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Children of divorced parents - no contact with Dad

(16 Posts)
NikkiP53 Wed 22-Mar-17 20:12:28

Hi everyone

I would really appreciate some insight into what it’s like to have parents that are divorced and where contact with dad is limited and dad is bad-mouthed at home (I know this because I’ve heard what’s been said myself). Sorry if this is a bit long.  

My step daughters are aged 14 and 17, I have been with their father for 7 years and married for 3.  We have another child together.

My step daughters are no longer in contact with their dad; contact has gradually reduced over the last few years.  Although in the past my husband could have tried harder (imo), it’s always been made very difficult for him to see his children.  The children I’m afraid have been used as pawns by their mum in the divorce (11 years ago).  The elder daughter stopped contact before the younger daughter did.  My husband keeps in touch with them very regularly by phone (we live about an hours drive away) and is often trying to make arrangements to see them, but they totally ignore him.  Mum doesn’t encourage contact/visits at all.

I would really like to see this situation from my step daughters’ points of view.  They are nice girls, so their behaviour towards their dad doesn’t match what they are like in general.  

I don’t have a problem with their mum, although I disagree with some of her choices. I put my feelings aside and have a civil relationship with her for the sake of the children.  There aren’t any problems there (from my point of view) and I met my husband some years after they divorced.  I have a good relationship with the children when I see them, but that’s not very often.  

My own mother always tried to make me side with her against my dad, although they are still together, so I have a bit of understanding of what that’s like.  

Why are they ignoring their dad do you think?  Is it pressure from mum?  Are they just being teenagers?  I’m not really sure.

Thanks x

Newmother8668 Wed 22-Mar-17 20:36:27

It's usually always pressure from mom. My mother would go on and on about how much he hated us and she hated him. She said a lot of bad crap against him. I'm the end, my sister and I snooped and found letters from him through the years that we read. I did get in touch with him in the end anyway. With these things, children are more clever than people think. They assume they are all innocent, but in reality it can go different ways: they are clever and work it out; they play the parents against each other; or they become brainwashed. It really depends on the character of the kids. I think the thing that makes me quite angry about these boards is that it always feels like the children are just victims and aren't responsible for some of their bad behaviour, but I'll just never forget other friends and how they treated their step parents. They knew what they were doing to everyone involved, even from the age of 9/10. Every case is unique.

NikkiP53 Wed 22-Mar-17 23:44:38

Hi thanks for your reply, it's an interesting perspective. They know what they're doing/responsible to a point, but they are definitely in the "brainwashed" category...hoping they will figure it out when they're older...

swingofthings Thu 23-Mar-17 05:59:04

My kids are the same age than your SDs and I've been separated from their dad for 13 years.

They do have regular contact with their dad, but much less than before, and DS (youngest) wishes to reduce it and probably will do so in the next coming months.

The reason is that he is very bored when he goes there as his dad does very little with him. Not talking about activities, but just showing an interest in their lives. His attitude has always been to totally separate their lives with me to the time they spend with him, so doesn't want to know about what they do at school (never step a foot into any of the schools they have attended), not interested in the activities they do, their friends etc... Unfortunately, he has failed to appreciate that this was wiping away the vast majority of their lives, so they do have little left to talk about and after many years, this has led to awkward communication, made worse with becoming teenagers who rather talk to their friends than family anyway.

It's usually always pressure from mom.
This comment really annoys me. So easy to blame the mother. I can say that in my case, if it wasn't for me doing everything to encourage my kids to have a relationship with their dad, (because being myself a child of divorced parents, I know how important it is to feel love by both parents), they probably would have had no contact at all by now.

At 14 and 17, they are old enough to have minds of their own and if they really did care to see their dad, it's not their mum influence that will stop them telling their dad so.

You say that your OH could have tried harder in the past, what do you mean by that?

NikkiP53 Thu 23-Mar-17 06:16:25

Thanks @swingofthings and I'm so glad to hear you've encouraged your children to keep contact with their Dad. I agree it's not always the mother to blame. I think in our case though sadly it suits the children's mother that dad isn't in the picture and the children have been used to get back at him. I'm sure there are many many mothers not like this at all, I wouldn't be. It's a combination of this plus contact has never been encouraged, which I think has contributed to how they are now. How very sad.

Husband keeps up contact from his side and takes interest in what they're upto/wishes good luck with exams etc. I'm sorry to hear that wasn't a case with your ex, makes me annoyed when men are given a chance and don't make the most of it.

Husband should've taken his ex to court for access as she was denying access initially - I would've taken her to court and been more persistent and assertive with her, but then, what do I know...! She's been allowed to get away with it. If I were his child this would make me angry and think he never fought for me.

Thanks for your feedback I hope your children's relationship with their dad improves in future and he takes more interest in them.

swingofthings Thu 23-Mar-17 17:24:59

How long ago did they stop contact? How did it happen? Was contact regular and established and then there was the first time they said they couldn't come, then a second time etc...

In the end, if there was a sudden change, it either means that they got very busy with their social life during the week-end and they preferred to do this than see their dad, or they were bored when they visited and preferred to stay home.

I am quite surprised how different teenage social lives seem to be at week-ends. Some seem to still spend most of their time with their parents, all activities done with family and not seeing friends outside of school. Whilst other seem to engage in numerous activities with youngsters and/or spend most of their time with their friends.

My kids don't do much with me and my husband any longer besides taking them to activities, talking about them, discussing school, their friends, etc... It's not me that makes them prefer to be at home but the fact that it is their home, where they can hide in their bedroom, where they can go and meet their friends without planning, and where they are close to their activities.

