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Old 09-27-2006, 03:07 PM   #1
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Advice please - child's father is back

Hello all. I hope this is the right place to post.

I'm a single mum to a little girl. She's five and a half, and has never met her dad. He was someone I knew at university. We were only together for a very short time, but I got pregnant. I graduated and moved back home with my mum, but he said he'd keep in touch. Anyway, he didn't, and apart from a brief phone call when my daughter was 6 weeks old, I heard nothing from him. I told my daughter, who asked me why she didn't have a daddy, that she had one, but he lived a long way and had decided he wouldn't be very good at being a daddy. She seemed happy enough with that. Anyway, last week I was contacted by a mediation company who told me he wanted to "build a relationship" with his daughter. So I arranged to meet him for mediation. But then tonight, he phoned me out of the blue. Apparently he's always wanted to be involved in her life, but lost my address. (Hmm, not convinced that he couldn't have found me if he'd tried hard enough...) Anyway, we managed to talk sensibly and although I'm having trouble forgiving him, I've decided to let him meet her...

What I'd like advice with is, how do I deal with the first meeting? I don't know how to handle it. Do I tell her who he is before they meet? Ask her if she wants to meet him? Or let them meet and see how they get on first? She's very intelligent and quite mature for her age so I don't want to put on an act that she'll see through. But equally, I don't want to put unnecessary pressure on her; if she knows she's meeting her dad, she might be horribly nervous... (And then there's the rest of his family; my daughter has a grandmother and now even a stepmum she knows nothing about. I guess I need to take it one step at a time and not tell her about them all at once...)

I know it's hard to advise when you don't know my daughter, but if anyone has been through a similar thing and has any words of wisdom, I'd be grateful...

Thanks

Amy

 
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Old 09-27-2006, 06:12 PM   #2
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Re: Advice please - child's father is back

It sounds like you have some sort of animosity towards this man. Is it because he said he would stay in touch and he didn't? I can understand that, but in all fairness, you didn't stay in touch with him either. You could have picked up the phone and called just as easily as he could have.
You said that when you got pregnant you moved in with your mom but you didn't say why. I'm sure you might have had a good reason for that, but maybe, possibly, if you had stayed where you were, he would have been there all along.

I guess what i'm trying to say is that you shouldn't prevent your daughter from meeting her father. She is still young, there is still time to undo the damage his abscence has called. She's only five right? That means he will get to be there for a vast majority if her life. I think you would be doing a horrible disservice to your daughter by not cooperating with her father, just because you feel a little resentful about how things happened five years ago. Every little girl deserves a father. If he wants to be there for her now, and he isn't some weirdo with a criminal record, i see absolutely no reason to deny your daughter that. But thats just my humble opnion.

 
Old 09-28-2006, 03:35 AM   #3
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Re: Advice please - child's father is back

Thanks for your humble opinion but you seem to have missed the point of my post. I said that I was going to let him see her; I never suggested that I'd "deny" my daughter her father. What I wanted was advice on how to introduce them.

And by the way, in all fairness, I did keep in touch with him. I wrote to him, phoned him, and sent him photos of her when she was born. Then I went to America for a month, during which time he got married, moved house and never sent me his new address. His phone number is ex-directory (whereas mine is easy to find) and he's not a member of any websites like FriendsReunited (whereas I am). So I'd like to know how you suggest I could have contacted him. And why should I have to? I was the one literally left holding the baby... And as for moving in with my mum; I already lived with her during university, I graduated with no job to go to and nowhere to live so I had no choice. And besides, I only live a couple of hours from him, it's not like it's hard for him to reach me.

I really think you should read peoples' posts properly before you go expressing your opinions and making judgements...


 
Old 09-28-2006, 06:52 AM   #4
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Re: Advice please - child's father is back

I would be up front with your daughter. Tell her that her dad called and he thinks that maybe he could be a good father after all. I would meet him somewhere fun, where he and your daughter can bond. Like an amusement park or a children's play place. If she feels overwhelmed she can go off on her own for a bit. It would not seem weird that she did, because it's a children's place. I am sure once the initial weirdness goes away, she and he will hit it off right away.

As with you and he I would just call a truce. He did not call for whatever reason (time can get away from us sometimes). And you did what you needed to do. You guys can start from scratch and start building something that will work for all of you.

