Contact with DC(36 Posts)
Hey all, I'll try and be brief. Split with STBXH in September. I was working nights at the time and was willing to cut out my midweek nights but ex said he was happy to have DS1 so I could work. At the time I was 18 weeks pregnant, shocked, upset and worried about living on my own so I agreed.
It's now 7 months later and this arrangement is still in place. He expects to have DS2 for the same nights. The midweek nights have become a problem though. Ex doesn't collect DS1 until 6-6.30pm. At this time he will have normally had tea and be chilling out before bath and bed. But if he's going to his dads he is having tea late and going to bed late and the following day he is knackered! I've tried to talk to ex about it and he just dismisses me and gets annoyed. I want to cut out the midweek nights completely and I've offered for ex to visit the boys in the week if he wants.
Sorry, but I think YABU. The arrangement suited you at the time. Now your circumstances have changed, so you want ExH to miss out on his nights with DS1. That doesn't seem fair and a 'visit' is not the same.
Rather than try to stop ExH having your son mid-week, can't you focus on getting him to pick him up from school (if he is school age), so that he doesn't have such a late night?
He's not school age yet. So arrangements are set in stone? Can't ever be changed? Like I said, I have tried talking to him, suggested he finish work early one day a week. He said he can't. I don't want to change things because my circumstances have changed, it's because DS1 is tired and irritable the next day from being kept up late.
can't you give him is tea first so all ExH has to do is a quick bed and possibly bath? If thats the time he finishes work you can't expect him to change that and I don't think he should have to give up his night.
I think it's fine to change arrangements but not so that one party loses some of the time they used to spend with with the children. I agree with pp that visiting is not the same as having overnight. I would give him his tea, change him to pj's, he'll probably still be a bit later to bed but not as much. And then enjoy a night off yourself .
By the sounds of it I'm assuming your ds is still very young in which case he should have his tea at a sensible time regardless of the complications between his parents. My DD would have screamed the place down by then and not feeding him on those evenings is actually adding to his late bedtime on a school night. It would be reasonable and fair for your ex to attempt getting off early once a week to pick your ds up even if he cannot manage the 3pm collection. It sounds as if he's using you as the childminder and as such the childminder would have fed the child. I think I would get all the advice mumsnet has to offer, think about it and send him an email about it.
Regarding your other son. Would ds2 be the baby you were pregnant with had after you split? No way would I be handing a baby over anytime soon at that time of night with a hungry, grumpy small child. I think the two of you need to get some stability and ground rules with your eldest son first. Again I wouldn't refuse. I'd be more diplomatic- your split is fairly recent and I'm a bit shocked at the split during pregnancy.
You cannot unreasonably block access and that isn't what I'm advocating. However, if he cannot be a bit more compassionate, putting things down in writing will help if animosity increases and you end up with a custody battle. I personally think this pick up time regularly is too late for a young child mid week from his other parents' home when all he is doing is disrupting the routine and your child is getting very little out of it.
How neatly you have to try and see this as a break for you and make it as easy as possible for your DS to cope, whatever you can do it keep it friendly
Thanks for all your replies. Ex purposefully keeps DS1 up so he can spend time with him, I imagine he'd still do that even if he had him earlier. I do sometimes give him his tea but can't always, he's a toddler who gets distracted, takes ages to eat. And I've got a baby so it's difficult some days.
Yes we split during my pregnancy, he was having an affair. Really don't want that to effect peoples advice though. For obvious reasons communication between us isn't great, it's got worse. We are going to mediation.
And I agree Janecc I don't think my son benefits from the midweek nights at all. It feels like it benefits ex more. For one once DS2 starts staying with him he'll be paying less maintenance, he's already mentioned altering it!
Contact is for the children. It's irrelevant what is fair for the adults.
Routine and structure are incredibly important for children this age.
Has he openly said he keeps him up to spend time with him? If so I would send a friendly email quoting that and saying obviously it's wonderful he wants to spend as much time as possible with his son and you welcome that, but can you try to increase daytime hours with him instead so the structured routine all children need can be implemented - the lack of sleep is hugely detrimental to his development. Write it in your own style and way so it doesn't look like you are creating a paper trail. But when someone is neglecting their child - and keeping a toddler awake so they can meet your emotional needs is neglect - you need that paper trail.
It's great that his father loves him and wants to spend plenty of time with him but I would just alter this pattern now so it doesn't get set in stone. It's not serving your child. And also, when does he get to see his sibling (if you each care for one at nights) once they start school, and are in different houses all weeknights? How will that work?
Mediation sounds positive. Best way to talk all this through. But I would get the email done first, frankly, because if he denies it all you need the evidence there.
What's the child support situation? If he has the children every single night then your care in the days isn't counted - you are expected to pay him child support. Did you know that - does he?
My DS went to bed at 6.30 when he was 2 - 3, btw. Sleep is essential for all of us, but especially a toddler.
For one once DS2 starts staying with him he'll be paying less maintenance, he's already mentioned altering it!
If he has both children every single night then he won't be paying "less" maintenance. You'll be paying him maintenance. It's not calculated on daytime care at all, or at least it wasn't - it's all based on numbers of overnights.
