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whole week without main carer - at what age is this appropriate?

(9 Posts)
racetobed Sun 12-Jun-11 19:45:24

Dd's dad sees dd every five weeks. DD is 2, but only speaks a few words, and because of the long gaps between contact, I have not let her stay overnight yet.
However, I am keen to start working towards overnights, and have been encouraging him to put her to bed etc in my house when he visits.
He is now saying he doesn't want to 'rely on my generosity' alone and wants a formal contract, specifying contact from 9am Saturday til 5pm Sunday every five weeks, with a week at Xmas and two weeks in summer.
I don't have a problem with initiating overnights in the coming months, but feel a whole week without me and with a dad she has such limited contact with is unfair on a child so young. I'd happily work towards 3 nights overnight when she's 3 though.
Am I being unreasonable with this timeframe? I am very distressed about this 'written contract' request, as I have bent over backwards to be accommodating to him - have travelled 200 m to see his family, invited them all to her birthday party, including his new fiancee, whom I have also made a real effort with. Should i be reading something more sinister into this 'contract'?

mrscolour Sun 12-Jun-11 19:57:14

How far away does he live?

I would agree a whole week is a long time away at this age, especially if she is only seeing him every 5 weeks (can she see him any more regulary than that?) Could the weeks be broken up e.g. equivalent of a week throughout Christmas hols but never more than a couple of nights at a time? My ds is just 2 and he's not starting any overnights with his dad until summer hols and then it will not be more than 1 night in a row.

Don't think there's anything sinister about the written contract as long as you both discuss it and it's not him demanding what he wants. Maybe you could do it through mediation or if he doesn't want to do that then get a solicitor to check it over before you agree to it.

fluffygal Sun 12-Jun-11 19:58:23

You sound very reasonable, well done on keeping it amicable. I would not be happy with a whole week away, can it not be broken into a few days? Then maybe when she is older (schoolage) she could do a week?

AppleAndBlackberry Sun 12-Jun-11 20:07:32

I have a nearly 2 year old and I wouldn't leave her for a week yet, even with my DH who lives with us. It's not a reflection on him at all but I'm her main carer and I just think she's too little and too attached to me. I would agree to the other stuff and leave Christmas open for now if I were you, though every 5 weeks doesn't seem that much - is that a distance thing?

smokinaces Sun 12-Jun-11 20:13:07

DS2 was 2 when he went away with his Dad for 4 nights. But he had his brother there (who was nearly 4) and although his Dad hadnt lived with us for a year, he had seen him weekly since he was 1.

In your situation I would be wary of it too. How about agreeing that once she is at school that is your aim and that you will both work towards that in the next 3 years? Starting with overnights on the weekends and a 2 night break at Christmas etc.

WishIWasRimaHorton Sun 12-Jun-11 20:57:48

the age in itself is no barrier ... apparently. my DD is 2 and the courts have recently awarded my ex and me shared residence. even though I was always the primary carer for her and her brother (aged 4) until we separated, this means that he will be taking them away for a week in the summer. she will still be 2.

but she is used to being with him, as she splits her time on a 60 / 40 basis between me and her dad now.

cestlavielife Sun 12-Jun-11 23:16:57

why is it only once every five weeks?

but if it is consistent and she clearly enjoys being with him then actually i dont see why it should be an issue to go off with him for longer. i imagine she will be fine - tho maybe you will miss her like mad

cestlavielife Sun 12-Jun-11 23:31:57

ps i am basing this idea on people i know who live in london but family in europe. the two year old sees grand parents in european country (or they come over) not more than once every two months or three months. but parents were quite happy to fly to europe, leave 2 year old child with grand parents and jet off for their own holiday for two weeks.

so leaving child away with familiar person (relative) for more than one week - even when that person is not seen every week - does not seem to be an issue there and maybe it should not be for op?

racetobed Mon 13-Jun-11 07:33:33

thanks for all replies, all thoughts much appreciated

it's every five weeks bc he lives in europe. the time they have together is always very rushed - he doesn't arrive until late morning on the saturday and leaves straight after lunch on sunday. i have asked him if he will consider taking firday and monday off so dd has more time with him, but that seems to conflict with his holiday plans with his fiancee (that's not jealousy, just an observation).

i think my problem is that he sees dd very much through an adult lens rather than a child lens or even a parent lens; it makes more sense to me for him to see her for 4 days once a month than rushed contact then the odd whole week. i will suggest the three first posters' suggestions: working towards a week by schoolage with broken overnights before then.

cestlavielife - i see your point, and i would leave dd for a week with my parents, whom she sees most days. was the 2 year old in question talking? also, i think the fact the child was in their own environment was quite crucial. i would feel happier if dd's dad stayed in our house for a week to see her for eg (obviously with me away). would the parents be happy for the grandparents to take the child to their country on its own do you think?

I think she does clearly enjoy being with him, btw, but she always shirks from him when he first comes and screams for me when i hand her over sad
So i'm not convinced she's emotionally dependent on him enough yet to warrant more than one overnight. But i recognise this will hopefully change over the next few months as she starts talk properly

re the contract, yes we are going to do mediation, but i've not committed to signing any document as i'm very weary of arbitary timeframes for a preschool child

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