Dad wants to be in his teen daughters' lives

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  January 23, 2012 06:00 AM

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My boyfriend is trying to reach out to his twin girls since he was not present in their lives since they were 3 years old. He wasn't present because their mother was fighting to keep him out of their lives due to personal reasons of her own. He has been paying child support since then.

He is now 50 and wants to know if there is any suggestions that you can give him on how to contact them by sending a letter, video, anything on how to take the first step to see if they, as teenagers, would be interested in meeting him and eventually getting to know him.

He has an idea of where they are living, but doesn't know where to start.

Thank you.
From: Sonia, Toronto

Dear Sonia,

Your boyfriend needs to know that this is far more involved than simply "how to contact" his daughters. They've had a good many years of hearing their mom's side of the story as to why he is no longer in their lives. It's possible she has not been truthful, that she's prejudiced them against him or that they have been told he disappeared or is not even alive. They may not know he's contributed to their support. I don't mean to be pessimistic, rather: realistic. The first step is to get in contact with the mother, not the girls, and see what she thinks about this development. Since it sounds like paternity is not in question, she will hopefully be open to and help facilitate a relationship between the daughters and their father. But she may need time to get used to the idea and to lay the groundwork with the girls. However it plays out, my advice is to consult with a therapist who will help the girls as well as you, as you move forward. Think of this as a process, not an event. He needs to have more than a vague idea about "being in their lives." What does that mean in a concrete? Monthly visits? Weekly? Where would they happen? What about the logistics? What's geographically practical? Financially practical? These details are important to figure out ahead of time.

The National Fathers Resource Center might be a good resource for you as well as the National Fatherhood Initiative.

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About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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