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My daughter does not want to see her father, advice please(27 Posts)
Thanks for reading.
I have a 6yr old dd and have been separated from her father for 4 years. ( we were never married) I have a new(ish) partner who she adores and earlier this year we moved from the UK to Jersey. I split with my ex because he refused to get a job to help support us. I was working full time since she was tiny with postnatal depression and I just could not take it anymore so I asked him to leave which he did. He has had brief jobs since but has never paid maintainence and does not provide anything for her, not even school shoes.
As part of a very informal agreement when I moved to Jersey he insisted that I agreed to bring her back to UK to see him once a month at my own expense or he would refuse to sign the paperwork to say he gave his permission for her to attend school in Jersey. I agreed and have honoured that every month. The problem is she absolutely hates going to see him! I think she has a good time when she is there if a little boring but in the week leading up to the visit she becomes very distressed and we have tears nearly every day. I am in the UK right now and she is with her father. This time she cried for nearly the whole flight and when we got to the pick up point at the airport she clung like a limpet to the railings screaming and shouting "No, no no!" We had to pull her off and she was bundled into the car kicking and screaming. To make things worse, his "girlfriend" sat in the passenger seat and accused me of "not prepping her" and telling me I front of my hysterical daughter that I "was an idiot".
At that point, I thought perhaps she has a point. Why do I put dd and myself through this every month at my expense when he does jack for her and pays me nothing. I am tempted not to take her over for Oct half term and he wants her for Christmas which I am very reluctant to do as she would be totally distraught.
Where do I stand?? I am not stopping him from seeing her but should he come to Jersey or is that an unreasonable expectation? He is working but self employed and I think he earns very little but is that my problem?
I would really appreciate thoughts and advice please. Thanks. X
Your dd has a right to see her father ( she is too young to decide for herself) and you were the parent that moved country so yes you should pay to take her to the Uk.
Maintenance and contact should not be linked.
I completely disagree with the above poster, OP. You owe this man nothing, and in fact by pandering to his demands you're financially out of pocket and your child is suffering. Stop this now. If he wants access and your daughter's respect, he needs to work for it.
You're doing a great job. His 'input' is not required.
I agree that maintenance and contact should not be linked soontonesix however the issue here and perhaps I didn't make it clear is my dd distress every time a visit is approaching!! I have never denied access and I encourage my daughter to see her father but trying to make it exciting but she is just beside herself when it comes round and I hate seeing her like that. It looks just like an abduction, God only knows what people at the airport thought! I am surprised the police were not called. Can you imagine watching your child go trough that very month and it only seems to be getting worse!
Such a difficult situation for you.
My DS was the same about visits to his father and would normally be dragged kicking and screaming into his father's car from age 4 onwards.
XP lost interest in DS when he got to 14 - and DS could verbalise his wishes not to go.
It's one of my biggest regrets that I didn't stand up enough for my son because he was emotionally scarred by XP's bullying.
If it's not court ordered then stop doing it, maybe that's not the right answer but that's what I would do.
The difficulty is, she loves her Daddy and likes being with him, I think. She always tells me she had a nice time. I just don't know how to get past the separation bit! She tells me it is because she doesn't want to leave me. She is a bit of a Mummy's girl. Things were very bad last year, so long before we moved, and she received help from an ELSA at school which I think did seem to help. I have tried being firm, being supportive etc but nothing works!
Ashtrayheart, I think that is what I am leaning towards. I presume he would then need to take me to court to gain official access. Maybe to have something written down legally would be the best way but it doesn't solve the separation problem. Thanks. X
I wouldn't make her go. There's a reason she's crying and clinging onto you at 6... not to mention fretting for a week beforehand.
Simply tell him that you agree with his girlfriend, you are an idiot, but you have seen the light now and you wont be forcing your DD to do this against her wishes. He is free to visit her in Jersey, with you present if he wishes and if his DD agrees to it.
It's not fair that your daughter has to go through so much more effort and upset to see her father than he does to see her. The thought of travelling alone may be enough for your daughter to become stressed, let alone being separated from you when she gets there. It sounds like she has endured a few major changes in the last couple of years and it can take children a long time to adjust and settle down/come to terms with those changes.
It's his responsibility to maintain contact with his daughter and that includes getting himself to where she lives to collect her for contact - it will all contributes to helping your child feel secure.
How you organise the financial side of his travel is between yourselves but I genuinely believe your ex should be coming to your daughter for visits, she may be happier that way too.
Transition distress is very common in this age of DC, most child focused professionals know this - have you spoken to anyone about this, OP?
