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Facing separation and DH turns into SuperDad. How long does this last?

(31 Posts)
standingatthecounter Sat 29-Jun-13 21:50:46

Hi Everyone
I'm new on here but hoped someone might have some experience of this problem. It looks like my husband and I are going to separate and he has suddenly become SuperDad to our 2 sons (aged 8 and 5). He has always been fairly hands on but in a practical way - doing baths, getting them ready for bed etc. He has never really fooled around with them much, played football, watched TV with them. A lot of the time when he was in the house they would do their thing and he would do his.

Well how things have changed now. He is almost following them round asking to join in with their games, throwing them round the garden endlessly, saying "I'll do it, I'll do it" if they ask me to do something. Because he isn't used to doing this with them he looks awkward with it and his voice has that fake jolly way about it.

It is driving me nuts. Nuts because he could have been like this all along instead of being (what a few friends have called him) the 'Fun Police'. But also nuts because I can't help feeling that this behaviour is going on because they have always preferred to be with me and with a separation likely he is trying very hard to get them to be as attached to him as they are to me. He has always known that they have preferred my company and it has never bothered him up to this point.

I have been a SAHM for the last 8 years while he has worked full time and spent up to 2 months away from home (in bits, never in one go). Now he wants to have 50:50 care of the kids after the separation. His Mum has told him this is unlikely to happen as it is not the situation they are used to and also probably not what they would chose. Since that conversation with his Mum he has got even worse with them.

The kids for their part are loving the extra attention and I am pleased that they are developing a better relationship with him. My problem with it is that it seems to be on his terms. It seems less to be for their benefit - otherwise why not do this years ago?

What is the likelihood of him getting 50:50 care of the kids after the split? He is saying that he can be completely flexible with his work hours to enable him to pick up the kids from school and that he can refuse to work away. I don't want to deny them or him a good relationship but I want the future to reflect how the past has been for them, otherwise it will be too much of a change for them.

And how long does this SuperDad bit go on for? Just until he gets his way? He has lost control of me but now seems intent on getting control of them (control and manipulation have played a part throughout our relationship).

Does anyone have any experience they could share? Thank you.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sat 29-Jun-13 21:54:59

With you a sahm and him ft working, he's unlikely to get 50/50. More usual is every other weekend (Friday eve to Sunday eve), one evening/overnight by agreement during the week if he lives close enough for this to be practical, and half of school holidays.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sat 29-Jun-13 21:57:17

Oh, and if you're worried that he's buttering them up so they'll say they want 50/50, they're too young to be listened to just yet. Once they're older (11,12-ish) they get more of a voice.

standingatthecounter Sat 29-Jun-13 22:25:34

Thanks OldLady. He would be living nearby and yes I suppose 'buttering up' is the right expression. It feels all wrong - why not build up this relationship with them years ago?

2712 Sat 29-Jun-13 22:39:45

Your DH has decided to become superdad now because he wants to get your DCS on his side. Like you said yourself, if he was sooooooo interested in them why not do it years ago?
He will soon get fed up of pretend dad mode and will revert back to type. Mine did it for about a month then realised how much hard work it was and slipped back to selfish self.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sat 29-Jun-13 22:49:10

You said he's controlling and manipulative, this is part of that. The dc will be extra upset when he moves out, and that'll be your fault for throwing him out. Then, when he sees them, he'll "Disney dad"; it's all playcentres, days out, cinema trips and absolutely no fucking discipline on contact weekends, and that's to make you look like the dreary one too. (I'm not saying all Disney dads have the same motivation, many are genuinely afraid that if they do discipline, their dc will refuse to visit. sad )

It's tiresomely predictable, I'm afraid.

standingatthecounter Sat 29-Jun-13 22:50:39

Thanks 2712. I'd like to think that the over the top behaviour would only last a month and after that he could be a bit more genuinely interested in hanging out with them. Maybe that is asking a bit much though?!

He wants 50:50 care because that's what he wants, not because he thinks it is what the kids want. Even his family have told him that if push came to shove the kids would chose to live with me. Like I said though, he is very determined and I think he will just keep pushing. Sigh.

makemineapinot Sat 29-Jun-13 22:55:34

Would he actually really want 50:50?! My ex threatened this for years but in reality he never bothered with our dc till separation and divorce, but he did eventually tire of being super dad and the fight for 50:50 was all about him trying to upset me.

