How To Avoid Coming Across As Aggressive

(55 Posts)
NewDadTrying Sat 16-Feb-13 07:15:04

Without going into too many specifics, I am a new Dad (chuffed beyond words on that score!), unfortunately circumstances with my ex are not ideal. I have Parental Rights, and she is breastfeeding which is of course brilliant. However this leaves visiting somewhat tricky. We have managed to sidestep any outright hostility so far, but looks like we might headed for a confrontation.

I am reminded of advice given to me by my Solicitor who explained she will be feeling particularly vulnerable the first year, and I should be wary of doing anything that comes off as confrontational. Whilst we both have good reason to be aggrieved at the other, it is my hope we can move past it for our child's sake.

Perhaps justifiably she has been been sniping at me regularly since the birth, which to be honest was like water off a ducks back as I got to see my child, and was worth weathering. Unfortunately she has cottoned onto the fact that by making it increasingly hard to see our baby gets to me. It tears me up a great deal that I am not involved as much as I would wish to be. As I try to be more and more flexible over arranging visits, the less communication I receive. as well as finding nobody home at prearranged times.

Upon suggesting mediation I was accused of coming on too strong, and it seems I have a Hobson's choice between stressing out the mother, or just not getting to see the baby at all. I am usually pretty good at communication and diplomacy, but I am aware there are subtle and not so subtle differences in the way men and women communicate. So what I would like to ask is what is the best way to propose mediation, without her feeling like she is losing control of the situation? (She is someone who has to be in control, and by example of a child she has by a previous marriage involves the Dad only infrequently when it suits her, and I wish to be involved with our child a lot more than he has gotten to have been)

Letsmakecookies Sat 16-Feb-13 08:46:40

Go to your solicitor and ask their advice and take it. tbh it sounds a little like they have told you to back off a bit, and you are looking for another way around that. I have the utmost sympathy for you, however, how old is the baby even, why did things not work out between you? You also need to rethink how you feel about your baby's mother, as that is exactly what she is, and you come across as scathing and hostile, which if she is picking up on would make her snipy especially if she has a breastfed infant to cope with.

Piecesofmyheart Sat 16-Feb-13 10:30:03

How old is the baby ?

NewDadTrying Sat 16-Feb-13 21:01:00

He's only a few months old, and we didn't work out primarily over the conception. We had been together just under a year, and a few months before we split I had voiced concerns over our long term viability primarily over her ignoring my feelings on important matters, and we needed to communicate better and make decisions as a couple. Then a month and a half after that exchange she went off the pill without keeping me appraised, and on the date of conception I had enquired was the birth control situation well in hand and was point blank lied to that it was, so I ended things with her.

Feelings of hostility are an understatement, but I have recieved counselling (I have been getting this for several years, not to treat any underlying condition, but simply because I think it is a positive thing to have in life to work through issues wisely) and am working to get past those feelings, and irrespective of the rights and wrongs of this our child has to be the priority here. I do my level best to avoid any criticisms of her as I have an extensive network of family and friends to turn to who are all it has to be said very supportive of me.

I feel that any conflict between us should be resolved as amicably as possible as this is what my son will observe as he grows up, and I don't want to be a bad example for him, but neither do I want him growing up unable to assert himself in a firm but respectable manner (particularly in how he treats women). Having grown up in a single parent household myself (my mother was an absolute star, in remarkably difficult circumstances for which I will always be eternally grateful), I have a small idea of the difficulties she may potentially face, and I don't want to be an aggregate negative presence in her life that makes things worse or harder, but neither do I want him to grow up without a Dad involved in as much of his life as possible, as happened to me.

I would of course be willing (and would dearly love) to have him full time, and I am currently working to arrange my life in such a way that should such be neccessary my personal circumstances would not be an obstacle. However I would like to avoid the ramifications to him of becoming the battleground of a conflict between his mum and I. I take heart in the fact that he's healthy, and he won't remember any of these initial upsets, and hope that we can make his life a good one, and free from all the current negativity.

Piemother Sat 16-Feb-13 22:29:01

Full time???? Are you going for residency?
Is this the same poster with the younger gf who was a care leaver?

Piecesofmyheart Sat 16-Feb-13 22:32:26

'a few months old' - So 3 months. 12 weeks. 84 days. Breastfed and probably sleeping for at most, a few hours at a time ?

Go back to your solicitor again and ask them to repeat their advice to you to to back off a little.

'I would of course be willing (and would dearly love) to have him full time' do you REALLY feel like that ? shock

ivykaty44 Sat 16-Feb-13 22:39:50

I have benn a single mum since dd2 was 3/9 and had nightmares when pg her father would try to take her away, if he had told me when awake he wanted her full time I may well have gone into melt down, so can understand why possibly you are being asked to back off

GinAndT0nic Sat 16-Feb-13 22:43:33

"I would of course be willing (and would dearly love) to have him full time'.

