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How can I compete?

(29 Posts)
hurryup Sat 04-Jun-11 20:07:08

H moved out 2 months ago, he's rented a lovely cottage in the same village and has spent thousands buying everything he and the dc could need or want. trampoline, xbox, booked a holiday for August etc etc. Suddenly they don't want to stay with me anymore with tatty old things and a house full of bad memories. It's so hard and I don't know what to do to encourage them back.

GypsyMoth Sat 04-Jun-11 20:09:52

how old??

the xbox games will be too expensive to keep up with,ditto xbox live,modded controllers etc etc....... the trampoline is seasonal....the holidaty is soon going to be over.....then what??

blackeyedsusan Sat 04-Jun-11 20:27:49

how old are your dcs?

hurryup Sat 04-Jun-11 20:31:09

aged 12 -2, 5 of them. He can afford to keep up with the cost of it all to be honest, and to top it all when they came home last time they said that its a rule in his house that 'it's a happy house" ffs- it's fine for him as he's had a new start but I'm stuck in the house in which they remember him being verbally and physically abusive to me. I wanted them to have a good relationship with him but it's swung the other way. They come back here and are stroppy and stressed to be back here.

mrscolour Sat 04-Jun-11 20:31:55

It won't last! It is all new to them at the moment so they are bound to be excited. Unless he earns loads of money he won't be able to keep it up. Give the kids a couple of months and they'll be just as happy to stay with you.

My ex bought loads of new stuff for the kids to have at his place when he left (about 4 months ago). Dd (4) was initially very excited about it all but she's not so bothered now.

ThatllDoPig Sat 04-Jun-11 20:34:16

They are probably confused, (when being stroppy and stressed) enjoying the stuff and then feeling guilty for that, cos they love you and know you can't provide the stuff.
Must be really hard.
Does he give them time and loving attention as well, or does the stuff take over?

GypsyMoth Sat 04-Jun-11 20:37:11

i second that,it wont last¬!!

could he drop them at school on mondays so they return to you after school,not after being with him??

WishIWasRimaHorton Sat 04-Jun-11 20:38:42

this is all very raw still - 2 months is no time at all. i know it seems like a lifetime. the novelty WILL wear off. and chances are that after a while, 5 of them to keep on top of will challenge his 'happy rule'.

it's deeply miserable for everyone when the kids are confused and stressed. all you can do is be there for them and spend good quality time with them when you do have them.

does he allow some of the shiny stuff to come back to your as well?

BooyHoo Sat 04-Jun-11 20:39:39

dont even try and compete OP.

and sorry to say but it may last. tehy may decide they are happier there. is he abusive towards them? taht would be a concern for me TBH rather than whether they ahd a trampoline.

hurryup Sat 04-Jun-11 20:41:04

They just seem happier when they're there. It's so hard as I threw him out because of how awful he was to all of us and now it's me who's the bad guy. I don't want him back but I want happy children again. I need to do more with them but don't know what or how. GP started me on citalopram 2 weeks ago so maybe when they start working things will be better. It just seems like I've lost them to him when I thought our life would be be better without him living with us.

hurryup Sat 04-Jun-11 20:45:54

He's become the model father since he's left, kind, tolerant no longer calling them names and shouting all the time. Suddenly he can cook, use the washing machine and clean up after them.

BooyHoo Sat 04-Jun-11 20:49:02

well that's great, that's teh sort of fatehr he should be and that's teh sort of father you should want for them. i know it isn't easy that tehy might be happier there but they have to be happy and dont begrudge them that. it will take time for all of you to adjust and there will be things they enjoy more at yours and things tehy enjoy more at his. chances are, if he is an abusive person, without you there now, he may start to take things out on teh dcs, so watch out for any signs of that. it really would be my biggest concern TBH.

mrscolour Sat 04-Jun-11 20:50:45

Sometimes it's the simple things that can mean just as much as new "stuff" e.g. going for a walk somewhere new, preparing a meal or baking together, playing with playdough. Probably harder to win round the older ones I suppose.

Can't see that "happy house" rule lasting.

Perhaps try not to see it as competing but think about the different things you can offer to ensure your kids have a whole range of happy experiences in both homes.

WishIWasRimaHorton Sat 04-Jun-11 20:53:57

yes - my ex is the same. except he doesn't clean up after them, but he does manage the 2 kids on his own. up until i left him last summer, he had only had both of them on his own for one morning (when i went to run the cardiff half marathon - left home at 7am back at 1pm). he had never done a full day with them and made a big fuss about me having any time to myself or him having to cut back on what he wanted to do to look after the kids.

so i would say my ex has done the same - turned himself into exciting daddy who buys loads of toys and takes them out on glitzy days out. 9 months down the line, though, they are getting sick of going to the zoo every other weekend.

you haven't lost your kids to him. perhaps they will see a side of their father that they didn't see when he was living with you all. that's certainly the case for my two. and eventually, once you are stronger, they will see a side to you that they never saw before. a strong mum who is in control of her life and can do the best thing for her kids. and you will have the confidence to do your own kind of parenting of them - doing things that you all enjoy and that don't cost the earth.

and if he has stopped the name calling / shouting etc genuinely and for good - then that is a great thing. if it's just a facade for now while he tries to prove to you how wonderful he is, then that will soon fade and your kids will see straight through it.

