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How do you cope with the disappointment of cancelled contact?

(8 Posts)
squashedfrogs Sun 01-Nov-09 12:25:57

Dp's ex has form for cancelling contact sessions at the last minute and this is hugely disappointing for him and I find it upsetting as well as the each session is really looked forward to by both us and his family and then there's a massive anticlimax when it is cancelled. Although it is court ordered contact and things have been improving it is often due to his DD being ill - oddly this regularly seems to be on weekends when he is due to see her hmm

I know that it is much more disappointing for him than me but I'd be interested to know if anyone has tips or experience in how to deal with the disappointment and how I can help him with his disappointment.

p.s. if this looks weird, I'm having trouble with the quirks of the latest changes on here!

catsmother Sun 01-Nov-09 14:17:51

For a start if you don't already do so, I'd be keeping a detailed diary of all cancelled contact - complete with excuses 'reasons', and further notes, if relevant, regarding how long the 'illness' was supposed to have lasted ..... e.g. was she fit for school on Monday (if known) or any comment on supposed illness from SD that doesn't tie in with her mother's version of events.

Then, when this has happened, say, 4 or 5 times, and it doesn't add up, I'd be going back to court and asking for a penal notice to be put on the contact order to try and stop this messing about from happening again.

Tackling the disappointment is something else and often very hard to deal with for us as partners. Understandably our partners can feel down and moody when this happens, but it's hard to remain sympathetic all the time when we then have to put up with a weekend of snapping and sulking, over something which isn't our fault. Obviously, you can try distracting someone, and suggest fun or nice things to do but I know that doesn't always work and one of the frustrating things I think a lot of absent parents with this particulat predicament feels is helplessness ..... because 'posession' is 9/10 of the law and all that. Taking back some of that control, by being proactive and going back to court is one way of managing disappointment ..... feeling that you're actually doing something, rather than feeling things are being done to you.

How is communication between your DP and his daughter generally ? Is he still able to speak to her when contact's cancelled - or do phone calls, emails or texts go unanswered ? If so ...... that might add more weight to him going back to court, showing that it's not just 'illness' but a refusal by his ex to allow communication at all.

mmrred Sun 01-Nov-09 15:42:11

We used to get this ALL the time - it does get better/easier as time goes on if you keep at it and make it clear you won't be walked over.

Have you contacted the GP? You're entitled to see the child's medical notes to see if she's even been taken to the Doc's. Also you need to make it clear to Mum that you are closely monitoring the situation and 'being ill' is not a reason to skip contact unless the child is literally too ill to get out of bed - her Dad is quite capable of looking after her when she is sick. (Practical issues like travelling also have to be taken into account, obviously)

As for coping with the disappointment - let him go off and be by himself for a while and then get him doing something practical about it.

squashedfrogs Sun 01-Nov-09 16:23:22

Thanks for your responses. He's spoken to her Dr about a number of issues (unrelated to this one) and is planning to request a copy of her medical records so it will be easy to check if what he is being told regarding these illnesses clashing with contact is actually the truth/correct. The big difficulty is that his DD is only 3 and obviously small children do get ill. This is expected but he is never told that she's ill or been ill earlier in the week until it's the night before contact which makes it all look a bit suspicious when it might be genuine. Put together with previous and other ongoing behaviour from his ex, it makes it hard to believe what his ex says.

DP has no contact with his DD outside of the time specified in the court order and she's not really old enough to talk to him on the phone. If she was a bit older I think it would be more obvious to work out what's going on as she'd be more likely to tell him if she hadn't been ill or would be missing school if she had.

One of the things that I find more frustrating is that if contact was missed due to an activity (i.e. wedding or something) then it would be possible to rearrange it and he'd get that time back IYSWIM but when she's ill it doesn't seem reasonable to ask for it to be rearranged and they both miss out instead.

All the cancellations and other difficulties are noted by DP and if this continues then I can see them back in court but there might be more light shed on the whole situation when he gets a copy of her medical records though and I live in hope that it will improve.

One of the things that I find saddest about the situation is that we almost get to the point where you don't dare get excited about contact because the disappointment is so great if it's cancelled.

squashedfrogs Sun 01-Nov-09 16:26:02

I forgot to add that DP deals with the disappointment pretty well considering and doesn't tend to sulk or get stroppy with me but I know how disappointed he is and it is very frustrating when it feels like you are powerless to prevent it happening.

KaPe Mon 02-Nov-09 09:57:19

Even as an ex (ie. not a stepmother) I cannot see why he can't see his daughter when she is ill. What is ill? Bedridden? I presume the little miss won't be spending her weekend in bed? She'll probably be taken to the shops or similar, so why can't she be a little iffy at Daddy's instead? Okay, so you might not be going out to the park or similar, but that's life.

What would happen if the young lady fell ill during contact with Daddy? Would she remain at Daddy's and not be transported back to Mum's? Maybe worth trying?

As for replacement contact due to illness ... in general you might be right that it is unreasonable, but I know of a few fathers who have had this added to a court order, especially when a pattern was present.

Another option might be to call Mum and ask whether he could come by and spend an hour or so with his child to "cheer her up". As long as there are no allegations of domestic violence or the ex doesn't want to get back together with your OH, the idea of him sitting around at hers tending to his child might put her off quickly.

mrsjammi Mon 02-Nov-09 20:09:00

Message withdrawn

squashedfrogs Tue 03-Nov-09 19:36:19

DP is going to speak to his solicitor and have a chat about how to deal with this, as well as getting a copy of DSD's medical records. He's hoping this can be nipped in the bud early so that if she is ill they will still be able to have some form of contact and also so that his ex knows that it isn't a 'legitimate' way of cancelling contact.

Thanks again for all the responses, it's really helpful and reassuring that this is something that can be dealt with smile

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