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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As you can see by my sig, I'm expecting in less than a month. Today is my DH's daughter's 6th birthday. Between financial limitations, his ex's refusal to cooperate, and geographical distance (ex and dd live in Idaho), he hasn't seen his daughter since she was 3 and has had little contact with her of any other kind.<br><br>
But he's still the only dad she's got, and by reports today from ex, she was quite upset upon receiving the pictures we sent of the two of us (that she'd asked for because she didn't know what we look like nowadays) because I'm pregnant. She feels like she's being replaced.<br><br>
DH sent her a letter to explain that this isn't so, of course, and her mom is trying to tell her the same thing, but I feel terrible that she's having to go through these feelings! This baby couldn't possibly replace her in her father's heart! But how could she know that since she never gets to see him?<br><br>
Would I be out of place if I started campaigning with them for her to be able to visit us sometime in the near future? All her grandparents live here in the metro area, and she knows her maternal grandparents, so it wouldn't be a total visit to strangers... another reason DH hasn't pushed for visitation, she's very close with her mom and doesn't like being apart from her, which from an AP perspective I can totally understand.<br><br>
They usually come down for the holidays, last year we were in TX and the year before dd came down with her aunt and aunt didn't bother to tell DH so he didn't get to see her. The year before that was just a brief visit at DH's father's house...<br><br>
I want my baby to be able to know his/her big sister and vice versa, and DH really wants to reestablish his relationship with his daughter, but has been reluctant to push ex at all because he's behind on child support (due to unemployment, when he's employed it's the first thing we pay, before rent even). But money shouldn't be the issue when it comes to the relationship between a little girl and her father...or her younger sib, for that matter!<br><br>
Any suggestions for how I can help this situation, instead of just making it worse (as having a baby seems to be doing?)
 

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I think dsd reaction is totally reasonable. This little girl has not seen her father in 3 years, and now he's having a baby. I can see how she would be upset. I understand that dh wants to be gentle about pursuing any visits that would take dsd away from her mother, and I think that is fair, mother is the only parent she knows.<br><br>
I think you and dh need to do something about the money situation(I know easier said than done), and he needs to make a trip there to see her. Does he have any family who cares that he doesn't see his own daughter, won't they help out? That is all just so sad. Money should not stand in the way of him seeing his daughter.<br><br>
I do think it is unreasonable to think that she should come there to visit you guys, without mom. I can't imagine how hard that would be on her.<br><br>
I think dh needs to talk to dsd's mother, and work something out, tell her how he wants to be a part of dsd's life, and see if she can help make that happen.<br><br>
What a terrible situation for all of you, I hope you work something out, you all deserve to be a family.
 

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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">I want my baby to be able to know his/her big sister and vice versa, and DH really wants to reestablish his relationship with his daughter, but has been reluctant to push ex at all because he's behind on child support (due to unemployment, when he's employed it's the first thing we pay, before rent even). But money shouldn't be the issue when it comes to the relationship between a little girl and her father...or her younger sib, for that matter!</td>
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I think you dh needs to get over his shame of not having money and being late...and that's what I think might be going on...and he need to call ex and say,<br>
"I know I'm behind in payments and I'm trying as hard as I can. I hate that I'm late. That's not what I wanted for our dd. I can't make up the money right now but I am very concerned that she thinks she is being replaced and I can see how she might feel that. I should have tried harder to see her, she is not feeling special. I would like to try and fix this starting now. Can we figure a way to get her to come here and visit us?"<br><br>
Or something like that. I learned a long time ago it is better to own your mistakes. It is vulnerable but that is really where growth can happen. And frankly magic.<br><br>
I personally think if your dh can own this piece of the puzzle with the ex in a new way, he will see other areas of his life improve..aka new employment. I say that because I think his DD is worth the fear and hurdle with the ex.<br><br>
I have been a daughter who was neglected by a father with a new family. He still does it 30 years later. The sting is hard. I guess it is part of my karma. But he is also lame on mystep siblings..which is their karma too. Frankly in my case, myfather should probably not had any children and just a mirror to look at his reflection...but I digress.<br><br><br>
off topic<br>
DH might want to check out debtor's anyonmous meetings. It is geat for under-earning issues...which might be going on.
 

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Use this as the spark for him to renew his relationship. The distence makes visiting hard. But he can send her a letter/note/card every week (every single sunday he writes to her) to let her know he is thinking of her and to begin establishing a connection. Honestly, a visit will be but a patch anyway. He needs to come up with a way to have a real, steady long distence relationship with her.<br><br>
And I agree he needs to begin by aknowledging he hasn't, in the past years, let her know consistantly how important she is to him, but that she will never not know that again.<br><br>
Good luck.
 

