to ask how you deal with a stroppy child after contact?(132 Posts)
DD is 9 and her father and I separated when she was 18 months old. He's dipped in and out of her life a bit but contact has been alternate weekends consistently now for 2.5 yrs. When she returns from contact she either Ignores everyone here or is extremely rude and behaves badly to provoke a reaction. She tries to goad me in to telling her off (I think) so she can feel sorry for herself and convince herself that I prefer her siblings.
Her siblings are 4 months, 2 and 5. Usually they get on great but she's horrid to them after contact. I think she's jealous that they're here all the time but she says she wants to see her father so her jealousy is irrational. She's said before that we shouldn't do anything when she isn't here and is really rude if her sister tries to tell her anything that happened without her. The strange thing is, I don't think she has a particularly enjoyable time with her father. This weekend, for example, he collected her on Saturday morning and they went to watch him compete in a golf match for most of the day. They went out to eat somewhere that she doesn't like the food. On Sunday they went around car showrooms and then he dropped her back early because he was going out.
He dropped her at the swimming pool where her siblings and I were and as we were walking to the car she kept barging in between DS2 and I as he was trying to hold my hand for the car park. I was holding the baby with the other arm so I said 'excuse me please, DD, I need to hold DS' hand in the car park' and she stormed off mumbling about its always someone else's hand I want to hold, but never hers.
When we arrived home DD5 gave her a present she's bought her from her pocket money and DD9 just made a sarcastic comment and tossed it aside. I later asked her to put her socks in the wash and she started arguing and said they're her dad's socks anyway so he should decide what's done with them (!?) and that he'd shout at her if he knew she wasn't wearing then (!) She claims he shouts a lot and complains frequently about how little effort he puts in to planning anything she might enjoy yet is so unappreciative that she gets the exact opposite treatment here.
Our weekends revolve around the DC with swimming, bike rides, park, cinema, baking, painting etc. She has friends over, sleepovers, birthday parties, we have dates just the two of us every fortnight, read together each night, I take her to any activity she likes. Her father does none of this yet it's me and her siblings she gets angry with and I don't know how to deal with it anymore.
Is anyone elses child like this after contact? Any suggestions?
This sounds most unpleasant. I have no experience but didn't want to read and run.
It sounds as though she is jealous of her siblings' continuity. From an outsider's point of view I would tend to firmly ignore all the negative comments as I think you are right she is goading you. I think it sounds as though she is showing her insecurities and therefore will need extra reassurance from you. It's hard to end up rewarding a child with extras for what seems like naughty behaviour but I think she needs it.
I would probably try to arrange lots on a weekend for her that is valuable and if her father cannot match it in terms of effort then she will probably see him for what he is and choose more time with you. Not to try to drive a wedge between the two of them but to hear of the miserable weekend she had (your example) with him, I'm not sure I'd want that for my child.
My dd didn't get stroppy, just really low. She would sit on my lap or have hugs for a long time, until she felt better.
Does she want to keep going to him?
It much be so wearing for you all, but I can see why she's doing it - she has a lovely time when she's with you and her siblings, then has to go off every other weekend to have a boring time with her dad while the rest of you are all together and she wants to be with you all. Can you maybe plan something really fun for her when she gets back to you so she has something to look forward to? Maybe a special meal on the Sunday night? Make a big deal about how much she's been missed (but not everything she's missed out on!) and how she's such a central part of the family that you all have a special celebratory event every time she gets back. Maybe discuss with her in the meantime a better way to handle her feelings, and ask her what you could do to reassure her she's just as important to you as the other kids, it's just that you have to share her with her dad - it's not that you want her to go away.
My DS used to be stroppy but contact stopped when he was 3 so no experience with a 9 year old and contact.
Off the top of my head
2 ways to go..
Over the top huggy, kissing ..
or minute walks in the door.. You are home now you know how to behave here..I expect you to be pleasant to siblings if you can't go to your room till you can.
My Ds has certainly wanted me sat at home waiting for him while he has been out having fun.. I used to not tell him but now I make a point of it. I am entitled to a life too
I think she's probably testing you to see if you'll get as disinterested in her as her father is (he might see her, but does he actually spend any quality time with her?).
Oh, she's not being unappreciative, is she? She's unhappy because she's in this horrible situation where like most kids she loves her dad and wants to see him, but he makes no effort with her. So she's got a really horrible choice between seeing her dad, which means a crappy weekend watching him do golf or whatever and knowing that her siblings are having a lovely weekend at home whilst she does, or just not seeing her dad, which she doesn't want to do either. So she's stroppy. I agree that you shouldn't stand for it, but you can not stand for it without treating her like she's being spoilt and unreasonable when what she actually is by the sound of it is miserable and too young to deal with being miserable very well.
