If one parent ditches on their regular contact time, do they make it up at another time?

(28 Posts)
RinseAndRepeat Fri 06-Sep-13 14:30:18

DP and his ex are supposed to share DSD 50:50 but DP's ex is constantly asking us to have DSD on her weekends and weeknights. So we actually have her MIT like 65:35.

She never makes up these lost weekends at a later date. They're always just forfeited.

DP never ditches his contact with DSD ever. We arrange our lives around the time that we have her so our plans don't clash with when she's with us.

DP has to go abroad for work for two days soon. Both days are when we'd usually have DSD.

His ex has jumped on this and and asked us to have DSD next weekend (a weekend we wouldn't normally have her) in lieu of the two days DP will be abroad.

Why does it work this way round for DP, but she never makes up for the time that she doesn't have her?

We've also just taken DSD on a two week holiday and have already had her an extra night this week and will have her an extra weekend this month on top of the weekend we're now being asked to have her next weekend.

I'm tired of this constant chopping and changing. I feel like I have no say and no control over what happens when.

Even though we don't have any specific plans next weekend, I was looking forward to just spawning it with DP and pottering around.

I'm angry with his ex for imposing rules on DP that she doesn't abide to herself. But I feel like, unless DP and I have booked tickets to a gig or a weekend away, I can never legitimately say no.

What happens in other households when one parent starts pissing around with the schedule?

purpleroses Fri 06-Sep-13 15:20:48

I think if either parent doesn't want to have the DCs at a time when they usually would they can ask their ex to have them instead. And they can choose to ask to "swap" for another time. The other parent is free to say yes or no to either of these requests.

Personally I think it's better for the DCs just to accept a bit of give and take in the schedules and not to be "swapping" on a precise system - if you do it seems like they're possessions to be fought over - or even worse, some kind of job which you only want to do your allotted hours at.

I also think that what's fair depends a bit on who has them most - but you have a default 50-50 so that doesn't apply in your case.

Your DP's ex is within her rights to ask you to have DSD for extras, or to ask as swaps when you want to - but your DP doesn't have to say yes, doe he?

What would have happened if he'd said no? Does he feel under pressure to meet all her requests? Or is it actually that he likes having his DD as much as possible so always says yes to extras, and agrees to swaps whenever he asks his ex to have her extra? If it's the latter, then it's a problem between you and your DP, not the fault of the ex really.

Lethologica Fri 06-Sep-13 17:56:59

What does your DP think? It may be that he actively encourages his Ex to 'ditch' his DD so that he can spend more time with her. confused

I think it all depends how you feel about it. if I have sc as a favour I wouldn't expect them to go home earlier but then I'd be pretty pissed off if we had something unavoidable on and the response was that the time would be made up elsewhere not because I don't want to have them I love spending time with them just because I think things should be the same on both sides

mumtobealloveragain Fri 06-Sep-13 18:32:29

I personally think that if one parent gives up their contact time for whatever reason and the other parent makes arrangements to have the child instead that it is up to that parent to decide whether or not to "give" up some of "their" time to offer back to the other parent at a later date.

My DSC often come here on unplanned day. We recently had them for 9 days in a row as their mum had childcare issues and her friend (who she had arranged to have them) let her down. It was a bit tricky as DP and I had to change our own arrangements, but we didn't mind at all. It doesn't happen that often but we always manage to accommodate any nights/days that DP's ex can't do or want's to "give up". DP never offers her back time though as we have our own plans and routines based around the children being here.

However, if DP's ex asks to have the children for an extra day or an extra few hours for a special even or activity he will always say yes if we haven't got plans, I would do the same with my ex too. It makes sense to try and be flexible if it benefits the children. DP's ex always says no if we ask for any time with the children that doesn't fall in "his" time, even if it means the children missing out. She always says she is busy or they are busy even when we know they aren't. He still asks and we don't make a fuss but know she will always say no.

Mojavewonderer Sat 07-Sep-13 08:53:00

It's not a bloody competition! Your dp should be enjoying the extra time he gets with his child! There are many dads out there who would love to spend more time with their kids. Unless of course it's you who is unhappy with the extra time...

