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Aaaaargh, daughter wants to live with dad during the week, what to do?

(15 Posts)
Beavie Mon 23-Sep-13 13:41:16

I have been worried for some time about my 9 year old dd, as she does not seem happy. We moved just over a year ago and she has not settled into her new school very well, she hasn't really made any friends although academically she is doing well. She comes home from school and all she wants to do is play on her itouch, I try to get her to join in with things but she isn't interested. Any clubs/activities that I have tried to get her into hsve only lasted a few weeks before she loses interest.

I split with her dad when she was 13 months old, and since then she has seen him every other weekend, and more during the holidays. I also have a 3 year old dd, and I am no longer with her dad, he is a nutter so she has no contact with him.

When dd1 goes to stay with her dad she has a great time. He lives in a cabin in a field, with 3 other families living on the same land. There are 3 other girls there around her age there and they all have a great time, and spend loads of time outside running around and building dens etc. when she comes back from her dads she is generally a lot happier in herself and more sparky and eager to engage.

It occurred to me last week, after dd1 was crying because she didn't want to go to school, that maybe she would be better off with him and going to the same school as her friends that lives with. I didn't say anything to her but I called her dad and talked it through with him, and he seemed really keen to have her. That said he did have reservations about whether or not he would be able to cope as he has never been a full time dad. He is useless at brushing her hair, washing clothes, etc and he would have to get organised with things like packed lunches which I don't know if he could cope with. He would have to buck his ideas up quite dramatically and then there is also the financial side of things, he doesn't know how he would manage money wise (after telling me for years that I am getting a fortune in tax credits he now doesn't think he can live on the same amount!).

I really don't know what to do. I will miss her like crazy if she goes but I want her to be happy. It seems he must have mentioned something to her about it as she told me today she wants to go to the same school as her friends. He lives a couple of hours away so I would just have her at weekends. Help!

titchy Mon 23-Sep-13 14:04:10

Would he step up to the plate? Unless he would be doing everything that needs doing, washing, packed lunch, supervising homework, getting her there on time, parents evenings, school trips, visiting secondary schools, going in to sort out problems, making sure she stays clean and healthy, makes sure she is making new friends and having them over regularly, taking her to extra-curricular clubs, and paying for all of those things then no don't do it. You're her parent, you need to make sure she is looked after properly, and her education supported appropriately, and if he can't or wont do that you need to decide no - don;t leave the decision to her.

On the other hand if he could do all of those things it maybe worth considering. Have you explored with school exactly why she still doesn't seem settled, and looked at other options?

Could you trial it for 6 months? That assumes of course that there is a vacancy in the other school and that if it didn't work out she was still able to get a school place back with you.

ZiaMaria Mon 23-Sep-13 14:09:30

While he has not yet had to do everything - he will learn fast with a few teething issues. I'd give it a go. She will hopefully be able to spend more time outside, with the 3 girls there, and if she usually comes back happier then I'd say it is worth it.

SavoyCabbage Mon 23-Sep-13 14:14:41

I would give it a go too. It sounds like you have a good relationship with him so you can still be really involved with everything. Give it a go for a term maybe.

JohFlow Mon 23-Sep-13 14:23:11

I only want to say something briefly. At the moment; being with Dad has a 'treat' value for your DS. Whilst she is there there may be few daily commitments, more money, time for him to plan what to do etc. There is a big difference between this type of care and the one that is offered on a daily, full-time basis. I would want some kind of guarantee that Dad could learn to carry out all of the mundane, daily duties before making a full decision. You have already said that things that would be expected to be done quickly and on a daily basis present some challenges to your ex.

There is also chance that your DS would be happy with you again too. I think that you have an opportunity to find out more about why your DS does not appear happy at the moment. And to examine if these things can be improved before making a drastic decision like moving her. She has been through some changes (as have you) and maybe she needs a bit of time to process things - maybe you can help each other out. It is normal for some kids to 'zone out' after school; particularly if they have been working hard. I think you can use the itouch as a bargaining tool. For example: You can have and hour on the itouch after we have had an hour... Communication is the key.

It is important that wherever she is that her needs are all met. I would take your time with any decision. I has to be right; in its entirety.

