To expect my ex to spend his contact time with DD together?

(80 Posts)
ItsDecisionTime Mon 01-Jul-13 13:56:04

I've posted here before about the trials and tribulations of my DD not waiting to travel to the USA this summer for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, with 2 weeks to go, and DD already on school holidays, we still have no firm arrangements in place.

Last night on the telephone, DD 12 - for the first time - decided to initiative and tell her dad that she didn't want to spend 5 weeks overseas in the summer but would prefer him to travel to the UK and spend time with him here so she can introduce him into her life. It resulted in a shouting match between the two of them and she ended up being both proud of herself for very eloquently putting her point across but at the same time, visibly upset by his reluctance to back down.

During the course of the conversation, it transpired that, for a period of 5 weeks, he only intends to take off 7 days holiday and the remainder of the time will organise for her to attend activity groups from 8am to 6pm every week day. Not only is this DDs worst nightmare but what's the bloody point? He's dragging me through the courts to increase his time with her on the basis that he only gets to see her in the summer yet can't even be freaking bothered to organise the time off.

I've looked after her on my own over the school holidays for the past 6 years and have taken unpaid leave to cover any period I was unable to take annual leave.

Anyone have any constructive thoughts on what I should do next? I guess I'll be in court any day soon but they aren't yet aware that he isn't going to take the time off if she goes over there. Thank you.

SugarandSpice126 Mon 01-Jul-13 14:03:07

No constructive advice sorry, but your dd sounds fantastic - I'd be very proud of her for sticking to her guns like that! I don't see the point in her being there for 5 weeks if he's only going to take 7 days holiday. How ridiculous.

cjel Mon 01-Jul-13 14:03:46

It sounds really hard and I have no experience, but well done dd for speaking up. It sound dreadful that she is expected to be 'babysat' for such long periods of time when she will be missing her life here, It seem much more sensible for him to use his time off to visit here but I don't know the ins and outs of the courts. At 12 will they take into account what she wants?
BTW good on her for speaking out.

SmiteYouWithThunderbolts Mon 01-Jul-13 14:10:09

You need to tell the courts that he won't be taking the time off to look after her.

My mum used to send me and my brother to our dad for half of the summer holidays, completely unaware that he didn't take any time off and instead left us to fend for ourselves while he went to work. Luckily he lived and worked on a caravan holiday site so we had stuff to do, but we were 9 and 7 years old the last time we went, so far too young to be left for 8 hours a day! I wish that we had thought to tell my mum so she could have stopped us going.

MrsHuxtable Mon 01-Jul-13 14:13:49

You need to tell the court. Do they really not listen at all to what a 12 year old wants???

Notcontent Mon 01-Jul-13 14:14:57

You have my sympathy. It's a difficult issue.
My dd is about to spend some time with her father during the summer and he is not taking time off, so someone else will be looking after her.

ItsDecisionTime Mon 01-Jul-13 14:21:16

Sorry Notcontent, that must be hard for you to swallow. I don't mind it when it's a one-off as we all have to do that now and again. How old is your dd?

livinginwonderland Mon 01-Jul-13 14:23:50

She should go for a week, then. Not for five weeks, that's just ridiculous. However, I know most people in America don't get more than 2 weeks annual leave a year, so he probably can't take much time off.

ItsDecisionTime Mon 01-Jul-13 14:26:21

Thanks living. He's led everyone to believe his military service holiday entitlement was maintained when he took up another position and has, up to this point, said he has 4 weeks holiday. I guess she caught him on the hop.

My first instinct is this....

He is making arrangements to look after his daughter. What he does in contact time really is up to him and you shouldn't interfere. I'm assuming from your post that you work? So at points you will have had to arrange childcare - which is exactly what he is doing here. He has arranged to have her, will see her in the evenings, mornings, weekends and days off. If she is there 5 weeks that will be around 17 full days and 24 ish days where he will see her mornings and evenings.

It's important for both your daughter and him for them to have time together. It's not necessary that this time should be 'holiday' time. Surely if he is ensuring she is properly looked after, and that they qill haev quality time together, that is what matters.

