OH has been estranged from child but now wants to regain contact(23 Posts)
Please bear with me-this is a long one. I'd also be grateful for non-judgemental comments if possible :-)
I met my BF 5 years ago and on our second date he told me that he had a little girl of 8 that he didn't see. He got upset when I asked him why, but assured me that it wasn't because he had been violent or anything, just that the relationship between his and his ex was intolerable so he thought it was best for her if he walked away as he didn't want her to grow up in a war zone. I had allot of mutual friends with him that were pleased we were together, and my instinct told me that he was a good man despite this-and he is- so I accepted it, although I have always wished it was different. He also paid over £200 a month regardless of contact, always has.
In the meantime we have gone on to have our own children, and over time I have learned more. I have been very careful not to push as he is very deep and generally shuts down on me and although he has always said he misses his girl, he thinks her mum has probably done a brilliant job and she wouldn't want to see him anyway. After they split up, his mother died and he had a breakdown so I see grief played a massive part in the original decision, but it haunts him occassionally. Sometimes he goes into dark, black moods where he cannot cope with what he has done and he doesn't feel that he should be allowed to be happy with us where he feels guilty. Even though these moods have occured, we are very very strong as a family unit and he is a fantastic father to our children.
In the time we have been together, his ex has tried to cause problems for us indirectly. Unfortunately, we have some mutual friends and her husband is best friends with one of my friends husbands. Firstly she is in touch with his family-who he has little contact with due to the things that happened during his breakdown-and told them that I wouldn't attend anything that she was, and that we had stopped paying through the CSA. Both of these things were untrue and upsetting but I have always maintained to have no reaction incase our children do eventually want a relationship, and I don't want to be the wicked stepmother! All in all, it hadn't been a problem for me, however I was uninvited to our mutual friends birthday party half an hour before it started because she didn't want me there. However she wanted my little boy to go so she could meet him, which I felt was strange. I was heavily pregnant at the time and very upset by it, it also caused massive problems with my BF who felt as if he had failed to protect me and our children.
But we got through this, again I gave no reaction so that the path was always clear-or as clear as it can be-if a relationship ever did develop.
This weekend he went out and came home very chatty. He told me that he thinks about his child all of the time, and he won't ever feel complete without her. She is 13 now. He set up a Facebook some time ago, and sent a friend request to his lg. He was blocked. At the same time, I was blocked by her and her mother (I hadn't ever sent messages or anything, but she would always comment when I commented on mutual friends posts on FB and it stopped for a while so I had a peek.)
I told him gently that this wasn't the way he should go about things and he needed to stand up more to the line than trying to add her on FB as he has explaining to do. He then pulled away saying she probably doesn't want to be disrupted at school so he probably can't have a relationship with her anyway, at least until she is 16. Unfortunately at the moment we were trying to discuss things further my baby woke up and he fell asleep.
I feel he will regret not at least giving her a chance to obtain contact if she wants to and I am aware it is about the childs-I sound cold, I'm not, just trying to not emotionally confuse things!-wants and needs.
We haven't discussed things further but I am just wondering what way he could go about obtaining access if it was possible? How does it work legally? I have a feeling his ex will not be that cooperative too.
If anyone can advise please do. I would really appreciate it if people can spare judgement-he is living with what he is done as are my family :-) x
I'm not in anyway experienced in this kind of situation but a couple of things occurred to me - I think you were right to point out the FB approach was crass & inappropriate. At 13, any contact, if it was an option, would be very much down to his DDs choice. I think your DH needs to speak to someone about how he is dealing with this & what he's hoping to achieve - he obviously has some significant life events tied up in his choice not to play a part in his DDs life, but he also made that choice to walk away, and needs to own it all the same. If this was only about his choices & situation then you could probably leave him to figure it out himself, but there is his DD in this, who has been affected by his decision & I think he needs to realise that one consequence of that decision is he may never have a relationship with his DD as a result of that decision. It sounds to me as though he will need some help/support/counselling to come to terms with that. I think once he's able to do that, and developed an insight & understanding as to how his DD has coped with/processed his rejection of her, then he might well be able to view things/approach the possibility of establishing contact with the sensitivity that his DD would need, to give him any chance of establishing some kind of relationship with her.
