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6 years on and getting nowhere- my ex just won't let me build a relationship with our daughter.

(15 Posts)
MrMarried Mon 01-Feb-16 03:20:20

I am the father of a wonderful 6 year old. She lives with her mum in South America after our relationship broke down. I see her on skype every week and visit as often as I can, which considering the expense is once per year. I have just come back from my last visit a little heart broken. The circumstances in which I am able to see my daughter are strange- they are always in very controlled conditions- at my ex partners father’s house or if we go out I am always accompanied by a member of her family- often my ex partner. My relationship with her is challenging. I am always respectful to her, but she finds it hard to reciprocate this- I do not speak the language (although of course I am trying) so often conversations are not translated by her which leaves me feeling isolated when I visit. Ultimately I love my little girl and want to be able to build a loving relationship with her and not feel like I am always under supervision. This time I insisted that I wanted to take her to the local park – this suggestion resulted in a WW3 conversation and I am just left feeling like I am being unreasonable. She finally relented and we had a lovely afternoon at the park- some lovely, quality time. If my ex is busy (working etc), normal days with my daughter would be with her at her father’s house, watching tv, building dens, treasure hunts- all fine, but I just want to take her some where like a water park, shopping centre, cinema- anything…I want to be a dad and do fun things with her. I am just not being allowed to do this.
When I raise this with my ex, a normal response is for her to just shout back in her native language. Of course, I am unable to explain my view to her family and she (very, very successfully) makes me appear to be unreasonable. She also does this in front of my daughter. I just want to give up – I feel so alone in these circumstances but I love my daughter so much.
Mums- I think you will hate this, but in my opinion the only thing I can control in these circumstances is the financial support I give. Now I take my responsibilities as a dad very seriously. I proudly financially support my ex, but this is my one bargaining chip that I have. I am considering threatening not paying this unless I am allowed to have quality time with my daughter. I am prepared to be absolutely slaughtered by you all for sharing this with you, which is partly why I wanted to as I do not feel (6 years on) that I am getting anywhere. In fact, after my last visit and shouting episode, I have returned feeling the trip did more damage to my relationship with my little girl than good.
What to do?

MrsTerryPratchett Mon 01-Feb-16 03:32:10

Learn her language. That would seem to me to be easy, quick and something thoughtful you could do.

Don't withhold money. It isn't a chip, it's control and nasty at that.

MaryRobinson Mon 01-Feb-16 03:39:22

Don't threaten not to pay. Just a don't do it.
Your daughter will be your daughter for the rest of your life so play the long game. Do you want the Skype to stop?
The mum facilitates weekly contact, and whenever you visit, your actually not doing too bad.

How good is your daughters English? Can she communicate well with you. Is it possible for her to be enrolled in an English class there, or for a tutor to visit to accelerate that.

I know you want to take her out, but (a) is it safe, not an 'Oh Yeah it's fine', but do you know them proper precautions. (b) no threats in the past to abduct/bring her to England/etc or (c) she is still small and you may not actually know her routine all that well.

So my advice is plug away, don't do anything rash but work on improving the communications with your daughter and her mother.

MrMarried Mon 01-Feb-16 03:40:22

I am learning the language. It is about control- the one thing I have control over. Your suggestion would allow me to at least understand the comments made by my ex about me, to respond to them more too- but no closer to being able to see my little girl - who by the way has not been learning English despite me regularly offering to pay for tuition.

I don't want to stop paying- I just don't know what else I can do to change this rubbish situation.

MaryRobinson Mon 01-Feb-16 03:45:57

Stopping money will only makes this rubbish situation worse.

I would push a bit harder with the English lessons. Check out what is possible in their area. Do you have any parental responsibility that you can enforce this.
Do you know anything about the family court system in that country that you could compel the lessons. Is it possible at your daughters school.

Could you invite the mum and daughter to UK for a holiday.

MrMarried Mon 01-Feb-16 03:49:30

Thanks Mary. I hear you.

Our skype contact sounds better than it is. Very often it is with her step mother who speaks no English, and I have the strong sense pretty much hates me. On occasion my daughter is just left there in front of the computer, and bless her, she can get bored. On other occasions I get messaged from my exs step mum that she is out of town with our daughter so cannot speak this week. I am not told who her friends are, how she is doing at school- nothing. On one occasion, my ex said to me that my daughter had on a couple of occasions picked other people's things up (toys etc) and put them in her bag. She told me about this. I was able to ask my daughter what she would do next time she saw a toy that was not hers- even if she really liked it- I loved it. She listened to me. I was being a dad, but these moments are so tragically few and far between. I feel I have let rubbish circumstances perpetuate and be an accepted norm, and it kills me. There's no danger with me taking her anywhere either. I know enough of the language, I am a responsible person. My ex just does not want to let me build a relationship with my little girl. She hates me, and this shines through her behaviour.