And how much are you encouraging your daughter to give seeing her Dad a go?? How you are with your daughter will be a major factor too. If you are positive about her spending time with him, regardless of where or how, then she will be more positive about it.

I realise going half way round the world and for such a long time is a difficult one. I did this when I was 13 and found it fantastic and incredible, despite it not really being a holiday.

However........

I would want to find out why my daughter was so against it. Has she been able to explain what exactly the issue is? My normal response to DS saying he doesn't want to do something because he doesn't like it is 'how do you know till you try it'. Is your daughter willing to give it a go? Is there a compromise you can come to? Is it worth trying to mediate between your ex and daughter to come to a solution.

She is 12, so should have some say and will have some opinions on the matter. But at the end of the day she is only 12, and still has to do what her parents believe are in her best interests. And honestly, can you put your hand on your heart and say that her not seeing her Dad over the Summer is what's best??

Also........

I don't understand this attitude that 'contact' (I hate that word) means that the non-resident parent has to spend 24/7 with their child. I just don't think it's the case. You are shared parenting..... your daughter needs to have the experience of being parented by both of you - living with both of you. Why should her time with your ex be solely 'holiday' time and not living with her father and experiencing 'normal' life with him. How would you feel if he was questioning your child care arrangements while she was with you??

oscarwilde Mon 01-Jul-13 14:35:31

I think that Giantpurple has a point actually. It sounds as though he is actually making an effort to ensure that she is entertained as well as looked after while he is at work.

giantpurple - are you serious??

Trying is not 5 weeks in a different country with no friends and no family because your dad is working and has stuck you in summer camp.

The compromise was that dad came over to see his own child. He is the adult here, not her, and FWIW I think she is the one behaving more sensibly.

squeakytoy Mon 01-Jul-13 14:40:24

Holiday allowance in the USA is very different to the UK.

He might be making an effort, but at 12 I think she has a say.

I would have hated summer camp as well, and to couple that with being overseas and not being able to see friends and family outside of those times would be awful.

She might have a nice time - she might hate it. I think at 12 she is entitled to an opinion?

Iwillorderthefood Mon 01-Jul-13 14:42:48

I never thought I would say this, but perhaps he got really angry as he has been working very hard to fix everything up so she can come? It is much nicer sometimes to be with someone for a longer period without the lets have fun pressure that holidays always entail.

This is always going to be a tough situation, I do hope that you work it out.

ItsDecisionTime Mon 01-Jul-13 14:43:54

Thank you giant. I appreciate you looking at the other side of the coin as sometimes it is easy to become blinkered to the situation and only see things from our own perspective.

DD has spent 4 weeks of the past 6 summers in the USA with her dad. The last two have only happened because I've persuaded her it's for the best and she shouldn't cut her dad out of her life as she may regret it in the future.

She's now 12, has a life of her own and resents having to give up her entire summer (he's now asking for 5 weeks out of 8). She is prepared to see him but for shorter and more frequent periods across the year, and on her own turf for some of the time.

Three years ago, I asked him to pay child support (which he hadn't for the previous 3 years). It was like lighting a flame under him and since that time, all attempts at sensible mediation have been thrown back in my face in favour of court action which is still ongoing.

Each time we look like we have reached an amicable solution - for all three parties - he changes the goal posts and introduces another demand. All very frustrating I can tell you. 15 court hearings and no solution.

You're right in that it's his time with her and he can do what he wants but his demands are always based on the fact he doesn't see her all year and needs the additional time to spend one-to-one with her, getting to know her and introducing her to his culture and way of life. Clearly, even with 17 days out of 30 and her being put into a situation she is going to hate, this doesn't achieve anyone's objective.

I do work but am lucky to do so from home so no, childcare is not a problem for me. She enjoys spending time at her friends' houses or even taking the odd holiday with them but these are situations and people she knows and is comfortable with.

The added consequence is now DD is getting herself more worked up about the whole thing and is planning to speak to him on the phone again tonight to tell him she isn't going and if he wants to see her, he will have to make more effort.

squoosh Mon 01-Jul-13 14:44:07

Maybe he is unable to take off any more time than 7 days, I know most Americans only get about 10 days annual leave.

Yep, totally serious.

