Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas

 

Four years ago I had a baby with my then boyfriend. Things weren't going well – he was into drugs and even hit me, once – so we split up. When our daughter arrived he was over the moon, but after we split he gradually lost touch. Now he's written asking to see her, saying he's changed. He's with another woman, and they've got a child, but I'm in two minds. I've been so happy without him in my life and I don't see why he should disrupt our situation. My parents are dead against letting him see her. What do you think? Yours sincerely, Jen

Virginia says... You're treating this problem as if you were a gambler in a casino. Should you put your money on the black – or the red? Allow your ex to see the child or refuse?

What you don't seem to realise is that you don't have to take any such decision at the moment. And also that you do, in fact, hold all the cards. He's the one who's asking to see your daughter. So you're in a position to make any conditions you like.

First, I think you ought to ask if you can meet him on his own, so you can see how good a case he can make for returning into your life. Next, you wouldn't be unreasonable to ask if you could pop round and meet his new partner and baby – that way you can get a real feel of whether he's changed or not. Based on that evidence, you can decide whether you'd like him to see his daughter.

And even then, you could, if you still felt anxious, make it a condition that he only saw your daughter at your home, with you present. Or you could say that those would be the conditions you'd want to make at the moment. Later, things might change. You might prefer him to stop visiting, if you felt uneasy, or you might, if he's really changed, allow him to take her home and visit him at his house. There are myriad opportunities.

The advantages for your daughter are obvious. She would get to know her father, and have one other person in her life who loved her to bits. She would also gain a half-sibling, which is something that's always great to have in later life. And, who knows, she might find that her father's new wife is someone who'd be an asset. Also, your daughter might blame you later if she discovered you'd prevented her father from seeing her now.

The advantages for you are that, if it worked out, your daughter would have somewhere to stay if you wanted to go on holiday or if you became ill. Or even have free time to yourself. The disadvantage is, of course, if you found yourself attracted to the man again.

I suspect your parents are against the idea because they don't want to rock the boat. And also perhaps they don't want to share their granddaughter with someone else – grandparents can be possessive, too.

So few fathers want to be involved with their children's lives after a break-up it would be madness to give his proposal a blanket refusal without finding out more.

 

Readers say...

She's his child too

Perhaps Jen has not considered that her former partner may have acted in their daughter's best interests by staying away from her until he had successfully dealt with his drug and violence issues.

If he is now in a fit state to see and care for his daughter, he should be allowed to do so. She is just as much his child as Jen's and the disruption she fears will be caused should not affect her willingness to negotiate fair access to their child. Nor should she allow the views of either set of parents to sway the decision. It is a matter for the parents and, when she is old enough to make her own decisions, the daughter.

William Roberst By email

 

She needs a father

Children really do need to know both of their parents if at all possible, and it seems that in this case it is.

I appreciate that this may prove to be very difficult for you, but urge you to work towards establishing your daughter's relationship with her father. It could prove vital for her long-term happiness and, by extension, your own.

Paul By email

 

Next week's dilemma

Dear Virginia, I'm 17 and still live at home, but whenever a guy comes round to pick me up for a date, my mum always flirts with him. Sometimes I ask friends round to my house after we've been out for the night but if she hears us, then mum always comes down in her dressing gown and starts chatting to any of the guys I've brought back, and making sexy remarks. I really hate it, but I don't want to say anything because I know she's lonely after my dad left two years ago. But it's really embarrassing. What can I do? Yours sincerely, Jerry

What would you advise Jerry to do? Email your comments – or your own dilemmas – to Virginia Ironside at dilemmas@independent.co.uk. Anyone whose advice is quoted will receive a £25 voucher from the wine website Fine Wine Sellers (finewinesellers.co.uk)

Sport
footballHe started just four months ago
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

    Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

    Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

    Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

    Day In a Page

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

    The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
    Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

    Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

    France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
    Sports Quiz of the Year

    Sports Quiz of the Year

    So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

    From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

    Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect