Advanced search

Helping maintain bond with daughter

(24 Posts)
ComeOnBeANoOne Mon 25-Mar-13 22:17:24

Hi all.

Recently became a single Dad, sadly, but at least one silver lining is that me and XW are doing 50-50 with our DD, which is good as it would have torn me apart to do alternate weekends thing (These arrangements are circumstantial I know, but me and DD have a really strong bond so deserve 50-50 is best for all of us).

She is only two, and still breast fed, so at the moment We're managing 50% in terms of days but it may be a bit of a wait until I can have her more than one night in a row. I don't want to become the 'lesser' parent in her life - she is the most important thing and although it will require hard work and sacrifices, both me and XW will be co-parenting no matter what. But I was wondering what to do to ensure we maintain the bond we have. She is having some trouble adjusting (I had to move out) but hopefully that will pass and she will stay close to me as she always has. But I was thinking of doing something like a memory book - I could fill it in each time we've been together with a short description of what we've done that day, add photos also and when she's old enough she can help me, just to show that I was always around.

I just want to avoid it being a case of 'I'm at my Dad's' but rather that she feels she has two homes, IYSWIM?

Any tips and/or reassurance appreciated. Thanks for reading through!

ComeOnBeANoOne Mon 25-Mar-13 22:18:50

Gah! Ignore the stupid error in the bracketed bit please

HerrenaHarridan Tue 26-Mar-13 11:50:12

A memory book is a lovely idea! You. Can flick through it when she gets there and talk about what you did last time and end each visit compiling it together (when she's a bit bigger)

Does the place your living have a bedroom for her? Ime this is intergral to a child feeling that they have a place there. Also having the toy box out and waiting for her in approx the same place it was when she left, making arts and crafts together and displaying them (so she can see her mark on the place)

Having certain toys/ clothes that live at daddy's and if she communicates well involving her in decisions about the house
"shall we keep the cereal in this cupboard?"
"Where would you like your toy box to live?"
"What colour shall we paint the living room?" Etc (please note, 'shall we' as opposed to 'do you think I should' even though she's probably not going to do any of the painting)

ComeOnBeANoOne Tue 26-Mar-13 16:15:48

Thanks herrena . I think i will definitely go forward with the memory book then. Currently looking for a new place but when i move in i think she'll definitely have her own space. I hadn't considered how important that may be, but she will need to feel like it is her home. Onwards and upwards from here, hopefully!

HerrenaHarridan Tue 26-Mar-13 19:01:08

Involve her in looking for house too then, show her pictures of any your going to see, take her to view if possible.

Be careful how you word things though ie would you like this room to be your bedroom at daddy's as opposed to do you want to live here then.

Kids love to feel like their opinion is valued and its not very often people bother to ask them ( since let's face it your going to decide what's best) but its nice to be asked smile

ComeOnBeANoOne Tue 26-Mar-13 20:40:12

You really are a bit of a life saver. I'd have never thought of that, but she is quite articulate for a two year old so would probably enjoy talking about the houses.

this all happened very quickly. XW simply turned around a couple of weeks ago and said she doesn't think she loves me and perhaps our relationship was a mistake. We only married last year and this was a complete shock so it's been quite a stressful time for all except her who appeared to be relieved to be rid of me . The quicker things can settle down the better. Thank you for all the advice, you've been lovely at a time when I'm feeling low (gush)

HerrenaHarridan Tue 26-Mar-13 21:06:59

No worries smile

I always really feel for the dads that actually give a toss, it's very easy for a mother to make it very difficult to have proper contact and often you have to jump through all sorts if hoops to "prove" you aren't just having contact to get at the mother.

I don't really see a proper fix because far too often (including in my case) the safe guards (that enable women to block contact) are the only thing protecting them and the children from dangerous abusive people.

I'm sorry that its come as such a shock to you and I'm pleased that you ex seems very willing to enable you to have good,healthy, prolonged contact.

