Re-establishing contact after a period of refusal

(29 Posts)
AliceinWonderhell Mon 04-Nov-13 08:16:07

My DSS (10) is currently refusing to have contact with DH (in line with a contact order) because he has told his Mum he's "scared" of talking to DH - despite having had a telephone conversation with him last week.

DSS Mum has applied to have the court order discharged, but at the same time is saying that if DSS 'changes his mind' then she'll let him come as usual.

It's been over 8 weeks since DSS was here 'as usual' and it looks like its going to drag into a third month - I'm wondering whether its been too long now for everyone to behave as if nothing has happened. Don't courts recommend phasing back in contact when there has been a period of no-contact rather than going straight to several O/N in a row? The current contact order is for 4 nights a fortnight (Thurs - Mon).

My own DDs Dad (who I've kept informed) has made it clear he'd prefer it if DD didn't have regular contact with her stepsibs anymore because its not the first time they've just 'stopped contact' - with no warning and it obviously upsets her. So if/when DSS starts coming again, my DD will be at her Dads anyway - and they used to be so close.

I just can't see how things can go back to to the way they were, but from what DSS Mum has said, he expects everything to stay the same here and be able to dip in and out when he wants to.

louby44 Mon 04-Nov-13 09:46:47

Can you not meet for lunch or tea as an interim measure?

This is what my DP has been doing with his 2 DD. They haven't been to our house since mid August (after a big row on holiday).

They have met for a meal a couple of times and we are hoping that they are coming to stay for a night this weekend as their grandparents are coming to stay.

AliceinWonderhell Mon 04-Nov-13 12:54:08

louby DH did that with his DD after she hadn't seen him for a long time - but in DSS case, it seems that Mum is insisting on all or nothing; she has told DH that DSS will go back to seeing him in line with the court order when he's ready and DH will just have to wait.

In the meantime, she's applied to discharge the order confused

theredhen Mon 04-Nov-13 18:29:53

The trouble is in this situation is that everyone thinks about the primary relationship here. So people sympathies with the parent or the child or the other parent.

People tend to forget that this child also has a relationship with step parents and step siblings and its significant if contact is regular and overnight.

Although it is perhaps less "important" than the relationship between parent and child, I do think the other relationships deserve consideration.

The primary relationship should be built up first, then if everything settles and moves along well, the secondary relationships can be built up again.

Step siblings and parents should not just " fit around" everyone else with no consideration.

AliceinWonderhell Mon 04-Nov-13 20:58:33

redhen Certainly in our case, there is no consideration for the relationship the DSC have with me and DD.

Sadly, the DSC seem quite blasé about walking in and out of our lives; although I did see a flicker of emotion when I highlighted that during the last estrangement DSD had from DH, he was involved in a life threatening car accident.

The DSC mum is openly hostile to the idea that her DCs have formed independent relationships with me and DD and she was critical of my DD for becoming "attached" to them, as they only visit to see their Dad.

In the meantime, I'm torn between wanting to protect DD by keeping her life with me here separate from the DSC so she's not rejected again, but knowing that the best thing for the DSC is for them to feel a sense of belonging here. Oh, and I miss them too - despite the carnage they wreak in my life!

AliceinWonderhell Wed 06-Nov-13 15:51:29

Just to update - DH called the court today and His ex has submitted a C100 to discharge the contact order - the initial hearing will be in about 6 weeks time.
I'm not expecting DSS to 'change his mind' about contact before then to be honest - DH did see him at school yesterday (the head teacher facilitated a meeting) but DSS said he didn't want to have usual contact with DH anymore because DH 'makes life difficult for his Mum'.

I don't understand how DSS can just walk away from his life here without it bothering him - he has spent nearly a third of his life here over the last 4 years and yet suddenly he can walk away from it all - our pets, his belongings, his relationship with my DD and I.....and yet in a few months time, if the court orders contact resumes, or DSS decides he wants to, then he just expects to pick up where he left off and the rest of us have to fit in with that! I know he's 10, and this isn't his fault - but the process doesn't take into account the impact of these issues on other DCs does it? I guess, like other stepmums, I should have known what I was getting into but tbh, it never occurred to me that DSC would walk in and out of our lives as if there was a revolving door. sad

It was 9 months without any contact with DSD before DH was prepared to pack her things away so we could use her room for other things - I'm struggling with the thought that we'll be doing the same with DSS room and things in a years time.
How long do you leave it before absent DSC are no longer 'members of your family'?

