To hate sharing parenting with my ex?

(28 Posts)
JeremySmile Mon 23-Sep-13 11:06:07

My ex and I separated 4 years ago and have a 6 year old. She is fantastic but one of the main reasons I left him was that he had nothing to do with her; it got to the point where she'd cry when he entered the room because he was shouty and he made our life a misery. For the first 2 years after we separated dd was inconsolable at the thought of contact and had to be physically restrained to get her into his car. He didn't care. He'd put her back in nappies when toilet trained, let her draw on walls, eat junk all day - anything to make my life difficult and his easier. Now she's 6 dd still doesn't want to go to contact but accepts she has to. I am positive about it and have never bad mouthed her father but time and time again he lets her down and makes things harder than necessary. For example; he promised her 3 days out/weekends away over the summer but didn't do any of them. He promised her a birthday party - it didn't happen. For last Christmas and this birthday he's simply wrapped up his own expensive gadgets and pretended they're new ones that are gifts for her. Meanwhile, within a few weeks of Christmas/her birthday he has a weekend away with his girlfriend - courtesy of the money given to dd as gifts from his family. He sees her twice monthly only, never extra in holidays. He takes no responsibility for her and in my opinion, does not deserve her in the slightest.

I, on the other hand, spent hours and hours on a really thoughtful gift for dd. Have spent weeks organising and planning a birthday party she loved. Scrimped and saved to take her away in the holidays. I do her homework with her, read with her everyday, brush her teeth, get her to school on time etc. I don't expect a medal; these are things mums all over the world do - I know. But I so wish her father wasn't around to take the shine off everything. Dd adored her gift and party from me but whenever talking about her birthday she always ends with 'remember he promised a party but didn't do it?' Or 'why did he pretend to give me something that belongs to him?' AIBU to hate sharing her with him and to wish he'd leave us to it?

KellyElly Mon 23-Sep-13 11:29:30

YANBU but you know it isn't going to happen. I am in a similar situation and I've been trying really hard to not invest my emotional energy getting so worked up about it as it's me being affected - he just sails along not giving a shiny shit! As hard as it is you just have to let him get on with it and just focus on your time with your child. You can't change him, but you can stop letting him get to you and just carry on with the good job you are doing as a parent.

JeremySmile Mon 23-Sep-13 11:32:51

But if it was him doing things to get at me I wouldn't mind. It's seeing her have her hopes raised and dashed every time, yet still seeing her believe the next promise and holding me to mine that gets to me. I don't let her see my anger but find it so frustrating that he feels he can do as he likes without any regard for her feelings.

Dahlen Mon 23-Sep-13 11:42:43

That's so hard. sad

Do you have any concerns over her welfare or safety or is it purely poor parenting? I'm asking because I'm slightly concerned by dd still doesn't want to go to contact but accepts she has to. If you're genuinely not running him down in front of her, that's quite unusual behaviour even from a child who's been as consistently let down as she has. Children of this age are incredibly forgiving of a parent's shortcomings. What is she like when she comes back?

Do you have a court order in place or is this a privately agreed arrangement? Could you find a way of phrasing it so that less contact between DD and X sounds appealing to him?

IF there are no welfare issues, I'm afraid that unless you are willing to stop contact and take the risk of going back to court, the only solution available to you is to carry on doing what you're doing.

I would add though that not running your X down is not the same as enabling him. If your DD says she is disappointed in him, sympathise with her and say, "yes, that's poor behaviour" rather than make excuses for him. If she asks why he let her down, say you don't know and that she'll have to ask him (truthful and puts responsibility back on him). Be sure to follow it up by saying you won't let her down and that you love her, as I'm sure you're already doing. If she ever asks why her dad doesn't seem to love her enough to do the right thing, again say you don't know what her dad thinks or feels, but you do know that he is the one missing out because your DD is a wonderful child and you love her very much.

Good luck and sympathies.

