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Where do I stand? Dc not wanting to see Dad....

(76 Posts)
GuessWhatIAmANameChanger Thu 25-Jun-09 11:44:26

Sorry for the name change but my story makes me very recognisable, hope nobody minds too much?

I am waiting for a call back from Caffcas and my Sol. But I suspect neither will get back to me today so I am hoping that someone here can help!

Basically dd has not wanted to see her dad for the last week. Usually she is begging to see him every morning, this last week I tell her she is seeing him and she just says "Again? Do I have to go?" She is adamant that she does not want to, keeps on and on about it, gets upset but not in a tantrum, she is very sad.

Background, there is some risk of abuse but the courts have decided that the risk is low and he should have unsupervised contact. We do not have a defined contact order. Something happened last week that I was not happy with, it was reported to Caffcas and SS who decided there was not enough to investigate and contact should continue as normal.

Dd is 5.

I try very hard not to let my feelings or fears communicate to her and I think I am very succesful at it, dd has no problems talking to me about her dad in general. I have never caused her to miss a contact since the court case closed 18mnths ago, except for holidays when they have been changed, by agreement, not missed.

So, where do I stand with not taking her if she does not want to go?

blinder Thu 25-Jun-09 13:31:08

Personally, I would be her advocate in this and insist that her wishes be treated seriously. If she is refusing to go, no-one should force her.

In your place I would be communicating with Caffcas and the Sol, explaining that she has refused to go, and that you refuse to force her, as you believe that would be damaging.

Not sure what the specific risks are, or what happened last week of course. But the fact she doesn't want to visit him is evidence as far as I am concerned. And obviously the risk needs to be reassessed and investigated in the light of that development.

I do know that legally, HER rights are paramount, not yours or her fathers. It is your job to serve her best interests, so I don't think you have much choice really. She doesn't visit until she feels comfortable. I would reassure her as soon as possible that it is up to her when she sees him next. Her age needs to be balanced against the strength of her feelings about it. If she is saying clearly that she does NOT want to go, and exhibiting distress (by going on about it), I can't imagine any professional person wanting to go against those wishes, even if she is only 5.

Good luck with it!

GuessWhatIAmANameChanger Thu 25-Jun-09 13:37:48

Thank you Blinder, what you are saying is exactly what I am thinking and what my gut instinct is too.

I am getting all tied up in knots because I do not want to be presented as the difficult ex who is trying to deny them each other and turn her against him IYSWIM. Not having a defined contact order is, IMO, really important as it gives me some opportunity to respond to thing like this, however it can easily change so I do not want to jepordise that by reacting to something that is, potentially, just a 5yo being a bit contrary.

GypsyMoth Thu 25-Jun-09 13:54:38

I'm going through similiar, but my DC are teenage. So they just had to meet with cafcass again, and they explained they didn't want to see him anymore. That was that. However at 5 it's tricky.

I'd get cafcass to speak to her, so they know it's coming from her

Speak to her teacher maybe?

Is contact supervised for a temporary period workable?

blinder Thu 25-Jun-09 14:01:05

Absolutely. Although a defined order can still be changed and it may even provide the security that you need. After all, to get a court order, you have to negotiate something which ensures that your view gets taken seriously.

In my situation, I spent a lot of time trying to keep the peace with my abusive ex, because I didn't want to be seen as unreasonable, by him or anyone else. I made too many compromises I think, looking back.

It wasn't until I stopped trying to be reasonable (ie managing his feelings) that it all started to work out. 6 years on I am glad I stood up for what I believed, as a mother, was right.

Plus, I have met quite a few unreasonable mothers in my work - you do not sound like one of them at all! Any court would see that. Co-operating, as you know, is not the same as bending over backwards.

Plus, if your DD IS just being a bit contrary, she will soon start saying she wants to see her dad smile!

GuessWhatIAmANameChanger Thu 25-Jun-09 14:05:17

Contact was supervised for nearly a year in various forms. The options we used then are no longer open to us sadly (at least not without a referal through the courts again).

I can ask Cafcass to speak to her but I am worried that she will just change her mind when someone else asks her straight (being as she is only 5) and make it look even more like it is down to me. It is when she is faced with going that there is a problem rather than when there is a theoretical conversation. So if I ask, do you want to see daddy at the weekend she wants to but if I say, it is the weekend we are going to daddies she collapses.

I spoke to her teacher today but she has not been teaching much this week as she has a student in.

