To not want my son to spend equal time with his dad?(57 Posts)
My eldest son is from my previous relationship and is now 11 years old.
His dad is now asking for him to stay every other week with him. Which I've initially responded with a no.
Currently we have a every other weekend arrangement, where he'll stay from Friday to Sunday eve, and one evening every week where he goes for a few hours.
I want my son to have a place he calls home, so not fitting with a 50/50 arrangement.
I deal with all his school, medical and emotional needs and I don't know how I can now divide this. I also feel implementing this at 11 is too late and disruptive.
Also, my ex got my back up by saying that now his daughter is at school age their home life is accommadating for him to be able to do this. So it made me feel like this is an idea based on convenience.
Should I reconsider?
As you live so close to each other I can't see why it couldn't work that your son spends more time with his dad. Why should you get to have him all the time with dad having set days. Maybe he could go for tea more nights a week and stay over and extra couple of days.
I think you, your ex and your son need to sit down and discuss this.
My dd's friend has 2 homes where she has her own room and both parents are very flexible going with her needs, usually 3 nights a week at dads and 4 at mums and they arrange it round her and what their plans are. She also gets to go away with both parents separately. They show an example of no longer being together but being able to work together putting their child first!
TBH I don't understand why mothers feel they have exclusive rights on the children, you both made them, why shouldn't he have equal access.
A few years ago my husband and I split up, the children were 12 and 13, dd wanted to live with dad, ds wanted to live with me this would be their main home. The access would be shared equally.
Thankfully we have sorted our differences and are back together.
We do about 60/40 care with our 3 DC. Ex moved closer to make it work, they have two "homes" and are quite happy with the arrangnent. Sometimes it's not ideal and it's a LOT of coming and going for the adults but I have no more rights to demand my children live here than ex does.
Totally agree Greenkit.
I would think a 50/50 split is the ideal solution.
I would stay stick with the formal agreement so that won't affect maintenance and your son has the security of knowing what he "has to do" but I would try my best to let it be far more flexible.
You live close to each other. You don't have to worry about drop off/pick up. Let your son spend as much extra time there when he wants/is convenient to him and you and dad.
It would be great if he has the flexibility to pick up the phone and say "Dad can i come over for a while. - Mum I won't need tea tonight" etc. But Dad also needs to flexible and pick up some more of the practical aspects of parenting like doing his fair of homework/taxiing around/washing etc
He is old enough to be in control of where he wants to be. Just stipulate that you don't want him to spend MORE than 50% at his dad.
Freddie I don't see that the OP's husbands opinion is utterly irrelevant at all. If the child is living in the same house as him 75% of the time and has done for the vast majority of his life, then of course the step dad will have played a large role in his upbringing and will understand the dynamic between all parties as well as what the child is likely to want.
I really don't understand the mentality that step parents should be expected to be involved in DC's lives, put their wages into a family pot to benefit the DC, facilitate activities and contact with NRPs yet aren't allowed an opinion on anything to do with the child. It just seems so marginalising and insulting to step parents to suggest that they are good enough for the day to day drudge and to follow through on any decisions made, but aren't important enough to have a say in making those decisions.
His opinion as to whether DC do 50/50 or not is utterly irrelevant. And the court's if it comes to that.
I appear to have posted in a way that needs clarification. My statement was not a value judgement, it was a statement of fact.
Of course her Dh opinion is relevant he has parented her ds since he was 3.
As a statement of fact, no, it isn't. Should this go to court her DH opinion will not be taken into account.
"But Dad also needs to flexible and pick up some more of the practical aspects of parenting like doing his fair of homework/taxiing around/washing etc"
This - rather than being fun dad.
From another perspective, my parents split up when I was 12 and I would have hated 50-50 residency. It was bad enough having to spend just about every weekend with my dad (which meant I couldn't see my friends). Having to spend one week in one house and one week in another would have been an absolute nightmare.
