whats usual re parties?

(86 Posts)
JumpingJackSprat Wed 17-Apr-13 12:56:56

Dss lives with his mum a 4 hour round trip away atvthe moment we have him every other weekend. his mum has accepted a party invite for sunday afternoon which means that rather than leaving ours at 5pm to take him back we will have to leave at 12.30 when we havent seen him for 2 weeks. is it unreasonable for us to say that dss wont be able to attend birthday parties on access weekends unless theyre actual friends? My understanding is that this party is a "whole class" affair. Dss is 5.

Kaluki Wed 17-Apr-13 13:02:32

No, I don't think you can refuse all parties on 'your' weekend, but you can ask that his Mum checks with you before she accepts invitations in case you have plans.
There will be a lot of party invites over the next year as most 5 year old kids tend to have whole class parties at first, then as the children form friend groups the invitations slim down a bit.

birdofthenorth Wed 17-Apr-13 13:06:08

Your weekend is your weekend. If DSS is dying to go it's up to you to decide if you bend the arrangements (formal or informal). With 25-30 kids in a class and many having whole class parties you could be looking at losing a lot of access time in years to come if you agree to him attending them all (in my experience most are on Saturdays too which doesn't sound any more convene to you). I think mussing stuff like this is probably one of the classic "downsides" of having two sets of parents, just as two sets of Xmas presents is a typical bonus. But quality time with the non-resident parents is really more inportant than another round of jelly & icecream at Jungle Jims. If it was me I'd decline unless the party was for a family member or especially close friend, or if it had a theme/venue that DSS would go especially nuts for.

Latemates Wed 17-Apr-13 13:39:25

I would refuse to take him on this occasion - due to late notice and mum accepting invite without discussing with father first.
I would try to take him to some parties when convenient - but ask for invites to be passed directly to father so that father deals direct with party organisers and accepts or declines directly. I would also take child to party and stay/pick up from party.

Just out of interest is the 4 hour round trip due to mother or father moving?

breaktheroutine Wed 17-Apr-13 13:54:14

5 year old love parties - i would let him go to as many as he wants. If you insist he does "access" instead of parties then he may well come to resent "access"

bluebell8782 Wed 17-Apr-13 13:59:35

Unfortunatley this is something that will come up over and over again the older he gets. It isn't fair that your DSS should miss out on a party but also unfair on you as a family to not have the full time together.

The only way this will work is if the mum ASKS first. My DSD's mum does this - doesn't ask, just tells us that our weekend will be cut short. We don't begrudge DSD having a life and wanting to see her friends but we do often have plans that will then have to be changed.

I would swallow this one but your partner needs to have a chat and say that it would be appreciated if he was asked and given the decision.

bollockstoit Wed 17-Apr-13 14:04:20

I must admit that I tell ds's dad that he will be going to a party if he is invited to one, ds's dad would never expect ds to miss a party though, in fact he is taking him to one soon. We only live about 1.5 hours apart though, and exp was the one to move, so I suppose I think, well why should ds miss out on things that are going on at home because his father has decided to move away from him?

ChasingSquirrels Wed 17-Apr-13 16:30:10

It is the distance that makes it more difficult.

When my ds's get invites related to time they will be with their dad I pass the invite over to him - totally his responsibility to deal with the invite, from deciding (hopefully with dc) whether they will attend, responding, sorting out a card/present and getting them there and back.
Sometimes they can go, sometimes (if there are already other arrangements) they can't - exactly the same as invites they get on when they are with me.

Occasionally invites cross over a normal handover time - in which case I discuss them with their dad and we agree on the arrangements.

I wouldn't dream of accepting an invite for a time they with their dad, nor would I make any promises to ds's at to whether they could go to it.

But, we only live 20 mins apart - so it is easy for them to attend from either house.

Personally, from where you are at the moment, I would take dss to the party - but make sure that his dad makes it clear to his mum that in future any invites that occur in the time he is with his dad are passed on for his dad to deal with - that his dad isn't prepared to have his mum dictate what happens in his time with his son.
And then enforce that in the future if his mum choses to make the decision herself, by not taking him.

I would then make sure you do as my ex does - take over full responsibility for all arrangements concerning the party.

JumpingJackSprat Wed 17-Apr-13 17:12:15

Thanks for your replies everyone. if dss really wants to go of course we will take him but its the fact we werent asked and now hes at school this is going to happen time and again so wanted to get some more perspectives. DPs ex moved away hence the distance and has recently cut contact from every weekend to every other. ill speak to dp tonight. smile

balia Wed 17-Apr-13 20:54:39

If it helps, this was one of the excuses reasons that DH's ex went through a period of using. In our case, (we live 20 minutes from DSS)DH agreed happily to take DSS to parties, but this was refused - he was expected to return DSS to his Mum's house and pick him back up from there - thus one party could effectively wipe out a whole afternoon of contact.

When DH was next at court, ex made a big song and dance about how vital it was for DSS to attend parties - and one of the reports we got said it was important, but NOT at the expense of time with the other parent.

purpleroses Wed 17-Apr-13 22:06:44

I think what you need to do is to cut his mum out of the conversation altogether - your DP should ask her nicely if she can pass on invites to him (by email if necessary) in the future so he can decide if DS can attend. That's what I always do with party invites for my DCs that fall on ex's weekends, and my DP's ex does similarly with the DSC - she tells DP of the invite and he sorts it out. Sometimes they go and sometimes they don't.

There's no easy answers - it depends on how much he wants to go, what other plans you have, and how often he gets these invites. But it's your DP's decision to make after speaking to his DS (and you)

IME - 5 year olds quite commonly invite the whole class to parties. Some will love to attend everything going (my DD did) but others (like my DS) are really not that fussed and probably just as happy to spend an afternoon bumbling around with dad. They tend to get somewhat fewer invites as they get a bit older, and start to have firmer groups of friends.

allfornothing Thu 18-Apr-13 00:12:25

Purple, while I agree completely with you that neither parent should make decisions on behalf of the other, I disagree that one parent (mum, in this case) should be 'cut out completely' and am surprised that such a hard line attitude should be taken when it comes to parenting a child.

