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Need advice on how to explain birthday card from exP

(5 Posts)
muminthecity Thu 24-Sep-09 21:13:24

Today was DD's 4th birthday. She hasn't had any contact with her father since May 2008, mainly his choice, though I haven't attempted to initiate contact during this time either. He is a difficult man with a ferocious temper, we split up when DD was a baby (we were never married) and he wandered in and out of her life, sometimes seeing her every other day, sometimes not seeing her for months at a time. We had an almighty row in May last year, he was very abusive and said some awful things about DD, including that he never wanted to see her again, didn't want to be a father etc. I changed my numbers and he hasn't contacted us since (he knows my address - we live about 10 minutes away from each other.)

DD and I have carried on with our lives, she doesn't appear to have been affected by any of this. We still see exMIL regularly, she and I aren't exactly close but we get on ok and she and DD adore each other. She always visits us at our house, I will not let DD go to her house because exP is living there.

So, that's the background. Back to today, exMIL came round to visit DD and give her her birthday presents and cards. She also gave DD a card and present from exP, she did quietly mention to DD that they were from Daddy but DD was too engrossed in the present opening and didn't pay any attention, so I let her get on with it and haven't mentioned it again since. I'm now wondering if I've done the right thing. Should I have tried harder to explain to DD that these things were from her father?

Last year she didn't get any cards or presents from him for birthday or christmas so it's not something I've had to deal with before. Should I mention it to her tomorrow or just leave it? She has asked me if she has a daddy before and I've told her that she does, we just don't see him very much. She's always been happy with this reply and never asked any further questions.

fortyplus Thu 24-Sep-09 21:33:57

I would leave it unless she asks you. She probably has little recollection of him, but you have to accept that if he wants to become a bigger part of dd's life in future then you will probably be compelled to grant him access. It's great that dd still has a wonderful relationship with exMIL - paternal grandparents often lose out in these circumstances. If dd does ask then answer questions truthfully without referring to his unacceptable behaviour.

muminthecity Thu 24-Sep-09 21:52:57

Thankyou for the advice. I wouldn't deny exP access if he actually really wanted it, he's just never asked. I am prepared for the questions I know I'll eventually have to answer from DD, but a bit unsure how I will explain the fact that her father lives with her granny and yet he never visits whereas granny visits all the time, without letting her know that he just isn't that fussed about seeing her, but I guess it'll be a long time before she is able to make that connection.

As for the card/gift, I won't mention it unless DD does.

mmrred Thu 24-Sep-09 22:37:51

Do you think this is a toe in the water, so to speak, from him, having calmed down and grown up and realised what he's missing, or do you think MIL bought a pressie and shoved a card in front of his nose and said sign this?

I think you have to think about the future - what do you want for her? Is it better that she never has any contact with her father, or do you want her to have him in her life?

I'd talk to the MIL, find out what is going on with him. Maybe the time has come to rethink the issue.

My XH went through a weird phase of avoiding contact (I'd like to think becasue of guilt because of all the lying and cheating!) and he said it was because he felt she would be better off without him - I had to encourage contact quite a bit and I think it was to her benefit, at least she's never been left to wonder...

muminthecity Thu 24-Sep-09 22:45:28

mmrred - It could be a step towards re-instating contact with DD but I think it's far more likely that MIL bought the card and present and got him to sign it. Although I do wonder why she'd do this now and not last year?

I have thought about the future and obviously I would like DD to at least know who her father is, but he has walked away many times before and I have no doubt that he would do so again and again. I certainly not want him to have any unsupervised contact as he has such an explosive temper and has been violent in the past. I don't necessarily think that he would be violent toward DD but it is likely that she might witness him losing his temper which is something I want to avoid at all costs.

The fact is, he is lazy and immature and even if he did want contact he wouldn't do anything pro-active about it, he will sit around for years and wait until I approach him.

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