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DP just can't seem to do right.

(60 Posts)
MycatsaPirate Wed 22-Mar-17 14:03:35

I've posted before about his DD (13) refusing to see or speak to him.

It's been well over a 15 months since she has been to our house. He occasionally sees her briefly on Monday evenings at her activity (which my DD also does) when he is dropping my DD off. He tries to say hello and ask how she is, she's not very forthcoming in her replies and he feels like he doesn't know what to do for the best.

He has been phoning his ex to discuss it. She firstly said she would speak to DD but never got back to him. He left it a couple of weeks and tried again last week. His ex gave a very long list of reasons why DD didn't want to see him including (and I may have forgotten a few) me asking her to put wet and dirty washing into the machine instead of the wash basket, having to share a bedroom with my youngest DD five years ago (she should apparently have had the bedroom to herself eow - 2 bed house, 2 adults, 4 dc) and ex says that dp has put me before his DD (not true, we have included her in absolutely everything over the last 5 years except last 15 months)

Also, that DP refused to have DD for a weekend two years ago. I had booked train tickets to London months before to get them very cheap and booked London Eye for me, DP and my DD's using vouchers I had saved up. At this point his DD had refused to see us for over 3 months. Ex asked DP on the Thursday to have DD Friday to Sunday and he said yes. Ex then changed it to Sunday to Tuesday and our day out was on the Monday. We couldn't afford to pay £70 for a train ticket plus another London Eye ticket.

DD is also annoyed that DP hasn't offered to take her on holiday with us in the last two years. Two years ago we asked her to come with us but she was away at the same time with her mum, ironically in the same place. Last year we went camping 4 miles from home with a bunch of friends. Apparently it's not fair to do this because it's spending money that could go on DD.

We all have tablets and clearly have more money than we let on. The tablets were free with our mobiles and one came free with our TV box. Ex then states that we can afford mobiles and therefore we have more money than we let on.

DP should be doing more. But he has no idea what. He is driving down to where they live next week to attend parents evening. Ex is not going as she is ill. DD is going with her SD and DP said he will attend with them if that's ok. DP gets on ok with SD. Ex says she will ask DD if that is ok. Why the fuck is a 13 year old being asked if it's ok for her Dad to attend parents evening??

We are at an utter loss. I spent a lot of time talking to his DD last weekend when we were helping out at their activity. She was fine with me, I suggested she come up one day in the Easter holidays and we can all go and see a film and said we are going camping again and she is welcome to come with us. I got a shrug. DP told ex that we have offered these things and his EX says the shrug means she doesn't want to come. Then why all the fuss about not being asked to come last year?

Every time DP asks his ex anything she says she will defer to DD. This has been going on pretty much since I was involved in her life, from aged 8. His DD has always been deferred to and allowed to make decisions, sometimes decisions which I think she is not emotionally equipped to deal with.

DP is reaching breaking point now. His DD just will not talk to him. She won't see him. She won't come for a day out. She won't see him if he goes down there. He has never missed her birthday or Christmas. We have bought her Easter eggs. We have always included her on days out to theme parks etc over the years, often me scouring places for ages trying to find deals to enable us to take the four dc with us.

Just don't know what on earth to do now.

Wishiwasmoiradingle2017 Wed 22-Mar-17 14:11:38

If ex is allowing dd to make all the decisions I doubt she is wanting to go against her dm and make the choice to see df if dm is adamant he is letting her down by apparently choosing you over her. She is siding with dm because that's what she thinks dm expects.
My advice would be to write to dd and let her know how you hope things will be between you all and let her sort her self out. . I did similar with ds15 and he lives with me full time now with nc with his df.

QforCucumber Wed 22-Mar-17 14:15:52

For what its worth - shes 13 and probably feeling left out.
You all went to London without her and camping without her, asking her last week she possibly only feels like she was asked because she kicked up a fuss last time.

MycatsaPirate Wed 22-Mar-17 14:18:53

That's exactly what I thought. That she doesn't want to go against her mum by wanting to see her dad.

It really doesn't seem to matter WHAT Dp does. It's wrong. The money issue comes up again and again. I still remember her moaning about us buying DD1's school uniform and saying it could have been spent on her. She was 8 at the time and that so clearly came from listening to her mother.

It has been utterly draining. I had got to the point where I couldn't do right, no matter what. So had withdrawn and left DP to deal with DD when she visited. I would take my youngest out and leave them to it. She would just sit upstairs on her laptop and refuse to actually sit with him or be part of the family.

