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Granddaughters ask after missing Grandfather

(30 Posts)
mokryna Sun 01-Nov-20 19:48:06

My husband of four years, in the early 70s, walked out when our daughter was nine months. He visited a handful of times and then when she was four, I moved countries with her, although I did invite him to visit.

When she was about twenty she tried to get into contact with her father through her grandfather, with whom we were always on good terms. Her grandfather told her that her father had said he didn’t want contact, it was another time, another life. He had two other daughters.

His/our granddaughters a few years ago asked about him but I couldn’t say much. (They are fluent English speakers) I wrote to him giving him a positive update on his family enclosing a photo but of course there was no reply.

With Covid all around life is short. If your husband (you had nothing to do with the divorce) had had a baby before you met wouldn’t you try to encourage a relationship?

Pantglas2 Sun 01-Nov-20 19:51:38

I would but some women/men don’t like to acknowledge their partner’s past and a child/grandchild is evidence that they had one!

Hetty58 Sun 01-Nov-20 19:53:29

Not necessarily mokryna. Some people start afresh and have absolutely no interest in children from a previous relationship.

Some children have no interest in their biological father either, especially if they've been brought up by a wonderful stepfather.

Hetty58 Sun 01-Nov-20 20:06:46

Before I met him, my second husband's (then) fiancee had returned to visit family up north. She then wrote to say it was over and she wouldn't be back. He was devastated.

Two years later, he was summoned to court for child maintenance - for a son he didn't know he had. She made it clear that he wasn't allowed to see him. He paid support for fourteen years. There was no contact.

I often wonder if he'll try to contact his dad. (All I know is his first name.) It's far too late, as his dad died 24 years ago.

OceanMama Sun 01-Nov-20 22:20:32

Whether the father has a relationship with his child from a previous relationship has nothing to do with the second wife. It's 100% on him to maintain that relationship and it's not her job to encourage him to have a relationship.

I haven't been in that situation on either side, so I don't know what I would do. It might depend on the story he's told. I know I couldn't make my husband do anything even if I encouraged him to have contact. I do think it would bother me if he had abandoned the child and wasn't taking any financial responsibility for it. To be honest, I don't think I'd get together with such a man as I'm not sure I'd trust him, with that history.

My main concern would be for my own children who have a half sibling out there, and handling it with them. In an ideal world they would grow up knowing each other. It's certainly not something I'd hide from them.

Casdon Sun 01-Nov-20 22:47:06

No, after over 40 years of no effort made on his part towards his daughter despite her attempt to make contact with him, I definitely wouldn’t. I’d tell your granddaughters the truth, and let it lie.

Bibbity Sun 01-Nov-20 22:53:30

I would never be in that situation as I couldn’t stomach living with such a ‘man’

We know someone similar.
He walked out on 3 children and a fiancé to be with his affair partner of almost a decade who also left her husband.
They now have a child and his other children discovered they had a sibling when their mother received the letter from CMS saying that due to a new dependent her payments would reduce.
You’ve done everything you can. You have raised a wonderful woman who has gone onto produce her own wonderful family. Enjoy them all. And just pity him.

Elrel Sun 01-Nov-20 23:03:17

As adults, half siblings often make contact and get on well

BlueBelle Mon 02-Nov-20 07:32:59

Just tell the grandchild the truth you don’t know where he is children need the truth but not the gory details just a plain fact Granddad chose to move away a long time ago and we don’t really know much about his life now, if more questions come answer them briefly with facts but no embellishment
Children will fast lose interest if there is no mystery

And no you can’t make people interested and of course it’s nothing to do with his new family to be thinking of his past life

jaylucy Mon 02-Nov-20 10:35:02

I think that you have to be quite honest with them and tell them just like you have us.
This happens more often than people realise with not just men walking away from a relationship with their ex partner and children.
My ex husband had very little to do with our son really from before he was born - even though we were married!
When we split up , we used to have birthday cards and presents that were supposedly from him and we have since found out that it was his second wife sending them! It all stopped after they too split up.
Sadly, some people can walk away from people and memories and close the door as if it never happened. Not much that you can do. He has made it quite clear he wants no contact, but maybe when the grandchildren are older they might like to reach out , but all along it is him that is missing out.

Jillybird Mon 02-Nov-20 10:35:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Newatthis Mon 02-Nov-20 10:37:06

I agree with Oceanmama - it's up to himto maintain contact, not his new wife. Do the children have other grandparents, if so focus on them, they're the ones who are perhaps important in their lives. Tell them the truth though in as simple terms as possible.

nipsmum Mon 02-Nov-20 10:44:26

My husband of 19 years left in 1985. My grandaughter was asking about him a few months ago, she is 10 now and has never met him. I spoke to her mum about it but we have done nothing to facilitate a meeting and she has not mentioned it again. Children are curious about these things.

Riggie Mon 02-Nov-20 10:49:47

I think kids are matter fact about these things and will accept what you say. Curiosity is natural - if they ask then just saying that you are separated/divorced and dont see him is probably enough. If they dont mention it again then dont bring it up - leave it to their mum!

Chardy Mon 02-Nov-20 11:09:32

My darling AC have no contact with their dad. We think he might keep up with their news via Fb but my DGD is school age and he's never met her.
Sadly 2nd wives are often given a rather slanted view of 1st family, and no doubt the mum is blamed for making access difficult.

