Am I the only one who often has to question their own sanity?

(25 Posts)
newlifeforme Fri 23-Aug-13 00:13:15

I agree with China.My dsd's mum was dreadfully rigid but that only applied to dh.She however would flex the court ordered agreement if it suited her.

DSD is now 15 and is angry at the approach her mum takes, she sees it as controlling and inflexible.The dc's aren't children for long and they quickly understand which parent acts in their interests or their self interests.

I am on both sides of the fence as I had an ex who was unreliable, its one if the reasons we divorced.I never expected him to suddenly become reliable (as much as I wished it) as that was unrealistic.I had
to deal with the situation I had, a dd who loved her dad and who would be impacted if I was inflexible.

I chose to bite my tongue, make realistic plans, knowing that the ex could be unreliable and it worked out well for my dc.We are very close and she loves her dad but she knows he's not easy to deal with.

For Christmas I think your H should go to court, the mum cannot dictate the schedule.Dh did eventually get a court order as the ex believed she had veto over access.It was the best decision we ever made for DSD.I honestly believe that..it was totally in her interests..can you imagine getting to adulthood and never spending time at Christmas with your dad just because mum wouldn't allow it? The mum is in danger of building resentment if she forbids Christmas contact.It will happen when they hit the teenage years and by then its too late to fix.

In my experience I think a schedule is essential as it cuts down the conflict but it must be balanced and work in the children's interests, too often in our case it was about the ex's needs.I do have empathy for the resident parent - it is tougher, you do have to be the grownup, you have to be more tolerant and less selfish BUT I've also reaped the long term rewards of love and appreciation from my DC so I wouldn't change a thing.

FindingSanity Thu 22-Aug-13 14:48:21

I understand everyone's situation is different and rules to an extent are best set in place so everyone gets where they stand but this isn't about rules as such as Dh's ex certainly isn't abiding by them when it comes to his time with their children. Why not alternate between the two so both sides get on special occasions? DH would just as happily be flexible with his time if she had something planned (not that that's ever happened because if it's an occasion on her side he just gets told they won't be coming that weekend anyway. So he has to like it or lump it), It annoys me so much because you get those parents who want nothing whatsoever to do with their child/ren and then on the other side of the coin you get the types that do. The ones who would bend over backwards to do so but get their balls busted for doing so.

I'd like to think I'm adult and mature enough that if ever did come to DH and I going our separate ways I'd be amicable when it comes to the children. At the end of the day it wouldn't be about what's happened between us. It's about the children. If DH went on to have children with someone else it wouldn't even enter my head to slag them off or call them half. They'd be blood relations to my children and share a dad thus making them siblings regardless if they'd have one different parent.

I also understand things aren't exactly black and white but why make things difficult between parents and children/siblings when there's no need. Why have them caught in the middle?

stepmooster Thu 22-Aug-13 12:16:03

If xmas is that important to father's they should take the mothers to court.

Hmmmm, completely ignoring the fact courts want to see parents work together amicably, expect mediation etc before court is threatened.

Both parties incur costs so you may not be able to take your ex to court.

Also unless you've got both mum and dad willing to not disclose the court thing to the children, you have the horrible situation where the kids get distressed because mum and dad are taking each other to court.

No wonder many father's don't push xmas further than trying to negotiate with the ex, its not because they don't care. If your attitude is if you want to change things see you in court, then you really need to think about what the ramifications are of seeing each other in court are.

Good god is everyone supposed to be sticking to the same times/weekends for more than a decade in some cases? People's circumstances in life change, job, homes, new partners, other children. Even the kids might want to swap weekends so they can have their own social life. What are father's supposed to do expect their partners, relations (yes the childrens relations too) and half siblings to dance to the ex's strict contact tune?

Surely sensible negotiation of any required changes is what we should all be aiming for. Swapping weekends and special days with plenty of notice is hardly the end of the world. Oh I know it can feel annoying and sometimes our plans have to be rearranged as well. But you know DH and I get that maternal grannies birthday party might fall on our weekend. And really this kind of changes doesn't need to be done via court, mediation or solicitor. What lessons are we teaching our children?

And what about half siblings? Should they never get chance to see each other on xmas day? Who exactly benefits from xmas is always at mums? If half siblings love each other, they will continue to do so in whatever 'home' they are in. You maybe punishing your own children by not letting dad have them at xmas once in a while. You are subconciously sending the message that your children's siblings are less important and not special. How cruel is that?

