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Comments please on this letter to XP

(48 Posts)
OptimistS Wed 17-Nov-10 22:37:15

Hi all. Just after some objective opinions before I send this letter. So I don't get accused of AIBU by stealth and so you can judge for yourselves whether I'm over- or under-reacting, here's lots of some background information:

Left DP when DTs were 4 months old due to domestic abuse. DC will be 4 years old in 2 months.

Last weekend there was an incident that I heard but did not see (I was in the adjoining room). My DS was clearly messing about trying to kick his dad, which I wouldn't expect his dad to tolerate as I wouldn't either. However, after two warnings to stop, I then heard a soft thud and my DS came running to me really really upset. I asked his dad what had happened as DS was too upset to talk, and XP said DS was trying to kick him and as XP tried to stop him DS fell over and hurt himself. It sounds very believable but that's not how it sounded to me. However, as I didn't see it and DS wasn't talking, I had no choice but to let it go at the time. The next day, however, DS told me that "daddy kicked me and it really hurt". I asked DS if it as an accident or on purpose and he said "on purpose". I told DS that I would tell daddy off because it was very naughty for adults to hurt children on purpose. I am very pleased that he has taken this on board because he has told his childminder about the incident in a way that makes me confident that he understands that violence is unacceptable and he doesn't have to tolerate it, but that's an aside... Back to the issue, this is the third incident I have heard but not seen that hasn't felt quite 'right' if that makes sense.

Additional info: XP has four children from other relationships that he doesn't see and has never paid any maintenance for. Incidentally, I have a strong relationship with all of them.

Anyway, now you've waded through all that, here's the letter:

Dear XP,

I have several concerns about your visits to X and X. As previous discussions have not resolved anything, I am hoping that this letter will explain in clear terms what I expect.

When we first separated, I made it very clear that you were welcome to see X and X as often as you wanted. Despite this, you have chosen to limit your visits to four hours once a week on a weekend. That is very much your choice and not due to any obstruction on my part.

Twelve months ago, I strongly suggested to you that you needed to make more effort with X and X and take them out to places by yourself. I told you that I felt that as long as your visits were always in my presence, you would never develop a meaningful relationship with them on your own terms. You have taken them to the park by yourself seven times in this time period. All other trips out have been at my instigation and with me involved. This has led me to believe that you have no real interest in having anything other than a superficial relationship with your children. The fact that you have three other children who you have no contact with whatsoever only reinforces this view. While the relationship continues at this level, I see no purpose in you coming down every week. If you are happy with things as they are, then once a fortnight or once every three weeks is adequate.

If you wish to see X and X more often than once every few weeks, I expect you to make more effort when you visit. If money/weather does not permit an outing, I expect you to engage in an activity with them in the house. This will not include watching TV, which is not interactive in anyway and does nothing to develop your relationship with them. Please do not bother to come down when you are very tired or hungover as spending the afternoon nearly falling asleep on the sofa simply sends X and X the message that they are not particularly important to you.

As I have no choice but to work full-time (partly because you have never paid any maintenance), you need to accept that my weekends are special to me. In the past there have been a few occasions (less than two per year) where I have cancelled your visits because I have been away. As I feel that with things as they are currently, X and X will get more out of coming away with me than they will staying at home to have a visit from you, there will be more occasions where we go away for the weekend in future. I will always give you advance notice and we can rearrange another visit on a different day/time if you choose. If I become convinced that you are making more of an effort with X and X and that your visits are very special to them, I will make more effort to avoid activities that require me to be away on Sundays.

As you stormed out the door the last time we discussed this, I will reiterate here that failing to turn up for visits with no prior notice is unacceptable. If you wish to cancel or rearrange a visit, that is absolutely fine, but I expect to be informed beforehand. I will consider anything else to be deeply disrespectful towards our children.

You must also accept that as visits are taking place in MY home, I can decide who is and who isn't welcome in my home at any given time. It is unreasonable for you to expect me to 'ban' other people from my home simply because you are there. You were given the opportunity to take X and X out so that they weren't distracted by other people being around, but you chose not to do this.

