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Ex wants to take DD to Australia

(270 Posts)
skippy84 Sun 23-Jun-13 13:08:47

Looking for some honest opinions on this please. Ex and I split this time last year (his decision) we have a daughter who is two (three in October) since the split I have tried to facilitate as much contact between them as possible he has her a couple of nights a week and sees her in-between we also do things together the three of us at weekends or go out for dinner during the week. It has been hard for me to have this much contact with him particularly early on when I was very hurt over the split but I have always been very conscious of not letting my feelings get in the way of them having a great relationship.

My dilemma is this; his only sister and her family emigrated last week to Australia for work. Since he found out about their plans he has been asking to take DD to Australia for two weeks in the winter to see them. I have told him from the start that I am not comfortable with this. I think she is too young to be away from her main caregiver for that length of time. The main reason is that it's too far away and I am terrified that i wouldn't be able to get to her in an emergency. Also I think a flight of that length is too much to ask of a very active toddler for the sake of a two week holiday. He is taking this badly and keeps pushing the subject. I wouldn't mind but when his sister lived an hour up the road he only brought DD to see them maybe twice in the last year so it's not like they're particularly close. I have tried to be reasonable and even suggested if he was really set on it I would fly out with them and visit friends in another part of Australia for the two weeks just to get over my fear of her being so far away. He said he didn't want this either.

He brought this up again today and said he feels I am
just saying no to get at him or punish him for breaking up with me when this is really not the case at all. I feel like I have been so accommodating to him in all this and he just throws it back in my face because he can't get his own way in this scenario. I just wish he would accept my decision and stop pushing it.


maddy68 Thu 27-Jun-13 17:35:28

I think your feelings are totally understandable however she will be fine with her dad and her extended family.
It's you who is worrying unnecessarily tbh.
It is a long flight but that's her dads concern and worry.

I think you should let her go. I do know how hard it is for you

fabergeegg Thu 27-Jun-13 17:45:09

Ah, I see my post above repeated what had already been said. Sorry. Hebe - I did not mean to cause offence - I felt you were making a point based on your own choices (and you chose to have children and stay in the military, so yes, your choices). Fair enough, but you were making them in a way that implied that the OP's concerns weren't valid and were more about herself than the child. I perceived as an 'it's all in your selfish little head' comment - a demeaning and unnecessary way to speak to a woman who is being a heroine in a thankless situation. And while I have every hope that your little girl is actually as fine as you think, research has suggested that this isn't always the way it appears.

Penny - Regarding primary carer - the live-in parent is definitely the primary carer, say what you wish! The child's emotional security will be built on that at the moment. You can't eradicate that reality with a quick squirt of human rights. To others who have suggested that the ex will not have a chance to become a primary carer unless he takes DD to Australia...what rot. He's being given every opportunity and that is only likely to grow, given the OP's sensitivity. I would like to think that nobody would concoct this scheme as the ideal way to foster a primary bond between parent and child. High stress, new individuals, new surroundings, complete withdrawal of primary care giver and no concept of that ending, crazy stuff happening with sleep and heat...desperately awful idea and I sincerely hope the OP develops a sense of her own significance as an essential, daily part of her daughter's life, at least right now. We don't see any suggestions from her about going off on holiday...I wonder how the ex would feel.

notafan0fy00 Thu 27-Jun-13 18:11:35

There is no way on God's green earth that I would allow this, and I don't think you should either.

There is NO benefit to her in this. It is a long flight, a very, very long way away from home comfort and security, a long way from her primary caregiver - and for what? To see some people who live a very, very long way away and will not really be a significant part of her life, growing up? THEY are the ones that chose to go, if they want to see her, they know where she lives. She won't even remember the trip in a year or two.

She is a very small toddler and does not deserve to be hauled halfway around the world to be a pawn in what the adults in her life want to do. She deserves to feel safe, be around her mother and other people who choose to be involved in her life (ie not ones that fuck off to Oz).