So he had an affair, leaving you a pregnant single mum, and now he's trying to call the shots re contact time? Get some legal advice! He's not doing you a favour having the children, he should be taking care of them for half the time. However, that should not be to the detriment of the children's welfare. He sounds extremely selfish if his 'time' with the DC is more important than their sleep and routines. I think it's really unfair of a PP to say that the OP has changed her mind about contact now. Obviously things were going to alter once she'd given birth to DC2!
What I would bear in mind is that the family courts don't like to change the status quo and they also aren't, in my experience, fussed about bedtimes. If your ex wanted to keep the current arrangements and sought legal advice, I'd imagine he would have quite a strong case.
I saw he wasn't yet at school after I posted. Mediation will hopefully be able to help you with this issue. I see it's all about him not the children and I would make that very clear during the process. I think it is grossly unfair for your ex to pay less maintenance just for giving ds1 let alone ds2 a bed to sleep in and a bit of breakfast in the morning (I'm assuming he drops ds1 home the next morning before work).
He sounds very immature - keeping ds up late. How late? I don't know what you legally can do and in your place, I would be pushing to end midweek contact as well. But realistically I imagine if he's not causing a high level of distress you'd be considered unreasonable. Definitely time to get legal advice.
I take it you're not working at nighttime at the moment. Will you be returning to that when your maternity leave is over?
He doesn't have him every night in the week. He has him 1 night one week and 2 the other. He also has him every weekend (it's split). So he has him 6 nights a fortnight. He actually demanded to increase that and have DS2 from when he was 3 weeks old. I do have it all documented. He refuses to follow DS1s routine, he's growing out of naps now (ex insists he has naps), he has tea and bedtime earlier because of this. More often than not the poor little mite falls asleep in the car en route to dads to then be woken.
I do feel like I'm being unreasonable. I want DSs to spend time with their daddy. As I said in my OP, this arrangement was made when I was upset, shocked and emotionally in a bad place. I truly didn't know what to do, whether I'd be ok. Now I feel like I can't change it and talking about it with him leads to an argument and me feeling rubbish.
The trouble is you've set a president now, your options are change it and change it quick so that it suits you then get to court and formalise it quickly or else you're stuck basically. The courts don't really care how badly the other parent, parents but God help you if you put a foot wrong, seriously you need to toughen up fast or this will be your life for the next 17 years
From what I understand he keeps him up an extra hour.
I'll be going back to work but will be cutting down my nights and eventually adding a day when DS2 goes to nursery.
It seems advice is a bit split. I've discussed it with the mediator and told ex to do the same.
I'd be concerned that this routine will get set in stone as what he's used to and then when he starts school you won't have any fun weekend time yourself as every weekend he'll be at his dad's the whole time or a day. So you'd get all the tired after school drudgery and one weekend day a fortnight. Surely EOW would be fairer with other contact in the week after school.
It's tricky. Your Ex sounds like a knob. OTOH, you've got 18 years of this to get through. For the sake of your sanity, I think you will have to accept that - within reason - he parents his way when the DC are with him as they get older. (Totally different with a babe in arms who needs his mum at all times). Obviously shared boundaries and rules are ideal, but I know of
no very few separated or non-separated parents who agree on them 100%
If ExH wants DS1 to have a nap on his days, you can't stop him trying. DS1 will soon make it clear if he is not prepared to co-operate And falling asleep in the car - well all DC do that - it doesn't prove that they are desperately sleep deprived - though I get that it is frustrating for you to see his routine disturbed.
Going through mediation sounds like a positive step.
I really don't know how I can change things without causing upset. The fact is it won't work long term. He'll have a child to get ready for school and a baby. Some mornings DS1 comes home having not had breakfast or still in pjs! But ex doesn't see it as a problem. All I get is a guilt trip from him 'You're taking them away from me'
The courts really aren't going to care about bedtime being an hour later at Dads. I'd also be very careful suggesting that the mid weeks don't benefit your son - of course they do. They provide regular and close contact with dad - essential for healthy psychological development. Just because he doesn't parent the way you do, doesn't mean there's no benefit. Don't forget your son will grow up to be a man, and probably a dad, and seeing his dad be a parent as much as possible can only be a good thing.
Right but presumably your ex will cross that bridge when it comes to it.
When I was a single parent I would drop my children off in their pyjamas without breakfast so I could get to work on time. They've never been late to school or sent in without breakfast.
IF it gets to school years and he's not feeding them or dressing them properly, the school will deal with that as a safeguarding issue and you would have grounds to change things.
You're going to have to break a few eggs to make an omelette, causing upset is the least of your worries, this man isn't your friend !
I always wonder about mothers that say things like "just change it now and he'll have to fight you in court to change it back".
How would they feel if the fathers of their children "just decided" to keep their children for a few extra nights because the father didn't like the way they parented?
As someone who has successfully co-parented for almost 10 years (which has included the grief of not seeing my children as much as I have wanted to, and not getting to raise them the way I want to because they spend half their time with their dad), I really struggle to understand it.
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