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AIBU to stop contact, due to ex not social distancing

(106 Posts)
PerspectiveIsAVirtue Thu 11-Jun-20 10:42:08

Hi all...

I've been a long time lurker on here, but this is my first post. I have noone to turn to irl, so thank you in advance for taking the time to read through this long post and any advice given.

DD is 9. Ex and I split during the pregnancy and have for the most part managed to remain amicable and only message each other on a "need to know" basis. Pre-lockdown, he would see DD one day a week plus every other weekend. There are no court orders in place.

Fast forward to March and I messaged ex to discuss the imminent lockdown and what our approach would be going forward,. Given the nature of both of our jobs, I suggested that we all isolate for two weeks and then either he was welcome to stay with us for the duration or we would resume normal contact arrangements if that was preferable, assuming we would both be following the government guidelines. He agreed to the isolation, but was not forthcoming with how he would like things to proceed afterwards or whether he would be strictly social distancing, as DD and I have been.

(It's important to note that while none of us have underlying health conditions, I am suffering from extreme anxiety, for which I am actively seeking help for.)

Those initial two weeks came and went and admittedly, I didn't approach ex to review the situation, as I was dealing with the demands of wfh, homeschooling etc. He also did not press the matter and would facetime DD daily.

In time, we began to visit his garden (via a side gate and socially distanced), so DD and ex could spend time together in person.

Sadly, ex's family suffered a loss and he expressed a wish for DD to attend the funeral. I tried to be as supportive as possible, but asked that he respect my wishes to keep DD socially distanced throughout the day. Despite assurances, he did the opposite, driving many miles with DD and members of two other households and DD confirmed that there was no distancing at the wake, which at least six households attended.

Needless to say, I was upset about this, but bit my tongue, as I understood it was an emotional time and hoped it was a one-off.

However, through conversations with ex, it has become apparent that he has not stuck to the guidelines over the last eleven weeks and he has admitted to staying at his mum's and having multiple friends and family over to his house.

He is now insisting that pre-lockdown contact arrangements resume, but refuses to agree to socially distance with or without DD, citing that he doesn't see DD as being at risk and that the guidelines were put in place for "vulnerable people", not us.

His view is that I am damaging DD through my approach to follow the guidelines to the letter and that my "crippling anxiety" and "irrational fears" are going to negatively impact DD in the long run. This is an additional worry on my part, but I am trying my hardest to limit this, by seeking help for my anxiety (have been prescribed medication and am on the waiting list for CBT), forcing myself to take DD out for walks and making sure DD has contact with her friends through facetime/emails, but I do worry about the impact of the last eleven weeks on DD and regularly check in with her. She seems ok.

I lost my mother to something that ultimately could have been avoided when I was a teenager and I believe that a lot of my anxiety stems from this and wanting to keep DD and myself "safe". Although I know statistically that we would most likely only experience mild symptoms, I just don't see the point in testing that theory out if we don't have to. Why chance it?

Ex has gone so far as to arrange a playdate at his for DD this weekend and says that he will do as he sees best when DD is with him.

I accept that ex and I might not always share the same parental views, but AIBU to stop contact for the time being, as he is insistent on breaking the social distancing rules and not putting our DD's health first?

Thank you so much if you made it to the end! Am happy to be told I'm being unreasonable. I know my anxiety may be clouding my judgement and just want to do what is best for DD.

OP’s posts: |
MyGodImSoYoung Thu 11-Jun-20 11:51:04

Gosh, this is a tricky position to be put in, OP!

I personally think you would be totally reasonable to cut contact for the time being - a lot of families have. I can understand the worries you are facing and I am struggling to understand why so many people seem to have decided the guidance isn't applicable to them!

Do what you think is best. At the moment, I very much doubt any solicitor or court is going to think you are being unreasonable xx

PerspectiveIsAVirtue Thu 11-Jun-20 13:01:51


Thank you so much for taking the time to read through my lengthy post and reply. I too struggle to comprehend why some people think the rules do not apply to them.

