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DD didn't want to send her father a card. Family aren't happy about it.

(24 Posts)
Bear1984 Wed 07-Sep-11 16:29:04

It was DD's father's birthday last week. I asked her if she wanted to send a card. She wasn't too bothered about it so didn't. She doesn't have the greatest relationships with her father. This particularly showed over the summer holiday. Him and his family arranged to have DD (who's 8) for a week on holiday (me and DP were nearby as DD wouldn't have wanted to go otherwise). She spent only 3 nights with them as she wasn't enjoying herself.

This is the longest she would have been away from me as well. Everytime I spoke to her on the phone she sounded really down. After the 2nd night at theirs, she rang me crying asking me to go pick her up. It was a mixture of things for her really, such as for being away from me for so long (although it didn't work out that way but I think the idea of it really worried her), that the most she has had with them on her own is a weekend, and that they didn't really think to do things that she would enjoy. The place they stayed at had a swimming pool which she spent most of the time she was there in as when she wasn't in the pool, they either just sat watching tv, or went to walk round the shops. They spent a couple of hours on one day at the beach, but it was raining. Another time they took her to a crazy golf where we had arranged to meet them so DD could come back with us for a night. And that's it. I had thought they would have picked up a couple of leaflets and chosen to take her to a couple of places that would have been fun for her. Clearly I was wrong.

So in the end DD decided she didn't want to go back to them after coming to us on the 5th night. On the 6th day we asked them to come to us to drop her stop off and see where we were staying and spend a few hours with her. They're very unreliable so they left it so late that they only came and saw her for half an hour (which annoyed me as I thought they would have wanted to spend a decent amount of time with DD before they left).

Anyway, DD was in a bit of a state when she knew they were coming as she really didn't want to see them. Me and DP managed to get her calm and said that she would only see them for half hour. When they came, they only seemed to stay for 15 minutes. DD avoided them as best as she could, so I feel this is why they left earlier. DD wouldn't say bye to them so I said to her that she should since they were leaving. At which point ex's mum came over and kind of forced herself on her to give her a hug, which DD did half heartedly. The same with ex's sister, which I was a bit shocked at as DD usually gets on very well with her, and I could tell she was quite hurt by this, which made me feel sad for her. She didn't give ex a hug but gave his dad one. And then they left.

Tbh, I don't blame DD for acting that way as she really didn't enjoy herself and I thought they would have tried to make it as fun as they could for her (well his sister did anyway).

But back to my original reason for posting this! It was his birthday last week, and DD didn't want to send a card. Now his mum has texted me asking if DD was okay as ex didn't receive anything from her.

Tbh, I'm not surprised, as ex doesn't bother to call her or anything. Last time he rang was Christmas. He doesn't visit her on his own. He relies on his parents to bring him down even though he has a driving licence, and they come every 3-4 months. When DD does go to see them, which isn't often as she doesn't usually want to, she stays with his sister as she prefers her company and gets on much more with her.

I split up with ex when DD was 8 months old, and this is how it has always been except it has gotten worse in the last year that he isn't bothering to do anything unless his parents have sorted it out for him.

But I know if I say this to ex's mother she'll start having a go at me, and probably accuse me of saying things to DD etc etc (been down this route before). So I'm not quite sure what to do.

Greensleeves Wed 07-Sep-11 16:34:20

I don't know about the card thing, people make too much fuss about cards anyway IMO

but on the holiday I think you should be tougher with her - unless they are actively vile to her (and they are HER family, not ex's family) then if they take her away on holiday for a week, then that is a week of them having family time and doing things as they see fit - it isn't for you to mark them out of ten on what activities they do or whether or not she is having a blast. Most kids have been on family trips where it wasn't all about them and they were a bit bored or whatever. That is a normal experience of being in a family. IMO.

And why are you dealing with ex's mother over the card? Speak to ex directly if he wants an explanation, or ask dd to speak to him herself.

Bear1984 Wed 07-Sep-11 16:40:16

Hi greensleeves. Thanks! We did try to encourage her to to spend the last two nights with them, particularly DP, but she's got very upset about it. I suppose you're right that I could have been more tougher.

As for his mother contacting me, it's always through them anything happens. Even to come visit. Like I said ex doesn't even call DD to speak to her to see how she is, so I'm not surprised his mother has contacted me to find out why.

minimouse888 Wed 07-Sep-11 16:41:04

How old is your DD?

