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.
_______________________________________________________________

CuddlyBlanket Mon 07-Jan-13 13:07:37

I am glad you didn't send the letter. I can see it was well meant. I agree you getting involved will make things worse.

Step child who liked step parents and got on well with them.

The child is hacked off their family is broken, Dad hardly seel's her and is off playing happy families with you and your dc.

You have to live with the fact you are keeping a child and father apart from her pov, I bet she would love to spend time with Dad and to never have to deal with you, let her be happy and let it go, nothing personal just how some kids feel, it's not your fault, just the situation you choose to stay in.

cloudpuff Mon 07-Jan-13 12:59:19

Im sorry if my above post comes across as bitchy, I am very sorry, I kind of projected a little as I'm having a shitty time with said step-mum at the moment, all the things she said that wouldn't happen to me at 12 is exactly what did happen, my Dad died a year ago (almost to the day) and her poison is truly coming out now, I'm angry with my Dad for allowing his two wives to be bitches towards us and Im angry with myself for not saying anything whilst he was alive and for still putting up with her controlling manipulative guilt trips. I shouldn't have posted and Im sorry if it was unhelpful.

cloudpuff Mon 07-Jan-13 12:50:07

I'm glad you decided not to send the letter, although you mean well, the wording and the tone will cause more problems than solutions, you are telling her things that her Dad likes with you and you child which I know its not your intention, but could make her feel more distant from her father and maybe start a bit of jealousy that isn't there at present if that makes sense.

I know this is totally different scenario but I have had two stepmums, my second one was when I was around 12 and my relationship with my Dad was already strained by the time I met her and then when she tried to tell me how I felt and that I'll always have a place in her family and that her son wont ever take my and my brothers place in my Dads heart it made me upset as none of these were the reasons I was angry with my Dad at the time and just added a shitload of other worries that a 12 year old should not have to deal with.

I've had two step mums and two step dads and a letter like the one above from any of them would upset me. You've just got to give her time, she will come round in the end.

LindaKroesig Mon 07-Jan-13 11:48:23

good idea re the room purpleroses - just need to find a house now!

LindaKroesig Mon 07-Jan-13 11:47:18

Thanks all, I've shelved the idea of a letter for the time being. I've also ordered a copy of Divorce Poison (thanks NotaDisneyMum) and am showing DP this thread

purpleroses Fri 04-Jan-13 19:29:22

If I were you I think I'd put some effort into making the new house somewhere that is welcoming for both her and her brother to come - get your DP to invite them to help choose furniture for the room(s) that they will stay in, put their names on the door, etc and make sure your DD knows that their room is not for her to play in,. Maybe buy them both something little that that is from you, for the new room. Hopefully that will send out the same message as you want your note to do, but in a gentler way with less risk of it being too much for her and backfiring.

It's probably also worth getting to know your DSS a bit more too, as if your DSD sees him getting on OK with you and your DD, that may help her too.

I can't really put my finger on it but I wouldn't send that letter. I just feel it may cause more problems than solutions....you don't know what the homelife is really like for your DSD and whether having that letter in her possession would put her in an awkward situation mentally/emotionally. I know you want her to know that you are not hostile towards her but she probably already has so many things swimming around her head that its potentially too much to burden her with.

I think any relationship you may want with your DSD needs to be built up via her father initially in his company or else it may be seen as over aggressively trying to force the relationship on your terms which you cannot do with anyone.

mumandboys123 Thu 03-Jan-13 22:58:36

the letter is very...full of negatives. You point out stuff she may not even realise, and it's negative. So, you may be struggling with your parents separating, your might think my daughter will replace you in your dad's affections....if you're determined to send something, it needs to be positive, everything positive. She's of an age when she's probably aware she's upset about things but she won't necessarily have the words or understanding to be able to put that into the words you have put. In other words, you're putting negative thoughts and words into her head, rather than positive ones!

CuppaTeaAndAJammieDodger Thu 03-Jan-13 18:29:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NotaDisneyMum Thu 03-Jan-13 17:45:48

Definitely not.

My DSD was the same age (12) when she rejected me - in fact, she gave DP an ultimatum that he should choose her or me. This was greatly fuelled by her Mum.

When DP explained why that wouldn't be happening, and offered a relationship with her independent from me, she refused and cut off all contact for about 18 months.
DP wrote to her regularly during this time, and eventually, a major falling out with her mum resulted in her calling him and they began to spend time together again.

I must have drafted a dozen letters to her just like yours, thinking that I must be able to do something, but I didn't send them.

About 3 months ago, after about 6 months of regular contact between DP and DSD, she agreed to meet DP at a time I'd be there too. We've made great progress since them, and she's starting a Saturday job working for me this week!

Don't give up. It's horrible while you are living it and I didn't believe anyone who said "give it time" or "she'll come round", but they were right. I suggest that you and your DP read a copy of Divorce Poison by Richard Warshak, and there's a DVD called Welcome Back Pluto that will help, too.

LindaKroesig Thu 03-Jan-13 14:59:15

It will be through solicitors - they tried the mediation angle but his ex went back to her solicitor and as a result the mediator said she she couldn't work with them anymore (apparently it is either mediation or solicitors but can't be both), I don't think there was much headway made whilst they were at mediation as she didn't agree with what was discussed.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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).

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

slow! Not low.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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

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