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Not sure what to do... or whether I should even be bothered???

(16 Posts)

Right - this will be long. I apologise in advance.

Ex and I split a few weeks ago - about 6 or 7. I doubt we will get back together as Ex has told me has met someone else and is now seeing her. For info - ex works in the public sector, but does shifts that can change from week to week (i.e. diffferent days off) however previously he has worked different set shift patterns.

Since splitting I have been quite keen on getting Ex to maintain relationship with DS. HOwever Ex has other ideas. He has not been interested in coming to the house after work to do bedtime routine with DS (10 months old) or take him out to the park etc when he has an afternoon off. In the last few weeks have had to make major changes about living arrangements - moving house with DS - and going back to work and sorting childcare. Have tried to takl to Ex about these and tried to get him involved in ddecisions (particularly the one about childcare) but he does not seem to think he needs to be. Also DS has a health problem. So far Ex has only turned up to the hospital appointment that was on his day off. The other one he never bothered to even acknowledge it. I have had to make a decision about a major operation for him - Ex left this up to me.

I have been trying to discuss with Ex about getting a regular contact arrangement set up. I have tried to explain to him how important it is that the relationship is maintained through regular contact, and that it needs to become part of a routine for DS, particulalry as I am going back to work, so set days would be good. I know that Ex has the ability to request family friendly hours, but so far has seemed disinclined to do so.

He will not discuss a proper contact arrangement and thinks that texting me shortly before he wants to see DS for the day/ weekend is fine. He has even text me at 6am wanting to see DS that evening. It has been very stressful trying to accomodate this, and he has accused me of making it difficult for him to see DS.

I have finally got him to agree in advance some days over the next few weeks, but they are all over the place. Sometimes with nearly three weeks in between days. Ex gets every other weekend off work and had orginally said he wanted DS these weekends, but has backtrcked on that now.

DS went to Ex's this weekend. Friday night to Sunday afternoon. HOwever, on his return I have found out that Ex left DS with his parents on Friday night, Saturday night and SUnday day, so effectively only saw him on Saturday and short time Sunday morning. I'm sad for DS as the whoel point is that he gets to spend time with DS.

Should I care that Ex does not seem interested in decisions in DS's life? SHould I continue to try to make him?
Should I push for a regular contact arrangement? At the moment I am thinking no as at least he is with me if his dad isn't interested! I mean I would happily take him to his grandparents.
Should I caer about the fact that DS didn't spend much time with his dad over his weekend that was supposed to be about being with his dad? SHould I try to do something about it?

I am sitting here thinking - surely I shouldn't be having to push Ex to be a better dad - but then DS is the one who loses out!!!

Any advice.

Sorry that was so long

BridgetBust Sun 09-Oct-11 20:52:55

I don't think the weekend away was a waste of time because DS got to spend time with his GPs and you, hopefully, got some time to yourself. Do you think the GPs will take good care of DS if this happens again?

Jemma1111 Sun 09-Oct-11 20:56:24

You could try and ask him to let you know atleast a few days before he wants to see your ds and then if poss you will be flexible.

If he decides to give you a few hours notice instead then thats not on.

Be careful if you decide to have a proper access arrangement put into place as you don't want your ex to just dump him on anyone on his access days if he wants to do his own thing.

Its a difficult one and I know how you feel but unfortunately we cant make our ex's act how they should do with their kids.

The GPs aren't great... but at the end of the day it isn't anything that is going to kill him. They have some odd ways that I would prefer he wasn't exposed to (dunking dummies into vodka drinks and giving it to kids, letting 18month old DN have coke, letting DS stay up playing till he literally passes out) but like I said its nothing he won't recover from.

I don't want to stop DS having access to Ex - if anything I think DS deserves more. But I do think he needs regularity at this age to maintain a relationship. At 10 months old if he doesn't see him for three weeks its a hell of a long time. But is there anything I could/ should be doing? Or do I just have to roll with it and accept that DS will only see his Dad when it fits in around his Dad's social and work life?

Jemma - it has taken much manouvering on my part to get him to agree these days a few weeks in advance. But becuase the days are all over the place it means that every week I am constantly juggling different work and childcare arrangements to make this happen.

