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Custody of 3 year old son at Xmas?

(330 Posts)
Smeags84 Thu 21-Dec-17 11:45:30

Hi. I'm a dad to a 3 year old son. I split up with his mum in February this year so this will be our first Xmas separated.

Since we split, we arranged joint custody of our son by ourselves. Its worked out fine. After the initial couple of months which were tough, we're now friends with each other too.

Sorting out Christmasses took longer. We talked about it in October/November, and finally came to an agreement in mid-November. It hasn't been spoken about since we agreed.

My family live in the Wirral, and hers in Manchester. Before we split, we alternated Christmasses. (one year with my family, one year with her family, etc.). Last year was with her family.

Heres where we disagree: Back when we spoke about it, I wanted to alternate Xmas's with our son. And whoever doesnt have him Xmas day gets to spend boxing day and Christmas eve morning with him. And he effectively gets two Christmasses (xmas day and boxing day).
She wants him to spend half the day with each of us. The problem I saw with her way was the distance between us. Its a 60-90min drive. I think thats disruptive to him... I dont think he'd want to spend that time on Xmas day in a car. I also think it would be too busy for him. Last year, he was knackered, with having so many people there, and it being a really busy day. Her way, we'd be doubling the number of people, with him seeing two families, all fussing over him.

We eventually agreed to do my idea, in part because we were able to split his birthday which is only a month before Xmas. It was also agreed I could have him this year because of the fact that last year, we spent it with her family. This was all sorted out mid-November.

Last night, December 20th, she called me, upset, that she wont see him at all on Xmas day and brought up the arguments again.... and we just repeated the stuff we said over and over again, months ago, with her saying she wants to split the day. I'll be speaking to her again tonight.
I'm frustrated because I thought we had agreed, and we've made arrangements now too. Plus, I think this is best for DS. I think her way is just more messing about for him, on an already busy day.

AIBU to just say to her "Look, we've already agreed whats happening on Xmas, and its too late to be trying to change plans" (worded in a nicer way of course).

Appreciate your advice as I'm wondering if I'm being a d**k? I appreciate that its not nice, not seeing your child on Xmas day, but its going to be the same for me next year.

(We did consider other options, such as spending the day together, but this wouldn't work, as we both want to see our families. For me, its pretty much the only time of year I get to see my entire family all together).

Thanks for reading.

Smeags84 Thu 21-Dec-17 12:48:08

Thanks for the replies. Thats quite a mix of opinions! But thats to be expected I guess.

Just wanted to add that although this is an argument, its not a heated argument (as you might expect, being exes). She was upset, and I felt bad about that.

And since the split, she's always been fair (i.e. she was fine when I said I'd like joint custody, and we've babysat for each other before, etc.).

And in the interest of openness... to give her argument, she said "I think DS will want to see us both on Xmas".

A lot of this is stuff we spoke about a month or two ago. The frustrating thing for me is that she's waited until just 4 days before Xmas to bring it up again.

And to answer some of the things asked.....

- I don't think my family would come up to mine at all to be honest, but certainly not at this short notice (reason being, a lot of extended family come over to my mum & dad's, who all live local. I don't think many would make the trip).

- Yes, I think he'd be excited going to his other nana's in the afternoon for more presents, but I also think it would be really tiring for him.

- Neither of us drive, so inviting her over for part of the day wouldn't really work. But, to be honest.... I've been wondering if I should invite her to spend the day with us? It would mean having to take the train up together on Xmas eve.
I get on with her fine. Whats holding me back is, would things become awkward for everyone else there?

Gerbil17 Thu 21-Dec-17 12:48:51

I dont think either of you are BU. It is hard to bare the thought of not seeing your child on christmas day.

What we do is alternate christmas eve. So the kids wake up one christmas morning at their dads, and then with me the next. They go to the other parent around 3pm.

