What do you do?(14 Posts)
Our eldest DS is my son, my DH's DSS. He is 8.
For the past year he has been having regular contact with his Dad. Every other weekend for two overnight stops.
Recently some problems have arisen and I'm not sure what the 'right' thing to do is, wondering if you could let me know how it works for you?
Firstly, toys. DS has often complained that he's not allowed to bring toys back from his Dad's. Who should decide what he can/cannot bring here, DS or his Dad? My feelings are that it should be down to DS, but then I will always side with him over exDP!
Secondly, after school activities. DS plays a lot of sport. There is always 1 (but no more) match of some sort every weekend. exDP won't take him and says it's his time and he decides what they do with it. DS is on a few teams, and as such is letting them down by not attending matches, not good for DS's social life but also not a good way to teach commitment? Is exDP right?
Lastly 'special occasions'. Contact on days that have special importance, such as his birthday, Christmas etc. exDP has never been bothered about seeing DS on 'special days' and normal contact has resumed regardless of the day (if Fathers Day, for example, falls on his weekend then he goes, but if not, then he doesn't IYSWIM), with the exception of Christmas, which has always been spent with us. exDP has made arrangements in the past around Christmas contact, but either hasn't shown, o changes last minute (usually he ends up abroad). However, now exDP is expecting a baby and so is requesting to see DS on every given special occasion (bar Mothers Day ). What to do here...?
Thanks in advance...
I think its a shame when DCs miss regular clubs and sports due to one parent not being bothered about taking them. If its something that DS enjoys (especially if you're paying for him to attend regularly) you should push that point. You can't make him take him, but you can get DS to make the point that he'd like to go and would like his dad to be involved.
As for the toys, I suppose if XP has bought him things to do when he's at his, he might think its a bit off for DS to bring them back to yours and then end up with nothing to do at his dad's, so I can see where he's coming from. If there's something he particularly likes could he have a duplicate at each house? It must be hard for kids to have to adjust to having 2 homes, so if there's something small you can do to make it a bit easier I'd probably do it.
Not sure why XP is insisting on seeing DS on mother's day especially as it is months away (presuming you're in the UK?!) However, my DCs didn't see their dad on father's day because he was working and we were away for the weekend, they posted his card & sweeties, but will see him another day. Its just a date, it doesn't really matter.
I always thought I'd be gutted not to have them at home on their birthdays, but tbh the only odd thing is people phoning or texting with birthday wishes and having to say "he's not here, he's at his dad's"! We always go out for dinner all together with family too, so its not like I don't see them at all, but they will either wake up at his and I see them after school or they wake up at mine, we go out and they go home with him afterwards. I think you have to be a bit flexible about specific dates when you're separated.
Toys - I always think my DS' toys belong to them. They aren't mine, or their dad's, so they should be able to take backwards and forwards. I think problems arise if the toys are v. expensive and get taken across, and then never reappear again. Maybe his dad doesn't have as many toys for your DS at his place as you do at yours, and this is the reasoning behind it?
I have similar issues sometimes with my ex as you do with sport. Is your ex nearby? I agree with you that this is not teaching DS lessons in committment, and I don't think your ex is right. To take it to an extreme, your DS would never be able to belong to ANY clubs outside school that take place on the weekends, as his dad wouldn't take him on weekends when he's with him.
Special occasions - we don't bother if it's mothers day/fathers day, so if alternate weekends fall on them, so be it. Same for birthdays, but both of us would offer the other time to see the DSs on birthdays e.g. take out for tea. We are flexible if there are family events e.g. big celebrations, and sometimes swap weekends then, or the DSs go off for part of a weekend with me/their dad.
Christmas is alternate, as is new year - so you have Christmas but not new year one year, and the other way around the next. Dates always agreed in advance.
It isn't too difficult in my situation as ex and I communicate and as far as possible, co-parent albeit from different houses. If you and your ex can't communicate effectively, then this could be difficult....
I have DSC and DCs - all spend weekends with their dad and live with their mum in the week.
Re toys - we usually expect these to stay in the house of the parent who bought them. But do allow odd special toys, or my DS's much beloved Nexus 7 or books that they are currently reading to go between houses with them. I would suggest to your DS that he needs to have the conversation about bring stuff from Dad's to yours with his dad (assuming his dad paid for the toys). It's always best to encourage and support them to have the arguments they need to have with their other parent themselves rather than getting involved if it can be helped.
