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Help with establishing contact

(28 Posts)
popcorn123 Thu 13-Aug-09 22:28:49

Still can't pin ex down to specific times for contact. He tends to see them 1-2 week but can go 1-2 weels with no contact.

He bascially phones a day or so before and tries to arrange something. Or he gets his mum to speak to me.

He doesn't "parent" them as such I have to send a change of clothes and get the dirty ones home in a back, only activity is Wii, but spents most of contact time at his mums where she prepares meals etc.

ds1 starts school soon and I want things more fixed.
I had a long meaningless conversation with him yesterday where he explained that he only gets 1 week notice of working times and can not plan anything and can't committ to anything. Also the football season starts soon. He has never missed a home game for anything other than work ever.

I want to suggest a contact plan and try and get life more ordered but can't come up with one.
I don't think he could manage a whole weekend. He was due to have then for 24 hours last weekend but brought then back 3 hours early as he had to go to work (apparently)
He will not commit to a day during the week and I don;t think it is fair if do everything during the week including having to make sure I am leave work on time when he never has to do the same thing so him to have them at his mums everyweekend .
Also they go to swimming on sat morning which he has always come up with a variety of excuses to get out of so that is out.

I was thinking of saying one fixed night during the week - and if can't make it then it is cancelled for that week unless there has been sufficient notice to prepart dc for change and a 24 hour period at the weekend e.g 12pm sat to 5pm sun every 2nd weekend.

Does that sound reasonable. I know he will say know as he wants to be flexible.

If he refuses what can I do - suggest mediation? - I had been told that that was not great when dealing with an abusive person.

Can I refuse to let them see them unless there is a plan - I would feel cruel doing this but otherwise things won't change.

Help!

mrsmortenharket Wed 19-Aug-09 14:57:22

i think that you've been perfectly reasonable. x is also abusive person emotionally so i went to see local solicitors and she was great, if you can get to see one and most do free consultations for first appointment, then it might be worth it to see if you still qualify for la xx

ChocHobNob Wed 19-Aug-09 22:05:09

Can I refuse to let them see them unless there is a plan?

I think that is down to you and him? I don't think there is a one answer fits all situation.

I am not a lone parent (sorry) but I am a partner of a non resident parent and his daughter's mother lets us sort out contact week to week. This is because my husband works different shifts weekly and she can be flexible. Luckily they have a very amicable "relationhip" at the moment. But because they can both work things out week to week, it doesn't affect anyone seriously and neither is messing the other one around it works OK for us at the moment. This may well change when sd is older and needs a more structured routine so I can understand that you need something more regular (but I can see from his POV this may be very difficult as there are very few mon-fri, 9-5 jobs nowadays) But the fact there is a more complex history and he is still messing you around means it isn't working.

I would do as mrsmortenharket suggests and try and find a solicitor and look into mediation to try and sort something out. Good luck x

Spero Wed 19-Aug-09 22:10:41

I think you are being totally and utterly reasonable. I am in the same position and it is driving me mad - I can't be 'flexible' as I work full time so I need predictability and routine, as does my daughter, she is only four.

This is part of being a parent, organising your life so that you can meet your children's needs, not expecting your children to fit around what you want to do. I think this can be very confusing and upsetting for children, especially when they are young.

Of course, things do happen, you can't be completely rigid all the time BUT there is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for a basic schedule which everyone sticks to unless there is very good reason and advance notice.

If he won't sign up to your suggestion, I think you should try mediation but it doesn't sound as if that will work. But, as going to court is the only next step, it always helps to show the judge that you have tried everything.

If he won't agree with you about the need for a schedule, and he then refuses to mediate or mediation doesn't work, I would tell him that he will have to take you to court to get an order.

ChocHobNob Wed 19-Aug-09 22:31:51

I can understand the "organising your life so that you can meet your children's needs" when it comes to things like the bleeding football season! Stuff football. But when it comes to a job, some people don't have a choice. Some can't just pick and choose the hours they work and a lot of employers are not and cannot be flexible.

Spero Wed 19-Aug-09 22:37:19

ChocHobNob - ok, so arrange contact for when you are not working??

Unless you do really weird night shifts, I can't see how this is a problem. Surely no employer will make you work for months on end without a break? So arrange to see the children on your days off. Even with shift patterns, there must be some sort of predicatability to this.

