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Help needed

(35 Posts)
Elixir123 Fri 14-Feb-14 01:44:41

First I have to say that I am writing this thread as I am unsure where to turn to.
My friend (that old chestnut, but seriously it is a friend) has had is world turned upside down and has become somebody that I no longer recognise.
So why come here, well I need to find a way to bring him back from the brink.
Let me give you the background.

He was dating a single mother for 7 months, then she finished with him.
Now whilst this is not a problem, what is a problem is that just a few weeks before they had both introduced each other to their kids.
Ever since his divorce my friend had always been concerned about introducing his son to any partner, as any parent would be.
He and the woman in question and both agreed that they would wait 6 months to ensure that the relationship was going somewhere before the kids were introduced. Again as any parent would.
However, as it transpires, the woman in question was having doubts for a couple of weeks before she met his son, and so she told him she discussed meeting his son with a friend of hers and they both decided that in order to see the the whole man she needed to see my friend with his son.
His son liked her almost from the first moment, and my friend was over the moon. He and I went out and had a little celbratory drink that introductions had gone so well, and he had fallen in love with her daughter. Her daughter had special needs and he was so moved after meeting her the first time that she became one of the things that he talked about the most, how she was so happy and he couldn't wait to be a more permanent part of her life and learn about her needs and to help in any way that he could.
Then a few weeks later the fall out started.
His son was devestated (he had only just turned 8)
My friend sees it that he didn't protect his son from getting hurt.
Whilst he was upset at the relationship ending he was also realistic in that these things happen, but seeing his son hurt by this has really changed his character, he sees himself as being a terrible parent for allowing this to happen to his little boy. His son even now some 5 months on gets upset about it. He has asked me many times if I will take him to see her and her daughter as he knows his daddy wont. It's heartbreaking.

How can I make my friend see that he did everything possible to protect his son?
Also could somebody tell me how a mother would use a partners child in this manner?
He believed that they would only meet and introduce their kids if they were both 100% certain that they would be progressing the relationship, after all once the kids were introduced it would make it easier to spend more time together, rather than having to sneak around, they would have 'family days out', etc.
I just need some advice as I am at a loss as to why someone would use a child in that manner, especially as the reasons for her leaving him would never have changed after meeting his son. So I find it quite sick that she did this, I would love to name and shame her but there is no point in that.
As a non parent myself I cannot comprehend either side of the story, a work colleague of mine suggested this site as she has seen many forums that she helped her through some difficult times.
Any help or advice would be really helpful, equally if this is a common thing to happen, how do other parents cope with it so that I can pass that on.
My friend has changed so much, I guess that if you feel like a terrible parent it can be all consuming

AlfAlf Fri 14-Feb-14 02:10:44

Not having a crystal ball doesn't make one a terrible parent. I think he was way more sensible than most people to wait six months before introducing his son to her.
He needs to get some perspective. For many of us it takes quite a few failed attempts before we find a relationship that works.. It's normal to have some disappointments along the way. It's ok for his son to know all this, maybe your friend (or you, it sounds like his son trusts and has a good rapport with you?) can explain it all a bit better to him?

Elixir123 Fri 14-Feb-14 02:23:31

I'm his sons godfather. He and I have been friends for 30 years.
This was his first proper relationship after divorce and he just feels he let his son down, and has been questioning himself constantly over it.
He sees his son every other weekend and just feels that he has let his son down by letting him get hurt.
Also having met them both they were both adamant that the kids were the most important thing and they wouldn't introduce them unless they were sure that the relationship was going somewhere. From a godparents perspective I was delighted by this, I don't want my godson to see a revolving door of aunts and uncles.

Lweji Fri 14-Feb-14 05:03:48

We can never be 100% sure a relationship will work, and "progressing" means nothing.

I think he needs to look at why the child was devastated about someone he had met so recently, instead.
His "falling" for that little girl also seemed a bit over the top and too fast.
I'd probably have run for the hills too. Sorry.

In future, it might actually be better to introduce the potential partner slowly, rather than make a big deal out of it. That way your friend can evaluate the effect of the children in the relationship dynamics. But they don't need to be introduced as anything else than friends, with very clear boundaries.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 14-Feb-14 06:26:19

How did introduce the woman? As permanent fixture, 'the one', or just a friend? I agree with Lweji that the risk of prolongued waiting is that it can build someone up into being 'a big deal' with formal introductions making it very high pressure and big expectations for everyone concerned. If new people are around in a more casual sense, the way other friends are around, then children may not get so attached. My DS meets all my adult friends.

I doubt his DS is as gutted as he thinks if he only met the woman a few times. Your friend is the one that is heart-broken. Planning to be a permanent part of someone's life after only six months, he was rushing.

KepekCrumbs Fri 14-Feb-14 06:43:36

I was introduced to my partner's daughter after about 7 months as 'dad's friend'. It was a while after that before I was dad's partner.