2712 Sat 29-Jun-13 22:58:06

But thats just it.....he's not "genuinely" interested in them, because if he was, he would have done stuff with them before.
I practically begged my DH to show an interest in our DCs but it was all forced. I couldn't understand why he prefered to play golf and watch tv rather than take his children on a bike ride, or swimming, or play football with them, whatever, but he just didn't, so it was all left to me.
When I told him I wanted to split he also became superdad, but it was all so false, and the DCs just kept asking me why their dad was acting so "weird".
He is trying to prove to himself that he is a good father, mainly because he wants to say to the world " my wife is leaving me and look what a great dad I am.......she must be mad".
Don't fall for it.

ChippingInWiredOnCoffee Sat 29-Jun-13 23:01:35

OldLady is right - 'it is tiresomely predictable' and will last until he either gets his 50/50 or endlessly so he can be a 'Disney Dad'. Kids aren't stupid though - your boys know how little attention he's always paid them & kids know when they are 'being played'.

Think carefully - it is our gut reaction to say no to 50/50, but actually it can end up being much better for everyone. Better for the boys because he will have a better, more 'real' relationship with them, better for them to feel equally loved by you both and better for you because he is then forced to do & pay for an equal share of their upbringing. CSA is crap - it does not reflect anything like the cost of bringing up kids - but mostly it is best for you in that you are not doing 100% of the ferrying to and from school, paying for all of the childcare if you choose to work, not having any social life and you get to spend more quality time with the boys. Having them 100% of the time, other than when he wants to play Disney Dad means that you will find it much harder to go back to work, much harder to afford things, much harder to have a social life etc... have a very good think about this before you make your decision.

2712 Sat 29-Jun-13 23:08:19

I also agree . If he insists on 50;50 then great. But do you think he will really go through with it or is it just a bluff?

standingatthecounter Sat 29-Jun-13 23:13:37

I see what you are saying about the 50:50 Chipping but I suppose I would oppose because it is not what they are used to and because they have (before SuperDad phase!) preferred to spend their time with me. Now things are changing and they are responding to him and maybe I am just scared of losing them?

2712 - your last 2 sentences are spot on! There is very much a blame culture in our house (driven by dh) and I am (apparently) very much to blame!! He is being very attentive to me too. I must be mad to throw all this away - no?!

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sat 29-Jun-13 23:14:03

I see what you're saying, ChippingIn, but that's only going to work if he actually does want 50/50. And I'm not convinced he does, I think it's a "threat" to standing, similar to abusive men who say they'll "go for custody"; they rarely do, but I've seen countless women on here terrified the court will believe their smarmy ex.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sat 29-Jun-13 23:15:10

X post. You're getting the idea, OP!

2712 Sat 29-Jun-13 23:23:49

Thing is, OP, your DH is all puffed out chest phase ATM. He is sufferring from a bruised ego because you want to leave him. So he has decided that he is just as good a parent as you so wants 50/50.
Let him have it. He will ultimately find it hard work, boring, awkward, and will eat into his "me" time, which he has taken for granted over the past few years.
Yes, your DCs are used to you and probably prefer you to their dad, but if you fight this 50/50 issue he will ultimately use it against you as in the " your mum stopped me seeing you as much as I wanted" scenario, leaving you looking like the bad guy, which is just what he wants.

standingatthecounter Sat 29-Jun-13 23:24:19

Oops sorry I'm not ignoring some posts, just my messages didn't refresh properly so didn't see all of them. Does he actually want 50:50? Yes I think he does. He has been happy to work full time and go on numerous trips away before but now he is in a situation which he isn't fully in control of he is spooked. Yes he does love the kids, I know that, but all along he has put himself first. He has done a great job of convincing himself that everything he has ever done has been for us. He hasn't convinced me (or his family) but he has 100% convinced himself of this. He now wants to control care of the children.

If it goes ahead and he does get 50:50 then I think the kids will be devastated by our split. If they are away from home for less time I think they will accept it better.

How resilient are children to all these changes? The thought of not seeing my kids for half the week is just terrible but I can't change the way I feel about my husband. I feel poleaxed by fear about the future - fear that the kids will drift away from me. Am I being ridiculous?

2712 Sat 29-Jun-13 23:31:25

Well I hate to say this, but if he REALLY does want 50/50, and he's not doing it just to get at you for having the utter gall to leave him, then he should have it.
Your children are also his children and they should have as much access to him as possible, it's their right.
Hard as it may be for you, he has to have contact.
However, he may just be bluffing, that's my feeling.

Exh did this when we decided to split. It lasted about a month before it wore off. DC were 10 and 12 so very well aware of how little involvement he had before this. They were not fooled and neither was I.