YoureBeingASillyBilly Wed 06-Nov-13 16:01:21

They dont stop being members of the family. They're just not currently present. I know you've acknowledged he is only 10 but you seem to be holding him to the same emotional responsibilty for your and your dcs feelings as you would an adult. At 10 years old a child who has decided not to see their parent really does have bigger issues than how his step mum and step siblings and pets are feeling.

AliceinWonderhell Wed 06-Nov-13 16:31:53

I'm sure he does have bigger issues than me and DD - but they're for his parents to sort out; in the meantime, I'm facing a situation that I can't protect my DD from.

Either, I expect DD to cope with her Stepsibs walking in and out of her life wreaking havoc when they do so (we've had to call paramedics for DSD in the past and shes been brought here after being arrested) or I leave the marriage, and she is deprived of the close relationship she currently has with her stepdad, never mind loses her home.

Thank god DDs dad is being understanding so far - how would you feel if your DCs stepparent was accused of being scary and a bully by his own child - all be it, via his mother - to such an extent that legal advice given recommended ceasing all contact between father and son? Would you trust your ex and be happy for your child to continue to live with him?

YoureBeingASillyBilly Wed 06-Nov-13 16:38:42

You are coming across quite aggressively here. Its not necessary or helpful. I can see how horrible the situation is for you, your dd and her father. How i would feel is not relevant as you are the one in the situation. I have not said anything about your ex being wrong to feel how he does. I didnt mention him at all. I addressed the responsibility you seemed to be placing in a 10 year child for putting your and your dd feelings before his need to feel safe with his own father.

FairieDust Wed 06-Nov-13 16:53:03

Alice, I feel for you I really do. Going through the court route is such a hard slog and it's a huge strain on everyone (not only for the people directly involved) but for those in support too - I know from personal experience.

The ex stages a withhold of contact leaving your partner absolutely gutted, leaving you to pick up the pieces of what's left.

Can his sister shed anymore light on the situation? (if she is living at home). She may be able to give more of an insight of what exactly is going on as she can see it with her own eyes.

AliceinWonderhell Wed 06-Nov-13 17:03:21

I've given up trying to fathom what's going on - one minute the DSC are asking for our help, and begging us not to tell their Mum what theyve said or done, the next they're ignoring us, blaming DH for 'encouraging' them to think for themselves and criticising us for responding to their requests for help.

I've done family court before; when DH ex withheld contact completely. I refused to move in with him until it was sorted - in order to protect DD from the drama. But it means nothing. If DSS says he doesn't want to see his Dad, then DD and I are just innocent bystanders, caught in the crossfire.

DHs ex was right - it is better to stay single for the sake of the DCs - my DD is inevitably going to be hurt because I chose to get involved with a man with DCs.

AliceinWonderhell Wed 06-Nov-13 17:32:59

You are coming across quite aggressively here. Its not necessary or helpful.

It's very helpful to me - it means I don't say these things to my DH. I can control my actions, but I'm damned if I'm going to be told what I should feel about the situation by anyone.

YoureBeingASillyBilly Wed 06-Nov-13 17:38:54

I didnt tell you how to feel. I said you were coming across aggressively. Which is fine if you dont want advice and just need a rant but you should state that in the op so people dont waste time and leave themselves open to your aggressive responses.

AliceinWonderhell Wed 06-Nov-13 17:54:09

billy I haven't come here to argue - I've come here for support. Your "support" consisted of telling me that I seem to be holding him to the same emotional responsibilty .... as I would an adult and that really, he's got bigger things to worry about so I should put up and shut up.

Being rejected by someone you care about, partcularly if you are a child like my DD, hurts just as much whether the person doing the rejecting is an adult or a child.