I think it really does have to be up to your son, but do be aware of the pressure that having to make this kind of decision might put on him. If my dad had asked for it, I'd've felt that I had to say 'yes' (even though I absolutely would not have wanted it) because of all the guilt etc that comes with 'rejecting' one of your parents. It is very, very hard to be asked to make decisions like this at 11.
I don't think there is an 'ideal' arrangement; it will always be different for different people and different families. DS1 sees his dad in the school holidays (because we live hours away from him) and is quite happy with that. It means I only really get to see him for the nagging about homework and getting up in the morning bits of his life, but that's how it has to be. It's an arrangement we've fond ourselves with more due o circumstances than anything else, but DS1 is happy with this and that's what matters really.
There is absolutely no suggestion of this going to court, so it seems absurd to use final resort measures in an amicable situation. One may as well say Dad should provide a breakdown of how he intends to cover childcare and maintaining activities with the proposed increase, since he might be asked to explain that if he made a court application.
In respect of step parents, I do feel that the law could look to being more accommodating and consider proven commitment to the child rather than purely biological connection.
"Now that his daughter is of school age their home life is accommodating for him"
This says your son's being there I predicated on other changeable stuff. Not good enough. I'd go for No
Is there a family friend your ds could talk to about it? Someone who knows him but is 'neutral' so he doesn't feel he has to say what either one of his parents wants to hear?
YANBU to not want this to happen, but YWBU to not find out what your son wants, and then try to make it happen.
A trial period of what every you all agree sounds a good idea.
I dont get mn sometimes. the general vein of though is men who dont want access and the parent their kids are bastards and yet men who do want 50/50 care are also bastards.
Op you need to find out what your son wants and go along with that. If you stop him having more access to his father when he wants it you could find yourself in the same situation as one of my friends who found that come 12 their child voted with their feet and up and left and went to live with their dad.
Why don't you give it a trial run and then your son can see how it goes. I think at 11 it can work well. There is no reason he can't call both homes home. It is hard not to extrapolate your own feelings of needing a 'single' home onto your son. He might not care about it (and I would hope he already considers his Dads house 'home')
You need to be careful discussing this with him as it would be easy to influence him unduly. As a sensitive 11 year he will find it awkward to be asked.
I would casually suggests he give it a try and see how it goes. It will help him get close to his Dad while also being able to stay close to you and your DH.
I think the fact you deal with school and medical things is not a good reason for this not to work. If your Ex lived a long way away it might matter but I can't see how it would matter at your sons age
You will need to both be clear about what happen when a discipline issue arises, or he might "bunk off", come and go as he pleases, etc. He won't be 11 forever.
DS knows he has two homes. We're lucky that we are both very flexible and he knows he is welcome at anytime in both houses - if if fits around work.
I hope that as a more flexible teenager, he would not have to spend a week here, a week there but can take it or leave it but know that he is able to spend time where he wants.
But you're right - being a parent also involves doing the school stuff, shopping, washing, buying clothes, homework and being involved practically as well. It should not fall on one person.
I don't understand this idea that the mother gets the ultimate say. Or the cynicism that the father wants more contact in order to get out of paying maintanence. There are lots of fathers who are just not able to have 50/50 contact with their dc and this is horrible for them.
IMO you have a child together, where possible you should parent a child together. While I wouldn't want a one week on, one week off arrangement, I don't see why your ex can't have your ds for say two nights a week plus every other weekend which would constitute a 50/50 arrangement. Me and my ex have such an arrangement but we are also very flexible in that it's not a routine set in stone, as there are things such as football matches he wants to go to with his dad on some weekends which would have been my weekends, if xh has to go away for work then obviously ds spends that time with me, I still do school pick-ups etc even on xh's nights because I am here and it saves him money on after school childcare which seems pretty pointless if ds can be with me. Etc.
But if you live that close together you have to bear in mind that ds is of an age where he will soon pretty much be free to come and go as he pleases.
I would take your ds' lead on this one, and do bear in mind that if this did go to court then the courts would take his views into account as this stage.
