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Any thoughts welcome - what the right thing to do for my kids???

(11 Posts)
northlondonmumma Sat 20-Jun-09 20:50:54

My partner and I split. I asked him to leave cos of his increasing abusive behaviour (emotional largely but had escalated to threats against me, and physical aggression - walls being punched, plates being broken in front of kids). Anyway you get the picture.

My two gorgeous sons are living with me in what is now a lovely calm house. They are really happy kids - 4 months and 2 and a half and we have a wonderful time together. Since ex partner has gone the eldest has become more wonderful and really listens to me and nursery have said that he seems very happy too.

I think that my ex p has the right to see his kids (clearly needs to see the younger one with me present as I am breastfeeding on demand). I would like to, try at least, to arrange contact with their dad, informally without the courts. Ds1 clearly gets very excited when he sees his dad and has fun with him so I dont want to thwart contact.

However, ex p does the following:

- makes negative comments about me in front of kids
- calls kids "little shits" or "little basatrds" as a loving joke (really dont like this and think is inappropriate for obvious reasons)
- disrespects nap times and forgets meals so ds1 gets grumpy. I know a lot of dads do this but then he fails to understand this and loses patience with him e.g. tells him to shut up etc
- refuses to agree any specific contact times (he says he works nights and so he never know when he will wake up).

I have tried to explain that the above to him but he just says I am a self righteous nag.

How do I balance up the pros and cons of them seeing their dad? I feel as a mum I have to protect my kids from harm including emotional harm. Clearly extreme to stop dad seeing them but I cannot get through to him (why our relationship broke down).

Any tips/advice welcome.

Thx

macdoodle Sat 20-Jun-09 20:54:45

I had this and still do to some extent - I insisted on mediation or the courts and we got a somewhat reasonable access arrangement - a lot of it is still at my house I try to disappear and make myself busy in another room !
He would never tell me in advance so now he has to stick to this or he knows I will take him to court !
Nothing I can do about the negative comments and DD1 is pretty good bless her at telling me what he says - I just shrug it off my DD's know I am doing a good job and as they get older it will be even more obvious to them what an arse he is angry
Set limits and boundaries as much as you can and make him stick to it - no matter how hard it is and I know it is very very hard!

FluffyBunnyGoneBad Sat 20-Jun-09 20:54:48

If you want contact then I do strongly suggest you use a contact centre so he's supervised with them. If he doesn't turn up then it's documented, arrange it for a time when they don't need a nap/feeding. There's alot of reason's why you want to withhold access, I don't think anyone here can argue with this though.

northlondonmumma Sat 20-Jun-09 21:06:04

Hey thanks so much for the quick responses .

FluffyB I was thinking contact centre initially but seems quite extreme - I understood these were typically used for violent partners or where risk of child abuse? - and your have to pay quite a lot for them.

Macdoodle - how do you go about mediation and does it cost? My issue is that I am not working but also not entitled to benefits. Currently living of savings so dont want them sucked up by legal / court fees etc.

FluffyBunnyGoneBad Sat 20-Jun-09 21:08:11

I don't think they are. IIRC, Barnardos have some of them. It's not positive if he's bitching about you and swearing at them though is it?

macdoodle Sat 20-Jun-09 22:11:25

yes you have to pay for mediation based on your annual income - XH got if for free angry I had to pay full wack which was £75/session about hour and a half - there is a sliding scale!

thesilverlining Wed 24-Jun-09 19:16:11

I am sure our local contact centre doesn't charge......and its for all kinds of reasons that people use them....I would agree with the pthers here - contact centre is definately the way to go - that way itys all being documented if he doesn't bother to turn up etc....

cestlavielife Thu 25-Jun-09 11:15:23

similar issues here but it reached a point where i was able to get court ordered supervised contact at contact centre. where he behaves well - but the childrena dn i concerned what might happen if moved outside centre...

there are contact centres run by volunteers which do not charge or only minimal.

try www.naccc.org.uk/cms2/index.php

i think while you wish to avoid court you should try mediation - so that you have a trained mediator hashing out your agreement and a witness.

routine of regular contact is i think v important, rather than turn up at will - it will help you too.

even if he works nights, find out when he gets his schedule - how far in advance? week by week or every month? is he three on three off or what??

so you can at least agree that on that date, he send you his schedule (or he lets you know the days/times he will be free) and you agree the contact times and dates for the next month or whatever.

presumably he manages to get up for his own appointments/ meets with his mates etc...

lostdad Thu 25-Jun-09 11:39:17

northlondonmumma - my son was forced to see me in a contact centre (baseless allegations of abuse against me).

They are extreme places. They feel (and look a bit) like prison visiting rooms. They're not a natural environment; I always felt as if I was being watched and judged (one event that came to mind was taking my son to the loos to change his nappy and being asked if I thought it was `appropriate' that I do it).

If you're ex is doing things you can't agree on, try mediation. If you think he's basically an OK parent (or can be with a few small changes such as calling them `little devils' as opposed to `little shits' and the like), tell him but also tell him that if you can come to an agreement on how to clear a few matters up for your childrens' benefit. Don't couch it in terms of what you want or what you think should happen, but emphasis that it is best for your children.

Google `National Family Mediation' (NFM) - professional mediators can find common ground and work on expanding it until there is no problem you and your ex can't handle. Communication is the key - from a personal point of view contact centres were never the solution and were part of the problem: It was a hoop I had to jump though to allow my son to see me.

Good luck.

lostdad Thu 25-Jun-09 11:43:28

Edit to say: Most contact centres are only open alternate weekends. There is often a waiting list and the non volunteer ones can charge in the order of £30-£40 an hour. Some of them will only accept you if it is court ordered.

Have you considered possibilities such as you and your ex (or someone else you trust?) going along for contact for the time being (if so, stress it is for a short period and give an indication for how long this is going to go on).

As others have said, avoid court. Everyone loses when that happens.

cestlavielife Thu 25-Jun-09 12:15:31

just to say - my dcs are very happy seeing their dad in the contact centre.

they love the supervisor - he plays with them too. (three dcs, one of them autistic, so another adult there actually joining in is useful - he does not just sit there observing. )

the room is bright and welcoming, with toys, books, ball pond, small pool table.

yes there is a buzzer to get in and you have to sign in. but they are not bothered by that.

they have said they would prefer to continue seeing him there than outside the contact centre. they know in contact centre it is safe and supervised.

so a differing view to lostdad on the contact centre.

and court sometimes is the only way.

but - you can certainly try mediation first, to get a wrtten agreement of scheduled regular contact times.

please dont dismiss contact centre as an option.

another option might be regular soft play centre, local library etc, where other people around.

but have him see them outside your home.

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