If you don't mind me asking, why did you and her ex split up?

It sounds a bit like you aren't keen for her to spend time with his side of the family and are encouraging her not to. If she is very young, I think you should have sorted out a card for her to send, because it was bound to cause bad feeling.

minimouse888 Wed 07-Sep-11 16:41:36

Sorry that should say 'why did you and ex split up'?

Greensleeves Wed 07-Sep-11 16:46:12

I can appreciate you wanting to just scoop her up and take her home if she is upset, I would feel like that too

but you run the risk of making it too easy for her to say "if you don't take me ice skating I will ring Mummy and tell I her I want to go home"

Bramshott Wed 07-Sep-11 16:47:04

DD1 is 8. DH and I are together, but I even if we were split up I think I would say "you need to get a card for Dad" rather than "would you like to get a card for Dad" TBH. Much as I would say "you need to have a bath" rather than "would you like to have a bath". Birthday cards for parents aren't optional in my book.

PaloAlto Wed 07-Sep-11 16:51:20

I think your judgmental behaviour on what they did, or did not do with her on holidays is disgraceful TBH.
They went to the trouble of arranging a holiday for her,and you did nothing to facilitate her staying there.
Furthermore, she is eight, when she is older then I think she should be allowed to make a decision whether she wants to send a card or not. I rather suspect that if you told her that if she could make a good case as to why she did not want to send a card, she would have shrugged and sent it anyway.

Bear1984 Wed 07-Sep-11 16:52:17

minimouse888 DD is 8 years old, almost 9. I split up with him when she was 8 months old. I was going to split up with him sooner because we weren't right together and I wasn't happy and I found out he lied to me and was on dating sites and other things as well. He betrayed my trust too.

I spent many years after we split up asking ex to come see DD and to call her and build a relationship with her because when I was younger, my dad left and I didn't see him and it was far too upsetting for me. And I didn't want that for DD, which was why I left it so long before I realised I couldn't be in a relationship that I wasn't happy in just to keep the family together.

But it's the past year that I've given up using my energy to make him have contact with her, hence why it's gotten worse. He just doesn't engage with her. Even when he's with her. Like on the holiday, DD told me that when she would ask him to play with her, he would say no, and that he had made a couple of jokes about the way she looked or the way she dressed that she took to heart and was very upset over. In some ways, I do wonder if he actually doesn't want to have any contact with DD but it's his parents making him? It's the feeling I get from everything that has happened over the years.

greensleeves you're right there. I have always said that I wanted to give DD a choice in certain matters, because I felt like I didn't have that when growing up (awful relationship with my mum), so I understand what you mean about that and guess I've never looked at it that way.

cat64 Wed 07-Sep-11 16:57:43

Message withdrawn

billgrangersrisotto Wed 07-Sep-11 16:59:41

Do you know what, if I could have got out of seeing my dad when I was young, I would have (mum and dad divorced when I was quite small). I never felt welcome at his house and I much preferred to be at home (my mums) with 'my family' (mum, my step dad and my brother). My dad never made that much of an effort with me either, left me to occupy myself most of the time, etc. Still today, we have a very distant relationship, mainly based on him feeling that he 'should' see me and my DS, and me feeling that I 'should' see him. I generally feel guilty for feeling like that (and I did when I was little too, how awful is that?).

Anyway - what I'm rambling on about is that, in my opinion, your DD shouldnt be made to feel any pressure to spend time with her dad if he's not making a reasonable amount if effort. He's the adult, he needs to step up and take control if that's what he wants. I think you're doing the right thing completely. If ex-MIL wants to get uppity about it all, make it clear to her that DD is feeling uncomfortable with her Dad, and that he doesn't seem to make an effort, etc. and you don't want her to feel worried or guilty in anyway for how she feels.

I'm not saying she shouldn't see her Dad, or that you shouldnt encourage her a bit to see him if she doesn't fancy it that much (of course, it's good for her to see her Dad), but in the end, he needs to step up and be a parent and if he's not doing that, he can't expect your small DD, or you, or his parents, to put the effort in that it takes to keep a relationship with his child going strong.

buzzsorekillington Wed 07-Sep-11 16:59:46

He sounds a lacksadaisical sad excuse for a father, but you should have got her to send a card. It's ridiculous that he doesn't visit or bother phoning on his own behalf, and I imagine this will play against him rather hard when your dd is older. But she's too young yet to be making the decision not to contact him.

