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To think my friends ex is taking advantage of her postnatal depression

(85 Posts)
Minionsyou Tue 30-May-17 14:26:28

I'm not sure what to do.

My friend has suffered from postnatal depression since the moment her son was born and despite going to the GP, she has never got out of it. Her son is now just turned 4.

She felt it was partly because she was at home with her son all day every day and so applied for a job in her area of work. She was lucky and got a good job.

Her ex and his family have always wanted custody of the child. No idea why but I think it's partly fuelled by the worry she will move back to live nearer family as she has no support network in the local area. Although she does have some good friends.

My friends ex has asked her to give him their son Monday-Friday and she have him every weekend. This way she doesn't have to pay for childcare or struggle with the demands of a working single mum and their son gets to be looked after by his nana rather than a nursery.

My friend says she wants this arrangement.

My worry is, she is still suffering with postnatal depression and has never fully bonded with her son. She also has no car, little money and no family in the area. She admits herself if she could get a job in her hometown she wouldn't even be considering this as her parents could help with her son.

However she has not been able to get a job back in her hometown and for now needs to stay where she is.

I'm very concerned but I'm not sure if I'm worrying about nothing.

It's clear she needs to work for her own mental health. And she's in desperate need of a break from her son so that she can destress and work on their relationship. But I'm not sure that giving her ex her son during the week is the answer. She is a brilliant mum and her son is a lovely, happy boy who loves her.

Currently her son is in school near her. However her ex is only willing to have him if he moves to a school near him.

Her ex drives and could drive him to and from the school he's in now. He just wants him to be in school in his area so he has a stronger case if she wants their son back. He also could easily move nearer her but is insisting on staying where he is even though he only rents and works out of area.

His parents are suddenly being lovely to her. I think this is to make sure she goes through with it.

Her parents agree with the move as they think her job is demanding and she won't be able to do the job as well as work and her son would be in childcare too much.

I know you're going to say this is none of my business. And if I felt she was truly happy with the decision I wouldn't even be questioning it. I just feel at the moment she is depressed,
Lonely and stressed from looking after a child single handedly for four years. She's desperate for a break and the social interaction of a job. But the decision she is making is huge and in a year once she's been in her job a year, is financially comfortable (it's a decent wage) and has had the childfree break, she might regret th decision.

I really do feel her ex and his family are hugely taking advantage of her vulnerability right now. They could easily offer to help her but offering to have him one night a week, or take him to and from school some days of the week. But they're pushing for Monday-Friday custody.

AIBU to be concerned?

Minionsyou Tue 30-May-17 14:30:48

Friend has been a stay at home mum for 4 years and is due to start her full time job in two months time.

Trifleorbust Tue 30-May-17 14:42:35

Honestly, if she is happier with this arrangement and her son will be happy too, I think it is her decision.

What help has she sought with her PND?

Minionsyou Tue 30-May-17 14:55:08

She got a 6 weeks course of counselling where the counsellor looked at her watch half the time and that was it! She's had nothing since

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 30-May-17 15:07:09

It does sound like the best solution currently. Is there reason to think the ex is a manipulative arsehole? Because this seems like it makes everyone in a better position.

HildaOg Tue 30-May-17 15:38:07

Of course they're trying to take advantage. That's what people do when you show them your weakness. They want control over the kid and they'll manipulate the situation to get what they want.

If her ex and his family were genuinely concerned they'd pay for childcare. She should be careful.

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 30-May-17 15:45:05

Sorry but the ex should pay for childcare rather than look after his child himself? Why?

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Tue 30-May-17 15:46:41

Practically, it's a good solution but of course it means that the ex then becomes her child's primary carer - do you think she's thought that through? She'll have to pay maintenance as well.

How is the child's bond with the father?

VestalVirgin Tue 30-May-17 15:50:37

How often has her ex actually had the child? You say she raised the boy on her own, with no breaks, which implies he hasn't even spent weekends with his father?

If that's the case, I'd be suspicious, too.

Since when is her ex her ex?

It all depends on whether the father has any relationship to the child as of now. If he's been consistently trying to spend more time with his son, this looks very different from only just now turning up again.

terrylene Tue 30-May-17 15:52:52

This sounds to be a big change to make for both her and the child, when she has not even started her new job yet. She will miss the child terribly even if she has PND and the child her. His family are working in primarily in their own interests and will dress up what they want to appear a good thing for her.

However, if she has not yet started the job, she does not know how things will pan out and may end up on her own without her child and job, and waiting for the weekend contact.

Could you help her to list options so that she can work out what choices she has available to her, and what is best from her point of view and the child's. Will the health visitor help?

Minionsyou Tue 30-May-17 15:54:35

Her ex has a good relationship with the child. He has him every weekend. But he's never had him for more than two nights.

