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DD,5, refusing to stay o/n at exh, would you insist?

(48 Posts)
arwen Sun 13-Sep-09 08:38:42

We have managed fairly well in the 4 years we have been apart to ensure the children have a reasonable amount of time with us both although in reality I do 90%. My dd has never been as keen as ds 7 on staying at daddys and is now point blank refusing to go. We have no idea what to do for the best. I struggle with forcing her to stay (she is fine when I leave but gets upset when she is told off or at trigger points like bedtime and cries for me) This leads to exh phoning me, me listening to her cry and often collecting her or if I calm her being so distressed myself I have no kind of break at all.
There are no issues of trust here, I have given her every opportunity to discuss what is the problem and it appears that it's not daddy, just that she wants to be with mummy.We are working together on this but just don't know what to do. It feels wrong to let a 5 yr old call the shots, it also seems wrong to insist she stays when she is distressed and upset. We both worry that if we can't sort this out she will stop going altogether and that is not a good solution for either of us.She will go to my mum's but that isn't a long term solution as it doesn't give her time with her dad although I get a break.
Any advice gratefully accepted but as this is an emotive subject that we are finding very distressing please don't tear me apart for asking for help.
BTW Ds has high functioning asd, not sure if that has a bearing but am offering all info!

Tinkerbel6 Sun 13-Sep-09 10:59:10

Don't force her to go, maybe leave the access visits for a while or bring her home instead of her staying over, she's only five and might feel different in a couple of years as she gets older, do whats best for her not you and the ex smile

ChasingSquirrels Sun 13-Sep-09 11:07:13

could you make the visits for shorter periods, not overnight for a while?

arwen Sun 13-Sep-09 11:18:52

She hasn't stayed o/n for ages, she is not even keen on seeing him at all at the moment (days out etc, she is fine when he is here). neither of us can bear to have her upset which is why she isn't going at all now but I do wonder if we let her call the shots at 5 if that is a good thing? I have had so much advice and it all differs :-(

JeremyVile Sun 13-Sep-09 11:45:44

I wouldn't insist.
Her main issue may well be that she'd rather be with you but if she happily stays with your mum and isnt particularly keen on seeing her dad at all, then I'd seriously consider that there's more to it than missing you.
It may not be anything major but could still feel v important to DD.
I totally understand that time away from the kids when you're a single parent is needed but your little girl is telling you as clearly as she can that she doesn't want to be with her dad, forcing her will challenge her trust in you.
You have my sympathies, it sounds like a difficult situation for all, but maybe if DD feels the pressure is taken off her for a while she will relax about it or begin to express more clearly why she is not enjoying her time with your ex.

arwen Sun 13-Sep-09 11:51:29

Thanks JeremyVile, the only reason she has been able to offer is that he doesn't sing her bedtime song properly which seems minor but is a big deal for her. I think you are right, maybe she will be more enthusisatic if she feels it is a free choice. The reality is that selfish as it may be I do want the occasional break, with ds having asd I get worn down and am a better parent for even 24 hours headspace once in a while. I will let her stick with my mum for now though and let my ds go with her being able to if she wants but no pressure. TBH it is easier than her going and getting upset and needing to be collected, therein lies misery for all.

JeremyVile Sun 13-Sep-09 11:56:44

Oh gosh - completely understand the need for a good solid break. I'd be a mess (more of a mess?) if I didn't get time to myself.
Think thats the best idea atm, to let your mum have DD - you get a break and DD gets to feel she's being listened to.
Lol @ the bedtime song disappointment! Hopefully it's just a phase and she'll come round soon.

ChasingSquirrels Sun 13-Sep-09 14:02:03

no idea what to advise, sounds horrible, and can see myself posting similar in a few years.
Hope it gets better soon.

mmrred Sun 13-Sep-09 20:40:40

Sometimes I think the separate parenting bit can be a red herring? That although it seems as if it is a separated parents issue when actually it's just a regular parenting thing.

Hmm...don't feel like I'm making myself very clear. What I mean is, if you were putting
her to bed, or had told her off and she started crying to go to her auntie Flo's you wouldn't take her, would you?

I think she's discovered a technique that works to get her out of trouble/gets her a later bedtime and she's using it.

Sounds like you and your ex have a good working relationship, so yes, I'd be insisting that she went and the two of you giving her a clear message that the grown-ups decide where she will spend the night.

Tinkerbel6 Mon 14-Sep-09 10:57:28

Arwen you never know maybe in a year or so she might feel more confident to stay over at her dad's, glad you are thinking of your daughter and not forcing her to go, hope it works out for you.

Niceguy2 Mon 14-Sep-09 13:14:28

>>>It feels wrong to let a 5 yr old call the shots<<<

>>>Sounds like you and your ex have a good working relationship, so yes, I'd be insisting that she went and the two of you giving her a clear message that the grown-ups decide where she will spend the night.<<<

Totally agree here. Since there's no issues of trust here and given her age, its wrong in my opinion to let a 5 year old dictate who/when & where she stays.

If you give in on this now then you risk making a rod for your own back as she will think she has the power to choose other things too.

As for those who say don't make her go, what if tomorrow your 5yr old child decides he/she doesn't want to go to school and starts crying/screaming etc? Are you going to say "oh ok then, if its not what you want!".

