Hello, just thought I’d come here to see if any other Dads have experienced anything like the issues that seem to be growing with my contact visits with my daughter recently.
I’ve been through the full Access Case, CSA, Tribunal path over the years, but have had a regular fortnightly overnight visit with my daughter from the age of about 3, she’s now 10, and it’s mostly been amazing. I do live a long distance from her, it’s 200 mile round trip, done twice on a contact weekend, but we spend the time chatting, listening to the radio, and eating, so it’s time for us to chat an talk about things. 90 minutes or so. She does that journey twice, I do it 4 times ...
Over the course of summer holidays, contact pattern has been a little broken. Ex has an older daughter (not mine), and has broken the pattern to take my daughter with her to visit universities on my weekends, this has happened 2 or 3 times now often at short notice. My wife an I have also been away for a week, just once, as we do every year. This said, we’ve still seen her every 2 or 3 weeks regularly, and now she’s back to school, the contact has settled, or should have into the fortnightly pattern. My daughter has a phone we’ve provided, and while contact is sketchy (days without a text reply from her, and phones ‘going missing’) we are in contact during those two weeks.
The problem then is that for the last two visits over the course of 6 weeks (a contact, a broken contact for a ’University visit’, and this weekend just gone), my daughter has been ‘ill’ while with me. Headaches, stomach aches and generally poorly. Naturally this is a concern, primarily that she needs to get better, but secondly that there might be something going on that I’m not aware off.
My wife and I have both talked to her quietly to ask if all is ok at home and school, and she isn’t very forthcoming. Various things, but nothing you’d consider ‘serious’.
My ex and I don’t get on, but on both occasions I’ve sent her an email outlining what has happened, and what we’ve done to help, and this morning I’ve had an email from her implying that it’s my fault, or at least visiting me is the issue. She further suggests that the next visit should be a day-visit!
Without going into huge detail, we’ve long suspected that now she’s out of options legally, my ex’s last option is to try and turn my daughter against me. Illness on visits could be a sign of this.
Has anyone else experienced similar, and what did you do? I’m at a loss as to how to respond to the email I’ve received, I don’t think even for a moment a change of routine is the right thing to do.
I wouldn't start getting into a to and fro, it would just be pointless with her trying to blame you for things. Is your daughter genuinely ill? Or do you think she is trying to say she is ill to go home?
She was definitely rather warm, but naturally that could be brought on by anxiety/stress. It’s happened on both recent visits, so I’m starting to wonder if there is an underlying issue. We’ve had a fantastic relationship up until now, but this is a big year for her in life terms - her last year in Junior School for example. And don’t worry, I have no intention of getting into a to and fro’, I disengaged with the ex on that level years ago - much to her annoyance.
She went to school this morning fine, so I’m not sure it’s 100% genuine. Hmmm.
It sounds like to me that she is possibly nervous with the changes this year, and that maybe is getting to her. You sound like a great dad, and all you can do is say that you and your wife are there for her.
My daughter said she didn't feel well the other week, and didn't really talk to me or my wife. After a little bit of probing and time (i'm talking an hour max) she came and talked to us and said she missed her mum and started to get very upset. We gave her cuddles and all seemed fine after that. She's 9.
My son was often feeling run down, unwell or tired on many of the occasions he came to me - even during the school holidays - particularly if he'd been with his mum for a week. It happened frequently enough for me to monitor this over several months. What I eventually worked out was my son was allowed by his mum to stay up much later than I would allow him to -sometimes as much as almost 3 hours later. I also worked out that she crammed a lot of activities and outings in when he was with her - the result being he was often exhausted when I picked him up, and on some occasions clearly ill within a couple of hours. On the whole, I tend not to make any arrangements on the days I pick him up, so he can have a quiet first day indoors.
I have significant differences with his mother, but I know she loves him, so I don't think there is any conscious malicious intent. In my opinion, she has no real ability to self-reflect. A court order radically increased the amount of time our son spends with me (it was trebled, and even with that my son still spends more than half his time with his mum), and being the person she is, she overfills the time when our son is with her to compensate for what she feels she's lost, even years later. We barely talk, but she wouldn't take kindly to any feedback from me no matter how diplomatically put anyway, because she believes she knows best.
She has tried inferring that my son has become ill soon after coming to me because of neglect, but I've generally managed to establish either through common friends who've seen him at or near the time of the handover, or by taking him soon after for a check up, that he was actually unwell at the time I picked him up. She also tried to suggest it was in his 'best interests' that I reduce the amount of time he spent with me 'for a while', so he could get better. I let her know I had no problems looking after him and would take him to the doctor if necessary, and left it at that. We both have to agree to any changes in the order - those days where she could impose her whims are over. Maybe you could do something along this line. If you do choose to reply, keep it short. I've made the mistake of trying to address my son's mum's 'concerns' - even when I knew they weren't genuine and just double standards - it simply gave her the opportunity to try to cross-examine almost every word I'd written and put negative slants on them.
What might be a problem for your daughter as time goes on is the distance between her two homes. My son's mum came form a separated home. One of the things I recall her telling me (back in the days we could actually talk) was that as she became old enough for secondary school, she found it increasingly harder to want to go and see her dad on the weekends because of missing out on spending time with her friends, and she feigned illness to get out of going for the odd weekend here and there. I saw her very sudden decision to relocate our son 200 miles away in the middle of proceedings to increase the amount of time he spent with me, as a very cynical attempt to bring about a repeat scenario for my son. Ultimately, I relocated (initially part-time) nearby, and got a court order defining the times my son spent with both his parents. Years on, she remains deeply unhappy at both events.
Ultimately, I talk with my son (he's now 9). The Court Order was written up 5 years ago. I have reluctantly started talking to him about it (mainly because he told me his mum had been speaking to him about it, and he was wanting to ask questions). He now has a greater understanding of why his times with each parent is so set, and I also push the boat out in arranging a 'play date' with at least one of his school friends for at least half of the weekends he's with me.
I think also to consider your daughters feelings around the continued travel.
My daughter is now 15. Her mothers boyfriend for the last 3 years is a 90 minute drive away and she was coming home from school on a Friday and getting straight into the car to go on the 90 minute drive for the weekend. After a while it became repetitive and boring for her and she tired of the same long routine. Eventually she asked her mother if she could not go so often.
So it could be a simple case of her not looking forward to the weekend because the long drive there and back has become wearing for her.