Her son would cope fine with the transition.

They've been split since he was a baby.

They could help her in this situation. They don't need to have her son 5 days a week and take him out of area. They want control of the child. I'm concerned.

limon Tue 30-May-17 15:59:52

Our society is so skewed when it comes to childcare that when a man and his mother want to look after his own child it's seen as taking ladvantage.l I despair I really do. If it was a woman no one would bat an eyelid

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 30-May-17 16:01:33

I'm feeling a bit Twilight Zone because I'm normally being accused of being a man-hating feminazi but is there any reason this isn't a good solution except for 'he owns a penis'?

He is a committed present father, who has a good relationship with his child. He is willing and able and it would be fine for the child... she need support and space and to be working. What is the actual issue?

AfunaMbatata Tue 30-May-17 16:05:00

He sounds like he would be the better parent at the moment, PND does affect the child as well as the mum. I think the new arrangement may actually help her bond with her son.

picklemepopcorn Tue 30-May-17 16:05:10

I don't think it's good to change school, and can't he go fifty fifty? Sat tea time to Wednesday school drop off with mum, Wednesday collect until sat tea with Dad? Then care and leisure is equally split?

picklemepopcorn Tue 30-May-17 16:06:07

To me that is a clear least impact solution.

DeadGood Tue 30-May-17 16:07:29

Your friend should simply refuse to move her son's school. If her ex is serious about the benevolence of his suggested arrangement, he will agree. She doesn't have to accept his terms.

DeadGood Tue 30-May-17 16:09:09

Apart from protecting her parental rights, it would also be much less disruptive for the poor kid.

BluePeppers Tue 30-May-17 16:15:38

I think that moving to having him every weekend (or EOW?) is basically making her the NRP.

And maybe its better for the child, maybe not.
Maybe its using the fact she has PND (and no help whatsoever from anyone, incl GP), maybe the father is coming from a good place.

What I am sure is that from the little you are saying, this doesn't sound like a good move. At least, she should keep 50% of the care (plus she needs to think about child maintenance and who is paying what). Get counselling privately and work on her bond weith her ds (at least for his sake if not for hers).
Then and only then, talk about a full week with dad etc...

SweetLuck Tue 30-May-17 16:16:22

If she wants this, the father wants this, and you say the child would be fine with the transition then it sounds like a great plan.

I was waiting for you to say that the ex is evil incarnate or something, but unless there is some major drip feed on the way then I don't know why this wouldn't be what's best for the child.

Be careful you don't make your friend feel guilty that this is what she wants.

BluePeppers Tue 30-May-17 16:19:51

Re taking control.
If they see her as the mum who has PND and therefore is unable to look correctly after her ds, then im not surprised they want to be more involved.

The issue here is that its not because you have PND taht you are a bad parent.
Its not because you are struggling to bond that you will never do it (talking from experience here). But to do that you need time with the child. Not to see them once week for can be hard work period - the weekend that you need to make interesting etc... compare to the week that is very structured and with less time to 'do things'. I certainly found weekends harder. And bedtime was my time to reconnect with dc (so there would less of them so less time to connect with her dc).

Im really not sure that taking a child away from the parent that is struggling to bod with him is the way to improve that bond tbh.

ShakingAndShocked Tue 30-May-17 16:20:08

I think the DF's intentions are made pretty clear by insisting on a change of school if this 'deal' is to go ahead. Most parents I know would, presuming there were no other issues at school, bend over backwards to preserve stability (ESP. if moving home too) so that does, for me, lean towards clear intent on his part to subtly but effectively fully transfer Primary Care. Your friend should only proceed if she is fully informed as to what that will mean in the future vis her parental rights.

And if a change of school is being mooted, why not her move back to her hometown and support network or do funds not permit that?

Notalotterywinner Tue 30-May-17 16:20:19

If I was your friend I would be worried about the school move and long term plans, will she get school holidays?

ThumbWitchesAbroad Tue 30-May-17 16:22:05

IF her ex and his parents are looking to take the child full time then this is the first step for them. Establish that she is no longer the RP, but their son is, then use her PND against her to help them in their case to take full custody/residency of the little boy.

She should, at the very least, get some actual legal advice about this before she agrees to it, or she might live to regret it.

InvisibleKittenAttack Tue 30-May-17 16:22:16

She needs to think through the ramifications of no longer being the primary carer, that she will have to pay maintenance etc, she should also think about getting a solicitor's advice re getting her DS every weekend - her exP might not want that as DS gets older, and what plans are for school holidays etc, but Dads have this sort of arrangement all the time and it's classed as being a 'good non-resident parent'.

Giving up being the primary carer for my DCs would be heart breaking, but I'm well bonded, she's not. There's a good chance the DS would be happier with his dad if his dad is more emotionally attached to him than his mum.

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