DS does not want to go to his Dads (long)

(13 Posts)

sigh

This is going to be a WWYD - sorry.

DS is 3. I realise that this means he is not in any position to have a view on what is best for him. And to be honest, had this been a new thing, I would not posting here at all. Me and Ex split when DS was 6 months old or thereabouts. Ex was originally fairly difficult, but I know this is not uncommon - he was very much 'I want it this way so this is what it is going to be like'.

Anyway, since not long after the split DS has been going to his Dad's EOW, and really knows no different. I have tried to encourage Ex to make this more often, but he doesn't. I have tried to encourage him to make an effort to contact DS in between the EOW, but this is very sporadic and tbh rarely happens.

DS has always had a problem with visiting his dad. He used to cry at pick up, then as time went on and he was able to vocalise, it started off as 'no' and later 'no daddy'. I then made the decision to move pick up to nursery so that I wasn't around, I thought this would be easier on DS, and apparently it is. There is rarely upset when Ex picks him up, in fact he often glad to see his daddy.

However, it is getting worse at home. He refuses to talk to his dad on the infrequent occasions he calls or skypes - I have to cajole. He tells me he doesn't love daddy, doesn't like him, doesn't like his house etc. When I mention to him that daddy is picking him up to prepare him, he gets most upset and begs me to come get him from nursery instead. This has all gotten worse over time. He now makes a point of asking who is picking him up that day, and hates it if I mention daddy.

He apparently has a good time at his dad's, and goes to him with minimum of fuss from nursery. But both before he goes and when he comes back tells me and whoever will listen how he doesn't like his Dad etc etc.

He has even accused Ex of hurting him 'daddy hit me' 'daddy shouted at me' 'daddy scratched me' etc etc. I have dug around this a little and don't think there is anything else going on bar the usual telling off or accidental scratch. I do trust the Ex in that sense (in fact we have a pretty good and amicable relationship).
So I'm not negative about Ex and although it's not impossible, I'm pretty sure he doesn't pick much up from me like that, as I don't really feel or say it.

So I am in the position that DS is getting increasingly upset before and after spending time with Ex, is now begging not to go, and making it obvious he doesn't want to be there.

On the other hand, he seems to have a good time there, and isn't upset the whole time he is there.

[Background - so as not to leave anything out - Ex doesn't provide the most stable of home environments, having lived in 4 different places, been with 3 different women he has introduced DS to, two of which he has lived with - he is living with one of them now. ]

So I realise it could be down to whole host of reasons, and at the moment I am being encouraging, listening, challenging, and continuing him to send him. But it's hard to see him so upset.

So what do I do? What would you do? Anything or nothing?

MaddestOfTheHatters Mon 31-Mar-14 15:11:16

We had this with my DSD for a period of time, she is just a little younger than your DS. But when she was with us it was 'no mummy' and vice versa when she was at her mums.

Just as you did we switched handovers to nursery to help and we got her some books to explain that some special boys and girls have two homes, two bedrooms etc. But no matter which one they are at Mummy and Daddy both love her.

This combined seemed to calm things down a lot, so we figure it was the lack of understanding that was causing her to get upset.

Can your DS articulate what he does and doesn't like? It could turn out to be something so simple as not having his favourite X or Y at Dads or Dad doesnt sing a certain song so Mums is better. We've had them all!

Thanks maddest.

I've asked Ex - there is no 'no mummy' and he only seems to get upset when he talks to me on the phone, otherwise seems ok.

I wouldn't be quite so worried if it was only a 'period of time' thing, but basically he has expressed this in many different ways since day one. Just getting better/ more heated in his way of expressing it. This is why I worry.

He is quite articulate for his age, but I cannot pin him down to one thing. Just that he doesn't like daddy and doesn't like daddy's house.

Before we split I did 95% of the childcare, and he wasn't around much. In fact before we split there had only been one occassion that Ex had looked after DS on his own.

I realise, therefore, that some of this may be down to DS's attachment to me.

But it has now been 3 years since we split - 3 years that he has been going to his dad's EOW, and 3 years that in varying ways he has expressed a desire not to go. This is the bit that is worrying me most.

Up till now I have just encouraged, talked, explained, probed as to why. But he just seems to be getting more and more upset about it as time goes on. sad

Russianfudge Mon 31-Mar-14 16:54:55

Someone posted a thread about something to do with how they were writing a series of books about oh what were they bloody called little stuffed animal things that were left on a bridge for the child to use as a transition object between house... it was really good, someone help me out? ??

It probably doesn't help that Dad keeps moving house. My DD always has a period of being unsettled when Dad moves which he does often. He always moved while she wasn't there and she would struggle with leaving the old house then returning to a new one and not really knowing what had happened in between! This last time she was very much involved in the move and it transferring her things from one house to another and she did seem to handle it all a bit better. She's a bit old now for transition toys (maybe a transition laptop grin) but they can really help little ones. Would your ex let your son get involved with the move?

They're all different but the changing girlfriends didn't worry DD too much, I thought it would but it didn't - in the end she used to get quite excited at the thought of a new one! They don't get as attached as we perceive they would do IME as they have Mum and Dad who are stable. New girlfriends/ boyfriends are just entertainment for them until they can see that they're going to be sticking around.

