Making Arrangements In The Other Parents Contact Time

(276 Posts)
SnowWhiteWinter Wed 05-Dec-12 09:46:17

Hi everyone, I have another thread too but have some other issues that I'd like to pose to mumsnetters. Everyone gave very honest advice (even if it was a little harsh at times) on my other thread (which I will update as soon as we have an update) and I (and my DP) would very much appreciate some honest opinions here too, and ideas of what to do etc.

My DSD (3) is starting a new preschool in January. She has been on the waiting list for over a year and was finally offered a place in October. It's so much better in every way than her current one, which has just had a "satisfactory" Ofsted report, and this one is "outstanding" - not that Ofsted reports are everything but it just adds to the list of reasons why the new one is better. It's bigger, more activities, better facilities, nicer location etc.

DSD's mum doesn't want her to change preschool but decided to leave it until 2 weeks ago to email DP to tell him. She likes the old one and wants her to stay there. We now have a very awkward situation as she is already enrolled in the new one and deposit is paid. For those of you who have not read my other thread, DSD's mum has only been having her and my other DSD on a 50/50 basis for the last 6/7 months. Before that, she was only seeing them about 1 night per week for around 2 years. During this time things like pre schools and schools were considered, visited, chosen and applied for - she wasn't interested in what choices were made, didn't want to visit any etc, so my DP and I did this, until 6 mths ago she had never been to see DSD's preschool. There is no residency order in place, no court involvement so far, which sort of makes things harder as when DSD's parents can't agree I guess it's a bit of a stalemate!

She hasn't actually given any particular reason for wanting to stop the move just "I like the current one". DP has asked her to visit the new one so she can see how great it is, she won't, she also doesn't want the prospectus we picked up for her, she just will not discuss it. DSD knows she is going to the new pre school after Xmas, she has been and visited with us a couple of times already too.

So my 1st question is What do we do? Cancel the new better preschool because her mum doesn't want her going there, even though she has been waiting for a space for so long, knows that's where she is going and we have paid deposit and we believe it's much better (hence the long waiting list).

My 2nd question is a little bit last minute. Next week, during the DSD's time with their mother, the new pre school is having their "induction" session for all new January starters. The children meet the staff and key workers and all the other new starters, parents have coffee and introduce themselves etc. This is only done once and unfortunately falls on a day when DSD's are with their mum. DP has written to her about 5 weeks ago and explained this all and proposed we take DSD to it (it's only 2 hrs). DSD's mum is at work that particular day, so DSD will be at pre school all day that day anyway so we would pick her up, take her for two hours and drop her back to preschool. DSD's mum has said no, DP cannot take her out of preschool for 2 hours as it is her week with the children.

Now as there is no court order in place DP knows he can very easily just go and get DSD and take her and return her but he is torn as to what to do. He has never once planned something during their time with their mum or asked to take them to anything during that time- and as she is working it doesn't make a difference to her anyway as DSD will be at pre school. He has asked their mum if she could get the time off work to take her instead of us, or we all go together, but she has ignored this possible idea. So what do you guys think? It is for DSD's pre school education but it's certainly not compulsory, it would just be very nice for her and I would think helpful for DSD to go. DP doesn't want to cause problems or act unreasonably during their mums contact time, but equally we know she is saying no because she doesn't want her to start at the new preschool at all (she may have other reasons but she hasn't mentioned any).

All advice greatly received, some of you have so much experience as step parents and of step family situations perhaps someone has been in a similar situation? Part of me just wants to say to DP, forget it, let her mum make the decisions just to keep the peace.

NotaDisneyMum Wed 05-Dec-12 10:03:08

What are your DPs reasons for changing pre-school?

It's a HUGE step for a little girl who is already at risk if emotional upset (there are issues with her big sister, I think?) - is she desperately unhappy at the existing pre-school or does your DP have concerns about the care/communication/welfare provided?

There's so much going on for these little girls ATM, is be tempted to leave things as they are. It won't be long and she'll be off again for school!

SnowWhiteWinter Wed 05-Dec-12 10:16:35

Yes, some concerns for her older sister with regards to her being upset/very quite at school sometimes.

The staff at the current pre-school aren't the greatest (I've worked in a pre school before, albeit years ago, so I know what to expect) communication is almost zero and other small things like she never ever brings anything home, no paintings, no pictures, nothing. There are only 2 staff members and a handful of children now whereas there were 25 when she started, so other parents must feel the same and be taking their children out too. But no, there are no concerns about her being mistreated there or anything like that, it's just not a very good preschool. We think 2 terms at this new preschool will really give her the best possible start to school.