I can imagine she is terrified of you. You say you are arranging your life so that you would be in a position to take your son full time! shock

I don't know if you can comprehend how terrifying that would be for a new mother who has carried a baby for nine months, delivered it only four months ago, breast feeding now.... to think that there is a person who might try to take her child, and if you're not together she will see it like that.

You see on one level very self-aware, and very articulate. But have you tried to understand this from her perspective. I think for the sake of the long term you need to acknowledge that having a baby is more all-encompassing for a new mother, hormonally, physically, practically!

my own x has made life difficult for himself at every cross roads by not seeing things from my perspective. he showed me no respect so i left him. This is my story not yours but if he could have stepped into my shoes at any point he would have got more back.

So, I would suggest you reassure your X that you will not go for full residency. I think you will get MORE by reassuring her that you want less. You catch more flies iwth honey and that is something that my x has not figured out yet. every now and then i think 'i'll send him a copy of the school report, and then he'll get a solicitor to write a letter to the principle' and I think ofgs leave us alone you bully!

GinAndT0nic Sat 16-Feb-13 22:47:25

ps,, you are very self-aware but you have zero awareness of how terrifying this must be for your x.

Piemother Sat 16-Feb-13 22:49:44

I find the posts a bit odd. Who really goes for counselling for no reason? They read as if they have been written for show. That's my take on it

GinAndT0nic Sat 16-Feb-13 22:53:42

And feel FREE to ignore me now, but I think one of the things you could do that would pave the way to a better relationship with your son is to tell his mother that you take 50% of the responsibility for his conception. Any of that talk 'you led me to believe you were on the pill'! no! as judge judy would say! no. tssss. stop. don't you go there. The child has been born. You put your penis into his mother's vagina without a condom on. The end. Do not ever repeat your bleating about who is to 'blame' for his conception.

You can obviously react to this with an indignatn "but I..." or "that's not fair because..." but what is your goal here? to be right? to be the most aggreived? or the one with the most legitimate right ot be aggrieved?

the path to a better relationship with your son is through a better relationship with is mother, and because of that I advise you to OWN 50% of the responsiility for his conception.

there was something else too.. mmm. let me think

GinAndT0nic Sat 16-Feb-13 22:58:07

oh yes. i remember now. You basically ended it with her while she was pregnant. is that right? but you felt like you had the moral highground because she wasn't honest with you or because you 100% blame her for something that is 50% her responsibilty.

Mate, you dumped her when she was pregnatn. Things are BOUND to be problematic and I think it's naive in the extreme to hope for some sort of brady bunch - waltons set up THIS early. You need to prove to her that you will not try to control her and manipulate her. I find it really sad that you've dragged in lawyers over a four month old.

My sympathies are with your x I'm afraid.

NewDadTrying Sat 16-Feb-13 23:54:02

Yes I would dearly love to have him, if it worked out that way. Bottom line is when I am away from him it's like there is this huge void in me.

Yes I wrote this for show, this situation in parts utterly terrifies me and I know there is a danger that if I do not order my thoughts properly and effectively I will misscommunicate something or come off as utterly irrational, as believe me there is that element to all this for me, but I am working on it.

Ok I said I didn't want to go into this, but it seems to be a sticking point. OF COURSE I take full responsibility for having unprotected sex, I made the mistake of trusting the wrong person (and for the record this situation hurts much more than when I had been cheated on in the past), and it turned around and bit me in the ass. Nothing I can do about it now. Obviously that left me feeling betrayed, lied to and all the rest of it, but whatever else you might say I have the right to my emotions I will not apologise for that. I do however accept that if those feelings cause me to act in an innappropriate manner I will have to account for them. In the long term I'll integrate the experience and move on with my emotional life wiser for the experience. I will also endeavor to ensure that what I do feel does not jeapordize my child in any way. I am perfectly capable of behaving calmly and rationally.

I take the advice about backing off, and I've heard from those who've been in this situation which is what I was looking for. I implicitly told her when we went for the first scan, I am not interested in taking the child away from her. My comments are simply referencing what I would like not what will neccessarily happen. Also because her lifestyle has never been settled, there may come a time when she's got her eyes on the next baby/man in her life she wants, that much like her first child she'll be looking for places to pass our son off to so she can do the things important to her. I however want to make it as easy as possible to be the best possible choice for her.