Regards the phone calls - my DD still doesn't really like calls to/from the other house. I used to be very insistent that she call Dad then as soon as she was old enough she told me it made her sad as she was reminded that she missed him so we said she could decide when to call. Sometimes I go a whole weekend without hearing from her but I'd rather she were happy. My ex has slipped back in to calling her A LOT during her time with me, which is something I'm thinking of tackling soon but I'll be led by her. Maybe let your son take the lead and just remind him he's allowed to call if he wants to, but don't push the issue?

Thanks Russian.

Oh, DS already does move toys between the two houses - I hadn't realised that was a 'thing' so that probably helps. He has a comfy blanket he takes between the two as well.

If I'm honest, I don't think the girlfriends bother him as much as the moving houses does either. Ex swears he's staying put now though, although who can predict the future!

Yeah, we could stop the phone calls. I'm a bit worried as I don't think he's of the age to ask to call just yet. But I will talk to Ex and see what he thinks. The difficulty is, if ex wants to call and speak to him, I feel like I have to push DS into it. Maybe I don't? I just feel like I should be helping their relationship as best I can.

3xcookedchips Mon 31-Mar-14 17:27:10

Search out Karen Woodall. She has a series of blogs on transition anxieties I.e. moving between two houses...

Russianfudge Mon 31-Mar-14 17:45:31

That's exactly how I felt re the phone calls. I sometimes still hear myself say "come on call Daddy, he'll want to hear from you" but she's big enough now to say she'd rather not.

I think we place a lot of emphasis on phone calls but really, what does any child really get from a phone call? Both ways around it can hinder the life the child is developing in each home if it's done too much. Of course, lots of kids like phone calls and are very comfortable with it. I think taking the child's lead is the right thing. Hopefully your ex will understand. When I explained to my ex that it wasn't that she didn't want to call because she didn't care for him - but rather that she cared so much, it upset her to be reminded that he wasn't there - he took that quite well.

As I say, he has slipped in to a strange habit of calling her really quite a lot and telling her how much he and her SM miss her, which isn't very helpful so I'll see what I can do about that when I have the energy. He's most likely forgotten.

I second the suggestion of Karen Woodhall - she also wrote a book called "separated Parenting" which would be helpful if both of you read. Thereis a bit about phone calls.

Russianfudge Mon 31-Mar-14 17:46:21

It's nice when you find out that something you just did naturally for your child is a "thing" isn't it smile

Thanks guys - have looked up some stuff from Karen Woodall.

I didn't think to mention it earlier - but as well as spending EOW with his dad, he also spends a regular night with my Dad so that I can work. He doesn't seem to have the same anxiety/ issue about spending time there.

Would it worry you that he displays a lot of anxiety at spending time at the Ex's but nothing about spending similar time and sleeping over at his grandparents??

Russianfudge Tue 01-Apr-14 12:16:48

Hmm... Yes and no I suppose (helpful, huh?!)

You were saying he seems like he is well looked after and enjoys his time when he's there... You know your ex - is there anything to worry about?

Has he heard you argue? Could he have heard anything about you from his family that makes him feel anxious or disloyal tone there without you? Are your discipline methods wildly differing? There are lots of reasons he could be finding this particularly bad but your gut will tell you if there is anything happening to worry about I think

mummyOF4darlings Tue 01-Apr-14 15:56:38

Hi, im sorry you and your son are in this situation. I have 4 children with 2 different dads and all mine have never had a problem with going like your situation they have been sleeping over from a very young age and no no difference. Its only now my 8 year old isnt wanting to go but there have been change of circumstances laterly which think has unsettled her.
Im honestly not sure what i would do in this situation but i think first step would be to talk to your ex sounds like you are on good terms with him is there any way you could stop over night stays for a bit and get him used to him? Maybe just odd couple of hours here and there i know its not ideal but it may help?

ObviousToPeopleWhoKnowMe Tue 01-Apr-14 16:13:45

Hi, I'm sorry you're having to deal with this. I'm not a lone parent, but my DP has a son who we see 50/50. He is 2.5 now, and since he was 3 months old DP has had him overnight - once a week when tiny with day time visits, building up to 50/50 by the time he was 9 months. I think you're doing the right thing wrt the nursery pick ups. In our experience DSS handovers are always more fraught when he's spent longer with the person who he's leaving or is more settled. I.e. If he spends 2/3 nights on the trot with us, rather than night about, he's reluctant to go back to his mum, or when his mum is off work (she's a teacher so off school holidays and he doesn't go to CM) he's reluctant to come to us when he's spent the whole day with her. He has only been this way in the past 6 months or so (last years summer holidays were fine but by the October holidays it had started). DP/his ex's health visitor has suggested that it is just an age thing and separation anxiety, so hopefully it is something he will grow out of - though I appreciate how horrible it must be to hear and see your son getting so upset over it.

NoodleOodle Tue 01-Apr-14 21:50:42

No advice on the visit anxiety but re phone calls, he might just not like using the phone. I'm an adult and I avoid phone calls as much as possible...

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