Worried about DD continuing 50% shared care with XP for GCSE's...

(21 Posts)
tiredaftertwo Wed 17-Jul-13 23:45:57

I'm afraid that list - apart from the cello and longbow - looks completely normal to me. In some schools, children have 8 lessons a day every day. If you are really worried, get extra copies of some of the textbooks and keep them at both houses - she may not always need them for lessons and she might be able to leave them overnight in a school locker to avoid the double ferrying?

Rucksack on the back, PE kit slung across the body, art portfolio/smallish musical instrument in one hand - tis normal. The cello and longbow would be a problem whatever your family arrangements.

I feel for you, this sounds really tricky, nut the bag carrying is not the tough bit IMO.

greenfolder Wed 17-Jul-13 22:11:38

Small observation but a valid one. Friend does 7 7 with her dd. At 13 she stopped buying multiples of everything and replacing things at a drop of a hat. Within a fortnight she remembered almost everything!

NatashaBee Wed 17-Jul-13 15:33:05

And Natasha, if you'd let her carry on, but wouldn't wash out mouldy lunch boxes or ferry forgotten stuff around, how would you get around it?

If she wants to continue with the arrangement, she needs to manage those things better. A 14 year old is perfectly capable of packing themselves a lunch or making a list of items they need to take to school (although I agree that is made far more difficult by the fact that she is shifting between 2 houses). If she thinks she is old and mature enough to make the decision for herself to continue with the arrangement, then she also needs to be mature enough to do all the things she needs to, to ensure she gets herself, her packed lunch and her items to school. Yes, her father should be helping her more in an ideal world - but that isn't going to happen based on what you've said about him.

Unfortunately at 14, the decision to change the access is not really up to you. For all you know, if you decided to end the current schedule, she might decide to live with her father and a court would probably back her.

peachpudding Wed 17-Jul-13 11:07:42

Butterfly - I sympathize but this is the man you chose to be the parent of your children, he was your choice! I agree shared parenting works best when everyone is on the same page, it just seems you are insisting its your page. Instead of putting obstacles to shared parenting what about some solutions?

Spending time with both parents is more important than Cello lessons. Solution, you arrange lessons only on days you have her. Longbow, a luxury, its not needed. Art portfolio does not need to be carried around every single time and I am sure school would help work out a solution, but quite frankly its not really a problem carrying it. Text books/kit, use a rucksack. Forgotten PE kits, missed homework is the child's fault, let the school take it up with the Dad directly.

I understand you want your children in the 'perfect' environment but this is your world you have created and you have not considered the fathers rights. You have remarried, you have moved house, you have influenced her upbringing so she has to have a cello and longbow. You only have 50% of the rights, not 100.

You have issues with your ex but these are your issues not your children's. You cannot force the other parent to be different than he is, you have to live with your choice. Your kids have a right to see both parents equally which is far more important that trivial matter of moldy lunchboxes.

I have given my child a hotdog for dinner before. Why is that so bad and even if you think it is what right do you have to dictate to your ex what he feeds his children (unless they are obese or diagnosed with malnutrition). Suggesting you will restrict access for your children (against their will) to their dad without any real reasons would be wrong and probably the reason groups like fathers for justice exist.

As trinity0097 implied life changes rapidly, you cant unilaterally make important life changes for your children and restrict time with their father, for transient reasons (like carrying a cello).