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Am I reading your post correctly...her mother's parents live near you? Maybe the best idea to present to her mom is that both of them come for a visit. She could stay with her grandparents, still be with her mom and maybe feel a little less fearful. Most likley, mom really wants her to have a relationship with her dad and even with the late child support would not keep her dd from knowing him if dd wishes it. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug"> to you, your husband and your step-daughter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
DH is going to call later this morning and talk to DD. This was ex's suggestion, of course she suggested it on DD's birthday while neglecting to include their phone number which she knew DH didn't have. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="rolleyes">:<br><br>
They usually do come down during the holidays, or else DD comes down with her maternal aunt (who they live with) if her mother has to work (she usually works several jobs, never holds any of them long...she's as bad about KEEPING a job as DH has been lately about FINDING one). In years past the only visits the Aunt was willing to negotiate were with DD's paternal grandparents, and the last year he was here (last year we were in TX), when she was 4, she made it clear that DH wasn't welcome so if they wanted to see their granddaughter not to tell him about the visit! The really obnoxious part was that they went along with this, and he wasn't able to see his daughter for so much as a supervised visit even though she was in the city.<br><br>
He's been saying for years when we get back on our feet financially and we're caught up on child support he'll put his foot down about the visitation issue, take it back to court if necessary since theoretically he shares custody half and half and visitation is at his and ex's discretion...<br><br>
He tried to propose a visit last year, he wanted to meet DD in AZ and take her to visit the grandparents, but ex said it wasn't acceptable for her to fly solo even on a direct flight where she'd be met at the destination end, and there was NO WAY we could afford for DH to fly to Idaho, find a place to stay while visiting, etc.--and there still isn't. You'd think ex would be able to grasp that if he can't afford to catch up child support he certainly can't afford a three-way plane ticket <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/confused.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Confused">: . Apparently she prefers to think that if child support isn't coming it's because he's choosing to be a jerk, which isn't the case--the only time it's not paid is when he's unemployed or underemployed such that the child support is more than half his paycheck. Which unfortunately has been a lot this last year, but it's not like he's shortchanging DD for his own convenience, we can barely pay our rent/utilities and buy food right now, and that only with help from DH's brother who lives with us.<br><br>
I just feel awful about this situation. I've tried to stay out of the whole dynamic with DH and his ex and DD, but I feel like this latest problem is quite directly my fault, as DH wanted to wait a while yet to have any more kids, partly because of money and partly because his relationship with DD is on such tenuous ground. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/guilty.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="guilty">
 

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Hi,<br>
What a tough situation! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug"><br><br>
just a thought in addition to all the above...<br><br>
be sure to include your DH's first DD in the birth announcement when the baby comes if you can figure out a way to word it that isn't too "fake" if you kwim... (perhaps from the baby's point of view such as happy to be born and looking forward to meeting his/her big sister and the rest of the family??)... and send the announcement to his ex and DD (addressed to the daughter too on the envelope)...<br><br>
or a cute card/note from the baby to the DD saying "I'm looking forward to meeting my big sister ..." etc.<br><br>
and make sure that in any other such announcements where family members often get named, his DD gets named in her own right (even, perhaps especially, when it's a bit awkward sometimes to work her in)...<br><br>
just to make sure that she sees no one has forgotten her... no matter what else is going on...<br><br>
I don't know, maybe I'm just talking out of my hat but, well, what do you think?<br><br>
GOOD LUCK
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I was planning to make a special birth announcement to send to her, and accompanying it will be a letter for her mother talking about how I feel about wanting a relationship for my baby with her DD, even if she's not so keen on DH, DD shouldn't be denied a chance to know her new sib... I do think ex is more capable of being reasonable than DH gives her credit for, she's not not very reasonable where DH is concerned, kwim? I know she has DD's best interests at heart just as we do.<br><br>
To be honest it WOULD seem fake to have DD included on the birth announcements unless it's phrased just right...I'm going to have to think about it. I'll either be doing my own desktop-designed announcements or generic ones a friend bought me, we can't afford to get custom made ones. I don't think the generic ones have a space for siblings...
 