If you have an amicable relationship with the mother it's a lot easier, so bite your lip if you feel at all goaded, your playing the long game now and you don't want you sweet, innocent unintentionally manipulative little girl to be playing you off against each other ( or she'll be getting ponies and iPads for birthdays before you know it) wink

Lilipaddle Wed 27-Mar-13 00:32:38

It's so lovely to see a dad making such an effort and realising your are, and should remain, an equally involved and supportive parent.
Your daughter will realise this as she grows up, you don't have anything to worry about there. Even caring dad's who only see their children once or twice a week are loved by them. Its quality of time that counts not quantity, 3 days of attention and love will build more of a bond than 7 days of not spending quality time with a child.

In a way it is the best age for the split to have happened for her (however hard it must be for you) as she has been able to get through the separation anxiety age with you living together, but is now old enough for this to quickly become normal everyday life for her.

It is great that you and your ex have managed to agree on 50/50. It's very important to try and keep communication between you both going, even knowing about little things during her time with each of you can help ease the transitions for her.
If you aren't on "chatting" terms, but are amicable, it might be worth discussing using a diary/notepad you pass back and forward, saying what you/mum have done with her in general, and any other bits of info (eg. DD went to the park, liked feeding the ducks, ate fine but might be tired as she woke up early from her nap)
This can help you and mum to comment about her time with each other to keep it fresh in her mind. (you will need mums co-operation for this) But if mum is willing to make an effort to say "Oh look, are those the ducks you and daddy fed" for example, and visa versa for you, it can help to keep her feeling like the 2 parts of her life are "connected" rather than her feeling like she's split into 2 seperate lives.

My ex is very hit and miss with seeing our 18 m/o so it's a different situation, but I put together a picture book of photos of him, and laminated it. She loves looking at it and it helps to keep her familiar with who daddy is. It might be an idea for you both to do, so that when she is at mums she can look at your photos, and at yours she can look at mums photos. It might also help to connect the 2 homes in her head a bit.

It's a good idea to have her own clothes and toys at your house, but also let her choose favourite things to bring between the 2 houses each time.
You've already had some great advice about letting her choose things, which will also really help her feel at home.
Putting pictures of you and her up around the house would be a lovely idea too. smile

I hope everything goes well for you both, sorry for the essay!!

Lilipaddle Wed 27-Mar-13 00:37:52

What might be a good idea when thinking about making it her home, is view it as "This is DD's home, but she will be staying at mums sometimes, so I need everything a child needs at home" and just do anything that you would have done if you were together and moving into a new house. That way you will make sure you don't miss out anything by thinking "thats at mums so she won't need it here".

Foxy800 Wed 27-Mar-13 07:45:06

How lovely to hear from a Dad who really cares, my dd's Dad couldnt care less!!!, and I agree with everything the posters above have said. Wish all you the best OP.

HerrenaHarridan Wed 27-Mar-13 09:55:41

I love the idea if a diary that goes back and forth with her. I really think it would enable you to communicate well in an uncomfortable situation.

If for instance she has been sick, or given calpol/ allergy medicine or exposed to new food or a child who then went on to get chicken pox or was having nightmares etc it could really protect her from unintentional miscommunication

anqet Wed 27-Mar-13 10:36:00

ComeOnBeANoOne: if you are involved in your daughter's life like you are now, and are planning to, you don't need a memory book "just to show that I was always around". She will know, simply because you will be in her life. The memory book will be just that - a memory book, a sweet reminder of times past.

Communicate with her, be there for her, show her love, be involved in her school life when time comes, try to maintain a civil/amiable relationship with her mum and that's pretty much it... It won't be easy - being a parent must be one of the hardest 'jobs' in the world - but equally rewarding. Good luck!

PS. Reading your message gives me hope... there are some men out there who are responsible dads.

lostdad Wed 27-Mar-13 14:34:22

ComeOnBeANoOne - relax! It's brilliant news that you and your dd's mother are working together. I can assure you she will not regard you as a second-class parent.