I know 13 is a difficult age (I've got an older teen who lives away from home at uni now) and I make allowances for the hormonal strops they all have from time to time but this seems to be more than that.

DD used to want to be a primary school teacher. Talked to her on Saturday and she is saying she's not going to uni now. She wants to be an actress or a musician. She does one drama class a week at school, doesn't attend anything out of school to do with drama and I worry that she's just got her head in the clouds and doesn't seem to understand how things work. I did talk to her, not patronising, just suggested she find a drama club out of school she could go to, said she should look for performing arts schools for when she leaves secondary etc. Just chatted with her. But her mum is ill and really can't stay on top of what DD is going or her education. Hence DP going down next week.

I will suggest the letter to DP.

Onlyaplasticbagdear Wed 22-Mar-17 14:20:34

I agree with Q.

MycatsaPirate Wed 22-Mar-17 14:23:30

We asked her the previous year. And we have taken her on several camping weekends over the last few years.

And the day in London was booked primarily for my DD2 as a reward for her continued effort (she has ASD).

And this is the crux of it. I feel like I am never able to do anything with my DD's without his DD's being there. Despite his DD often going away and on trips with her mum. It's like our lives had to go on hold EOW in case it upset his DD. So she would be out doing stuff every weekend and we weren't able to do anything for fear of leaving her out.

It's very very hard to make the judgement. Do my DD's not deserve a day out with just us? Do they always have to have DSD tagging along with them? Or can we accept that it's a blended family and sometimes one or two dc may do things the others dont? The activity the three do, his DD goes on all the trips - five each year. Mine go on two because we can't afford it. Is this fair?

Having a weekend offered two days before, there is a high chance that plans would have been made, especially so close to Christmas. And it was fine until his ex changed it.

MycatsaPirate Wed 22-Mar-17 14:25:54

And we should ask her to go camping with us when she won't talk to her dad?

We have invited her here for lots of things. We invited her to come at christmas. We got shot down in flames the last two years.

At what point do you stop asking?

FWIW his ex has also said one of the reasons DD won't talk to him is he keeps asking when he can see her.

Like I said, can't do right.

Onlyaplasticbagdear Wed 22-Mar-17 14:29:15

You don't stop asking. You're the adults here.

DavidPuddy Wed 22-Mar-17 14:33:07

I don't think you ever stop asking. It just backs up her feeling of being excluded and less important. She is testing how much her Dad loves her and it seems she is not getting the validation she needs.

Newmother8668 Wed 22-Mar-17 15:20:22

Watching with interest and slight amusement by some of the responses.

swingofthings Wed 22-Mar-17 17:44:10

For what its worth - shes 13 and probably feeling left out.
Agree with this too. You can come with justification, but ultimately, if that's how she felt and it wasn't addressed then, her feeling rejected and hurt has led her to take a step back so she wouldn't feel let down again.

You can argue that her feelings are unjustified (although from what you've described, I would think that they might not be so), but in any case, you can't take away the way she feels unless you tackle it at the time.

She's now reached the point when she feels 'it's too late'. This attitude will be exacerbated by the fact she is a teenager and it's part of their immature way of reflecting.

If she's removed herself and is happy with her mum and her partner, and put her feelings for her dad in the back of her mind, she probably isn't too bothered any longer doing things with your family. Has her dad actually suggested doing something just him and her?

MycatsaPirate Wed 22-Mar-17 17:47:00

Yes he has. He's offered to go down and take her out to eat, or just spend time together. This offer made to his ex as his DD won't communicate but it's just been 'I'll ask DD' and then no response from ex so we never even know if she has asked her.

Everything was fine until they moved away and since then his ex has pretty much rebuffed every offer of seeing DD. Dp never got to speak to DD directly (from aged 11) as she was 'not in' when he phoned or the phones were never answered.

It's hard to keep lines of communication open when they seem permanently shut at the other end.

swingofthings Wed 22-Mar-17 17:55:22

No point in blaming the ex. At 11, if she'd wanted to speak with her dad or see him, she would have managed to do so.

It is very sad, but indeed, it sounds that efforts have come too little too late. Maybe when she is older and can put the past behind and is willing to start again, she might be open to see him again, but it sounds that at the moment, she is happier with him and you not part of her life.

His ex has given you her reasons, you have belittled all of them. Maybe that's how she felt in the past and that's why she's given up trying to be heard.

DelphiniumBlue Wed 22-Mar-17 18:12:18

Sounds a very stressful situation for all of you.

I'm writing as a step-daughter myself, and mother of 3 almost grown DC.