Yes she says she does Jennifer.
I tried making it a party evening when she came home so we could play party games, have a nice tea and a film and snacks but she is awful to everyone immediately so I can't reward that behaviour. She won't rest until DD5 is in tears and sneers at me like I'm something she's stepped in. I do pull her up on her behaviour and tell her that if she's angry or grumpy for whatever reason she can talk to me about it to try to make it better. She's usually then rude again so I say well maybe you need some space then so please do come and join in when you've got something nice to say, we've missed you and would like to spend enjoyable time together rather than having to moan at you. Usually she gets over it within an hour but it's up and down for 2-3 days afterwards and I hate seeing her so angry and it isn't fair on her siblings (or me!) When we all miss her and do our best to welcome her home nicely.
Your kid sounds pretty unhappy op and she's taking it out on you because you're the one she feels safe, unconditionally loved by and hence able to.
Difficult situation; you can't force her dad to do anything in particular, but you might be able to smooth the way. E.g. If it's appropriate, encourage her to invite friends over to his house, introduce him to your daughters friends parents/ give him their contact details. He'll probably be out of his depth and find weekends difficult as he's trying to shoehorn a 9 year old girl into his life, and if he's been dipping in and out then it's doubtful he's worked out how to do it well.
From the sound of it you're being a great mum so nothing really for you to do, it sits with him, sadly.
I don't know if you are in contact with her dad, but if you can approach it with him in a neutral tone and trust yourself not to get his back up, then suggesting some ideas for his weekends may be helpful.
Other thing to consider is she's a preteen, puberty starts on average at something crazy like 9 or 10 now, so it's more than likely you've got a few years of her being a total teenage shit anyway. Sorry, I don't mean that in a goady way, it's just girls. I have 2 SDs (eow and once in the week), been with their dad since they were 18 mths and 2.5 years. The older one (10) is now eye rolling and starting to be a bit of a cow. 7 more years hooray.
Good luck OP, I hope you are able to reach out to her dad & hopefully ensure happier times for your daughter.
My DS1 was horrible when he came back from a weekend with his Dad from about the age of 7 to 11. It really worried me. Then almost by accident I found out that his Dad didn't feed him very much, not through any cruelty but Dad was feeding DS 'nursery food' and Ds was embarrassed to ask for more. He also used to go to friends for tea and come back and eat another meal because he thought it would be rude to ask for more. He is still skinny and fit but was painfully aware that he ate loads and didn't want to out eat his welcome.
I agree with what UtterIdiot said. A day spent watching him compete at golf sounds incredibly boring for her. Would she prefer to see him for less time if he agreed to make it quality time with her? Would he do that?
Does he let her stay up late and she's just tired and emotional when she gets home?
When my 2 went to their Dad's for the weekend there were no boundaries in terms of bedtime. They would be up until silly o'clock even at a relatively young age. They were always a nightmare when they came home because they were tired and totally out of their routine.
Ok, she is behaving like that with you and not her dad, because she feels secure with you.
She may be coming back tired and frustrated, or she may be unhappy about the contact time.
DS used to come back very wound up from contact with his dad, it helped not to plan anything special on the day he was back to help him to wound down.
If he was too grumpy or upset, I would just sit with him and drop the question "how are you feeling?" And let him talk. No questions asked, no grilling about what happened at his dad's. That time listening to him without distractions I think really helped.
I understan it is difficult to sort a one-2-one time with her when you have other children, but making sure she feels heard and appreciated may be the only things she need. If she is the eldest, can you have some time with her after the others have gone to bed?
And yes yes to the possibility of her being just tired.
Sometimes it isn't they haven't enjoyed the contact but that they find the change hard and emotional. My ex found the kids hard work when they arrived with him and I found them hard work when they arrived with me. When they got older they said they just found the transition and leaving 1 parent really hard. That didn't mean they didn't want to do it though or that seeing both parents regularly isn't in their long term best interests
Dd sometimes struggles when she comes back too, although doesn't have any siblings to contend with.
I make my weekend sound boring, that I've done the housework and shopping and she's not missed out on anything etc.
Sometimes a transition activity helps, not a big song or dance just a craft activity you can all do together, giving her the chance to slip back into family life and chat if she wants too. DD normally gets back around 6pm (often smelling weirdly musty) so I normally have a bath ready which works well at washing off the weekend etc and some 1:1time, even if your not bathing her now you could dry her hair etc.
