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Please help - How on earth do I handle this?!(11 Posts)
ExP's new girlfriend of 4 months is pregnant. They are now living together (in the flat ExP and I jointly own) and are getting married in the new year.
We split up 6 months ago after 9 years. DD is 4.
DD has never met this woman. She is finding it difficult to come to terms with the fact that ExP and I are no longer together; she is always asking "do you love Daddy?" and drawing pictures of the 3 of us. She freaked out big time when I changed a photo at home of ExP and I to one of her and I. She asks when we will go on holiday together again, asks when we will have another baby together, when will we get married "because that's what Mummies and Daddies do".
Of course I explain the situation very honestly to her whenever she mentions anything like this (which is often). I do not give her any false hope, I do not talk about ExP at all. Obviously if she mentions him I respond in a positive way in regards to him being "Daddy", not about my personal feelings towards him.
ExP has not seen DD in 6 weeks. I had no clue about the living together/marriage/baby situation at the start. It started off with him asking me if he could introduce her to new gf of 3 months. Considering DD's current state of confusion, and the fact it was a very new relationship, I asked if he could wait a while. He said that he couldn't wait (now I know why) and if he couldn't tell her there and then he wouldn't see her at all. Which is exactly what has happened. No contact, no phone calls, no nothing. I feel as if DD is already second best to his new relationship.
My problem is that DD needs a relationship with her father, she adores him. My trouble is, how do I go about preparing DD for the huge change ahead? It would have been a massive deal to introduce her to a new partner. On top of this, she has to adjust to the fact they are living together and having her brother or sister in a few months time.
I would have liked the introduction process to have been very slow, at DD's pace. This cannot happen now for obvious reasons. I'm so worried about the whole thing. What if DD and GF do not get along? They are going to be living together! How will GF cope with her first newborn as well as looking after a child she barely knows every other weekend and 2 days in the week? DD plays up when she's with her Dad anyway, he lets her get away with murder. I'm just concerned that DD will play up even more, confusion, new baby jealousy...I don't know how they will cope with that. ExP has no patience as it is. How will DD adjust to the fact that Daddy has a new baby who lives with him all the time? They are the "real" family, she is the one who is second best, coming in and out of his life.
She doesn't even know about this woman yet. I've been trying to subtly drop hints about "new friends", but I really have no idea how to handle this at all. DD is going to be very very upset.
"He said that he couldn't wait (now I know why) and if he couldn't tell her there and then he wouldn't see her at all. Which is exactly what has happened. No contact, no phone calls, no nothing."
OMG what a total bastard.
You need to talk to him ASAP.
Your DD needs to be told about the new girlfriend and baby.
Shit, after the 6 week disappearing act she is not going to take it well.
Poor wee girl
Kids always want their parents together, it's forced down their throats on tv film etc. But they adjust and adapt to new set ups as your dd will. I think it would be best coming from you or she'll get a shock. Maybe talk to her about relationships ending and new ones starting, like her dad and his gf?
Good luck it must be incredibly hard for you
I suppose you can hope that this is just a phase and that your XP will come to his senses at some point and start behaving like a decent father. It's easy to get swept up in a new romance after all.
However, if this sort of behaviour is typical for him, you may want to consider the fact that she's better off having contact with him kept to a minimum anyway. While that will be more upsetting for her in the short term, it will be better for her in the long term. The research is increasingly showing that while contact with both parents is best, that only applies where contact is regular, consistent and positive. Sporadic or inappropriate contact can actually do more damage than a totally absent father.
This must be incredibly hard for you coming so soon after the breakup. 6 months is nothing really. Unlike your XP, however, it seems that you are capable of putting your DDs needs first, and if you can do so without causing yourself huge emotional trauma, there are ways you can handle this if he has a better nature you can appeal to (and that's the question here, isn't it...)
You can do nothing about the new relationship or the new baby apart from accept them and try to make them a positive thing for DD. That's going to depend on your XPs ability to integrate the two. Could you call a meeting with him and say something along the lines that while it's obviously a difficult situation, your only desire is that DD feel included as part of his new family, rather than pushed aside, which is going to mean some special daddy-only time as well as new family time. Lay it on thick about how much she adores him and how much she needs reassurance that her parents' relationship ending doesn't mean he no longer loves her and that the only way to demonstrate that is through spending quality time with her as well as telling her. Try to work out a practical schedule that achieves a realistic balance for all parties concerned and then stick to it.