Good luck!! I hope everything turns out ok. I am sure that it will.

 
Old 09-28-2006, 09:13 AM   #5
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Re: Advice please - child's father is back

I agree, I think you should be upfront with her, but also prepare her for the fact that sometimes people don't always follow through with relationships. Although a little different from my personal situation my mom never really explained why I couldn't see my dad it was because he was an alcoholic and I had very sporadic contact with him which in my opinion did more harm than good. Talk to her, watch her reaction and let her have a choice in the matter and let him be around if he's a good decent person who can contribute to her life. Please include some sort of couseling for her, if it doesn't work out it'll be hard on her. I don't wish that kind of anger and disappointment on anyone it can take a lifetime to get over.

 
Old 09-28-2006, 01:07 PM   #6
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Re: Advice please - child's father is back

I had a similar situation with my daughter and planned out the situation as best I could to minimize the stress of the situation. In the end I just held my girl and said this is you daddy. He may not be the best dad all the time but she loves him so everything is OK. I hope the same outcome happens for your daughter.

 
Old 09-29-2006, 12:09 AM   #7
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Re: Advice please - child's father is back

I think it is great that you are thinking this through and making plans to do the best thing for your daughter. I'm sure you will have your own feelings about her father, this is only human. If you think that would be a problem, you could seek help for yourself if you wanted. I think this meeting could probably be more difficult for you than for your little girl. If you put it to her in a positive way, that her daddy is coming over and would like to see her, then she may well take it in her stride at her age. She doesn't have the same history with him as you do.
He may be nervous too. You could have someone else with you if it would make you feel more comfortable and then just take it from there and see what happens. You can review the situation afterwards and maybe get an opportunity to talk with him privately.
I grew up without a father and found him when i was an adult. My mother had her reasons for feeling hurt and angry with him, but i didn't feel the same way.
I always regretted not knowing my father as a child but we had 14 good years as adults and managed to have a good relationship in that time.
Perhaps you can post back afterwards and let us know how it turns out.
Take care and good luck.
Maya

 
Old 09-29-2006, 06:17 AM   #8
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Re: Advice please - child's father is back

AVC..........I agree that you should be upfront with your daughter. Sit her down and explain to her that her daddy wants to meet her and get to know her. Hopefully this mans absense was due to lack of maturity and that he has finally grown into a man and will truly get to know his daughter and NOT desert her again. Have you met with him already? If not, I think you should meet with him first and explain to him that she is a little girl and if he is going to start this, then he better plan on building a relationship with his little girl.

Your daughter thankfully is young enough to bond with her father. Every little girl deserves a mom and a dad, and for your daughter...........I hope everything works out! Best wishes to you and your little girl. Please keep us posted.

 
Old 09-29-2006, 08:51 AM   #9
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Re: Advice please - child's father is back

wow, this one really hits home for me. I have a ten year old daughter who has never known her father. I told her that she is loved, but he is far away (he had moved) and he knew that I would take wonderful care of her. He was not ready to be there for a child, and I let him go. I figured it would be better than having our daughter go through the roller-coaster ride I had been on with him. He let me down alot and I didn't want the same for her.

Anyway, I have currently moved (with my husband and 4 year old daughter) to the city in which he is living. My ten year old is amazing--she is a straight A student and runs cross-country and I think he would be proud. I expect that if he gets his life together, he may contact us one day. If my daughter reaches an age where she really wants to meet him and wants to find him and is ready to handle it, she will get his info from me and will get my blessing to contact him. At this point, I can only hope that he gets it together so that she will be pleased with what she finds.

I think you are handling this very well. It is hard--you don't know if he will stick with this but being there for your daughter is all you can do. Keep us posted.

 
Old 09-30-2006, 03:02 PM   #10
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Re: Advice please - child's father is back

Hello all. Thank you for your advice and good wishes. I have made one of my decisions; to meet at a park if it's nice weather, or go bowling if it's not! I don't want him coming to my house, at least not the first time, and figured either of those places would give scope for them to "bond" but also be distracting enough if things got awkward... I thought about a play place but decided against it as it might mean me sitting at a table with him while my little girl goes off to play, which I don't fancy At least at a park he can push her on the swings...

