Is this common?(11 Posts)
I have shared access with my ex but my 4yr old son is totally bereft when I return him to his mummy. There have been issues recently between her and her boyfriend resulting in an acrimonious split - police were involved and I had a call from Social Services asking about my son who obviously witnessed the anger etc.. Now when I take him home he doesn't want to go, he's so upset that I get upset. I can't go on like this - she says he is playing us off against one-another I think its more than that. He never asks for her when he is with me and I have to practically bribe him to speak to her on the phone. When i pick him up he can't get into the car quick enough! I am in a loving relationship but we don't live together - she has two children also and they all get on really well. I am very concerned for his emotional well-being. I would like him to have a good relationship with his mummy - but not at any cost! am I over-reacting?
Is the home in a good state? Does he have his physical needs met?
This is very worrying for you I can imagine....how is he at nursery or school? Have you asked them?
I suspect the problem is emotional - mummy is an angry volatile person - quite cold. Reports from nursery are wonderful absolutely no issues there. She also has an older child (teenager) who has stopped all contact with her - to me that speaks volumes and I don't want that kind of life for my son. I feel he is trying to tell me something by this behaviour I just want to do the right thing for him.
Is the shared access 50/50 or does he spend more time with his mum? Was this a voluntary arrangement or through the court? Either of you could go to court and seek a residence order although it's difficult when he's 4 to know if there are real problems at home or if it's just that he gets used to being with you and doesn't want to go home to his mum but is totally fine when he gets there. Have you been able to talk to his mum about it?
If he's doing ok at nursery, then that must mean something....children who are suffering at home in some way, always show it at nursery. They're pretty adept at spotting troubled children.
Many children find the changeover difficult....he's very little still. Do you speak to him on the phone on the days he is with his Mum?
PJM - Access is pretty much 50-50 and is a voluntary arrangement. It's fair to say he seems to settle down after a while when he gets back to his mummy but he's not the same...he's sullen and withdrawn - I feel like I am abandoning him because I know what mummy can be like sometimes.
Neo - I speak to him every day on the phone when he's with his mummy - he doesn't want to talk to his mummy when he's with me. Sometimes if the weather is bad, or she has to work extra I take him to nursery on the days he's not with me. Any tantrums/bad behaviour are confined to home or when he sees my parents who are very close to him and he to them. Nursery know the situation and if we (me & mummy) are experiencing a particularly difficult time we tell them so they can watch for any changes but they always say he's a perfectly good, pleasant little boy and a credit. I am seriously considering a residency order but I want to be sure that's what's best for him - should I wait and monitor he starts school in September and I want him to be happy and settled.
The only things I can see which you're not happy about are that he is quick to get in your car when you arrive to collect him and that he's not keen to speak on the phone to Mum...which is normal for a 4 year old. most of them don't like phonecalls as they're hard to manage at a young age.
There is no concrete evidence that you've come up with to make you assume he is not being well looked after....he's not complaining of specifics...you don't see any neglect...so I can't be sure what you're not happy with apart from some very normal 4 year old behaviour.
Lots of children at this age and older do not like transitions. That is going from one thing to another, telephone calls are also a transition. At Camps etc. they normally ask you not to phone as it makes the child unsettled.
How do you know your on is "sullen" when with his mother? How is he with her when you are not around? Do you know he doesn't create similar fusses when expected to speak to you onthe phone, come to your house?
However if you are concerned I would speak to SS again, and see how they are monitoring he situation.
Its pretty normal for a four year old to kick off when being dropped off back home. My DD cries hysterically when she comes home from her grandparents for the day and shes well looked after and loved, doesn't mean shes not happy with me or her home life.
She can't wait to get in her grandparents car either when they come to pick her up. All normal.
You can't judge the situation on the basis he doesn't want to speak to her on the phone. He obviously enjoys spending time with you, but he will also love his mummy.
If he is well looked after at home, good food in his belly, clean environment to live in, loved and provided for I don't see an issue.
If you are genuinely concerned about your ex's temper or constant arguments between her and her boyfriend I would take it forward to court and try and get more access or custody.
I have 3 stepdaughters i have been with them since 6, 8 and 9yrd old.. The transition between households is really tough on kids, they feel guilty of betrayal when they r with other parent. Its hard as there will always be different expectations from each household.
As he is a boy he probably really misses you as well. Also too much change is traumatic. Try and keep everything as secure and calm as possible, and remember he is learning to cope by watching how you cope.. So if u r going to pieces when he does it will make him feel even more insecure. You need to teach him positive coping strategies for the transitions and changes in his life. He is modelling his behaviour on his parents. You may need some shared counselling to help him adjust. The most important is to just be consistent so they can always trust and rely on you.
I have been through a similar situation with my daughter (6/7 at the time) when she was visiting her father & his partner and her 3 sons. This must be heart-breaking for you, but you are right to keep a close eye on his reactions, I thought I was being over-protective & looking into things too deeply but I was actually missing things!
She was ok at first but after they had a baby boy she started pulling her hair out bit by bit and it sounds ridiculous but it took someone else to point it out to me! She also started crying when she had to leave me and faking illnesses. I stopped her going to her dads after their was a DV incident and it was the best thing I ever did for her.
At first i molly-coddled her and was so soft she didnt know her boundaries, i started being strict & putting her in bed early and She became a secure & emotionally balanced girl, and her confidence rose over 5 months. Her father contacted me after this time saying his household situation had calmed down and he wanted to have contact again. My daughter was secure enough to make the decision if she wanted to meet up with him & go to his hse again.
Your son is obviously younger & may be reacting to changes as discussed above and I know my situation was severe but i would encourage you to keep an eye on the situation and stay strict but fair with him in your home. I also I feel it's an important lesson that an absent parent is sometimes better than a bad one.
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