"There are no problems, only solutions." ― John Lennon

Trinity, this is next year's timetable - and peach, would you seriously expect your children to be able to carry all that stuff regularly? And what about who keeps an eye on homework being done? Because DS's report states that PE Kit hasn't been going in with him (not my days) and homework hasn't been handed in ( XP took responsibility for it when we changed it back to 50/50 last time) so he's not been holding up his end of the bargain. And yes, quite frankly, my children's grades and having them settled and having a well-functioning week ARE more important than spending time with a dad who goes out on the nights when they're there (leaving them with his mum and dad), and who cooks them lunch stuff like hot dogs for dinner - he's the fun parent, and I'm the responsible one. That's the way it always has been, but he cannot see how that should matter in their care.

peach - 7:7 means they don't get to see their half-brothers for a week at a time. How is that fair on them? How is it fair that I and DH work our socks off to provide a proper house, car, within walking distance to school, ferry them to clubs, feed them properly, help them with homework, but he gets to doss at his mum and dad's, has no bills to pay, (including the £42000 he owes us,) refuse to drive, catch a taxi or a bus, piss off out when they're there so he can go and smoke weed like a teenager, not wash their clothes or send them back, not teach them how to learn to cook/do laundry/clean anything or look after anything, and yet I'M the bad guy here? Please get a sense of perspective - if he was a normal, responsible adult I would have no question and no problem here - because if she forgot something he would be as equally responsible to help get it to school for her, but as it stands we would be doing this as well.

And Natasha, if you'd let her carry on, but wouldn't wash out mouldy lunch boxes or ferry forgotten stuff around, how would you get around it?

I am genuinely looking for solutions, and if I was really looking to stop her spending time with her dad, wouldn't I be doing the same with DS, and would I have considered spending Mon-Fri at her dad's and spending weekends with us? Shared equal parenting can only work when both parents are on the same page, with the same rules and responsibilities. At his house, there are very few chores, to the extent that when asked to state what the pro's and con's of both places would be, DD stated that the cons of being here was that she'd have less time to do homework because she has to help lay the table and wash up.

I don't know that there's really much more I can say, but that in writing this out, it's helped me to see that I am doing the right thing by changing it, even if it's not what they want. Life is not about 'getting what you want', and this 'I don't have to do it if I don't want to' attitude that comes back from the other house is not doing them any favours in learning about how life works.

trinity0097 Wed 17-Jul-13 09:36:07

The timetable will be all different next year anyway! So don't make plans based on what she is currently doing.

peachpudding Wed 17-Jul-13 01:17:47

7:7 looks like a good option.

Just reading OP posts it sounds like excuses are being used to stop her spending time with her dad.

I mean prioritizing taking a longbow to school is more important than seeing her parent, whats that all about?

I wonder is it a case of mum using any excuse under the sun to get visitation taken away from the father?

NatashaBee Wed 17-Jul-13 01:01:59

I think 7:7 sounds like a better option than your DD having to pick a house or having to carry so much stuff back and forth. If she wants to continue the way things are, I'd let her, but I wouldn't be washing out mouldy lunch boxes or running round fetching forgotten items.

Right (by the way, I'm completely aware that I've outed myself by these posts, I just don't give a flying fuck any more.) :D
I've just worked out exactly what she's going to have to take with her on which days to make it work:
Week 1
Mon - Cello/Art portfolio/Longbow
Books and textbooks for 8 subjects.
Tues - Art portfolio & books & textbooks for 4 subjects.
Wednesday - Art folio & 7 subjects
Thurs - 3 subjects & PE kit.
Friday - Cello, Art Portfolio & 7 subjects
Week 2
Mon - Books & textbooks for 4 subjects
Tues - Art portfolio & 3 subjects
Weds - Art portfolio & 7 subjects
Thurs - PE kit & 3 subjects
Fri - Art Portfolio, Longbow & 3 subjects

The only thing that can stay in one place rather than go from house to house is her PE kit.
I'm not being silly, am I? The days where she's not moving she has one 'big' item, and 3 or 4 subjects - switch days she ends up taking in 7 subjects' worth of stuff & her 'big' items.
I think I'm going to have to stand my ground. I can't see any way of giving them what they want without breaking my daughter's back. Even if I give her a lift, and even if she can store the big stuff in lock-ups/tutor rooms etc it's too much for her to carry into school!!