I had to fight through the courts when my ex tried to cut me out of his life - it included periods of no contact at all, stuck in a contact centre and a gradual increase in contact up to now - he is with me 40% of the time. His mum has done what she can to marginalise me from his life (including teaching him to call her new husband `Daddy', telling him that her new married surname is his, moving 300 miles across the country...yadda, yadda, yadda...all the usual stuff. She has also refused to speak to me on the telephone or meet me face-to-face from the moment she abducted him from the family home when he was just 3 months old.

And you know what?

It has made no difference whatsoever to him.

He calls me Daddy. He calls her new husband Daddy too (although it rebounded on her...despite my imploring her not to confuse him by doing that she persisted...and now he calls my new wife `Mummy' as well as her - because he has rationalised that if he has two dads he has two mums...)

He refers to my house as `home' (as well as his mother's). He calls his bedroom in my house `my bedroom'. He gets put out if I mention things that have happened while he is with his mother's. He told me that she had tried to teach him to use her new surname instead of his (and mine). He's increasingly asking if he can stay with us more (the true answer being `It'll be a cold day in hell before she agrees to that because she needs to be the `main' parent and if you're allowed one more night a week here I'll be the majority carer').

In my case my ex has been supremely unhelpful - gone out of her way to make things difficult and acted against his best interests (such as telling me late on a Friday when he has come to me that he is ill and needs medicine that is only available with a 90 minute drive meaning I couldn't just put the poor little sod in bed). So I have had to legislate for every obstacle and situation she causes...and it works. I have kind of got used to it and things run smoothly.

We use a communication book (which is sometimes useful) and exchange emails. This poor limited communication has most definitely disadvantage our wonder ds, but I have had to make the best of a bad situation...and overall he's doing well.

Seriously. Don't worry. Where there's a will, there's a way.

ComeOnBeANoOne Wed 27-Mar-13 21:35:11

Hello all, thank you again for the responses. I understand the importance of maintaining a good relationship with my ex. It hasn't been long and I think the only thing stopping us being able to co-parent effectively is me currently being in a bit of a low about the break-up. I'm determined to get over that as quickly as possible for the sake of DD, as it would be great for her to be able to still have her family together. I really should consider myself lucky that despite all else, XW has been incredible about my time with DD and in the future when I've moved passed all my emotions will still plan on doing things as a threesome above all else. So, whilst it is a good idea, I'm hopeful that a written account between me and my ex won't be necessary. We hope to remain friends, she is just of the opinion that we don't work as a couple (sorry for making her seem awful in previous posts).

I will definitely be treating the new place as DD's home - it shall be incredibly toddler-fied and tbh, any future serious partners would probably be aware of what they were commiting to. It is unfortunate that there are those out there that can give single-dads in general a bad rep, but a lot of us are nice but nice doesn't make headlines. Either way, I'm glad that everyone here seems to find their own way of managing there families post-split and doing what is best by their DCs. And lostdad, knowing your story from here, you are something of an inspiration to those of us that want to stay in our children's lives. I'm so glad things worked out for you and your son. Except for in particular cases (abuse, addiction etc), I don't see what a right thinking person would expect to achieve by denying a child a relationship with a loving parent!

MiniPenguinMaker Sat 06-Apr-13 12:07:06

Hello there. What a nice post. Yes, absolutely - these things can work really well. My dad left my mum when my sister and I were little (she was a baby and I was three or so I guess?).

I don't know how they made the breastfeeding thing work, but I vaguely remember my dad being at home a lot while my mum was there and spending time all together as the four of us - despite the fact that he'd left and was living with his girlfriend, who he'd left my mum for - given the situation, my mum must've been pretty special to be able to deal with it all and still let him in the house, frankly, so this does depend on good-will both ways! Then he would leave later in the evening and go home to his girlfriend.

