Yesterday I was due to take my daughter to the zoo. She’s seven. I hadn’t seen her for a month. I have a court order in place whereby I am aloud to see my daughter twice a month, one being a sleepover at my mother’s house. My parents are in their 70’s. They got ill ten days or so before the planned sleepover. I informed my daughter’s mother of this stating - due to age and ill health - that my daughter may not be able to stay overnight (She can’t stay with me because I’m in a bedsit).
I asked that I have two ‘visit’ days instead and gave over a week’s notice making it clear that this request is by no-means set in stone, so to say, but changeable as my parents may feel better.
I had no reply. So I thought that it was business as usual. Then Friday comes round and I’m driving back from work and I get a message stating that I have ruined her plans for the weekend and I can’t see my daughter because there’s another arrangement in place. I have no idea what these plans were because as usual I am the last person to know anything. Prior to this, about a week before, and given the only communication from my daughters’ mother is money related I receive a message asking me to log in to the CMS and that I need to contact them. I log in and apparently I don’t have to pay her anything, anymore. Obviously I think this is incorrect because it doesn’t make any sense, but probably correct as the CMS are nonsensical anyways. I called the number had a chat with a person that told me it was correct. I said ‘I think this is going to cause me real problems’ and I was right.
So, yesterday Saturday, I am due to take my daughter to the zoo. I pick her up, she’s upbeat happy can’t wait to see the animals. I'm happy to see her, we have a great relationship, we chat in the car about school and friends and what animals she wants to see at the zoo. I get to my parents house park up and we get out the car and walk up the drive to my parent’s house. My father is outside and my daughter walks up to him and says ‘My dad is a nasty man!’ out of nowhere. My father is taken back. Then my daughter starts to cry. Anyways this went on for two hours, crying, wailing and demanding she goes home. I really tried to stand my ground but I gave in. And I agreed that she could go home. Once this demand was settled my daughter calmed down and I could have a conversation with her, a one to one. I was very concerned as I hope you can imagine. Well it transpires that she is being told, daily and quizzed daily about my behaviour, my character, our general relationship. None of this is positive, it’s all poisonous. For context I found out that I had a daughter through the CMS and didn’t see her for the first 4 years of her life. I took her to court. Building a solid relationship with my daughter has been paramount and something I thought was going very well. It’s been very difficult since the court order has been in place with my marriage to another women coming to an end and my losing my house. One thing through that time was that I could see my daughter. The default setting in society is that the man is always wrong, no matter what. So the nasty man comment sends chills down my spine, what next? I have to, forced to prove my character to my own daughter? What can I do about the poisonous alienation my daughter is feeling?
two things to continue, I think:
1) Consistent behaviour on your behalf and not rising to the message your daughter is receiving is a great thing. My daughters actually find it amusing that I can joke about what their Mother has suggested about me, that I can say that it doesn't bother me. This has helped them not take on her criticisms about them too - it doesn't undermine her being a Mother, but does take away some of the energy of her messages.
2) Ask you daughter and encourage her to make up her own mind. What does she think? what behaviours has she seen that confirms or denies what she has heard? This starts the journey of your daughter believing her gut feeling which is a great reference point, and one she will need in life. If she says you are, try and get her to explain why and try to explain. It might be a nice way to see if there's anything to change to make your relationship even stronger (I'm not saying there are problems, but if she suggests something she'd like you to change, and you actually do, then she gets the message you listen to her and that she's important enough for you to change for her)
I think the fact you took your ego out and agreed she could go home, which resulted in you have that frank chat with her is great!
Just some thoughts - good luck to you!
@tashby thanks so much for your comment. My situation, I'm afraid, has gone from bad to worse. I had a great day with my daughter yesterday. A day full of activities and treats. At the end of the day I took her home at the agreed time. Then, I must have just driven out of their street, I get a message accusing me of 'forcing' my daughter to apologize for the incident that happened two weeks ago (see my first post). This of course was not the case and the so called apology was my daughter and my father (he's got Parkinson's and has cognitive and memory problems) saying 'sorry Granddad' and my father saying 'sorry ...' and then them hugging one another - it was quite moving. None of this was under duress. It was all above board. Anyways when I get home I decide to call her, the mother, this is something I wouldn't normally do and all [censored] breaks loose. She's swearing, shouting calling me a '***** man'. This has become something now, but should had been well and truly sorted out. And all this shouting and swearing is in earshot of my daughter, I can imagine.
I want to go back to the court and change the court order as I feel that if something like an innocent apology, whereby I'm trying to teach my daughter the power of forgiveness and then that act can be manipulated into what this incident has become, what next?
Truly fed up, down and depressed.
any thoughts greatly received
It might be worth having a chat with school and letting them know how difficult the situation is. Home difficulties often manifest themselves in different ways at school and it will be helpful for the school to know that things are difficult at home.