My view on parties is that in most 'together' families, the child would be able to attend parties, social events, trips, etc and the parents would accommodate this and consider it a normal part of family life. The idea that a child's time needs to be split according to the preferences of the parent that the child is with on that weekend is really quite sad. I fail to see why the child has to pay for the fact that his parents have split up. Notwithstanding huge distances between families (as in the op), to take the approach that 'my weekend-my decision' suggests that the child is paying for the life choices of the parents.

Xalla Thu 18-Apr-13 06:40:56

We do what Chasing Squirrels and Purple do; if the invite is for Dad's time it goes to him and he deals with it. If it's for Mum's time it goes to her and she deals with it. Like Chasing Squirrels though, we only have a 30 minute journey between the two houses.

If a school party falls on Dad's weekend it's nothing to do with Mum and vice versa.

The only time this wouldn't happen is if say it was a party from Mum's side of the family and it fell on Dad's weekend. In that case, if Mum really wanted DSD to go, they'd swap a day - DSD would spend the day / night with Mum instead and Dad would have an extra day / night to compensate for it.

I think if your DSS's Mum is insisting he attend this party, your DP should possibly return him to his Mum in the morning and ask for a days contact in lieu.

Ledkr Spain Thu 18-Apr-13 06:55:48

Parties are so important at this age so yrs I'd be led by him but surely if its your weekend then you just take him to his parties and activities as you would do if you had him full time.
Fwiw I don't think twice about accepting invites for dd and just discuss it with her dad but we live close so easier.
Just keep the child in mind and you won't go far wrong.

NotaDisneyMum Thu 18-Apr-13 07:00:54

My view on parties is that in most 'together' families, the child would be able to attend parties, social events, trips, etc and the parents would accommodate this and consider it a normal part of family life.

I think that entirely depends on the family and the priorities they have.

While some place a high value on a DCs social life from a young age at the expense of "family time" other "together families" prefer to focus on home and family at weekends. I don't see why DCs with separated parents are any more likely to suffer ill effects; in fact, it is possible that one parent will more accommodating than the other and the DC may well end up going to more parties than if their parents had remained together!

NotaDisneyMum Thu 18-Apr-13 07:04:39

Fwiw I don't think twice about accepting invites for dd and just discuss it with her dad but we live close so easier.
Just keep the child in mind and you won't go far wrong.

But how on earth do you know that Dad hasn't got something else planned when you accept? Does he provide you with an advanced schedule, or do you expect him to change his plans to accommodate parties you accept?

Xalla Thu 18-Apr-13 07:24:09

That is true Disney. There are 'together families' in my son's class whose children never attend any of the parties because they have a particular family activity they prefer to do.

purpleroses Thu 18-Apr-13 08:35:14

allfornothing - The idea that a child's time needs to be split according to the preferences of the parent that the child is with on that weekend is really quite sad - I don't see anything sad about the parent they are with whose plans may need changing to accommodate a party being the one who decides whether the DC can go. It is a bit sad if the DC really wants to go to a party and can't, but that's their parent who's looking after them's decision to make. It's no more the mum's business to decide whether the DS gets to attend a party when he's with his dad, than it is up to his dad to decide whether he can go on the weekends when he's with his mum. I presume that if the OP's DP found an invite in his DS's bookbag for a party when he should be with his mum, he would pass it on to her to deal with. And she should do the same with him.

Ledkr Spain Thu 18-Apr-13 08:44:40

No disneymum he doesn't provide me with a schedule but his weekends are very relaxed anyway, they cook or go out for lunch, take dd and his dds to the park or occasionally have a day out.
I mention she has a party and he either fits it in with his day or changes his day.
We use that age old skill of communication and compromise which I know isn't as easy for other people.
We have been split a long time though and are pretty good friends so I'm aware im lucky. His dds come to my little dds parties.

Ledkr Spain Thu 18-Apr-13 08:50:27

else planned when you accept? Does he provide you with an advanced schedule, or do you expect him to change his plans to accommodate parties you accept?

No but I expect him to change his plans to allow his daughter to do something she enjoys and wants to do.
Also as the get older there will be other stuff,dance shows, school fetes, brownie or guide camps etc . It's not fair for then to miss stuff just because their parents have split up.

bluebell8782 Thu 18-Apr-13 09:23:15

It's common courtesy to inform the other parent about a party invite/activity etc.. I imagine most loving parents wouldn't say no to their child going to a party on their contact weekend but there certainly is the exception of plans being made and being difficult to cancel.

The parents have split - normal family procedures don't always apply. The other parent just needs to leave it up to the one for that particular contact time - to me that's just basic respect for the time between the child and parent and parent and child.

NotaDisneyMum Thu 18-Apr-13 10:25:47

I expect him to change his plans to allow his daughter to do something she enjoys and wants to do.

What if there's already something planned with Dad that she wants to do and enjoys?

What if his car is off the road and he can't get there?

What if they've got a weekend away to visit DGP planned?

DCs can't always do everything they want - or does this only apply to together families? What about RP? Do they always accommodate their DCs wishes and wants? Or is that expectation reserved for NRP?

allfornothing Thu 18-Apr-13 13:34:35

I struggle to understand the contradictory nature of some opinions on here at times. On one hand we hear that children in blended families are entitled to normal family life/have two homes etc, and on another hand hear that children spending more time with parents is more important than attending parties. I just don't see that in any in family set up (whether together, blended or whatever) that it is considered best for the child to spend every minute with parents having quality time, than being with friends from time to time. If the family is a family, then surely this involves helping the child fulfil their social needs, as well as you would say, physical or educational needs?