KellyElly Mon 23-Sep-13 11:52:11

I do understand honestly as I'm in exactly the same situation but you can't change it. That's what I mean by not focusing on it and getting upset. You child is lucky enough to have a great mum who more than makes up for her dad's shortfalls. Sadly, she will get used to him letting her down and will probably not want to bother with him as much when she is old enough to make that decision. It's shit but it is what it is. You can't change him but you can give your daughter a great life on a day to day basis and make her feel loved and secure, which is exactly what you are doing smile

JeremySmile Mon 23-Sep-13 12:00:59

He's neglectful, in my opinion, in as much as she doesn't eat properly, watches films etc all weekend but know my concerns wouldn't be taken seriously enough to stop contact in court. She is loyal to him but is like a different child when she returns. She gets back at 3pm and doesn't talk to myself, DP or her little sister. She keeps hiding then peeking round corners at us, mumbling that no one likes her yet ignoring any attempt we make to interact. By the next day she's generally better but it's 3 days before she's back to normal - it was worse before she started school.

He only has her every other weekend, no extra in holidays so pretty much bare minimum. He's very concerned with 'his right to contact' so not much chance of reduction. I do sympathise with dd and don't excuse him but it makes her feel worse i think, as she sees that even I - who generally is nice about everyone - cant say many positive things about his behaviour.

whysoglum Mon 23-Sep-13 12:10:32

Sounds like he's doing her some emotional damage if she's coming home so unsettled. I'd be concerned.
Sorry you have to put up with it.

BarbarianMum Mon 23-Sep-13 12:26:27

<<She keeps hiding then peeking round corners at us, mumbling that no one likes her yet ignoring any attempt we make to interact. By the next day she's generally better but it's 3 days before she's back to normal - it was worse before she started school. >>

Actually that sounds pretty bad. I'd want to stop contact with anyone who made my child react like that. sad

Can you afford legal advice? Contact arrangements are made to benefit the child so if you could get a neutral 3rd party to judge that contact is not in your dd's interest then it could be reduced or stopped. But I don't know how you'd go about getting such an assessment. If she was a verbally mature 8 or 9 year old she'd probably be able to tell a court exactly how she feels but at 6 she is too probably too young to represent herself in this way.

KellyElly Mon 23-Sep-13 12:29:35

Wow, that does sound pretty bad. Has the access been agreed through court? Could you take it down to a day rather than an overnight stay?

JeremySmile Mon 23-Sep-13 12:30:34

Barbarian - it is really horrible seeing the change in her sad She's ok when there as she has chocolate and films on tap but is emotionally affected, definitely. Have sought legal advice in the past and went to mediation with him but he refuses to believe me about the change in her.

JeremySmile Mon 23-Sep-13 12:34:47

The contact wasn't agreed through court but we attended mediation and mediator told me judge would definitely order contact, possibly even more contact than he was having, despite him drinking excessively at that time too. She said if dd is ok when there then that's the main thing. However, I don't feel it's fair on dd that she wastes days of her life being miserable and affected after contact. In the holidays I had to ensure I booked our holiday 4 days after contact so she would enjoy it, if I'd booked it on the Monday it would have ruined her holiday.

Dahlen Mon 23-Sep-13 12:42:40

Your last few posts put a different complexion on things for me. Your DD sounds quite disturbed. IMO it is not in her best interests to continue with contact if she is behaving like this on her return.

Can you video her when she comes back using your phone? Can you arrange for her to talk to a school counsellor? Try to get some weight behind your opinion that contact is damaging her and then put a stop to it. It is only another couple of years before she is old enough that the courts would take her view into account anyway.

JeremySmile Mon 23-Sep-13 12:46:47

My previous solicitor advised video recording wouldn't be admissible and that exH would just use it to say I'm unhinged. Her school doesn't have a counsellor and she struggles with expressing herself to strangers as she is suspected to have selective mutism so I'm wary of spending money on a private one.