I dont think travelling on christmas day will upset your lo so much. A lovely nap in the car will reset him ready for the next lot of excitement

ZigZagandDustin Thu 21-Dec-17 12:48:59

I think this is one of the things that you have to accept and work with when you're separated. As long as it's done fairly, so whatever happens this year is reversed next year.

I personally don't see too much harm in a car journey on Christmas Day. We always travelled to family 2 hrs away after chirch on Christmas Day and it was kind of fun, having some time to chat and enjoy the excitement and anticipation quietly in the car. Just think of it as a bit of special chatting time before handover if that's the way you decide to go.

Chewbecca Thu 21-Dec-17 12:49:15

I do agree your suggestion is more fair.

However, as a mum, I would be really upset if I couldn't spend Christmas Day with my son. I know DS's Dad doesn't feel quite the way I do and he'd cope better with not seeing him and DS would cope better without his Dad than without me. The reality is that I am closer to DS than Dad is.

So if you were able to let your ex spend Christmas Day with your and you have Boxing Day, it would be really kind, even though that is not the most fair.

Doremisofarsogood Thu 21-Dec-17 12:50:47

Splitting the day is a nightmare! Disruptive for everyone - my husband has had to leave in the middle of Xmas dinner before to go and fetch his son 9 (as his ex would never travel unless it was convenient for her). We have done this for over 10 years now and this year is the first year we'e going against the grain and I can't wait! Stepson is nearly 16 so isn't excited at the prospect of Xmas - last year he stayed at ours Xmas Eve as per the old arrangement (3pm Xmas Eve till 3pm Xmas Day or vice versa) and we had to wake him up so it's not like either parent gets the benefit of seeing their child's excitement on Xmas Day! When they're little yes I understand that but even so I think Xmas Day / Boxing Day is much fairer to everyone.

LemonysSnicket Thu 21-Dec-17 12:51:19

My family did it where I had Xmas day with mum and then Boxing day was dads xmas .... its just a day, make a new one.

Smeags84 Thu 21-Dec-17 12:52:12


I have him 5 days one week, and 2 days the next.

I have him every Monday and Tuesday. (til wednesday morning actually, when I drop him at nursery).

I also have him alternating Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

WhatHappensInVagas411 Thu 21-Dec-17 12:52:53

I think YAB a bit U. Think of it like this.. You left her. Now you want to take her son away on Christmas. It's got to be hard for her.

I think the fairest way is to let your ex have your DS this Christmas. Maybe you could visit first thing if you're desperate to see him on Christmas. It's also been an unsettling year for your DS. I think he'd prefer to spend Christmas in his own home with his mum. Then you have him boxing day. Next year, you have him Christmas day.

WishingOnABar Thu 21-Dec-17 12:54:23

I think you could suggest her joining you and if she really wants to spend the day with him she will tolerate the awkwardness, otherwise you can take comfort in knowing you gave her an option and continue with your original plan

hereitis Thu 21-Dec-17 12:55:09

I know it's not how you're supposed to view custody arrangments, but my opinion on the right thing to do would be very influenced by knowing who left who... If it was an amicable split that's one thing, if one of you left to be with someone else and destroyed the family then I don't think they should get to have Christmas. But that's not what it's about I know, needs to be what's best for the LO.

JacquesHammer Thu 21-Dec-17 12:55:51

You left her. Now you want to take her son away on Christmas. It's got to be hard for her

That's an incredibly simplistic view.

NoStraightEdges Thu 21-Dec-17 12:57:52

I think your son is very lucky to have two people who love him wanting to be kind to each other despite the split.

And I think that's the key here-being kind (which you are, it's not a criticism). So I think your idea of inviting her and travelling all together is perfect. What a great example to set!

I hope you get this Christmas sorted and I hope you two continue to be so amiable in future.