Whilst your DDs behaviour isn't acceptable if it isn't her normal behaviour then she needs extra support to deal with her over whelming emotions, she's acting out because she loves you and trusts you but seeing if you are going to reject her like she probably feels her dad has rejected her in the past.
This is one of those OPs where I read it and I think I can exactly see what the issue is, but every single PP has said exactly what I thought much better than me, so what they said.
Is there any way of giving her some 1:1 time with you when she gets in to give her a chance to reconnect? It sounds like you're busy with the other sibs - a reminder of what she's missing. She does sound insecure and worried and sad. And how horrible for her if her dad is a disappointment, and she can't express that.
I would urge you to find something to break the cycle. In parenting courses we say "if you keep doing what you've always done, you'll keep getting what you've always got" so if you want something to change in your DD, look to see how you can make a change to give her an opportunity to react differently (hence why I suggested you and her having some 1:1 time immediately she gets home).
I would also urge you to be as encouraging about her dad as possible, although realise that might be hard for you.
Good luck. x
It shouldn't always be boring and crap though Derek, especially when he only has her four days per month.
She is allowed to eat what she likes and has no set bedtime so diet and tiredness does play a part.
He isn't interested in inviting her friends over or doing anything dd would like to do. He promises the world but never delivers. Almost every time she returns she tells me he's definitely taking her to Thorpe Park next time because he's promised and she's seen him book the tickets. This has been ongoing for a year or so. It just frustrates me that she expects so much of me yet would take any little scrap of attention he throws her and talk about it for months.
"I think she's jealous that they're here all the time but she says she wants to see her father so her jealousy is irrational. She's said before that we shouldn't do anything when she isn't here and is really rude if her sister tries to tell her anything that happened without her. The strange thing is, I don't think she has a particularly enjoyable time with her father."
Sorry to be harsh here, but you don't seem to have much insight here. Why do you find it strange that she doesn't have fun with her father? All the signs she's exhibiting show that she isn't. It's not strange, it's pretty comprehensible actually.
She loves him and wants to be around him but also struggles with the reality of spending time with him. And kids can experience FOMO too. She wants to have her cake and eat it. You say "her jealousy is irrational". So what? That is the way she feels.
There is clearly a problem but it doesn't seem like it's being talked about. I can't quite put my finger on it but it seems like it's all "we are having a LOVELY TIME here DD, why can't you be more like us?" and she is quite obviously not responding to that approach. This in particular made me sad.
"as we were walking to the car she kept barging in between DS2 and I as he was trying to hold my hand for the car park. I was holding the baby with the other arm so I said 'excuse me please, DD, I need to hold DS' hand in the car park' and she stormed off mumbling about its always someone else's hand I want to hold, but never hers."
This issue is not going to go away. Can you give her some responsibility? Tell her you'd like her help planning an event? Am I understanding correctly that your other children are her half-siblings, all with the same parents? She must feel quite outnumbered.
It sounds like you have a very full family life and you are doing a lot to keep everything going, but it does sound like you have a black sheep in the making here, so treat her carefully.
Unfortunately I think that's part and parcel of being a single parent. It kills me when DD talks about something tiny her dads done for her when I exhaust myself taking her to after school clubs, sorting out costumes, rearranging my work day to be there for sports day etc etc and he can't even put her in fresh clothes in the morning.
However they will grow up and realise that we are there for them no matter what and that we are there constant and unfortunately their dads just never stepped up to the plate and that's extremely sad for them.
sorry, x-posted with a few of you.
Derek, I respect you massively, and you are right that not every day with the principal care giver can be the Feast of Kings, but the thing is the principal care giver does the vast majority of child care, and the other parent <cough> usually the man <cough> swoops in every now and again (often critical of ex), helicopters them out and dumps them back for all the regular stuff. I kind-of think that at least they can make it nice. Esp as (in my experience) they rarely pay fairly for the upkeep of the child(ren).
I am encouraging about him but it becomes difficult when she has a show she's in or something and I invite him (or even buy tickets), he doesn't show and says I didn't tell him or that he had something more important on. I didn't even miss a show that was the day after I gave birth to her brother but if I had she'd have never let me forget it.
One on one time as soon as she returns isn't possible as DP is at work then but I do make sure the other DC are busy at play so I can chat to dd if she wants to, which she doesn't usually. I think she doesn't like talking about the weekend because she knows it sounds crap and repeating it just reinforces it. I try talking about something else and she cuts me off or is rude and seeks out her siblings to disrupt and upset.
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