I hope he meets you half way, I really do.
What a horrendous situation!! My first husband behaved in a similar way minus the getting the new gf pregnant bit when we split up he took up with her and her ds and pretty much forgot about his own children my eldest dd was also 4 and in hindsight I wish I had done more than I had to help her, sure I spoke to her about the situation but I think it caused some permanent damage I would firstly speak to her nursery/school and see what they suggest they will have a lot of experience of this if you have one a family liaison worker at your local children's centre can be a massive help to you and your dd they can be someone for both you and your child to talk to especially if the relationship between her and her father deteriorates, my daughter spoke to what in effect was a school counsellor at primary school about her dad when she was a bit older and even though I suspect a bit of damage is irreversible it definitely helped good luck, it's a nightmare situation but you and your dd have to stick together and be a team if she knows your in it together she won't feel so confused as times goes on and the situation reveals itself to her., also I do think you need to be straight with her, if children don't know what's going on they will fill in the gaps for themselves and worry themselves sick xxx
I just don't know how to do this. The softly softly approach clearly needs to be massively speeded up and I don't know how to handle it.
I can't say introduce them one week for an hour and then the next say "Oh, she's having your baby brother or sister!"
I wish someone could give me a timeline and steps on how to deal with it all along. Just feel clueless right now. All I want is for DD to come out of this as emotionally intact as possible. For me personally, I couldn't give a monkey's. He's such a dick!
Do you know anything about the girlfriend? Is she likely to be someone who will try her best with your DD, or might she resent her? I wonder how she feels about your ex not being in touch with his DD.
As other posters have said, keeping contact minimal might be the best solution in the longer term, especially if the new gf is not interested.
Try to keep in mind that time moves much more slowly for children anyway and the normal social niceties about the time between ending one relationship and starting another (let alone getting a new partner pregnant) do not exist in the mind of a young child. What seems ridiculously fast to us, will seem like ages to a four year old and at this age they really are incredibly adaptable.
That doesn't make his behaviour ok of course, but if the GF is still in the first trimester of her pregnancy, then that's plenty of time for a four year old to learn about daddy's new GF, meet her, and then digest that there is going to be a new baby in a few month's time.
If you really feel at a loss, you could try family counselling. As Moosy says, talking to the nursery staff might also help. It's not that uncommon a situation and there is certainly a collective wisdom out there you can tap into to.
I have no idea. That's what worries me.
What if she resents DD having contact, especially with a newborn around? She doesn't know DD, doesn't have any emotional connection whatsoever. As far as I can see, it will be a child that she has met a handful of times running around, causing chaos when she's trying to deal with her own baby. Who's going to get shut out or unfairly told to sit still and be quiet?
All I really know is what ExP has told me, which is that she is lovely but has had a "very very awful past". What does that mean? Awful as in alcoholism or something? Or abuse? Is it her family? In which case, will that mean that DD will have to have contact with them, seeing as it's going to be her step-mum?
ExP is not helping and refusing to let us meet. I at least want to meet her once, try to get an idea of who my daughter is going to be living with. Is that unreasonable? I also want to chat with them to discuss how discipline/new baby/practical living arrangements are going to work. He is refusing point blank at the moment.
I'm just at a complete loss at what to do, although I'm fully aware of the ticking clock which is against me!
As DD's other parent, your XP is assumed in law to be capable of exercising his own judgment about who he allows to be around his DD and he does not need your approval. I suspect your wanting to meet his GF - while totally natural, understandable and borne from a desire to look out for your daughter - is being interpreted by him as vetting his companion, which he sees as undermining his authority. He may also feel that you are infantilising him and being controlling about how he should parent his child and live his life when you say you want to discuss discipline/new baby/practical living arrangements, etc.
Given the circumstances, he should understand why you are doing this and try to work with it because it's all in your DDs best interests, but his recent behaviour doesn't exactly present him as the sensitive, understanding type, so I'm not altogether surprised.
You could try a more placatory approach to see if you can win him round, but TBH refusing to even discuss arrangements is immature, impractical and smacks of fuckwittery. You may be better off just talking to your DD about all this and preparing her that way while ignoring your XP until he grows up and contacts you.
Could you write to him, setting out your concerns and requesting some kind of plan to move forward?
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