I think the OP is being a great, concerned and bonded mother and the dad is being a selfish twat.

allnewtaketwo Thu 27-Jun-13 18:16:37

"and you chose to have children and stay in the military, so yes, your choices"

Yeah, how dare you choose to have a job and provide for your child hmm

Spero Thu 27-Jun-13 19:05:35

I agree it seems an odd career choice if leaving your child is so traumatic. No one is forced to join the army in this country or have a child. So I agree it is a question of choice ultimately.

allnewtaketwo Thu 27-Jun-13 19:07:49

Yes cos there's such a wide range of job choices in a recession

fabergeegg Thu 27-Jun-13 20:12:27

allnewtaketwo There are other jobs in the world. They don't all involve being thousands of miles away for months at a time. I don't think it's a wise or fair choice to have children if you are going to choose that occupation. But I expect someone will be along who will see it as a 'right' in a minute...

Prozacbear Thu 27-Jun-13 20:58:07

Having been in a similar situation, I think you are being a BU. And I entirely disagree with notafanofyoo - since we split, x-DP has taken DS (2.4) to Asia and the UAE, to see family who live and work there. Nobody has 'fucked off' - people live globally these days - half my family is in Africa and I would be livid if x-DP said DS couldn't see his family!

2/3 year olds do surprisingly well on long flights if they aren't too highly strung (at least as far as I can see - I've flown with DS a few times and there are always lots of babies/toddlers about). We use decent airlines where there is legroom so they can shuffle about, and the stewards/stewerdesses are really helpful with colouring books, sweets, etc. I'm biased, as my DS doesn't mind flying at all, and has had a great time on holiday - but taking children on flights isn't a cruel thing.

As for contact - if you get Skype on your phone you can speak to DD whenever you want, for pennies. I know it will be difficult, but she's with her dad who loves her and family who love her, and will care for her.

Prozacbear Thu 27-Jun-13 21:01:18

p.s. I should add that x-DP found the flights, shall we say, tiring(!) but it definitely hadn't put him off taking DS on hols again - they certainly weren't 'grim'.

And what DS (and many children who fly young) will get out of it is, hopefully, a love of travel and new places. I think that's a great thing to have.

Spero Thu 27-Jun-13 22:56:50

Colouring books! On a 24 hour flight hahahahahahah.

Clearly I live in a parallel universe or I have only ever flown on really cheap shitty planes.

Don't think I have ever seem a toddler allowed to 'shuffle about' on a long haul flight - or indeed any flight. Sounds a bit dangerous as well as irritating for any adult passengers.

Sorry, I don't want my post traumatic stress disorder following my last long haul flight to colour my judgment. I am clearly in a minority here and had a very odd toddler who weirdly found a very long trip in a confined space quite taxing. And who was distracted by colouring books for about 5 mins and who didn't want to watch any inflight entertainment thank you.

Pennyacrossthehall Thu 27-Jun-13 23:03:32

Fabergegg while it may be semantically incorrect, there can be more than one "primary" carer.

My DB has been in this position for years. His daughter sees him as often a possible every week, stays with him at least one night a week and every other weekend and he has taken her on holiday to another country to visit our parents, her grandparents, since she was very young. He is not a secondary parent!

Also, if it were not for those visits, from a young age, my niece would not have developed the relationship that she has with her grandparents.

Prozacbear Thu 27-Jun-13 23:20:25

Clearly no 2-year-old is going to colour for 24 hours (if only, yeezus), but my point is that they don't have to sit there silently, staring at the seat in front, for the entire time with their eyes propped open with matchsticks.

We've clearly had different experiences on planes, with toddlers. In any case, OP will not have to suffer either experience as she wouldn't be on the plane. My point is that it isn't Chinese water torture for small kids.

p.s. DS did indeed shuffle about and once the seatbelt lights were off, it was allowed. Perhaps this was a violation, but I've seen more turbulence on a stationary London bus.

mollygibson Fri 28-Jun-13 01:18:06

Sorry, haven't read whole thread.

But to the posters saying OP is making this all about herself - isn't that what ex is doing here? He's taking his daughter to Australia purely for his own gratification - what will a 3 year old possibly get out of this? If he's serious about taking her there why not wait a year or so until she's old enough to appreciate it? Especially since the sister only just moved - so it can't be that long since she saw her niece.