ChocHobNob Wed 19-Aug-09 22:42:00

There seems to be some crossed wires here.

The OP has said her ex is already doing that but only gets his shifts a week in advance. That is not unheard of. Some employers do do that.

The OP wants it be set times every week/fortnight, not changing all the time.

Spero Wed 19-Aug-09 22:44:16

But he must get a break in the week? Why can't he arrange contact as soon as he gets his shift details? OP is saying he can go weeks without contacting her.

That, presumably, is nothing to do with his work

ChocHobNob Wed 19-Aug-09 22:48:41

But she doesn't want that. She wants it set every week/fortnight.

Spero Wed 19-Aug-09 22:54:38

Hmm, I don't think that is really what is annoying the op, although I may be wrong!

She seems annoyed that he phones the day before and is basically dumping them with his mum and doesn't know how to parent.

therefore, I am assuming his 'problems' with his shift patterns are in reality a reflection of his unwillingness or inability to take responsibility for his children and that is the real issue here.

If he could sign up to some kind of schedule, that would help. But it would require him to be organised and put his children first, which he doesn't seem to want to do. And that has sod all to do with working shifts.

ChocHobNob Wed 19-Aug-09 23:12:21

He could sign up to a schedule a week in advance (and I did acknowledge in my initial post that he was being awkward and messing her around) but it still doesn't solve the OP's problem in that she wants more stability and routine so that the contact is set down in writing for the forseeable future.

Spero Wed 19-Aug-09 23:24:50

Ok, she may not be able to insist on the same day each week and weekend if his work gets in the way of that; I can see how that might be a problem.

But he should be able to sort himself out to sit down once he has his shift pattern and say, right I am free this evening, Sat whatever...

Once the children are at school, get more involved with friends, activities etc, the need for routine will get more pressing. This may mean he has to see less of his children than would a parent who worked predicatable hours, but this is part of the sadness of parents not living together

popcorn123 Wed 19-Aug-09 23:26:59

I am not wanting an absolute pattern - I appreciate that we both have working patterns that involve sometimes working outside 9-5 (we have the same profession) - I know that he doesn't only know what is happening weekd to week but probably no more than 4-6 weeks.

I could cope with a basic plan with some variation here and there.
I have gone 18 months with no pattern at all. I have never known more than 1 week in advancw what is happening and often get texts at 11pm on a friday night stating that he will collect ds's at 10am.

I have previously sent him a lawyers letter suggesting a framework which he completely ignored and set that he doesn't know what he is doing from day to day.

I know when he is working and when he is not we have colleagues in common. He must know that I know.

Thanks for everyones help - it would be so easy just to keep going as we are but I think I owe to to my children to try and get him more involved.
They both started school and nursery this week. He was not involved in any way has never been to or knows the location of either place.

Will contact lawyer again suggest we will have to have mediation to try and resolve things.
If I genuinely thought he was pulling his weight with being a dad I could work on a more flexible contact as if the dc's were seeing him every few days they would adjust better to days being different each week.

popcorn123 Wed 19-Aug-09 23:30:58

I suppose the absolute question I am asking is (ignoring my ranting about ex) should we continue as we are or will trying to pin him down via mediation/court with all the stress (emotional and financial) be beneficial to my dc's

Spero Wed 19-Aug-09 23:46:11

sorry for talking about you as if you were not there.

I think you are being very sensible asking that question because there is no doubt that court proceedings are very stressful and draining.

It is a matter of weighing up which you think will cause you more stress - trying to cope with what is going on now or launching into something more formal.

I think there is no doubt your children will be happier if they can feel confident about when they are seeing him and when they do see him he is an interested and involved dad.

But, to be honest, that doesn't sound like it will ever happen whether the courts get involved or not.

And even a not so good dad, is probably better than no dad at all so even his limited and unsatisfactory involvement is probably worth holding onto so at least your children grow up knowing he was at least vaguely interested.

Sorry, that's probably not much help. But only you can know just how difficult you are finding the present situation. Going to court probably won't help much but may get him to take it all a bit more seriously.

popcorn123 Thu 20-Aug-09 00:02:58

Was not really around -just logged on at the tail end!