What I think worked really well when my dad started having us for longer at his place was when my dad was also involved in the 'day to day' type care - eg picking up from nursery, dropping off etc, doing homework together, being put to bed etc - rather than just the 'let's pick the kids up for a fun afternoon out' scenario than many men seem to prefer. Actually, the day-to-day stuff (including chores and supposedly boring stuff) is what creates a real bond for dads who can be bothered to put the hard work in. One of my loveliest childhood memories is of my dad brushing my teeth - to make it fun for me, he would always play a game where he pretended to find lots of zoo animals in there ('ooh, a hippo - brush brush brush brush). grin

It also helped when we were a bit older when my mum and dad presented a united front about things like homework so we knew we couldn't get around them by pretending that one of them had said something different! Good communication was key.

MiniPenguinMaker Sat 06-Apr-13 12:10:42

Taking lots of photos is a great idea, whether separated or not! Just been looking at some old snaps with my mum, and my dad recently scanned some lovely photos and emailed them too (I am expecting in July so they are revisiting my 'baby' period with some nostalgia...)

Also I was very touched when my dad kept things I'd made or drawn for him. He still has some really amateurish fridge magnets I made - still proudly displayed on his fridge, twenty years later! I am amazed he can bear to look at them every day, but also touched that he kept them.

Sounds like you and your ex have a very child-centred approach, which is the very very most important thing to making it work in the best possible way for the child smile and I wish you lots of luck and joy in it smile

purpleroses Sat 06-Apr-13 12:58:39

I think you'll be fine.

Don't worry about being the "lesser" parent - if you get things right your DD won't see either of you as "lesser" or "main" but will see you both as different. My DCs were 4 and a baby when we split up - they're 9 and 13 now. They've both gone through phases when they've been closer to one or other of us - and occasionally tested things out with statements such as "I like you better than daddy" or "I like daddy best". It's best if you can avoid being hurt (or still less, self-satisfied) by these kinds of remarks, and just see it as a phase, or see if you can figure out what's underneath it (lack of TV at dad's as it turned out on one occasion). Your DD will indeed grow up seeing that she has two homes - my DD can't imagine anything different as it's all she's ever known. Though my DCs refuse to refer to either house as "home" and instead call them "dad's house" and "your house" (when talking to me), which they find more useful language.

I'd be a bit wary of doing too many things together as a threesome with your ex - or at least best to make them one-offs rather than things that any of you come to expect. It may not feel like it just now, but you almost certainly will move on and meet someone new sometime, and so will your ex. But chances are one of you will do this before the other - which then makes it hard if the other one (and your DD) still want time all together. You can, and should absolutely, expect any new partner to see your DD as part of the deal - but even the most wonderful new woman would probably find spending the day with you and your ex a bit of a strain.

3MonthMaid Sat 06-Apr-13 16:06:43

How long is your ex planning to BF?realistically until she stops, you are going to struggle to have much contact on your own terms.

I'll get flamed for saying it, but I suspect that the BF will become a power issue for your ex, as while she is doing it she has to be in control.

Obviously there are mums who feed their kids almost indefinitely, is she going to be one of them?

Piemother Sat 06-Apr-13 20:54:47

I would challenge the bf if the child is 2. I don't mean I think she should stop I just think it shouldn't restrict contact. It can't be for comfort if she can manage one night away from mum. If its mums wish that she's fed regulations for nutrition then there's no reason why she can't express S I assume a 2 year old drinks water/juice from a sip cup.

Im divorced and exh has loads of contact with dd1. Things I think he has done brilliantly have been loads of one to one playing and arts and crafts stuff together and learning tasks - map reading for example (dd1 is 3). Things I am less happy about are her being spoilt with gifts - v unnecessary as she adores her dad regardless and has a perfect bond with him. Plus she is a brat when she's been bought loads of stuff. Secondly he is a bit soft with her about bed time so she is frequently tired and grumpy. Thirdly I hope he waits much longer next time before he introduces her to a girl friend.

Meanwhile other things which have helped us parent co operatively have been us being on out best behaviour. I have noticed the more I include exh in dd's life and decisions I make/plan to make about her, the more open minded and co operative he is and therefore it make me make the effort to include him even more.