Her dad lives abroad - why should she not see him there?

Trying might be agreeing to go for 2 weeks, with the other three to be decided once there. Or trying might be agreeing to go for shortened period of time, or maybe agreeing to go, but changing the childcare arrangements for something she is more excited about.

I don't think the only compromise would be the ex coming here.

I also don't think it is not sensible for the daughter to go and spend some time living with her Dad. The daughter being away from the country for a few weeks is not the end of the world, and could actually be very good, experiencing the world, being more independent, experiencing new things at summer camp etc.

Pennyacrossthehall Mon 01-Jul-13 14:45:19

JackieTheFart giantpurple - are you serious?? Trying is not 5 weeks in a different country with no friends and no family because your dad is working and has stuck you in summer camp. The compromise was that dad came over to see his own child. He is the adult here, not her, and FWIW I think she is the one behaving more sensibly.

Actually giantpurplepeopleeater made a very good point. Her Dad would see her for many more hours over the course of 5 weeks with him than he would in a one week visit here.

On the other hand, it does sound like 5 weeks is too long. Why not compromise on a 3-week visit - everyone wins:
- Dad doesn't have to pay for (as much) childcare
- Daughter doesn't have to endure said chilcare
- They both see each other for much longer
- They see each other in his home, which is very different from seeing him here for a week in a hotel or B&B.

I too think the daughter is entitled to an opinion - which is why I suggested itsdecisiontime might want to mediate something which is more agreeable to her DD

Pennyacrossthehall Mon 01-Jul-13 14:46:11

@ giantpurplepeopleeater

Great minds, etc

grin

ItsDecisionTime Mon 01-Jul-13 14:51:12

He won't compromise. It's his way or the highway. She has already suggested she goes for a shorter period then perhaps again in the October half-term, Xmas holiday etc. He won't budge. That's just how he is - all for his own convenience but not what's necessarily best for DD.

The suggestion that she goes and lives with him for a period of time? Once she's 16, if that's something she wants to do then fine.

Pennyacrossthehall Mon 01-Jul-13 14:54:48

ItsDecisionTime
She's now 12, has a life of her own and resents having to give up her entire summer ...
Having spent a large sum of money on a mid-winter break for the family in sunnier climes, my teenage DS's first question was whether it clashed with the end-of-year Cadets' dinner. Kids' priorities are entirely largely egocentric and might need to be managed . . .

She is prepared to see him but for shorter and more frequent periods across the year, and on her own turf for some of the time.
Which is fair enough, but this will cost a lot more (air-fares, hotels etc) and as I said above seeing him in a crappy hotel is not the same as seeing him at home.

She enjoys spending time at her friends' houses or even taking the odd holiday with them but these are situations and people she knows and is comfortable with.
That sentence is pretty sad, from her Dad's point of view. And it will only get worse the less she sees him.

Itsdecisiontime - no problem.

I can see the back story here is not a pleasant one, which in itself makes things difficult and combatative, but then neither you nor DD digging her heels in is going to make this any better. (yes, I know your ex is digging his heels in, but you can't control his behaviour only your reaction to it).

I disagree that her being in a summer camp won't leave him time to have 1-2-1 time with her get to know her etc. As penny points out, 5 weeks this way would total a lot more time than 1 or 2 weeks here, with weekends, evenings etc. I used to work in NYC, and over and above the bank holidays I got 5 days annual leave. It may be that he is trying to work something out and juggle to make it work. Given the back story he may not be overly inclined to discuss this with you.

At the end of the day, it sounds like the situation is at rock bottom as it is - what with constant court visits. And as you know, your ex cannot force you and DD to do anything, especially going abroad.

Personally, I would be inclined to find a compromise, and try and mediate. As you say, it would be a shame for your DD to cut her dad out or lose contact, but her wishes should at least be considered. Could you agree something with her and then lett DD present it to your ex as the solution she is willing to undertake??

Pennyacrossthehall Mon 01-Jul-13 14:55:58

ItsDecisionTime He won't compromise. It's his way or the highway. She has already suggested she goes for a shorter period then perhaps again in the October half-term, Xmas holiday etc. He won't budge.

Now he's being a dick.

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