Saying that, because I share their every day life, I am more aware of what is happening and it is therefore easier to engage in communication with them. I have also always engage them in conversations about matters such as religion, politics, economy, mankind, etc... so have regular discussions/debate as such. Their father would feel very awkward having these kind of conversations.

It's difficult to know why your SDs are not engaging with their dad and can only offer food for thoughts but it could be something totally different.

Allthebestnamesareused Thu 23-Mar-17 17:42:25

I would just guess that at those ages they almost cba (can't be arsed) to visit as it would eat into their social lives with their friends, sports clubs, Saturday jobs etc.

It may be nothing personal. Are they still prepared to visit in holidays etc?

What do they do when they come to stay? For example, if it is just staying in for family time and they don't like sharing a room at yours (if this is the case) and have their own rooms at home. Do they even get on with each other (as some sisters don't) etc.

NikkiP53 Sat 25-Mar-17 15:04:17

Thanks for your feedback - contact reduced gradually and I guess once someone's no longer a regular part of your life, it's harder to relate to them. I am hoping it's just they're busy with social lives etc and they'll change once they're a bit older x

StrongerThanIThought76 Sat 25-Mar-17 16:09:22

Your comment that in your opinion he could have tried harder gets me.

My kids' dad has reduced contact to about once every 6 months from fortnightly. When he first started reducing contact they were 7 & 4. I made excuses for him. Constantly. Eventually we all ended up seeing counsellors because they were struggling with the feelings of abandonment and I was feeling like a shit mum for lumping them with a dad who couldn't give a toss. My counsellor told me I should stop taking responsibility for his reduced contact, stop making excuses for him, accept and embrace that I'd covered for him and supported the kids through 3 years of increasing disappointment and turn it back on him. "I don't know why dad's not coming, ask him". "I think you need to ask dad when you'll see him next, he won't tell me". "Yes we did move away from Dad but I have never once refused to drive you to see him". All the while being VERY careful to not tell them what an utter cunt I think he's been for causing the kids such heartbeat

Maybe mum has stopped shielding your step-kids from the bullshit excuses - if YOU think he should have tried harder to maintain contact then why haven't YOU insisted he steps it up?

Believe me, I know several parents that bad mouth the ex (including my mum when I was a kid and my parents divorced) but your step kids are old enough to have worked it out for themselves by now. Dad should have tried harder (has he tried to enforce contact? Court applications? Turning up at contact times?).

GeorgeTheHamster Sat 25-Mar-17 16:28:42

My sons are sixteen and eighteen now and supposedly see their dad each weekend. I genuinely have no ill feeling towards him and have never bad mouthed him. We are getting divorced now and have resolved the money issues very much in my favour because he feels so guilty without acrimony. Their relationship now is becoming more and more distant because he doesn't do anything with them, just has them round to his house for dinner and maybe watch a film. They feel that he isn't involved with their lives, but that they report their lives to him. They are choosing to stay over less and less. They are acutely conscious that he prioritises his social life over them, and suggests a Sunday rather than the default Saturday. I think he is starting to feel like a friendly uncle.

So I would say your DH needs to think of things they would like to do, and suggest doing them. Bands, trips to other shops, films, dinner at places they can't afford? Probably without you, at least some of the time. Sometimes they may turn him down, sometimes they may go for it. He needs to put the effort in, it's not their job.

GeorgeTheHamster Sat 25-Mar-17 16:33:43

For example he could have texted to see if he could sent them a tenner for them to get their mum some flowers this weekend. Drop off Easter eggs with their names on at Easter. Send them a funny photo via whatsapp.

Just put the effort in! Many men are poor at this.

GeorgeTheHamster Sat 25-Mar-17 16:34:51

And of course there is the very real risk that they feel they have been replaced by his new family.

NikkiP53 Sat 25-Mar-17 19:21:14

@GeorgeTheHamster thanks for your suggestions - he texts/calls them a lot suggesting fun things and always takes an interest, but lack of contact/response is from their side. Sorry to hear how things are with your ex. You could be right about the new family thing although on the surface they have actually been really positive about that and we've included them in this.

Frankly I think the damage was done long before I came onto the scene. Yes he should've taken it to court imo (hence could've tried harder - that's the only thing he didn't do) but was advised by solicitor it would be waste of money and couldn't be enforced. He texts and calls them all the time and always has done. But, they are old enough to make their own minds up now and clearly they have. Just wanted some insight from people this has happened to as trying to see things from the child's perspective.

swingofthings Sun 26-Mar-17 08:22:21

You say he texts and calls them regularly, so they must have contact or is he doing so despite them not responding at all? If that's the case, it might be feel harassed and that would make it worse.

If they do communicate by texts/calls, what do they talk about?

MycatsaPirate Tue 28-Mar-17 20:42:50

My dc don't see their dad at all. He doesn't call, text, remember birthdays or bother with christmas. There has been absolutely zero contact for nearly 3 years now.

He was offered a contact centre due to his violent and abusive behaviour towards me (non-mol order issued) but he said he wan't going to pay to see his own kids.

On the other hand my DP never forgets his DD's birthday, always sends Christmas presents down, Easter eggs etc. Offers to take her out, offers her to come and see him, he will go down there etc but she's not interested.

It's pretty sad.

Livelovebehappy Tue 28-Mar-17 21:02:23

Quite often there are underlying issues in these situations that come to the surface as the DCs get older. When they're young, they don't see the bigger picture and are just happy to spend time with each parent, but as they get older they see things for what they are. Maybe your DH is doing too little too late; putting the effort in now when he sees they're pulling away, rather than putting more effort in when they were younger.

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