Absent father makes contact after 9 years.(14 Posts)
My 11 year old dd received a letter out of the blue from her Father after a 9 year absence. Have been through a rollercoaster of emotions - the poor child is completely wrung out!
Has anyone been through a similar situation and, if so, could offer any advice on how to proceed/support her?
No direct experience but didn't want to leave your post unanswered.
How does your DD feel and why hasn't he been in contact for 9 years? Has he explained why in his letter?
No, no explanation as yet! Looking forward to hearing it if there will ever be one!
As for dd, she's happy, very angry, scared and generally very confused.
some contact centres offer support around meeting a parent after a long absence - is he asking for contact? but even letter contact is a shock after so long i would guess
or ask GP for details of any family therapists who could help her with this and in deciding how to move forward
How awful for you both. He should have written to you and put a letter for her inside so that you could break the news to her at an appropriate time.
I suppose supporting her stems from what her expectations were. Did she ever takl about him did she ask where he was?
He did write to me with the letter inside, it was the first contact I'd had from him for all that time as he disappeared without a word. It was still a great shock for her even with my talking to her before giving her the letter.
She always talked about him. I have always worried that she's dreamt up in her head some fairytale scenario about meeting him, which has me even more worried.
All he has asked for to start with is that she writes to him.
cestlavielife - thatnks for that, I'll check it out.
I suppose you need to be honest with her so she doesn't expect a frog prince. If he hasn't been seen for 9 years then maybe you should temper her excitement, as based on past performance he is unlikely to suddenly become a great and positive influence. Maybe he could do a life story book for her with photos and descriptions of what he has been doing for past 9 years. As the absent adult I think he should maybe be take the lead not expect her to do so.
He seems to have approached it fairly sensitively/thoughtfully. I'm a firm believer that people can change. Hopefully something has happened in his life that has made him realise what a total dick he was and that he did something pretty unforgiveable.
But I disagree with Vegas - it should all be at the child's pace, not his.
Did he pay maintenance over those 9 years? If not, has he offered to start paying now?
I like the idea of his life story. Making him do it could also give some indication of how committed he is to being part of her life. But that's for the future, I feel, and it is all going to move very much at dd's pace and on her terms.
I agree, he has approached the whole thing somewhat sensitively; I have the strong feeling he may have taken advice, which shows promise!
He has always paid maintenance, never missed one single payment.
It may be worth your DD having someone to talk to about this apart from you - I am thinking more of another relative like a grandparent or aunt or female family friend she trusts, or a youth group worker, or support group with preteens with divorced or split up parents. I'd also suggest that if she decides she wants to meet him and you agree, that you go with her and be nearby, not necessarily in the same room but next door so she feels supported and secure. But I agree with the others - it should be when she's ready, not when he wants to. I wouldn't advise asking her to talk to a professional counsellor (unless she specifically asks for that) as she is having trouble trying to trust him; let alone having to unburden her feelings to another adult stranger. Ultimately nobody can tell her how she should feel or react, but another child (or grown up child, IYKWIM), or children, who have been through similar problems with absent fathers, can be a source of support just to share experiences with so that she feels she isn't alone in this. I'd also suggest she should be allowed to think it through for as long as she wants before making a decision whether or not to see him - even if that's 6 months. (Unless he's terminally ill - do you reckon he is??)
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