celticclan, I've tried suggesting this before (when we thought we were going to have to move much further away for Dh's job - we didn't in the end, but even moving to the other end of town (3 miles away) was deemed 'too far' in XP's opinion.) But yes, the suggestion that they see XP every other weekend term time and make up the time in the holidays wasn't acceptable, so I can't see him taking to the idea now.
If it wasn't DD's wellbeing and stability at stake, I'd say 'hey, you know what? I'm sick of playing the responsible parent all the time, you have her during the week and I'll have the fun time at weekends.' But I couldn't let her down like that.
DD and I had a chat the other night - we looked at her timetable to see how we might make it work, but she said it did look tough - although many of her subjects fall on the same day in the bi-weekly timetable, they're on different home days, making it so that she'd have to take 3 or 4 days' worth of stuff with her each time she transfers. (I.e. Art is on a Tuesday and a Friday, meaning she'd have to take her folio back and forth, along with her cello, and have to take it all into school on days where it's not on her timetable, so that she'd have it the following day or the day after. (Hope that's clearer to you than it sounds to me!)
Anyway, I'm really not sure what to do now - we talked about how she doesn't want to be split from DS (completely understandable) but then she doesn't see him (or XP) much on a Weds anyway because of XP takes DS to his after school club, so she comes here for her music lesson before going to XP's. I said it was going to be much harder to change DS's routine as well, as XP is fiercely favouritist towards DS, and obviously there's no real reason to change his, other than to stop them from having to be split up. He's a different age, and doesn't have huge amounts of stuff to look after, carry around and do homework for, so I can't justify it.
I'm very torn, because I know that XP will just make the kids' lives hell if anything changes, but that's the irresponsible, selfish, manipulative thief of thousands of pounds but that's another story twat he is.

celticclan Tue 16-Jul-13 21:52:49

How about if they spend Monday-Thursday with you and claw back extra time with their Dad in the school holidays?

Thanks everybody - I now have her timetable, so I can see what subjects she's got over the two week period. I think I'll also let DH read the thread so we can take on board what you've all said. I'm trying to be as fair as I can and am looking at the timetable with a view to making it work as best as I can for her, and taking my frustration with XP's ineptness out of it. DH has been saying that the children need to learn to be more independent, and in fact, when we had the 'visit for dinner instead of staying overnight' routine, they were really getting into the swing of being more responsible around the house. I think it really doesn't help that they rely on XMIL to do all the washing/cooking etc - they don't seem to have to do any chores at the other house other than a massive tidy of their rooms once every six months. I think because they've got two rooms, two lots of everything, three times the amount of uniform (because things disappear into a black hole over there) it's quite a lot for them to look after themselves. DD hasn't even managed to unpack all her stuff yet, because she's so busy with events/club stuff/family stuff, and she's never here for more than a few days at a time.
I understand that the kids are lucky to have a dad who wants to be so involved in their life, but I just don't think it's helping them to have a settled environment, where they have consistent rules, (and life management skills!) and properly bonded relationships. I always feel like they just get settled here and then their off, and when they come back they're full of vitriol, and attitudes of 'I don't want to do anything if I don't have to, and I hate you because you won't let me play video games all day'. sad
But I shall keep plugging away gently - thank you so much for your comments, it's really helpful to have a range of opinions, and it helps me clarify how I truly feel about the situation!! (And thank you IMM for saying I sound lovely!! grin )

CountingClouds Sun 14-Jul-13 15:12:43

It sounds to me mediation might be a good idea. You might feel the Dad is a bit feckless, but then he might feel you are trying to impose your will on how he parents. Was the change of rota by agreement, or just your decision? Who determined he wasn’t taking responsibility for being a parent, maybe you just don't like his way of doing it.

Why don't you just sign them up for clubs that you can take them to on the days you have them. If the Dad wants to take them to clubs when he has them that is his choice. Don’t you have to take responsibility for moving further away from the other parent?

Why would a child get stressed about having two homes with two lots of stuff, its perfectly normal these days and its usually only stressful when the adults make them stressed about it. If the child is forgetting stuff, why is it the Dads fault, possibly because the mother has been doing everything for the child instead of teaching them independence.

I must say it is very frustrating to hear one parent complaining about another parent giving their child healthy school dinners. Why don't you give them school dinners as well (ie instead of unhealthy pack lunches). If a mouldy lunchbox is a bone of contention then wash it, it really isn't a big deal.

Your DD has given her opinion, what right have you got to overrule it with your opinion. I don't see any reason why she should have to choose either house. What bullying is her Dad doing? all I can read is that he wont do what you are trying to bully him into doing?

Perhaps if you genuinely have you DD’s best interests at heart you should let her stay at her Dads Mon-Fri for a while and see if it works out. She can come around to yours for dinner occasionally. You should have considered all tis before you moved house.

mummytime Sun 14-Jul-13 09:06:23

Sorry but a) your children need to be taking more responsibility for a lot of this. My children would wash out their own packed lunch stuff, and need to get their own Uniform etc. stuff sorted.
b) GCSEs do not mean in my experience lots more work/carrying. In fact it tends to mean less, as you do slightly fewer subjects. However if she is doing any "Art" subjects; Art, Photography, Textiles, Graphics etc. she may well have a portfolio to take care of' which could be tricky.

trinity0097 Sun 14-Jul-13 08:36:10

Your daughter is old enough to start taking responsibility for some things, like washing out her lunch box and making sandwiches for herself if she would prefer a packed lunch. She is about to go into Yr 10 and regardless of her home situation a child of this age should be becoming more independent of her parents and making choices, and living with the consequences of not having her PE kit for example if she leaves it in the wrong place. She will only learn these skills by having to use them!

When she is only staying a couple of nights does she really need to take her cello, could she not do more practice at the weekends to make up for a couple of missed weekday practices? I never used to practice my instrument at weekends, daily practice is not essential!

You say that two of your children have autism, have you considered that your ex is also on the spectrum and therefore may not be picking up in clues that you think are obvious? My hubby is on the spectrum somewhere and I dread to think how he would cope independently with all of the little things in life that need doing without help/reminders.

imademarion Sun 14-Jul-13 07:16:35

It seems totally unfair how much slack you have to pick up.

The DC are old enough to discuss and have input.

Your DD doesn't want to hurt either parent; would she benefit from impartial counselling to remind her that you two are adults and will be fine and it's about the best course of action to get her through two tough years.

Her dad needs to grow up. If he lives at home, can you recruit exMIL to make sure the DC are organised?

Two of everything and lots of reminders. Annoying as hell but the DC have to come first and try and remember that it will end one day and you will be free of having this lazy berk in your life.

Try not to let your DD know how worried you are about all the stuff missing; she doesn't need guilt over a situation she didn't create.

You sound lovely and I wish you and your DD all the best for the next two years.

This would all be fine, except why should the irresponsible parent always get everyone else to run around after him? Why should I have to be the one to remember to remind them to do things all the time when they're not here? That's his job, surely? And if he can't be arsed to get his act together, stop relying on his parents and friends to drive the kids around all the time and either learn to drive himself, take a taxi or, god forbid, a bus, then he really shouldn't be having the kids during the week.
He claims that working ft stops him from going to sports days & school events during the day, and thinks that it's far more important for the kids to see their cousins every week, but seeing their siblings here isn't.
DH works ft at home, I study ft at home, and we have two other DS's with autism. We really have enough on our plate without having to pander to XP's inability to grow up. FFS, he's 40, lives with his parents, doesn't have any travel expenses, pays next-to-no maintenance, and claims to be skint. (Mainly because he spends it all on dope.)
I'm so sick of everyone having to consider him, and now my DD will be the one doing the same at a very stressful time of her life.
But yes, it seems that that is what I'll have to do. Because he only has them half the time so he doesn't have to pay maintenance. Really fucking fair. (Sorry, just very wound up by this. This man has psychologically bullied and damaged me and the kids over the years.)

toolatetobed Fri 12-Jul-13 17:45:17

As it doesn't sound like your daughter is desperate to change the arrangements and it would also cause upheaval for your son to change, I wonder whether having to carry around a lot of stuff is the lesser evil compared to the upset of trying to agree different childcare arrangements when your ex-P is likely to resist them and there is the risk of your DD being caught in the middle. Perhaps better to put all your efforts into making the existing arrangements work as smoothly as possible? Eg Could you text your daughter in the morning when she is at her dad's and just about to leave for school and remind her to bring keys/phone/art portfolio etc? Does your daughter much prefer packed lunches, or would school dinners all the time actually be a sensible way of reducing the amount of stuff that needs to be carried? Could you ask around among friends etc to see if you can acquire secondhand spare PE kit so that you have a fall back option if things get forgotten?

I did think about that - I suppose it might work, but she'd have a shite load of stuff to transfer in between. (Art portfolio, cello & music, all her schoolbooks, books and clothes.) And the family and I all miss them so much when they're gone for 5 days, we feel like two different families. One of four, and one of six. But that's our problem, I guess. I just feel she'd be better off having one base to work from, rather than two. But I can't see an answer. sad

OddBoots Thu 11-Jul-13 07:27:41

Would it work better with a 7:7 arrangement instead? It'd be less to and fro and an easier pattern for her to get used to remembering her stuff.

Her dad has always wanted 50% shared care, so for most of the time, he's had it. For 5 years, this resulted in me, my mum, and DH when we first got together, running around doing his school runs, paying for child care on his days of access, and giving him £11,000 he wasn't entitled to, to try and support the children seeing their dad. For a couple of years, I changed the 'rota' so that they saw him midweek but didn't stay overnight, because he wasn't taking responsibility for being a parent and doing his share. He demanded we go to mediation to change it back, and promised us that he would take them to after school clubs, and get them to school himself, so we gave him back the overnights.
Now we've moved so that we're nearer the schools, but further away from him, and DD is starting her GCSE's in September. I'm worried that with alternating timetable weeks, and a 2/2/5/5 situation here, that she's going to end up carrying around far too much stuff, and is going to get very stressed out when she has two homes with two lots of stuff in. Since we changed the routine to Mon/Tues here, Weds/Thurs there, and every other weekend, stuff is again being left at dad's, including phones and keys, uniform and kits, and lunchboxes are coming back mouldy, as he gives them school dinners (i.e. can't be arsed to shop and make packed lunches,) but that in itself isn't a good enough reason to change the routine. The fact that DD already carries too much stuff around with her doesn't seem to be an issue for him - and I just feel that come next year, she'll end up having to carry around 2-3 days worth stuff at a time.
Having talked to DD about this, she knows I'm right, but doesn't want to choose a house, or change the routine, because she'll feel guilty about the parent who she hurts. (Her words.) To me, that says she's not emotionally mature enough to make the decision - and she's quite a young 14, in that respect.
While, as a kid of divorced parents myself, I completely understand what that's like, is it right to place this stress on her by letting her dad bully her and us? Should I not just bite the bullet and change the routine so she's here during the week and maybe goes over once for dinner? But what do I do about DS, who's 10, and has no reason to change how much he sees his dad next year? After all, DH and I are going to be the ones running around to get her stuff for her when it's perpetually left at her dad's - or it will be him asking his dad to run it up to school/here, as he continually uses the excuse that he can't drive to be unable to do things. Dh works full time at home, so we're lucky he's around, but he's looking after me and the four kids, (the younger two have ASD) at the same time, so it's not like he doesn't have enough on his plate!!
(Sorry about the essay - didn't want to drip feed!)

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