It's an incredibly tricky position to be in. Over the last nine years, ex and I have always managed to come to a mutual agreement when it comes to issues affecting our DD and I have always trusted him to keep her safe and well whilst she's within his care, unreservedly.

This really is the first time we've truly not seen eye-to-eye and if it was something trivial (e.g a dispute over screen time) then of course the matter of contact would not come into question.

The difficulty is I believe his attitude and approach to breaking the lockdown rules is potentially putting our DD (and in turn myself) at an immediate risk and his belief is that there is no threat to us, I worry too much and not allowing DD to spend time with him is going to cause her emotional harm in the long run.

I would like nothing more than for DD's contact with her dad to resume. It would give her a much needed sense of normality and time with someone other than myself.

We've followed the guidance to the best of our ability and if he had done this too, then I would be sending her to his to enjoy their time together.

As it is, I just don't see how I can responsibly allow contact to resume, considering he is unwilling to change what he is doing...

Despite everything, he really is an amazing father to our DD and I just didn't think we would ever reach a point where I may have to stop contact. sad

But thank you again for your response and opinion. I really do appreciate it, as like I said, I have nobody to turn to in real life about this and it's incredibly hard to separate my anxiety from the situation we are actually in. xx

OP’s posts: |
PerspectiveIsAVirtue Thu 11-Jun-20 13:12:53

So the votes are very unhelpfully split down the middle.

For those of you voting YABU, could you please kindly share your reasoning?

I really would like a balance of views here, before any decisions are made.

Thank you so much in advance.

OP’s posts: |
Angelonia Thu 11-Jun-20 13:22:32

This one is really tricky OP. I don't agree with your ex breaking lockdown on previous occasions, but the reality is that lockdown is easing, and I think that most people's views are moving closer to his than yours (whereas a month ago the opposite would have been true). Community transmission is very low now and the schools seem to be going back without ill effects.

I don understand your worries. But personally I think that stopping all contact with your ex would be unreasonable from your DD's perspective.

Angelonia Thu 11-Jun-20 13:25:25

In other words I think that the benefit to your DD of contact with her dad outweighs the very small risk to her from the virus.

HugeAckmansWife Thu 11-Jun-20 13:30:40

As the pp said, the risks to her and you are minimal. Lots of people are now behaving in ways that allow them to live their life in a way that balances the virus risk against the need for contact, childcare, work etc. I think YABU and, I mean this kindly, I do hope you are able to get help for your anxiety so it dies not transfer to your DD.

ItsInTheShed Thu 11-Jun-20 13:32:29

What does your dd want?

Ponoka7 Thu 11-Jun-20 13:39:43

I voted YABU, because your anxiety shouldn't impact on your DD, or you should minimise how it is.

As said, the harm done by not seeing her other parent, outweighs the risk (which is none existent) from the virus.

All you have to do is to get her to change her clothes and wash her hands and you aren't at any risk.

PerspectiveIsAVirtue Thu 11-Jun-20 14:12:04

Thank you all so much for taking your time to share your opinions on this. It's good to be able to gauge other's thoughts and view this from all angles.

I agree that if ex was just seeing his mum, for example, then the benefits to DD would outweigh the potential risks. However, as it stands he is mixing with multiple people, indoors for prolonged periods, with no apparent nod to social distancing at all. I have to presume that the people he is seeing are also mixing with others with the same disregard for the guidance. I understand that lockdown is easing, but restrictions are surely still in place for a reason?

Before it came to light that he was not distancing, DD was due to stay with him for the weekend, so it's not as simple as changing her clothes when she gets home. She will undoubtedly come into close contact with others at his over the course of the weekend...

I agree that DD would benefit from seeing her dad and getting some semblance of normality back. Facetimes and garden visits (all instigated by myself) are not the same, but if he is insistent on carrying on as normal and mixing with others as normal, then I can't see how it would be safe or responsible to let her go.

