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Too much contact?

(11 Posts)
fryn71 Tue 21-May-13 10:24:17

Reading through the topics, this seems quite the opposite of most problems! I'll give you some background, I split with my XP a year ago, I left him (on Mother's Day, classy huh?) and now have a house with my twin DDs (4) he calls at least once a day to speak to them, mostly at night to say good night. He works shifts so has them when he can, usually one night at the weekend. Last week we all went away for a week in minorca, being as they wouldn't be away from me for a week, nor would I want them to be! The problem is, one of my DDs is stil waking up crying for him in the middle of the night and when I discipline them for being naughty the cry turns into "I miss daddy" which I know is their manipulation to get out of it, but I am just wondering if the separation anxiety is not getting easier because they have too much contact? Any thoughts? I'd hate to think my girls are suffering just because he still wants to control me!

Dadthelion Tue 21-May-13 11:26:52

I would have said it's because there's too little contact.

bollockstoit Tue 21-May-13 11:29:08

You "discipline" your daughter for missin her dad? shock

calmingtea Tue 21-May-13 11:37:13

Reading your post, what strikes me is that there is no distinction for your children between life with mummy and a separate life with daddy. They should see/talk/holiday with dad separately from mum. They need not to talk to him daily, and to forge a life with mum that has all the family elements without dad in it, then the same with dad. That way they can understand their world. At the moment it is a fusion of what was before and what is now. Children need predictability and reliability. They can't understand that dad won't be there in the middle of the night, if they don't fully understand that dad is not part of that family unit any more.

Why is he controlling you? You don't make that clear. But that just comes down to separate lives and boundaries. If he has problems sticking to a regular day to have them overnight, tell him shift work or not, tough. I don't get that is a reasonable excuse. If the RP can manage routine, so can the NRP.

sanityseeker75 Tue 21-May-13 11:40:28

I think the anxiety is probably being made worse by mixed messages as such. I don't think it is due to to much contact, I would say it is due to the inconsistencies of contact and you having family holidays together - this is very hard for a child to process.

When your DD cries for Daddy is this directly as a result of you telling her off about something - so DD does something wrong you tell her off she cried for Daddy? That is trying the boundaries and is quite normal really IME.

If she is crying and then you tell her off and then she tells you she is crying because she is missing daddy that is something very different - try acknowledging this and soothing over instead - I know you miss Daddy and I am sure he must miss you as well, why don't you draw him a lovely picture (in the morning if this is night time) and when he phones you tomorrow you can tell him all about it and give it to him when you see him.

This should help her understand that her feelings are natural and ok but gives her something constructive to think about as well.

lostdad Tue 21-May-13 12:49:51

One night a week is 14% of their time and you think it may be `too much'?

Have you discussed the problem with your ex - i.e. you thinking it's too much time and how your daughter behaves?

fryn71 Tue 21-May-13 13:09:27

Hi all, thank you for your responses. I'm sorry if my wording is confusing, no, I would NEVER discipline for missing daddy, I have always been very careful to never bad mouth him in front of the girls and I never undermine anything he says (although he does to them about me!) it is normally when I tell them off for the normal day to day stuff that happens in every family, it just seems like they don't just 'cry' but they have to throw in the words "I miss daddy" as if its either a reason for what they have done or they miss someone to go to when mummy is being 'unreasonable!' This is where it is tricky as when they have told me they miss him, for example when they are tired and emotional, I am always understanding and tell them he misses them too and that they are seeing him soon or can talk to him, but when they are doing it after being 'told off' I can't suddenly give in and be all nice and gentle as then my 'discipline' would be counter productive.
He can be quite controlling, which was one of the factors of me leaving him, but you are right, there isn't any structure or routine, he just calls when he wants, but if I tell him to call less, he will accuse me of keeping his kids away from him! As I say, it seems the opposite of what most mums want which is why I call to you guys for advice. blush re the holiday, if I were to say no, then I would be called fit to burn, he'd say I was selfish and punishing the kids as they are only 4 and can't go for a week without me etc. this is a man, who still to this day does not accept any responsibility for me leaving! There is sooo much more, but it's too much to put into text! x

Concreteblonde Tue 21-May-13 13:20:53

I reckon its the inconsistecy which is the problem. And if he is controlling then him being inconsistent is the one thing he has left to keep you on your toes.
DD crying for daddy when she's been.tild off is fairly common. You can try and counter it by saying 'and daddy would also be cross if you drew all over the wall/hit your sister etc'
With his shifts there is obviously no way of having fixed contact days/nights so I would suggest getting a big colour coded calender and marking on in advance the days/nights they are with him so that after every contact visit they csn start looking forward to the next.
With phone calls I would suggest phoning at the same time every night.
Children need stability. If he can have them more thrn great. If contact stays at the same level but becomes slightly more structured then good.

calmingtea Tue 21-May-13 16:31:14

I can't help thinking that actually it is not your DC that needed you to go on that holiday, but their dad who didn't want to shoulder the responsibility. I would, in your shoes, ignore him next time. If he wants to take them away, and it is outside his comfort zone, tough. If he is a decent dad he will cope with a few tears. Or he doesn't fly abroad with them. Every day phone calls is too much. I just don't see it is good for your DC, they need time off too. If he wants to develop his relationship with them, calling 2-3 times a week and seeing them regularly (without you) is plenty. You need to be allowed to develop your own relationship with your children, without his influence. Don't let him guilt you into being controlled because you feel bad about leaving a relationship that made you unhappy.

balia Tue 21-May-13 18:07:40

Could you suggest mediation on the grounds that the DC's are getting older, have different needs and need to start making a 'home' at Daddy's? That way you have a third party to tell him to stop being a knob to help facilitate the discussion which is actually about moving to larger amounts of time. Shift work is a bugger to work round, you have my sympathies!

purpleroses Tue 21-May-13 19:49:27

I think it's probably because contact is too frequent and too unpredictable rather than too much. At 4 your DDs probably could cope with a whole weekend with their dad every other weekend, rather than just one night at a time. Me and my ex switched to that system when my youngest was about 4 and it seemed to work better for them - more time to adjust to being with each of us. Is that feasible with his shift work? Could he do one night in the week at his too? Even if that has to shift around a bit you can help your DDs by making a chart for the wall that shows them when they'll be at dad's next, and when they'll be back home. But the deal you need to strike is that your ex gets them for longer times, but less frequently.

Can you persuade your ex to phone less often? More than once a day is a bit much I think. My ex has never phoned routinely to speak to either of our kids - and I only phone them at his if they're away for longer than usual. I also have stepkids who live here at weekends and neither my DP nor his ex phone up routinely. It makes it much easier just to get on with your life with the parent you're with if you don't have the other parent phoning up reminding you that they still exist when you're happily getting on with things. I also take groups of kids away on camping trips with a group I'm involved in - for many it's their first time away from home - and we always ask parents NOT to phone up checking how their DCS are. Inevitably if they do the child gets homesick and misses their parent. We have very few homesick if the parents just leave them alone.

I think you're right that some kids (girls especially) can be quite good at knowing how to hit you hard in an argument - if you've disciplined them about something entirely unrelated to their dad and they suddenly say "it's because I miss daddy", it's most likely just being said for effect, and because they know it makes you feel guilty/give in - so best ignored. Bring the focus back to whatever it is you're telling them off for.

And worth pointing out to them that plenty of children whose dad's work long hours or commute don't see much of them in the week either. They're not suffering some unique hardship. Mine have always been quite positive about the two home set-up.

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