Its difficult becuase on the one hand I feel like I am the one doing all the work, moving everything around and juggling things so that DS can see his Dad whilst he just gives me a list of 'suitable' times. But on the other hand I want DS to have a relationship with his Dad.

I do know what you mean. I would hate to have a set contact arrangement only to find DS was being palmed off on others so Ex could go out with his mates. I would prefer he was with me!!

CardyMow Mon 10-Oct-11 14:51:24

Just a quick question - do you still have to pay for the childcare if your ex decides he wants to see him that day? If so, I personally would refuse to take him out unless the dad paid the childcare charges - I know that in a nursery, you'd still be charged whether the dc was there or not. I wouldn't be left out-of-pocket by one of my dc's father's wanting to piss about with access rather than setting days!!

bananaistheanswer Mon 10-Oct-11 17:47:52

I've been where you are OP, and it's a bugger to try and get an unco-oparetive ex to play ball, no matter which tactic you use. I've tried pushing for more concrete arrangements, got me nowhere. Backed off to see if he would be more willing, he didn't bother his arse. I think to save you some hassle, and give you some semblence of sanity under difficult circumstances, you should sit down and work out when you think you can fit in your ex's access. It's easier if you have some idea of your ex's work pattern. Stick to those days, and don't be too flexible until it's clear the ex gets the message. If you have plans, text or email your ex in advance and say 'I've agreed to do x on x-date with DS, just letting you know now so as to avoid dispappointing you if you decide to ask to see DS on that date nearer the time - maybe add that you have kept x-date free that week for contact should you (ex) wish to see DS'. This way you have some control over your life and plans, but you are not preventing access/contact as you are offering an alternative date he can see DS. Stick to that with plans you want to make, and don't back down no matter what. I learned a harsh lesson with that one! If your ex kicks off at any plans you make he's not happy with, as he's decided he wants DS some time after you advise him of your plans, just refer back to your original text, and also the fact you have asked him to agree to some structured access which he has so far not wanted to agree to.

He'll do one of 2 things - 1) eventually agree to a plan for structured access, knowing that every time you've made plans, you won't amend them due to his late interest/lack of notice - if he genunely wants to be a good dad, he'll eventually realise he can't do that with ad-hoc contact, especially if you won't be as accomodating as he thinks he can expect you to be. It doesn't have to be a rigid plan, just something more reliable that what he has so far given. Or 2) fade away over time due to lack of interest, and it will be his decision to do so, nothing to do with you denying or preventing access. Keep a record of all your communications.

Good luck!

bananaistheanswer Mon 10-Oct-11 17:49:45

'scuse the typos!

Hunty - I do have to pay yes. And his contribution doesn't even come close. So I do feel a bit like you. But am so reluctant to deny him access for the sake of DS. But I have got to the point where I feel like I can't say no to any of his requests for time. No matter what I have to do/ juggle to make it happen.

Thanks Banana - I think you have advised the same as some of my friends. I am sorting of coming round to this anyway. He has every other weekend off work, so am going to tell him that I would like us to agree some time every other weekend. I am also going to safeguard some time for me in the week - so that I can spend it with DS. So, say, any requests for Thursday will get a no response as that will be the day DS and I do something together. Does that sound like the kind of thing you were talking about??

Ds's birthday is soon, and I have arranged a day out and a littel tea party. Ex has now asked for some time on this day - given the plans it might be difficult. I was going to ask him to come to the tea party. Would this seem bad? Should I cancel plans so he can take him off for a couple of hourrs?

I get so frustrated by the whole thing though.

Prime example - DS needs an operation, a big one, will ast 5 hours plus. They sent me a letter last week with an appointment for him to come in for a CT scan on 20th. As he is so young they will admit him as a day patient and put him under anesthetic.

Soon as read the letter I called Ex and left message with all the info and followed it up with a text. This was on the 5th. Spoke to him today and I asked if he was coming. He had completely forgotten about it. And then went on to tell me that he has a driving lesson that day and an afternoon shift and therefore won't be coming.