I completely understand that my anxiety plays a big part here, but if I were to let her go and heaven forbid she caught this and was one of the unlucky few to experience it badly, then I would never forgive myself.

I just wish he would agree to stick to the guidelines, then I would not be losing sleep over this and things would be resuming.

I am very aware of the impact my anxiety may be having on DD and have done my upmost to shield her from what I am feeling and remain positive around her. Inside I am crumbling. I think this whole pandemic, for whatever reason, has triggered me. I literally have noone irl to talk to. My work colleagues were the closest thing I have friends, so it has been an incredibly lonely few months and this has only heightened my need to keep me and DD safe and well. I fully appreciate this isn't rational and have reached out for help. I reluctantly begin medication today and am on the waiting list for CBT, which I believe is not too long atm, so hopefully in time I will improve...

But I am trying to do my best for DD. I hope you can appreciate that...

As for my DD, knowing that ex isn't socially distancing atm, she is happy not to go for the time being for that reason.

OP’s posts: |
HowFastIsTooFast Thu 11-Jun-20 14:45:38

YANBU. Where I live the lockdown restrictions are slightly different to those in the UK (we're now allowed in other's houses with the onus on us to gauge the risk) but after loving the chance to see my friends when we could first meet outside (distantly) I've now cooled it off as they seem to have abandoned social distancing altogether with sleepovers, hugs, large gatherings etc all displayed on their social media, and I don't particularly want to be a part of that yet.

I'm an Adult taking responsibility and making choices only for myself, in your shoes with your DD to worry about too then I don't think you're being unreasonable at all.

Ps.. All the best for the treatment of your anxiety x

Waxonwaxoff0 Thu 11-Jun-20 14:58:43

I voted YABU based on my own situation- my ex is a key worker in transport and DS has been seeing him as normal throughout.

I believe the risk of DS getting the virus is minimal so I'm happy for contact to carry on. I'm fairly laid back about the whole thing though if I'm honest and have no anxieties.

cologne4711 Thu 11-Jun-20 15:19:37

The weather is meant to be better this weekend so the playdate might be outside, which is allowed.

I don't think you can ban your dd from seeing her dad because you are anxious.

Flittingabout Thu 11-Jun-20 15:25:14

There is a thread on here about legal cases going on where the resident parent has stopped access because not following govenrment guidance is irresponsible parenting.

So you wouldn't be alone in telling him he has made his choice, had his chances to keep her safe and it is tough now you are taking it into your own hands.

MyGodImSoYoung Thu 11-Jun-20 15:25:17

@PerspectiveIsAVirtue Of course no one should push their anxieties onto their children, but it's not like you have told your DD that if she sees her DF she will die! If she is in agreement with you, then I don't think your Ex can really force her into seeing him.

Also, I haven't had any kind of relationship with my father, ever (he is violent and I have vivid memories of the things he did when I was little). I would say that I am a well-rounded human being! I don't think that your DD not seeing her father for a few weeks whilst covid settles down is going to 'harm' her - that is ridiculous! xx

PerspectiveIsAVirtue Thu 11-Jun-20 15:31:07

Thank you for your perspective, presumably from somewhere further ahead than England? And for your kind words. Really do appreciate them.

Thank you also for your point of view. My ex, although not a keyworker, is public facing and that isn't the issue. It's more that he is choosing to mix with so many others beyond work, in his and their homes for prolonged periods...

Thank you also. If ex reassured me that the playdate was taking place outside and distanced wherever poss, I would be more inclined to let DD go. However, he won't confirm what the plan is and is insisting that he'll continue to mix with whoever he chooses within his home...

OP’s posts: |
PerspectiveIsAVirtue Thu 11-Jun-20 15:54:39

Thank you. I think that is the crux of the matter. Ex doesn't see going against guidelines and repeatedly mixing with others as irresponsible parenting. I do. Am sorry to hear I am not the only one in this situation, but slightly relieved too. Would you happen to have a link to the thread you were talking about please?

