Should I help my daughter connect with her half-sister? Or more precisely, should I help my daughter's half-sister connect with her?
My tween daughter, (who is doing doing great more than a year after I last worried about her here
), has a half sister who is a couple of years older (they share a dad, who as far as I know only has the two kids). For many reasons that I believe are good ones, my daughter and I haven't been in touch with the dad for a long time. However I think the older child does see him occasionally (e.g. once/year). We've met the half sister and her mother, but there's no ongoing connections amongst any of us. The five of us (me and my daughter, half-sister and her mother, and the dad) all live in (three) different states.
For a while now, the half sister and her mom have been reaching out to me to try to connect in a more-than-superficial way. I am not ready for this, principally because I appreciate having the clear and far separation from the dad, and I worry that letting the half-sister and her mom into our lives may bring him in too. I do try to ask my daughter every now and then if she is interested in connecting with her half-sister, but she hasn't expressed a lot of curiosity (though I do realize that she may be just saying she's not interested because she can sense that is the answer I am most approving of). In any event, I
am not ready to open up to this relationship right now, and I kind of feel like until the kids are older, all four of us (two kids + two adult moms) need to be on-board with establishing a relationship if it is going to happen in a useful way.
So dear and thoughtful hive, my question(s) for you are: (1) if I do figure out how to support a more consistent relationship between the half-sisters, how do I make sure I maintain a clear boundary between the dad and us? (2) if I don't want to support the half-sister relationship right now, what could I possibly say to the (also tween) half-sister (who has recently reached out to me independent of the mom)? I feel like I can't say the truth which would be something like: "well, my child isn't really that interested in getting to know you right now, and also anyway I don't want you in our lives because your dad is not a healthy person and I don't have the skills, resources or emotional capacity to deal with him in our lives and I worry letting you in will bring him in, even tangentially, and will result in many negative repercussions, and by the way did you even realize that he's a less-than-okay kind of person?" (3) Does the answer to any of this change as the kids get older? I have always assumed that when my daughter is "older" it would no longer matter what I thought about the dad or the half-sister relationship and it would really just be up to the two girls to figure out if they wanted to know each other. But what age is that? Is it when my daughter is 18? 14? 16? 12? And finally just (4) whether you have advice, experience or insight into this scenario that could help me think about what the right way to think about this is.