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.

Xalla Wed 05-Dec-12 14:11:10

I think, in that case, I'd be inclined to just take her to the induction (I mean by that I think your DP should taker her) and make it clear to Mum in advance that he is going to do so and list your reasons above. From what you say, Mum probably won't do anything but that's quite worrying in itself.

I don't really agree in doing it without Mum's consent but if she's ignored this as long as you say she has, I can't believe that's she's got particularly strong feelings on the subject? Which is very weird...

I don't know where you live but around here (if you're talking state primary schools), kids are mostly allocated a place at the school where their elder siblings are. Is there a pre-school attached to your elder DSD's school? Maybe your yongest DSD could go there if the current one is failing her? Then the girls would be together. Surely Mum would be happy with that?

In fact so much about your portrayal of Mum bothers me. It sounds like she's quite unwell. Or terrified of your DP? I kind of wish a third party like the courts would get involved.

elliebellys Wed 05-Dec-12 14:13:01

Well you cant accept the new placement without mums agreement.the only thing you can do is take all concerns to court and hopefully they will sort it out properly.

sanityseeker75 Wed 05-Dec-12 14:18:09

Snow - I know that this may not be relevant to this particular thread but I have asked a few times the contact arrangement between your child and their dad - would like to see the bigger picture to get some of the issues into persective

NotaDisneyMum Wed 05-Dec-12 14:18:12

xalia I think theres an element of double standards in your post - there are literally thousands of Dads who behave the way snows DSD mum is behaving - and their not assumed to be unwell or terrified of their ex, they are called deadbeat Dads and the DCs mum is encouraged to get on with her life without him.

It is far more unusual for a mother to do this, but not unheard of - although I'm amazed at the similarities between snows experience and that of previous posters - it must be more common than I thought!

Unfortunately, a parent who refuses to be a part of their DCs life cannot be forced to be - and if they interfere and cause distress to the DCs through malice or an inability to parent, then sometimes a court order is the best way for the responsible parent to protect the DCs.

I hope snows DP gets the help he needs so that these DCs are protected from their parents continual bickering hmm

NotaDisneyMum Wed 05-Dec-12 14:19:00

*They're, not their!!!!

elliebellys Wed 05-Dec-12 14:23:22

Soething is really wrong here.the mum is being portrayed as not bein bothered,so why then would she do 50/50 split.there is definately more to this.shame we cant here the mums side of this.

Xalla Wed 05-Dec-12 14:23:49

Yeah I suppose you're right Disney. I know there are plenty of Dad's who behave like that. I don't like to think of a mother capable of it but yes, of course they exist too.

Xalla Wed 05-Dec-12 14:30:55

Actually though, I've just thought...most deadbeat Dads don't have 50 / 50 care do they?? Deadbeat Dads see their kids occasionally / not at all.

If this woman has her kids 50% of the time (and according to Snow's other thread, she definitely does want her kids 50% time) then it IS very weird that she's so totally switched off to things like her girls' education.

Sorry Disney, I stand by my earlier post!

PoppyPrincess Wed 05-Dec-12 14:33:57

Regardless of how much the kids have already been through, I think a move in pre-school for 2 terms is too much.
I have looked at many preschools and agree that there are HUGE differences between the good ones and bad ones and I appreciate the importance of early years education. BUT....it's only for 2 terms, how much difference is 2 terms really going to make? I think as long as you are educating her at home too to make sure she will not be behind when she starts school then she'll be fine.
As far as I'm aware once they're in reception they go back over everything that they have already learnt in preschool because there will be some children who have never had any education.
So in the grand scale of things does it really make that much difference? Going to the worse nursery for 2 more terms is not going to hold her back in later life, so why give the poor girl even more upheaval when she just needs to be settled?

NotaDisneyMum Wed 05-Dec-12 14:37:36

As I read it, there has been a change. in the last few months - up until then, Mum only saw her DDs once or twice a week and was uninterested in their pre-school, education etc.

Now she has 50:50 (possibly feeling pressured by their Dad who has been pushing for her to take more interest?) but she has refused to be primary carer, and HAS now expressed an opinion about pre-school.

Yes, it sounds like there are issues of lateness and minor welfare issues (unsuitable clothing etc) but that's not unusual for any family regardless of marital status.

I do think that the OPs DP could do a lot more for his DDs - he seems to be focussing on certain issues and ignoring others, which may be inadvertently inflaming the situation - but unless he secures a court order setting out contact, care and other arrangements then each parent will be at the whim of the other and the DCs will remain in the middle.