I also think you should have encouraged her to stick out the holiday with the family rather than giving her too easy an out, although I can sympathise.

AnnaThePenguin Wed 07-Sep-11 17:00:09

I would have made her send the card. I would have taken her to the shop, told her to choose one, stood over her til she wrote it and then I would have posted it.

You should not have collected her from the holiday - your ex he may be, but he is her father and they are her family just as much as your side are. Why did you feel the need to contact her so much - if she was off with her dad's family and they were in charge of what happened on the holiday then it's up to them what they do. If you don't like it, or she doesn't like it then you and she are going to have to suck it up (sorry)

And just because you and her dad do things differently either on holiday or at any other time doesn't make him a bad parent.

You should toughen up with your DD and stop enabling her to play both of you off one against the other.

(I'm a single parent too I know it's rotten but at the end of the day just because they do stuff you don't like or you wouldn't do doesn't make them a bad parent)

Maybe if you stepped away a bit and let them get on with parenting they would have a better relationship.

Proudnscary Wed 07-Sep-11 17:05:16

I really sympathise too. But I really think you/she should have sent a card, it's no big deal, it's just a courtesy to acknowledge a birthday. And children should learn to be courteous. Would have saved this aggro too.

minimouse888 Wed 07-Sep-11 17:06:28

My dad is a total shit so I can sympathise, and I can see why you feel so upset about past events, but I really think she is too young for you to be encouraging her to have a bad relationship with her father.

When she is older, she will be able to make the decision for herself about whether or not she wants to see him, but in the mean time, you shouldn't encourage her not to.

I think not sending a card was quite petty, to be blunt. You did it knowing the reaction it would cause. Why? You are just causing yourself extra stress and conflict, and it doesn't seem worth it. If your ex is such a shit, your dd will find out for herself without you guiding her in that direction.

Kayano Wed 07-Sep-11 17:07:12

IMO you don't ask an 8 year old if they want to go get their dad a card, you just do it!
I sort of think you are postitioninh yourself to come to te rescue so to speak and the slightest sense of DD getting upset. They don't seem to be nasty to her and want to spend time with her and take her places. Maybe you need to step back a bit there

Next time they go away, you stay home and let them work on their relationship. You make it too easy to say no and IMO she will always be accutley aware unless you step back.

And get a damn card! She is 8!

minimouse888 Wed 07-Sep-11 17:10:27

Plus, having been in the middle of an appallingly horrible divorce when I was 9 (and all the conflict that came before it since I was born), it is so cruel and unfair to ask a child to choose between its parents.

Sadly that is what you're doing: whether you realise it or not, you are sending your DD signs that you will be displeased if she doesn't do what you want, which is reject her father in various ways.

Just being near to the place where she was on holiday shows that you wanted her to be homesick and unhappy, and choose you over him. You really need to address this as you are putting your child through a lot of turmoil and it's cruel (sorry if this sounds harsh, but I really still feel traumatised by being yanked between both parents and it is tragic to see it happen to another person).

fedupofnamechanging Wed 07-Sep-11 17:11:14

Being a father is about more than biology. If he cannot be arsed to make the effort, then the natural result of that is a child who who will not want to spend time with him.

I wouldn't have made her send a card and I wouldn't force her to go on holiday with people that she doesn't want to go on holiday with. Eight is old enough to express an opinion and have it taken into account. A holiday is supposed to be a fun experience, not something that she just has to 'suck up' because he is her 'father'.

I think shorter visits may work out better for your dd (and if your ex can't be bothered to make an effort for a day, rather than a week, then he really is a poor excuse for a parent).

I would try really hard to keep up the relationship with the GP's and the aunt, because they sound like they really want to have this with your dd, and they are her family too, but I would let her dad go his own way - you can't force what isn't there.

If my dd was upset and missing me and wanted to come home, I'd have been there in a heartbeat, just like you. I wouldn't care if these people are her relatives. If she associates seeing them with feeling sad, then it won't help their relationship in the long run.

Bear1984 Wed 07-Sep-11 17:12:37

Thanks for your messages. I do appreciate it to see it from another's pov.

I'd like to say I never contacted DD whilst she was on holiday. DD rang me from her aunt's phone to speak to me.

