Contacting DP's DD

(36 Posts)
LindaKroesig Thu 03-Jan-13 13:41:59

So I'm not actually her step parent but thought I'd probably get the best advice in this topic.

DP and I have been together just under a year and a half (and living together since September). I have a DD from my first marriage and he has 2 (8yo DS and 12 yo DD). I have met his 2 on one occasion for about an hour and his DS for an additional couple of hours. There is a lot of resistance from DP's ex to encourage or facilitate us getting to know each other any further and although the DS (who is younger) seems happy to meet me and DD, the eldest (as we're told by DP's ex) doesn't feel comfortable with it.

Someone suggested I write her a letter as I've not had the opportunity to talk to her and it may help her feel more comfortable with the situation and the idea of me and DD. DP agrees that it may help, so I've written this but would really appreciate the collective wisdom of mumsnet taking a look and seeing what you think. Obviously I've removed any identifiable bits:
_______________________________________________________________

Hi X,

I wanted to write and say hi as we haven't really had the chance to talk in the past and, as I met your dad just under a year and a half ago now, I feel it wouldn't be good to leave it any longer to get in touch.

I heard that you were having a bit of a hard time dealing with your parents' separation and the fact that your dad has met someone new, namely me. I've not been through what you're going through myself as my mum and dad never separated, so I can't begin to understand how upsetting and confusing it is for you - but I will try my hardest.

It must be difficult to get your head around the fact that your dad has other people in his life that you don't know - especially as one of these people is a child. I really don't want you to think that <my DD> (my daughter, who is 4) has, or will ever take the place of you or your brother - it just isn't going to happen; <my DD> has a dad that she sees very often, and although your dad and <my DD> have grown very fond of each other, you are his children.

I also wanted to try to help you see what I hope to be my part in yours and your brother's life. I am not, and will never be a replacement for your mum - mums are very special and are pretty much impossible to replace. I'm just a person, a new name to add to your list of friends and family, just as I hope <my DD> will be as well. The last thing I want is for you to feel like I am taking someone away from you, when in actual fact it's more of a case of adding 2 more people in to your lives. Families come in very different shapes and sizes but when the shape of a family changes, as it has with yours, I am sure it takes quite a bit of getting used to. One day I hope you'll see me as someone you can rely on and share with - I'm a pretty OK person, so I've been told smile

Your dad misses you and <his DS> terribly, and <my DD> asks about you both a lot (she has seen your photo many times). We are looking for a bigger house to live in at the moment, so that you and your brother can have your own room when you come over. Maybe once we've moved in to it you, your brother and your mum could come for a visit?

We both also really hope that you will want to come away with us in the future; we love to go camping and festivals and we also really enjoy skiing (although I had a bit of an accident the last time so I think I might be back on the nursery slopes then next time I go!), or maybe you'd like to come to <family members> house in Italy with us one day. But we will leave that to you; just let us know if and when you feel ready.
_______________________________________________________________

rechargemybatteries Thu 03-Jan-13 13:44:59

I can't explain why but I don't think this is a good idea. I don't know if it's the letter per se or the tone of the letter but I wouldn't send it, at least not in it's present form. It sounds like you're pushing a relationship. I think. And I know that's not very helpful!

LindaKroesig Thu 03-Jan-13 13:50:35

you're right - I am pushing for a relationship (well, at least want her to know that she's very much wanted), we both feel that the longer it goes on in the present vein the less likely I'll ever have one with her - do you think it will just push her away further?

Piffpaffpoff Thu 03-Jan-13 13:51:49

No. I have no experience of this but no. I think you have to go at his DDs speed - if she's not comfortable with it, you writing what could be seen as a pushy or persuasive letter will not change that and could make it worse. You need to sit back and let her get her head round it herself. And you also need to accept that she might never feel comfortable with you and there's nothing you can do about that. Sorry.

Piffpaffpoff Thu 03-Jan-13 13:54:37

Reading that back, the last sentence sounds harsher than I intended, sorry. I think the best you can do is continue to spend time with his DS and hope that sooner or later she'll want to get involved, but dont 'push' yourself onto her. Best of luck.

rechargemybatteries Thu 03-Jan-13 13:59:45

Like Piffpaffpoff (great name) I think you just have to wait it out and hope she comes around eventually, but at the same time accept that she might never come round.

Sorry, does your DP have a relationship with them seperately?

canyou Thu 03-Jan-13 14:07:54

As a DC who's parents separated I would have hated to get that letter, it [and I know that is not what you mean or intend] screams to me of emotional blackmail/look at what you are missing, She will come around, she knows her Dad misses her etc.
If I were in your shoes birthday/easter/xmas/good luck cards and non expensive but thoughtful gifts from you [and just you not from you and her Dad] will help her see you as a person and not a replacement for her Mum in her Dads life.
I hope that makes sense?

Lookingatclaus Thu 03-Jan-13 14:11:02

I really wouldn't send it. I would be looking at working out how you can see them more and let the relationship build naturally.

How often do they see their Dad? Does he see them separately from you? If she does have the concerns that you think she has, your dp could discuss them with her.

georgedawes Thu 03-Jan-13 14:11:03

I think it should be up to your DP to say anything like that to his daughter, not you. I know you're well meaning but dont think it'll work out if that comes from you.