SnowWhiteWinter Wed 05-Dec-12 14:44:48

I think theres an element of double standards in your post - there are literally thousands of Dads who behave the way snows DSD mum is behaving - and their not assumed to be unwell or terrified of their ex, they are called deadbeat Dads and the DCs mum is encouraged to get on with her life without him.

DP has often said the same. Mum doesn't show much interest and refuses to communicate about the children- must be struggling, or mentally unwell... Dad does the same- must be a shit dad.

Elliebellys - Something is wrong, but neither DP or I know why or what. She doesn't bother with really important things and ignores DP attempts to discuss and communicate about the children yet she does want them 50/50. It's very odd, and it doesn't seem consistent, that's the biggest problems, she is inconsistent with how much she cares and how much interest she takes in things about the children..

Dp can accept the new placement without her mums agreement, in fact, the new placement has already been accepted (her mum was obviously informed of the place being offered and DP waited a few weeks and when no response was received, accepted the place, as we'd waited so long for it) paper work is done, dd has done a couple of visits there etc. The question is now do we cancel that and keep her at her current pre school.

Xalla - There is no reason to believe she is mentally unwell, she seems to cope fine with all other aspects of her life, hold down a good job, has a relationship, she has a close relationship with her parents who are also close to Dp and they have said they don't know why she behaves like this either. Of course she may be mentally struggling and hiding it well, but surely it would show in some other aspect of her life too. DP and I often wonder what on Earth goes through her head when she says and does really odd things. She definitely isn't scared of DP!

There is no preschool attached to DSD's primary school. Primary schools for youngest DSD are awhole other issue as she is very unlikely to get into the one eldest DSD is in and there isn't much we can do about it, although we have put it as first choice on her application form of course.

SnowWhiteWinter Wed 05-Dec-12 14:47:14

Notadisneymum... You have hit the nail on the head with that last post.

Dp tries as best as he can but he finds it hard (even with help and support from family and friends) to know what IS best for the children in this really messed up situation.

allnewtaketwo Wed 05-Dec-12 14:55:31

So you've put dsd1's school first on the application, but are moving Dsd2 to a preschool for 2 terms which is attached to a different primary?

Xalla Wed 05-Dec-12 14:56:37

Well if that's honestly the case, then I think your DP should apply for sole residency asap. For the sake of his two little girls I think boundaries need to be drawn.

Xalla Wed 05-Dec-12 15:02:16

Sorry, didn't mean to post that yet.
I meant to add otherwise, things like decisions over school, over who buys uniform, who pays for school dinners etc will doubtlessly result in confrontation and conflict which will in turn will negatively affect the kids (and everyone else for that matter).

Someone needs to take responsibilty for making the decisions if they can't be made jointly. Maybe it's time your DP acknowledged that.

NotaDisneyMum Wed 05-Dec-12 15:03:42

snow There's a lot of support out there for Dads who are keen to stay involved in their DCs lives - I mentioned the Separated Parents course yesterday, there are family support workers in most extended schools who could try and work with your DSD mum as well as yourselves, play therapy for the DCs, counselling (individually and together as a family) and all sorts of other independent local charities like Homestart Etc who help families in crisis.

Your DP has tried to do this on his own and hasn't succeeded; his ex still isn't able to step up in a way that would be best for the DCs.

I think it's time for him to make a decision.

He can accept that this is the way it will always be and learnt to live with it - i think you and he may need counselling to fully accept it because it is clearly something that frustrates you at the moment.

Or, he can decide that he's not giving up yet, but he's done everything he can on his own and so it's time to ask for professional support. He'll be pushing at a open door - the school is engaging with him and they are obviously concerned about the girls.
It won't be easy, and he may have to compromise and accommodate his exW limitations on the advice of the professionals - such as dropping the CSA claim or not changing pre-schools - but in the long run, it may be better for the DCs if he does.

What he can't do is carry on pushing his ex to do something that she isn't capable of right now. Well, he can, but he's setting everyone up to fail - and that includes his relationship with you as it will undoubtedly come under pressure as the stress and frustration mounts.

SnowWhiteWinter Wed 05-Dec-12 15:04:58

Allnewtaketwo... Yep. DSD1's primary school is 1st on DSD2's application, however DSD1's primary was applied for when DP and DSD's were living at DP's mother's house. We have obviously move out of the area (as had dsd's mum) and we know already there is very very little chance that she will get offered a place there. 2nd choice is our local village primary, which the new pre school is main feeder to (not attached to) if that makes sense.

