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Co-parenting nightmare. Please help.

(26 Posts)
blinder Sun 21-Feb-16 21:16:57

Hello everyone. It has been a few years since I have posted, and I am back for help.

Long story short: I have a lovely 6yr old dd, and an ex. When we separated I promised that we would be co-parents, and I believe that it is important that she has a great relationship with us both. That has translated into a commitment that we have 50/50 residence. In theory, that was a great idea.

But oh god it is hard. We have tried every single type of schedule and nothing works. She frequently cries not to leave me, whether that is to go to him, or if the handover happens during the school day. Some days she is happy to go but this weekend she begged for an hour to stay with me. It was agonising. I eventually had to promise to visit her that night. She left sobbing but was alright when I went round that evening.

We used to have a 3 days on 3 days off schedule, which she found difficult (frequent handovers) and because that was not working I asked her if she would like to change it. She said she would like to spend one week with me and one with her daddy. But that means I do not see her for a week and I cannot bear it. The first two days that she is with her dad I spend crying. She seems to be fine and happy once she has left. It is possible that she cries when she leaves because she can sense how upset I am (I am not showing it on purpose). She says she does not want to change the schedule, but it becomes a different matter on hand-over day. Am I upsetting her, or is my gut instinct right that a week apart from me is damaging to her?

Who here has managed to co-parent well, and how did you do it, please?
Or who was co-parented in a way that I can learn from?

Or who has great advice for me?

I really cannot stand much more of this agonising separation from her, but I cannot think of the right path forward.

Thank you so much. Hello to anyone who recognises me smile

RandomMess Sun 21-Feb-16 21:24:50

What is your ex telling you about his relationship with her, I mean how she reacts to separating from him etc.?

blinder Sun 21-Feb-16 21:31:39

Thanks for replying, RandomMess.

He says that she is never sad to come to me. He has told her that mothers and daughters have a special bond and that is why she misses me more. He also said that she was very subdued when leaving me this time, and he has never seen her like that before. It was upsetting for him too.

I think that he would never want to do anything that is bad for her, but he is resistant to changing the "fairness" of the 50/50 set up.

blinder Sun 21-Feb-16 21:32:54

She's not sad to go to him. She's overjoyed to see him. But she is sad to leave me "because I am going to miss you, Mummy." sad

VimFuego101 Sun 21-Feb-16 21:36:21

If the week on, week off thing works for her I think you should do it, as tough as it would be for you. You could take her out for dinner or something half way through the week so you don't have to go too long without seeing her, and it gives her some time to settle in at her dads before she has to pack up and change houses again.

RandomMess Sun 21-Feb-16 21:37:49

I do wonder if she is entirely picking up on your sadness?

Is the way you are handling her anxiety around it actually making it worse rather than eing a reassurance?

Sparkletastic Sun 21-Feb-16 21:39:32

How amicable are you with ex? Could you have each other round for meals or pop in for bath / bedtime when she is with the other parent?

blinder Sun 21-Feb-16 21:40:00

I suppose I am wondering if it is working for her. She said that last week she was queuing up for lunch thinking "I don't like my life. I miss my mummy." But she says she wants to carry on like this as well. I think she is as confused as I am.

I like the idea of a midweek meal. Hmm.

blinder Sun 21-Feb-16 21:43:11

RandomMess, yes I wonder that too. It could be that she is feeding off me. I am trying to handle it in all kinds of ways, but there's no fooling little sponges, maybe.

Sparkletastic, we are amicable. Perhaps I could make that a regular thing. A midweek bedtime, perhaps!

PeppermintPatty1 Sun 21-Feb-16 21:55:36

I've no experience to share but it's so very sad. My daughter wouldn't have coped with any of this at that age and neither would I. A week is a long time at her age and frequent handovers must be unsettling.

blinder Sun 21-Feb-16 21:59:17

Peppermint, yes that is my gut feeling. It feels much too hard for her (and for me), and I wish that she could just spend most of the time with me. I often regret ever suggesting the 50/50 thing.

MatchsticksForMyEyes Sun 21-Feb-16 22:01:56

Watching with interest. We aren't 50-50, but they maybe stay 2 nights a week, more in the holidays. However due to ex's shift work he does more school runs. I teach so can't do any. DS often wants to spend more time with daffy and yesterday screamed and pushed me away when I went to collect. Dd is fine and prefers being with me. I think he is making his house more attractive to a 5yr old without overtly trying to turn him against me. It is unsettling for everyone and I don't know what the best solution is.
In your shoes I would sound out your ex about the midweek meal idea.

blinder Sun 21-Feb-16 22:08:04

Yes I think I will suggest that meal / bedtime thing. The other complication is that I'm self employed and teach, and evening work is keeping me afloat.

Two evenings a week at his would be perfect for me. And maybe every other weekend. The maths would be almost 50/50 hmm

iwantanewcar Sun 21-Feb-16 22:47:31

No criticism to you but I think we are now being conned that 50:50 is good shared parenting. In fact the evidence does not support this. I think this move towards 50:50 is driven mostly by fathers rights and financial reasons. I don't think children do well with transition and constantly moving between homes. if you think as an adult we like to sit in the same space in class, on the train, watching tv, yet we expect our children to cope. Does your ex not see a difference in his child or does he just deny what he sees?

blinder Sun 21-Feb-16 23:08:29

I would be really grateful if you can point me to that evidence, iwantanewcar. I think you might be right, but I've been unable to prove it.

The ex filters it out a bit. I think he wonders if I am more upset than her, and I think she hides it a bit when she is there.