MirandaWest Thu 18-Apr-13 13:39:38

If either of DC has a party to go to that's when they're with XH I'll check with him to see if he's doing anything with them that weekend and then accept. Or he'll accept. As we live about 15 minutes apart that makes it easier than if we were further apart. I agree with other posters that being able to communicate about it makes life easier. If there were a party one of the DC really wanted to go to and wasn't able to because of something else XH was needing to do then I would probably take the DC.

MirandaWest Thu 18-Apr-13 13:40:24

Although both DC know that sometimes they can't go to parties and its just how life goes.

allfornothing Thu 18-Apr-13 13:43:55

And also, I honestly think its not as easy to say 'just pass the invite on to whichever parent and let them deal with it'.
I am friends with many of my child's friends parents. More often than not the invites are handed straight to me or I'm contacted directly by phone. We live in a small community etc so it's rarely possible for me to get away with simply passing an invite on. A lot of the time, I help my friends out at parties or they make it a bit of a social occasion for all...so it just makes it more difficult to leave the rsvp up to my child's dad. She missed her own best friends birthday last summer because it was 'his day'.
Her best friend. She was absolutely gutted. If she has a brownies event that falls on his day, he takes that day back off me because according to him, it's my fault that she's a member of brownies in the first place.
It's all so damaging.

bluebell8782 Thu 18-Apr-13 13:50:56

allfornothing - I think it's important for children to enjoy social lives as well as family time but I think what you've pointed out depends on how often the NRP gets to see their child.

In my case we are only allowed EOW, Sat morn to Sun eve, so not even a full weekend. If my SD has a party Saturday we can't see her at all for the rest of the weekend as we are not allowed to take her to any events etc.. so then we don't spend any quality time with each other for another two weeks! I realise my situation isn't the same as a lot of everyone else's but if a family live together this sort of thing doesn't matter so much. When a family splits, the whole 'family-time' is so different and just isn't as easy as all that. I don't believe though that even the NRP expects to spend every minute with their child.

purpleroses Thu 18-Apr-13 13:52:08

allnew - but the answer to the problem you describe is not for the mother to just start making unilateral decisions about whether the DCs can do parties on their dad's weekend. It's for their dad to be a bit more reasonable and accommodating about letting them do some things.

My DD missed a close friend's party at Easter, because her dad was away with her. It's quite normal to miss some parties - could just as easily have been me away with her.

If you're demanding that your ex takes DD to parties on his weekends (especially ones when you'll be there anyway helping out) then I can see why he would consider this effectively making that "your" day, and demanding one at some other time. Much better to let the DCs work it out with their dad direct.

Latemates Thu 18-Apr-13 13:52:15

all for nothing:
yes a normal family life and i don't think anyone disputes that where possible the parent caring for the child at that time should take child to a party if it is feasible. The problem is one parent should not dictate what parties/activities must be attended when the child is with the other parent.
We often get demands to take a child somewhere, if we do not give an immediate affirmation response all hell breaks loose. A fact of life is sometimes other factors mean that it is not possible for the child to attend everything. This would be the same in any family situation.

Sometimes other things may have been arranged for that date that can't be changed. There may be transport difficulties or any manner of things could be happening that prevent that parent being able to take a child to one particular party.

Sometimes - it has occurred that the child doesn't want to go but one parent demands it as a way of preventing that child time with the other parent.

Each situation is unique but I believe that invites should be passed onto the parent the child is with at the time of the party and that parent can respond. There is not need for the other parent to be involved or cause upset for the children by starting rows.

bluebell8782 Thu 18-Apr-13 13:52:56

Just seen your next post! In your case I think your ex is unfair in that sense. Again, I think all our opinions are based on what we are experiencing - so all different smile

Latemates Thu 18-Apr-13 13:58:18

All for nothing ;

I think you need to decide if the child attending a party so you can see the parents you are friends with is your focus or if its the child attending the party which is important.

The father is more than capable of phoning the parent to reply about a party, he is more than capable of taking the child to the party and if they need helpers he is more than capable of helping.

it is good for both parents to get to know the parents of their childrens friends and if you stop interfering you may be surprised that your child ends up getting to go to far more parties and events

allfornothing Thu 18-Apr-13 14:08:57

I don't get all this reference to 'demanding' . There's a fair bit of transference going on here, perhaps from your own experiences which is fair enough, but not exactly fair to assume we are all doing the same.

I don't demand anything, I ask. The idea that just because I might also be present at an event, its an underhanded by me to 'have another day'. Why would my presence at a 2hr party be so abhorrent that another day should be given to replace it? That smacks to me as treating the child as a possession and the other parent as beneath contempt.

allfornothing Thu 18-Apr-13 14:10:29

'Stop interfering'

Jesus, why the contempt for the other parent. Really, why?

Galangal Thu 18-Apr-13 14:14:41

I let xh know there's an invite and ask if he's ok with it during his time and ok to do the running around. I do the RSVP and buy the gift etc because he just wouldn't.

If she has an event from one of her activities then I do the same - I let him know that she'd like to go but do all the arrangements/packing/paying myself. I give him loads of notice and he even gets the emails about events directly, so he knows they're on. He has recently moaned that there are activities on his weekends and it limits his contact. He'd have a point, but he had the dates of the activities before he agreed to have her that weekend, when I asked when he'd like her instead he couldn't tell me, he refused to have her for the whole weekend when there was an activity for part of it, and he refuses it when offered in the school holidays. So it is more about finding a reason to have a go than actually wanting to spend more time with dd. In principle though, if he wanted her for an extra weekend because she was busy doing other stuff while she was with him I wouldn't mind, I think that's fair enough.