Beavie Mon 23-Sep-13 15:17:11

I just spoke to him on the phone, which had to be cut short because someone turned up at the door. I was trying to get across to him that he needs to be really on the case with keeping her clean and presentable, getting her to school, doing her homework etc etc and he took that as me having a pop at him, which I really wasn't. The thing is, as her mum I can't possibly even think about letting her go unless he can promise he will do these things, which are all the bare minimum as far as I'm concerned. All he will say is that 'he will do his best' which doesn't seem like enough to me.

cestlavielife Mon 23-Sep-13 22:16:27

Just give it a trial for a term.
You can't know if he will step up or not.
Besides at nine she maybe mature enough to take on aboard some of it herself, especially if there are her friends there.

You got nothing to lose by trialling this for a term.
And of it possibly suits your dd better then why not ?

He doesn't have to step up now but maybe when he has to he will.

Agree a trial for a term

cestlavielife Mon 23-Sep-13 22:22:52

What price her happiness in the long term ?
Clean ..well peer pressure she will do it herself.
Homework also, but even if she fell behind a little cademically she can always catch up later. Academics won't matter if she unhappy with life.
Put her needs first.

NoPartyDay Tue 24-Sep-13 10:07:27

Maybe let her know that you and her Dad will always work together to support her to be happy and healthy, wherever her school is- that will never change.
Make an agreement to discuss her current school at length first-friendships, the teachers, any issues, with both her Dad and her, maybe out for a coffee/hot chocolate in neutral territory?
Take the focus of Dad's skills and onto what her feelings, daily stresses are and taking time to all understand her better then leave the Dad's skills to discuss privately if you all would like to consider her going to school near his place. How well do you know the three friends families- good to explore what she loves doing other than being with the girls. Does she have friends at her school who could also do that outdoors stuff more regularly? Kids can be tough to keep happy with all our busy lives, and like others have said, its a great opportunity to stop and really get to know her much more deeply as a growing young girl.

NoPartyDay Tue 24-Sep-13 10:25:02

Also, as an example- my son took 12 months to finally relax and smile and make friends at his new school at the tender age of 8, then ended up Captain in year six, and very popular and carefree.
It got better when I asked his teacher to send him outside with a buddy every recess/break time, so another child broke the ice for him to relax a bit more. Turned out two boys had been singling him out and finding him and punching/kicking him every single playtime then running offsad They apologised and he never looked back smile

Something is getting her down, and maybe it can be changed for the better, even if it is merely her feeling lonely and anxious about breaking the ice with new friends... You can still consider the school change whatever you find out from exploring her daily trials at her current school if you all wish xxx

balia Tue 24-Sep-13 13:28:15

I think a child's happiness is worth the odd time forgetting to brush hair, TBH. I'm sure OP has had discussions about what is making her DD unhappy, it's hardly likely that she has just plucked this idea out of the air. I also think it is unrealistic to expect someone who has never done the job to guarantee to be able to do it all perfectly straight away. There's bound to be a few teething troubles.

WaspInTheHouse Tue 24-Sep-13 13:37:24

I can't see the bit in your first post where she says she wants to live with him.

WaspInTheHouse Tue 24-Sep-13 13:40:14

Oh I see, you brought the idea up & suggested it to him, he mentioned it to her and now you want help with what?

purpleroses Tue 24-Sep-13 15:54:24

That's really tough. I'd worry about many of the same things as you if mine wanted to live with their dad. Some of it I guess you can let go of - taste in clothes, hair brushing, etc she can either take care of herself or slip to his standards and it won't really do her any harm. But other things you may have been doing as her primary carer and he might not think to do - making sure she brushes her teeth, talking about school, talking to her teachers, filling in forms, etc for school, getting to know her friends' parents, inviting friends round to play, helping with homework, taking to the GP, dentist, etc are all things that my own ex doesn't really do, and to some extent probably still wouldn't do if he had them full time. Which is one reason I prefer to keep things as they are (thankfully my DCs are happy at their schools, etc so it's not arisen).

Other things you'd need to think about are whether there is a place in the school where the friends near her dad's go, and whether there's enough space for her and all her stuff at her dad's. Financially he could (reasonably enough) expect you to pay some child support towards her upkeep. Is there a benefit for you of him having her in the week? Would you be able to take up some exciting career opportunity or something that would make it seem more worthwhile to be away from her? Can you Skype her when she's at her dad's?

And of course what your DD herself thinks about it. She may love going to her dad's but not really consider living there full time. You could ask her her views in a very general sense, without making any promises initially.

Jellyboobs Wed 02-Oct-13 10:36:36

Would it be ridiculous to move to where he lives so she could go to that school and be near her new friends?
That's if you really don't want her to move out during the week.
You could definitely try it for a term and see if moving would be worth the upheaval for you.

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