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Want to get things right this time - please no flamming.

(20 Posts)
emjanedel Tue 19-Jul-11 16:34:11

I'm a bit scared of posting this a last time i posted a got a roasting. This is going to be long so please be with me.
The story so far:
I have been with my DP for 5 years and he has a daughter who is 11. For the first 3 years DP pretended i didn't exist even going as far as when asked by his dd "do you have a gf" him saying no.

I met her for the first time about 2.5 years ago. This went really well until she came bak to our home for the first time. Her mum then stopped contact. DP and ex went to mediation a number of reasons where mentioned as to why contact had stopped. The crux being DP's DD didn't like me and didn't like the idea that DP and i were having a baby.

DP took this to court and with the help of CAFCASS he managed to achieve 1 hour of contact with his daughter every week with myself and our DD being there for 15 minutes.

After 8 weeks of this taking place SD and i fell out. She told me that she only wanted to see her dad on her own every weekend i explained that this wouldn't be possible all the time as she was expected to spend some time with our family.
Since then she has refused to see either me or her half sister.

Now CAFCASS recommened that it was the interests of both children they should spend regular time together and this avenue should be persued.

My DP came away from court with a contact agreement saying that he was to have contact on his own one hour a fortnight.
He has decided that he wants to take this back to court and try to bring her back into our lives.

Now i am in full support of this but i am terrified. I want this to work. But i don't know how to. I am looking for some basic ideas that we can use to make it easy for both me and her, I am shy and not easy going ( uptight is another word) and i am terrfied of saying anything that might be used against me.

So can you please help me detach, relax and have a relationship with this person..

LordIt Tue 19-Jul-11 16:48:40

I don't have any real advice I'm afraid - the way I am feeling at the moment, my instinct would be telling me to let your DH have his contact with her, and stay out of the situation.

That is probably "bad" advice, but sometimes I think it's better to let things lie for a while. If you keep pushing to be there then it will upset her, you and your DH - possibly your dd as well.

She is at a difficult age as well.

Hopefully someone else will have some better advice, sorry!

eslteacher Tue 19-Jul-11 18:05:15

My instinct (based on zero experience I should add) would be to detatch a bit, don't push anything re: your own relationship with her (beyond neutrally being in the same room?), but get your DP to do whatever he can to foster a relationship between his two DDs. That, and his own relationship with your DSD should be the priority I think, as things stand?

Marne Tue 19-Jul-11 18:18:34

I would allow dh to have contact on his own with her if that is what she wants, her views will change as she gets older and i'm sure eventually she will except you and your dd, your dh needs to sort out his relationship with her before sorting out time with the rest of you (she needs to come first and feel like her dad is makig the effort). We had problems with DSS when dd1 was born, when i was pg he refussed to come over, we let him chose when he wanted to visit, once i had dd1 and he held her (i basicly placed dd1 in his arms and left them to it) then he was ok. He's now 18 and we rarely see him but talk over the phone, i also have another DSS who is now 15 and a DSD who is 11 (who i now get on really well with). These things take time (it did for us), i have been with dh now for 8 years, the first 3-4 years were hard work and now it has settled down.

emjanedel Tue 19-Jul-11 18:38:49

Thanks for the replies. The situation stands thats DP sees her once a fortnight and has done for some time. She said to him recently that she would like to see more of him and understands that he wants me and DD to be involved hence my DP taking it back to court. He has explained to her that he is going back to court and that he will ask for more time and that me and DD be involved and she said that she would be happy for that to happen. He has also said that he would use CAFCASS to help this along.

What i am asking (sorry that it wasn't clear) is how i as a step mother can forge a relationship with her. As when im around here im terrified of what to say.

Marne Tue 19-Jul-11 19:42:14

Just try and relax around her, make her feel welcome, ask her what she would like to eat so you can buy it in for her, try and find out what she likes doing and try and make time to share her interests.

brdgrl Tue 19-Jul-11 20:47:50

You say you are a bit shy - don't be afraid to tell her so! It might seem obvious to you, but you don't want her to misconstrue your shyness as unfriendly or annoyed with her. Just try to be warm when you greet her; but don't try to be a bubbly outgoing person if that's not you.

What is she like? Is she talkative, reserved, funny, serious, sweet...? Spend a little while sizing her up. What works with one kid might not with another - some can't wait to be asked questions and will talk your ear off, while you might get farther with another one by sitting quietly in the same room.

Also, try to feel more confident! You have nothing to apologize for or feel badly about, so don't let the situation intimidate you. And after all, you are a mom, right? So you know a thing or two already. Just relax and trust your instincts. good luck.