When we separated the social worker called in by the police advised me not to let you have contact, but I defended you and said that you were no risk to X and X as you had never been violent with children (except for X, when she was 17, which I then felt were due to extenuating circumstances). However, since then there have been a couple of incidents with X, including one on Christmas Day 2008 when she was 7 where you pushed her so hard she fell off her chair, and another last year where you pulled her hair allegedly in jest but so hard you made her cry! Then there was the incident with X, at the age of 10, at X and X's Naming Ceremony, where you kicked her so hard on the leg you grazed her skin and left a large bruise. There is also the time you attacked X earlier this year, when he was 16. To me, all of these incidents demonstrate that you are prepared to get physically rough with children. Unfortunately, after the incident last Sunday (which is not the first occasion where I have felt you have been 'heavy handed') I feel there is now enough room for doubt for X and X’s safety while in your care that I am no longer happy for you to take our children out by yourself.

If I feel that things are improving significantly, I will reassess the situation. I would love you to have a special relationship with X and X. However, their emotional and physical wellbeing comes before your feelings, and therefore the onus is on you to demonstrate that things have got better, not for me to give you a chance to prove it.

If I see no obvious improvement, I will have no choice but to stop visits in their current form, though I will never stop contact completely unless there are exceptional circumstances. However, unless you are prepared to make more effort, I am no longer prepared to give up half of my weekend and the use of my home facilitating these visits. You can either visit less often, or you can find a contact centre, or you can make your visits worthwhile and spend time properly engaging with your children. The choice is yours.

Yours sincerely
OptimistS

So, what do you think? TIA.

ihaveacroakybaby Wed 17-Nov-10 22:50:52

i think its very reasonable in tone but understand that you are within your rights to cut ocntact altogether if you become uncomfortable with the situation.

ChequeredFlag Wed 17-Nov-10 23:00:48

You contradict yourself, it seems; early in the letter you say 'If you wish to see X and X more often than once every few weeks, I expect you to make more effort when you visit. If money/weather does not permit an outing, I expect you to engage in an activity with them in the house.' and then later say 'I feel there is now enough room for doubt for X and X’s safety while in your care that I am no longer happy for you to take our children out by yourself.'

Good luck!

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 17-Nov-10 23:03:03

It is overly reasonable.
The problem that you have does not concern your job, his other children, the fact that he doesn't take your DCs out or what pre-conditions he imposes on your home during his visits.

Your problem is an abusive and controlling man who you suspect is physically abusing your children. Something that you have witnessed previously.

Your letter should just say, I suspect you of abusing our children and no longer want you in my house or with our children unless it is held in a contact centre.

But you already know this. Listen and trust yourself on this. Then act.

I would keep the letter as short as possible as he will use any other details to hurt you and try to distract you from doing the right thing.

OptimistS Wed 17-Nov-10 23:05:59

Thanks croaky (hope the name no longer applies BTW). I'm playing the long game here, hence the long letter rather than simply stopping things. I want to give him the chance to respond and to have my perspective on paper in case things ever get to court in the future. While I am within my rights to stop contact, sadly the law will undoubtedly say that I have to allow it as it cannot be proven that he has ever hurt the children. I need to show that I have been ultra-reasonable and tried everything if I am to stand a chance of getting a judge to see things my way.

I don't actually want to stop contact as I don't want my DC growing up with abandonment issues. However, neither do I want them hurt. Maybe I am being naive to think the two are not mutually exclusive? I hope not. I hope that after the initial kick off once he receives this letter he will simply fall into the pattern of sending a text once every few/several weeks and coming down for a visit. That way, the DC will know who their father is and have a relationship with him on a superficial level, but they won't be heavily emotionally invested in him and will be minimally influenced by his morals and behaviour. Or is that a naive approach as well? Sigh....

OptimistS Wed 17-Nov-10 23:08:08

Wow. Loads of other responses while I typed that. Thanks guys. Dione, you are probably right. This is the sort of feedback I need. Going into too much detail and getting distracted is a fault of mine.

GypsyMoth Wed 17-Nov-10 23:22:25

Too much detail

Would he ever take you to court??

mamas12 Wed 17-Nov-10 23:25:30

Far too much information.
He could twist anything to suit his own means there.
Keep it shorter, more succinct, along the lines dione said.
In other words just tell him hwat you want to happen from now on.

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 17-Nov-10 23:29:42

If he took you to court you just tell them the truth and describe the incident that you have described here. Tell them that you want your children to have a relationship with their father, however you are very concerned and want it to happen within the safety of a contact centre.

If he wants to see them, he still gets to see them, just properly supervised and away from you and your home.