I'm afraid I might go against your advice tho I've been thinking about the pressure it might put on her to know she's about to meet her dad. She wouldn't know how to behave. And if, heaven forbid, he met her once and decided that was enough, she'd have got her hopes up for nothing. I'm tempted to introduce him as an old friend of mine, and see how they get on. Perhaps I could tell her at the end of the afternoon. Or at the beginning if it seems appropriate. I just think it would take the pressure off both of them. Well, all of us! I might even let him tell her himself. He can tell her about his family one day... I'll have to see how it goes; once we have a date organised, I could broach the subject subtly with her and see what she says...

I have talked to him, and he seems to understand the implications and knows that it's not going to be easy, and she won't adore him straight away. He says he wants her to know she has a dad who loves her. Which is an admirable sentiment. Remains to be seen if he means it. He was always very good at saying what he thought I wanted to hear. Wasn't always true...

Anyway, on the whole I am glad he has finally got in touch. At least she'll know he didn't reject her completely. She seems happy with the situation at the moment, as I said, but who knows what effect it could have had on her as she got older, if she hadn't known him. So I think things will work out. I'm just not looking forward to seeing him again...

So I'll sort out a weekend for us to meet. Am pretty busy tho, and it's my birthday soon. So that's one weekend out of the question! I'll let you know how it goes.

Thanks

Amy

 
Old 10-03-2006, 11:05 AM   #11
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Exclamation Re: Advice please - child's father is back

Hi AVC

We always try to do the best we can for our children. You say your daughter is mature, but she is only 5 years old and this is something you have to make decisions about.

I would recommend most highly that before you let your daughter meet her biological father, that you meet him yourself and find out what his intentions are, why he wants to meet her now, what commitment he is prepared to make to being a father to her and lots of other difficult questions like that.

Being a parent is not just for Christmas. Now just this week or this year.. it's a lifetime guarantee.

Personally, I would be concerned considering he hasn't contacted you before now. Perhaps his new wife can't have children? perhaps his brothers or sisters have kids and he realises he's missing out. Whatever the reason, you deserve to have him be honest with you about it. Is this just a passing whim or a genuine desire to have a relationship with his daughter. Does he really understand what this commitment requires of him, what is he prepared to offer her in terms of time and attention.

He cannot start up a relationship with her now, and then just disappear in a few weeks, months years.. The effect on her would be catastrophic. I know too many kids whose fathers showed up, then didn't show up... I've heard too many stories of people who stood by the window all day on their birthday and waited...

I know about this all too well as my daughters father decided he didn't want to be with me any more when I was 8 months pregnant. I tried to be reasonable, let him have access but I told him - you can see her all you want - one day a week, two days a week, but you can't turn around in a year or 5 years and say it isn't convenient any more. For 10 years he was a devoted father - then he married someone and emigrated. His daughter was devestated, started self harming, and ended up cutting herself with a razor and being admitted to hospital. She's now left her home and friends and gone to live with him 6000 miles away.

in Canada, they insist separated parents live no more than 40 miles away from each other. If they need to move for work they have to get government approval to do so. I think that's a great idea.

This has to be about what is good for your daughter. Yes seeing her father is a good thing, but only if he seriously understands the responsibilties of being a father. That he can't just pick up with her now, and then drop her later.

If he is sincere about it, then he should respond maturely to your concerns. Get him to read some books on parenting, divorce and how it affects children before he gets to see your daughter. Let him think about it and read how these things affect kids if it isn't done properly.

I can't stress too strongly how important this is.

Some men are mature and reasonable, many men, sadly, are not.

Oh the other thing is when you do meet you should stay with your daughter and him during every meeting at least for the first few months. Then you can see how he is with her, how he disciplines etc etc. He will have his own parenting style from his own upbringing and he may therefore smack, when you don't smack, give toys, sweets etc that you don't want her to have. Absent fathers are very good at polarizing the whole parent relationship so it becomes "good daddy who gives me everything, but I only see him once a week, and bad mummy who says tidy your room, clean your teeth.. and she's there all the time". It is only a few steps from that to "My mum's always telling me off - I wish I lived with daddy because he's so nice to me."

If you can speak to a child counsellor or something and get as much information as possible that would be really wise.

Hope this has given you some things to think about - it's a big issue and one that few people give the thought it requires.

Good luck.

 
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