It is all very frustrating to say the least!

blinder Thu 25-Jun-09 14:08:41

I would just tell Caffcas that she has frequently said she doesn't want to go. No need for an interview IMO. That would be making too big a deal out of it. She just needs to know that she can go if she wants, when she wants. No biggie.

lostdad Thu 25-Jun-09 14:09:28

Have you spoken to your ex about this? Or are you going to make a decision and tell him?

It's awkward at the age of 5. If she's suddenly changed wanting to see him then it warrants taking some kind of action. On the other hand, while you need to listen to your dd you are the parent and at 5 there are probably a number of things she doesn't want to do but nevertheless she has to.

Talk to your ex ASAP. This is exactly the sort of situation that can rapidly turn a molehill into a mountain. If you can't talk to him directly try mediation, try a 3rd party you both trust. Is it possible you could address your concerns and come up with some temporary change until this is resolved - speaking as a father who's son was forced to see him in a contact centre and regarded it a calculated insult is it possible your ex will think the same?

But don't just make a snap decision without acting together as her parents. I'm not saying tip toe around your ex, but if you can manage this it could be a storm in a teacup that just a few months from now is forgotten.

GuessWhatIAmANameChanger Thu 25-Jun-09 14:10:53

Blinder, you are right of course, if she is just being difficult then it will change soon enough.

Perhaps I should relax a bit and let it run its course. I have no duty to do any more than allow contact, no statement as to when, how often or where. I suppose saying no now and seeing how she goes with a break will be the most sensible approach.

I have been bending over backwards so I will be percieved as (as well as actually be) reasonable, I am now thinking that, perhaps, I am compromising myself and my child in an effort to seem reasonable. I need to get some control and balance back.

GuessWhatIAmANameChanger Thu 25-Jun-09 14:14:44

Lostdad, I understand your point and her dad is aware that she has stopped wanting to go although possibly not the extent of the upset. However the fear of abuse here is of sexual abuse and grooming I have to be very careful about his responses to her and also about her responses to him (for obvious reasons).

blinder Thu 25-Jun-09 14:17:52

that would seem to be a good solution lostdad, but I got the distinct impression from the OP's first post that she is herself afraid of her ex, or that the situation is more complex than she can say atm.

cestlavielife Thu 25-Jun-09 15:43:45

"there are probably a number of things she doesn't want to do but nevertheless she has to."

one would hope that seeing her dad is something she would WANT to do?

surely, if child is reluctant to be with their parent, then one must seriously question: why....

i really dont see it on a par with the need to go visiting old aunt gracie (why do we go there, is it BORING! and she makes us take our shoes off indoors! etc. )

one would anticipate that the child wants to see the parent.

eg in my friend's "normal" separation, the 7 year old child has written in school diary - "i like fridays because i go to daddy's house".

that is how it should be - here, there are or have been concerns about abuse - surely the child's view should be taken seriously?

in my case my children are saying they dont want to be with their dad unsupervised/unaccompanied by another trustworthy adult - and that is something i intend to listen to.

while - as was said - making sure i am not seen to beunreasonable...
they are wary for many good reasons (witnessed his previous aggreessive/violent behaviour) . and the visits in contact centre - while they appear to have gone very well - have done nothing to allay those concerns, yet. they know he will behave in front of others...they know or fear what he could be like away from watching eyes...

listen to your daughter.

could she be seen by a trained child psychologist to talk about what is going on?

GuessWhatIAmANameChanger Thu 25-Jun-09 20:30:18

Thank you Cestlavielife, I agree that a child should want to see a parent and the simple fact that they don't is enough to make a question mark in itself.

I don't know how or where to begin with a child psychologist but I think it is a brilliant idea. Is it something I can start through the GP? If she could have occasional sessions with someone she could learn to trust I would feel much more comfortable. The knowledge that it is all on me to spot problems and protect her without even being there is frightening - to say the least.

GypsyMoth Thu 25-Jun-09 22:22:17

You mention sexual abuse and grooming.

That's bloody scary and I would question the sense in unsupervised contact at all!! If there's a real risk of this then I'm astounded this father has this level of unmonitored contact

GuessWhatIAmANameChanger Thu 25-Jun-09 23:04:43

ILove, yes, I question it too - as does anyone else who knows the situation. However the court has had its say and that is what we have to live with. Sadly a lot of the things that are warning signs to every day people are not admisible in court, even given the lower requirement for proof in family court.

This situation is sadly not unusual even parents who have committed hands on abuse against their children are allowed contact eventually if they manage to tick the right boxes.