NotaDisneyMum Wed 05-Dec-12 15:11:00

snow Given the schools involvement in your older DSD emotional problems and their mums chaotic lifestyle, it's quite possible that your DP and ex would win an appeal on those grounds for DSD2 to attend the same school.

I imagine that SS are already considering a CAF, which would help too; these two little mites need all the help they can at the moment!

allnewtaketwo Wed 05-Dec-12 15:13:58

Which School do YOUR children go to?

SnowWhiteWinter Wed 05-Dec-12 16:45:01

NotsDisneyMum... Really? Is that what they refer to as "exceptional social circumstances? on the order of priority lists in the application packs?

Given there has been no court involvement, no actual social services action and up until now only one school meeting about eldest DSD: initial concerns about her being very emotional some mornings, they are going to monitor it, wanted our opinions, and we are meeting again at end of term to discuss again and told DP and I that they didn't need to refer it to social services at this stage- so no major "problems" as such at school or on paper really - I'm not sure they'd consider it relevant.

BUT would we be able to make an appeal for DSD to get in the same school as her older sister due to the fact that otherwise they are at two different locations? Surely they must have loads of appeals of this nature? Would be great if we could win with that as an argument as would be great to have them both at the same school, we'd assumed it wasn't enough to win an appeal - after all, both parents moved out of catchment through choice. Sorry if lots of questions, I understand if you don't know the answers.

allnewtaketwo - My children go to the village primary where DSD2 will be offered a place if she doesn't get offered a place at eldest DSD's primary.

NotaDisneyMum Wed 05-Dec-12 16:58:35

Given the circumstances, I suggest your DP asks the school about the possibility of a CAF, and push for one if necessary.

I get the impression that your DP is keen to give the outside world that he is coping, and everything is fine - but all the while he downplays his ex's behaviour, and ignores the signs that she's not coping well (unsuitable dress, poor hygiene, school lateness etc), then his girls won't get any additional support.
Too often, agencies only get involved once a crisis has happened - whereas if someone had pushed for help earlier, then the crisis could be averted completely.

You are not in an 'average family situation' and your DSD cannot be assessed equally with other DCs; they have experienced incredible upheaval and conflict in their short lives and it is inevitable that they will need support to come to terms with it. Even as adults, the knowledge and memories of their childhood will influence their own relationships and parenting.

timeforachangebaby Wed 05-Dec-12 17:09:03

I wouldnt change my DDs preschool and she is nearly 3, I have debated it because I would prefer somewhere with wrap around.

Tbh, having read your thread and you being a SAHM, I cannot understand why you have left her in such a poor preschool for so long? Would she not have been better off at home? Either way for DSDs sake, I think moving her now, so close to moving schools, is a dreadful idea.

I didn't think OFSTED reports were that frequent tbh, for them to be worsening while she is there, given that PG doesnt start until they are 2.

timeforachangebaby Wed 05-Dec-12 17:10:04

you wont have to appeal to get DSD in with older DSD, its usually the first criteria on the list.

SnowWhiteWinter Wed 05-Dec-12 17:14:35

timeforachangebaby - By worsening I mean they have had one and it was lots worse than the one that was "current" when DSD started. She is happy there, she is not being mistreated, it's just a crap preschool.

DSD1's primary school has the criteria listed on the councils application pack and out of borough siblings come lower down that in catchment siblings AND below children for who the school is closest to their home. Both our house and their mums house are out of borough.

NotaDisneyMum Wed 05-Dec-12 17:24:46

snow all the more reason for your DP to have their circumstances acknowledged as a special case, then.

I appreciate he may be embarrassed, or ashamed, that his ex did a flit with another man, abandoned him with their DCs and (let's be totally honest) he's probably worried about what people think of him moving in with you so soon, but if he really has his DDs interests at heart, then he needs to overcome that and seek support for them.
You have described a high conflict situation in which their mum is an inconsistent figure in their lives, and who is struggling to meet their basic needs. This isn't something that your DP can resolve on his own, and he can't provide his DDs with the specialist support they need - even if he happened to be experienced in child psychology, he isn't best placed to help his own DCs, they need independent intervention to help them cope with the emotions they are experiencing.

Once your DP gets the right agencies involved, the worries ge has about schooling etc can be put to one side.

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