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Any Tips?
#1
Hi All

This weekend I'm seeing my daughter for the first meaningful length of time in almost a year. she's 1 and when I last saw her (via Caffcass) she was very unsettled with the new situation.

I have come to terms with the fact that I have been absent for most of her life (due to the court process and the ex sandbagging everything) and that she has forgotten me.

I cant wait to see her but I am nervous about it, does anyone have any tips or suggestions for a reunion?

I want her to be happy and settled in the new environment and as much as I want to sweep her into my arms and be affectionate I don't want to upset her (after all, to her, I am a stranger)

as the visit is supervised and they have informed me that they monitor my reaction to her and how I interact with her from the moment she comes in the room I don't want to be stand offish either

I've bought some toys for her and books, so I can use a gentle approach, but I have also heard that sometimes its best to let children come to you when they are ready, so is it worth me playing with the toys and waiting for her to join in?

I haven't felt like a Dad for a long time and I know these questions may seem like 101 parenting but I would be grateful for any ideas/support anyone can offer

thanks
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#2
Well done... big day

There was a recent report into Parental Alienation ... sorry this gets confusing... where they look at parents reaction to being with their kids (after a long period without) and the nervous anxious, standoffish parent is usually seen as the 'lesser parent' vs the confident self assured parent... BUT the report said that social services often misinterpreted the facts... the nervous anxious, standoffish parent was like that because they had been alienated (they didn't know how to act as they had been stopped from having a relationship) whereas the confident self assured parent was often like that because they had been the controlling alienator!

That cr*p doesn't help you hey? BUT what I'm saying is be yourself as social workers often misinterpret your nervousness as 'bad parenting' where as its because of the situation you of course will be naturally nervous and that does not make you a 'bad parent'

If it was me i would give a running positive commentary to the observer ... tell them your daughter is amazing and beautiful and tell them you are nervous because you've been denied the opportunity to do this regularly, be emotional, be a dad and be yourself... not everything will go perfect but that's ok ...(don't panic) tell them at the end how much you are looking forward to doing it again and soon ! You've got a lot of catching up to do.

Last tip... play with the toys and books... yeah YOU!... Kids want the engagement ... not just the toys so the toys become interesting if you are interacting with them yourself and that 'toy' becomes the thing you have in common

Big step ... well done and hope it goes well
"Being a good father, for its own sake, does not require your ex to see it or agree"
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#3
Fingers crossed for you. I will tell you this though. My partner knew my baby son until he was 3 months old. Then when she started seeing me she wasn't allowed to have contact by ex - this went on for a year. When she did see him for the first time - he knew her and they bonded immediately. Your daughter will know you I think. Just be natural and be how you feel you want to be with her. You don't have to be stiff upper lip - just act like the Dad you are and talk to her - not sure what kind of baby talk is your thing but I used to sing the theme from Dad's Army - lol.
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#4
Thanks for the tips Smile

She was only 5 months old when I had to leave so it's been a long time, too long...

The contact centre have been really good and let me know how her pre visits went which has reassured me that she's more comfortable in the new surroundings

Just going to take it slow, give that running commentary and enjoy the time I have with her.

It's the first step to rebuilding our relationship which is only going to develop more with time

I'll post an update on how it all unfolds (part of me is still thinking that the ex will cancel or just won't turn up)
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#5
If she was 5 months then she already knows you. And she will remember you. Yes take it slow. I think it was the 2nd or 3rd time when son finally flung his arms round my partner and wanted a hug. 1st time he was fine but not that interested except in food and toys. 2nd time they did heads and shoulders knees and toes and played with some bricks. You can get a lot of interaction playing with toys. Just go with the flow. Don't forget to smile though. Partner says they respond to tone of voice as well.
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#6
Hi guys

So update on my first contact...

Saw a glimpse of my daughter for 1min, due to her not settling. The support worker tried her best but it turns out that my daughters child care is 100% fulfilled by my exs family, she doesn't go to nursery or daycare whatsoever.

I raised concerns about this with cafcass in the past, as I worry that she'll become isolated... I fear my concerns are proving true.

The support worker seems sympathetic to my situation and even welled up herself at seeing how distressed she became when her mum disappeared from sight even for a moment.

Ex tried to blame me for her distress which the support worker shut down right away (I wasn't even in the same room as my daughter)

The same thing happened when they tried contact with the cafcass officer.

Back to the drawing board, suggesting more pre visits to try and almost ween her off only being comfortable with her immediate family.

As upset and dissapointed as I am with not having much of a contact session I'm even more worried for my daughters social development...

At a loss as to what I can do now other than "keep following the process"
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#7
Sorry this has happened. So if your daughter became distressed when her Mum left (which is fairly normal) why didn't they give her to you to be comforted? And why did you only get to see her for one minute? Of course she would be distressed left with strangers and her Mum leaving. Will her Mum not stay in the room and hand her over to you? That way it would seem more normal. If not then suggest next time that you ask your daughter is brought straight to you and let you comfort her - as she has known you since she was a baby and you will be familiar.

I remember the first time my Mother left me at nursery when I was about 3 and I pinned myself to the window and screamed as she walked away. Because to a young kid - it looks like your Mother is leaving you forever - in an institution surrounded by strangers. Whereas if my Dad had been there it would have been different.

If your daughter experiences your ex handing her over to you directly (also normal for pickups) then she would behave differently. What time of day was it? They are terrible between 2pm and 5pm as they need a sleep.
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#8
Unfortunately due to my circumstances any contact between me and my ex is impossible for my own safety.

It appears that my daughter has forgotten me entirely and cannot be comforted by anyone other than her mother or her family (they all live together in a weird communal living arrangement)

As much as I wish my daughter remembers me any such feelings seem to be washed away by the terror of being taken away from her home I wish I could say more but I cant Without going into the specifics (which are part of a police investigation)

I should have mentioned that the 1min I saw her was after 45min of the contact centre staff trying to calm her down enough to allow my ex to get further than 2m away from her
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#9
If your ex can not be in the same room would she be in another room where for instance there might be a glass partition so as she can still be seen by your daughter?

Random I know but you never know it might settle her a bit if she can still see her and then from there maybe leave the room for a bit?
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#10
That was suggested and I am open to the idea unfortunately the exs position is "I'm only doing this because the court ordered me to" so the contact centre are in a bit of a bind because I'm willing to do anything and she is only willing to do what is required by the courts. So these additional pre visits might not even happen if the ex isn't willing to.

I can't predict what's going to happen but it wouldn't surprise me if there's a repetition of the last visit then she'll stop contact all together. Which means a return to court...

I've been saying all of this right from day one but the courts and cafcass don't seem to want to listen, I worry they'll stop contact all together until she's older because it's so distressing for her...
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