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to not let my estranged 'father' have contact with my future child?

(13 Posts)
cantreachmytoes Tue 16-Aug-11 18:38:49

This is long. I've tried to edit as much as possible, but can't cut it all out - sorry!

I am 8 months pregnant with my first child and wondering if it would be unreasonable to not establish any sort of contact with my father who will become a grandfather for the first time.

My parents divorced when I was 5, when I was 6 my father moved a few hundred miles away. When I was about 11, the moved to Europe.

He is not the most reliable/responsible person: holiday visits to him cancelled the day before we were due to go, random phone calls, random letters, birthdays randomly remembered, agreed maintenance paid when/if he felt like it/felt he could (he stopped working when I was 12 because, basically, it was too much like hard work and then bummed around with friends - he is NOT wealthy, he's more of an anti-establishment hippy). He lived overseas so there was no legal framework to enforce any agreements.

My mother was advised to not let my brother and I visit him overseas alone as it could not be guaranteed that he'd return us (I don't think he'd have 'taken' us, I do believe though that he'd have done something like keep us longer than agreed, indefinitely, until he got fed up of the responsibility, then send us back).

I saw him when I was 13, then 16 when he visited for 2 days. Then I didn't see him again until I was about 21. I was very sad about him leaving for a long time when younger, but in my teenage years, I just got fed up of his games and started to detach - not difficult when he wasn't making an effort to be in our lives!

He has also got another son, older than me, who I have never met. He arranged for this son to visit the UK (he also lives/d abroad, in Asia) when I was about 13, but DELIBERATELY didn't tell my brother or I, or arrange for us to meet him, even though this half-brother was visiting my father for two weeks, leaving three days before my brother and I visited for two weeks (one visit that wasn't cancelled!).

I haven't been in touch with him at all since I was 22, when I was relayed a message that my father had spoken to this half-brother who confirmed he hadn't received a letter I'd (supposedly) written to him. I don't know what my father was playing at, but I hadn't written any letter, hadn't even spoken to anybody about the HB for years and it turned out he had prostate cancer (aged mid 20s, so quite a toughie for him to deal with I imagine) and my father was trying to stir something up. I thought it was disgusting behaviour and made a complete psychological break.

BUT, now, I do not want to be unfair to my child. Technically, I could arrange, say once a year (because of where my father now lives and some family-in-law who live relatively nearby), for a meet up (absolute max 1 day) so my child gets to meet his grandfather and I can't be accused of denying access (by the child, my father's parents or anybody else). I realise this wouldn't exactly establish a proper relationship, but this he'll have with his other three grandparents and his two great grandparents (my father's parents), but that's as much as I could offer. I'm also not sure that my father would really make the effort to have a relationship with my child and I don't want him (child) to go through any of what I did.

On the back of all this, is it unreasonable (and selfish of me) NOT to arrange for my child to meet his grandfather once a year/at all?

I've heard that being a GP is an honour not a right, but it increasingly seems that GPs do have rights when it comes to grandchildren...

Thanks so much for reading this!

G1nger Tue 16-Aug-11 19:03:14

I think it's up to you. Although I think that in posting this here, you're still trying to make up your own mind. Don't do it for revenge for yourself, but do whatever you choose to do in the best interests of your child.

I come from the position whereby I'm going to deny my eldest sister any opportunity to have anything to do with my child after he's born. I'm doing this not because of how much she affected by childhood (and she did), but because of how she's behaved as a parent to her own children (who've been taken off her and placed with the grandparents). She is not someone that belongs anywhere near my child.

This is effectively what you need to decide on the basis of: why are you taking a particular course of action? Why not decide something else. I've always said that I can take pride in keeping my conscience clear in respect of my eldest sister. Will you be able to say the same in respect of the decision you're about to make?

Henwelly Tue 16-Aug-11 19:12:01

My children have nothing to do with my father and he has not & will not ever meet them.