That's what annoys me the most. My children will most likely not see their brother at xmas until he is an adult. Its the kids who lose out in these weird contact battles. How the hell will I explain that to my children when they are old enough to ask but not quite old enough to understand not to get upset? Of course in some kind of neutral response that does not paint the ex in bad light, whilst over at the exes house my DH is being called Twatface in front of DSS. Then come christmas afternoon DH has tried to call x amount of times as previously agreed but no one is answering. So what do I say to my young children when they can't speak to their Dbro as previously agreed?

Yep I can totally get why you question your sanity OP.

Kaluki Thu 22-Aug-13 09:32:28

Well said Allnew and empty chairs. Children are people not possessions and more parents would so well to remember that!
Mumandboys - I appreciate that there are 2 sides but you just seem to be projecting your situation here. It's good to have an opinion from the other side of the coin but you often come across as defending the ex wife at all costs. Don't forget that most if the step mums in here are also ex wives themselves and some behaviour just can't be excused!

Emptychairs Thu 22-Aug-13 07:28:35

Good point China.
I divorced dh1 when ds was 3 and I was lp for 8 yrs. I didn't "date" until he was 10, went out about once a year when my mum did the babysitting! This is what I chose, I still don't think I missed out.
Dh2 and exw on the other hand couldn't wait "to move on" and I unsuspectingly got involved in their tit for tat games, which included the immovable visitation schedule (I cite this in particular because it also impacted on my life and my ds).
Result? Despite despotic control over dsc, dsd 16 managed to emancipate herself and dss (bordering on the catatonic re robot behaviour) chose to,live with dad 50:50 (it must have been a powerful wish as dh didn't dare get involved and yet regimented dss 12 succeeded).
I'm not sure I could live with the decision should my ds choose to do so. I encourage mums to think v carefully before being too strict. It may impact you later.

allnewtaketwo Thu 22-Aug-13 06:49:54

As far as I'm concerned, I'm intelligent enough to consider the other side of the story in my own situation. I tend to credit others with that as well, unless there is evidence to the contrary. So for example, when DSSs' mother refuses to let them join in on key family occasions here because its not "DH's weekend", the only "other side of the story" is her nastiness. When asked afterwards what they had been doing at the time, the answer is always "nothing".

In the case of the OP, it is clear there is a lot of nastiness going on about the OP, her DP and her children. There is no "other side of the story" that could excuse this IMO.

Similarly, I have no reason to doubt your frustrations over your ex and how this has driven your current stance. But this thread isn't about your "other side of the story", its about the OP. None of your "other side of the story" addresses the issues in the OP as far as I can see. And in the end, for me, no adult's "other side of the story" comes above a child's emotional well being. Inflexibility and absolutely refusal to budge have not done my DSSs any good. For young children in specific cirsumstances maybe, but it's not sustainable. Children are not robotic moveable chattels. And when they become so its not good.

needaholidaynow Wed 21-Aug-13 23:53:14

DP and his ex are swapping all the time to suit each other. Say there's a family event such as either of my DS's birthdays and the birthday falls on DP's ex's day to have DSD, they'll just swap the days around so that she can see her brother on his birthday.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Wed 21-Aug-13 23:30:38

I used to be very 'inflexible' regarding the arrangements for my DD - she's 50:50 with her dad at his insistence, and so, like mumandboys, I strongly defended my 'free' time, and insisted that exH lived with the consequence of his choices and refused to vary arrangements by even a minute.

Then, I realised that I'm DDs mum all the time, even when she's with her Dad - and so, when she was with me/when she was with him was really just about physical location, not emotional responsibility.
Now, I couldn't give two hoots whether arrangements are changed or not; I work around things and yes, if DD needs me to be her parent, I'll cancel my social life rather then force exH to do his 'share'.

mumandboys123 Wed 21-Aug-13 23:11:29

ah...right....resort to the you are angry and bitter and who knows what else rather than acknowledge that even if you don't or can't agree, there can be more than one way of looking at things?

allnewtaketwo Wed 21-Aug-13 21:06:41

Mumandboys you sound very angry on this thread. You do realise that the OP isn't talking about you, right?

mumandboys123 Wed 21-Aug-13 19:16:17

FindingSanity - I agree. I wouldn't ignore a phonecall unless there was some kind of valid reason for that (supervising kids in the bath? kids gone to bed already and asleep?). I accept life gets in the way sometimes and with the best will in the world, there is a need to be flexible. But unfortunately, there are people out there who will take advantage of that so sometimes it is simply best to stick with things and accept that way we all know where we stand.

mumandboys123 Wed 21-Aug-13 19:12:40

Oh and which parent wouldnt' want to speak to their child at Xmas? Well, me when they're with my ex. He puts the phone down or refuses to answer. So rather than give him the satisfaction (and the children the upset that they weren't allowed to speak with me if they realise I am phoning - no idea whether they realise it or not), I stopped. No doubt he tells people what a dreadful mother I am for not phoning on Xmas Day. No doubt the latest girlfriend will be slagging me off on various internet forums saying 'what kind of mother'....but as I said, there's far more to most of these situations than many, many new partners want to see. I am not suggesting that every ex is innocent - far from it - but nor is every ex behaving in the way they behave to upset the ex and the new partner.

