New Contact Arrangements – Help!
20 April 2018 at 10:38 pm #10435
Hi, I’ve just joined today & never posted a question online before.
For some background, my daughter is 8, me and her dad separated when she was 18 months old. He had intermittent (daytime only except on one occasion when he refused to return her from contact as agreed, thankfully only for an extra half a day in the end) contact for a few years and it was a nonstop battle as he wouldn’t keep to any arrangement, wanted everything on his terms all the time & refused to try mediation. He then disappeared off the radar for just over a year with no contact at all, no answer to my calls or texts trying to arrange contact. After that, he suggested that he have phone contact only and has spoken to my daughter mostly twice a week (except when he ‘forgets’) for around 2 years, seeing her twice a year for the day around Xmas and her birthday. He often asks her if she wants to see him, she says yes then he doesn’t get in touch to make a plan. This week, she was finally brave enough to ask him when she was going to see him. He suggested to her that she go on holiday with him, her 2 younger 1/2 siblings, his wife and her older children for 7 nights almost 5 hours away in a months time with 1 day time visit between now and then. (Thanks for bearing with me if you’re still reading).
My daughter suffers with anxiety and I’m currently at the beginning of the process of having her assessed for autism. She’s had trouble sleeping unless I’m sitting with her, has difficulties socially and is highly sensitive but will only communicate her feelings to me, her grandad and her brother and will run away or hide if she’s putting a brave face on things for too long. She seems fairly open to the idea of going on this holiday but her dad needs an answer straight away. She’s just got back from a one night school residential (that she was excited about until week or so before and I had to force her to go in the end) and told me she enjoyed the daytime activities but cried until 1am when they went to bed. When he suggested the holiday, he just said Spring and she thought he meant next Spring (2019) and told me it would be good to have time to ‘get to know him’ (her words) before going away. I don’t want to stand in the way of her having a relationship with her dad and have always tried my best but the idea of her potentially being upset, with people she barely knows (family or not) and trying to deal with that alone 5 hours away from home breaks my heart. I know he wouldn’t call me if there was a problem as, he has two older daughters who used to stay with us regularly when we were together and he wouldn’t let them speak to their mum on ‘his’ time. I’d be so grateful of some other opinions from people who have been in similar situations as I honestly don’t know what to do for the best.20 April 2018 at 10:46 pm #10436
Personally I’d be uncomfortable with or without the autism as it seems like so much in one clump after so little previous contact. It’s nice she wants to get to know him but surely day trips followed by nights coming home to you would be a reasonable way to dip the toe in the water? Then build up to one night away and see how she feels about a whole week?20 April 2018 at 11:07 pm #10437
Thank you. This is what we tried to do before years ago but he would lose interest during the day visits time, go off the radar for a bit then be annoyed that we’d be back at square one. I suspect he’s suggested something that he knows I won’t think is right for her so it can be my fault for saying no as it’s an all or nothing offer (he can be very manipulative when he wants). He also denies that she has anxiety (he clearly knows better than the GP and school 🙄) so won’t factor that in either. Uncomfortable is exactly how I feel about it.22 April 2018 at 7:45 am #10452
Im afraid I have no advice for you, but just want to let you know I am in the same situation as you (although my children are four and two). I have had to make the decision to stop my children’s contact with their father completely as I just couldn’t put myself and the children through being let down anymore. He even let them down on the first contact centre meeting that I had to arrange. Your ex sounds exactly like mine, re: manipulation etc. Sorry I’ve got no helpful advice for you. I have had to accept that my children do not have a father in their lives. This may be easier for us to except as my children are so young still.22 April 2018 at 12:31 pm #10460
I personally would not let my childrens dad take them away for the week when there has been so little contact. And I would also be worried about the fact that he would not allow me contact with her I would not have that, my children see there dad every other weekend and i still contact them during there visit. I brought my children a phone each an have told there dad as its my property he is not allowed to remove it or stop them from using it so maybe buying your daughter one and laying down the same ground rules may be a good idea.
I would do what your daughter feels comfortable with and not force her into going just for him.22 April 2018 at 6:39 pm #10486
Unfortunately Anonymous it isn’t next Spring but is in 4 or 5 weeks time. If it was next Spring, I’d be happy that we had time to build the contact up over the year. And he needs to know one way or the other tomorrow…22 April 2018 at 6:44 pm #10487
Thanks to those suggesting a mobile phone. I actually have an old one from before I upgraded her teenage brother to a smartphone so could let her use that.
Atm my lo tells me she’d like to go, then half an hour later that she doesn’t then asks what will happen if she doesn’t like it there/ is travel sick/ can’t sleep/ is told off. She’s backwards and forwards, up and down about the whole thing. Which is why, imo, contact shouldn’t be arranged directly with the child at this age and should be between the parents first. 😡22 April 2018 at 6:54 pm #10488
This is why you have a year to work her up to it, but that’s down to your ex to invest into it and accept that ultimately she may say no.22 April 2018 at 9:48 pm #10496
Rock and a hard place really does sum it up! I’ve just spent an hour and a half sitting with her tonight at bedtime while she tells me that she definitely wants to go but that she’s been having dreams about him never bringing her home, her getting lost on holiday and him not remembering her when she found her way back to him, that his wife tells her off, etc. Then told me I have to hold her hand until she’s asleep because it’s too scary on her own even when I’m just downstairs. She’s also told me that she thinks that if she asks to go away on one of their weekends away instead that he’ll never invite her again for a whole week (which is very possible). When I said she didn’t need to decide because it’s a decision for grown ups to make, that she should say how she feels and what she would like to do but that she doesn’t decide, she told me again how much she wants to go and begged me not to say no to him. I think I’ll have to take option 1 – say yes, provisionally and see how the daytime contact that he’s agreed to next weekend goes as it might settle her down a bit. It’s reassuring to see from the other comments that I’m not being completely unreasonable to be feeling uncomfortable about it all though! Thank you!23 April 2018 at 10:51 am #10523
Blimey, totally feel for you. Have you come to any conclusions yet? I wonder why we, the party that is reasonable, consistent and the main carer always feels guilty for thinking about saying no. I think it is common sense if you did say no as a relationship between father and daughter needs to be well established before such a long period of time without you. I understand that you want to give your daughter a say in the decision, but if you didn’t you would be doing so in her best interests as a loving and protective mummy. Be confident in the decision you come to but if you are in doubt, say no. You are the main parent and you know your daughter than anyone. It sounds like you have good communication with her too so if you did say no then it sounds like you would be able to explain why and she would accept that. I wish you all the best. Keep posting if it helps. It’s so good to communicate with other parents!