Horrible fallout every time DCs come back from seeing their dad - long, sorry but I am getting desperate(14 Posts)
Hi, I have been trawling the Lone Parents threads looking for anyone in the same position as I am and can't, so I really hope I might get some advice by starting this thread.
ExDH and I split up a year ago, I moved out in October with the DCs (now 6 and 4) to a house just down the road. Contact with their dad has been regular (Wednesdays after school, and every other weekend) and he loves them enormously. We're fairly civil, and have tried to be as co-operative as possible although there have been inevitable disagreements. We have all spent time together at Christmas and on birthdays, go to school events etc. We've tried to tell the DCs together whenever big decisions have been made. They know we both love them.
The problem is that whenever they come back from spending time with him they are a nightmare to deal with. They let all their frustrations and unhappiness out on me, but being little they don't shout about it, it comes out in sulks, tantrums, rudeness and disobedience. I've just come back from a two-week holiday abroad with them both and my mum, during which they quite often said they missed Daddy but not in a terribly sad way, just that they were looking forward to seeing him when we got back. I helped them to send him texts and we were in touch regularly. He picked us all up from the airport and took them back to the house he's just moved into, which also involved new toys etc he'd bought them to help them settle in. They came back to me again today and tonight it took me THREE HOURS to get them to bed. They keep saying they want to be at Daddy's (when angry) or just asking why we can't all live together. It is heartbreaking and so difficult to know how to deal with it.
He's a good dad, I am a good if stressed mum. We weren't happy together. I feel as if I have ruined everyone's lives and in my worst moments, feel that I'm being punished for pulling down the entire house of cards. I know this is melodramatic but I am really reaching the end of my tether. Please, if anyone has any advice or experience of a similar situation, could you help?
i totally know where you are coming from, and my situation is even more complicated in that my 2 children have different fathers.
So they each return from their own father on a sunday, behaviour is appalling, and they start sparring with each other before making my life hell.
Each child is pining for their own father which makes me feel bloody awful, then they start slagging the other ones dad off!!!
its really horrible, but i dont know what advice to offer as in same boat!
Thanks so much for replying. I know there aren't any easy solutions, it's just really good to know that I'm not the only one. Ironic, really, when so many single mothers are having to deal with the fact that their kids' fathers aren't around, and I am really grateful that my ex is playing such an active and loving part in their lives - I just don't know how to cope with it!
It will pass. DS1 hated me for at least 6 months after I left his father - DD was all over the place for ages. It broke my heart. And of course I couldn't tell them the intricacies of why we'd split up. They were 5 & 7 then - are 20 & 22 now and barely even remember that bleak time (although it's still fresh in my memory). There's nothing you can do except ride it out, and stick to your usual rules re acceptable behaviour. It sounds like you're doing everything right.
My ex and I have been separated for 3 years but I still get this from LO when he gets back from a contact visit. Ex and I get on ok but I don't think my ex helps things - I'd like him to deal with the "goodbyes" before he knocks, so he can give a quick final hug and kiss and that's it, but we always have this huge performance on the doorstep "one more hug, one more spin round.....etc etc" and it just makes it harder for LO. In order to give him as much contact as possible he comes home right before bedtime and then he won't get changed, won't get pj's on, won't do teeth......etc! He wakes his other siblings up with his crying sometimes as well! :-(
I just deal with it the same way each time now, I stay calm, get him changed myself and out him into bed, reassure him that I love him and turn out the light. Sometimes he cries himself to sleep but he is always ok in the morning. I am finding that this consistent approach is SLOWLY working - he still gets upset, but not as bad and it deosn't last for a long. It's hard though, it breaks my heart tbh!
My step children were 4 and 5 when dh split from their mother. I met dh about 8 months later. The children blamed me for the split up (although I hadn't even met dh at the time) and still blame me now 11 years later even though their mum has had two husbands and 3 children since. They kept asking their mum and dh when they were going to get back together for a good 7 or 8 years after the split up. I think it's so sad for the children. I hope you are more successful at helping your kids get through the pain of divorce than my dh's ex was.
ALL kids find 'transition' times hard - dd doesn't like play mates going home, hides when dh comes in, spins out the 'good byes' at the school bus stop etc. It is part of life & a skill they have to learn, ie, how to move from one situation to another.
it's the same for us adults - how often have you said 'i have to go now' and still been chatting 5 mins later? we just (usually) don't go into big sulks about it.
as they get older & more used to things, they will adapt & calm down. i think being prepared (e.g. have something ready to occupy them, even if it's only bed time), direct them towards the next activity, stay as calm as possible your self etc. don't rush them, but if they see something to do, it will help them over the 'hump' of moving from one place to another.
i was just going to post something similar to kickassangel - i'm not separated but mine do exactly this when they get back from staying with gps or if we've been away. we get the most appalling behaviour for the rest of the day and often several days after, they're just re-testing the boundaries i think.
i suppose i wanted to try to reassure you that it doesn't necessarily mean that they're deeply upset or unsettled, or that you've done the wrong thing.
Have you thought about increasing the contact they have with him? Is there any way he could take them to school on Monday morning, rather than bringing them back Sunday night? Could they spend another weekday night with him?
Although people talk about every other weekend and a tea-time as 'standard', it's not really very much time compared to spending every day with him (well, with you both of course, prior to the split), and if he lives very close it's very 'do-able'.
Don't blame yourself, you haven't ruined everyone's life. It will get easier.
It's great that you're helping them keep up communication by texting on holiday etc. I don't agree that they're just testing boundaries as written by milleniumfoxtrot, it's not good to deny that they are probably feeling deeply upset and unsettled when they say goodbye to their Dad. As a child of separated parents I know, as I'm sure many of us do, the genuine pain of having to say goodbye to a parent on a Sunday night; they're confused and hurting and this is how it comes out. They will get more used to the situation. For me, unfortunately I only came to deal with it by becoming emotionally distant from the non resident parent.
I agree with mmrred about trying to increase contact so that the "goodbyes" are not such a big hurdle.
Otherwise, I suppose just acknowledging that you know that they're really sad about not being with Daddy but reinforcing how much you both love them etc..
apologies if my contribution wasn't helpful, you sound quite desperate, i hope you've found some reassurance from the people on here who've been where you are and come through.
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