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First visitation

Started by stressedoutmom, Nov 09, 2009, 01:20:23 PM

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I need some help and I'm hoping that some one has been through something similar before.  I have a 3 year old daughter.  Her father and I are not together and haven't been since pregnancy.  During my pregnancy I tried to keep him involved by iniviting him to doc appts, etc.  I was induced and tried to get him to be at the hospital for the birth but he was not interested.  After she was born I again tried to get him to see her. 

I got tired of trying and told him to let me know if he wanted to see her.  We ended up getting attorneys involved and got child support established.  During that process I had my attorney draw up and include a parenting plan so that if he decided that he wanted visitation later we would not have to go back to court and fight about it.  Now that she is 3 1/2 he has all of a sudden out of the blue emailed me that he would like to start seeing her.  I suggested that we sit down and talk before that happen and he has an excuse for every time that I suggest. 

Our parenting plan is pretty specific about how many visits he has to have before he can ever be alone with her, etc.  I am not worried about her safety while with him.  He is great with kids.  I just don't understand how you just wake up one day and decide that you want to be a parent now.  My daughter sees other kids' dads picking them up from daycare and at their soccer games, etc.  My daughter told me on several occasions that she doesn't have a dad.  This is from her reasoning in her head not from anything that I have told her. 

When she says this I do tell her that she does have a dad and that he just doesn't live with us and she usually changes the subject after that.  How do you introduce a 3 y/o to their dad who has never been there? 


In my opinion, especially with seeing the children with their dads, the little one would be excited.  Like "I DO have a daddy"  but probably shy and nervous too.  I think if the dad expects an excellent father/daughter relationship right off the bat, he is shooting a bit high.  Because he will still be a stranger to her.  Maybe the first few visitations should be supervised with you there as like an introduction, do you and him get along well enough to be near eachother for a couple of hours while they play and get to know eachother?  Then maybe go from there.


Thanks asof2005 for your encouraging words!

I can't honestly tell you the last time he and I have spoken to each other.  I really don't have any ill will toward him but I can't speak to what his feelings are.  I'm sure he found it less than pleasant to be taken to court for child support but other than that we really never fought with each other just kind of stopped speaking.  I want to sit down and find out what his expectations are before we start this.  If he even thinks for one minute that I am just going to drop her off at his house for a couple of hours he is surely mistaken.  He is a stranger to her and I hope that he is ready to go in to this with that understanding.  Per our parenting plan he has to have supervised visits in an evironment familiar to her.  I do think that she needs to have a relationship with both her mother and father so I really do find his sudden interest as a good thing although a little odd.  I hope that he is committed to this and not just going to see her once or twice because I'm sure she would be devastated to find out that she really does have a dad and then see him once or twice and never again.  I just want to figure out the best way to make it work out for all involved.  Or are my expectations too high?


Hi Stressedoutmom,

In my opinion, you have every right to be concerned about how your daughter is introduced to her dad, but you should try to make the process as smooth as possible.  My suggestion to you would be to have them meet somewhere that is familiar to her but a place that can be considered neutral for both parents.  Maybe you can go to a park and have BF (birth father) be there....they can be introduced and start playing, etc, while you're there.  Do that a few times and then maybe one day you should take her there and let her be with her dad alone.  Depending on how that goes, then he can start picking her up and taking her to his house after the required number of visits are satisfied from the parenting plan.

Remember, children at that age can handle change better than we give them credit for.  Also remember, your daughter will feed off your energy.  If you act nervous around her dad or uncomfortable, she will too.  I know it's a hard time for you.....but if she can have a relationship with her dad it will be better for her overall. 

I think the fact that he's making an attempt to be a part of her life is a good thing. You shouldn't question why or why now.  Take it for what it is....he had a wake up call of some sort.  Better now than later. 

As far as him meeting with you and having an excuse for all the times you suggest....he might just be hesitant to have a face to face conversation with you.  How about if you write to each other through e-mail.  You can ask him for tell you what his expectations are, etc, and then you can voice your opinions.


Okay so here's the update.  So my daughters father had an excuse for every time I suggested we sit down and talk and try to get this figured out so he can start seeing her.  In his last message to me he said to give him so times that I would be available and he would call me.  I have given him numerous times and he has yet to call.  In my previous messages back and forth to him I have told him that I am glad that he had decided that he wants to be a part of her life and I have been very positive and encouraging.  I really don't think that he expected this from me as I can be a major B&$%@ when I want to.  I really do think him being involved in her life would be a great thing for her.  I am open to talking over the phone instead of in person as I realize that I can be a little intimidating at times or at least used to be.  I'm a totally different person now than I was 3 1/2 years ago.  I am taking his lack of getting back to me as a sign that he really isn't committed to doing this.  Am I wrong?  The last thing I want is to introduce him and them have him be gone again.  I've even talked with our doctor about this and she says that to introduce him and them have him visit once or twice and be gone again would be worse than just not introducing him at all.  I really want my daughter to have a relationship with her father and I am willing to do anything I can to make that happen but when he isn't following through what I am supposed to do?


Even if he comes every once in a while..it is better she met her father then grow up..why doesnt he want to see me?
Maybe offer a common area for you all to meet...like chuck-e-cheese. He can meet her as "Dad" but just say some mommy's and daddy's dont live together.
He is probably very nervous to do this and she is a girl...so...LOL
Encourage and offer a time and place. If you dont hear from him, let it go until the next time.

