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Chaotic lifestyle at dad's house

(18 Posts)
HoundOfTheBasketballs Sun 16-Oct-16 15:38:46

I think I just need a little reassurance that I'm doing the right thing.
Ex and I share residency for DS, who is 8. Arrangement has been in place since we split two years ago, and generally works well for us.
Ex has DS 3/7 nights a week.
When DS is at home with me he has a stable routine of mealtimes, school, activities, etc. There are rules about things like screen time and going to bed.
At is dad's things have always been more chaotic. He isn't encouraged to be clean when he's with his dad, often he doesn't bath or shower at all when he's with dad. I don't think there is much routine around things like teeth brushing either. His diet at dad's is terrible mixed. Lots of takeaways and food bought in petrol stations. There often aren't fixed meal times. And there don't seem to be fixed bedtimes. He is often late for school when dad drops him off.
His dad's love life is very up and down. Lots of arguments and splitting up/getting back together. Ex has had two periods of homelessness in the last two years and I found out again today he is in trouble with the court for non-payment of fines.
What I want to know is that I'm doing the right thing by facilitating DS relationship with his father? I've always felt that in spite of ex's shortcomings, that it was better to allow him to be a somewhat inadequate presence in DS life rather than an absent father. But now I'm concerned that his continued benign neglect and poor parenting could be doing more harm than good.
Any advice much appreciated.

Afreshstartplease Sun 16-Oct-16 15:46:04

I think I'd be looking at reducing the amount of overnights. 3/7 is a lot when things are so poor. Legal advice needed I think

HoundOfTheBasketballs Sun 16-Oct-16 15:52:14

I wish I could afford legal advice.
When we split, my solicitor at the time advised as close to 50/50 as possible, as not allowing DS to see his dad could cause resentment. I think I might try reducing it down to 2/7 at his dad's.
It's getting ex to agree that will be the problem, he's a total narcissist and couldn't even begin to accept that he's struggling or getting it wrong. sad

Afreshstartplease Sun 16-Oct-16 15:53:01

Citizens advice?

HoundOfTheBasketballs Sun 16-Oct-16 15:58:32

Yes, I'll look into that, thanks.
It's so bloody difficult.

Afreshstartplease Sun 16-Oct-16 16:05:34

How does your son feel about it

Livedandlearned Sun 16-Oct-16 16:11:21

OP I couldn't have written this, so I'm watching with interest. Though what I will say is if you are asking the question you probably already know the answer ( not that I follow my own advice )

Could you try to make out you're reducing contact for ex's sake so he doesn't get funny about it.

HoundOfTheBasketballs Sun 16-Oct-16 16:17:27

DS loves his dad. He knows that sometimes he's "not very good at being a grown-up." He says he prefers being with me as I shout less and it's less boring. The problem is, a lot of the time his dad treats him more like a mate than like a son. So while he loves the fact that no one is making him bath every day and he's allowed on his iPad until 9pm at night, he knows in his little head that this isn't quite right and that there should be rules.

And yes, I guess if I'm having to ask the question, deep down I already know what the answer is. Getting it through to the ex will be hard. But I could definitely go down the route that I'm trying to help him out. He's never got any money, so by taking DS back for an extra night I'm saving him cash.

HoundOfTheBasketballs Sun 16-Oct-16 16:18:52

And good luck to you lived.

I thought once I'd got him out of the house, that was the hard part over. Just a whole new set of challenges!

Livedandlearned Sun 16-Oct-16 17:36:50

As mine have got older they have realised that it's not as fun as it used to be, they are tired, hungry and in need of a wash every time they get home. I know they love their dad but they want and need rules and boundaries. The only reason their dad has improved is because he has met a woman who has her own children.

Thank you hound good luck to you too, you are doing the right thing for your son

HoundOfTheBasketballs Sun 16-Oct-16 20:17:25

Thanks lived. I know what you mean about the girlfriend with kids. My ex has been off and on with a woman with kids of her own for about a year now. Part of the reason I didn't have massive concerns about DS wellbeing until now was because I knew she was on the scene and would make sure he was looked after properly. Now they've split up again, I worry that without her influence, his parenting will plumb new depths.

g059902 Mon 17-Oct-16 21:01:56

My partner left me and the children a few weeks ago. (posted i don't know what to do approx a week ago in the same topic).
I have the same issues now. If I'm honest partly the reason we split. I, as most "decent" parents want, to ensure my children are fed fresh homemade food, have a good and fun bed time routine, be clean and brush their teeth, brush heir hair and have clean clothes on. None of which the ex has done or will ever I doubt. My children are a lot younger and I worry that they will get used to this lazy way of life and rebel against rules and routine. It's the age old question is it better to have a waste of space dad or not one at all? Be interested to see how you deal with this. I allowed my children to stay with the ex overnight for 2 nights last week - it killed me and I still don't know if it's the right thing to do. Feel free to read my recent post and share any advice :-\ good luck

VoyageOfDad Mon 17-Oct-16 21:30:00

Looking for something positive amoungst this....

I think that your dc and his dad spend alot of time together. I mean to say it's really sad when you see threads where a dad can't be arsed to make time for his own dc and sees them once in a blue moon.

It does sound like your XP can't be arsed, but at least there's a ( I'm assuming ) strong bond between them.

I'm sympathetic to your situation. It sounds very chaotic at dad's and I think you're instincts are bang on. There are bound to be different parenting styles, my XP would be quite justified to be down on some of mine, and I on hers.

If there's a chink in his armour, it's possibly in the area of how happy his son might be, what his son might become. Do you want your son to be like this or that being the question.

Ask him what kind of life he wants for his son. Does he want him to have the same life as him when he's older ?

Find his achilies heel.

user1476596036 Wed 19-Oct-16 05:10:47

I think it is quite common for the father to offer a more chaotic unstructured way of bringing the children up so I really wouldn't worry. For as long as ds is safe and happy to visit then that is the main thing. In general males are less organised than their female counterpart and this will be reflected in how they spend time with their offspring. Pretty standard stuff on the whole. I remember when I was still living in London the health visitor making nothing of the way my ds's father was taking care of him. For as long as there is no child protection issues it is a minor issue really.

HoundOfTheBasketballs Wed 19-Oct-16 22:52:09

Thanks for your replies and perspectives.
I agree, in the main, that it is better for DS to have a relationship with his dad, even if it's not easy for me to witness some of his poor parenting choices.
However, over the last week or so it has become clear that DS is not happy.
At present his dad, for one reason and another, is unable to provide a safe and stable environment for him. He refuses to engage with me and discuss his problems with me or other family members. When I picked DS up today, not only was he dirty and tired, he was also upset and a bit frightened.
Until his dad is ready to sort himself out, I don't want DS staying overnight.
Hopefully he will come to his senses sooner rather than later.

user1476596036 Thu 20-Oct-16 04:59:49

Sorry to hear that ds is frightened and that the environment isn't safe. My ex was fine for years looking after ds then he had a phase of hitting him so I had to stop access. We just meet up supervised now but it hasn't been formally arranged as it wasn't necessary we arranged it between us. Once the access arrangements become child protection issues then it is essential to withdraw immediately and keep our children safe.

VoyageOfDad Thu 20-Oct-16 08:12:22

I think you have to have a red line.

If there are safety and welfare issues you don't have a choice.

I think you're doing the right thing.

VoyageOfDad Thu 20-Oct-16 08:13:10

And I say that as an NRP dad who gets twitchy when people suggest reducing contact.

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