WWYD? Dilemma(115 Posts)
I'll try to keep this brief. I have a very difficult relationship with XH. Our DD's 5 & 8 have recently (the last year or so) started becoming very reluctant to go to visitation. They give several reasons for not wanting to go and the older they have got, the more vocal they are about this. They will scream and cry at him down the phone or beg to come home if they go. It's very hard for me to hear them say these things - I'm torn between guilty that I'm not listening to their (IMO justifiable) fears and concerns and wanting them to have a relationship with their father.
I have a job interview tomorrow and as its XH's scheduled weekend, I asked him if he'd collect them from school (really rare for him to do the school run) and keep them for the weekend. However, he rang today to speak to the girls and they started screaming and crying that they don't want to go to his this weekend. They really do get quite distressed at times when they realise they have to go. I've tried talking to them about their worries and encouraged them to go, explained I have an interview etc. At one point I convinced my eldest to go if I got him to agree to take them somewhere nice (she chose a particular playgym very easy to get to) as she often complains that all they do at his is sit stuck in the house with only the tv and computer or to the local cricket club so he can get drunk while the kids play with other kids whose parents are also there. I messaged him to ask him and he basically said no, she doesn't deserve it after crying about going to his (he hates that they refuse to go and gets quite angry with them about it. Recently he turned up at the house after one such phone call and he was screaming at them through the door to come out and go to his. He also blames me for them not wanting to go as at times I have listened to them rather than forcing them.
So to my dilemma: My mother collects my nephews from nearby schools so in theory could collect the girls and they are begging me to ask her to do this so they dont have to visit their dad. Do I ask her to do this and tell XH not to bother having them that night or do I allow XH to collect them and go ahead with scheduled contact? I'm really torn on the right thing to do. I really could do with the break as I'm quite ill with a chronic condition but it breaks my heart to think of them stuck at his and desperately wanting to come home because they're bored and frightened.
What are they frightened of? I'd absolutely hate it if that was my DDs reaction to spending time with their Dad. You say it's justifiable, if so, why would you be allowing contact? If it's not justifiable then you need to work with him to get their relationship back on track.
I wouldn;t make them go. Is it court ordered?
>> she often complains that all they do at his is sit stuck in the house with only the tv and computer or to the local cricket club so he can get drunk while the kids play
Why would you agree to subject your children to this? No wonder they scream!
Thanks for replying Bring
They say he shouts too much and is very strict with them. They often tell me he puts them in their room just for speaking or making too much noise. My problem then is, this is awful, but this is a child's version of events. Do I listen to them or give the benefit of doubt and believe they are embellishing? I have witnessed his anger however so I am inclined to believe them on this. The question I always have going round in my head is, 'is it more damaging to have a relationship with a crap parent or not having a relationship at all? The responsibility to get this right feels crushing. I have other concerns as well that I haven't listed, but my dilemma is always the same - how much do I believe my DD's version of events?
I have raised my issues with him many, many times, but he always denies it and starts arguing with me. He tells me I have no right to tell him how to parent. And I think does he have a point on this? Where is the line the right place to draw when you are the other parent? For this reason, I have let many things slide over the time since we separated, letting go of things that don't matter too much like him feeding them junk constantly because whilst not ideal, it won't harm them significantly and I try to ensure they eat well when they are with me. He was never that involved when we were together, I did everything as he was disinterested but I never doubted he loved them. I thought he would learn to do things better. I am genuinely gutted that he turned out to be such a half arsed parent. It was partly why I stayed with him so long, because I worried he would be just like this without me doing all the child rearing. He was also abusive towards me and it feels frightening to disagree with him. Old habits die hard evidently.
Oops. Sorry, x-posted there. Contact is by arrangement between us. No court order. I'm actually trying at the moment to sort mediation with him and instructed a solicitor to start the ball rolling. He never responded but then I lost my job and couldn't afford to take it to the next step. I will retry in the new year I think when hopefully I'm a bit more sorted financially and my condition is hopefully being managed better.
I would believe and respect the decision of your poor little girls. It can't be fun for them to not want to spend time with their father. It must be something.
Don't be too hard on yourself OP, the fact that you are so torn shows that you are a great parent and have their best interests in mind. And you are meant to CO-parent, so you have every right to want to know and have a say in how he parents your children, particularly if you feel he is upsetting them.
I don't know the full story but if you say XH was abusive I'd probably be a bit reluctant to force DCs to go. You're in a very tough spot.
Showing up and screaming through the door at DCs that they have to go with him sounds very intimidating behaviour towards a 5&8 year old, I don't think that's normal or acceptable. Pretty sure that would terrify my DC.
You obviously trust him somewhat(?) if you send them regularly, and I know what it's like to need a break, but I think the fact that your writing this post means your gut instinct is to change the arrangements?
I think listen to the kids. If Dad kicks off tell him if he wants to sort it he needs to come and see them at yours and talk to them calmly. Being stuck in the house with just the telly Amos one thing - they're young enough to entertain themselves. Getting drunk when he has them is not acceptable.
Tbh, if their reactions are that extreme, I'd be listening to them. Admittedly I have no experience with this at all, but it doesn't sound like a normal reaction to seeing their Dad. I don't think I'd force them personally.
Not sure if this helps but my lad nearly 12 never knew his father until he was 10 and wanted to know him. I spent a fortune searching him down I facilitated meeting up etc. Father and I use that term through gritted teeth, is a drinker so contact was only ever in the pub. Couple of birthdays where all he managed was empty promises and let downs. After 18 months I agreed to contact without me present, i.e local fast food restaurant and he's been to his house a couple of time. Son returned full of his housemate and his dog. Few more let downs in come round after school but dad was at pub rather than home etc. Son has now decided father is a waste of space and he can't be bother to waste his time with him. Listen to your girls some people just aren't cut out to be parents. On a lovely note fathers (now ex) housemate still keeps in contact with my lad and will often call him to take dog for a walk or go for a burger and ask about sports. Also all his pub mates now realise I was never a evil ex who stopped contact and father is actually a bit of a prat.
If there's no court order and they scream not to go, I wouldn't send them when the alternative is not only viable but appealing. They want to go with your dm, I'd let them.
Do you actually need legal action funds- will he fight for access if you start cancelling and letting him know something else has been arranged? Some men make noises but actually let it go when maintaining contact isn't laid out and organised for them. If he'd rather be drinking down the cricket club...
The fact that he didn't respond last time you tried to formalise the contact is a bit of a clue as to how he'll act. I'd expect a bit of shouting if you start to change the contact boundaries.
Would you all be more comfortable if say a trusted third party took the girls to the play area they're keen to go to, daddy meets and plays with them there. Then third party brings them back to you.
That way you get a break and feel like you are facilitating contact without ignoring your children's pleas to not go to his house. The children get to see him and go to the play area. He gets to see his children then drink without their noise disturbing him. Wiwin-win?
Maybe if have a brother or friend who could help with this sort of setup?
Hmm, I think it's a tricky one - it sounds as though your ex is being very defensive when you bring it up and I can see how he might feel that their reluctance is fuelled by you (not saying it is for a second, but I can see that as he's not there and he's on the receiving end of the girls not wanting to go, that might be how he sees it).
I don't think you should necessarily give in and say they're not going because firstly, as you say, he is also their parent and is entitled to parent his way (assuming not abusive etc) even if it's not the way you would do it, plus it sets a precedent for them not having to go.
What I might be inclined to do is very dispassionately send him an email outlining what the girls have said and their reasons for not wanting to go (being careful not to sound accusatory and tell him that you have been trying to encourage them to go) and give suggestions that 'they have said' about the kinds of things they would like to do when they're there. You could also say they're worried about bringing it up with him themselves as they don't want to
piss him off upset him and see if he mellows a bit. I suspect your suggestions are falling somewhat on deaf ears because he feels defensive and backfooted.