I think I was hoping that he would either buck up and sort himself out or gradually lose interest but I think neither are likely.

Don't know if I am up to the stress of court bbut am much stronger than last year - will speak to lawyer again.

Thanks for input.

ChocHobNob Thu 20-Aug-09 09:08:38

If you know he has his shifts more in advance than 1 week at a time, I would be more inclined to push for some sort of mediation. Hopefully then it will become clear that he knows a lot more in advance about his shifts and will be encouraged to give you more notice. Whether he follows it or not is another thing.

He does sound like he is making it a lot more difficult than it needs to be. Phoning you up the morning before isn't fair on you or the kids.

Spero Thu 20-Aug-09 18:18:31

I had a nightmare last night - my ex has taken my dd on holiday, I wanted to ring her up to say good night - I called three times between 7.30 and 9.30, sent three texts... no reply, was getting really worried... texted his sister and said unless I heard something by noon tomorrow I would call the police as I was now really worried. Got a reply at 11pm to say all well.

I asked before he went for a landline to avoid precisely this kind of thing. He refused to give it to me.

I rang a good friend of mine who is a single dad and he gave me some very good advice - I am the primary carer, I am in control. If I get messed about, it impacts on my ability to be a good parent. Therefore I simply say 'these are the conditions for contact. If you don't comply, no contact' and leave it at that.

So that is what I'm going to try to do in the future. Getting worked up about it is not helping me. My ex is who he is; he doesn't seem to understand why I need to know things in advance and why I think it is fairer and easier for our daughter too. I guess he will never understand so I have to accept that and try to find a way of dealing with the situation that doesn't leave me stressed and upset, or at least minimises that.

Spero Thu 20-Aug-09 18:19:24

sorry, not clear, the problem was I was calling his mobile and he had no reception where he was... hence request for landline.

ChocHobNob Thu 20-Aug-09 20:31:50

I can understand if a Non Resident Parent is being completely unreasonable but surely it's a compromise, not the Parent With Contact with all the control. Withholding contact is not the best thing for a child. I'm sorry to say this but I truly believe a child can end up resenting a parent who blocks contact.

Surely stopping a parent from seeing their child at all impacts on their ability to be a good parent or a parent at all.

ChocHobNob Thu 20-Aug-09 20:34:14

And yes I do understand it must be soooooo frustrating to have someone mess you around and impact on your life so much, but the bottom line is what is best for the children and limiting the disruption. So trying to compromise and allowing a child to form a relationship with their other parent is best surely? (Unless that parent is physically or mentally abusive etc)

mmrred Sat 22-Aug-09 12:49:37

Absolutely - threatening to withhold a child from a parent is abuse in my book. Of course you want to say goodnight to your child, but the child's right to a relationship with both parents is far more important, surely. Witholding contact punishes the child as much as, if not more than, the other parent who you are trying to assert your control over.
Sorry for the rant! Sorting out contact patterns when shift work is involved is a nightmare - I'd say go for mediation as you mention in the first post.

Spero Sat 22-Aug-09 23:38:40

But it isn't simply frustrating - its getting calls the day before demanding contact and expecting that you cancell playdates etc. this is not fair to our daughter.

With just a little foresight and advance planning we could sort things out for all our benefits. And he doesn't work shifts so what is the excuse?

I don't consider blocking contact lightly. i have had an entire year of this; I have explained over and over again that my life has very little room for flexibility and spontaneity. I can only assume the constant last minute requests are deliberate in some sort of sad power game.

So I am going to stick to my guns. If he can't give me advance notice, it is not going to happen and if he is unhappy with that, he can either arrange mediation or take me to court.

I simply cannot have another ten years of this.

mmrred Sun 23-Aug-09 09:21:00

I would think very carefully before getting willingly involved with courts - you will have no control over events at all, and they certainly won't consider playdates as more important than time with Dad. What about being proactive and arranging mediation yourself and inviting him?

GypsyMoth Sun 23-Aug-09 09:27:14

cafcass WILL advocate regulara and consistant contact though.....thats what is in best interests of all children.....but there is no consistency here.

am going through courts myself...its not nso bad at all!!! especially if you want the best arrangement for your child. don't be sared of the court route,it can be whats needed to shake a lazy parent into shape...

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