Emmie asks: My dad was never married to my mum, and he moved away when I was little. He moved to Nottingham and for the past thirteen years I see him once a fortnight. He’s moving back to my town and asked my mum if he could see me more. My mum said that he hadn’t bothered for thirteen years, but I think he’s making amends. How can my mum say she knows, and how can I persuade her?
Hi Emmie –
There’s a lot that’s really painful about parents splitting up, and one of the toughest is what you’re going through. Human children desperately want their parents to love and care for them, and if a parent seems uninterested in that, it leaves a gigantic wound in the kid.
Then, if that adult later wants more contact with the kid, there’s a great conflict: On one hand, part of the kid (in your case, the part your mom agrees with) says, “Where were you when I needed you before? Why should I trust you now?” While the other says, “At last! I’m finally getting what I’ve needed my whole life!”
So which one’s right? The first? The second? Both?!
Of course I can’t know, but most likely, it is Both. Your dad might be a jerk, or he might be a great guy, but either way, he didn’t give you all you needed as a child. But on the other hand, you could get a lot you’ve desperately needed now.
So my advice is: give him a chance. Some men simply can’t relate well to young children, and if he’s one of these, he might just be ready to get to know you better now since you’re finally at the level of maturity he needs. Or perhaps he’s gained a new level of maturity, and can at last enjoy the miracle he couldn’t own thirteen years ago.
But at the same time, I’d say to be careful. There’s no reason to think he’d do anything really bad, but you could get your feelings hurt if you let yourself feel all the love for him you had as a little girl, and he’s distant or inconsistent in his new closeness with you. Or you could find yourself in the middle of some very old arguments between him and your mom.
More than anything else, I want you to keep yourself extremely aware of your own value. He wasn’t good at making you feel valued before, and he might not now, so be sure to remember, no matter how he acts, that you’re important and super-valuable.
And with that present in your mind, you’ll be ready to greet him, to engage with him more than you ever have before, and hopefully have some great adventures!