13 is a really difficult stage in his DD's life, she may well be happy with her step dad filling the role your DH hasn't, and if she does agree to some form of connection or contact, it might not be the sort of relationship your DH has in mind when he's spending all this time thinking about her.
I think it sounds as though your DH has genuine regret, and I have a tinge of sympathy for someone who has woken up to the realisation that the decision to walk away was, with hindsight, the wrong one. But my sympathy is limited, given his initial crass attempt at contact. He may not like it, but the least he owes here is an upfront, honest discussion with his ex, to convince her that he would bring something positive to his DDs life & not drama/hassle/turmoil/further rejection if things don't pan out the way he'd hoped. If he's not ready for that kind of discussion, then frankly he's no chance of getting anywhere with this. If he's 'too deep' to have that sort of conversation then, in his ex's shoes, I'd not be happy to let him anywhere near my DD because she'd need to be able ask questions & get answers, not silence & reluctance to discuss the why etc. of how he came to walk away from being her dad.
Absolutely disgusting that he sent his 13 year old abandoned daughter a Facebook request. What a creep. If he wants to find out about her he should write a letter to her mum.
If I were you I would take tips from his ex, he could just as easily do the same to your children. She is doing what she can to protect her child from this awful man. It makes me feel quite sick to read all this softly softly approach from you towards such a cruel man. Try and imagine what he has put his child and her mother through. You may be in there position one day.
Thank you for your response-I agree he should speak to someone. I don't think he expects a full on relationship-he knows he has made a huge mistake so I think he would be happy with any sort of contact really. I think he is so scared of rejection that the only way he felt he could contact her was by facebook, but as a mum I know this isn't the right thing to do.
Quietly suggests-he is able to put him children before himself and is a fantastic father. I think it is the initial contact breakthrough, he has been foolish he knows that but he doesn't know what to do so I think in a moment of desperation he went down this route.
Lunar1-thankfully you aren't me. People make mistakes all the time, experience and time means they don't make the same mistakes again. He was young-it's not an excuse but I know I think differently now to when I was 20! And I'm asking if he should write a letter to his mum, that's the point of the post isn't it? It makes me sick that people can judge an entire personality and character from one post, because not everything is black and white but me explaining this is not likely to make any difference to the way you think. He's had mental health issues too, and I haven't been reactionary or spoken about the ex in a bad light. I understand she must have been in a terrible position but it does take two, and my concern, as is his, is the child now and what is best for her which is why I am trying to find the most least disruptive way of going about things!
He can't have been that young if the child was eight when he left her. He was an adult. Young is a teenager,, there is a difference between Young and immature, and given his latest attempt on fb is say he hasn't grown up yet.
Op what I would say is protect yourself and your children, because you are with someone who has no regard for his children, and if he leaves you he will leave them and hold you responsible.
Yes, we all make mistakes, I'd say having children with a man who has already abandoned one family is probably one...
Wannabe, not really constructive. I'm really happy with my choices-to say I've made a mistake and my children are a mistake is also massively cruel. If you think I'm an idiot and didn't consider any of this originally you are very wrong. I'm not naive. I don't need to mull over the past, I've explained it, I'm trying to find a way forward so that all of our children can have a relationship later should they want too. There have been huge repercussions by his decision. My whole family are aware of the situation and love him all the same, as do my friends so I'm not going to apologise to a stranger online for my life choices.
OP, you say his DD was 8 when you and he got together. But how old was she when he left her and when he last saw her? Is she likely to remember him living with her and her mum?