I think it's a case of being respectful of the other parent's time and choices about what they do. I wouldn't want him telling me what to do when dd was with me, and I don't tell him either.

purpleroses Thu 18-Apr-13 14:16:40

Asking is only asking if the other person has the right to say no without further issue.

If the invite is already accepted, the DC told they can go, and the mum has offered to help out at the party, then "asking" the dad if they can do the party isn't really asking at all, is it? Wasn't meaning to suggest you shouldn't attend the party, but it does suggest a bit that it's a social thing you want to do with your DC, not some independent part of their life that their dad should honour really.

Hence the right thing to do being to pass the invite on to the other parent (or fine to ask, if you do so before comitting the DC to attending).

NotaDisneyMum Thu 18-Apr-13 14:58:06

I just don't see that in any in family set up (whether together, blended or whatever) that it is considered best for the child to spend every minute with parents having quality time, than being with friends from time to time

I agree. A NRP who encourages their DCs to spend time with friends and doing activities while in their care is to be commended.

But why is it the responsibility of the RP to arrange this? If the NRP has made arrangement for the DCs while they are with him - why should those arrangements be set to one side in favour of plans made by the RP?

It's quite possible for a DC to have friends "at Dads house" that Mum doesn't even know! DCs may be members if clubs, do activities or socialise with others all on "Dads time". The assumption seems to be that "Dad" is sitting around waiting to make the most of every second of contact he has - which he should give up if Mum says there is something more important for the DC to engage in.

Latemates Thu 18-Apr-13 15:32:19

I think you will find that if you read post carefully I am clearly using demanding in a personal experience not referring that all parents are demanding.

I suggested you stop interfering in the fathers time as you may then find the child is taken to more things. Result the child attends more parties/or if father doesn't take child he/she is no worth off as he is currently refusing anyway. If the focus is the child attending parties then you can pass this on to father direct surely. Why not give it a try to see what happens?

allfornothing Thu 18-Apr-13 15:51:31

I fail to see how occasionally attending the same event as my child (close family friends) should result in ex being given that time back. I've attended many events/parties as the only parent without her child, because dd was with ex that weekend. I haven't held it against him because that's his time.. It's pretty bizzare that you have concluded from that that I interfere in my ex's time with dd.shock
What I do not think is fair, is keeping dd away from important events like her best friend. I'm unsure if its because I might have been there (I'm best friends with her mum) but either way, it stinks to punish a child like that and even stinkier to demand that if dd attends a brownie trip or whatever, that that time should be given back to him. She is a person, with a life of her own and a social calendar of her own. She is not possession to be split down the middle!

And 'demanding' was used by purple,
who made the assumption that I 'demand' anything at all.

Galangal Thu 18-Apr-13 16:00:04

I think it's fair enough if the activity means they dont see the other parent much. My dd sees precious little of her Dad as it is. He loses out on so much that I get to do with her ( his choice) that I can only see it as a good thing if he wanted some more time with her.

purpleroses Thu 18-Apr-13 16:14:17

allnew - maybe I've got you wrong - but if you don't think that it's up to your ex to decide whether DD attends a party, then you're deciding for him, then that's demanding that he does what you decide he does isn't it?

allfornothing Thu 18-Apr-13 16:23:24

Purple, yes you have got me wrong. If there is a party/event/outing/invite/activity of some sort that falls on ex's weekend, I ask him if he'll take dd. 9 times out of 10 he refuses. He even refuses to take her to an activity that she's been attending for two years, despite agreeing to it at the time. After he refuses, that's the end of the discussion. I do not demand anything whatsoever.

Doesn't mean I don't think it's lousy behaviour though and can't have an opinion about it, does it?

allnewtaketwo Thu 18-Apr-13 16:28:38

"She is a person, with a life of her own and a social calendar of her own. She is not possession to be split down the middle!"

I think this attitude is healthy. I've seen the devastating after effects on a much older child who is so used to being treated like a moveable chattel that he sees himself thus even age 17

Petal02 Thu 18-Apr-13 16:41:40

I just don’t see that in any family set up (whether together, blended or whatever) that it is considered best for the child to spend every minute with parents having quality time, than being with friends from time-to-time

Whilst I totally agree with this, many people view “access” as time that should be spent on an intensive, 1-2-1 basis by the child and parent. Which then leads to the “you can’t go to the party as it’s an access weekend.” And beyond that you end up with silly situations where a couple of hours here and there could end up being “refunded” because people get so anal about it.

I fail to see how occasionally attending the same event as my child (close family friends) should result in the ex being given that time back

Exactly – when you end up operating a credit/debit arrangement it just gets ridiculous. It’s more like banking than parenting when you have to “balance the books” like that.

Some ex wives don’t care if their children get reduced time with their Dad, whereas others insist that Dad does a very fixed allocation of parenting each week, and if Dad “gets away with“ a few hours one afternoon while the child’s at a party, he’ll have to do some extra parenting at another time so that he’s “done his share.”

Ledkr Spain Thu 18-Apr-13 16:51:20

Mine is an eleven year old girl and trust me when I say there is nothing more important to her grin if his car is off the rd then ill take her or he sees her another day. For us it's no big deal but I am fully aware it's different if there is a big distance involved or no way of changing the day.
Dd sees her gps at a separate time as we are still on great terms.

Ledkr Spain Thu 18-Apr-13 16:52:23

The use of the term "our weekend" is a bit misleading. It's also the child's weekend.

Petal02 Thu 18-Apr-13 16:58:01

Yes, it is also the child's weekend - but when you've got one (or both) parent who insists on exact allocations each week, you can see why problems arise.

allfornothing Thu 18-Apr-13 17:05:24

Wise words petal, put much better than me!

mumandboys123 Thu 18-Apr-13 18:39:48

oh I hate the party thing....we have 3 children. My ex refuses to take them to parties as a general rule, although if asked, he'll say that he'll take the child and I go to the trouble of buying a gift and card and send it with the invitation and they don't attend...I never see the gift again and the fact I demanded (which I don't - I always ask and am always happy to decline an invitation) makes me unreasonable and encroaching on 'his' time with the children.