Yes she's mightly pissed off at me for leaving her, and she has every right to be it was not my finest hour. I just happen to believe, and still do that it would not be in our son's best interest to be raised in a household of bickering adults, who would inevitably end up breaking up. I am really not interested in "moral highgrounds", being "in the right" or any of that nonsense. Real Life is often a lot more complicated than that, I was looking for advice and I got it I need to be more empathic towards her, and I see that was where I was going wrong. I obviously don't want to empathise with someone I feel betrayed by, and that was where the block was coming from, but I accept I need to be and do whatever my son needs. So thank you to the people who considered my situation with empathy and compassion.

What you have to remember is that you are the least important person in this situation at present. You need to put her feelings and the baby's wellbeing ahead of your own wishes. A lot of men find it almost impossible to put themselves last, but if you can manage it, you will be on the way to building a better co-parent relationship with your child's mother.

HerrenaHarridan Sun 17-Feb-13 00:10:29

Ffs ladies. You are making some very valid points in an overly aggressive way.

Ok op firstly you need to let go of the whole lied to you about birth control. While I also think that the last moment you made a choice about having a baby was when you DIDN'T put a condom on.
That is the past it doesn't matter shit baby is here. For one reason and another you and the mother are not going to be a couple.
Your question in the op is how do I handle her so I will focus on answering that.
Gentle, new babies belong to their mother end of. You can see it in her company only for at least the first six months.
While in her company do not critisise or pass comment on anything.
Bring stuff for the baby, nappies, clothes etc but also stuff for her, I would recommend a tube a lansinoh cream as this shows support for breast feeding and an interest in her welfare, nice fruit also a good bet.
Before you get there ask if she needs anything picked up, it can be a real challenge getting out the house with a tiny baby
DO NOT constantly offer to take the baby out, do offer to watch it while she has a bath.
Do get a home ready for the baby with you. DO NOT expect it to get any use until the child is at least 3

When baby starts eating solids find a local dads group and approach her about taking it there. Also bookbug at your local library is only on for half hour so you could ask her if you could all go but she could use the computers and you can do the baby stuff.
It's great that you want to be involved. What you need to understand at this stage is that it's about familiarisation, so when the baby is old enough to be away from its mother you are someone it knows.
I'm sorry op, this is not the ideal picture you may have liked to raise your first child in but you have to work with what you've got

GinAndT0nic Sun 17-Feb-13 00:14:15

I wasn't aggressive HerrenaHarridan.

NewDadTrying Sun 17-Feb-13 00:29:46

Thanks Harridan, I was well aware coming to a place like that what sort of reaction I was in danger of getting here, but it also seemed like the best place to get the information I needed. I've been doing some of the things you have already mentioned already, but you have suggested several that have not occured to me so thanks. Although to be honest my exes first suggestion was I that I take the baby away for several hours every week starting from birth which I diplomatically bartered down to me visiting him at her place, as I did not want to disrupt him in the early stages.

My initial worry was that the more reasonable and supportive I try to be the more pissed off she seems to get, until as I mentioned she has worked out that by making it hard for me to see him DOES get to me. I remember specifically stating to her that I do not want her to get the impression that I feel entitled to drop round whenever I want, as I understand and respect that her place is her space. I had hoped that considering the birth was a real pain, (and I mean more than usual the labor lasted several days, and there were some further complications) she had accepted my help without complaint. Now I suspect she is getting stronger and more independant again some of the old greivances are coming back to the surface.

The primary reason for me coming here is to get sound advice on how I should and should not behave, so sincerely thank you for taking the time.

NewDadTrying Sun 17-Feb-13 00:31:25

Oh and he's healthy and thriving so I do count myself lucky that he's here, I am well aware there are people out there who have to deal with much worse.

NewDadTrying Sun 17-Feb-13 00:33:49

Oh and I have not "dragged in lawyers" at all, I have simply been and consulted with my solicitor over what my position is, and what to do. Which to me is just common sense practice.

Letsmakecookies Sun 17-Feb-13 08:59:02

I think Herrena says some very sensible things, listen to her. Of course consulting a lawyer is a good idea, but listen to them.

I think the best thing you can do is write on a poster on a wall, that the most important person in all of this is your child, second his mother (as he is dependent on her while he is young whether you like it or not), third you.

If you are gentle and supportive and somewhat in the background for now, you will have a role in your child's life as your DC gets bigger and more independent, as long as you put the effort/interest in (and that is not necessarily suggesting she attend mediation with a breastfed 3 month old baby). Also bear in mind if you upset her you will be upsetting your child by default. Think about your actions/words and who you are trying to benefit.

Piecesofmyheart Sun 17-Feb-13 09:12:55

Your attitude to your Ex is disturbing. All this talk about her having a traumatic birth making her less able to complain about your behaviour is chilling. You don't like the fact that she is now stronger and can stand up to you ?

