Shared care parenting -holiday requests 15 nights away, unreasonable?

(56 Posts)
Claratark Wed 30-Dec-15 23:06:43

First time post-I feel very emotional about this issue and I would like to hear the opinions of other parents out there. I will try to give the facts rather than be emotive but to be honest my stomach is in knots, I am only just realising that my ongoing situation is causing me chronic stress which has been effecting my immunity, health and having knock on effects on other areas of my life such as work. I am an active Mum, I work hard for my girls and try to be fair towards my soon to be ex-husband. I feel like I am constantly waiting for the next emotional blow.
I am the mother of two daughters who are 4 year old and 6 years old. Their father and I have been separated now for two years now. We have a shared care parenting arrangement where the girls stay with me for 4 nights and him 3 nights a week. This was decided by us rather than courts, my ex constantly requests 50/50 access but I disagreed to this due to the fact that he gets to see the girls more over the school holidays and because of their age. It isn't ideal for either of us but I really try to be fair for the sake of the girls. I don't like sharing the care of our daughters and feel like a part-time mum, all I wanted from life was to be a good mum, but I empathise with Dad's that miss out on parenting. I work hard to bridge the gaps with email hand overs and trying to put our daughters needs always first.

My current issue is that my ex has requested to take out daughters away on holiday for 15 nights in July (he hasn't informed me where). I personally feel like this is too long at their age. Actually, when I say requested, I feel more like I have been told that this is what he intends to do. I feel bullied. I have expressed verbally and via email that I am against this length of time. Last year he took them away for (I think), 10 nights and they returned very emotional and clingy. I would never consider taking them away from their father for such a long period at such a young age as I value their attachments .

My oldest daughter seems to be more effected by our situation and gets unsettled when she is out of her usual routeen. During the Christmas period my daughter expressed her feelings to me. We discussed her concerns and talked about her putting dates on her Ipad so she knows what she is doing and feels more empowered. Then his holiday plan came, I expressed all my concerns to my ex but I don't think he hears me, he has his own agenda.

I don't want to be unreasonable but it feels wrong for both my daughters and me at such a young age.

Any advice would be gratefully received.

Underwood15 Wed 30-Dec-15 23:10:34

Do you have other concerns besides the length of time? Ie is he good father and does he take care of the children?

wannabestressfree Wed 30-Dec-15 23:12:17

Honestly.....
I am going to Say this as gently as possible but from what I have read I think they are picking up on your anxiety. 15 nights for a holiday is not unreasonable if they think you are on board.
There is nothing I have read that makes me think your ailments are caused by him. Shared parenting is the right thing to do. You are doing the best for them.
I really like what have done with the iPad and I do agree he needs to be less bullish and more sensitive.

WorraLiberty Wed 30-Dec-15 23:13:04

Would you not take them on a fortnight's holiday yourself?

AnchorDownDeepBreath Wed 30-Dec-15 23:15:36

I think 14 days is a pretty standard holiday length and this is only one more night, although I can imagine the idea of not seeing your children for a fortnight is not a nice one.

If you put the dates in the ipad for your eldest child and took them away for two weeks yourself later in the year, would that make it easier? Do you have concerns over how the children are looked after?

They are young, but friends with similar aged children seem to do this type of thing easily, it seems fairly standard although difficult for the parent without the children. I try to keep them distracted so hopefully your friends will do the same.

MiniCooperLover Wed 30-Dec-15 23:19:02

Do you plan a holiday yourself with the girls? Would you be happy if your ex-P objected? I have family in a similar situation and they had to grit their teeth and accept that the next safest person for the children to be with after her was their dad, as hard as that was to accept. Do you have any worries in that respect?

Birdsgottafly Wed 30-Dec-15 23:25:36

What's the longest the girls have been away from either of you?

It's a big leap to go from 3 days to 15.

Unless there's a lot of travelling needed, you should both be starting off with 7 day holidays, until the girls are slightly older and more confident.

Are you getting help for your anxiety? It will rub off on them.

WorraLiberty Wed 30-Dec-15 23:27:21

Birds he took them away for 10 nights last year.

FlatOnTheHill Wed 30-Dec-15 23:31:29

I have been in exactly same situation as you for the past 15 years. My DS now 15 and i split from his father when pregnant.
He has DS 1 night in week and every other weekend. No court involvement. All arranged by ourselves. Im telling you this because i want you to know you are not alone.
I get where you are coming from, you are really their primary carer who does everything for them including all the nitty gritty stuff.
I think they are so young and think 7 nights away from you at a time for a holiday is long enough. Too long away can make them very upset and unsettled. I had this agreement with my ex although it caused huge rows when DS was young. We agreed eventually.
You need to discuss this in-depth with him. Also you want and need to know where the kids are going on holiday.

FlatOnTheHill Wed 30-Dec-15 23:33:08

Just noticed 10 days last year. Although you said came home upset. Still too long at a time.

Birdsgottafly Wed 30-Dec-15 23:39:06

If they found 10 days too difficult, then the limit for both of you should be a week, which at the age they are, still gives ample enough opportunity for a good holiday.

Even with their parents, children under 7 can become unsettled being away from home, for that length of time.

Your post comes across as though it's a done deal because he says so.

You need to find ways to gain confidence and become assertive.

Insist on discussing this.