LindaKroesig Thu 03-Jan-13 14:16:01

Thanks for the responses.

DP does have a relationship with them away from me and now sees them once every 2 weekends for a few hours on one of the days (it was very much more sporadic up until recently but seems to be settling down now).

I've bought them both gifts since I was on the scene (although the first xmas I didn't put my name on them, just asked DP to say they were from him/Santa), this year they got separate gifts from me and DD although DP also added our names to his presents to make them joint (his decision).

LindaKroesig Thu 03-Jan-13 14:19:27

sorry should have elaborated slightly on the DP visitation - it was sporadic as there was always a reason why they couldn't see him (visiting friends/illness/going away etc.) not because he didn't want to see them

Lookingatclaus Thu 03-Jan-13 14:20:33

That is hardly any contact at all - how has that come about?

It's a massive jump from sporadic contact/just a few hours a fortnight to offering them rooms of their own and lots of holidays with you as a family. Even more so I'd say don't send the letter. How is your dp proposing that it reaches that level of contact?

Ok, first I think he needs to build on his relationship with his children, his contact is minimal. I would then let any relationship with you grow from there, in its own natural time.

purpleroses Thu 03-Jan-13 14:26:48

I would second the advice to get your DP to initiate the contact. My DP's DS1 was 11 when we met and initially utterly opposed to having anything to do with me. Fortunately, he wasn't given the option of refusing to be around and DP allowed him to sulk in his room much of the time, but insisted he came down for meals, and gradually he got used to me being around, and then got to know me. Personally I'm not sure whether tackling the problems as head on as your note does would work or not - but your DP is probably the best person to judge that. He knows his DD best, so I'd ask him what he thinks.

I don't agree necessarily with "going at her pace" if in 18 months that has resulted in only 2 hours of contact. That's not a comfortable slow pace of getting to know you, it's denial of the reality of you being in her dad's life, and she needs both support - and a bit of pressure - to accept the situation as it is. Her mum could probably help a great deal if she's willing to give her DD her blessing to get to know you, but depends how bitter her mum is still whether your DP would be able to get her to do this. Otherwise your DP needs to talk to her to find out what her concerns are - rather than you trying to second guess them - and tackle them.

turkeyboots Thu 03-Jan-13 14:27:50

Step child here. Letter like that would freak me out, even as an adult. The DD in question knows what her Dad like, so stop talking about "we", as that is will be inflamatory.

A letter about you would be a bit better? But you just have to accept it will be a low proccess.

turkeyboots Thu 03-Jan-13 14:28:29

slow! Not low.

LindaKroesig Thu 03-Jan-13 14:31:28

Fair enough re the working on his own contact.

I don't feel particularly comfortable discussing the finer detail of the problems relating to DPs ex and access to the kids, but she is incredibly possessive of them (I've been told by him/his family/mutual friends that this isn't exclusive to since they split but also whilst they were married) and he eventually used a mediator to negotiate the every other weekend thing.

It has been agreed in principal that they can visit overnight at some point but this is reliant on them having their own room, hence why we're moving (well there are other factors we're moving but this is the major one).

LindaKroesig Thu 03-Jan-13 14:36:00

thankyoupurpleroses you've hit the nail on the head re going at her own pace, although I don't' want to force her to do something she doesn't want I do think it would be counterproductive for the adults in her life to not give her a little bit of a nudge in the right direction, the problem is that from what we can gather his ex is doing the opposite of encouraging it.

There you go, if you can move then they can stay over and get to know you,. Have patience grin,

georgedawes Thu 03-Jan-13 14:39:50

Yes but a few hours every other weekend is still very little. You have to think how your letter comes across, you're telling his DD about her dad as if she doesn't know him - he's her dad, she's known him her whole life. If you send that, I think the message she will hear is that she has been replaced.

I know that's not what you mean, but honestly the relationship between your Dp and his children is what is most important at first. Your relationship with then can only develop after that is better.

LindaKroesig Thu 03-Jan-13 14:48:12

Just out of interest, what do you think is a reasonable amount of contact?

Bearing in mind that he will live just under an hour away from them (we are moving to somewhere which is half way between his 2 children and my ExDH (DD's dad) so equally fair for visitation. ExDH sees our DD every other weekend (Friday evening to Sunday evening), half the holidays and can come occasionally to visit her during the week, but we get on a lot better than DP and his ex.

Lookingatclaus Thu 03-Jan-13 14:49:06

I don't think the issue is so much her reluctance to have a relationship with you, as her mum's reluctance for the children to have a relationship with their Dad. If you get in the middle of that one by "nudging" her in what you see as the right direction it will damage what relationship there already is between your dp and his ex, and won't get your relationship with her off onto a great footing.

I would stay well out of it for the time being and encourage your dp to work on increasing his contact with them first. This isn't someone who has had lots of good, regular contact with a parent and is getting used to having a new partner around.

Lookingatclaus Thu 03-Jan-13 14:52:28

I offered 50:50 when I left xh. He didn't want it, but that's what I thought was fair. At that distance apart the arrangement that you have would be my preference too.

Linda, what ex has is what your dp should be aiming for. Get yourselves moved and then he needs to tackle some fair access to his children. Are they able to discuss between themselves, or will it be through solicitors?

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