FindingSanity Wed 21-Aug-13 19:11:42

Your entitled to free/family life as much as your ex is. He does do scheduled phone contact but there should be a bit of give on being slightly late with a call if a valid reason is given. I do think both parents should be open to a bit give and take under certain circumstances though.

Racmun, I'm going to broach the subject again and see what he says. I know he feels guilty but maybe he won't feel so if I ask him to explain to DSC why we'd be going without them (as in they have ready-made plans). Although, no doubt it'll be turned around on us via her to the children - as often is the case.

mumandboys123 Wed 21-Aug-13 18:59:52

I am not suggesting the Christmas issue is OK, nor the snide remarks - I have made no comment on these issues whatsoever although I perhaps will now: if he is bothered by Xmas, then rather than stomp around shouting 'who is she to say...', take the issue to court. It is clear cut, a judge would agree that the children should alternative 'special' days between parents and an Order would be drawn up. More than likely it would be drawn up prior to getting in a court room.

What I am saying is that rigid routines work for some people and that includes being prompt with scheduled phone calls. Or should I accept that I am not allowed to 'move on' in the way that my ex has and have nights out and good times child free because he and his family have the right to infringe not only on my (very precious) free time but also enter into my home via the phone/webcam/skype as and when they choose? Perhaps I am not entitled to a family life but my ex is?

racmun Wed 21-Aug-13 18:54:40

Op I could have written your post myself. I'm surprised I have a tongue I've bitten it so much.

Only difference is my dh would still go away even if dss not allowed to come. I think you really need to raise this point with him. You've asked his their mum has said no they have plans - why should your children miss out? For all you know their mum might be taking them on holiday.

I think this would upset me more than anything- if he lets her in effect control when your children go away then she is pulling their strings. Can you not say that you'll take them regardless?

FindingSanity Wed 21-Aug-13 18:52:25

Mumandboys, I think you need to re-read. I said when Christmas falls on DH's time he is still not allowed his children. Why should she dictate that he can't have them on his time? He's not taking it away from her.

As for Christmas, what parent doesn't want to speak to their child at Christmas?

There are actually three sides to a story: His, hers and the truth. I don't entirely know what went on in their relationship (only what he has said) but I do see how she is now. I suppose she has a valid reason for making snide remarks about him (her own choice) but my children too?

mumandboys123 Wed 21-Aug-13 18:50:00

I should also say that it is unlikely my ex will take responsibility for having his children more often as they grow older. But I guess time will tell.

mumandboys123 Wed 21-Aug-13 18:47:51

so by 'inflexible attitude' you mean that I should accept never knowing if I'm coming and going and not be in a position to spend time with friends and new partners, child free?

I accept that there will come a time when the children are old enough to make their own decisions about who's house they want to be in and when. Until then, I will stick with the schedule!

allnewtaketwo Wed 21-Aug-13 18:37:10

Mumandboys what do you plan on doing as the children get older? My DSSs mother takes the same inflexible attitude even though the eldest is almost 18. The rigid routine has no sign of ending and he's now quite robotic in his toing and froing per the access schedule set 11 years ago

mumandboys123 Wed 21-Aug-13 18:34:47

and don't get me started on phonecalls! They are a massive intrusion into my home by someone I would never choose to be there and which involves making sure that we are in a position to take the phone call and speak at length to whoever is on the end of the phone (which can be half the family at Xmas and birthdays). That inevitably involves breaking children away from playing games, watching a film, even the timing of the birthday/Xmas meal can be scheduled around the call. If the other parent is then late in phoning, who do you think has to deal with the consequences of that? Angry, upset children who have been disturbed for nothing? Angry, upset children who wanted to speak to daddy but he couldn't even put a call in at the time he said he would?

