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3 year old struggling with access

(10 Posts)
AKP79 Fri 21-Nov-14 08:05:37

Hi

My DS father lives nearly 3 hours away and as he left when DS was 2 months old he had been visiting DS in his local area. However, the courts recently set an order that things had to change immediately from this to overnight access every two weeks for two nights.

I don't want to go into details on the court order, I don't agree with it and have very good reason not to, but that's a whole other story.

My main issue is that my DS is not coping with the change. He can manage one night, which we did for the first month, but since it's turned to two nights he is not coping, he's become very anxious, he wakes in the night saying he's scared if staying in bed, he's very needy of me and worries I'm going to leave him. He's also been very distressed at nursery and has told me (unprompted) that he doesn't like sleeping at daddy's.

Where do I stand on all this? My ex is refusing to discuss it. I'm very worried for my son. Two nights is too much for him.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

KissMyFatArse Fri 21-Nov-14 08:24:30

He's quite young to be suddenly taken away for 2 consecutive nights after a large break of 2 weeks. Could they not change it to one night every week instead then there's more regular short access to gradually build up to the 2nights EOW?

AKP79 Fri 21-Nov-14 11:17:10

The problem is his father lives of 2.5 hours away, so as it is he's having a 5 hour round trip every other weekend. I think expecting that of him every week is too much too. It's such a horrible situation.

HeadDoctor Fri 21-Nov-14 11:41:16

What are you doing to reassure him? With it being court ordered, your hands are tied really. You could take it back for a variation but you wouldn't get anywhere unless the circumstances had changed.

It sounds like your son is reacting to the change and to be honest that would happen at any age. He also may be picking up on the fact that you aren't happy about the arrangement.

Lots of love, support and reassurance needed by the sound of it. Your son can and will adjust to it, it's just not easy at first.

AKP79 Fri 21-Nov-14 14:12:03

I'm trying to everything I possibly can to make it an exciting experience. I've bought a DVD player for the car for journeys to daddy's, we chose a bag together for his overnight things and we pack it together. My ex won't tell me what his plans are when they are together so I can't talk about the weekend and try to get him excited about specific activities, so I just say things like I bet you'll have great fun playing outside etc. I've researched how to make the transitions smooth and happy for him, so am doing everything in my power. But he's cries at handovers, tells me he doesn't want to go, clings on to me and is pretty devastated. Even while this goes on I try to remain upbeat and positive, but he just doesn't want to go. When he comes back home I don't ask him questions I just let him tell me things whenever they pop into his head and I never probe. He always says he doesn't like it there, again even when he says that I'm super positive and tell him daddy loves him etc. Its breaking my heart and putting him through this goes against all my instincts as his mother.

Starlightbright1 Fri 21-Nov-14 14:40:39

I have no advise for you.. It is a horrible situation as it is court ordered. Is this final hearing..If not can Nursery write a report on how it is affecting DC.

Does Ex say how he is when there.

Do you know it is so frustrating when NRP refuses to speak to RP about a child struggling and how to make it easier.

My DS at that age used to see his Dad 2 hours a fortnight .. Strangely he know which weekend it was.

Hope it imporves.

HeadDoctor Fri 21-Nov-14 17:04:07

What does your ex say about how your son is when he is there? Both with my own children and my stepchildren I have experienced them saying one thing to me and another to their other parent.

Karen Woodall (Google her) writes some great stories about "Dandlebear" which might help. That's all about the transition. There's lots of reasons why handovers can be traumatic even when contact is absolutely fine.

If contact itself is difficult then that's a different thing but I'd be reluctant to rely on the words of a 3yo before I started doing anything major.

HeadDoctor Fri 21-Nov-14 17:08:14

Also, try and make handovers as quick as possible. Say I love you, give him a hug and then leave, similar to the way you would if taking him to nursery or a childminder. The shorter the handover, the less stressful it is for everyone involved. Or would a third party handover be possible?

TortillasAndChocolate Sun 23-Nov-14 20:53:23

This has made me feel really sad. O0 I really feel for you, it's such a tough situation and you sound like a really lovely mum.

I may end up in a similar position in that ex currently has contact for 2 days 1 week and 1 day the next but no overnights. DS is 3. His dad wants to have him overnight now, but DS is really anxious and worried about it if it's mentioned. He hasn't had a night away from me for about 2 years (I sometimes have nights out but I always come home or to wherever he is being looked after). I'm really keen to gradually get him used to overnights because I don't want him to be upset or unsettled. Ex thinks he 'will just have to get on with it'.

At 3 they are still so little and it's not their fault they are in this position. It's much harder for you in that ex lives so far away that contact without overnights doesn't sound realistic. It's a shame he couldn't stick with just one night for longer until your DS is ready for any more.

Maybe you could write to your ex suggesting mediation if he won't discuss it one on one? If DS isn't coping, I would have thought that's reason enough to rethink the arrangements.

BobbyBingoooo Tue 25-Nov-14 10:45:43

Hi OP. Slightly different viewpoint from me as a NRP.

I , much to my dd's mum's disapproval began having my dd for overnights when she was 2. It also involved a longish journey.

Something I found a bit frustrating was that sometimes dd would get upset when parting from her mum. Only natural I guess, but the thing was that 30 seconds later after we'd headed off she ( dd ) would be perfectly fine.

So from my point of view it was very frustrating as my XP didn't believe me, she never saw how quickly dd returned to normal and would , if the tears started, actually prolong the whole 'goodbye' which just made it worse.

I think a pretty vital aspect is how your XP parents and how secure and happy your dc feels when there.

There is , if I might be so bold, a bit if an elephant in the thread, why did it go to court?

I got a lot of advice before insisting my daughter stay over with me. And met a lot of resistance from XP, which although I understood her motherly instincts , didn't agree with. I love my daughter very much, we're super close, and I think it helped to bond through overnights from an early age.

She's grown to be a very happy and confident little 6 year old.

But I guess a lot if this depends on what dad is like, and what his priorities are.

I think one thing though is really not to talk about it at all. Even if it's all positive. I know it's all kind of a big deal, but as far as your dc goes it should just be presented as a thing that he does. Doing all the packing together etc could well just up the anxiety?

It is tricky and I do sympathise, especially without knowing what your ex is like.

Is there a reason why dad doesn't come to you to pick up ?

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