I decided a long time ago he adds nothing to my life but stress so chose not to have any more contact - he would do the same with my children and therefore I dont feel at all selfish. DP views it differently but he knows I want nothing to do with him so doesnt bring it up anymore.

Think about what effects he could have on your children and would he bring any positives to their lives.

Caged Tue 16-Aug-11 19:22:56

My relationship with my father is very similar to yours including the unreliability and living abroad, about fifteen years ago I stopped speaking to him and he's never made any attempt to get in touch. When I was pg with dd1 I thought about it a lot, a family member told him he was a grandfather and he made a few noises about getting in touch with me. I don't know what I would have done if he had, but he didn't. Dd1 is 12 now and I have another two dcs they have never met my father, but they know he exists. Thinking about it they've never asked why he hasn't wanted to see them.

I don't think it's had a detrimental affect to them, but being in tocuh with him may have done. I didn't want my dcs to wake up on each birthday wondering if he'd send a card like I used to, or being promised huge presents that don't materialise. I feel that I've protected them.

RunningKatie Tue 16-Aug-11 19:41:31

My DD is now 6 months old, my father has seen her twice. She is my first, but the 8th grandchild born to him (my DSis has 3) and his wife (her DCs have 4 between them).

When she was born he asked me what we needed so we said X, he couldn't beg or borrow X from his DW's kids so texted me to tell me to buy it. So, I did and let him know it cost £60 but with 10% off had been £54, so a contribution would be appreciated. He sent a cheque for £50 because obviously the remaining £4 would have bankrupt him

I told my DP before she was born that I wasn't letting him let her down and play mind games with her like he continues to do with me. I walked away from a poor relationship with him when I was 22. I wish now that I'd stayed away.

JukeboxxBaby Tue 16-Aug-11 20:07:12

Congratulations on your pregnancy! Hope this last month is going well for you.

I was in pretty much the exact same situation this time last year. Here is my thread: www.mumsnet.com/Talk/relationships/978211-Estranged-Aunt-wanting-to-build-bridges-on-behalf-of-my - I had some good responses from the lovely people on here, which may help you too.

I have since had my baby, and have NOT contacted my father. He has heard he has a grandson, but has not made contact either. His loss. I considered what he would bring to the table. Would he enhance our lives? The life of my child? I didn't/don't think so. Yours sounds equally useless. IF they want a relationship with our children, I think they are the ones who need to do the legwork. Like yours, my child also has three present grandparents, who dote on him. I don't feel he is missing out on a fourth at all. If my father ever does make contact (doubtful), then I may let him have access to us, but he'd have to build some serious bridges. My expectations are low.

Anyway. Not sure if that helped, but you are not alone in your situation.
Good luck!

DinahRod Tue 16-Aug-11 20:16:16

I think it's only natural to ponder these things as you are about to bring a new baby into the world but you will end up hurt on behalf of your child when he didn't respond or inevitably let them down. You put up with a whole load of crap yourself but don't underestimate the mother-tiger emotions! You end up feeling so protective you guard who you let into their lives anyway.

Inertia Tue 16-Aug-11 20:19:23

TBH Can'treach, in your shoes I wouldn't bother trying to build a relationship that your father won't value. Once your baby arrives you will want to protect him or her from your father's mindgames and let-downs. Your father's rights to see his grandchild come a very very long way behind your child's rights to grow up with stable, secure family relationships.

If your father can show you that he wants to be involved in his grandchild's life and can demonstrate his commitment, he'll do it off his own back. (Or bat. What is that saying?)

DontGoCurly Tue 16-Aug-11 20:45:39

I'd say toxic parents make toxic Grandparents too OP. I wouldn't get too worried about his 'rights' -if he cared about his possible future Grandkids then he would gave made a proper effort with you his own child.

Angel786 Tue 16-Aug-11 20:56:58

Tough one. I had a rough ride with my own parents and sisters for 3 years si nce I got married but they've really turned a corner (for now!) since dd was born 8 months ago.

I'd say nothing would be better than one day a year tho. Children won't remember someone if they see them that infrequently and ultimately it's your child you're worried about.