hurryup Sat 04-Jun-11 20:56:57

I'm torn, of course I'm pleased that he's changed and is having a good relationship with them after all these years but it's so hard feeling not good enough. I'm hoping that the older ones will see that I can offer different things but at the moment it's hard to see what that is right now.

mrscolour Sat 04-Jun-11 21:01:21

Can really identify with your feelings. My ex didn't bother much with kids until he left and now does things with them he never bothered with before. Part of me feels glad that he's now being the dad he always should have been but another part of me feels he doesn't really deserve them. I also worry that it won't last but I suppose we will have to wait and see.

hurryup Sat 04-Jun-11 21:02:45

Wishiwas - thank you. I'd love it if he continued as he is with them but I didn't realise that it would feel as if they've chosen him rather than me. I didn't want it to be a competition between us but that is what he has made it, and I can't even be bothered to fight anymore.

jamestkirk Sat 04-Jun-11 21:03:18


you havent lost them - far from it.

theyre still in holiday mode when they go there, thats all. is all new and exciting to them, whereas youre still home. and thats the difference. youre home - safe, reliable, dependable. you dont need to go out and buy your way back to them.

look on the bright side. for now theyre getting to see an acceptable father - wouldnt say he's brilliant otherwise i wouldnt be sitting here typing.

dont even think about trying to buy their affections - just be you, its what they rely on.

BooyHoo Sat 04-Jun-11 21:18:23

it isn't a competeition. you are doing yourself no favours by seeing it that way. you as a parent do your best for your children right? well that's what he is doing. he is doing his best. the fact that he can afford more means he obviously will spend more on things they like. please just try and see this as a parent doing what they can to make their dcs happy. he has to settle into his new adjusted relationship with them and he is obviously going to start off by showering them with gifts, if you could you would too to try and make up for the upset of having their parents split.

hurryup Sat 04-Jun-11 21:22:17

I understand why he's doing it and I'm pleased for them. I threw him out because he was a shit to me and them, I'm struggling with the day to day problems and depression, he has all the fun. He's partly doing it to get at me, he admitted it.

BooyHoo Sat 04-Jun-11 21:29:09

my very good friend has been separated for 3.5 years now and her EXH makes things very difficult for her. he has attacked her recently but she said what hurts more is the things he says to her. i tell her that all the things he says are a reflection on him and nothing at all to do with her. his words are only to make himself feel better by thinking he has wounded her in some way. if she can get to a point where she lets teh comments go over her head an dnot take any of them to heart then she will feel far more in control of how she feels and he will have far less control over how he makes her feel.

WishIWasRimaHorton Sat 04-Jun-11 21:29:20

OP - it's a shit situation, and depression makes it far far worse. can you get yourself some help - not just anti-depressants but also some counselling? you need to be able to rebuild a positive image of yourself as a person and a mother independent of the way he treated you when you were together and the way he is making you feel now. i can understand that you probably don't want help to adjust to a situation which you feel is so unfair. but you either sink or swim - and i think your kids need you swimming.

voodoomunkee Sat 04-Jun-11 21:30:36

Hurryhup, like other posters have said, your children need you to be their mum which I am sure you are going to continue to do and do well. This is a novelty and will wear off, children do see through stuff like this, may not be next week but they will get there and meanwhile you won't be the one trying to compete as you will be there doing what you are doing well now, being their mum! As an aside have you got plans and things to do at the times they are with their dad?

Keep your chin up x

BooyHoo Sat 04-Jun-11 21:31:53

OP is it possible for you to do something in teh house to make it feel like a new home? could you redecorate? even just your room or teh living room. get the dcs involved, well teh older ones anyway. move furniture around, make the home completely yours, different to how it was when your EXH was living there.

gillybean2 Sun 05-Jun-11 10:30:00

OP please don't think of it as a competition. It is certainly not. He can't buy their love and all it will take is one set back and the dc will remember all the past performance in a shot. They will also come to realise in time what he's doing (buying their affections).

When they say things like 'happy house rule' and all the stuff that dad buys them tell them that's great and how fun it is for them and how pleased you are to hear that their dad is trying and making the effort for them now. Yes it may be hard but try and be positive. You need them to know they can talk to you about anything.
And while you say it just keep thinking to yourself how easy it is for a part time parent to be 'fun' and it's like when they visit a grandparent or aunty who spoils them rotten, is a bit loose with the rules, and hands them back with none of the responsibility. Because that is what he is.

He will find it much harder to maintain the facade when he has them for longer or when he has to get them to school on time.

What are the current contact arrangements? Because it sounds like you need a bit of a break and some you time. So maybe you can suggest he has them a bit longer and also is responsible for school pick up and drop offs on his weekend time. I would also be looking to the summer holidays and asking how many weeks he'll be having them. Use the time to rest up and get the house sorted. Redecorate if you can to help stamp your own mark on it.

Also I hope he's paying what he should maintenance wise. If he can afford all this new stuff then he can certainly afford to pay what he should maintenance wise. Set some of the money aside for 'fun' things at home. I'm not talking about trying to complete with the games consoles, but some fun time out things for you all too as well as being more financially stable may help with your stress/depression a bit too.

Please remember you're their mum. No matter how hard he tries he can't compete with that!

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