It does seem as though he went a bit full on once they had met even though he left it a sensible time before that.

FolkGirl Fri 14-Feb-14 06:52:01

I agree with Lweji and Cog.

I'm probably going to sound terribly harsh he, but your friend sounds like a bit of a drama llama.

If my daughter (nearly 8) met one of my friends a few times and then didn't see them again, she wouldn't be devastated. She might ask after them and when we were going to see them again, but she wouldn't be crying and asking for a 3rd party intervention. Just exactly how was this presented to the child before it happened?

Falling in love with her daughter? I have 2 children and I'd be a bit put off by that level of intensity. And if the depth of feeling were attributed to either of their SN, then I'd find that really patronising, tbh.

Wanting to name and shame someone because a relationship didn't work out? That's a bit OTT.

Feeling like a "terrible parent" it being "all consuming" talk of "family days out" (after 6 months? They're not family) "really changed his character"...

Blimey, he sounds like terribly hard work, far too intense and it makes me want to turn and run from the thread, I can't imagine what a relationship would be like.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 14-Feb-14 06:54:41

" how a mother would use a partners child in this manner?"

'Use' is a totally inappropriate word. hmm You seem to have a very narrow view of what is and isn't an appropriate way for a single man with a child to behave.

FolkGirl Fri 14-Feb-14 06:55:18

Although I do think he's got his head screwed on about waiting.

I just think it sounds to me like it was presented to him as something rather than just, "We're going out today with friend of mine and her daughter".

Even if the son knew he was seeing someone. The relationship is between the adults and should be kept that way. The children shouldn't feel the intensity of the adult feelings just in case it doesn't work out...

FolkGirl Fri 14-Feb-14 06:59:02

If the man only sees his son every other weekend, there can't even have been many meetings between the child and this woman and her daughter.

I think it's probably been talked about far too much. I think there were probably too many conversations along the lines of:

"Just imagine what it will be like when..."
"So what did you think of her? Did you like her? What did you think of her daughter? Isn't she lovely?"
"When we go to .... we can ask X and her daughter if they want to come too."

FolkGirl Fri 14-Feb-14 07:02:02

"over the moon"
"so moved after meeting her"

Just too much. Next time he needs to hold back and keep his emotions to himself a little more so as not to scare somene off.

This level of intesity isn't flattering to most people. It's a bit of a warning sign.

That's it now. I'm going grin

Poppylovescheese Fri 14-Feb-14 07:23:16

I am sorry but I think you are totally wrong to blame this woman. He sounds massively OTT and it would make me run a mile. She wasn't committed to a life-time to him because she met his kid! I have a friend who is extremely intense and tbh it drives me mad and makes me want to run in the opposite direction.

Elixir123 Fri 14-Feb-14 09:23:51

I take all the points made.
She was introduced as his girlfriend, so that was probably the mistake he made, as I guess it just 'cranked up the pressure' on all concerned.
His son has met many other female friends, and hasn't got attached to them in the same way.
He's not normally an intense person, so I'm not sure why he became so intense over this relationship.
I think it's a learning curve for him and all single parents, I suspect next time will be different.
To be clear though it was not this little girls special needs that made the difference to him, he's not a condescending person by nature. I've known him most of my life, and he's well travelled and well educated and lived in countries of extreme poverty, and whilst he has been moved by distressing lives that he has been introduced to he has never 'fallen' for them or anything like that. I questioned him over it when he said it and it seemed a bit much, but it has changed him as he is now doing a lot for charities that deal with kids with special needs, whether it is time or fundraising. So from that I don't doubt that it did have an effect on him.
I think from his side it's just a question of why did she meet his son if she already knew that things weren't going to work out, as he was blissfully unaware of any problems. She did admit that she did not even talk about her doubts to him, so I can understand why he was unaware.
I guess from reading the comments it's not as bad a thing as he and I have seen it to be though.
Thanks all

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 14-Feb-14 09:30:47

"why did she meet his son if she already knew that things weren't going to work out,"

Maybe she didn't know that at the time? This is a human relationship you're talking about and they don't tend to follow smooth, predictable trajectories. We can be head over heels one minute and then something expected happens that makes us feel less warm and fuzzy towards the other person. We give people the benefit of the doubt. We do and say things we later regret or we make mistakes. We've all been upset to discover that we were dead keen in a relationship and the other party was ultimately 'not that into you'.

It's not a phenomena that only applies to single parents BTW. I take it it's been a while since you were on the dating scene?

Elixir123 Fri 14-Feb-14 09:49:03

No i'm quite a regular on the dating scene as it goes.
As my mate has said, if she had walked away before she had met his son then no problems, because she already knew she was going to. None of the reasons she gave for walking away would have changed between the time she and her friend decided that she should meet my godson, and the 8 or so weeks after meeting him.
I was having doubts in my last relationship, I sat down with her and discussed it with her before being introduced to her children. Having had the discussion we decided that we would try for a little longer and see, but keep her children away from the situation until we were sure.
Maybe he and I are just overprotective of his son

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 14-Feb-14 09:58:00

Newsflash.... there would have been some good reasons for walking away that she didn't give in order to save your friend's feelings.