From my point of view, as a full-time working parent, even as the resident parent, I don't get a lot of time with my children. I very much value my quality time and that is split between my ex and I. Who is going to 'refund' me 'my time' if I do what the children want and take them to parties when they are with me? From my perspective this is just another one of those things that the children will remember - who did their best by them and who played games.

SoWhatIfImWorkingClass Thu 18-Apr-13 20:19:53

In a very similar situation, DSD's mum arranged for her to go to her friend's house for a sleepover ON HER DAD'S WEEKEND. She just texted him on the Thursday telling him she had arranged it for the Saturday night. He wasn't happy as we had already made plans to do stuff as a family and said she isn't going and that's that. He stood his ground as he should do. DSD's friend started crying in the playground and her mum started hurling abuse at my DP in the street, calling him a "tight arse" and a "selfish bastard". She has a huge grudge against him now over one little sleepover that didn't go ahead due to his ex's thoughtless last minute planning with this psychotic mum at school.

Petal02 Thu 18-Apr-13 21:05:17

Mumandboys - you make an excellent point: even if you're a resident parent, if you work long hours you might not get much more 'quality time' than a NRP, yet no one 'refunds' lost time if the child goes to a party on one of your weekends.

I used to have similar discussions with DH: if DSS ever went to any sort of event on an access weekend, the time would have to be made up so that the books balanced (the ex was a very stringent book keeper) yet who ensures the RP gets a ''credit' for parties taking place in her time????

allfornothing Thu 18-Apr-13 21:38:32

I like your description of credit/debit and refunds petal. It kinda puts it all into perspective, which is that these children are being treated like a bloody checking book.
To be clear,I don't at all support the idea that I can make arrangements for dd on my 'ex's time'. I don'tmake arrangements on his time. What I also don't support however, is the notion that if dd has a social commitment/invite that happens on his weekend, the only two solutions are a) A flat out 'no' or b) if the child is allowed to go, I must be punished for that by losing time at a late date.

I stand by my earlier point, that these children are people in their own right. I have a problem with references to 'my time/his time, when there's a little person in the middle of all that who can't attend social functions because their parents can't get past their own principles of what they believe to be right and fair.

Latemates Fri 19-Apr-13 08:13:42

I don't think time needs to be made up/books balanced etc. But i do think it is common curtesy to not make the decision over events/parties when the children are with the other parent.
Thats the issue her one parent making unilateral decisions that cause the child upset due to getting mixed messages.
last minute notice, accepting without checking that it is doable lead to unnecessary conflict. And this isn't fair on the child at all

catsmother Fri 19-Apr-13 09:35:16

I simply don't get all the hysteria over the party issue.

I was a single mum for many years myself prior to becoming a stepparent and obviously had party invites for my child which every so often clashed with their dad's contact time. It was no big deal, for me, my ex or our child as the simple rule was that we discussed it with my ex before accepting an invitation as a courtesy in case he'd planned anything which couldn't easily be undone. 9 times out of 10 there was no problem - we'd agree to "swap" a weekend, my child would go to the party and no-one would "lose out" .... my child had the party, I had my "me time" on another weekend, and my ex would see our child a weekend earlier or later. Our child was fine with this - even on the very rare occasions where their dad had booked non refundable tickets or committed to a family celebration because it was clear there was no game playing going on, no cries of "it's not fair, it's my weekend", and that the vast majority of the time a solution could be found which was acceptable to all. This was all done as soon as possible as well - no last minute surprises or disappointments. My ex lived about 40 miles away so it was clearly easier if I took our child to any parties.

My experience of parties with my partner's ex has however been horrendous and they have been just another opportunity for her to sh*t stir and play games. She lives over 100 miles away (she moved) so the distance compounds things but that's still no excuse for a total lack of basic courtesy and communication. If DP was "lucky" he'd be told, usually at the 11th hour, that the kids weren't coming that weekend as they had a party. No regard for any plans he may have made, no regard for his disappointment - or indeed the kids', and her being bloody rude because there's no way on earth she'd have only found out about a party on Thursday night when he was due to collect them Friday evening. I say "lucky" though because at least he wouldn't have had a wasted journey or have been placed in an impossible position, because her preferred method of dealing with parties on "his" contact weekends was often to let him collect the kids, as normal, without any mention of a party at all .... then text him (so no opportunity to have a real time discussion as she'd refuse to answer the phone) say, on Sat night (after shops had shut) or on Sun morning and TELL him the kids had to come home early as they had a party at 1pm - here's the address, you'll have to collect them as I'm out, deal with it. Again, no regard for our plans, no regard for the fact the car might not have been available at that time if I was using it say, no regard for us having to buy presents and cards (we're on a very tight budget) and putting us in an impossible position because the children had been told their dad was taking them to the party and obviously had no idea that this was news to him! Repeatedly asking her to communicate with courtesy had no effect and this dropping us in it happened many times over the years. We've had to endure upset and tantrums from the children on some occasions where we really did have genuine other plans - like family get togethers - which DP didn't want to cancel - or couldn't cancel, because other people were relying on us and would otherwise have been let down. It was awful, and when they were younger I used to dread contact weekends as we could never tell when this sort of thing might crop up .... it got so bad we'd ask the kids if they knew about any parties (tactfully) but obviously you can't expect or depend upon small kids to remember times and dates.