Re sport - I think that is tough on your DS. Is your ex local enough that he could reasonably be expected to take and fetch him? It's best if you can ask the other parent before committing to anything that takes place during their contact time - but obviously that's difficult if your DS was already doing the activities before his contact started. Is there a compromise that could be suggested to your ex when he takes DS some weeks but you agree he can miss the odd week? Or could he do his weekend contact from (say) Saturday lunchtime (post sport) until Monday morning, so that you can take him?
Re special occasions - I'm lucky that my ex hasn't been bothered in the past, and has been happy to leave the hassle of parties etc to me. DP gets his kids every weekend regardless of when special events fall though his ex sometimes poaches them for a birthday party she's organised.
Again think you probably need to look for a compromise. You could offer up your ex's birthday, father's day, and the new baby's birthday (in the future - not this year!) for starters - as these presumably aren't days that mean much to you. Would then offer any other dates that you don't care too much about and see if he'll agree to that and leave you the ones that matter most to you - eg offer Easter and Boxing day and ask for Christmas with you. But if you really can't agree and it was to go to court you could end up having to agree to alternate.
Toys... I agree with what Donut is saying. If Dad's paid for them, I can see that he'd want them to stay at his, to be played with at his. That's the deal for my DSD anyway, nothing really goes between her two homes except her. DH provides everything for while she's here and her Mum provides everything for her when she's there. She splits her time equally between her two parents.
Sports etc - if DSD is with DH, he takes her and if she's with Mum, she takes her. Same goes for parties, school fetes etc. I really don't think it would be fair for DSD to miss out on things just because she's the child of separated parents. But saying that, her two parents only live 10 miles apart and as I've already said, it's 50:50 contact so it's fairly reasonable I think for DH and Mum to be expected to manage that. If the distance is far and the time spent with the NRP is minimal, I can see why they wouldn't want their weekend taken up with such things though. Personally I still think the NRP should go the extra mile to ensure their kid doesn't miss important matches and the like but I guess if they only see their child occasionally, and they have to travel a long way to do it, they may want just to spend that time one-on-one.
Special occasions - my DH and his ex alternate Xmas and Easter and share DSD's bday (night before and morning with one, afternoon and night of with the other). Then she spends Father's Day and DH's bday here and Mother's Day and Mum's bday with Mum. They also try and organize it so she gets to spend her sibling's bdays with them.
The special toy this weekend is a soft toy that DS is especially attached to, he brought it here for a while, then took it back and now isn't allowed to take it again.
He is no where near short of toys whilst there.
He goes Friday after school until Monday morning (takes him to school) every other week. We are 30 mins apart, activities are usually in the middle of us, away matches vary, obviously.
Toys can be tricky, but in the case of something like a soft toy - that's being particularly pathetic... the child should be able to decide that for themselves.
You should talk to his Dad and agree what sports/other he is or isn't prepared to take him to and decide between you. It isn't fair for DS to miss out, equally it's not fair for you to dicate what he does with his weekend. I know plenty of parents who don't allow their children to join clubs where playing games at the weekend is part of it because it's not what they want to do with their weekends (pretty selfish I think, but what I'm saying is that it's not only NRF's who think that way - so I suppose it's fair enough).
Special occasions... it's a shame (for you) that it has to change, I guess you will have to work out what you are both happy with. Alternate Christmas arrangements with one of you getting Christmas Eve & Christmas morning and the other having Christmas afternoon & boxing day. Birthday's probaby depend on what day of the week etc. It's not easy, but totally do-able and you just have to learn to celebrate when you can, not when it's ideal.
Hopefully once they have the baby he will be only too happy to get out of the house and take DS to his games and they will have their hands full so wont be so adamanant about 'special days'
I definitely think you have a case over the sports etc, if my dsc's have a st john thing to go to on.our contact weekend then.we take them. The risk of not doing so is resentment and them not wanting to come. We have recently enrolled them in cubs and brownies so not sure if we will have the reverse issue as she refuses to do any of the drop offs or pick ups.
Toys, the kids bring soft toys between the 2 houses as well as phones and Nintendo's. We have a few bits Herr that stay her like board games etc but if they wanted to take them back to mum's then that's fine, they were bought for them!
As for occassions we celebrate when it is our contact weekend for birthdays etc as for Xmas we alternate so no real issues, they were with us last year so will be with mum this year.
I think you need to do what is best your son, talk calmly to his dad and try and and establish exactly what his expectations are and set some very firm rules around it so that ur son can then be told what is going to.happen.