NanaNina Wed 20-Jul-11 00:10:23

Why are you terrified of what to say? Sorry I accept that is a true representation of how you feel, but you really must try to be a bit more realistic. 11 is a difficult age - very often girls of this age are reaching puberty - my gr/dght is 11 and is very embarrased about her swelling breasts etc. I just think you should act as you normally would - don't try too hard to please her and don't make her feel unwelcome, but stay in the middle of that continuum. Don't ask her too many questions in an attempt to get her to talk. It will take time to build a relationship and hopefully you will get to know her and how she functions, what she likes to do etc etc. Surely her dad can give you explanations of the kind of girl she is, and her likes and dislikes etc.

My guess is that she will hang around her dad - if this happens just let it happen (even though it will probably annoy you) Not sure how old your own child is - could this be an ice breaker. Girls of 11 are usually pretty good with younger kids.

As brdgrl says - you have nothing to feel bad about and don't let the situation intimidate you. She is just a kid, probably confused as almost all kids are in these situations, but try and relax and don't expect too much too soon.

LordIt Wed 20-Jul-11 09:28:47

Ah I see.

Well it sounds like a very positive step that she is happy for you and DD to be there smile.

Does DH see her at a contact centre or will she come to the house? If it a contact centre then just be there, smile, say "hello how are you?" and then take it from there. Maybe focus on her interaction with your DD - it's the one thing you have in common. Just take it one step at a time and keep smiling smile.

Smum99 Wed 20-Jul-11 11:04:11

I remember your earlier posts and you have really been through the wringer so I understand why you feel so nervous. You have been made to feel as if it's all your fault that SD doesn't want to be involved with you but you need to realise that you are OK. You may also need to let go of all the past experiences and just imagine this is your first time meeting her. Just be welcoming and maybe say something like you are really pleased to see her. Let your DP take the lead. It is likely that when she gets older she will make up her own mind and have her own opinions on you. My DSS was coached very strongly not to like me but as he has reached his teens he has realised that I'm actually a good person to have around. He sent me a heartfelt card on mothers day, thanking me for all my kindness. It was a major breakthrough and not one that I could have imagined years earlier.

Keep in your mind that you haven't done anything wrong, your SD will eventually see that and she will be grateful that you and your DP for sticking by her through all of this.

fairystepmother Thu 21-Jul-11 09:52:49

It's easier to engage with kids when you're doing something, as if you're stuck for anything else to talk about then you can always talk about what you're doing! If you're meeting at contact centre then it might be tricky to 'engineer' an activity, but out and about or at home it should be easier. If you are at contact centre how about you take something like a jewelry making set with you - ask her to make a necklace/bracelet for herself and then praise how lovely it is and ask if she'll make your daughter one the same so they have matching ones. It's something you can all do together as a group.

Use your DD as common focus. Ask her if she would like to help you and your OH with stuff to do with your daughter (feed, dress, play) and praise her for doing it too. Kids love praise and a simple 'oh you're really good at this SD' can do wonders and create a positive experience for her. You need to build on these positives.

Although I can see the temptation in leaving your OH and SD to get on with it, I think you risk setting up yourself for your SD never wanting you to be involved. Your SD needs to understand and come to terms with the fact that you and her sister exist and you will always be around. Help her come to terms with that slowly and build on a relationship bit by bit.

You can do it - but take your time and work at SD's pace so she doesn't feel pressured.

Lasvegas Thu 21-Jul-11 11:05:30

I really don't see how going back to court so that you and daughter can have contact is going to help relationships at all. Your DH is risking alienating his daughter if he insists that his first child meet his new partner and new child. Surely if she wants to see him one to one that is up to her, he should be glad she wants to see him.

My own Skids are 6 and 4 years older than the child my DH and I have. The kids get on very well and really close, but I doubt this would have been the case if we had got a court order to make them meet their step mum and half sibling.

emjanedel Thu 21-Jul-11 12:57:41

Thanks. I agree that if the contact was in a more relaxed atmosphere then things would slowl get better - however the last round of contact was 10 minutes per week in a well known fast food restaurant. That is why we are looking again to CAFCASS to build up contact in a way that is good for both chidlren.

Lasvegas - your comment perplexes me. Its not a order to force her to see us. It is simply to have an order that doesn't say "father to have contact on his own".

Lasvegas Thu 21-Jul-11 14:02:07

emjandel I am alos confused is this correct - at the moment the dad can only have on his own as this is what the child asked for and Court agreed to.