RinseAndRepeat Sat 07-Sep-13 09:59:21

I'm tired of never knowing what's going on from one week to the next.

DP's ex seems to make all these plans, regardless of whether she's got DSD then or not and then expects us to accommodate them.

DP never does that to her. We always stick to our side of it so that there's as little disruption as possible for everyone. Including DP's ex. I wish she'd do us all the same courtesy.

purpleroses Sat 07-Sep-13 10:33:22

But does your DP feel the same as you about it? If he does, he needs to convey that to her. But if she's asking your DP to have DSD extra, and your DP is giving her the impression that he's quite happy about that, I fail to see why she is to blame.

If it's putting you out in personally - eg you're having to change your social plans or whatever, then you need to ask DP to stop agreeing to last minute changes without consulting you first.

A bit confused by you saying that DP never asks his ex to change plans, as you said in your first post that he had recently asked her to have DSD when he was going abroad. His ex had agreed (even though she'd then asked your DP to have other nights in return) so does sound like you are able to ask her to have DSD extras when you need to, it's just that you don't choose or need to make as much use of this as his ex does. Nothing unfair in principle about that.

RinseAndRepeat Sat 07-Sep-13 13:33:15

This is only the second time DP's ever needed her to have DSD on his days. Both times have been for work.

Whenever she asks us to have DSD it's usually because she's got a party to go to, or she's arranged a weekend away for just her and her boyfriend. If DP and I want to do that stuff we just work it around the times we have DSD. I don't understand why it's so hard for her to do the same.

DP's always happy to have DSD for the extra time. But I won't lie, all the ad hoc chopping and changing gets on my tits. I'd earmarked next weekend for a load of uni work because I knew it would be child free and I'd be able to plough through it. Now I'm going to have to go out of the flat all weekend just to get the space to get it done.

I just hate thinking I know what's going on and constantly having the rug pulled from under me.

I can't say 'sorry DP you're got to have to say no because I want to do all my uni work'. That's obviously churlish. But the reality is that DP's ex gets what she wants (a child free weekend), DP gets what he wants (more time with DSD) and I'm the one who's got to change what I wanted to do in order to accommodate everyone else's needs.

If everyone would just stick to the bloody plan I wouldn't feel like I was the only one constantly compromising.

PrincessWellington Sat 07-Sep-13 21:51:56

It has never happened. We don't let our children down, they are priority. Also, I don't rely on ex for babysitting - I get a babysitter, which is what she is doing to you.

Rooners Sun 08-Sep-13 08:46:27

I'm sorry you're dealing with this. Just from where I am, and it's probably not much help,
we have a casual arrangement that ex sees ds one day every month for four hours. It's supposed to be one particular weekend.

Ex is always cancelling. Sometimes he tries to make it up, sometimes he doesn't. He always says it is because we should be flexible about things, and that works both ways apparently, but somehow we make plans around the proposed day and he makes other plans first.

It's always us that accommodate him. I have decided no longer to try and be flexible, he either comes on the day or he misses out for another month. This is since he cancelled the day before the visit, last month, as he was going away and had 'forgotten' bullshit - we knew in advance only because we saw his wife at the shops a few days earlier.

Ds doesn't really care - he sees his dad as a bonus but not an essential part of his life. Thank God. But that's probably because his dad fucked off when he was 18mo and didn't see him again till he was 7.

squiddle Sun 08-Sep-13 16:24:20

My life became SO much better when we decided to stick strictly to contact times. When exW asked us to do extra time or switch weekends around, dh said no. It was painful for him to do this tbh but so much better for me, our dc and dss to have a firm arrangement. I just couldn't stand having my weekends decided at the last minute by dss's mum - I wanted to be able to make arrangements and be in control of my life. And so did dss! We never ever cancel or change arrangements ourselves - if we have a problem, we ask extended family to have dss (which he loves) or work around it in some other way - we don't ask the ex to cover.

I can't say 'sorry DP you're got to have to say no because I want to do all my uni work'. That's obviously churlish.