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I like the suggestion about birth announcements, and also the card 'from' the baby to big sister. Can you afford a newspaper announcement? We got one, it wasn't too expensive, and it mentioned our daughter's (half)sisters as welcoming her too.<br><br>
As a now long-distance stepmom who has had to contend with access issues, I can relate to some of your experiences.<br><br>
How tough on you, your husband, and the little girl! I was upset to read that her mom would use deceit to avoid her daughter seeing her father even while in the same city for a visit. In my opinion, there's just no excuse for that kind of behaviour. I can see that your husband is between a rock and a hard place since he doesn't want her to push the child support issue. I take it she's 'letting it go,' but using it as a bargaining chip to dictate the terms on which she will allow him to be a parent? Not cool.<br><br>
Where do you live? I'm in Canada so I have no clue about the legal situation in your state, but there are a couple of broad avenues I'd suggest at least looking into. Check out the availability of legal aid in family law situations where you are, and if you and dh would qualify (here, it depends both on your income/assets, and on whether they even cover the kind of matter in question). If it is possible to see a lawyer via legal aid (and if you can see one who knows his/her job), find out the relationship between visitation and child support. Where I am, they are never, ever supposed to be linked -- i.e. if parent A doesn't provide access, parent B should still pay support; if parent B doesn't pay support, parent A still needs to provide access. I think the rationale is that something that benefits the CHILD should not be withdrawn because a PARENT has failed to provide something else that benefits the child. Anyway, mom should not link the two.<br><br>
I understand the child support squeeze! Child support orders can be really stupid in not recognizing the need to also support a new spouse and child. You can look at getting the amount he is supposed to pay changed by a court to reflect what he can afford, but I guess that would depend on if you can get legal aid. In the meantime, even if he can't send the full amount, send what is possible.<br><br>
I suspect you may be pleasantly surprised at your step-daughter's ability to travel alone and spend a week or two with you guys initially, once you have it set up. I understand she is used to mom, but she may well be up for the challenge, and not having her mom there could actually facilitate you, dh, and the new baby building a more natural relationship with her -- she will sense it if her mom is hostile, and it will be harder to interact under those circumstances. My stepdaughters are 4 and 8, and they spent 5 weeks with us this summer. In that case, we had moved away after having them on alternating weekends for 3 years, so we had a history -- but starting off with a week or two in your case could work.<br><br>
Definitely have dh write all the time, send jokes and pictures. Also stuff from you and the baby. If her mom will help her send things back, how about asking for some pictures that she has drawn, to decorate the baby's room? You can also send pictures of your place and the neighbourhood, maybe where she would sleep at your place if you already have room for her. Help her feel in the loop while you try to line up a visit.<br><br>
Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
In all fairness, it wasn't sDD's mom who was behind the avoidance subterfuge, it was her sister, who had brought DD down for the visit.<br><br>
The amount of child support we're expected to pay isn't burdensome when DH actually has a real job, and in fact the amount is ridiculously low--though paying extra to catch up of course makes it higher.<br><br>
I think the ex is starting to outgrow some of the manipulation as DD expresses more interest in having a relationship with her dad. ex is immature in some ways and doesn't like DH, but she's not crazy or anything, I can easily see her point of view on these issues as well.<br><br>
Money has been an issue in visitation as much because of the geographical distance involved as anything else, we're in Arizona and they're in Idaho. Plane tickets cost money. As does living space. Right now we live in a 2 bedroom apartment and DH's brother lives with us and shares the expenses. It's a good thing we're planning on cosleeping, and right now if we had DD visit she'd have to sleep on the couch (which is actually a twin bed, we don't have a real couch) in the living room. This would be no big deal for a short visit, but far from ideal for a long one. We plan on moving into a 3 bedroom as soon as we can afford it...<br><br>
Money would solve so many of our problems, or at least make it easier to work on solving them. <sigh>
 

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I think that step-relationships are always going to be difficult, and it's not surprising that your stepdd is feeling this way. How sad for her not to have had regular time with her dad.<br><br>
At the risk of sounding like Dr Laura, why are you living so far away, especially if it means that your dh has not seen her for 3 years? Maybe it's through no decision that you and he made, but if he's now out of work anyway, and really serious about building a relationship with his dd, could he look for work in her area?<br><br>
I guess I'm of a somewhat Dr Laura-ish mindset about children and step families, and personally would make decisions based on not what 'works' for me and my new family, but how to maintain as much of a relationship with the original child as I can.<br><br>
I can understand how money becomes difficult, but is he maintaining contact otherwise? Phone calls, letters, cards, little gifts? None of that costs much money. I think it is unrealistic to think that you can wait three years then now recreate have a relationship with a child, but you can at least repair some damage.<br><br>
American geography is not my strong point, and I tried looking at a map but couldn't work out which state was which - LOL. Is it not possible for him to drive to visit her? Or scrape the $$s for a cheapo ticket? Not once in 3 years seems a bit feeble to me.<br><br>
I'm sorry if this sounds critical, it's not meant to be, but I'm trying to look at things from this little girl's point of view. However aggravating her family might be, maybe you could help your dh to build some sort of relationship with her and get to see her regularly. Being a step mum is tough, but your husband's first responsibility, imo, is that father/child relationship.
 

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Actually, I just wouldn't concentrate so much on visiting time (a week or two will be but a band aid no matter how well it goes) since it is difficult finacially right now. Rather, have your dh focus on building and mantaining a relationship with her through all the inexpensive ways technology makes possible - get a cell with free weekend minutes and have him call her a set time every week, e-mail and im constantly, have him send her cards and letters every week. I loved getting letters as a kid. Made me feel so important! And reading and writing them will be great for her langauge skills as she gets older. Letters are 37 cents.<br><br>
We got a birth announcement that read "[mother's name], [father's name] and [older sibling's name] welcome [new sibling] to the family." May want to check with girl and mom to make sure this is ok with them. Perhaps just the option to be included, even if she decides not to be, will make her feel a little better.<br><br>
It WOULD be best if y'all could live closer geographically. But barring that, he will need to find a way to have a meaningful continuous relationship with her beyond just holidays and a week or two visit in the summer (if your finaces were great, this is about all you'd get considering the distence).<br><br>
Good luck. I know you care and I hope you find way(s) let her know this.
 
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