Now the father is returning to court to say he wants contact but not on his own, I thought his motivation for this was so that you and your small daughter were also sitting next to him at the contact.

Thanks

brdgrl Thu 21-Jul-11 19:55:02

in her seond post i believe the OP says that the daughter understands and is agreeable to seeing her father AND to some contact with the OP and the half-sister.

lasvegas you say "Your DH is risking alienating his daughter if he insists that his first child meet his new partner and new child. Surely if she wants to see him one to one that is up to her, he should be glad she wants to see him. "

i have to say that i generally disagree with this - obviously there might be factors in this specific case that we aren't aware of - but IN GENERAL, I don't really see why the father should just be grateful for any contact whatsoever - surely a child doesn't automatically get the choice as to whether to see a parent or not! If we were talking about an adult child, that would be different, but a minor child of 11 is not necessarily in the position to decide her best interests, which presumably is why this is going to be decided by a court.

Unless they have done something to cause them to lose the right to contact, the parent should be able to see his minor child even if the kid doesn't want to. And the other DD is not just his 'new child', but a half-sister. So I do think that the dad should be entitled to expect contact between his kid and the family.

Lasvegas Fri 22-Jul-11 12:54:26

brdgrl thanks I missed the point that the OP step child is agreeable to contact.

I have to diagree with you about whether an 11 has the choice whether or not to see a parent. Going to court to 'make the child' is surely going to sour the relationship. If my step child (who lives with his mum) said he didn't want to see his dad, then his Dad would write and say I am sorry you don't want to see me at the moment, I still love you and hope you change your mind, if its ok can I txt you, you don't have to reply etc. My DH wouldn't say to the child I am going to see a judge and he will make you see me.

In actual fact I think it is a moot point as how would the court actually enforce it? Would they send a court officer to the childs house or school and physically drag him to have contact with the parent? How do you think it would work in practice?

brdgrl Fri 22-Jul-11 13:39:58

I guess it would have to be enforced, yes. Presumably in the same way it would be enforced if the child wanted to see the parent (let's say it is the dad, although it should be same either way) but the other parent (again, for purposes of example, let's say the mum) were trying to block the visitation.

But the child in my example doesn't have the choice to not see his mum, the custodial parent, when he's cross with her, or feels hard done by, or doesn't want to upset the other parent, or simply would prefer to do something else that day. Equally, he doesn't have the right to refuse to see the dad, just because he no longer lives with him. If the parental rights are intact - if the courts haven't said otherwise - then a parent does have a right and maybe a responsibility to see his child, even if that child is going to hate it and spend the whole time sulking and refusing to speak to him.

There may well be cases where a wise dad would say "ok, i'm not going to insist on this, because in these particular circumstances, I think it will harm my relationship or my kid's emotional health" - but that is a choice for a dad to make, and equally, in another case, it might be just as wise a dad who says "look, I know Little Junior isn't happy about this situation, and I know he's angry with me, but I think it is important that we continue to see one another and work on the relationship, hoping that in time something better will develop, and it would be lazy or irresponsible of me to just throw up my hands and let the child make this decision, having a child's view of things and a child's range of experience. I know what is best for my kid, and I'm going to carry on seeing him even if he doesn't enjoy it."

Lasvegas Fri 22-Jul-11 14:20:29

brgrl thanks for interesting points. Fingers crossed we are never in that hypothetical situation.

emjanedel Sat 23-Jul-11 19:59:33

lasvegas can i ask how your partner and his ex manage their contact. My DP had to go to to court to get a court order as his ex hadn't allowed him contact in 10 months. Thats 10 months without seeing his daughter. I think that there are other women on this forum that have got partners with ex that make things difficult.

I am pleased that you and your partner haven't experienced the problems we have.

Lasvegas Tue 26-Jul-11 11:53:14

emjandel there is no residence order or contact order, neither do they use CSA. It is all informal.

DH pays well over what the CSA prescribes and I think that this helps with contact.

Also DH ex wife left him to marry someone else and she is not very maternal, so she is more than happy for DH to have contact with the kids as it gives her and her second husband more child free time.

They both agreed to split up and neither or them were emotionally atatched to the other, so there was never any emotional upheaveal or point scoring.

We are aware though that if the RP had wanted (when the kids were small) to prevent contact that a court order was not worth the paper it was written on. It is pretty much unenforeable, yes if someone is in contempt of court they can be sent to prison or made to do community service. However if DH made this happen to his kids mum then his kids would no doubt see him as the enemy, ie somone who made their mum cry and put her in prison.

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