I think most of the divorce literature is in agreement when it states that regular, reliable contact with the NRP promotes security and well being in the children. You may well not have been able to avoid the traffic jam you sat in for 2 hours which made you late but neither could I avoid the tantrums and upset that caused in my household as a result. It works both ways. It helps to acknowledge that there is another way of looking at things and trying to see things from some one else's perspective, rather than assuming everything is about you. It isn't. Not in my experience anyway.

mumandboys123 Wed 21-Aug-13 18:24:31

hmm...does it not occur to you that there are two sides to every story? My ex and I have a rigid contact schedule in place that I refuse to deviate from. My reasons are simple: in the past, when I was more reasonable he took the mick with constant movings around and was always, always mysteriously stuck 200 miles away with a broken down car should I show the merest hint of getting a life and wanting to change the schedule myself. I now base my life around the contact schedule remaining the same - in fact, last week I booked theatre tickets for something 8 months away. And should my ex decide that particular weekend that he wants to go to his friend's wedding or do something without the children, then I shall refuse to discuss the issue - he knows the arrangements. I am not about to enter into some kind of bargaining game with him about who's social engagement is the most important. If something important falls outwith the schedule it's tough. I have missed out on plenty as a result - but I accept that as an inevitable aspect of separated parenting. My social life is important to me - I am not discussing it, at even the most basic level, with my ex.

And whilst I accept the amount of contact varies from couple to couple, I am not about to have my ex whip away my valuable free time when it's me who's parenting the children 11 nights out of 14. He has plenty of time to get on with his life - far more than me - why should I change constantly?

louby44 Wed 21-Aug-13 13:43:04

Oh my that is quite control freaky-ish isn't it! Smacks of someone not happy with their situation!

What will happen when these kids have their own mobiles and their dad can ring them whenever he wants - how will she cope.

FindingSanity Wed 21-Aug-13 13:04:08

I found that post quite therapeutic. It was good to get it out and written down.

Louby, she is so rigid and such a stickler to the point that over the years there have been instances where he hasn't actually spoken to them on the actual Christmas day because he's rang 10 - 15 minutes later than arranged. She hasn't even just ignored the call either. She's answered and told him outright he's late so doesn't get communication until his next scheduled time to ring or when he picks them up.

louby44 Wed 21-Aug-13 12:48:31

I can completely relate. When I first met my DP his ex stuck to a very strict, rigid access plan, which was good on paper but when ever we needed to swap weekends around she would refuse. There was no compromise whatsoever! But if she wanted to swap a weekend it was a whole different story.

My ex however is much more flexible and we just work it out between us.

Two years ago we came to an agreement with both our exes that we would do alternate xmas/new year with the kids. So in 2011 for the first time in my life I woke up without my kids on Christmas morning! It wasn't so bad and I coped. We had all 4 kids for New Year and had a big family party. Last year we had the kids for xmas but not New Year.

Who knows what will happen this year???

But we have had to decline weddings, parties and special meals out with friends because DP ex wouldn't swap. It's very frustrating.

feel your frustration!

FindingSanity Wed 21-Aug-13 11:48:14

Sometimes I really do feel like I NEED to question my own sanity. I've been with DH for about 6 years. When we met he had 2 children a DS and a DD. At the time of meeting DS was 6 and DD 4. Since then we've had our own children too (DS and DD). Both DSS and DSD are lovely, well rounded individuals that both their parents should be proud of.

The only problem I have is DH's ex. She has a say in everything right down to what time DH has to phone on Christmas day. We have them EOW but when it comes to Christmas, even if it falls on DH's weekend he is not allowed to have them at Christmas so has to do with a call instead. That also goes for birthdays too.

She just can't accept DH has moved on and has other children. When ours come on the phone to wish a merry Christmas or birthday you can openly hear her in the background going 'half'. Yes, I am aware that by law that's how it's explained but I hate the term.

The kids often come here and say that mum has said some nasty comments about both their dad and their siblings and I just have to sit back. I feel like it's not my place to say anything as it's between him and her (despite mentioning ours). The latest is that we were hoping to go away for new year's. As mum had both children on Christmas DH asked if they could come along. He's been bluntly told no as she has plans with them. (plans that when we've been told the same before and ask the kids how things went turn out to be non-existent).

Now that she's said no - our holiday is on hold. DH feels guilty about going away and leaving them behind. So our children and us lose out as a result. She is constantly pulling the strings and as much as I hate to admit it, DH dances to her tune.

We've had a chat about this and he thinks I'm just being over sensitive because of the holiday. I'm not - it's been like this for years.

I really question my sanity with it all. I even told DH last week that if we ever did split I don't think I'd get involved with anyone with kids again as it's so stressful. It's only when your in the actual situation that you realise what you let yourself in for. I love DH enormously but I'm not sure all those years back I'd have got involved if I'd known what else besides the children comes along.

Now I've written it down - time to dust myself off and get on with it smile

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