I didn't say your children were a mistake I said that having children with a man who has abandoned one family already is quite likely a mistake although you of course won't see it that way unless he leaves you, which hopefully he won't.
The reality is that there is likely no way back from this. The man walked out on his child. Judging from your op she still lives locally so it's not as if they lived too far apart for him to be able to see her etc. Added to that he then moved on to a new relationship and has had more children, who the ex has most likely seen him out with which will make things only worse.
The ex hasn't made things difficult for you, ultimately you are facilitating your dp having no relationship with his existing child while having more with you, how would you feel if your dp abandoned your children and you had to see him with a new family? you'd be a tad bitter about that, no? it's perfectly reasonable that she wouldn't want to be somewhere you were, and given that it seems she has maintained friendships with some of your dp's friends it's understandable that they would put her feelings first given what your dp put her through.
Possibly the only saving grace here is the fact that the ex wanted to meet your ds, possibly because she too would want her dd to have a relationship with her siblings in the future. And perhaps this is the angle your dp could take when approaching her about his daughter.
I realise that you didn't want judgements op but the reality is that there are no excuses for abandoning a child for over five years and then going on to have more children. If he'd regretted abandoning the last child he wouldn't in all conscience have wanted more. A breakdown is understandable, but he's past that now and has done nothing to resolve his relationship with his daughter.
He is responsible for this, and rightly or wrongly by excusing his behavior you have facilitated it.
It sounds a very difficult situation. I think you need to get your DP to talk a bit more about what happened at the time. Tell him you need some closure and to have a way of conceptualising what happened. Is it that he was too young to face up to his responsibilities and was cowardly, and regrets it now? Or did something more complex happen? Why do his own family not speak to him? I think it sounds like he loves you and like you have a solid family. I know it can seem complex when you're in the middle of things but if I were you I would try to keep your home and children happy and simply make your main message that his older daughter would be very welcome any time. That's clear and gives him a solid message to do as he feels best. Even if he was a complete shit all those years ago and abandoned them cruelly he may have changed now and have a lot of regrets. You don't need to judge him in retrospect.
I think you need to gauge how serious he is about being in contact with his daughter again. I always say I want to go back to school but deep down, I don't. Does he say it to make him feel better at the moment or does he really, really want movement? Has he tried to find out how she's doing? Has he asked your friend or the relatives about his daughter? Is she well and safe?
If he's serious, then seek out legal advice and map out a plan. tension has given great advice.
He should worry less about rejection when she's faced with his rejection the last 5 years.
I think you also need to help him perceive that by abandoning her so far he has made it that her mother really is her primary parent, and as such the mother needs to be approached first if he is going to get back in contact. He needs to respect her and ask her permission/advice.
OP didn't say he left when his dd when she was eight, she said he told her he had an 8yr old dd that he didn't see.
As badly as your partner has acted, I think his ex also had a part to play in this - telling hurtful lies to family members and mutual friends hardly paints her in a good light either.
It sounds like your DP has some mental health issues, especially if he had a breakdown previously. I think it would be a good idea for him to seek some counselling before trying to initiate contact with his DD, get him mentally prepared for what may happen next.
I have been in this situation .... as the mother of a "father" who showed up after 10 years wanting contact... only one thing to say you really need to hear her side of the story ... bet its a bit different from his
* handywoman* it doesn't really matter what either "side" of the story is, surely?
What matters is that the DC has an opportunity to build a relationship with her Dad in a secure and safe environment. It has to be assumed that the OPs DP is genuine in his desire to be available should his DD want to get to know him, is willing to take things at her pace, and is safe to be around.
If any of those things are in doubt, then the DCs mum can and should take steps to protect her.
But regardless of how the OPs DP has behaved in the past, it is the DC who has the rights, not him.