You are fortunate that Jersey has a very well regarded Centre for Separated Families which is at the forefront of research into support for children with separated parents - I'm sure they will help you and your DD through this, and explain the proven long term benefits of supporting her relationship with her Dad - no matter how you feel about him.
Thank you all for your messages. Much appreciated advice. I am due to meet her at the airport soon and fly home. I will be definitely be contacting the centre for advice so thank you Wakeycakey! X
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
That's a really good post, Wakey I just wanted to add my reassurance that it is very common at that age - my DSS was the same both ways, tears, clinging to door frames by his fingernails, the whole works. It was awful - and that was only a 20 minute car journey, I can't imagine how hard a flight must be! However, after about 3-4 months he suddenly stopped, just like that. He doesn't even remember it now (he's 12)
I wasn't going to agree to contact as she was so distressed but since your second post she loves her dad and has a nice time once you have gone I have done a u turn.
My DS used to suffer with separation anxiety after school holidays. I started telling him it was law that he had to go to school and also I would be thinking about him and wondering this that but it was ok for him not to think about me as I want him to be having a good time.I don't know if it helped or just grew out of it.
Also another thing he has happily gone on sleepovers for a few years now but will usually have a cry at bedtime and want me. He is going away soon overnight and talked to him about it. He said he was fine last time as I left him a note which said our routine goodnight statements. those little things may make it easier.
I'd say do everything you can to encourage her to see her dad. It's understandable she's reluctant to leave you and the fact she has to travel by air won't help but as long as the relationship with her father isn't abusive, it'll be massively advantageous to her to have a positive relationship with her dad.
I don't think you should feel obliged to take her to the uk, to visit her dad when she is so upset and worked up about it. I have a 6 yo dd and I don't think she'd cope v well traveling after a full week at school , and having to be back in time for getting ready for school on a Monday morning... Couldn't imagine doing that often!
As she gets older her life will be rooted where she is at school and has interests and friends ... Shouldn't he be getting use to coming and being a part of her life in jersey?
Not sure how that works financially. I'd say he should get a job and pay his flights etc! But perhaps I'm not right.
I really appreciate all your comments and opinions. I feel torn. I really want my dd to have a good relationship with her Father and I have always encouraged it. He just gets me so cross as he will not go and earn a living. He has even found a woman who seems quite happy to keep him!! I am now back in Jersey and my daughter was very happy to see me as always but was very excited about her nice weekend and was looking forward to her week with daddy at half term as he wants to take her to New York and please could she go?? WTF???
I am definitely going to get advice. I asked my dd why she got so upset at drop off she couldn't tell me. I told her that I didn't want to see her get so upset so maybe it would be better if she didn't go to stay with daddy for a little while. She said she wanted to and she missed daddy. I am so confused about her behaviour.
Thanks again for all,your advice.
What about you funding him to come and visit on Jersey every other time? Your dd is then only having to make the journey half as much.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Just a thought could your DD be worried about you. Maybe a prep talk about how whilst she is at daddy's you will be doing such and such obviously make it uninteresting, give her a little diary marks days she will be there and what day she will be back, maybe sort out with ex about having phone contact whilst she there but not a bedtime. Just to give her the reassurance.
If she was coming back saying what horrible time she was having then I would of course be all for not making her go.
I'd also be having words with the ex about the girlfriend speaking like that to you in front of DD as that will have an effect on her as kids tend to be very protective of parents.
Good luck whatever you decide
What your ex does with his life is none of your business I'm afraid.
I don't think you should be suggesting to her not to go. I can completely understand your annoyance at him not supporting his daughter but they are two different issues.
You need to work on the separation , I think the idea of telling her what she will be doing ask her Dad so he can give you some info.
I also would be how are you funding a trip to NY but not to her in jersey..now that would really piss me off but I assume his Gf is funding that.
Have you made it clear to your dd that you are happy for her to go ? That you will miss her but will be busy doing (insert boring activity ) and look forward to having her back but want her to have a lovely time ?
Lots of talk about how lucky she is to go visit dad and how you will spend the time knitting or whatever and you will be fine?
These are typical transition anxieties as others have said. If you want more insight in to this you should check out Karen Woodalls blog. Very helpful and insightful.
Be aware it's possible she may be resonating your own anxieties that you're not aware off.
It's incumbent on both parents to make the handover as free from conflict as possible, so maybe suggest the only you and the ex be present.
Agree, with others that you made the choice to move 'overseas' and you will need to shoulder most of the heavy lifting even if he wont. Its not for his benefit but your daughters.
Going to court in this situation would be pointless and ratchet up the tension and the conflict and probably take away the level of control you have now. Lets face it, what would be asking the court to do?
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