Try not to be one of those people that dont allow their children to love the other side of the family. If it works out then she should be able to see the extended family for holidays and let her enjoy her time with them. Does he have family near by that would be there too? DO you know his parents?

Kitty C.

You said:  'In my previous messages back and forth to him I have told him that I am glad that he had decided that he wants to be a part of her life and I have been very positive and encouraging.  I really don't think that he expected this from me as I can be a major B&$%@ when I want to.'

It's very possible that the only thing he remembers of you is the 'major B&$%@' (B&$%@'), so being cordial to him might have thrown him for a loop and he's just having a hard time digesting it, who knows.  But if it's been less than a month since you've given him the suggestions of times/dates.  Who knows what or why he's dragging his feet at the moment, but if you feel he was truly sincere in his initial interest to be a part of his daughter's life, don't push the issue.  It's taken him this long to come around and this is not something you want to rush....for anyone, including him.  You have no idea what may be going on in his life and he may have conflicts with family, work, or who knows what.

The next time you communicate with him, ask him what would make HIM comfortable:  talking over the phone, e-mail, etc. (for setting up the initial meeting) and what kind of venue would he prefer to do this (Chuck-E-Cheese, McDonald's, park, etc.)

Because of the possibility that all he remembers of you is the 'intimidating' part, give him the space and opportunity to feel that the decisions made regarding all this is mutual, that he has some control over how it all transpires as well.  But if he decides that maybe he really isn't ready yet, acknowledge that and let him know that you are always open to him having a relationship with his daughter, but you hope he agrees that he should not commit to this if he feels that he may not be able to follow through with it, as that would be an even bigger disappointment to the child.  So you are willing to be open and listen to him when he decides that is what he want to do.  Keep it all positive.

Consider this:  if he decides he is not ready to make that committment yet and tells you that, I would look at this as a good sign.  Better he realizes that he can or can't make the committment then to jump into it with both feet and find out a few weeks or months that he can't handle it yet.  At least he knows what he is and isn't capable of in regards to parenting.....compared to all the kids having kids and not realizing what they've gotten themselves into until they're knee deep in it and past the point of no return.......
Handle every stressful situation like a dog........if you can't play with it or eat it, pee on it and walk away.......


My daughter and I have had the conversation about how some mommys and daddys don't live together.  She has commented to me that she doesn't have a dad and I do tell her that she does but he just doesn't live with us.  I do get her involved with his family even though he hasn't wanted to be in her life until now.  I do take our daughter over to visit his mother.  It was not necessarily comfortable for me in the beginning but I felt it was what was best for my daughter.   

To be completely honest I would much rather she not know him at all then have him be around once in a while.  I just don't want her to ever think that he is not around because he doesn't like her or that she has done something wrong.  And if he doesn't know him then him not being around can't be because he doesn't like her or she has done anything wrong.  But more than anything I would love for her to have a great relationship with her father and I'm totally willing to do what I can to make that happen.   

He has finally gotten back to me and he and I are going to talk tomorrow so hopefully that goes well.  And even if it goes poorly, I'll figure out a way to make the best of a bad situation to try to do what's best for my daughter!   I am trying very hard to be positive and encouraging and am totally willing to accept input from him as to how to do this to make everyone comfortable.  I'm excited because I truly think this has the potential to be a great thing but I am also very nervous because I just don't want to see my little girl get hurt. 

You all have been so helpful in helping me to see things from all different angles.  Thank you all and wish me luck tomorrow.


Good luck tomorrow...hope it goes well...
Just remember he is a man and wont do/say the things exactly how you want to parent her. It will be a learning experience for him too especially if this is a first child. If your child already met his mother, then maybe go over there for the first meeting? or the public place is always good too. If he has another child (cousin or someone) that she can play with at the public place too could be helpful.
A few times so she is comfortable and then if he showed up and did the right thing, give him some time with her alone for an afternoon and build up from there.
I give you a LOT of credit for being positive about this. Realize that by him coming to you is his way of saying he wants to do this. Depending on his job/schooling work around and get a schedule you are both comfortable with. Let us know how tomorrow goes!

Kitty C.

'......I just don't want to see my little girl get hurt.'

BT, DT........and the honest truth is...no matter how hard we try to keep our children from getting hurt, it ends up finding them anyway.  That's not to say that we can't keep it from happening, BUT.....when/if it does, it is NOT the end of the world, either.

My DS is 20 and has been through more in those short years than many have been through in a lifetime.  We went through a highly volatile LD custody dispute that left him suffering from severe separation anxiety for a very long time (as a toddler).  He then had to fly every summer and EO Christmas to CA from IA, only to have his father die of cancer while he was there for the summer of his 13th year......and things really went downhill from there.  That includes severe ADHD, trouble with the law, a 2 month wilderness therapy program 1800 miles away, juvenile detention, and residential treatment.  He still is somewhat a 'lost soul' and as much as I would have liked to shield him from as much of this as possible, not only could I not, but some of it I realized was the best thing for him at the time, whether I liked it or not.

Protect her as much as you can, but remember that you cannot predict the future.  Because (hypothetically) it makes no difference if he's only in her life for a few years and finds he can't handle it because of his own shortcomings and walks away.........or he devotes himself to her, only to have his life cut short by some unforeseen event.  Either way, it's better she has known him, even if it's for a brief period of time.  And either way, I have a feeling his love for her will be equally as strong......
Handle every stressful situation like a dog........if you can't play with it or eat it, pee on it and walk away.......