TVTonight Mon 23-Sep-13 13:00:45

At six she isn't that far from being able to let him know he's shit. My nephew did at eight I think.

If you sent healthy snacks with her would she eat them at all?

Does se have any sense of self-regulation, that you could work with to minimise the impact he has?

Dahlen Mon 23-Sep-13 13:01:08

I'd go back to the GP about the selective mutism and try to get help for that. It doesn't always signify an underlying problem, of course, but given the circumstances I'd want to run as far as I could with external agencies to get to the bottom of it. This really would worry me based on what you've said about contact. If nothing else, it shows you have concerns and are following legitimate routes to address them. It adds weight to your decision to stop contact if that's what you decide to do.

JeremySmile Mon 23-Sep-13 13:04:07

She lets him know, TV, problem is she wouldn't speak up to anyone else. She has no self regulation. Not exaggerating when I say she ate more junk food last weekend she was there than she had in at least 3 months here. He's obese and constantly moans about his weight in front of her which is rubbing off on her too.

JeremySmile Mon 23-Sep-13 13:06:33

Her school are trying some strategies at the moment, Dahlen. If they don't work then I shall go back to the GP. I've asked the nspcc and children's services for advise before and have written to him constructively about my concerns and have it all logged in case I need it.

Ehhn Mon 23-Sep-13 13:12:36

There is one good thing about all of this. If there had been zero contact, your daughter may have idolised an image/idea of her dad and that could have much worse long-term psychological effects and been more harmful towards her relationship with you. She has a clear understanding of what her father is like and a safe, protective mum. In a few years' time she will be able to assert her rights more strongly and perhaps change the contact agreement.

JeremySmile Mon 23-Sep-13 13:15:28

Ehhn - she still has blind loyalty towards him though and makes up excuses for him. Yet if I ever dared let her down it'd never be forgotten! I know it's better she's allowed to form an opinion but it is awful seeing her hurting.

springybuffy Mon 23-Sep-13 13:33:32

The folly of this fucking system eh angry (in fact I could POP with rage about it)

What is this teaching her about men eh? Yet the fucking system insists it's in her best interests angry . HOw is she with dp, do they have a good relationship? If so, that would be something...

I'm wondering if it may be an idea to approach your MP about this. S/he may have an axe to grind about this in parliament (I wish somebody would tbh). Whatever, s/he could hold some sway about changing something here.

I'm so sorry you - and she, of course - are faced with this. It is too awful <cry>

Zorro1 Mon 23-Sep-13 13:53:18

A situation like this is rarely resolved in a way which suits all parties, I reckon. Each parent has their own take on it, and generally can only see their own perspective.

As KellyElly says, it is what it is. Best to just accept it and make it as trouble free as possible for all concerned.

How would you like to see the system changed springybuffy?

Dahlen Mon 23-Sep-13 14:05:11

Sounds like you're doing everything you reasonably can Jeremy. Hopefully you'll reach a stage in a couple of years where your DD is able to see her father for what he is and assert herself. All the best until then.

gingerscot Mon 23-Sep-13 14:28:04

This all sounds very familiar. My niece was 4 when her parents split up and she idolised her dad. He was always late picking her up/dropping her off (by hours), promising the world in terms of gifts and holidays, letting her do whatever she wanted when she was with him, no bedtimes (they slept wherever they landed apparently) etc. At first she used to get very upset when we was late, or promises never materialsed. She was a nightmare for a few days after contact (he had her every 3rd weekend) and used to punish us all (we all lived with my parents at that point.)

We have never, ever bad mouthed him (although it was tempting at times and took lots of willpower) and we used to make a game of it, "Dad says he'll pick you up at 5pm, my money is on 6.15pm - anyone else?" and we'd all guess what time etc. And when he promised holidays etc, we used to tell her that Dad means it when he says it, but you know how disorganised he is - don't actually look forward to it until it happens and we'd "pretend" roll our eyes at how "daft" dad could be -"you know what he's like, silly billy." Eventually she used to join in and see it as a game. It killed us to let him off so lightly with such bad behaviour, but it worked in her not getting her hopes up.