It sounds as if DSD is having a hard time. You say her Mum is ill ( so ill she can't get involved in DSDs schoolwork/activities/parents evenings.) Whatever the illness is, that sounds quite serious, and scary for DSD. Her Mum has remarried, her Dad has a new partner with other children who are competing for Dad's attention, and her stepmother is getting involved and making suggestions which she would want to emanate from her Dad. You see it as coming from both of you, she may well see it as you getting between them.

I don't mean to sound harsh to you, you sound lovely, but just trying to think how she might see things.
I think your DP should throttle back, but sustain frequent but light contact for a bit. So,jokey postcards, short letters/texts that don't require an answer, and don't guilt her out. No putting pressure on for trips/visits, just gentle contact - a photo or drawing she might like, something that reminds him of her ,or happy times together. Give her space to relax a bit, and let her contact him when she feels ready. She needs to know that she is in his thoughts, but that she doesn't have to do anything just now. She might be scared of upsetting her mother, who knows? And sadly you and your children are not really her concern, she just knows she's not getting what she wants/needs from her Dad. Which is probably attention and 1:1 time, but she can't necessarily recognise that, or bring herself to say it.
Has DP spoken to her Mum to find out what is going on re the illness?
I think unfortunately, whatever you personally do will be wrong - it needs to be DP making the moves.

MycatsaPirate Wed 22-Mar-17 22:11:44

When they moved, there was no way of contacting his DD unless it was via the landline or her mum's phone. Of course DP rang but his dd was never in and never called back. Until the move, DD was here very regularly, EOW Friday to Monday, extra weekends camping with us, would come over for dinner and also when she was off sick it was me who would take care of her as both her parents worked.

Then they moved and that was just after the divorce was finally sorted and by that point relations between DP and his ex were at an all time low. So she may have asked his DD to call back, she may not. We have no idea. But all of a sudden his DD was busy every weekend she was meant to come here. In the first six months she was here twice. Then one further visit and that was it.

I always gave them space, I would take my DD2 out of the way and go and walk around a park or visit friends. DP would ask his DD if she wanted to do something, she just went upstairs on her laptop every visit. He gave her loads of attention but by the last visit she was starting to push boundaries a bit too much and DP had to say no to a request to spend a night at her friends which resulted in a major drama (which I kept well out of and left him to deal with).

I have only ever asked her to do things I have asked my own dc to do, generally when dp wasn't here as he'd gone to work (so on Friday after school and first thing monday mornings) like put clothes in the wash basket, to pick up your own cups/plates and put them in the dishwasher, to not leave things lying on the floor to be stood on, or drinks to be kicked over. It almost always resulted in her telling her mum I was picking on her. Dp asked me to stop asking her to do stuff, so I did. Then she told her mum I was treating her differently from my dc because she was never asked to help do stuff in the house.

The reason I spoke to her at the weekend was because she kept walking away from her dad. However, she was open and chatty with me, we had a laugh, we talked about school, we talked about what was going on that day, we didn't mention her dad or her mum, we didn't mention anything which I felt would alienate her. We just had a laugh and it felt ok.

As she has stated to her mum that she doesn't want her to dad to ask to see her then I felt mentioning that she 'may' like to come and see a film with us or may like to come camping (just kind of throwing the suggestion out rather than saying 'do you want to come?' it was more like 'you are very welcome to come with us') was a less confrontational way of asking if she'd like to come and see us.

Anyway, Dp has spoken to ex and said he'd like to take DD out for dinner next week before parents evening (or after depending on times) and she has just said she will mention it to DD and get back to him. She hasn't. And this is the whole point. He keeps trying. He keeps getting knocked back. Although this is me posting and I keep saying We, mainly this is DP trying his bloody hardest to keep in touch with his DD and it's like banging his head off a brick wall.

QforCucumber Thu 23-Mar-17 20:43:20

London may have been booked by you for your dd but as far as dsd is concerned her dad went without her.
Her dad also drops your dd off at her activity weekly, so again dsd sees her dad doing something with your dd and not her.
You all went camping and she wasnt asked - again your dp doing something with you and your dd and not her.
She now has to share a room on visits when maybe she had her own before.
(All taken from your op) and then you wonder why she feels as though he has chosen you over her?

MycatsaPirate Fri 24-Mar-17 13:08:15

Dp drops DD off because he uses that time to try and get to see his DD. His DD is dropped off by her step dad. They live over an hour away from us in the opposite direction to the activity. When they lived here either DP or I used to take DSD to the activity every week.