NotaDisneyMum Wed 05-Dec-12 10:25:48

TBH, unless there are very strong reasons to change, I'd leave it.

Your DP needs to pick his battles and it sound like there's been plenty of those!

Lookingatclouds Wed 05-Dec-12 10:27:25

I wouldn't inflame things by arranging anything during her mum's time with her, I'd be arranging mediation to see if it could be sorted out that way.

allnewtaketwo Wed 05-Dec-12 10:28:25

"DSD knows she is going to the new pre school after Xmas, she has been and visited with us a couple of times already too"

So you've told DSD she's going even though mum doesn't agree?

Incidentally, is this new pre school the one your children go/went to??

"she also doesn't want the prospectus we picked up for her" - "we" hmm, Do you mean you?

I find your OP title a little misleading. It suggests some activity or other, whereas what you actually want to do is take DSD out of the pre-school her mother is happy with, to have an induction session in a pre-school her mother doesn't want her to go to.

Lookingatclouds Wed 05-Dec-12 10:33:25

I think I'd be considering too not the detail of which pre-school your dsd goes to, or how to get your own way with regard to this, contact and finances, but more how to improve things with their mum so that you can communicate a bit more effectively and they can start to bring the children up together. I would definitely agree with NADM (again) about choosing your battles.

OptimisticPessimist Wed 05-Dec-12 10:34:33

I agree with NADM, these children have so much going on already, with moving to a new contact arrangement in the last 6 months and continuing disagreements between their parents, the older child having trouble at school, this child will presumably be starting school next September which is yet another change, even without the mother's disagreement I would think this is a change too far. Leave her in her current setting and if you really feel she needs more preparation for school then work on it at home on their weeks with you.

purpleroses Wed 05-Dec-12 10:58:16

When will she be 4? If it's before next September, and she'll only have 2 terms of preschool left, then I would definitely leave her where she is. Even if the new preschool is better, the disruption of changing will probably offset any gain. Plus you'd have a battle with her mum.

If she's got another year and a half left, then it might be more worth it, but your DP needs to talk to his ex properly about it, and agree together where she should go. If they can't agree, then leave her where she is.

sanityseeker75 Wed 05-Dec-12 11:25:12

Leave her where she is - in fact I don't really think that is advise as such because if mom doesn't agree then you have no say in it at all and it is between mom and dad.

I agree with the others that these kids by your own admission in other thread are already emotionally distressed so really think being in familiar surroundings are very important and changing to a new environment is just going to cause further upset.

On a slightly different note I have been thinking about your other thread and about you childrens contact with their father? You didn't answer how often he see's your kids? Also I feel that maybe the kids mom had a very tough time and clearly relinquished a lot of her childrens care to their dad, my guess now she is feeling better and able to cope with decision making on their behalf again that she is going to become more assertive over things like this and that may be a bit of a shock to your DP but just because she didn't/couldn't before doesn't mean she does not have the right to do so now. If your DP does not pick his battles as advised then he may find that the stronger she gets mentally the more she may just decides that the 50/50 arrangement is not in the childrens best interests anymore.

millie30 Wed 05-Dec-12 11:36:55

Whose idea was it to change preschool? DP's or yours? Why didn't your DP discuss it with his ex before telling the child she is moving and enrolling her there? For a man who is apparently so decent that he is worried about using the child benefit for purposes which haven't been agreed with his ex, he seems quite happy to find plenty of other ways to ignore her wishes and aggravate her.

elliebellys Wed 05-Dec-12 12:06:04

Children need stability and constant routine.too much has happened in their short lives,even adults would find it emotionally difficult .please snow think bout whats best for these kids and not what you want..

Why have you decided this new per school is better? Is it the same one your own dc's attend? Or maybe closer to your home/work place?

These could easily be seen as inflammatory factors by the child's own mother and then cloud any further discussion on the subject.

Will you answer these questions I wonder hmm

PoppyPrincess Wed 05-Dec-12 12:16:44

I agree with purplerose, if she's starting school in September there's no point in moving her now. Moving preschools/schools can be very distressing (for parents and children), I'd say it took my 3yo DS about a month to settle in, even now 3 months later I'd say he's not as settled as he was at his old nursery but he's now in the nursery at the school he will be at so as far as he's concerned it's just school and in September he'll just be moving up to reception.

It just sounds like you and DP made the decision to move her without even discussing it with her mum. Yes she wasn't bothered in the past but things have changed and she now has 50/50 care so decisions should be made together.
How would you and DP like it if she went and made a big decision without consulting you over it? I know if it was me I'd be pissed off so the natural reaction is to just say ''no''.
Also moving her will affect her mum as she will need to take her/pick her up, maybe it's not that convenient for her?

allnewtaketwo Wed 05-Dec-12 12:21:08

If the mother ever does decide to go to court over residency and access, this will look like unreasonable behaviour on your OH's part I would say.

Xalla Wed 05-Dec-12 12:31:38

Is the current pre-school attached to your older DSD's current school? Does Mum just want to do the one drop-off at the same location? If she's working I can understand why she wouldn't want to do two.

I agree that if your DSD3 is due to start school in September there is very little point moving her now. It's more upheaval for a little girl that's already experienced more than her fair share.

We had a similar situation - my DSD's school got put into Special Measures last year. Obvioulsy my DH wanted to move her but Mum wasn't so sure. He backed down, grumbled now and then and continued to make it clear that he would prefer a different school without stamping his feet. Mum has just agreed to move her after Christmas. DH was uncomfortable for a while but better that than the full-on confrontation that would have resulted if he'd chucked his toys of his pram.

If Mum's not happy with the move, I think you have to leave her where she is. You and DH shouldn't be making these decisions without their Mum.

Mum & Dad need to go to mediation. Alone!

parachutesarefab Wed 05-Dec-12 12:42:06

Do either of the pre-schools link to the primary school that DSD will go to? If the proposed new pre-school has a lot of children who DSD is likely to start school with, and the current pre-school has none, then the disruption now may be worth it as she'll find things easier in September.

I read it that the decision to move pre-school was taken with the knowledge of, but no input from, DSD's mum. In which case telling (preparing) DSD seems reasonable, and for DSD's mum to only now object unreasonable. But, whatever should / shouldn't have happened, this is the situation now. Personally, I would respect DSD's mums wishes, and not take DSD to the 2 hour induction. It would be nice (if she changes pre-school), but not worth fighting a battle over.

I would recommend that your DP keeps copies of communication, notes of phone conversations etc. in case things ever end up in court. But it does sound as if some sort of mediation, for DSD's parents, would be good for everyone.

Lookingatclouds Wed 05-Dec-12 12:59:50

I'd assumed too that this was already in the pipeline before her mum starting having her 50:50. I do wonder though what has happened between her not having any interest whatsover in things like this, to now starting to express an opinion and I wonder too how she has been emotionally, and whether she has been really struggling, and is now finding some strength to stand up for what she would like.

HKnight Wed 05-Dec-12 13:32:23

I see there are some comments on here about the mum who may now be wishing to be more assertive. My DH is in a similar but reversed situation, after the breakdown of his marriage he suffered depression, mourned the loss of his DSC's and only saw his DS for one night a week. At the time he was fighting a costly divorce, had to pay maintenance, and try to save for his future. He lived on a sofa bed that he had to share with his DS whenever he stayed over.

DH now lives with me, his life has stability and he wants to be active in his son's life and he has pushed for more involvement and more contact. This has not gone down well with his Ex, who had been making all the decisions regarding secondary schools, and moaned that why should my DH have more contact and involvement because he never had before.

My view and I feel that mediators and courts will also have this view, is that it takes a mother and a father to raise children. If one had a bit of a wobble but is now willing and able to be active in their children's lives then they need to be supported. I feel it is my role to support my husband in his decisions and not make them for him, and whatever I may feel about the Ex and the way she uses her son as a pawn, she is still his mother and no matter how much of a saint I think I am, she is still the best person to be his mother.

I think you/your DP need to stop fighting the mother, and work with her. It's not easy and my goodness my DH and his ex may never get there. When a mother and father are in a relationship they discuss schooling etc, both have an equal voice and they come to a joint decision, why should this stop once the relationship is over? One party should not dictate to the other, resentment and conflict automatically ensue. I think the best thing you can do for your DSC is to acknowledge that their mum may not be perfect but she is trying, and unless she is actually abusive and the children are in any danger with her, then she has every right to have her thoughts on how her children be raised, where they go to pre-school and when contact should be.