But yes. Take her a tube of nipple cream and a few kiwi fruit and everything will be fine.

Letsmakecookies Sun 17-Feb-13 09:26:48

Actually the nipple cream but made me laugh, perhaps a bit too personal a gift as I had images in my mind of it being hurled across a room back at the OP.

GinAndT0nic Sun 17-Feb-13 09:33:03

NewDadTrying, You say "I was well aware coming to a place like that what sort of reaction I was in danger of getting here, but it also seemed like the best place to get the information I needed."

So, you were braced for a backlash, I think you've been lucky. I am trying to help you. I think your biggest challenge is that you need a new perspective on this.

You also say "I've been doing some of the things you have already mentioned already, but you have suggested several that have not occured to me so thanks. Although to be honest my exes first suggestion was I that I take the baby away for several hours every week starting from birth which I diplomatically bartered down to me visiting him at her place, as I did not want to disrupt him in the early stages."

How about you don't make suggestions? How about you ask her what she needs from you at this point?

You also say "The more reasonable and supportive I try to be the more pissed off she seems to get"

Reasonableis highly subjective. Your interpretation of reasonable is not the definition of reasonable and it's important to remember that if you want to avoid making things worse.*

You also say "Now I suspect she is getting stronger and more independant again some of the old greivances are coming back to the surface."

Ok, there's a massive clue for you here. Think about what you have done that was not decent behaviour and apologise for it. Apologise for not taking 50% per cent responsibility for your son's conception. TELL your x you were wrong to try and apportion blame and tell her that you regret doing that because it caused so much bad feeling. Take responsibility for that knee-jerk reaction on your part causing so much bad feeling. But, don't do it until you have accepted that you are 50% responsibile for your son's conception and that apportioning blame was BOUND to cause massive hurt and upset. OWN it. Apologise for it.

I am glad to hear you haven't sent solicitors letters to her house. that is what I thought. I will give you a headsup here, the insight you're looking for, the insight into The Female Mind. I can forgive my x for the things he did 5-12 years ago, but I find it harder to overlook the fact that he won't acknowledge his own very poor behaviour. Because that means it's not just relationship baggage, it's an ongoing lack of self-awareness and lack of common decency on his part. ONGOING. The past is the past. But refusal to acknowledge, own and apologise for the past makes it a current issue with regard to shared children. So, there you go, you may think I've been harsh, but listen to me. If you want a relationship with your son, repeat this like a mantra "the key to a better relationship with my son is through a better relationship with his mother, and I will apologise for my part in the bad feeling and I will respect HER wishes". Say it 100 times a day.

HerrenaHarridan Sun 17-Feb-13 09:46:12

Gin yes your post was one of the less aggressive. Although deeply critical which is fair enough.

You have to bear in mind that posting in the lone parents section means you are speaking to people who have every reason to be suspicious of you.
I'm sure every one of our exes would tell you we are psycho bitches who won't let them see enough of their kids and they'd take them If they could. I know mine has, he said to to my mum shock

New dad, take whatever she offers!
Never rise to it if you feel she is goading you and do your utmost to make life easier for her even if it is not reciprocated for a while.
Bear in mind this is not an 18 year stretch, think weddings, graduation, grandchildren. This woman is part of your family now.

I know you have lots of new dad energy and no where to channel it.
I suggest you keep a diary, a log of contact not with a view to going to court but with a view to showing your son one day that you did your best and contributed as much as you could.
One day it may help him through the same situation.
As cookie said you are the least important factor in this right now, your real role on your sons life comes later.

HerrenaHarridan Sun 17-Feb-13 10:13:55

It's interesting the range of options one pp said you should apologise for previous behaviour. It may really help and is definitely worth thinking about what you have done and said that you should apologise for.
I didn't even occur to me, I have no interest in an apology from ex it would make me feel a grand total of nothing but it may make a huge difference in drawing a line under the past.
Yy to asking for suggestions from her.

Pieces, I know people often skim read but I don't think your synopsis of what I said was very accurate.
Of course his attitude to his ex isn't great. It's a horrible position for all, nasty break up with a baby at the centre, he will be resenting that he can't be bonding with his son. He didn't say I'm fighting for full custody ( or I'd be a lot more vociferous) he said he wants to have a home his son can go to and would love to take him. If the situation were reversed and my ex had my dd my language would be a lot stronger.

Nipple cream, personal? Not how I viewed it but I see where your coming from. It costs a £10 a tube and is an absolute essential. Also shows concern for her well being and support of her decision to breastfeed. Although I wouldn't make a song and dance of it just put it in a carrier bag with some other essentials you picked up and leave her to go through it at her leisure

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