I'm left feeling angry on DS's behalf that his dad would forget something so important, and not want to be there for him during this time. I realise I should let it go, as I can't control their relationship but it makes me angry because it feels like he really has walked away from DS as well as me - comething he keep saying he is not/ won't do.

colditz Tue 11-Oct-11 21:35:44

No, do not cancelyour plans. I've been there with the flaky ex and the bizarre double standard regarding contact ("The child must be available for me, but I am not available to the child") and the best way to deal with it is rigid contact times, according to his shifts. He knows his shifts at least a week in advance, and he can tell you when he is available to spend time with his son. You can tell him whether or not that is convenient for your son.

DON'T cancel your son's party for his flaky dad, it sets a precedent of changing plans for his convenience.

Colditz - thats EXACTLY it!!!

Ex has the exact same double standard thing..... he expects DS to be available whenever he pleases, often at very short notice. But when I say well you can't until x time, or is there another tim, he tells me I am making it difficult for him to see DS!

bananaistheanswer Tue 11-Oct-11 23:51:32

Hi giant,

I tried to pin my ex down to set days, spent a bit of time working out ex's 'social' calendar, DD's activities and my work pattern (more rigid than his) and told him the 2 days per week DD would be available should he chose to see her. I didn't go for more than 2 as, like you, I wanted to have some quality time with her when I wasn't working, and also felt if I tried to push too much time on him, or give him too much choice, it would not be any different to getting a text a day or so before he would ask to see DD. I think that rather than say, DS not available on x-day or whatever, just stick to the offer of DS is available on x-day. It re-enforces the notion that you are making DS available for contact, if contact doesn't take place it's because your ex chooses not to take up the offer, or he is leaving it too late to have a decent chance of not being disappointed as you are busy with DS. Don't get dragged into explaining what you are doing, or why, you just stick to the 'you are busy, you have plans' response, and again revert back to the 'I asked you to sit down and discuss set arrangements and did highlight the chance of this happening' response. Repeat the offer, but DO NOT BACK DOWN OR CHANGE PLANS until your ex agrees to sit down and discuss the situation to come to an agreement. It really is the only way you get across the message that ad-hoc contact is not a suitable way to maintain a relationship with your DS as it's not good for you. You are your DS's main carer and you need to be able to provide consistency and stability for your DS, probably more so if he has health issues. It helps no one if you are chopping and changing plans at the whim of your ex. I had some friends who stopped calling and inviting us anywhere as I did cancel pre-arranged meets 'cos I felt it only fair on DD that she see her dad. I've learned a lesson there, and won't make myself an unreliable friend for ex's sake.

Re the birthday, I would just extend the invitation to your ex, and hope that he'll be gracious enough to accept it as it is important that you both enjoy the day with your son. If he won't accept the invitation, fit him in around your plans if possible i.e. after the party, but don't change to suit him, leaving you with no chance to have the celebration with him you want. I extend invitations to ex for xmas, birthdays etc. but he declines them. His choice.

I think what you need to try and get your head around is you are not responsible for the choices your ex makes or the time he chooses to spend with your DS. I get the feeling of guilt you have about your son not being the main priority for your ex, but it's really wasted energy feeling that way. You simply cannot force a man who doesn't want to put their child first, to care more than they do. If he is behaving this way to 'get' at you, then the only way to diffuse that is by showing him how indifferent you are to his attitude - don't have a go, don't show your anger or hurt, and just get on with your life and plans as though he isn't part of your concerns.

Banana - thats a really good idea!! I don't know why I hadn't thought of it. Yes - offer certain days that fir in better with eveything, then he knows and can either organise his things around them or choose not to. Up to him.

I do feel guilty about things not being better for my son. I'm very good at feeling like everything is my fault, and always have been!! It is wasted energy - but letting it go seems so hard. I can't stop myself from feeling very angry about it all.

bananaistheanswer Wed 12-Oct-11 15:08:22

giant, it took me 2 years of all that crap to figure out how I should have dealt with things from the beginning. You won't shake that guilt, no matter what you do, but you can change how you deal with, and react to, your ex and his games. It's a step in the right direction at least grin Good luck with it.

RedHelenB Sat 15-Oct-11 12:40:24

IME ex's don't like to be told how to be a parent so other than keeping him informed their is nothing much else you can do. I make all major decisions about my three children & ex calls on the day to ask if they are free, If they're not then they're not. His decision to play it that way but I think once there is another woman in their lives then things change.

However, the kids love their dad & seeing him & that to me is paramount.

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