I have absolutely no opportunity to speak to DSS, so there is no risk that I will communicate my feelings about this to him even through my actions - he and his Dsis have decided that right now, they don't want me or my DD in their life.
And quite probably, in a few months time, I'll be expected to welcome them back into my life with open arms, hold DSD hair back when shes drunk, mop DSS tears when he's upset, support them to talk to their Mum about things that frustrate them. And my DD will be expected to share her space, belongings and my time with them again. And neither of us will know whether they're going to be around for a week, a month, a year - who knows; it certainly insn't influenced by anything we do.

It's SHIT. It's unfair on DD and I'm finding it impossible to come to terms with. I blew it. I assumed that once a Court Order was in place, it would prevent this happening. It doesn't. A total waste of time. And now, we've got to do it all over again - and I have no idea why.

YoureBeingASillyBilly Wed 06-Nov-13 17:59:54

No i absoloutely did NOT say you should put up or shut up because that is not what i think at all!

My comment was urging you to reconsider the way you are viewing his actions.

AliceinWonderhell Wed 06-Nov-13 18:47:37

In what way should I consider DSS actions billy? And will viewing his behaviour diferently change the impact it has on DD and myself?

Even if I come to terms with the fact that the price of being involved with DH is that his DC's behave in this way and I must accept it and hide my feelings about it from him and them - it doesn't change the fact that the Family Court System, which is designed to put children at the heart of their decisions, has and will continue to fail to protect my DD.

I'm angry with myself; I should have understood that a Contact Order isn't actually enforcable. Lets be fair, if it was, there wouldn't be a need for all the support/activist organisations for NRP, would there?

YoureBeingASillyBilly Wed 06-Nov-13 19:01:28

View his actions as those of a 10 year old and not those of an adult who should be aware of the impact of his actions on his step family. He clearly needs to deal with whatever this issue is between himself and his father before even thinking about how it is making you feel.

And yes i do think that viewing his actions differently (ie no longer blaming him for choosing to stay away until he feels safe) will help you get on with actually helping your dd cope.

I think its clear you are considering your options wrt your marriage and what is best for dd. which of course is very wise but i dont think blaming the dss for you having to make some decisions will help you make the right decision. Remove the blame aspect and focus on what is best for your dd.

AliceinWonderhell Wed 06-Nov-13 20:09:19

billy I've re-read my posts and can't see where I've "blamed" DSS for this by staying away.

I've said I don't understand it, I've highlighted the impact it has had on me and DD, but nowhere have I even suggested that he is responsible - it is the Family Court processes I hold responsible for this; it does not provide the protection for all DC's that it claims to and in our case has created a situation where one child suffers due to the Court intervention (or lack of) regarding another.

YoureBeingASillyBilly Wed 06-Nov-13 20:44:01

ok- these are the comments I found to be blaming him. i'm just quoting to explain my comments more clearly and not to dispute your most recent post as I know sometimes quoting is used to 'prove' someone said something other than what they are now claiming. that's not what Im doing, just clarifying how I interpreted your posts and I accept if this is not how they were intended at all.

"he has told his Mum he's "scared" of talking to DH - despite having had a telephone conversation with him last week"
this seems like you think he isn't really scared at all. they way you have placed scared in quotation marks and stated that he spoke to his dad last week as if this proves he isn't scared.

" he expects everything to stay the same here and be able to dip in and out when he wants to."
he probably hasn't even thought through what his contact will be like let alone deciding to just 'dip in and out' he is 10. he will only be consumed with how it is at the minute. the dip in and out comment seems like a projection of what you see his(or his sister's?) behaviour as rather than what he has decided to do.

