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Keeping dad in the picture

(13 Posts)
Llareggub Wed 12-Dec-12 16:55:51

My exh is an alcoholic and has more less disengaged from sharing any sort of parenting. He is sober at the moment and sees our DCs with his parents present.

I am about to move, with our DCs, to a town 150 miles away and he has not said anything to prevent us going. There are no court agreements in place and we separated a year ago.

I am keen to promote a role for him in our DCs life. He sees them regularly but not often despite living only 8 miles away. He does not call them.

When we move I have suggested visits, Skype and I will drive our children to however he is not exactly proactive in instigating contact. I feel it best for the DCs to try and make it happen though.

Any suggestions?

Letsmakecookies Wed 12-Dec-12 17:41:09

Unfortunately no suggestions. We moved 180 miles one direction, after my x moved 100 miles the other direction earlier on this year. I didn't have a choice really- either financially or emotionally, and needed to be near my support and family, and do not regret the move. He has seen them once since we moved and that was back in the summer, and before that was not greatly engaged as a parent but left it all up to me with a few sporadic visits.

I suppose the things I am getting my head around, is that short weekend visits with young children is difficult, so that unless dad comes to them, it seems unlikely that dad will see a great deal of them outside school holidays. If dad is engaged, proactive and wants to see them, anything is possible and a good relationship could still continue even over a distance. But when he is not pulling his weight I suspect that over time that the father-child relationship will slowly fizzle, or at least come in fits and starts. Especially as it is exasperating trying to organise it on the behalf of another adult, especially when you are trying to get on with your own life and rebuild it.

Phone calls and skype are fine, but I am finding without visits that the phone calls are becoming less interesting to the children, my eldest (5) now refuses to talk at all, although dad does call often. Skype is good, but you need the person at the other end of the line to log on and be there, which takes organising. As the children get older I think their own lives will take over their interest, suddenly they will have more after school playdates and activities, events at the weekends.

My personal feelings are that yes father-child relationship is very important. But if dad is not being a parent within his relationship with his child, and being proactive in maintaining that relationship, then what is nearly as important after the relationship breakdown is that mum and the children rebuild their lives and make it as absolutely stable and happy as possible and include a wider sphere of family and friends. I think then a sporadic relationship with dad will be easier on the child.

cowardlylionhere Wed 12-Dec-12 17:51:23

I agree with that last paragraph wholeheartedly. How are you Llareggub? We've been in our new house a month now and are settling in, despite having a couple of wobbles here and there. I've realised that xp will never have a 'parenting' role now we've moved so far away. I'm 300 miles away now and when he comes to visit, it will be just that, visiting, the way you would a friend's child or a nephew. It's very odd. Ds is obviously very young as he's only 8 mo but realising I'm shouldering the weight of responsibility, even though I've been a single parent to my elder 2 as well, is pretty daunting and the worst part of the whole thing really. I don't know why it's suddenly worse for me now with 3 dc rather than 2. Maybe it's the sheer number of them(!!) or the fact that I honestly thought we'd be raising them all together and then he just walked out and left, but it's a really really hard and brave thing to do to raise dc by yourself. I have cut myself a lot more slack since I've been down here. Is he ok with you going? I think a part of me desperately wanted xp to ask me to stay, anything to show he cared, but he didn't. I've had solicitors letters since trying to scare me, but I've responded to them all in a calm, factual manner. He's the one who left. I moved to get closer to my family and, in truth, to put some distance between us while I sort my head out. Are you moving closer to family too? I do like being closer to them, but actually I'm already thinking that once my tenency is up here I may not renew it. It's great to have a bigger house, but I miss my old life. Make sure you're as sure as you can be before you move. My dc are 4 and 8 and have been skying their friends, it's a great way to stay in touch. But actually, I'm not sure it'd be the same with a parent. I know mine would likely be distracted and see having to sit and talk to someone a bit of a chore. How old are your dc? I think I underestimated just what a big change it would be for mine. Yes they're nearer their family, but dd (8) especially is finding it tough at her new school sad

Llareggub Wed 12-Dec-12 18:01:26

Thanks for the replies and sharing your experiences. We will be nearer family, yes. In fact v close! The boys are excited about being by the sea and I have a great new part time job, so life will be easier all round. I grew up there so have a good support network already. I just wish I could fast forward a few weeks and be there!