It's not all about the parents and what they have the "right" to do or not as the case may be - surely the child's wellbeing and comfort is the most important thing. Just because you have a legal right to do something doesn't mean you should!

fabergeegg Fri 28-Jun-13 02:34:02

penny Without getting hopelessly tied up in semantic knots, I see what you mean and wasn't exactly trying to suggest a dad was only a secondary parent. But I have a little girl of around this age and there is just no substitute for either of us - she needs us both around having regular input on a daily basis. She can do without if she has to but is does show. Personally, I think four is time enough to start being without mummy for ages, I just do. And if the OP thinks this I'd have every sympathy. It's not going to affect long-term relationships. And the OP was willing to go out there herself, so she's clearly not the sort to allow her DD to miss out on any of that anyway. She'll just do it in her own time, and why not.

Spero Fri 28-Jun-13 09:47:27

Unless separated parents live next door to each other and child is in and out of the houses and spending pretty much equal time with each, you can only have one primary carer. This isn't semantics, it's a statement of fact.

This is the sad reality of separated parenting. If you don't live with your child you inevitably play a lesser role in their day to day routine - and the younger the child the more significant this is for them.

This doesn't mean you are a 'bad' parent or your child doesn't love you or have a strong relationship with you - just that they may get quite distressed and unhappy if parted from their primary carer for a long time and worried about unfamiliar environment.

I didn't have any turbulence in my flights that I can remember. But I travelled economy with aisles too narrow for adults to pass comfortably so an attempt to 'shuffle about' with my toddler soon met a trolley or another adult wanting the loo.

I guess it must depend a lot on the temperament of your child. Mine was too young to watch the TV, she didn't fancy colouring for more than five minutes, she just desperately wanted to lie down and sleep which she couldn't do. So I would never ever travel a long distance with a child who was too small to zone out in front of a film for a while.

If I was op's ex I would want to try a shorter flight first and see how it went before plunging into long haul. I am guessing this planned trip to Australia would be her first airplane trip?

fabergeegg Fri 28-Jun-13 12:23:38

I think I agree Spero.

Spero Fri 28-Jun-13 12:40:13

I appreciate this pushes a lot of buttons for some people, particularly as it usually the father who ends up being NRP and of course I accept that sadly there are mothers who genuinely and maliously seek to belittle the father and push him out.

But just because some mothers do that does not alter what seems to be inescapable to me (and increasingly many judges) that if you have a pre school child who has had the majority of physical and emotional care provided by one parent, it is that parent who provides the primary attachment and you shouldn't go messing about with that to meet an adults wish to go on holiday.

As the op is very clearly NOT one of those mothers trying to interfere with fathers bond with his child, it is sad that he cannot apparently recognise this and be grateful for it.

Why not go away for a week in the UK, have a lovely time, and plan an OZ trip in next couple of years?

My mum had to leave me for a week to go into hospital when I was three. When she came back I was still in the same dress she left me in as dad did not think to change my clothes. But I told her I had had 'a lovely time' just me and dad. But this was in my home. Whether I would have been quite so happy to go around the world on a plane is another matter entirely.

fabergeegg Fri 28-Jun-13 15:11:33

Well said Spero. That perspective seems to require more thought and teamwork than the old 'I get half, you get half' approach.

Dadthelion Fri 28-Jun-13 16:23:37

I agree with Spero.

I wouldn't have wanted my ex to take our son away to Australia at that age for two weeks, but that's not important.

And our son wouldn't have wanted to go without me, and would have been very upset. That is important.

Spero Fri 28-Jun-13 16:45:00

Yes, it is not a mum/dad battle, it's asking yourself if a very young child would be upset being away from primary carer for so long.

If the answer is 'yes' you then have to weigh the degree of upset against the importance of the reason for travelling.

I think it's adult rationalising to say these kind of trips will inspire very little children to have love of adventure. Very little children find even a walk to the park an adventure. They don't need or want to be overwhelmed by long haul travel.

Sounds like op has really tried to think things through - the ex, not at all.

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