It isn't churlish - it is respecting your needs. A split family works best imo when everyone's needs are seen as important.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Sun 08-Sep-13 17:11:50

DP's ex gets what she wants (a child free weekend), DP gets what he wants (more time with DSD) and I'm the one who's got to change what I wanted to do in order to accommodate everyone else's needs.

To be fair, if your DSD and her parents are both happy with the way things are at the moment then there is nothing you can do!

If your DP isn't prepared to consider you, then I question his commitment to your relationship - if he's created a situation in which you feel churlish for expecting/asking for 'couple time' (and its not something he initiates) then what is your value to him?

This is yet another 'relationship' issue, not a step issue - your DP has created this situation.

I eventually, after much discussion and debate, convinced my DP that it is quality of time spent with his DCs that matter, not quantity. All the while your DP siezes every opportunity to spend time with his DD, nothing will change for you.

Libby10 Sun 08-Sep-13 17:14:37

We ended up with a very rigid schedule because all the flexibility was one way.

Perhaps the best solution this time is for your DP to point out that you already have some flexibility banked and that this w/e is not a good time to swap. If his ex wants to do 'like for like' swaps then she will need to do the same in future.

Rooners Sun 08-Sep-13 18:56:56

Actually I agree that being fairly rigid about it is the way to go.

Particularly if the contact was not very frequent - in our case we worked out that ds sees his dad for 0.06% of his time. If the ex can't even get it together for that amount of time then it says enough about his priorities to me.

I am liking the idea of saying, actually, no, we have plans and if you are not available that weekend then we will see you next month. Not that I really need to plan much in advance but I hate hate HATE being at the mercy of a jerk who can't be bothered to tell us he won't be around.

I used to think he was commitment phobic but it's funny how easily he commits to his new family.

Sorry for the hijack. Just, thankyou for helping me sort this in my head smile

daisychain01 Mon 09-Sep-13 07:09:58

Totally agree with those who say a rigid care arrangement is the only way to go! rinse I feel your pain!

Yes in the land of pixies and fairies, wouldn't it be lovely to have give and take, flexibility, cooperation.

The reality? One party gets dumped on from a great height, the other party does what they feel like, becomes unreliable and fails to reciprocate the good intent shown by the flexible one! Been there, done that!

IME, it is more helpful to be prescriptive, as it enables the two separate households to know where they stand. Also it gives the child more stability. Chopping and changing is frustrating and stressful. It doesnt always benefit the child to have that "extra time ", with the other parent, not if it causes stress. Sometimes the pissing-about is done on purpose as a wind-up anyway!

daisychain01 Mon 09-Sep-13 07:14:03

Unfortunately as a general rule, trying to negotiate and use logic and equity with an illogical uncooperative person is called "a hiding to nothing".sad

DumSpiroSpero Mon 09-Sep-13 07:24:03

I've read some of your other threads and it does seem that the ex is massively taking the piss. I think I'm right in saying it's the messing you about, often at short notice, that's the issue rather than you not wanting to have her?

Has your DP considered applying for a change in residency? It strikes me that if you had her the majority of the time, with mum having every other weekend and maybe a day in the week it would be more stable for everyone.

I'm hazarding a guess mum wouldn't go for that easily though.

Do you feel your DSD is affected by the situation?

RinseAndRepeat Mon 09-Sep-13 21:48:11

Thanks all. I can't imagine how we'd impose a more rigid routine; DP would just never say no to extra time with DSD. And imposing a routine would mean saying no. If I told him he had to say no to an extra weekend (without, in his eyes, I really good reason), then he'd resent me.

DumSpiro you're right, she does massively take the piss and I'm really, really fed up with it. As well as the fact that DP let's her take the piss. Because in his head he's the winner because ultimately he gets more time with DSD so it's not worth the friction with her.

DSD's relationship with her mum is shit. When DP last went to pick her up he asked his ex for some of DSD's school uniform. And rather than go back inside and get it for him, she said "no I don't want to do anything more for her at the moment, I'm sick of her, she's driving me up the wall" and then pretty much shoved her out the door.

She was supposed to drop uniform off last night but when it got to evening and DP asked her where it was, she text back saying she didn't feel well so couldn't drop it round hmm.