SnowWhiteWinter Wed 05-Dec-12 13:54:57

Thank you everyone who has replied so far. I will try and reply to your questions. The girls have had quite a lot of change over the past 6 months, seeing their mum more mainly so I do agree changing pre school would have to be done for a very good reason.

Parachute and lookingatclouds..... are correct, this was a decision made when their mum wasn't interested. her name was put on the waiting list as it is the most oversubscribed pre school in the area and really is very good. Since then her current pre school has got worse, worsening Ofsted reports, we've started to notice they just don't do all the things a pre school normally does etc. Their number have dropped massively, so other parents are moving their kids too. Now she has a chance to spend the last 2 terms at an excellent pre school. The new pre school is the main feeder pre school for the primary school that DSD may well be going to (2nd choice school but most likely to be offered a place at) so it will massively benefit her as most children there will move up to reception with her.

MrsKeithLemon & Xalla.....The new pre school is near our house, as is the current one, it's only about 3 roads away and their mum drives so no difference in the journey. Neither is attached to the eldest DSD's primary school, that is in a different location, about halfway between our house and their mums house so whoever has the children always has to do 2 drop offs and pickups. My own children are not at either preschool and neither my partner or I have any personal selfish reasons for her going there. Oh and she has refused mediation twice because "she doesn't think it will work" she just will not communicate with DP.

DP has always tried to communicate in writing with their mum. Usually she ignores his emails (once a fortnight after the children's week with us) even important things. She doesn't give her opinion on things that he wants to discuss (pre schools included) he always gives her a few weeks and usually asks again but it's usually the same, ignored. So in the absence of her wanting any imput he has to make decisions himself, what else could he do? He rmum knew that she was on the waiting list for this preschool, she knew when the place was offered too as DP wrote it into an email, she didn't respond. She left it til now, once DP had said she was enrolled to object. It's just so frustrating she doesn't even have a reason.

Allnew... Well I'm not sure who actually reached over and picked up the prospectus from the desk smile but when DP and I visited the preschool we brought home two prospectuses (prospecti?) one for us and one for DSD's mum, in the hope that she might read it and show some interest. She didn't.

Millie... DP doesn't "ignore her wishes" it's just that she has left it right to the last minute to try and change things, doesn't have a good reason to and it just seems to be done to cause problems and hassle for Dp and I.

NotaDisneyMum Wed 05-Dec-12 13:55:59

Hear hear hknight!

It became a lot easier for me to take a deep breath and deal with whatever drama or chaos the DSC were embroiled in at the hands of their Mum once I had truly accepted that she is doing her best.

For whatever reason, she is reluctant to engage with/listen to professional advice and she does believe that her DCs would be better of without contact with their Dad.

I don't agree with her view, but it is a lot easier to deal with now I have accepted that its not malicious - her values and ethics are different to mine and she is doing her best for the DCs within that framework.

NotaDisneyMum Wed 05-Dec-12 13:58:14

So, what do you think, Snow?

Are you going to support your DP to change your DSD pre-school despite your initial feelings which have been supported here, or are you going to help your DP achieve what he wants to do against your better judgement?

SnowWhiteWinter Wed 05-Dec-12 13:59:17

HKnight - Thanks for sharing your story. I'm sorry to hear what you r DH went through but I am glad that he is having lots more contact with his son now! We have no reason to believe their mum had/has any mental health problems, but of course it's sometimes very hard to tell. DP has encouraged and try to help as much as he can for her to have 50/50 care of the children, which she now has, but he has some concerns that her priorities still aren't where they need to be in order to care for two small children for a whole week at a time. Constantly being late for school and other school related things are the main ones. However, he is and always had tried to get her to communicate and make joint decisions but she isn't interested, then at the last minute (like now to do with the preschool) tries to change plans that were made without her because she didn't want to be involved.

SnowWhiteWinter Wed 05-Dec-12 14:02:17

I'm not sure Disney.. If it were my child and I had to make the decision then I would 100% change the preschool, the other one is that much better and she will get to have 2 terms there with many children who will be at reception with her. But I do understand everyone's views about how much change they have had already. Both options have negatives and positives, and either one could be the right or wrong choice, like you were saying yesterday, it's hard to tell which is which.

NotaDisneyMum Wed 05-Dec-12 14:05:26

You misunderstand me snow - what I'm asking is whether you feel that it would be better for you DP to forget it, (as you said in your OP) not what you would do if you were him wink

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