Christingle dilemma(9 Posts)
DH hasn't had regular contact with DSS (10) for several months and has been served with court papers as DSS mum has applied to discharge the contact order.
DSS feelings towards DH have been very chaotic over the last few months - sometimes even the thought of phone contact has caused him significant distress, but at other times he seems to have spent some positive time with DH only for him to reveal afterwards that he was unhappy/scared.
The school have been excellent and have kept DH up to date with events etc, and it's DSS last year of Christingles/carols etc. so DH really would like to go.
But, there's no way of knowing how DSS will react. If he sees DH he might behave as if he's fine and then later tell his mum how scared/worried he was, but equally, if DH doesn't go, he might miss him?
DH doesn't feel as if he can win and I don't know what to advise! I won't be going of course - I have done sometimes when DSS has invited me but its no longer appropriate!
Can he contact his DSS to say that he's heard about the events and is hoping to go, tell him how much he's looking forward to seeing the events. Then DSS won't be surprised to see him there. Can't see how he should find it scary or unpleasant to have his dad in the audience, as long as he's not taken by surprise by it. If any of the shows are on more than once, your DH could also make sure he goes to a different showing from his ex, to reduce the tension.
Good idea - DH sends DSS regular postcards and could mention it on one of those - although it's quite possible that the thought of his Dad being there could result in him missing school; that happened a few weeks ago when the school was facilitating contact and told him in advance
There's absolutely no point in DH talking to DSS mum about when she's going si he can avoid it. Her position is very clear and that is that DH should have nothing to do with DSS at all. We don't know if he's getting the postcards DH sends and DSS mum has said that if DH insists on continuing to involve himself in DSS life, she'll apply to have his PR removed. (We know she can't but its an indication of how strongly she feels about it).
It's a very difficult one but on balance I think he should go. I think the temporary discomfort DSS may have is worth the longer term knowledge that his father showed up for school stuff. Is there a danger that DSSs mother may make a scene at the school?
No, there won't be a scene. She is the epitome of reasonableness in public.
She'll just use DH presence as more evidence that he's only thinking about himself and not about DSS. Because she has told him that any contact/presence/thought of DH causes DSS "anguish and distress", DHs continued efforts to maintain contact are considered by her to be deliberate abuse.
Perhaps rather than just turn up he should ask DS.
Tell him he wants to be there but doesn't want him upset.
Why is he afraid of your DH?!
Unfortunately, DSS doesn't seem to be able to accurately predict how seeing DH will make him feel in advance - or even express his feelings while he is experiencing them.
He has had a few attempts at contact with DH over the last three months - some facilitated in school and others at DSS request.
Before and during the actual contact he has been positive about seeing his dad, engaged, chatty, relaxed and (apparently) happy.
After the contact he has disclosed to his mum, and to DH via telephone, that he has felt anxious, scared and bullied during contact.
He can't, or won't, explain why - and DH has been unable to secure counselling to help because Mum refuses to agree and CAMHS won't accept him unless his primary carer is supportive.
So, DH could ask DSS whether it would upset him if he goes to Christingle - but that is no guarantee that he won't be upset when it actually happens.
I think there's often a fine line to tread between listening to a child's irrational fears and appearing to validate them. Assuming your DP isn't some violent person with a tendancy to shout or make a scene at a school play, then I think if I was him I would be completely clear in my mind that there is absolutely no reason for his DS to be scared or anxious by his presence at the play. By asking DSS if he would be OK about it, you're kind of suggesting that there might be a reason not to be. And if he's often caught between what his DM and your DP want him to do, the decision about this might cause him to be anxious. But what would surely send out a better signal is that this is a happy ocassion, everyone will have their parents there (and many children will have both a mum and a dad there, I'd guess) and won't it be nice for his dad to come and see him in the play. I think children do sometimes need to have the adults lead their emotions, and reassure them that things are all fine, rather than give legitimacy to irrational fears.
By asking DSS if he would be OK about it, you're kind of suggesting that there might be a reason not to be
I do think this is a big factor - DSC mum seems to (quite naturally, perhaps) project her own feelings about a situation onto the DCs and then reassure them.
For instance, DSD was always told to "make the best of it" when leaving for contact visits with DH - which were only happening because Mum was working so DSD had to go somewhere. DSD has told us that left her with the impression that contact was something to be endured only because her Mum was working. Her mum even used to apologise to her for making her go to Dads (and regularly take sickies to rescue the DCs early).
I wonder whether some of DSS disclosures after contact are because Mum has put the idea in his mind "you weren't too scared of Dad this time, were you?" or when he's refused contact, perhaps it's because Mum has said "I'm sure it won't be as awful as you think".
It's hard, because DH knows that professionals place a great deal of weight on the opinions of DCs over 10 yrs old - it's likely that DSS will be leading on contact very soon.
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