In our case, parties were nothing to do with what the kids wanted - though of course if DP ever dared to object to how rude and unreasonable she was being that'd be thrown at him - how he was stopping his kids doing what they wanted, how he was selfish not to take them etc. No, they were all about her causing us maximum disruption and unexpected expense. Thing is, had she been reasonable and discussed this all in advance, DP would have reacted just like my ex used to and would have been happy to swap weekends to accommodate parties - there'd have been no question of him insisting upon "his" time to their detriment.

Overall, while I accept that most children love going to parties and that it's nice to try and enable this wherever possible I do also think it's important to raise children who appreciate that the world doesn't revolve around them alone and that it's basic courtesy to consider the effects of what you do on others before you do it. Hence me always saying to my child that before accepting an invite we'd need to speak to dad. In a similar vein, my child also knew that there were some rare occasions where I might have made plans which made a party impossible that particular time. DP's ex though was of the "why should the children miss out because their parents are split" school which was hypocritical bollocks because this was only ever rolled out to paint DP as "bad dad" if he ever objected to the way she went about the whole thing - not parties per se - and never applied this maxim to herself when she declined invites because she had something different she wanted to do with the kids. It had nothing to do with a splitn and everything to do with her game playing, causing disruption whenever she could and being spiteful.

Kaluki Fri 19-Apr-13 12:03:01

I don't see what the fuss is about either.
If my kids are invited out on a weekend they will be with my ex I don't accept and say I will let them know when I've spoken to him.
If they are free (and they usually are) he will take them. DS is 13 now and often wants to see his mates at weekends which his dad and I facilitate where possible. Common sense!!
DP's ex accepts offers regardless and often turns up at the said party to see the DSC while they are there which is of course 'stealing' DP's time. They argue about every school disco (Friday nights are DP's time so he loses out!!)
Who suffers? Ex? DP? No - the poor kids do. They feel guilty for something which other kids (mine included) take for granted.
It is easing up now and they are being more reasonable but its taken a long time to get here and God only knows what damage it has done their kids.

allfornothing Fri 19-Apr-13 12:09:29

'Stealing DP's time'

You've just proven my point of treating these kids as possessions.

Latemates Fri 19-Apr-13 12:21:52

Kaluki point is that the mother in her DP case is creating the situation where people become time focused/possesive by making decisions/demands for the father without consultation or consideration.

In these high conflict scenarios it is children who suffer most. By the mother turning up the children become torn and again in the middle and this rather makes the party less enjoyable for them.

It all rather depends on the intentions of either parent and also the results of the action taken by the parent.

in out case the mother making decisions/responding to invites/demanding behaviour is a form of controlling our lives and causing conflict. It is the children who suffer. If she thought about them first shr would not behave the way she does but she justifies all manner of behaviour by saying she is doing it for the children because she loves them most

Latemates Fri 19-Apr-13 12:22:21

Very well written post cats mother smile

allfornothing Fri 19-Apr-13 13:33:26

I get this all the time though and it's exhausting. If I ask can dd attend an event, I'm controlling their lives. If I happen to be (rarely) attending the same event I'm 'stealing their time and it needs to be paid back. If I supply the presents for birthday parties dd is allowed to attend, I'm controlling. If I don't, I'm forcing an expense on ex. If I make any form of a request, it isn't a request, but a 'demand'.

Honestly, I'm not extrapolating my experience here because I know most people aren't my ex, but there's a fair bit of extrapolating going on here. Sometimes, just sometimes it's worth considering that the other parent is not in fact attempting to sabotage your family life, but is just trying to get on with their own, whilst meeting the social needs of their child.

Kaluki Fri 19-Apr-13 13:40:20

Don't think I'm agreeing with how DP and his ex carry on. I'm not.
They are boy guilty of game playing and using the Dsc as pawns in their battles sad
Ie learnt to detach now though as I actually can't be arsed to keep on about it to him. He knows what I think.

catsmother Fri 19-Apr-13 14:24:11

Yes, Allfornothing, unfortunately, it takes both parents being courteous, fair, honest, communicative and mindful of everyone affected to thrash out a solution to the party situation. I'm sorry your ex seems to be pretty petty when these events arise for you.

Personally, I've never suggested - in this thread or any other - that "all" ex-wives are rotten, just because my partner's is! I can however only speak from experience and sadly have to say that IME, some parents - whether it's the PWC or the NRP - do seize upon anything and everything they possibly can in order to cause unnecessary and avoidable inconvenience and expense for their ex - and sometimes their own kids too, to score points against the other parent by setting them up for a fall, to cause general unpleasantness and disquiet etc etc etc. Parties in particular are ideal occasions for anyone thus disposed to stir up trouble as most children do enjoy them, want to attend, and it's therefore relatively easy for someone inclined that way to place the other parent in an almost impossible position. I remember one time we were actually already out for the day - when DP got a text about a party which would have meant us leaving for home immediately in order for him to get the skids back in time. The kids themselves were enjoying our day out and hadn't mentioned this party at all. DP texted his ex back straight away to say this would be impossible, that he'd made plans for the whole family in all good faith and so on - and received in response, a whole spew of ranty texts about what a crap dad he was, how he was being selfish, letting his kids down and so on. He didn't take them back but spent the whole day on edge, fretting that the kids would suddenly say something (they didn't, I wonder to this day if there actually was a party at all) and worrying that they were "missing out". In situations like that, there's no doubt in my mind at all that the ex's intent was to sabotage our family life, what other excuse could she possibly have for informing us at the very last moment ? - so it does happen. If she really cared about facilitating her children's social needs, she'd have ensured she'd have discussed any upcoming party well in advance with DP - if on "his" time - to make sure there was no clash, and no possibility of them missing it.

allfornothing Fri 19-Apr-13 17:10:02

Point scoring, yes I can identify with that. Ex has even banned me from popping into say hello to dd at her childminders on 'his' day. He isn't even there, but can't bear the thought of me being anywhere near dd.

brdgrl Sat 20-Apr-13 02:14:25

But surely time with a parent isn't only for the kid's benefit. It is also for the benefit of the parent. Can we all stop pretending that adults are meant to be selfless and see their time with their children ONLY in terms of the benefit to the child? Obviously a child's needs come first - but there are also the needs of the parent, and often of other children as well. It is not regarding a child as a possession to acknowledge that the love a parent feels for a child is by nature possessive and motivates many parents to actually want to spend as much time as possible with the child. I suspect there will be times over the coming years when I refuse to let DD attend a particular social event because I want to spend time with her. Selfish? OK...