MoanyMargaret Mon 02-Nov-20 11:35:26


No, after over 40 years of no effort made on his part towards his daughter despite her attempt to make contact with him, I definitely wouldn’t. I’d tell your granddaughters the truth, and let it lie.

I totally agree - some things are best left alone after so long. 40 years with no contact is too long & no good is likely to ever come of any contact. I would leave it be & if the children ask again just be honest.

Purplepoppies Mon 02-Nov-20 11:36:46

My dd has been blamed for her partners disinterest in his children from a previous relationship. Unfairly I might add! She has encouraged him to contact them, one of the children contacts him via dd social media but never speaks to her directly. I think the mother has bad mouthed my dd to her children using her as a scapegoat ?
The fact is he is a useless article.
You cannot make someone do something they don't want to do.

I agree in being honest in a child friendly manner. Kids respond well to this.
Its definitely your ex husband who is missing out!!

Toadinthehole Mon 02-Nov-20 12:02:40

I don’t know what I’d do for sure. None of us do until it happens, but I’m not sure I could ever be involved with someone who just abandoned his family, although most likely....he would relate the tale differently. He may say it was made difficult for him because you moved abroad. I’m not in any way saying you shouldn’t have, but that would be his excuse. I’m inclined to think don’t flog this particular horse any more, and enjoy what you have. On the face of it, he’s the one who has lost. All the best to you.

icanhandthemback Mon 02-Nov-20 12:26:49

I would certainly warn against pursuing a relationship with somebody who obviously doesn't want it. I would encourage the grandaughters to see it is a failing on his part rather than theirs and it is his loss because he will never see what beautiful people they are.
My father abandoned us when we were younger, met us a couple of times as teenagers before asking us not to call him Dad in front of his new children because no-one knew we existed. I walked away. When I was 47 a family funeral reunited us and he seemed a nice enough person although a little self absorbed. His presence in our lives caused mental health issues in my sister who I had been very close to and all my feelings of rejection resurfaced. Fortunately I had fantastic support from my husband and children so I introduced all my grandchildren to my father who showed great enthusiasm with them. Imagine my horror then when 10 years later, he was arrested and admitted child abuse. It looks like it might have been ongoing for years although much of it not easily prosecuted. This morning he is up in court for a plea hearing and our family is in pieces; the ripple effect is enormous. Given my time again, I would not open Pandora's box.

Kim19 Mon 02-Nov-20 12:30:24

It was the topic I was dreading my GC might approach. I'm pathetically sensitive over the whole matter. One sunny day, in a beautiful public garden, she skipped up to me and, out of the blue, said 'what was your Daddy's name?' Cringe...but spontaneously replied that I didn't know. 'Oh, ok then' says she and skips off. Never been approached since but I'm ready with a truth which will suit her age and comprehension. Incidentally, I say truth but I did, in fact, know my F's name. At that moment in time my brain froze and I could no more have recalled it than fly through the air.

grandtanteJE65 Mon 02-Nov-20 12:39:13

I think you have to accept that this man has absolutely no interest in you or the daughter he has with you or her children.

Talk to your daughter and decide what you tell the children.

It must depend on their ages how much and what you tell them. I think I would say something along the lines of

"Your grandad left when your mummy was a small baby. He must have realised he had made a mistake getting married.
We have never seen him since, so I can't really tell you anything about him"

The truth, modified to suit the children's age, will always be better than a fabrication.

NannyC1 Mon 02-Nov-20 13:10:03

My d's dad let when she was 14 months old. Absolutely no contact till her found her on f/b 9 years ago. She chatted with him etc. She and her then new husband travelled thousand of miles to meet up with and his new daughter and a lot of relatives. She sent him photos of his new GD and now nothing. No contact again. His doing not hers. It's left my DD feeling rubbish. Personally I would leave it be.

tuller Mon 02-Nov-20 13:16:07

Bibbity :I would never be in that situation as I couldn’t stomach living with such a ‘man’ WOMEN do it as well!!

My Brothers wife left him with 3 girls under 5, in the '70's, didn't want any contact, She had a full time job, but never contributed and never sent a Birthday card. She had been having an affair, she went on to have a son, she then made contact, she wanted a babysitter for her son!! the eldest refused but keen for her Mothers attention the youngest one did, but as soon as she didn't need help, she stopped all contact again. My Brother was never negative to the girls about her , but they have now have their own opinions
They have children of their own now , whom she has never seen. My Brother did a wonderful job in hard times the girls all have good jobs and are great Moms, He was hospitalized end of March until June with Covid, (it was dreadful, in ICU, tracheotomy, hallucinations, delusions, pain, lost 3 stone, but thankfully he came home into his Daughters care.

mokryna Mon 02-Nov-20 13:29:53

I am really happy for you and your family that your son pulled through.

Harv1 Mon 02-Nov-20 14:40:45

Would appreciate input ! My husbands mother has just died and we are divorcing, living apart house up for sale ... we don’t talk to each other and I did not really get on with his mother or his side of the family... Please what would you’d advise ? Should I send condolences or not I really do think they would be put in the bin, but even though I did not get on with her I wished Her no harm What so ever . Advise please .. Harv1