My DD is so upset...(10 Posts)
NC as think my ex knows my NN...
I have a DD who has just turned 4. I left ex when she was 1 as he was EA and FA. When I left he had never been on his own with DD, mainly through his choosing as he would rather be out than at home with us and then DD barely knew him so would be difficult with him and he never wanted to work at sorting this out. I suggested that we work out a plan for him to spend a few hours alone with DD initially and get to know her, progressing to EOW at his and a mid week contact as well. He refused this and took me to court. We then had a long battle in court over about 10 months during which he saw DD for 6 hours on either a Saturday or sunday every weekend. DD seemed ok with this. Court order was placed stating that DD, who was 2 by this time, should stay with ex Friday to sunday EOW and half of school holidays. So that is what has been happening for nearly 2 years now....
DD has never been happy about staying at his. At 4, its difficult to get her to say why, but recently she has started saying more about it, including his house is dirty, she doesn't like sleeping at his first wife's house (who he has 2 older children with), doesn't like it when he "pops to the shops and leaves me on my own with the puppy", and various other things. She says he shouts at her and gets cross and she doesn't have toys to play with and he won't play with her. I try to take things with a pinch of salt as I know she is young.
She has always cried when I tell her she is going to his whether it is the day he is due to arrive, the day before, a few days before, and gets worried and says she doesn't want to go. However when he arrives she cries a bit and goes, and seems generally ok when she returns. Yesterday however, was very different. She was screaming and crying and kicking her feet so I couldn't put her down and saying she "just wanted to stay with mummy" He tried everything saying that they would go to the fair, see his sister, walk the dog, go to the toy shop, but she wouldn't go and kept crying. I said I didn't think she should have to go if she was that upset and didn't want to, and maybe she could stay with me and talk it over and he could pick her up this morning and take her out for the day instead. He refused saying that it was his right to see her and if I didn't make her go he would take me back to court. He then started dragging up hoe unreasonable I was about access to start with and calling me names in front of DD. I tried to disengage and not retaliate but he was very confrontational and I was a bit scared TBH. I am a complete wimp when it comes to confrontation, especially with him as he is a bully and I will admit he scares me. I have tried to be more assertive because of my DD but I still struggle.
We reached an agreement which I suggested and he agreed that he would take her for lunch and then she could call me and if she was still upset she could come home but if not she could go to his. She wasn't happy but stopped kicking and screaming and begrudgingly went with him. He then called an hour later and said that she was still upset but he thought she'd "get over it" and he was on his way back to his. I asked to talk to her and he said I couldn't as it would just upset her again and "she needs to grow up and get on with it as this is how its going to be for her".
I really don't know what to do to help her. I never badmouth him in front of her, talk about him when she wants to, encourage their relationship, get cards with her for Christmas/birthdays/fathers day despite her not really wanting to and knowing he does not do the same , but she still seems so sad about going. I thought she would have got used to it by now and it would be easier for her, but that doesn't seem to be the case. I can't afford to go back to court and don't see what it would achieve as she is too young for her opinion to be considered, and he won't listen to me if I say anything about what she doesn't like but I hate seeing my DD so upset by it all and don't know what to do.
Sorry this has turned out to be so long but I wanted to include everything I thought was relevant. If any one has any advice I would be very grateful. Many thanks.
Sorry I have no advice, I have no idea what happens if a child is extremely distressed to go visit the nrp and the rp says they don't have to go, if there is a court order.
I really feel for you, I had the opposite issue, having to take dsd back to her mums crying her eyes out in the weeks before she came to live with us, because she didn't want to go back there. It's so horrible and heart renching, and while it must be horrible to have your child so distressed about going to see you, it's so much worse for your child to feel like that. Talking to you in front of her is not on at all!
Have you thought about anomalous ly calling social services to see if they have any advice?
I could have written your post op. I have actually called child services recently due to many of the same issues you have brought up, they seemed very concerned that after two+ years of contact ds still cries and is reluctant to go.
Unfortunately they haven't done anything. They advised me to stop contact and go into hiding in case exp reacted badly, but then closed the case and refused to investigate. Been back to court and waiting for them to do an investigation but I'm not holding much faith in it. It's awful isn't it. I feel like I should be protecting ds but I can't tell him he doesn't have to go..
No advice but I'm sorry to read that your dd is so upset. Are you able to talk to his ExW or your dds half siblings to see if you can find out if there are particular things upsetting her?
Perhaps she could have some specific toys that she could take with her EOW?
It's so hard because it doesn't sound like an ideal environment but as you said she is only 4 and can't take her word for it You can get into trouble for not sending her. However you could refuse to let her go, let him take you back to court and you self represent? Presumably he would get EoW awarded again but she would at least have a break from it and you could ask for cafcass to be involved as she is so unhappy to go?
Thank you both for your replies. I have phoned children's services and spoke to someone about my concerns. She said that I was basically stuck between a rock and a hard place because as her parent with PR I am legally obliged to keep her safe and not put her in a position she isn't comfortable with but the court order prevents me from doing that. She suggested using the free half hour with a solicitor to see if there was anything I could do,but all they said was to file with the court to change contact but that a judge probably wouldn't change the order as there are no actual safe guarding concerns just that she is upset.
A court won't take what she wants into account as she is too young but I really can't keep putting her through it for the next 7/8 years until someone listens to her. She never talks about her dad, refuses to talk to him on the phone and pulls away from him when she sees him. She's usually such a happy little thing and it breaks my heart to see her change so much as soon as she sees him
I don't think I was expecting an answer to the problem as I'm not really sure there is one but just knowing I'm not on my own with this helps. Thank you.
This is really hard, because a child being abused may act like that towards someone, but at 4 they might also act like that if he simply doesn't show her affection and tells her off a lot which is still horrible but not a safeguarding Issue that I know off, unless it can be proven she is being emotionally abused... or maybe she's ok when she's with him but for reasons only known to a 4 year old, probably wanting to be with mum, she doesn't want to go with him because he represents being taken from mum?
Have you asked ss to actually investigate? it sounds like a horrible idea, to accuse him of abuse but you must must must make sure any concern is raised, for your child's safety... just in case.
What a horrible situation. I think I would be keeping DC at home given the upset & distress. But obv not as easy as that when a court order in place. Can you get legal advice - CAB, NSPCC, charity, anywhere - that could help you navigate this situation & keep yourself as right as possible? As someone said, speaking to his ex-wife might help you work out what's going on (assuming she won't grass on you & cause more trouble). If it did go back to court, it's hard to believe a judge would view your behaviour badly if you can get witnesses / show evidence of your DC's distress. Sorry not to be able to give more helpful advice. I just don't know enough about the law. But I really feel for you & wish you best of luck in keeping your DC safe & happy x
did i read correctly that he 'pops to the shops' and leaves her on her own? actually on her own or is there an adult with her? if he is leaving a four year old on her own, you can't let her go to his, can you?
Ask gp to refer to a family therapist child therapit play therapist etc who can use tools and techniques to work thru her concerns..also they will talk to you and her dad.
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