A kid may want to go to a party. Does he/she have a need to go? Possibly, or possibly there is a need to go "to parties" more generally but not to each and every party specifically. Does the "need" for the party trump the need of the child, in the long-term, to cultivate a relationship with both parents? Or with half-siblings and step-siblings?

allfornothing Sat 20-Apr-13 08:36:43

I hardly think attending a party would negatively impact on the ability to cultivate relationships with parents and siblings! Isn't that a bit dramatic? Unless you're talking about the child literally being busy with parties and events every weekend, (which wouldn't be acceptable), then I still believe they have the right to that time with friends and parents should, where possible support it.

Galangal Sat 20-Apr-13 09:43:23

Your ex sounds a nightmare allfornothing. And I agree, going to a party or even parties isn't going to jeopardise a relationship with a parent. It's what you do in the time you do have them that counts.

Alwayscheerful Sat 20-Apr-13 10:10:47

Children go through phases of receiving no party invitations, invitations every week and sometimes two per weekend.

Families can find themselves ferrying children from swimming to dancing to a party on a Saturday. And again on a Sunday. Petrol and gifts are expensive and the amount of time involved is huge and sometimes dominates the weekends.

Two parent families and split families should both consider balance in family life. Life is not all about what children want or what they need sometimes it is about what the adults want and need too. Weekends can be about pleasure but they can also be about rest and relaxation and that includes children and adults. I think getting the balance right is important, children need to enjoy themselves at the weekend but not at the expense of adults. It is good for cHildren to return to school on Monday rested and relaxed, Sometimes just chilling at home as a family is more important than another party, good for adults and children. It can help to teach children to be selective to help them make the right the choices eg choose the party on a Saturday? Or the party on A Sunday? The party 10 miles away or the party round the corner? Choose between a
family occasion at their grandparents or best friend party. Life is full of hard choices and it is never too early to teach life skills.

For some families it works for Saturday to be a busy day and Sunday to be a relaxing day, others just run around like headless chickens all weekend insisting children should go to every party they are invited to. Parties are great for children visiting grandparents, time relaxing as family and family outings are good too.

In split families balance can only be achieved with communication, I do wonder if ex partners are sometimes more interested in control than balance in their children's lives.

Alwayscheerful Sat 20-Apr-13 10:13:05

Sorry missed a comma in last sentence
Parties are great for children,

JumpingJackSprat Sat 20-Apr-13 13:09:59

Good post alwayscheerful. thats the way i see it. my op probably made the situation out to be more fraught than it is. on this occasion we are taking him to the party and if the same situation arose again we would do again unless it clashed with something we had already arranged. dp's ex wasnt underhanded about the invite or anything like that but i just wanted to see how other families manage in case of any potential conflicting arrangements etc later on.

Alwayscheerful Sat 20-Apr-13 14:53:01

OP, sorry I was so ingrossed in the thread that I forgot your original post, my daughter has a little one and finds the party circuit expensive, exhausting and time consuming at the best of times , but as a family they are managing the situation by being selective.

As a blended family we found it very difficult because the Ex did not allow it, ocasionally on a Friday, she would send an invitation (but sometimes 2 ,one for saturday and one for Sunday) plus present all wrapped and insist the youngest DSS was to attend, with no regard for our plans, the childs wishes or the convenience, so I can sympathise with you, I would say start as you mean to go on, explain its fine this time and time with DSCs is precious, so please check next time. In an ideal world she should check your family plans before accepting or pass the invitation for your family to reply to. In practice this is courtesy which is shown.

Alwayscheerful Sat 20-Apr-13 14:54:01

rarely shown .. dam phone!

balia Sun 21-Apr-13 15:49:22

Can I just come back to a point made upthread about not replacing time that the DC miss with Dad because

"even if you're a resident parent, if you work long hours you might not get much more 'quality time' than a NRP"

Unless the parenting is 50/50, and particularly if the contact is the EOW, this is a staggeringly ridiculous justification for not replacing the time. I work full-time but the impact this has on my time with my DC's is NOTHING like the lack of time DH has with his DS. He gets 4 overnights a month. At the time his ex was insisting that parties were more important, DSS was getting 74 hours with his Dad per month. Trust me, that is nothing like having your child living with you, even if you do work long hours.

And later, when DSS told Cafcass how desperate he was for more time with Dad, he certainly didn't say that he would rather attend parties, or do more hobbies.

Petal02 Sun 21-Apr-13 16:41:14

But i still don't see the sense in making up a couple of hours that a NRP may lose if the child attends a party. So if Jonny attends a party from 2pm-4pm on an access weekend, his Dad can claim back 2 hours at a later date? This is just silly and the 'balancing the books' parenting model is a very slippery slope. Surely both parents will take a 'hit' on their time at some point, to the point that it balances itself out in the long run?

Petal02 Sun 21-Apr-13 17:03:18

I should add that regardless or how desirable (or otherwise) it's deemed to make up for any missed time, sometimes it's simply impractical. DH's ex used to insist, with mathematical precision, that any lost time was re-paid to the point that if we'd been on holiday for a fortnight, DH would be left with a 'debt of time' that was almost impossible to work off, unless he took time off work to facilitate extra access, because there are only so many evening/weekend hours in the week. As I said, compensatory access is a slippery slope - and time spent at parties can soon become the least of your worries.

balia Sun 21-Apr-13 20:25:58

If either parent is going to be completely rigid and unreasonable then no system is going to work well for the DC's. And my point was not necessarily that all contact time should be 'made up', but that refusing to do so on the grounds that an RP has as little quality time as an EOW NRP is nonsense.