JeremyVile Mon 14-Sep-09 13:28:12

Its not about letting her "call the shots" its about not forcing her to do something that is upsetting her, especially whilst it is unclear why it upsets her.
If this little girl had an enjoyable time with her father would she be refusing to see him?
Comparing to refusing to go to school doesn't really cut it - If my child got upset at the idea of school and cried while there I'd need to get to the bottom of why they felt this way. I would ensure that the teachers helped me in getting to the bottom of it and helped my child feel more comfortable being there.
But the OP isn't even aware right now of why her DD dislikes her time with her father so much - she mentions him not singing bedtime songs the way she likes but that doesn't explain her reluctance to spend days out with him.
I find it quite sad actually that some people could be so dismissive of a 5yo feelings and distress.

Niceguy2 Mon 14-Sep-09 13:40:24

Like I said, the underlying assumption here is that dad is looking after her properly. OP says there's no issues of trust and they seem to work together. Obviously the situation is different if there is a problem.

So with school, would you stop your child going until you got to the bottom of it with the teacher or would you discuss it with the

Its not about dismissing her feelings. Its about being the parent. The parent who decides and yes her feelings of course are considered. But sometimes you consider and it still means that he/she MUST do something whether they like it or not.

Sometimes its just as dangerous to overthink things.

JeremyVile Mon 14-Sep-09 13:43:51

"...Obviously the situation is different if there is a problem."

There is a problem. The girl is upset at th though of spending time with her father. That is a problem.

GypsyMoth Mon 14-Sep-09 13:44:12

she's a child,its a phase....fgs,no welfare issues,send her along!!

how will she cope with life if she's pandered to with every whim?

nobody will sing the bedtime song quite like mum....

Stephief Mon 14-Sep-09 13:54:36

Hi,

I wouldnt force it. Kids need to be able to make their own decisions. If it seems it is because she misses you, why not spend time together? My kids see their dad every week (there are issues with him though) but we do it as a family, albeit one that doesnt live together any more (in fact he is remarried, and I live with my new partner!) We have done this for coming up 5 years now. It works for us.

If it distressing her so much, I would want to do something about it. Its not pandering to every whim if it is really upsetting her.

whitemonkey Mon 14-Sep-09 13:57:28

Could it be that she just wants some indiviual time without her brother, rather than not wanting to spend time with her dad. Maybe you could ask her if she wants to go to him without her brother. I know this doesnt help you have time alone but it might be the start of her wanting to go to him again?

Niceguy2 Mon 14-Sep-09 14:01:42

My 8yr old was upset the other night about spending time with me! He went to his room, took his posters down and told me he was going to sleep and never waking up again. All because I told him off.

Should my ex now apply for custody based on the fact my son is suicidal or just like she rightly did see it for what it was, a tantrum and ignore?

nighbynight Mon 14-Sep-09 14:46:42

I would take her, and let your ex h handle whatever crops up. It seems to me, that your dd knows that if she cries, you will come to the phone or whatever to comfort her - whereas in fact, she and her dad should be facing her separation pangs together.

3littlefrogs Mon 14-Sep-09 14:57:26

I think whitemonkey may have a point.

arwen Mon 14-Sep-09 15:05:36

The reality sadly is that although we manage to arrange dates and spend days together for the children he doesn't cope well if things are not going well (has had and still has depression) and if she gets upset he rings. I've asked him not to but he does which means we all get upset and I can't be comfortable saying sorry darling mummy's out having a lovely time so you'll have to stay when you're unhappy. Even if she was just doing it for effect I feel that she didn't ask to be in this situation and we should do our best to make her feel secure, comfortable and loved and that doesn't sit well with leaving her there to cry. I am not a soft parent in any other respect, I am a fully paid up member of the life is tough get over it club.She is normally so strong that when she seems to be genuinely distressed I feel I have to listen.I wonder if the fact he left when she was so tiny means they just don't have the bond that he and my ds do? She is not keen on being looked after by men in general though, much prefers women which is very worrying but as I have no reason to doubt any member of the family and can get no reason from her I have to assume it is just that she is around men so little. Which brings us back to if I don't force her to go will that situation improve? I just go round in circles and exdh is deeply distressed as well.Thanks for all the helpful advice

mrsjammi Mon 14-Sep-09 15:05:47

Message withdrawn

arwen Mon 14-Sep-09 15:06:37

I will ask her whitemonkey, they use to have daddy days (whilst I had a mummy day with ds) but she has stopped wanting to do that

WhingeBobShitPants Mon 14-Sep-09 15:14:13

I don't subscribe to the notion that a 5yo girl is "playing you off" or being manipulative by not wanting to stay overnight with her dad, if she is used to being the main carer

I think if you overface a child by forcing her to go when she is not reasy, you run the risk of creating a permanent aversion to staying at daddy's house

I would not make her stay if she doesn't want to but get excited with ds when he is going and present it as a big treat - and make sure she sees plenty of her dad during daytime visits so they can strengthen their bond.

Niceguy2 Mon 14-Sep-09 15:27:00

My point isn't ignore the child and force her to go at all costs. Its that it is wrong to let a 5 year old decide for you. And that you as her parents make the decision taking into account her emotions and age.

So if you genuinely feel the situation isn't working and your exH agrees and is also not coping then yes its time to think about possible changes.

How many nights is she currently staying for? Perhaps reducing it slightly, you visiting during the day or at bedtimes could reduce the stress.

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