Sadly I suspect contact will fizzle out and that might be better than sporadic contact. His parents will be consistent I think.

Letsmakecookies Wed 12-Dec-12 18:02:33

Sorry to hear your 8 yr old is finding it hard at her new school. Although I guess it has not been long and things could change. I was so lucky that my two just settled so well in to their new school/preschool. My family have embraced them and see lots of them and I think that has really helped. My dad is so wonderful and is a surrogate parent taking them out for long walks at the weekends and doing things with them, I am so unbelievably grateful to him. So although they don't really see their dad (his choice), they don't have such a big void in their hearts. And I have the relief of knowing if something happened to me (flu/illness) that I have back up.

Llareggub Wed 12-Dec-12 18:07:45

Yes, things might settle down at sxhool. It hasn't been long has it? I think 8 is a tricky age, I have been able to bribe my boys a little bit with talk of the sea.

Letsmakecookies Wed 12-Dec-12 18:09:52

Congrats on organising yourself a job already!

Sadly my lawyer told me that fizzling out does seem to be all too common. :-( At the moment my xs parents actually have poor consistency too, although I have tried to encourage it, and have an ok relationship with them. But my x moved back home and lives with them, and I suspect it must be hard for them.

My practical side thinks that if it does end up fizzling out, perhaps it is not the absolute end of the world. My x has so many enormous issues- drinking, depression - that maybe the children not being exposed to it all might be better for them in the long run? But I am very sad about the thought of them not being close to their father. And would never force that if he is interested in continuing to see them.

cowardlylionhere Wed 12-Dec-12 18:14:24

My dad's been great too, I think he really relishes the chance to come over on his day off and do DIY for me too grin. I think a lot of it is her age tbh, and the fact that she was such good friends with 2 particular girls. She's said it's difficult to learn new people's names which I can understand, but she's left her whole life behind and I can't help but feel guilty that it was incredibly selfish of me to come here. As lovely as it is to have the support of family, I've coped on my own before and I will again. I don't know that it's helpful for me to be assuming that we're just down here for a year at most though. Maybe I should be trying harder to put down some roots here. I don't know. I've moved from a city that I loved, where I got out and did stuff with the dc every weekend, to a place that feels a bit of a dead end. I'm not sure all the family iin the world can make up for that. But right now, it's what we need. In a few months we can reassess, though I don't relish the thought of moving again, the stress was unbelievable. How's the packing going? I hated living amoung the boxes for that last week.

cowardlylionhere Wed 12-Dec-12 18:17:53

Lets, my xp isn't an alcoholic or anything, just an arse wink. He lives with his parents too. I know his mum was devastated that we moved. But she continues to let him treat her as a skivvy and tbh he'll never grow up while he's living there. They're all coming at Christmas and I do think contact right now is beign driven more by his parents wish to see ds than his. It's been a month and he's not coming down for another 2 weeks. That's 7 weeks he'll have not bothered. I just cannot fathom being ok with that and thinking you're being a great parent, which by all accounts he does hmm

Letsmakecookies Wed 12-Dec-12 18:22:04

I totally empathise with you missing a city you loved. I lived away for nearly 20 years and in or near a big city. And there is a big part of me that feels a failure for coming home. But it is my own mindset that is stopping me getting more into it and getting on with things.

For what it is worth, you were not selfish and should not feel guilty. You did what you needed to, and that is the best thing you can do for your daughter. Oxygen mask in airplane scenario, look after yourself first and then your dependents second, as that is the safest and best way to protect them.

I bribed mine with seaside, castles and mountains too :-D

Letsmakecookies Wed 12-Dec-12 18:23:42

My x has not been for 16 weeks (with no current plans to see them one way or the other at xmas), and also thinks he is uberparent of the year. angry

Llareggub Wed 12-Dec-12 18:49:03

Ha, a common theme! Mine thinks he is a wonderful parent too!

I think I read that 50% of fathers lose contact with their children. That's quite shocking.

Letsmakecookies Wed 12-Dec-12 18:56:49

guardian is one study, but just of 2000 people, in 2009. My lawyer told me it was much higher, not sure where she got it from, but suspect she knows.

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