His DD has always had her own room, in the FMH and when they lived round the corner and now. Even when Dp's older half-sister lived there she had her own room and the older sister had to sleep on the couch permanently in the living room. We don't have a big enough house to give all four dc their own room and it's impractical to leave a room solely for DSD's use when we are struggling for space. That has been explained over and over to her and the ex (mainly the ex who was the one who kicked off about it the most). FWIW my DD's have never had their own bedroom until we moved into this house (we've been here 18 months) and my youngest has ASD and struggles having to share with DSD but accepts it.

I am really not sure what else we are meant to have done. We could have given her her own room at the detriment to the other three dc and us. I could take DD every week but then Dp would never see his DD and it would look as though he couldn't be bothered trying to even see her there. We did offer to take her camping two years ago and she didn't want to come. The London trip was something I had done for my dc. I have to prioritise them sometimes.

In the same way all the dc have been the priority at some point or another. At 11, 13, 18 and 21, we expect them to understand that there are different needs from them all and we can't treat them all the same. The older two are very independent but still need us. The 11 year old has ASD and needs a lot of my time. I have spent one on one time with DSD and also given her and her dad plenty of space to be alone together.

It was his DD's choice (or her mums) to stop coming here when they moved. Nearly two years ago now but until that point there were no issues about her coming here. It literally was as soon as the divorce was finalised and his ex got her money, they upped sticks and moved and contact was reduced to the absolute bare minimum.

swingofthings Fri 24-Mar-17 14:44:22

It sounds like you have good reasons for all your decisions and choices, but the fact they are valid reasons to you doesn't mean that she liked them or agreed with them.

It sounds like a lot of things happened around that same period that ultimately, even though it might have felt that it couldn't be help, were seen as being excluded by your SD.

Maybe her dad fail in explaining this to her, giving her chance to express how it made her feel, and trying to see if there was anything he could do to compensate things. Instead, it sounds like she was indirectly told to accept it and shut up, so what she's done is removed herself from the situation.

I can totally imagine your SD, in a very teenage and therefore radical way thinking that your DH is only happy to give her attention when it suits him. How convenient it was that he arranged the family holiday that a time when she was going away with her mum and even better that it was at the same time, surely he could have asked her/mum if/where they were planning on going first. Then he plans day trips but doesn't bother to ask her before booking if she'd like to go.

Then he pretends that he comes to the Monday activity when really he would probably still do so even if she gave it up, and how great that he is prepared to make the effort to come to parents' evening, so what, that he can tell her off if the feedback is that she can work harder, or that he can go back and tell everyone proudly how clever his daughter, the one that he is happy to leave behind when it suits him, is and that to make it better, he is suggesting going out to eat when he knows that actually, which was only suggested when he found out that she was going to parents evening with her SD.

Of course you would say that all this is rubbish, but that's how teenagers respond immaturely to feeling rejected. Indeed, at this point, it is likely that whatever he is trying to do will be seen negatively because she will see it that he wasn't there for her when SHE really needed her and that he can't now expect her to give him attention because he now wants it.

MycatsaPirate Fri 24-Mar-17 14:54:43

I get what you're saying, at 13 I'd probably have felt the same. However, this has been going on for 18 months to 2 years. And dp never stopped contact, never stopped asking her to come out with us, go on holiday with us (and our holiday was planned round a member of his family who was dying from cancer - it was a huge extended family trip as a last goodbye before he was too ill to go). It was like one minute she was happy to come here and then they moved and suddenly it just stopped. No explanation, just excuse after excuse.

We know she didn't want to move away. However that was her mum's decision as she moved in with her new partner. We also had to move around the same time and we moved just a couple of streets away to a slightly bigger house. If she had wanted to stay with us she could have done. Dp offered her that option.

The odd thing is she is good friends with both my DD's. She is friendly with me. It's just her dad. I just don't understand it, I really don't. And I truly have tried to get my head round it but all I can think of is her mum stirring things. She admitted to DP (ex not DD) a few months ago that she had discouraged contact when they moved as Dp didn't show enough consideration to ex when she was ill. She phoned him when she first got sick and Dp was on the phone to her for over an hour listening to her talk etc but this wasn't enough in her eyes. She has a new partner and I'm not sure what else Dp was expected to do and nor is he.

ZombieApocalips Fri 24-Mar-17 18:30:00

I have a 13 year old and 10 year old. I often do something with one of them but always ask the other if they want to join us even though I know that the answer will be no. The "no" means that I don't have to feel guilty about the other being left out.

