeling really conflicted. I then asked her if she likes my sister, and my daughter said she loves her. I then suggested to my daughter that she could start considering my sister as a role model rather than her mother, because she has seen first hand how nice and kind my sister is to her.

My daughter seemed surprised with the suggestion but she said she would try it from the next day. And the suggestion somehow seemed to have worked. Over the past couple of months, my daughter looks much happier, and asks a lot about spending more time with my sister.

My sister too said she really likes the bond she’s developing with my daughter. However, I am slightly concerned because my daughter seems to be emotionally distanced from her mother. Her mother called me a couple of days ago about her daughter acting distant from her.

I spoke with my daughter a couple of nights ago. She said that while her mom is her mom biologically, she doesn’t consider her as her real mom anymore, and that she now considers my sister as her real mom. I was a bit shocked and reminded that her real mom will always be her biological mom, because she gave birth and went through all the struggles to raise her.

However, what I said fell on deaf ears, and my daughter said she could never change her mind on this. Was I an AH for telling my daughter to consider my sister as a role model? A part of me feels like I am because it has affected her relationship with her mother. But a part of me is also happy because my daughter looks like very happy, content and at peace now.

Here's what top commenters had to say about this one:

Antique-diva said:

Your daughter might benefit from therapy. She was as much betrayed by her mother than you and it's not your fault. She needs a female role model she can look up to, so your sister is a godsend.

All you can do is support her and be her dad. Your ex is the one who needs to fix her relationship with her daughter on her own. Your job is to continue to keep your mouth shut about your ex so you don't give your anger to your daughter.

Deerpacolyps said:

I don't think your daughter understands what a role model is. She has conflated a motherly role and a role model. I think it has led to a misunderstanding and you essentially told her, in her mind, she could look up to your sister as a mother figure. NTA for the misunderstanding and certainly NTA for being concerned.

Never tell your ex that this is what happened though. Just say that it seems your daughter has difficulty seeing her as a mother due to the way she blew up her daughter's life, and it will take lots of time, patience, and hard work on Mom's part to overcome. This is the hardest age for a child to process and handle divorce, and she really does need a therapist or counseling.

Glass_Ear_8049 said:

Telling someone how to feel never works. Could you just wish your feelings away about your ex’s affair and act like nothing ever happened? No? Then why do you expect your daughter to be able to do it. Your ex blew up your family and your daughter has a right to her feelings about it.

Old-AF said:

Yes, YTA. Your wife cheated on YOU, not your daughter. You involving your daughter in that part of the relationship makes you an ahole; she has no reason to even know that part of what’s going on. You better get her professional help now that you and your wife have involved her in your grown up affairs.

Bartok_The_Batty said:

YTA You’re incredibly manipulative and your daughter is paying for it. Your sister is not her mother. You should be at home with your daughter at night not out with your date. You shouldn’t be using your daughter as a pawn in your attempt to punish your ex-wife.

Your sister needs to back off. You need to stop poisoning your daughter’s relationship with her mother. Your daughter needs therapy as the way she is dealing with everything that is going on is very unusual and not at all healthy. And what is this role model nonsense?

UnPracticed_Pagan said:

You’re still TA for creating this whole mess. You manipulated and confused your daughter, purposefully turning her against her own mother due to being a sh%tty parenting “advice” by roping your own kid in your issues with her mom.

Now you have to deal with it. Get her therapy if you haven’t already. Even if you dislike your Ex your daughter has ALWAYS been allowed to love her mother, and you made her feel like that was wrong. Shame on you, I feel bad for your daughter being so confused and lost on how to process this

UPDATE:

So this is not really an update I wanted to post. My daughter’s mother’s birthday was a few days ago, and my daughter was with her mom to celebrate her birthday. However, the next day, her mom called me in tears and said it was the worst birthday she has ever had in her life because her daughter was so emotionless and cold, which she rarely is, especially on birthdays.

I spoke with daughter after that, and asked her why she was so cold to her mom. My daughter told me that she didn’t say anything bad to her mom, she was normal. I told my daughter that she has to be more emotionally present with her mom because her mom was really hurting, and my daughter said she would try but it’s hard for her to emotionally invest in multiple people as her role models.

I spoke with my sister and asked her what she thought about it, and she said that my daughter should be given time and space to process her emotions, and she had to carve out her own path, and we can be there to guide her through the path.

I think I agree with that assessment and I’m not sure if I should keep lecturing my daughter on her relationship with her mom. My daughter seems very emotionally happy and content now.

Here's what top commenters had to say after the update:

Imnotawerewolf said:

Listen to me, it's not about making her change her opinion about her mother. It's about making sure she's processing these things in a way that isn't going to negatively impact her. It's fine that she's mad at her mom. It's fine she's not ready to be normal with her.

It's concerning she's put this weird emphasis on the idea of a role model. It's weird she's saying she's can't "invest emotionally" in more than role model. This is a complicated situation and even kids who are going through more benign divorces are recommended therapy.

Next-Drummer-9280 said:

Dude, you started this. You used your CHILD to physically represent your hatred of your ex-wife. So now, STFU and do what your sister - clearly the smarter of the siblings - said.

Existing_Watch_3084 said:

I’m confused about this whole role model thing. A role model is just someone you look up to you can look up to multiple people for different reasons. Her deciding your sister is her role model now and that she shouldn’t have a relationship with her mother because of it is extremely weird. It sounds like your daughter needs to be put in therapy.

Old-AF said:

Yes, YTA. Your wife cheated on YOU, not your daughter. You involving your daughter in that part of the relationship makes you an asshole; she has no reason to even know that part of what’s going on. You better get her professional help now that you and your wife have involved her in your grown up affairs.

WholeAd2742 said:

YTA. Stop letting your own drama and anger at your ex bleed over to negatively influence your daughter. That's still her mom. She can still love and support her, even if YOU don't like her actions

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