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Help! Daughter doesn't want to visit her dad(9 Posts)
Hi. I have recently split up with my husband after 14 abusive years. His rotten behaviour was mostly directed towards me, but over the last few years it was also aimed at the kids every now and then. He would avoid spending time with us and, without going into lengthy details, clearly has mental health issues which he refuses to address.
We left him in September. The ex has remained in the massive 5 bedroomed family home while we downsized to what could barely be called a 3 bedroomed house, but we don't care - we're just so happy to be out, and our little house is absolutely lovely. The kids - a 14 year old son and 11 year old autistic daughter - have settled into it very happily.
It was verbally agreed that the children would visit their father every Friday, staying over and returning on Saturday morning. My son has enjoyed these visits to his dad's, as his dad seems to be more attentive towards him since we left, more appreciative of him. However, my daughter refused to visit him, saying she didn't want to go back to the old house because "the house is sad without us" (she over-empathises about inanimate objects, not people). I suggested that maybe she could meet her dad for lunch somewhere in town, with or without her brother, but she didn't want that either because going anywhere with him "isn't fun" (she's got a point - he has a habit of being rude and confrontational towards waiters/just about everyone else).
Under pressure from the ex, I eventually forced her to visit him a few Fridays ago, and her tearful begging to stay with me broke my heart. She went, and I received a night of texts from her, as well as the ex and my son - apparently she refused to talk to her dad all night and wouldn't take her coat off.
Since then, she's refused point blank to go back. I've spoken to my ex (by text, I can't bring myself to talk to him in person) and explained how hard she found the visit and suggested that he takes her out instead, but he hasn't asked her to do this and I don't think she'd accept anyway.
To make matters worse, she's going to have to go there next week anyway, because it's my son's birthday and I'm taking him to his first gig. The thought of going there is already darkening her mood - when I dropped her at school, she seemed thoroughly depressed at the thought, repeating over and over that it's not fair, that her whole weekend will be ruined by having to go there.
In addition, the ex is threatening to stop paying her portion of child maintenance if she doesn't visit regularly.
What should I do? My question isn't being raised because of the child maintenance aspect (he's a monster for blackmailing me/her in this way), but because I want to know how important it is that she maintains some kind of relationship with him in the longrun.
The ex never fully adapted to fatherhood and has certainly never been able to cope with my daughter's autism (even though she's at the milder end of the spectrum) plus he's been vile to me in front of the kids, so it could be argued that it's not in her best interests to visit him anyway (particularly at that house). But will I be doing her a disservice by agreeing that she shouldn't visit him?
Any advice would be much appreciated! Please be gentle with me though - you may think I've done everything wrong (you may even be right), but getting myself and the kids out of the 'family' home has been a pretty horrendous ordeal and I've done the best I can in the circumstances. I'm still licking my wounds.
First thing to say is that child maintenance and contact are 3 entirely separate issues - he can’t withhold payment because he doesn’t see his child . DGS’s Dad tried that for a while and was shot down.
Also, why are you forcing a child to see a parent she clearly has a problem with?
My understanding is that once a child is 12 they start to have some say in how much contact they have (or don't have) with the NRP. Your DD is 11, so not quite there, but nearly. I would go down the route of strongly encouraging her, but not forcing her. If your ex makes a fuss, it's up to him to try and persuade her.
The children are listened too around age 9/10 so a court wouldn’t force her if she genuinely doesn’t want to go.
Contact the CMS and get a proper maintenance arrangement. As others have said, it’s two separate issues. He can’t shirk his responsibility just because he’s in the huff.
Oldbutstillgotit - I agree. I forced her once, hoping that she'd enjoy it once she actually got there (as her brother did), but that didn't happen. I don't want to do it again.
The impending night out with my son is the reason I posted on here - I really need and value some outside perspectives on this before I decide what to do.
Thanks for your response
LucileDuplessis - thanks.
"I would go down the route of strongly encouraging her, but not forcing her. If your ex makes a fuss, it's up to him to try and persuade her." - I think you're right x
Don’t damage your relationship with your daughter to try to please her father.
He doesn’t sound like a decent person and the maintenance tactic is pathetic.
If she doesn’t want to see him then don’t make her. Just don’t put obstacles in the way and if he wants to push for co fact he will have to go to court.
I don't force my children to see their father if they don't want to. I encourage them but I will not force.
If your daughter doesn't want to go on the gig night I would see if she has a friend to go for a sleepover with.
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