Thank you for recognising that I am doing my best to not let my own anxieties impact DD. If anything, I have actively encouraged her to call/visit her dad in the garden. I think if I hadn't, DD/Ex wouldn't have. If he were sticking to the guidelines, she would have been going to his as per normal throughout this and perhaps my anxieties would not have built up in the way that thet have...

I'm also sorry to hear about the difficulties you had with your father growing up. That must have been so tough. I had similar issues with my own father from around the time my mother died, so I can relate. Like you, I don't think not having my own father in my life has made me any less rounded (current unrelated anxiety, notwithstanding!). I am sure DD would be fine to keep things as they are, until things die down...

OP’s posts: |
PerspectiveIsAVirtue Thu 11-Jun-20 17:39:44

So, DD just received an email from a friend who lives a long drive away, telling her that ex had spent the day around their house. DD is in tears that ex is "seeing everyone else but me". I hate to see DD like this, but think it sums up the point perfectly that ex just isn't being careful.

I truly do want her to see her dad, but how can I responsibly let her when he is completely and repeatedly ignoring the guidelines? sad

OP’s posts: |
Flittingabout Thu 11-Jun-20 17:41:31

I can't find it sorry.

If you Google mumsnet lockdown contact you'll see loads there! There were also issues where non resident parent refused to give children back to the other (keyworker) parent and some peopel sought legal advice too.

TheBusDriver Thu 11-Jun-20 17:50:06

The guidelines were children should stick to the routine. Why was this not followed?

So it is alright for you to not follow guidelines but he is in the wrong?

PerspectiveIsAVirtue Thu 11-Jun-20 18:05:01

Thank you for looking and pointing me in the right direction. Much appreciated.

It was 100% my intention to stick to DD's usual routine, after we all initially isolated for two weeks, given the nature of mine and ex's jobs. We both agreed to this...

When those two weeks were up, I walked DD over to see him, at which point he invited us into the garden for the first time, rather than resuming contact as usual and this became the new routine. I was happy that DD was seeing her dad and ex encouraged this arrangement, although I should have questioned it further at the time...

It's now come to light that he hasn't been social distancing throughout lockdown, both having multiple people into his home as well as visiting others at theirs...

If it was simply a matter of DD seeing her dad, then I would not have started this thread, but I feel his actions are irresponsible and putting her at risk and in turn I would be irresponsible to let her go at the moment, knowing he will be mixing her with other households.

Hope that clarifies things.

OP’s posts: |
Angelonia Thu 11-Jun-20 18:06:26

I hate to see DD like this, but think it sums up the point perfectly that ex just isn't being careful But doesn't it also show how much she wants to see her Dad? OP, you did say that you want to listen to other perspectives on this, and like it or not the vote is 70/30 in favour of your ex.

PerspectiveIsAVirtue Thu 11-Jun-20 18:15:51

Absolutely, it does, which is why I feel so torn. I want my DD to be able to see her dad, in line with the guidelines that are in place to keep everyone safe. If he is persistently mixing with multiple households and is actively making plans to do so when he has DD, then it's not as simple as just letting her go.

I recognise that the vote is 70/30 against me, but would you all really send your child to someone who was repeatedly mixing households, with no attempt at social distancing?

OP’s posts: |
helpmum2003 Thu 11-Jun-20 18:21:49

It's annoying that he's breaking rules but the actual risk to your daughter if she gets it is very low.

harriethoyle Thu 11-Jun-20 18:26:46

I think the emotional harm to your daughter of not seeing her father is apparent from her being in tears because he is seeing other people and you are not letting her see him. That's actual harm as opposed to the theoretical harm that you are scared of. It's a bit heartbreaking that you don't seem to recognise her distress.

It's not in her best interests not to see her Dad. YABU.

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