But how can it possibly balance out for the child when they spend so much more time with one parent? In our case, DSS got 74 hours with Dad, and nearly 600 hours with Mum. And if this limited time isn't prioritised (and certainly from our experience of the court process, Cafcass and other professionals, it should be) then what message is that sending the DC's? That time with Dad is optional, if a better offer comes along that's fine? It's not silly to make sure that the bond between parent and child is maintained, and the best way to do that is regular, quality contact. Attending a single party may not have a huge effect on that, but it's easy to say that parents should support children's social lives when you see your child every day. When attending a party takes 20% of the time your child has with you when he/she is awake, it's a very different thing.

mumandboys123 Sun 21-Apr-13 22:21:09

I didn't suggest, balia, that the RP should have their 'quality time' made up, I merely commented on the fact that my quality time with my children is very important to me, but there is an expectation that I ensure that our children are involved in various activities (not just parties) at the weekends. That time is never 'made up' to me in anyway. Either I forgo the activity (and do exactly this sometimes) or I ensure that our children are able to participate in a range of activities in the way that their friends are. My ex would soon start shouting if I didn't allow our children to participate

I'm not sure where you get the 600 hours from - does that include sleeping time and the time children are at school and parents are at work? I also stand by the fact that I don't get quality time with my children during the week although I accept the fact that it is time my ex doesn't get. I have about 2 1/2 hours a day during which time we are getting dressed/undressed, eating, tidying up, putting washing on, having a bath, finding shoes, dealing with school paperwork etc. I know it isn't the same for all NRPs but my ex certainly wouldn't swap roles with me if I gave him the chance - it's too much like hard work!

Galangal Mon 22-Apr-13 08:21:39

I don't understand the 600 hours either. I too get a couple of hours in the evening, taken up with chores, homework, activities, cooking.

NotaDisneyMum Mon 22-Apr-13 09:55:50

I know it isn't the same for all NRPs but my ex certainly wouldn't swap roles with me if I gave him the chance - it's too much like hard work!

That's not the case in the situations described here though, isn't it? In most of the cases described, the RP refuses to "allow" the NRP to play a more equal role in the DC's life, and at the same time, insists that the DC's time with the NRP is reduced further by prioritising the DC's activities such as parties and clubs above the DC's time with their NRP.

If a DC witnesses one parent placing a low priority on the (often very limited) contact that they have with their other parent, this influences the value that the DC places on that contact themselves. Like the RP, they begin the believe it's not important or valuable, and are comfortable with ever-diminishing contact, "after all, the RP thinks that school friends parties are more important". It's only later in life they may realise what they missed out on - and if they are lucky enough to have the chance, they may be able to build a relationship with their parent then.
In my opinion, there is nothing more important than the chance for a DC to understand the value of a relationship with their parent.

balia Mon 22-Apr-13 18:08:40

Excellent post, NADM, exactly what I was clumsily trying to express. The 600 hours thing - that's just basic hours in a day (over a 4 week period) for the purpose of showing the ratio of time and how unbalanced it is. You can chose any way of measuring you like - so long as you apply the same criteria to time at Dad's/NRP's because DC's sleep when they come to the other parent's house too, you know, and need meals preparing and putting in the bath and clothes washing and shoes finding and taking to sporting activities and shopping to do and all the other ordinary stuff life is made of. Most Dad don't or can't live in a bubble and clear the decks totally when DC's come over - and if they did it would be Disney parenting and hardly healthy for the DC anyway!

Petal02 Mon 22-Apr-13 19:31:09

I take your point Balia, but should point out that lots of non-resident Dads DO clear the decks (excellent expression) and create a bubble-like existence for their children!

balia Mon 22-Apr-13 19:50:18

Well in fairness I would be tempted to as well, if I only saw my DC's for such a small amount of time.

NotaDisneyMum Mon 22-Apr-13 19:55:43

And a lot of RP expect the NRP to do so, and complain bitterly when they don't!

Petal02 Mon 22-Apr-13 20:03:33

Disney parenting need a thread all if its own!!!!

willyoulistentome Mon 22-Apr-13 20:21:10

..so a random party invitation is one thing. Sorry to lead the conversation slightly off track, but what do you intend to do when DSS says he wants to join a weekend football club at home?
Just wondering what folks have done/would do about that? Years ago my DH wanted to enrol his son in OUR local rugby club, but it was pointless as he would never get picked due to missing EOW. Same would apply at the Mums end - 90 mins away. Neither would budge on access rights, so sporty DSS could never do any weekend sport.

allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 20:37:09

That's pretty sad willyoulisten, and hardly in the best interests of the child

Petal02 Mon 22-Apr-13 20:38:29

Willy, I think the strict adherence to the access rota is 90% to blame for DSS18's "failure to launch." Access rota came first, life/development/normality was not a priority.

willyoulistentome Mon 22-Apr-13 20:55:56

Yes - it is pretty sad. My DSS is also 18 now, and stopped coming EOW at about the age 14 when the older two girls also started wanting to go out at the weekend with their mates instead of coming to see us. I think you do need to let the kids have say iin what they want to do at weekends, where reasonably possible.

allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 20:59:46

Yes, and I think it needs to start early enough before it the rota is so engrained that it is no longer questioned. For example if a 14 yo is adhering to the rota to the letter and has no social life, it's a bid red warning signal. One I tried to point out but was ignored. We're seeing the effects now 3 years on from that with no end in sight. The rota still rules.

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