To look at it from the DD's side - When I was 2 my mum and 'real' dad split and he had nothing to do with me from then on. Other than randomly turning up at our house a few times to see me and the odd visit to his house (I was told to go, I don't think I asked to) up til I was about 14. I then decided I wanted nothing to do with him. I had a dad (my step dad) who is still my dad as far as I'm concerned. My real Dad was never consistent in seeing me and never paid anything by way of maintenance for me. I do not miss him, I do not know him. He hasn't tried to contact me since. He knows I am now married and probably has heard that I am pregnant too, as I am in contact with some of his side of the family still - cousins etc. He is nothing to me and I don't want him.
There is probably another side to this story, but I don't know it, so obviously I feel this way - your DP's DD may feel the same.
I would say your DP needs to tread carefully here. It's been a long time since he's had contact with his DD and the best way to get it would be through her mother. Not facebook. Facebook was a terrible idea, but you know this.
I don't necessarily agree that he's this awful person, he is probably a bit scared himself, but he needs to put these feelings aside and concentrate on how his DD must be feeling. She probably hears things about him that may or may not be true, but will most certainly be clouding her judgement and at 13 she has the right to say she doesn't want to see him - your DP needs to be prepared for this.
It's quite late in her life now, but if he maybe writes to her / her mum and reaches out, he may get somewhere. It might take years though, and he must steel himself for this. He needs to be consistent and not give up at the first hurdle.
The DDs mum doesn't sound the nicest person, asking for you to be uninvited etc, when you are nothing to do with her really. So again, there's a stumbling block.
If your DP is serious about building and maintaining a relationship with his child, he needs to be prepared to put in the graft for it and not give up. His DD wont particularly care about how much effort he's putting in, but lack of effort will be noticed straight away.
Good luck. You sound like a decent person I hope it works out for you and your family.
I think you need to protect yourself. It takes a very particular type of person who can leave his child. Think about that please - he left his child. I can't abide the 'I thought she'd be better off without me' crap. How weasly. There is no reason at all, ever to completely, purposely lose contact with your child. None. And to contact her by FB? Speechless. Get your finances in order and make sure you are not dependant on this man. You can't rely on him. As for the ex making your lives difficult...is that a joke?
He may be a good parent to your children but he hasn't been to his DD. The Fb things was creepy and I think I'd be annoyed to if I was his ex. After all she has been raising their daughter alone for years. It must be hard watching an ex walk away from his own flesh and blood and start a family with someone else. Especially knowing what he had done. Try to see it from his exs point of view. It could be you one day.
I'm sorry if this came across as harsh but I don't feel sorry for your OH. I feel sorry for his DD. As for not wanting you at a mutual friends party - I don't blame the ex. You're playing happy families... maybe it was the.mutual friend who didn't want you both their because feels sorry for the woman raising his kid, alone.
I have a similar situation how what did you do first. My ex was very violant and I kept quiet it's been 5 half years since seeing my baby girl who is now 8 any advice would be very appreciated I'm nervouse because of the time and what happened
We haven't discussed things further but I am just wondering what way he could go about obtaining access if it was possible?
It isn't about him obtaining access. By making the choice he made, even though he now regrets them, he has forfeited any moral rights on a relationship with her.
My view is that he shouldn't do anything at all until he accepts the above. The only chance he now has of building a relationship with her is if SHE wants it, end of.
It sounds like she has a father, her step-dad and therefore might experience no interest or need whatsoever of getting to know your OH. The fact that guilt is eating him inside and/or that he now feels ready to consider meeting her is totally irrelevant. She holds the strings and nothing he does will change this.
Therefore the only thing he can do is write to her via her mother, make it clear that he is aware that he has no right to expect his daughter to want to know him as he now wishes himself, however, he would be grateful if the mum would inform her that would SHE ever wish to do so, he would be happy to arrange it AND you are fully supportive of him doing so. That's all he can do. Unfortunately, there are decisions we make in life that are not reversible. In his case, there is a small chance that it might be, but only small. He needs to learn to accept that and live with it.
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