Elixir123 Fri 14-Feb-14 10:18:54

Cogito.....we both understand that, and that isn't a problem, relationships are a lottery. Sometimes the things you find endearing at the start begin to grate after a while.
Believe me the reasons given did nothing to save my friends feelings, they were very deep and cutting, and the manner it was done was very callous, but this isn't about that.

scornedwoman67 Fri 14-Feb-14 11:58:23

Elixir your friend sounds lovely. Its probably a lesson learned for him. Help him dust himself down, and encourage him to go out and meet a lovely lady who will appreciate him x

Dahlen Fri 14-Feb-14 12:30:28

I agree with the others. IF the relationship lasted 7 months in total, and DC weren't introduced until after 6 months, something went very badly wrong with the way those introductions were handled.

Children handle transient relationships with adults very well when they understand that this person is not someone they should pin all their hopes for the future on. Children leave childminders, teachers, playgroup leaders behind regularly without being devastated, although they may well ask about them from time to time.

Your friend has to bear responsibility here, not the XGF. From what you've said, she had doubts but wanted to see him with his DC to get a better view of his personality/life to see if there was a future after all. That's not the same as fully intending to break it off and just meeting the child for the hell of it. IMO she was right to do that. My current BF said that while he respected my decision on when was the right time to introduce my DC to him, he never felt like he knew the whole me until he had as they are a huge part of my life. I imagine the XGF felt the same.

When I introduced my DC to my BF, I had high hopes of the relationship, but I knew there were no guarantees. It was a long time before I allowed any real interaction between the two of them, such as him reading to them or putting them to bed, rather than them just doing normal stuff with me but with BF being there IYSWIM. This was precisely so that if things didn't work out BF would be considered as just another friend in mummy's life (albeit one mummy considered special) that had no real importance to them.

I'm sorry your friend has been so hurt, but he needs to look at his own behaviour here, no one else's. IF he's that distraught that you no longer recognise him, after a 7 month relationship with a woman he hasn't even cohabited with and with whom their lives have barely intertwined, he clearly isn't ready to be dating and may benefit from some time alone.

Elixir123 Fri 14-Feb-14 13:17:38

Dahlen.....He was staying with her a couple of nights during the week, and she was the one who made the decision on where to meet his son. My friend wanted it to be in a group surrounding so that she was in the background, but she insisted on a meeting just the three of them.
I told my friend that he should stand his ground on this, but he said that they had already discussed moving in together so he got carried away with it. I can see some errors in the way he handled things, as can he. the fact that she had brought up the idea of marriage quite publicly on more than one occasion made him feel comfortable that this was just a little but massively significant step forward.
My godson is quite an intense little boy for an 8 year old, possibly because during his parents 2 year divorce they all had to live together for 18 months and so he was in a pressure cooker environment. My friend wanted to move out but under instructions from his solicitor he had to stay put (he was taking on the family home as part of the financial settlement and she couldn't afford to move out).
I know I'm defensive of my friend and have only one side of the story really, but my godson did take this hard because he saw his daddy really happy for the first time in a long time.
One of the reasons she split from him is that she didn't get on with his sense of humour, which I know is very dry and can be quite dark at times, so if you don't like that why would it change when meeting his son. I would have thought that he would have picked up on something like that, but obviously he didn't. So that's why I say she had no intention of carrying it on, if you're not enjoying fun and laughter together then the relationship wont last

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 14-Feb-14 13:20:25

So you're now saying that the kid wasn't really attached to the girlfriend, he was just enjoying having a happy father. Which actually means that your friend could make his DS's life better by choosing to behave in a happy way. This 'dry and dark' sense of humour obviously plays out pretty badly to small children...

Elixir123 Fri 14-Feb-14 13:25:31

I would like to add that my friend is not laying the blame solely at her door, he knows of things that he did that were not great for the relationship, so it's not about laying blame for the relationship break up, it's about his son, and trying to get my friend to realise that he did all he could to protect his son

Elixir123 Fri 14-Feb-14 13:27:37

Cogito.....by the way that he asks about going to see her whenever I see him I would say yes he did get atached.

Elixir123 Fri 14-Feb-14 13:32:21

Cogito......he does know the boundaries of humour and doesn't impose it on his son. When I see them together they are always doing the silly things that kids find funny, he is amazing with kids, all of his friends love it when he sees them as he keeps the kids thoroughly entertained from the minute he walks in to the minute he leaves.

JeanSeberg Fri 14-Feb-14 13:38:43

Christ, I feel exhausted just reading about this.

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