And yes, your current husband's opinion is irrelevant because although he parents the child, he is not the parent with any kind of say in contact - he can give you his opinion of course, but he has no right to any kind of say in the matter IMO.
It may be that the OPs son would find it difficult to say no to 50/50 for fear of rejecting his father.
It may equally well be that he is afraid to say yes to 50/50 for fear of rejecting his mother who seems to be very worried about it.
There may even be a mixture of both, making him afraid to say anything.
In any case, I would say an 11yo is well old enough to have an input on something affecting his daily life- and tbh having an anxious child is absolutely no reason not to train them to be part of decision-making; anxious children need that more than anybody.
Fortunately, in this case, there is no need for any decision to be irrevocable, so it doesn't even matter if he gets it wrong. You can try it out, then if it doesn't work try a second solution.
But I do think, OP, that you need to be very careful not to make self fulfilling prophecies about how your son can only be ok with you.
He is growing up, in a year or two he may well hit puberty, very soon he will need a lot of independence from the caring protecting maternal side of things, so I think any model where you have decided he can't do without it because of some fixed personality thing is a mistake.
I have a near 13yo and he is already halfway towards being a young man.
My cynicism comes from my own experience. I offered 50/50 and he refused. I offered every weekend and he refused. I offered alternate weekends and a night midweek and he refused. He told he wasn't going to be my babysitter and he would have one Saturday night but only when he had his other dd to stay as he needed to have a life as well.
When he refused to pay any maintenance after a year I went to the CSA. At this point he suddenly started bleating about wanting more contact, saying that I was blocking it. I've never said no to any contact he has asked for. He lied to the CSA about how many nights he was having her, telling then it was 3-4 nights a week. Thankfully they believed my evidence.
I'm fully in support of 50/50 if it can be made to work. What concerns me here is that her ex is saying that because their other child is at school then it's possible now. I don't get, if he really wanted it, why it wasn't possible before.
If Dad had asked for 50:50 when your son was 3 or 6 or 9 would you have been more open to it or felt your son was too young at those ages?
Is it possible that father is requesting it now because son is at secondary school - independently gets himself to and from school and the route takes him past his other home. At 11 he is maturing and father may have waited till now thinking you would be more open to the idea than at a younger age.
Your son may have been asking to spend more time with dad but too scared to say to you in case you feel upset.
If father has not been involved in medical/emotional/school - then it is about time he was involved so this may also support that aim.
your son already has 2 places to call home - and i'm sure he considers both places his home regardless of what you may think
I feel like I don't want to mess up with my son's life. I already feel like I've failed him by no longer being with his father. So I'm trying to make the best decision for our circumstances.
My ex and his wife have a 5 year old daughter and are unable to have anymore children, as she has undergone a liver transplant and already rejected 2 in the last few years. They have suggested this I feel on this basis, that they want a more active role with my eldest
I'm happy as long as my son is happy, and I'm worried he won't feel totally at ease to make such a big decision. The last couple of years, we've gone along with what he wants - so he went on holiday with them for 2 weeks and spent the last couple of Christmas holidays with them. (Since my son's step mum's illness, I've tried hard for things to run smoothly to not add pressure to their lives.)
I suggested an increase to the weekend that he already has him. So Thursday through to Monday, and possibly increasing this gradually.
I just think its a big jump to go to 50/50. But I don't want to appear that it all on my say so.
Having said that, I'm slightly miffed that now their lives allow for this to be an option, it never a has been up until now.
I really appreciate your thoughts on this, so thanks for all your responses!
I should also add, as my son has become more independent with going to secondary school he has been going more to his dad's off his own back. I don't really want a regimented arrangement, but rather go with the flow, but then children need security so god I'm confused and don't want to mess up!
so now they cant have a second baby, they will give more time and room to your ds? Seems very odd to me, like he is second best.
And if she accidentally falls pregnant / decides to go for surrogacy/adoption ..... what then of your ds?
This is my assumption so it might be a factor or it might not.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.