"I don't understand how DSS can just walk away from his life here without it bothering him - he has spent nearly a third of his life here over the last 4 years and yet suddenly he can walk away from it all - our pets, his belongings, his relationship with my DD and I.....and yet in a few months time, if the court orders contact resumes, or DSS decides he wants to, then he just expects to pick up where he left off and the rest of us have to fit in with that! "

walking away from a life is normally language reserved for describing the actions of an adult leaving their family/partner. at 10 years old he wont have made a decision never to see his father again. he will have made the decision not to see his father right now until he feels safe talking with him again. something has happened for him to feel scared to talk to him and dss needs to be assured by his father that his feelings are valid and that his dad is working to rectify the situation. dss is not the only one responsible for what has happened or when it gets 'fixed'. it seems he has reacted to something by deciding he isn't happy being at his dad's right now. this is a valid decision. he should be able to speak about how he is feeling and act if he doesn't feel comfortable somewhere. his parents should be supporting him in getting him back to a position where he does feel happy being there.

as I said I accept completely if my interpretation is wrong but I do feel some of the language you have used implies that you do direct (in your own head at least if not spoken in RL) some blame at ds and hold him to adult standards of responsibility.

theredhen Wed 06-Nov-13 21:26:23

Whilst I agree a 10 year old shouldn't be blamed in this situation, ultimately the situation the op and her daughter find themselves in is not their fault.

The ten year old does have an element of control here and even if he doesn't understand the repercussions of his actions, it is his actions that are causing this upset.

His parents and their inability to parent together, however created, have caused the boy to come to his decision and the court system is sorely lacking in my opinion in ensuring that all parties are supported, including the dss.

YoureBeingASillyBilly Wed 06-Nov-13 21:37:08

oh I absolutely agree redhen. please don't think I was implying that OP or her DD were at all to blame. they are not, and I can completely understand how this is affecting them and that OP's priority must be protecting her DD from any further fallout from what is happening.

and yes the 10 year old is the one who has made the decision not to be there for the time being but the factors that brought him to that decision I would be pretty sure are not down to him. something has happened either between him and his father or him and his mother or both to bring him to this decision and it is for this reason I do not agree that his actions are solely responsible for causing this upset (which he is clearly also experiencing btw)

AliceinWonderhell Wed 06-Nov-13 22:24:27

something has happened either between him and his father or him and his mother or both to bring him to this decision

...and it is this that is uppermost in my (and my exH) mind when we consider the safety of our DD.

What the hell has DH done that is so awful that his DS has given the impression that he is so scared of him that his DM, and his DM legal advisors believe that a court will agree what is best for him is to never have see his Dad again? No suggestion that the issue that has led to this can be rerspoolved, it requires an instant removal of the requirement for contact.

DH's ex is still considering applying to have DH's PR removed - something that is only considered in exceptional circumstances, and yet this is something that is apparently warranted based on DSS's degreee of distress.

Is it any wonder that I'm beginning to question my own judgement and sanity - what the hell have I missed?

And yet, despite the degree of fear that DSS is displaying in his DM presence, he presented as composed and comfortable enough for his headteacher to permit unsupervised contact between DH and DSS yesterday. So, have I missed anything?

TiredDog Wed 06-Nov-13 22:33:07

How very worrying for you Alice and I can see why you are in turmoil trying to understand it all.

Venting here is good because you do get to hear different experiences and different opinions as well as support. I think first and foremost you deserve support.

Billy's observation could be helpful if you see it less as an attack on you but more of an observation that it would be completely normal to feel some resentment towards your DSS because it is his behaviour causing this distress to you and yours. However DSS is obviously a child and probably is experiencing distress of his own from whatever cause. Remembering that could help you to make sense of that side of it

TiredDog Wed 06-Nov-13 22:35:21

I once posted a similar family turmoil situation and a person like billy came on and made me think about it from a very different pov. It was a bit confrontational but did help me understand what had become a really distressing and confusing situation

I was (like you) doing my best for everyone around me and coping with my own feelings.

AliceinWonderhell Thu 07-Nov-13 11:03:03

You're probably right - I think I am projecting DSD's motivations onto DSS.

DSD and I spent a lot of time together over the summer and she shared a lot of stuff with me about what was going on for her when she decided not to have anything to do with DH a few years ago; now DSS is making the same decisions, and saying the same things as DSD did at the time - I suppose its inevitable that I will assume he's motivated by the same things.

Like DSD, I doubt we'll really know what's going on for him until he's much older; if at all.

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