SparklingExplosionGoldBrass Wed 17-Nov-10 23:36:11

Look, this complete fucking dick doesn;'t care about the children and probably the only reason he turns up is so that he can be in your house and harass you. Now he is violently assaulting your DC.
Tell him to go and fuck himself, all future contact will be through a contact centre and if he doesn;'t turn up it's his loss.
WHY have you been so patient with this waste of oxygen? Obviousy the mothers of his other DC have stopped trying to make him behave like a reasonable human being and they and their DC are undoubtedly better off without contact - he's not gone to court and enforced it, has he? He won't do that to you and your DC either. He just wants to jerk you around and have people to abuse.

SparklingExplosionGoldBrass Wed 17-Nov-10 23:37:01

Actually, all your letter needs to say is 'YOu are no longer welcome in my house, other arrangements for contact are being made.'

whiteandnerdy Wed 17-Nov-10 23:39:49

I'll thow in my tuppence worth ... the relationship between the parent and a child is just that their relationship. You can't enforce it, it's theirs to f**k up, all you can do is offer your help and support in getting it right. The issue is do you think that your children are at risk of abuse. If so identify the this risk and what safeguards you feel are required to mitigate any such risk, while allowing parent and child to have the releationship they choose.

GypsyMoth Wed 17-Nov-10 23:46:46

Stop worryingabout what the courts MAY think of you or do........ And start thinking if your dc who are at risk here!!!!!

Never mind the 'long game' ffs!!!

He hurt your child...... And you want him to come TAKE THEM OUT?!??!?

hairytriangle Thu 18-Nov-10 07:31:48

It's way too long. He will take it as a tirade of criticism. If you think he is physically abusing your dc that is the issue you need to raise.

Snorbs Thu 18-Nov-10 08:07:50

I can understand why you want to get this all down on paper but, honestly, I think it's way too long. You really don't need anything more than "I have reason to believe that you have been violent towards our son. This is absolutely unacceptable. I will be making arrangements so that contact can be maintained in a safe environment."

Don't give him choices. Let him ask.

RealityBomb Thu 18-Nov-10 08:16:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mrsbigw Thu 18-Nov-10 08:31:05

What an awful situation for you to find yourself in. TBH though I think you need to think carefully before you send that letter as it is contradictory. If you are concerned about your children's wellbeing when they are with XP it may not be a good idea to encourage contact?

IMHO you need to discuss your situation with someone who understands DV, maybe a womens aid worker as who will help you decide the safest way to progress so that you aren't giving him mixed messages.

I know that part of us always wants our XP's to start being a great parent but the fact that you split because of his violence shows that he is not reasonable & will not put the kids or how you feel first so there isn't much you can say to him by letter or otherwise that he will take notice of.

Please be careful as when you are used to an individual you can underestimate their dangerousness, the fact that the police referred you to a social worker because of him speaks volumes.

mrsbigw Thu 18-Nov-10 08:37:04

One more thing, & I am really not trying to worry you but be aware that if you allow him contact when you suspect he is mistreating the kids it can backfire on you. For example if your son got a bruise from where his dad kicked him & school or a HV find out about this they will want to know why you are still allowing contact & why you haven't reported it knowing XPs history of violence.
If XP wants to ruin his relationship with the kids thats his loss but don't let him ruin yours too.

Hope that doesn't sound preachy it is said with the best intentions for you.

CandlestickMaker Thu 18-Nov-10 08:56:38

Far too much information. It's not clear what the purpose of the letter is, IMO.

From what I gather, there have been numerous instances of violence directed at your children. There is minimal contact and he doesn't really do much with the kids?

If this is the case then I would advise contact through a contact centre only, if anything.

Is there a reason he doesn't pay maintenance?

As others have said, it's not possible for you to determine the relationship that your ex has with your DC, but it is your responisibility to make sure they are safe and secure.

OptimistS Thu 18-Nov-10 10:32:56

Hi everyone. Thanks for the feedback. It's been useful. You are all right about too much information and that I need to be more succinct and just state what will happen in future as I want it. I will post more later to let you know how I've changed the letter as things have developed a little bit, but am a bit busy right now.