Whenever DsD is at her mum's she misbehaves and it usually ends up with her mum becoming sick of her by the time she comes back to us.

When she's with us she's fine. Maybe a bit naughty now and again but normal five year old stuff.

DP suggested changing the arrangements so that he had her most of the time and she did EOW and maybe one night a week. But she wouldn't have it. Because she didn't want any of her friends to think she was a bad mum.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Tue 10-Sep-13 06:29:22

DP would just never say no to extra time with DSD. And imposing a routine would mean saying no. If I told him he had to say no to an extra weekend (without, in his eyes, I really good reason), then he'd resent me.

Right. So how you feel isn't a good reason. This isn't sounding good, is it?
Good luck, OP - you're going to need it sad

RinseAndRepeat Tue 10-Sep-13 08:41:27

But how could I reasonably say 'no, sorry DSD can't come this weekend because I've got stuff I need to do' without sounding like a massive arsehole?

I'd basically be telling DP he couldn't see his child. I don't feel like I can ever say no.

squiddle Tue 10-Sep-13 10:12:32

I completely understand where you are coming from. We all start by thinking that the most important thing is the relationship between child and parent... then you realise that constantly ignoring your own needs helps nobody, including the child and parent. You just get resentful and put-upon. It took me six years to realise this - I was very determined to be a perfect sm.

One turning point was when we had to cancel plans to go to a friend's party at the last minute. We hadn't seen them for a couple of years and loads of old friends were going to be there - it turned out it was a surprise wedding celebration. Why did we cancel? Because the exW wanted to go to a party, and DH agreed to babysit. I don't think anyone could argue that was really wrong.

Basically you have to talk to your DH about how it affects you. You have to insist that you are important too. And you have to let DH and anyone else think you are selfish for a bit. DH and dsc may well resent you... but then, quite quickly, everyone gets used to it. ExW stops asking - because the answer is always no - and after a bit, actually gets more organised. You are happy because you can actually plan to go out. Your relationship improves because you are not angry, and don't spend hours bitching about the ex. And the dsc actually like knowing where they are going to be in advance. In your case, the exW may well end up agreeing for dsd to come more often on a fixed schedule.

I wish I had done it so much earlier - but probably wouldn't have listened (like you!) if someone had given me this advice.

RinseAndRepeat Tue 10-Sep-13 10:40:48

I am listening intently squiddle!

How did you manage to get to where you are now without your DH ending up hating you for being selfish?

I got the inevitable 'what shall we do with DSD this weekend?' Question last night (bearing in mind we weren't supposed to have DSD this weekend). So I reeled off a list of all the stuff I've got to do - study, take thing that i bought and was wrong back to shop, etc...

And I could tell DP was disappointed because I didn't immediately say 'well why don't I just fuck off everything I wanted to do because it's nowhere near as important as making sure that DSD has a good time.' Because god forbid she might actually have to fit in with our lives and put up with a bit of boring drudge every now and again. Like our child will have to do when it's born.

But I couldn't pull him up on it because he didn't actially say anything. He didn't sulk, it was just an imperceptible cooling. And if I'd have made anything of it, he'd deny it.

theredhen Tue 10-Sep-13 10:42:57

I think it's very difficult to say "hang on a minute, I'm important too" but I do think it needs saying.

Blended families are all about compromise for EVERYONE not just the step parent. I try and remind myself of that quite often.

I have been frustrated by ex offering us extra time in the past but never expecting it to be reciprocated.

Yesterday dp suggested organising going to see a particular show on a weekend they would normally be with mum. I disagreed with him and he arranged for an evening instead meaning that although we have gained time with dsd (it's an evening we wouldn't normally have dsd) we haven't given up "our child free weekend" for the sake of it.

RinseAndRepeat Tue 10-Sep-13 10:43:06

PS. I totally didn't mean to imply you we're selfish. I just meant that that's what DP thinks of me if ever I don't want to drop everything to have DSD.

It makes me feel bad to know he's disappointed in me because I'm not bring the perfect step mum.

How can I explain it to him when I can't even find the words to explain it myself?

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