MrMarried Mon 01-Feb-16 03:53:52

Mary- I am trying. After 6 years, I am gutted she has not met her English family already. My parents are great and go twice a year. We are offering to pay for them to come to England. However, the latest plot change from this trip was she wanted me to sign over legal custody to her- she takes care of my daughter and I do not dispute this, but to travel outside this country as a single parent requires the other parent's permission- she wanted me to waiver this and insisted I woudl still be able to see her when I wanted. My reply of course was 'still'? I don't see her how I want to now. She responded by saying 'well we will not come to England then'. It is just gutting.

MrMarried Mon 01-Feb-16 04:00:31

There is a law that prohibits parental alienation which is being broken left, right and centre, but to take this step, like stopping the money, would be a big and potentially damaging step.

I know my situation is unique, but I so envious of dads here in the UK who can see their children and their partner does not have to be there. I feel like a convict on leave and under supervision.

What about insisting on English lessons; a planned visit to England; solid, communicative weekly or fortnightly skype chats; and time alone with my daughter when I am there as an agreed minimum? I just don't think I am asking for too much, but you tell me!

MrsTerryPratchett Mon 01-Feb-16 05:14:29

I think you can right-fight or you can be effective.

What about you spend some serious effort on speaking her language. Really serious. Then try to work with the mother. Maybe she does hate you. If you could communicate you would know more.

Drop the control stuff. She either needs the money in which case messing with it makes you a douche, or she doesn't in which case stopping it is an own goal. Same with refusing permission for her to travel with the child she has 100% of the time.

You can insist on anything you like but improving the situation with the mother seems the obvious step.

Any reason she should hate or mistrust you? You seem pretty sure she does.

Also, what about hiring a translator? For a proper chat with the mother. Expensive but might be worth it if it aids communication.

MaryRobinson Mon 01-Feb-16 05:14:32

I don't think you are asking for too much at all, but the reality is how can you insist.

If you can paint the English things as a good thing for you daughter (which they are) because starting earlier will help her proficiency and the final level she achieves. Make it about doing the right thing for your daughter. Persuade her that what you want to do will help the little one rather than because it is what you want. Show her that her refusals aren't putting one over you, they are putting one over her own baby.

Maybe?

Pteranodon Mon 01-Feb-16 05:17:25

Can you move there? I would, if I'd no other children. Definitely learn the language - get really fluent, it's your daughter's language. Don't even threaten re the money. It'll alienate the ex and her family and your daughter. As someone else said, play the long game. Keep offering English lessons but don't try to insist. Eventually your daughter will want them. It's hard while they're young but will get easier, provided you keep focussing on what's best for her - which will include not antagonising her mum - and set aside what's best/fair for you. It is unfair that you don't get to spend time with her alone, but let that unfairness out here/with your friends and then forget it when dealing with ex & contact with her. And you can still build a relationship with her when others are around - language is key though.

MrMarried Mon 01-Feb-16 13:32:39

She does not care about what is good for our daughter in terms of learning English. In fact, I would even say that she would argue the distance she creates between me and my daughter is in her daughters best interests because she hates me. I don't feel like a dad- I am a bank.

Does she have good reason? I wouldn't marry her. She wanted to stay in the UK but I our relationship was just awful- then she fell pregnant- Ii beleive she did this intentionally but we are way passed that mattering now. I just could not marry someone who treated me as she did.

I have always done what I can. I was there when she was born. Not involved in naming her. She was christened- I was not consulted. She had her ears pierced despite me saying I think that should be a choice my daughter makes. I was never allowed to hold her as a baby, change a nappy. We are 6 years on and I just feel I am getting nowhere, and I honestly do not feel other people would accept being treated like this.

What's worse- my parents aren't when they visit- they get the red carpet treatment. My ex is friends with my father on Facebook- he sees photos of my daughter on there all of the time. I see none. I joined Facebook 6 years ago specifically to be more connected with my daughter- my ex wouldn't even accept the friend request. I have never been sent pictures of my duaghter. It is just not on.

I know your advice is 'play the long game', hang in there etc etc but I have been doing that for 6 years.

CrushedCan Wed 03-Feb-16 15:37:27

MrMarried if I were you I would go down the legal route. Yes its long , yes it's crap, yes it's expensive but what else can you do? If not then keep playing by her shitty rules.

MaryRobinson Thu 04-Feb-16 00:45:37

Maybe then your parents can help in developing the relationship.

Atenco Thu 04-Feb-16 02:04:29

I feel for you, I really do, but your dd will appreciate that you have always been there for her. My dd's father was much too selfish to financially contribute to her upbringing and it really hurt her on an emotional level.

If you are single without children, why don't you move to be near your dd?

And try to get an intensive language course for yourself, which you can supplement using the internet, then you will be able to have more interesting skype conversations.

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