Now she's 12. She doesn't care if she sees him or not. She wasn't upset this year that he didn't get her a birthday present cos he had to pay rent -but she was pissed off since she recognises he has to pay rent every month and her birthday is the same time every year and can be planned for - his crap excuses are no longer working on her. She recognises now that he'll say/promise the world to be the good guy, but never delivers. She doesn't trust him. She said recently that she knows we (all my family) never make a threat we won't carry out but that neither do we ever break a promise - she says she wants to be like us, not her dad.

And now she tells us everything (we don't pry!) rather than feels she has to hide/not talk about what happens at her dad - which is what was causing the bad behavoiur on her return when she was little. They were telling her she couldn't tell us anything she'd done/said etc when she was there. But she was little and this confused her, she was used to joining in conversations and now she wasn't sure what she could say and what she shouldn't.

My advice is hold tight. Be consistent, be there for her, keep your promises, manage her expectations and don't make excuses for him. She won't be little forever and will soon realise that you are the ones who are always there and make her feel secure. My niece resents him now when he tries to parent - too little, too late - and she doesn't give him an easy time of it. We try not to be smug about that - again, she's told off about it while we secretly high five behind her back... What goes around, comes around.

JeremySmile Tue 24-Sep-13 11:25:43

Thanks Dahlen.

That does sound similar gingerscot, glad your niece is realising the truth now and coped so well. My dd has already started pulling him up on his behaviour and giving him grief about it - she is blindly loyal but realistic at the same time so I think there's hope for her. In the meantime i'll continue to bite my tongue and do my best by her.

AliceRose90 Tue 24-Sep-13 11:44:21

I would advise to keep at it and see how it goes. I was in the same situation as your DD in my childhood - my parents seperated when I was 2, and I saw my dad once a month. He was never really interested in me, and I didn't really enjoy spending time with him - my mum told me once that I hid under the bed to try and avoid going (I don't remember this). Not going into detail, but he wasn't a very nice man at all (he didn't abuse me or my mum or anything) but there were some things about him that I found out and, at age 11, I decided for myself I didn't want to see him any more. He didn't make any kind of attempt to change my mind. I'm 23 now and don't regret not having any contact with him over the years.

I asked my mum why she never tried to stop me seeing him and her answer was she never wanted anyone to say I wouldn't let him see me. She didn't want him to try and turn her into the bad guy, and she didn't want me to resent her for not letting us have a relationship. I really appreciate that she made that effort. I would say hang in there, and maybe once your DD is old enough she may decide for herself she's not interested in seeing him. Good luck and I hope all goes well for you!

IneedAsockamnesty Tue 24-Sep-13 11:58:29

Out of interest is he in a position to self fund legal stuff?

Because legal aid for family law has now been removed.

It might be worth attempting to make contact child led,by that I mean if she does not want to go refuse to force her just tell him she does not want to. And just see what he does because he may very well not bother doing anything now that financially it wouldn't be so easy.

cjel Tue 24-Sep-13 14:45:25

I'd not make her think'she has to go' if she doesn't want to go don't make her. This child is having at least 8-10 days a month when she is disturbed. This should be stopped.
I don't think that if you stopped visits he would get an enforcement or if they did could make it a supervised visit or contact centre. trust your feelings that its not right.

JohFlow Tue 24-Sep-13 14:45:32

I have a similar situation I am afraid OP. There is a point where I have realised that my ex is using contact as a way of annoying/harassing/undermining me (i.e. through my ds). I have concerned of the impact of contact on my son and have made in-roads into taking out a Non-Molestation Order via the family court system. This protects both my ds and I from acts/words that would make us annoyed/fearful/agitated etc. This is maybe something to consider if mediatory steps do not work.

And good for you - being the responsible one against all this rubbish xx

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