MrsBonato Thu 21-Dec-17 12:58:30

I think she is right, your DS would want to see both of you. I understand you want to see your family but he is your priority and you should be doing what's best for him. If you can spend it together then I think that would be best for your ds.

midnightmisssuki Thu 21-Dec-17 12:58:46

CaptainCorellisBigToe bit mean to say it’s cruel that you feel a mother should never wake up without her kids on Christmas morning... fathers have feelings too you know...

Smeags84 Thu 21-Dec-17 12:59:44


Yes I left her, but because she had been violent multiple times, so I think I was justified. Infact, the day we effectively split, she threw a punch at my head when I had hold of DS.

(Because of that, it surprises a lot of people that we're able to get along now. But, we do).

LemonysSnicket..... Exactly! Its just a day, and that's what I plan to do next year. Just turn boxing day into Christmas day.

WishingOnABar Thu 21-Dec-17 13:00:48

Op hasn’t specified who decided to end the relationship.
I think if you can manage to make it so your ds gets to spend christmas with both parents it’ll be better for him too (ok he’s three now but as he gets older he’ll notice the separation too)
I have to say my parents were by no means perfect but as an adult with dc in hindsight I really admire their ability to put their differences aside and be adults to give us a united family Christmas. If you can manage it op I think it would be lovely for all of you and help maintain the goodwill for the year to come fsmile

WishingOnABar Thu 21-Dec-17 13:01:25

Oops cross posted there

NachoAddict Thu 21-Dec-17 13:03:03

we alternate Christmas day but the children always wake up with me and on Dads year he collects them at 11am, after they have opened their presents. Would that be a viable alternative?

I can understand your point of view but I can also totally see where she is coming from.

Justwaitingforaline Thu 21-Dec-17 13:03:15

We alternate.

Ex DP’a family live 3 hours away and he will be taking DD to stay there so he’s having her from the afternoon of the 23rd til morning of the 27th. Whoever doesn’t have her at Christmas has her on her birthday. Next year, it will be the reverse. It sucks, a lot, because I will miss her horribly especially as DH is working on Christmas Day but it is what it is and I think it’s what’s best for DD - she’ll get two christmases as will be doing our Christmas morning on the 27th, stockings and all.

IfyouseeRitaMoreno Thu 21-Dec-17 13:04:45

If you get on then get her to travel up Xmas Eve and have Christmas together.

Although if she was violent I’m not sure why you’re not scared to be with her.

Heartofglass12345 Thu 21-Dec-17 13:04:45

You are most definitely not being a dick, you are on here trying to come up with a solution. Shes obviously feeling upset about not seeing him on christmas day which is understandable.
You are a good dad, which some people on here cant seem to get their heads around, and assume that it was all your fault you split up and you shouldnt see your son on christmas day because of that!
I think its amazing that you are considering inviting her to yours, i would do that. How would she have him in the afternoon if neither of you can drive and there's no public transport?

crispbuttie Thu 21-Dec-17 13:05:51

If neither of you drive, how did your ex wife plan for your ds to travel between your two homes on Christmas day?

Inviting her to spend Christmas with you is a lovely idea.

mogonfoxnight Thu 21-Dec-17 13:05:58

i haven't been through this, but I think when my dc were 3, they would have preferred to see me in the morning and also see their father later in the day. I would probably agree to her request that she wakes up with your 3 year old, and bringing him to you, or you picking him up, or meeting half way, this year at least. 60 mins in a car with nice music would be quite calming is the other way to think of it! I think it would be fair for you to ask that he is with you by lunch. I hope you all have a lovely Christmas.

JacquesHammer Thu 21-Dec-17 13:07:54

OP I think you need to consider if you change plans this time will it set a precedent meaning you lose out every year?

And if you invite her to yours will she reciprocate next year?

CaptainCorellisBigToe Thu 21-Dec-17 13:08:06

bit mean to say it’s cruel that you feel a mother should never wake up without her kids on Christmas morning... fathers have feelings too you know...

But in the vast majority of cases, the mother does the lions share of raising the child the rest of the year so I don’t really care about the fathers feelings in those cases

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