Three years later he took me to court for 50/50 but he didn't get it because DC didn't want it.

Ginderella Sat 29-Jun-13 23:38:45

He might think he wants 50:50, but in my experience as soon as someone shiney and new comes along the DCs get dumped.

Expect every other weekend at first, then one Friday night he will ring and say he is working late and can he pick them up Saturday am. You get another phone call Saturday pm saying "something has come up and can we forget it for this week end and maybe I could do something next Tuesday"?

You are not being ridiculous - your kids won't drift away because they won't end up spending much time with their Dad. If and when he has them on his own for two or three days, and he had to get them up, feed them, get them dressed, out the door on time for school with their sports kit, lunches, homework done etc etc and then pick them up after school clubs, entertain them, answer their questions, feed them, bathe them, put them to bed - no booze, children's TV - you get my drift. Can't see it happening myself!!

Children are very resilient and they will still love you very much wherever they are.

ImNotBloody14 Sat 29-Jun-13 23:45:12

You want the future to reflect how the past will be otherwise it will be too much of a change for them?

Bollocks op. how could a future with a far more involved father, fun, interested father be a bad thing? Are you honestly saying you want him to go back to being the fun police as that will be better for your dcs? I doubt it.

If he wants 50/50 then do it. It will mean he realy does have to alter his life and be an involved father and if hes not serious then he'll get fed up and change back- on the other hand e could really embrace it and you get the chance to go back to work, have some child free time, get a social life, hobbies etc.

I understand when separating it can be tempting to try and retain as much control of things as possible but thats not always in the best interests of you or the dcs.

Play fair to everyone.

2712 Sat 29-Jun-13 23:53:10

Ginderella has hit the nail on the head. He will soon get fed up with the mundane routine that obviously goes with children. And your DCs will eventually realise this for themselves.
There is no way they will feel any differently about you.

badinage Sat 29-Jun-13 23:55:20

I know a few couples who parent 50:50 and it seems to work fine. But all were involved parents before the splits and all the families live near eachother, have spares of everything at both houses and appear to have very civilised and co-operative relationships.

Like others, I'm a cynical old boot and I did wonder whether this is a play-act on his part that won't last when the reality of washing, ironing, supervising homework and getting them up for school on time kicks in, but there's also a part of me that wonders whether he's realised he must make more of an effort as a dad to get to know their personalities and interests if he's going to care for them without your involvement in the future. Because that would be no bad thing.

Children have the right to spend time with both parents. It's never about parents' rights. That includes you.

catkin14 Sun 30-Jun-13 00:10:22

I had this when me and exH split nearly 4 months ago.
For 5 weeks he wanted to see DC's every weekend. He was the perfect dad, kind funny etc.
Now he manages a skype call maybe once a week or the odd text.
He has moved on and got lots of new friends who appear to be more important than his DC's.
I agree with others who have said if he is prepared to really be part of their lives, that is the best outcome for them but the cynical side of me wonders if it will really happen.
It seems very unfair on the DC's when they are picked up and put down to satisfy the ego of one of their parents.

ChippingInWiredOnCoffee Sun 30-Jun-13 00:10:26

I stand by what I said earlier. Don't be in a hurry to dismiss the idea of 50/50 shared care.

If it turns out he was just bolstering - nothing lost & everything gained (nothing to hold over you), if he wasn't - he's going to have to step up to the plate and actually parent them, not just treat them every weekend (or whatever).

Shared or not shared care isn't what is going to unsettle the boys - their Dad not living there anymore is what is going to do that. Don't refuse shared care on that basis.

Your boys wont stop loving you, whether they form a better relationship with their Dad or not. If he does a half arsed job and actually develops relationships with them, you might find yourself an equal parent instead of the favoured parent and yes, that will be hard for you to deal with - but think of your boys, if they can have it, they deserve a good relationship with you both - it doesn't actually diminish yours at all - it just feels like it to you right now.

DonutForMyself Sun 30-Jun-13 00:22:58

Agree with everyone else, he is just trying to show you what a great dad you are letting go. My XH did the same. One of the reasons I finally decided to leave him was that he stated being asked to join in with family activities made him feel angry and he didn't know why. He never voluntarily did anything fun with them, rarely bathed or fed them in 12 years.

Once we decided to separate he was all smiles with them, cuddles and asking them how their day was. He sat and watched a DVD for the first time ever!

Now he has them one night a week and takes them swimming, to the park, camping in the hols etc and is apparently much more fun.

I knew it couldn't make him any worse a father, but am pleasantly surprised that separating brought out the best in him. Don't let it sway you though.

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