Years ago, while my wife and I were separated, I foolishly slept with “Molly,” who became pregnant with my daughter “Ally.” I reconciled with my wife, and ultimately we won custody of Ally when she was 9, after Molly went through a series of boyfriends and made repeated sexual overtures toward me. My wife has been incredible, but Molly’s influence has been strong. After completing her court-ordered therapy, Molly filed for custody when Ally was 13, and two years later Ally went to live with her permanently. Ally went from respectful and sweet to insubordinate and cruel. Finally, she used racial epithets against my wife and stepdaughters, and I threw her out of the house. She did the same thing when my wife and I came to her high school graduation. Molly looked so proud of her.
Ally is now 21. I haven’t spoken to her beyond a phone call on Christmas and her birthday unless she needs money. My wife openly grieves for the little girl that we lost, and my stepdaughters refuse to acknowledge Ally. I can’t blame them. I blame myself for not fighting harder, but what is done is done. At what point do I give up? Ally is sweet until she doesn’t get what she wants. The last time it was because I wouldn’t bail her drug-using boyfriend from jail; before that, it was when I wouldn’t buy her another car after she wrecked hers. I am tired and have no desire to do this dance for the next 20 years. I am at the end of my rope. For the record, I always paid my child support, while Molly didn’t pay a dime when Ally lived with me. I love my daughter, but I also love my wife and stepdaughters. I would give anything to have the Ally who I raised back, but that is an impossibility now. I don’t know what to do.
—Do I Give Up?