VimFuego101 Sun 21-Feb-16 23:29:14

I absolutely support both parents having frequent contact with their kids (seeing DS only EOW would kill me) but I do wonder how they cope with hopping back and forth from house to house. A poster on another thread mentioned their kids did alternate days between parents. Their heads must be spinning a bit.

Fourormore Sun 21-Feb-16 23:40:50

You can find evidence to support both points of view, there is no "right" answer.

If you're so distressed that you're spending two days crying, it is fairly likely that she's picking up on your upset. Are you able to get some support with this?

I suppose at the end of the day, what most children would really like is not to have to go between parents at all, for them to still be together, even if they have no real memory of that ever being the case.

iwantanewcar Mon 22-Feb-16 01:47:02

Briefly blinder, I don't have any summary evidence links to hand right now as I have been reading lots on this over the last few years. I have particularly looked at reports from countries such as Australia and Germany who introduced through their court system 50:50 (perhaps 10 years ago) but have now backtracked on this fairly fast as it was not working. I have also looked at various websites on shared parenting (often vested interest websites where 50:50 is promoted at all cost and you get into other issues including parental alienation and abuse allegations).

I am currently investigating transition and may be able to post some academic studies (mostly american). Understanding transition has helped me enormously in dealing with my child and their behaviour at that time.

I think what is clear is that shared parenting does not mean 50:50. As many pps have said it is about regular constant contact with both parents. I just wish some of the parenting groups and the UK courts would "get" that.

I do believe that money motivates - if you get to 50:50 then it can be expected that maintenance not be paid yet one parent usually the mother may have sacrificed a career and substantial earnings. But nobody seems to care about that. I do think this is why many men are particularly keen on 50:50 often then outsourcing the actual care to someone else. Again the UK courts don't actually seem to mind who does the care.

Fourormore Mon 22-Feb-16 08:15:27

Which vested interest websites?
What evidence do you have that the UK courts don't "get" that shared parenting isn't 50:50?
And what is meant by "many men"? And how do you know the courts don't care who does the care?

Absolutely not my experience at all.

blinder Mon 22-Feb-16 09:58:05

Vimfuego, yes EOW is killing me. My dilemma is whether to trust that feeling (constant ruptures can't be good for kids, right?) or whether to try to put my feelings to one side (it's not about ME).

iwant, I've seen a study from Australia that interviewed grown up kids and found that many said they had agreed to 50/50 for the sake of the parents, but would have preferred a stable base. Is that the 'not working' you're referring to? What other negative outcomes were there?

Fourmore, yes I think I will have a bit of therapy on it. My parents split up and it was not managed well - I might be blurring the two situations.

The second guessing myself is the worst thing!

Fugghetaboutit Mon 22-Feb-16 10:02:00

Ah poor you and poor dd flowers it must be so hard.

She's so young. I would try and do as much together with ex as possible so midweek meal sounds good.

I don't agree with 50:50 contact when so young as it's confusing. I think I would personally let her go every Saturday only until she's settled down

blinder Mon 22-Feb-16 12:00:44

Fugghet - we've been separated a couple of years, on a different schedule until now (3 on, 3 off) so it's more about reviewing, because no 50/50 arrangement seems to stop the upset. Thank you for the sympathy - it is hard. I wish there was a way for us all to be happy.

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Mon 22-Feb-16 16:38:28

Are you currently doing one week on, one week off? Apologies but I'm not clear on that.

I take it that you both live near to each other ?

StopLaughingDrRoss Mon 22-Feb-16 16:57:51

When I separated from ExH after the initial shock, we went to a 50/50 arrangement - one week on, one week off.

It did NOT agree with my children who, admittedly, were younger than your DD but expressed the exact same feelings. DS was too young to know different really (only just 1 when we split) but DD was 4 when the arrangement came in and every single week would tell me how she wished she could be with me, then say the exact same thing to her Dad and then do the whole 'can't we all live together' thing. ExH being a twat decided it meant she hated living with me, would be better off not seeing me and we ended up in court to get things sorted. For what it's worth, my solicitor said she thought 50/50 with young children was just wrong and benefitted no one.

We now have totally different setup (they only spend 5 nights a month with ExH) for other reasons than the week on/week off but regardless, we both agreed in mediation that the 50/50 was just too confusing - just as they got settled, off they went.

If anything, I think we've gone too far the other way BUT both my DC are so much happier now. . So so much! DD in particular is happier (she had counselling to cope with all the original changes) and they both know when they're where if that makes sense.

Like you, I was heartbroken on the weeks they were away - although two days of crying does seem awful (have you sought any help for you? I know I had to as my moods were effecting my DC no matter how hard I tried to hide it). It is hard and I remember thinking 'I didn't have my DC so they could spend half their life away from me' but at the same time, if your Ex is a good father, I imagine he thinks exactly this.

I wish you nothing but luck and i hope you can work with your ex to get a pattern of care which works. It is just so hard to know what is best - but what is best for your DD may not be best for you, only you know on this of course!

After that massive waffle - not sure if there's anything helpful at all.. Just wanted to let you know I've been there and provided you can still talk with your ex, you'll get there flowers

StopLaughingDrRoss Mon 22-Feb-16 17:01:05

Oh - and the midweek thing.. I see the reasoning BUT:

I always always called my DC on the Wednesday (mine went Sunday to Sunday) and I'm not sure it helped. . It disrupted them, they remembered I was on my own and they were normally in the middle of dinner or an activity (despite Ex knowing when I was going to call)... I think if I'm honest, those calls were more for me than them and perhaps seeing you in the flesh could be even harder.. I don't know! I just know that it unsettled mine.

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