My 13 year old has a very up and down relationship with her dad. He sees the kids 1-2 times per month but have gone through phases of not seeing him for long periods. (9 months was the longest) He says that he will never force the kids to go to his for contact but dd interpreted his text messages as emotional blackmail/pressure to see him. Does your sd have a mobile phone which you can text? My dd often feels obliged to reply to texts and sees texts like "Can't wait to see you this weekend" as pressure even though he probably doesn't mean it like that.

I would have thought that seeing her dad bring his step daughter to the activity is a kick in the teeth for her. Teens are stubborn and the long estrangement means that it's hard fixing things. She may be worried about anger, resentment, embarrassment...

It sounds like you might be the key to finding a way forward. I'd be trying to get her mobile number (most teens own one) and becoming "friends". Don't talk about visiting- keep it light and see if she'll open up. School might have counselling available for her too.

swingofthings Sat 25-Mar-17 08:29:37

And I truly have tried to get my head round it but all I can think of is her mum stirring things.
And this is probably not helping matter. Do you really think that if it was the case, she would also have made sure that she had it for you and your children too?

You say that she gave your OH many reasons for her not wanting contact. It is up to you whether you consider whether she might have a point or whether you are going to undermine all of them and consider that as they are rubbish reasons, your SD should be wanting to come and see your OH.

On this thread only, you have given some examples which from my perspective could actually explain why your SD felt excluded. There might be many more. The issue seem to be that you have different perspectives on circumstances. She doesn't understand why you would have made the choices her dad has made, and her dad and you seem to struggle understanding why some of these choices would have hurt her feelings and therefore want her to take a step back.

I do agree that resident parent can have an influence over their children not wanting to see the other parent when they are young and have not had regular contact to start with, but I really don't believe that a parent can have that same influence on an older child who used to have regular contact, to the point when they would want nothing to do with that parent at all. What could her mum possibly have said? Your dad doesn't love you any longer, he picked another family and you're worth nothing to him any longer? Even if she did, her SD is old enough now to form opinions of her own, at least enough to want to find out more whether this might true or not, especially if her father is doing everything to regain contact now.

I am not saying it is totally impossible, but from what you've written, I think the likelihood is much more weighted to her feeling excluded from the choices her dad has made and not explained to her well, rather than her mother suddenly alienating her.

ZombieApocalips Mon 27-Mar-17 12:36:31

I'm inclined to agree with swingofthings. It's a cop out to assume that the mum is stirring.

13 year olds have strong feelings about things. If Ex rather than I were going to Parents Evening, I would mention it to my dd (also 13) before asking him to attend instead. He only attended PE when we were together and doesn't take an active role in school stuff so it would be unreasonable for me to tell her it was happening rather than talk to her. I'd like to think that talking to her like an adult is why we have a good respectful relationship. I like plenty of notice when things change and it's only fair that I treat her like I want to be treated. doesn't stop last minute requests for lifts though!!

MycatsaPirate Mon 27-Mar-17 14:58:11

It's now two days to go and a) she hasn't yet spoken to their DD and b) has still not said if it's ok if he goes.

So Dp isn't going to get much notice is he?

DP attended all sports days and parents evening when they lived here. However he was never notified of any school plays etc by her mum (he got school reports and notifications of parents evenings direct from the school) so he didn't get the chance to go as his ex would attend with her new partner.

DP has been pushed out. You can say he hasn't but what I've posted here is just a tiny fragment of our lives over the last five years.

When he and ex split, he was still very much involved in his DD's life. When I moved in he will still very much involved. When his ex moved away to live with the new partner, that's when it all started falling apart.

ZombieApocalips Mon 27-Mar-17 15:26:06

School plays etc are often on the school website or in the school newsletter. My ex expects to be informed about school events but I find out about them from those 2 places. It wouldn't occur to him that if it lists school photos as an event then he needs to ask me to order an extra photo and pay me.
(Enough of me ranting about my ex)

It is unacceptable that the exw hasn't got back to him about PE and that he's been edged out of events.

TiredofITall1 Mon 27-Mar-17 15:26:40

So Dp isn't going to get much notice is he?

He doesn't need it - he should just turn up. You have said he wants to go to parents evening, it shouldn't be up to DD. If her DM can't go then your DP should just be there.

In fact if he keeps going to these things and taking no confirmation feom ex as "they didn't say no" then maybe it will be a slow drip proof that he is not going anywhere, that he is her Dad and he loves her and he will not be shut out. I think at that age actions really do speak louder than words and therefore if he keeps going and keeps trying then she will see that he does care and want to be there regardless of the response he gets - he will always be there.

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