I'm with the majority here...this is what we do:
- toys can go back and forward between houses, they belong to the children
- sports fixtures on our weekends can be a right pain (and sometimes take up the best part of a weekend) but the children want to participate and don't want to let others down so we take them and DP will often likes staying to watch
- special occasions are awful for us. It is made extremely difficult for us to see the children on their birthdays and Christmas. A whole separate thread. I wish that DP and his ex could set up something sensible. Do you live close to each other? Could you share these days?
We could share them, but exDP wants the whole night before and day, which will be difficult on school days (which is the case for the next 3 years for DS's birthday!). So frustrating that he is now expecting us to bend over backwards to accommodate him now he has an interest. On DS's birthday this year he didn't ring until the evening - even after DS had tried to call him at various points throughout the day. The year before DS had a big party and really wanted his Dad there, but he didn't show as "it would be ridiculous for us both to be there"
Trying to be flexible and compromise but it's not being reciprocated. He's just told me he's taking it to court.
Hi Sonshines, my DH has always wanted DSS to spend xmas and DSS birthday with him alternately, unfortunately they are both same time of year. Before DH had moved in with me though and we had DD he never 'pushed' for it because contact is strained. The ex would say, I've made plans, or we are doing this etc and as DSS has siblings on his mums side DH just thought for DSS sake to let it go to stop him caught up in any arguments around Xmas/birthday.
This last year DH wanted DSS for xmas day or his birthday because he now has a sibling on dads side and also because DSS said he would like to see his dad at xmas. DH is fighting harder for contact for sake of a good sibling bond and so his son sees he cares about him, I.e. My little sister always sees my dad for xmas/birthday and I never do. Never waking up to spend xmas or birthday with one side of your family is not really fair is it?
Its still not agreed for this year, and DH is livid tbh. I can sort of see where your ex is coming from. You may think he's only taking an interest now but it may just be he's willing to go to court now for sake of a good sibling bond or maybe your son said something to his dad about xmas/birthday?
Agree with you regarding hobbies and toys.
Its really not worth court though is it, or for your child to grow up thinking mum wouldn't let me spend xmas/my birthday with dad.
My DCs sort out a bag of bits to take to their dad's as he only has a small place so not much space to store stuff, but if they wanted to bring things back here that he'd bought them I'd think it a bit unnecessary (especially as I know they'd forget to take them back there and then not have much to do while at his house.) Perhaps you could have a box which your ex can pick up and drop off with any toys/clothes/books etc they love. Its probably comforting to have familiar things around them.
Hi Sonshines, I also have DS and DSD and DSS and I can see it from both sides also.
Toys - they are a bit of a pain. We do pretty much go on the basis that they are the kids not ours so don't have a problem with them taking them backwards and forwards but as they have got older and the toys more expensive it has caused problems in all houses. DSD have broke Nitendo DS and 2 Ipod touches. All that we paid for and all when she took them home because her mom allowed her to take them out to play. My DS is 12 months older and DSD gets the hump now that he still has things that we wont replace for her because we just can't afford to. My Ex does not allow my DS to bring anything from his (although he is a knob with bells on anyway and doesn't even allow DS to speak to me when he has him in town) but DS is allowed to take phone Ipod touch etc to his dads. DSS is allowed to pretty much shuttle whatever he wants where ever and brings tablet PC EW to ours that his mum got him and has never broke anything - I guess as they get older it depends on how responsible they are and how responsible the other parent is.
Whilst a soft toy is a pathetic example, think long term. Will you be hapy for your DS to take expensive things to his house that you paid for if his dad will let him take them out and leave them at ark etc?
I agree that if it does not put him out then he should honour sports commitments - my ex was expected to honour scouts activities if it was his weekend but I think he moaned that much that DS started to lose any enjoyment really. My DSD and DS have never been involved in any out of school activities but we do take to parties etc.
As for special occasions - other people are quite right in what they say. I think the phrase "pick your battles" is the best approach here. If it goes to court you will have alternate birthdays and Christmas despite previous arrangements so so could offer night before and until 3.00pm for example on Christmas day at his dads and the same at yours for his bday and swap next year. We have never gone for Christmas day for our DSC and my ex has never wanted DS on Christmas Day but last year all the kids started questioning why they do not see each other on Christmas day so I am not sure how long this will remain the same now.
As another poster said, encourage your DS to speak to his dad about it himself (tough I know) but it is harder for them to disregard wishes of the children and far less likely to cause conflict and appear as if it is you that is being difficult - one word of caution though don't coach in what he should say even if you are trying to help him as the minute he utters the words "mom said" you will be facing conflict and court all over again.
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