However, some people seem to have misunderstood a few things (probably my fault for not being clearer). XP has NOT been violent towards my children in the past, with the exception of this recent kicking incident (which was not witnessed and left no marks, otherwise I would have had him arrested there and then and stopped contact completely) which is why I am doing all this - to protect my children. And I do NOT want XP to take children out and be on his own with the children.

cestlavielife Thu 18-Nov-10 10:33:57

hi optimists agree with those saying it is far too much detail - and far too much "i feeel... I believe.... if you xxx then xxx i consider...i expect you to....

stick to hard facts:

" I suspect you of abusing our children and no longer want you in my house or with our children unless it is held in a contact centre.

or "after the incident on xxx day I can no longer allow you in my house to see the DC. contact needs to be supervised elsewhere by an adult we can both agree to or at a contact centre"

your concerns about abandonment etc are naive - the issue here is abuse.

the issue of whether the takes them out or stays in or lets them watch tv -that is totally irrelevant and if he did just ahng out at home it's not a welfare issue. but potential violence is. you have to take that seriously above all other concerns.

as i think you know from pvs convos - i've been thru contact centre etc - things did progress this summer to unsupervised but when my dd said in half term "he pulled my hair" - well that was it. supervised contact or none (he has chosen none - his choice - but DD said herself "it's better without him" - is sad to hear that said about their dad but you know i think they jsut fine.

far better "abandonment" than fear and being focrecd to be around someone who might subtly or unsubtly harm them.

the bit sin your letter where you say "you had never been violent with children (except for X,..." well that says it all really - we do want to ebleive our ex's will put thie DC first...but when the evidence is in fornt of you - you ahve to take it seriously.

sorri you going thru this but i do think it best you cut contact except for sueprvised by someone else and taking place outside your home - and wait for him to take it to court.

record and write down the incident, have the childminder confirm in writing or email what your DS said and take it further.

do you have a solicitor already?

you could try a mediation session to talk things through but i would feel very uneasy about continuing contact, as you ahve seen even with you in next room things can go wrong. it isnt fair on your dc to put them in that situation.

I do sympathise, i do know how hard it is but you relaly need to talk to someone about this and take this incident very seriously - the fact he told childminder and choildminder can confirm is good - un terms of you feelign supproted ins topping contact - but you should also be aware that if she has had full child protection training she may be already informing SS anyway.... you can get in there first and stop contact.

please please do not send any letter or email to him other than very factual and to the point. dont offer him chances and ways and means to improve.

and discuss with a solictior first before you send him any contact other than to elt him know you stopping contact til you get to the bottom of this and can arrange supervised contact.

cestlavielife Thu 18-Nov-10 10:36:01

x posted - as you say you do not want him to take them out -

the reasons for this?
surely they are enough to go for supervised contact in contact centre?

but longer term you cant continue to supervise in your place - because you are not supervising as he is alone with them eg in next room and you dont know what is going on....

SuePurblybiltByElves Thu 18-Nov-10 10:41:48

Agree that you're contradicting yourself- he either has the option to take them out alone or he doesn't.

To be honest I would look at that letter as therapy and keep it in a drawer. Then write to him saying that contact in your house is no longer convenient and that unsupervised contact is not an option. Therefore you have arranged for contact at a contact centre/supervised contact via your social worker. Keep it brief and don't mention his other children or how you feel. Suggest that this happens from the New Year and make plans for Christmas clear. That'd be my advice anyway.

elastamum Thu 18-Nov-10 10:45:42

He assulted your child. Please do not let him have unsupervised contact. If you can afford to get a solicitor to help you draft an appropriate letter and either cut contact until you can make suitable supervised arrangements or move it to a contact centre.

If you can, get support and advice from womens aid.

If he kicks up a fuss get a statement from the childminder if she will co operate and call in the police.

cestlavielife Thu 18-Nov-10 10:52:52

read the evidence you prsent again:

"when she was 7 where you pushed her so hard she fell off her chair, and another last year where you pulled her hair allegedly in jest but so hard you made her cry! Then there was the incident with X, at the age of 10, at X and X's Naming Ceremony, where you kicked her so hard on the leg you grazed her skin and left a large bruise. There is also the time you attacked X earlier this year, when he was 16."

this man is violent to children. has he ever addressed this?

he has shown it in the past and he has shown it now with your dc. take it as the sign you need to cppltely stop contact otehr than supervised.

(and no, people arent violent all the time - but it only take sone incident to scar a child emotionally....)

no unsupervised cotact.
supervised outside your home by other people in a contact centre.

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