Either way, good luck! X

Atropos Tue 16-Aug-11 21:03:02

Being a grandparent is as much a privilege as being a parent and can be one of the most joyous things in the world. Wantonly to prevent a grandparent who wishes to be part of a grandchild's life – assuming said grandparent is not some kind of serious issue, such as a serial criminal or drug dealer or the bitch from hell – would be hugely unkind. But grandparents have responsibilities too and these inevitably date back to how seriously they took their responsibilities as parents. Forgiveness for failures is always possible, but reality checks also matter.

cantreachmytoes Tue 16-Aug-11 21:46:22

Oh goodness! Thank you all so much! I seem to have friends with 'normal' relations with their parents and in their families in general and with this issue nobody can really relate, so their (well thought out and well-meaning) advice doesn't have the same depth.

I've never had any contact with anybody who had a father/family relation similar to mine and it is strangely wonderful to know that I'm really not alone in this. Although saying that, it's also sad to know that pain caused by DDs (that rhymes with duckhead dads, not abbr of darling/dear daughters wink) is out there with other people too.

My DH is behind me in whatever I choose (he has close relations with everybody in his family), though his thoughts are pretty much the same Dontgocurly's.

Ginger you're totally right in that I haven't decided. I guess it was more a "would I be being unreasonable" post! I like what you say about taking pride in my decision - you're right. I need to be 100% confident of what I go for.

Henwelly, Dinah and Caged good points about what he would bring to the child's life. One of my biggest concerns (which is perhaps only big if it's happened to you) is that I don't want my child to feel that horrible feeling on birthdays when a card/gift don't arrive and to think that perhaps it just late and will arrive tomorrow, only to realise that he's forgotten you.

Running, I'm sorry that you're back in that situation with him. I hope you find a way out! That 4 quid business, what on earth's the point? I guess it's proof that some things just don't change...

As for the one day a year Angel I guess it was kind of an insurance policy: nobody could accuse me of denying contact and for sure, he'd stand us up at some point, and then I could play martyr and stop the annual visits. Not exactly a healthy way to go about it though!

This issue about him making contact is a really good point Inertia and Jukeboxx (and I read your thread Jukeboxx - really helpful, thanks!). I'm going to be a new mum. I'm going to be super busy. This guy can get my contact details from either of his sisters, his niece and nephew (my cousins, who he is also not in touch with - his choice), or his parents whenever he wants. He is not in touch. In fairness, he did send an email about 6 years ago to my brother and I saying, "Look, there's this new thing called the Internet, NOW we can keep in touch!" to which my brother and I responded with silence, because there have also always been phones and pen, paper and ink and he's been utterly crap with both of those and we didn't want to get back into the cycle again - AND it wasn't like he was offering an apology for anything anyway! If he really wants contact with his grandchild, I won't stop it, but I think he's going to have to be the one that initiates and maintains it.

Now I think about it, it's a little crazy that I'm worrying about what I should do in this situation: he's the one who needs to make the effort!

Thank you again, all of you, for posting here. It really has made a difference to not feel a) alone or b) selfish!

JukeboxxBaby Tue 16-Aug-11 22:16:13

You are absolutely not alone! There are loads of absent parents and loads of abandoned children.
Actually becoming a parent myself last year made me all the more appalled at how anyone can walk away from their child/ren, and just affirmed my view that he is a wastrel who isn't worth my time, effort or consideration. I really do think it's his loss - his loss knowing me (I am awesome! smile), his loss at never having met my DH, his loss on knowing my brothers, and any and all grandchildren. My child is an absolute delight (ok, I would say that!), and I just think my father has made the biggest mistake walking out on his family. I actually feel no loss - it's been so so long that he has been absent, it's mostly all I've known.

If they ever do make the effort, realise their mistakes, take responsibility, apologise, etc, then we can consider what we will do, but until then, I am very very happy with my family, and I am sure you will be too.

Enjoy your last month, and good luck with the birth (and everything afterwards!). Amazing times await you.

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