For what it's worth, from what you've said here, you sound very reasonable.
WWID... Supervised access (assuming the girls want to see him at all), no overnights.
... because he behaviour is unpredictable and intimidating.
And if I had even the slightest inclination my DDs are telling the truth, about everything, I'd want to protect them.
IMO forcing them to stay confined with a potentially abusive or negligent parent is worse than not seeing him at all / supervised only.
No relationship is a million times better than a toxic one, you're children are not happy being with him. They are telling you. Listen to them
You wasn't happy being with him so you split, trust your children and yours instincts
Have you thought about him doing a parenting course? Maybe circle of security?
He may not be open to it but if you go to mediation or even court, you could perhaps get that written in?
I'm sure it's become a vicious circle and that it can be repaired.
Listen to the kids. Put yourself in their shoes. Go with your gut instinct. I do think its better not to have parent around at all than have a crap parent.
how much do I believe my DD's version of events?
What is there not to believe?
He was also abusive towards me and it feels frightening to disagree with him
You know he's abusive and if you continue to force your dds to stay overnight with him, they'll also become too frightened to disagree with him.
Are you divorced and is there a childcare arrangements order in place? In any event, I would suggest you suspend contact for the time being and talk to your dds' school(s) with a view to having them relate what they've told you about the way they're treated when with their df to their teachers.
I also suggest you tell him that you are suspending overnight contact for and that if he wishes to see the dds he can make arrangements to spend time with them in the supervised environment of a contact centre.
If he causes a disturbance outside your house again call the police and apply for an injunction/restraining order.
This may sound easier said than done, but the only way to face an abuser down is by making it clear that you'll take no more shit from them.
suspending overnight contact for the time being
Jesus don't force them to go!!
I read your op presuming there is a court order that you must obey!!
Since there isn't, no way, don't send them.
Hey advice from a solicitor.
I would insist on supervised access only.
Totally agree with baconandeggies.
There is no way I would send my kids to spend time with a man who takes them out and gets drunk, turns up and shouts through the door and who I know to be abusive and who I, as an adult woman, am afraid of!
Listen to them. address the issues. If he wants contact it needs to be supervised until his children are not screaming at the prospect of seeing him.
His current contribution to their lives appears to be one of fear. I think we can all do with a lot less of that.
My kids love being at home and watching TV, being at home and watching TV and eating junk food are not normally things that make kids scream. Even if they are very bored, it sounds like there is more to this.
You do not need to answer this but how was he abusive to you? Could he be being abusive to the girls?
I agree with kerryob and amber, listen to them, listen to your gut. He is their parent, sure, but is he acting like one, taking them to the cricket club and getting drunk when he should be supervising quite young children?
If you need to get advice on this, get legal advice. Document what the girls have told you.
If he is being abusive to them, in any way, frightening them, being negligent etc, then it will also damage your relationship with them because they will grow up believing you did not protect them from him.
Get some advice and help if you can, if they are truly just bored and it really is nothing more than that, talk to them and him about how they can better spend their times together. if he has money for drink and junk food could he take them out nice places or even do thing like just go to the park. But I do suspect that this is nothing to do with him not being able to think of or afford fun things to do. This is perhaps how he is as a person , a person who abused you, please be strong for your kids and find the best way to protect them, the relationship sounds of no benefit and total detriment to them. And if your efforts to bridge build are good and well intentioned he should see that, and if he has a real desire to have a relationship with his kids, he should be willing to work towards it.
But I would not use him for any kind of child care, I would only allow him contact when i was free to come and collect them if necessary and I would not allow them to stay overnight as a drunk and (he sounds to me aggressive) unpleasant to be around person should not be in charge of young children, IMHO.
In the time it took me to write my massively long post goddessofsmallthings
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