Mumofagun Thu 25-Jun-09 23:15:50

Guesswaht, you maybe going into the next phase here. I here what you said ti ILove and appreciate that even though you could or have "sworn statement" from certain people, the court will refuse to read or hear them, I've had it too. What I mean by the next stage is that, IMO, without an order as such, you wouldn't be breaching anything by stopping contact on the basis that DD doesn't want to go to dads. I personally, would not make her go and yes I know that puts a knot in your stomach cos you wonder what will happen next. However, given the circumstances how could you truly be criticised regardless of the lenient / stupid way the courts have handled this? So maybe, if you can't talk to XP and DD to find out both perspectives, the next stage will be you reporting to CAFCASS and them suggesting a further hearing maybe, with more statements etc? Personally I wouldn't care cos I would take any criticism levelled at me if I thought I was protecting my child and doing what was in her best interests. Can't see what criticism you would get though, not allowing contact for the present time is not a bloody offence. Really sorry for you, know how it feels.

blinder Thu 25-Jun-09 23:21:04

Yes, the GP or school can point you towards a child psychologist OP. But there would probably be a long wait. The reality is, however, that your DD is more likely to talk to you than a stranger because she is so young.

If she isn't exhibiting any signs of trauma (recent new bed-wetting, withdrawal, overly sexual play, nightmares, unprovoked crying, eating or sleeping pattern disruption, or other sudden behavioural changes) then you should assume that at worst she just feels uncomfortable with her dad. This is of course reason enough to ask for a new risk assessment, but not for a psychological assessment IMO (trained in child protection and practising therapist).

Err on the side of caution, stop the unsupervised contact and continue to let your DD tell you what she feels about her dad in her own way and at her own pace. Share your concerns with Cafcass in the most assertive way possible - calm but firm. You know best, you really do.

GuessWhatIAmANameChanger Thu 25-Jun-09 23:35:28

Thanks Mum, sorry to hear you have been here. I wouldn't wish the feeling on another human being, never mind the reality sad

I think I am slowly building to the place you are suggesting. I am naturally not a confrontational person and I am naturally a very balanced person, I always try to see all sides of a situation. I have been tying myself up for so long trying to make it all work for everyone concerned. Talking to Dad, being helpful and honest in court, taking things at (mostly) face value. The upshot is that I have pushed myself too far. I cannot sacrifice my sanity or my child any more. The whole mess has actually been going on for nearly 6 years.

GuessWhatIAmANameChanger Thu 25-Jun-09 23:42:19

Thank you Blinder, I can't tell you how much it means to hear some confidence in my ability to decide for myself what is best. I really have lost myself in all of this and I am driving myself nuts trying to make all the right decisions on my own. It seems really insane that this person has the support of all of the support networks available to us, to protect his "rights" whilst I, who is trying to enable a safe relationhip, has no support at all from any of them!

GuessWhatIAmANameChanger Thu 25-Jun-09 23:43:13

hmm Hope you can make sense of that last post, it is very late, sorry!

Mumofagun Fri 26-Jun-09 00:00:43

Hopefully lovey you will get some contact tomorrow from Sol and/or CAFCASS. Be strong cos your gut tells you you have to have this all out in the open no? Whatever you are doing you are doing for DS so top marks to you for caring so much to let this get you in bits! There really are people out there as you know, who care little about the feeling of these little ones. You will know what's right in the end, and do carry on beng reasonable, where reason dictates and when it doesn't, stand up for yourself! What can they do, hang you?! You have done so much the right way and I urge you to continue on this path WITHOUT feeling scared of the circumstances if you feel you have to deviate. That's the big thing. When is he due to have DD next? Can you send a text saying no, but DD would like to speak on the phone? Maybe ask DD if she would like to draw a picture for daddy that you could send him? That keeps a link from her to him and shows any court under the bloody sun that you are not trying to frustrate contact for the sake of it but that you think someone needs to hear your concerns and more importantly hers.

GuessWhatIAmANameChanger Fri 26-Jun-09 00:03:57

Mum, some good ideas. I am hoping to talk to Sol, Cafcass and the NSPCC tomorrow (busy day!) Hopefully someone will give me something to work at!

GypsyMoth Fri 26-Jun-09 00:05:52

So no defined contact order? How often is contact at present,and how is it arranged?

GuessWhatIAmANameChanger Fri 26-Jun-09 00:11:17

No, nothing defined. Currently 1 evening for 2/3 hours and 1 weekend day. Arranged between us and Cafcass. All changes and detail arranged between us.

Mumofagun Fri 26-Jun-09 00:14:55

Seeing as its arranged between you and CAFCASS do you know where he is expected to take her when he has her for those times? Or is there no agreement as to where she goes?

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