And yes I do apologise for saying about what they did with her. I just thought they would have done more with her. I haven't said anything to them about it, I've kept my thoughts to myself and obviously on here. This has really been my first time of actually getting to say what I thought, so best to do it on a forum than in RL right?

I guess I hadn't realised how easy I've been allowing it for DD. I've never done it to be intentionally the "best parent" or anything like that. I've always done what I thought I would have wanted as a child because I had a rough upbringing and suppose I've been trying to make it easier for DD without realising that I'm being too soft sad

And I have tried to encourage a good relationship between them, though it may not seem it. I take DD up to see him and his family, which I do for her to try and spend time with him on his own turf so that it may be easier for him or more comfortable, but even then he still doesn't do much with her.

I do apologise though, and like I said I'm glad to have a different perspective on it as I don't really have friends to talk to, and glad I can see what I'm doing wrong without it getting worse.

AnnaThePenguin Wed 07-Sep-11 17:19:27

If your DD rang you to speak to you, it's slightly different, but it's all about the subtle cues you send her - iyswim? You can send the message to her that you're not all that happy with the situation without coming out and baldly saying it.

(I loathe my ex's family and they loathe me and it sticks in my throat to say oh that's lovely I bet Granny was pleased with that or dad like this or that but I have to do it because I don't want the DC's to have any sense from me that they are a total and utter bunch of fuckwits)

I have had DD ringing me to come home or trying to get me to keep her when she's on her dad's weekend because she wants to do stuff and he has other plans that she doesn't want to fit in with, so I do understand the problem, but the way I look at it is if we were still together there would be times when the kids had to just suck it up and get on with stuff they don't particularly like, and I'm not going to spoil and enable them by changing that to a scenario where they only get the nice stuff just because we aren't together.

festi Wed 07-Sep-11 17:20:37

with out being critical I think you are making it too easy for her to opt out. I would not have given the option of not sending a card. I would have told her she must and if not she will need to deal with the repoctions or upset of that.

My dd often tells me she doesnt want to talk to her dad when he calls so I tell her thats fine but you must tell him that when he does call. she never does she chats fine with him.

My dd often crys and says I dont want to stay at daddys I want to be with you, but I tell her she should stay with him, I cant make you but you must tell him your self.

I also never call my dd when she is away with him for longer than a weekend as I know she will ask me to come get her regardless of having a good time. He will get her to call if she asks, but if she doesnt he will txt to say how she is.

He had a period of a bout 18 months out of her life when she was very small so they have had to rebuild that relationship. I did struggle with managing this with dd for a while but between me and exp we have worked it out and we dont have a great relationship our selves. But I did have to step back and stop making it easy for her to opt out.

the relationship has improved as dd has had to be a bit more indipendant, she often says to me can you ask daddy or tell daddy I want to do x y and z, I tell her no you have to tell him. I think that is the only way to build her confidance.

I must say the holiday thing does not seem a big issue, There is no reason an 8 year old would not enjoy being in the pool regularly, they did crazy golf and went to the beach unfortunatly he has no controle over the weather. Maybe if you had asked her why she wanted to go and spoke with xp about what she had said it could have been resolved without her coming home, Im not surpsied they didnt rush around to spend alot of the evening with her on the last day, I certainly wouldnt have as it seems they are damned if they do and damned if they dont, I can tell thats not your intention, but is possibly how they see it especially as you also traveld to be near her they possibly find that quite difficult.He may step up if you give him more of the reigns.

I would certainly try to step back as dd also may be in fear of thinking, If I cant always call the shots I can drop people with very little regard.

Bramshott Wed 07-Sep-11 17:30:33

The trouble with "I wouldn't force her to go on holiday with people that she doesn't want to go on holiday with" karma is that I think that's only acceptable if it's the same for both parents. I wouldn't accept it if DD said she didn't want to come on holiday with me.

BalloonSlayer Wed 07-Sep-11 17:40:40

Re the card, I think you ought to have said "You need to send your Dad a card," bought one and got her to write it.

Even if he is a crap Dad - and I doubt he does the same for you - it's simply the right thing to do.

fedupofnamechanging Wed 07-Sep-11 18:49:24

I disagree Bramshott, because the mother is the one who is doing all the parenting in this case. The dad seems to be involved only because his parents and sister keep up the contact. If the parents shared custody or the dad was properly involved in raising the child, then I would agree with you. As it is, the child doesn't seem to feel much for him and that appears to be his own doing.

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