Claratark Wed 30-Dec-15 23:39:32

Thanks. Personally I wouldn't dream of taking them away for a fortnight at this age but it is interesting to hear all your responses. I am totally open to them having new experiences, seeing new places and all that. It is good to hear different perspectives.

Personally, I don't think my kids are picking up on my anxieties, but who knows. Throughout all this I have been positive about our shared care situation, I have tried to create an environment where they can talk about their thoughts and feelings. I think I feel like I am weathering a very long storm. Our relationship hasn't been great, acrimonious at times but our kids have come first. I don't transfer my emotions onto them, I just know my girls.

He is a good Dad, it just seems too long to me.

GoldenBlue Wed 30-Dec-15 23:40:26

15 nights away from either parent is hard at that age, but it isn't unreasonable. Start thinking about methods of staying in touch whilst they are away, Skype and FaceTime work better than phone calls in my experience. Try and make the most of the time apart and do something for yourself. Then plan in 2 weeks of time just for you and kids during August. It's always hard dealing with things post divorce but my advice is pick your battles, work together where ever possible and the times you feel strongly are more likely to be openly considered by your ex if you're not resistant to everything. Good luck

shazzarooney99 Wed 30-Dec-15 23:45:09

Whats wrong with 15 nights if theyve already been away for 10 nights? sure they will come back different but you will have a nice break and so will the girls, its the summer holidays, you will have more than enough time with them, you dont want to give 50/50 but you dont want him to have them for 2 weeks either?

sleeponeday Wed 30-Dec-15 23:55:33

I would think 15 nights away from either one of you is too many for a 4 year old, myself. Great idea in two or three years, but for now you are essentially only just past toddlerhood. Surely a week would be better? Can you email him and explain that 10 days was too long last time, and to leave a fortnight on either side until they are a little older?

I get that the shared care is hard, but you are doing so well by your kids, in giving them a strong relationship with both parents.

sleeponeday Wed 30-Dec-15 23:57:02

Shazz, the little one found the 10 days very hard last time. Only a 4 year old, after all. I don't think a child should be separated from either parent that long when so tiny, if both are effectively primary carers/attachment figures, the routine is settled at seeing each every few days, and there is an alternative.

GoldenBlue Thu 31-Dec-15 00:01:59

I think you need to think about what a reasonable court may order, and typically half of the holidays each is granted. I know it's hard to accept, but he is their parent too and is as entitled to make decisions about holidays as you are. I hated it at first, but it does get easier over time. And you so look forward to them coming home smile

coffeeisnectar Thu 31-Dec-15 00:07:14

If you have the funds then why not go for the first week with them (separate hotel) and have a week with the kids and then hand them over to dad for the second week or the other way round? That way he gets his two weeks but only one with the kids, away and you get a week with them too.

Claratark Thu 31-Dec-15 00:15:17

That is how I feel. Last time it didn't feel like I had a nice break from my kids. I missed them. I got on with life and all but it felt too long to be away from them. When they returned it wasn't like I put any of my emotions on them (before anyone says! I am actually quite adjusted thank you very much! When I discuss stress I mean in terms of ongoing divorce battles, housing issues as I had to start again from nothing. only just realising this has lowered my immunity as I keep going and the stresses keep coming from him. I have achieved so much in the last two years but it has been hard like swimming upstream)

The girls talked about missing me too much while they were away, they crept into my bed, were clingy etc. Their behaviour was different for a few days, my youngest was more emotional. I am up for them experiencing all they can in life but when they are emotionally ready. To me it's whether it's in their best interests or their dads?

Claratark Thu 31-Dec-15 00:17:48

don't think a shared holiday would work on a caravan site with his new lady friend!

twirlypoo Thu 31-Dec-15 00:18:01

Could he take them away twice, a week a go? I know it's funds / work dependent, but may work if you proffer it as a compromise?

twirlypoo Thu 31-Dec-15 00:19:35

Or could you fly out / drive out for a weekend in the middle of it - get your own accommodation and have them with you for a few days?

Claratark Thu 31-Dec-15 00:32:35

I would agree two separate holidays over 6 weeks would be best in my opinion. I wouldn't object to that at all.

It goes to show we all have such different opinions about attachment and what is acceptable. It has reinforced my feelings but made me consider his point of view more. I think we need to discuss the issue more rather than just being dictated to. I only get one shot at being the best mum I can be in this life and I want to get it right. Well, until they are teenagers and they tell me I did it all wrong anyway! Thanks for the advice smile

BackforGood Thu 31-Dec-15 00:47:32

I think YABU, as I think this is about you missing them rather than what is or isn't reasonable for them.
A fortnight's holiday is something to be looked forward to for the girls, and you need to present it as such and just talk about what a fab time thy are going to have, and not about how much they are going to miss you.
It makes MUCH more sense if going abroad to go for a fortnight, as it gives them time to get used to the heat and to settle in and relax and get over night time flights etc. I'd even choose to do a fortnight every other year, over a week each year, as there's no time to relax into a holiday in a week. A fortnight's holiday is a pretty normal thing, and for your dds they are already used to being without you 3 nights a week so they will be fine.

sleeponeday Thu 31-Dec-15 00:47:56

I do think talking about it, as constructively as possible, is a great idea. I mean, you have at least 14 years of parenting together ahead of you, so if you can manage a positive relationship there it can only benefit all concerned.

Good luck with it all, and I hope it works out in a way that makes all of you happy.

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