Hope that was useful

3MonthMaid Sat 06-Apr-13 21:54:30

Completely agree with that. Ex and I make sure each other is a constant part of DDs life. For example - on look that car is like daddy's, or, is this the book you read with daddy?

ComeOnBeANoOne Sat 06-Apr-13 22:29:45

Hi minipenguin thank you for sharing the story of your parents. I'm glad they worked everything out so well, and when faced with a completely alien situation, knowing that other people have made it work is reassuring.

And I know what you mean about all the little things that actually matter. I think that's why I'm really quite kern to move along with the extra overnights - I want to do the teeth brushing, the bedtimes and early wake ups etc and just continue to be able to relax about my parenting.

So if she wants to sit in all afternoon doing the same jigsaw over and over and over despite my repeated pleas for us to play something else then I'm not worrying that i haven't fitted a day out or some other extravagance into our 'window' with each other.

The partners thing: we have an agreement about how long before they can meet dd as we wouldn't want people just flitting in and out of her life. Would both have to talk about it first also. Which is where the points about communication matter, but fortunately we both have similar parenting style so hopefully neither of us would try and spoil her/go sort to win brownie points. She'll have the same rules and messages from us both. The family days out thing: occasional ones would help things still seem 'connected' in her life though, surely? Would once a month be reasonable?

ComeOnBeANoOne Sat 06-Apr-13 22:46:36

3MonthMaid I hope it wouldn't become power thing. I'd like to think she wouldn't resort to that. But both you and piemother seem to think I should talk to her about the breeding?

I have thought about this before, but i think my only hesitation comes from wondering, am i allowed to bring it up? It's obviously not something I have a role in, and I'm actually really proud of both ex and DD for still going as they had a really tough start. And i know my ex dreads the day she stops as she got really upset when she had a bit of a strike a couple of weeks ago.

How would i start talking about it without sounding as though I'm being selfish? I do want to see more of her but at the same time not potantially upset her if she isn't ready to go that long with no milk (she does drink milk and juice from a cup though, yes).

and thanks for the tips roses . At the moment ex refers to het house as 'home' and mine as 'daddy's house'. I'm not sure how much she talks about me when I'm not there also, though we both let DD call the other on the phone to say night night. Should i look to address the other points though, or am i being oversensitive?

if nothing else, thanks for reading through all of this! smile

purpleroses Sun 07-Apr-13 16:03:54

I really wouldn't set to many routines about days out together. Do one now, do another in a month if you fancy, but don't make it a fixed routine that you do one every month. It would be a shame to waste your life feeling that your commitments to each other (outings once a month, etc) prevent you really moving on. As long as your DD has good times with each of you, and you communicate effectively she'll be fine.

And in terms of length of time til a new partner is introduced - I wouldn't make too many rules there either. Remember you're making rules that will affect someone else too - who may want a say in things. Fine if you've just said "at least a couple of months" or "until things look serious" but if you've said something like "at least a year" you may be making a promise you later find you can't keep - eg if a new partner isn't prepared to put in a year of their life into a relationship until they see how you are with your DD, or you get together with someone you already know, or circumstances just make this difficult.

I wouldn't worry to much about the language for houses - for years I referred to my house as "home" and my ex's as "dad's house" (though I always supported them feeling at home at ex's house - sent clothes, toys, etc to live there). Until one day DS turned round and told me crossly that was most confusing to call either house "home" because he had two homes so mine was therefore "mum's house". I guess actions speak louder than words smile

purpleroses Sun 07-Apr-13 16:06:33

And on the bfing - I also think it's a bit unnecessary with a 2 year old. She might enjoy it but not necessary in terms of nutrition (and no need to express either as 2 year old can drink ordinary milk, or have a snack if hungry). But if the split is v new you might want to give it a little while. Or just work on reassuring your ex that you can ensure DD is fed and watered when she's with you, and comforted if necessary. Your ex will find her milk supply probably dries up once DD is doing regular times away.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: