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amicable parenting after separation - anyone achieved this? Your experience would be appreciated

(11 Posts)
secretskillrelationships Sun 09-Aug-09 13:02:40

Background. H and I separated 2 weeks ago after years of trying to sort things out. We're taking the approach 'It's a joint decision, we've tried everything to make it work but it simply doesn't so have made the decision to separate.'

We are 'protecting' friends and family in similar way to children. H has a therapist he can vent to, I have a few of 'my' friends were I can offload but, if it gets too much, I too will find a therapist. I have set myself a rule not to badmouth H to friends, family or, obviously, children. So far, so good, in spite of loads of alcohol one night and people pushing a little to find out what went wrong.

We are planning to live close to each other so older children can come and go at will, with agreement between us.

What else can we do? Have you done something different to the conventional 'Dad sees children at the weekend only or weekend plus one overnight. Obviously it won't always be easy. What pitfalls should we look out for? Where are problems likely to arise?

Overmydeadbody Sun 09-Aug-09 13:09:23

I find it very amicable to parent on my own grin

I have a friend who has a very good relationship with his children's mother, their arrangement is that the children spend half the week with him and halp with her, with alternate weekends, so each has them for the same time and has equal responsibility.

ZippysMum Sun 09-Aug-09 13:17:38

Hi SSR,
Sorry you are going through this.

I can give you the child's perspective on this, FWIW. I was 12 when my parents split, they had joint custody of me and my 2 brothers; split holidays down the middle, with one parent Mon-Thurs (ish) and then Fri-Sun (ish) - they were quite flexible.

I think you've got it absolutely right with the not badmouthing each other (hope H is doing the same, as it really did make it easy for us knowing we didn't have to walk on eggshells about the other parent).

My mum and dad (and later stepdad) were really mature about the whole thing - I remember thinking that even at the time - for eg on birthdays etc sharing us round (!) and inviting each other to parties etc. I was never aware of tension or unhappiness between them at these events, and they must both have worked hard to make it easier for us.

Only pitfall I'd say they fell into was occasionally (specially in the early years) both wanting all of us on 'special days' like Christmas - so one year we ended up having Christmas lunch twice (!) - once at Dad's at 1pm and then at Mum's at about 5pm! It was after that that they used to take turns / invite one another.

Oh, and also, a small thing but was important to me - we had a phase at the very start of them splitting up when we thought the joint custody was because neither of them wanted us, rather than both of them wanting us - might be worth making that clear.
Sorry for rambling - hope that helps!

secretskillrelationships Sun 09-Aug-09 15:07:49

Thanks both of you for replying.

Overmydeadbody - I am sure I would find it amicable to parent on my own (and am during the week at present) grin but our children have a good relationship with each of us and I'd like to maintain that.

Zippysmum - thanks for that. My parents separated when I was 7 and could have written the book on how not too. On one level, I could simply do the opposite of everything they did and the children would have an easier time! So, good to hear a more positive perspective.

So far, we have already attended a few events together which were fine. I'm guessing/hoping that we'd plan to spend special days together so that we don't end up with the situation of planning the next Christmas on Boxing Day.

Children do know we both want them and love them, but will bear your experience in mind!

giantkatestacks Sun 09-Aug-09 15:31:51

We have been in this situation for a couple of years now - my exp has ds every weds night and every weekend and we sort the holidays out as and when - we spend every sunday evening together having dinner - with new dh and dd and occasionally go on holiday together etc.

It can work if you are prepared to put the work in and always put your dcs first.

Oh and other people find it very weird - almost as if it puts them out that you're not at eachothers throats but thats their problem and not yours.

Good luck...

secretskillrelationships Sun 09-Aug-09 17:58:38

giantkatestacks - Great to hear it can work. I guessed as much about other people's reactions - people seem to find anything outside the 'norm' odd or even threatening.

birchykel Tue 11-Aug-09 20:29:21

Hello, I'm new on here saw your post and as I am in a similar situation I thought I would offer my view and advice.

It is really great that you and H have a good relationship even though your not together anymore, its great for the children to see both parents getting along and making an effort,so that the children dont even notice.
It seems a lovely idea what you have and what you have planned but (and im sorry for the but) my partner had the same relationship with his ex, he spent christmases with his boy at his ex's house, birthdays etc and it was great until I came along....because things change, I have a daughter too, we fell in love and moved in together, so where he spent special occassions with his boy it was a hard transition for both my step son and my partner, although have to say it was never an issue for me. 4 years down the line though it has worked out for the best, as now there is routine, we have my step son as much as possible,sometimes 3 evenings a week but if my partner is on lates then we can go a week without seeing him, but school hols we have him stay for a week and when poss weekends too, his ex is flexible cos of shift work which is good, we have him christmas day evening and boxing day, and we are very lucky as I get on well with his ex so my daughter and me are invited to family birthdays too.
Not much help I know but thought it was worth mentioning that things happen in life that may change things and I do think that some sort of routine it good for children.

Hope it works out.

K. x

secretskillrelationships Tue 11-Aug-09 21:22:44

Birchykel thanks for your post. That's exactly the sort of thing I wanted to hear. Obviously, at the moment it's fine us getting on and doing stuff together as a family but we both will need to think about how that might pan out in the longer term. That's much harder to envisage at the moment, tbh, but worth considering so that we don't set ourselves up for failure in the future.

Obviously, at present, I can't imagine being involved with anyone else but no doubt I'll feel differently in a year or so!

Great to hear that you have managed to create a good relationship with your partner's ex. I can imagine the same (assuming she's not an 18 year old blond, of course!) but am not so sure it would/could work the other way round.

birchykel Wed 12-Aug-09 09:22:53

Yes it is real difficult at times, if theres any problems going on between my partner and his ex I stay out of it as does my partner if Im having problems with my girls dad....although thats a different story all together.
Hopefully things will work for you both, im sure if theres a good relationship there already then who knows in time the conversation may come up and it can be spoke about. Or if one of you do find another partner being honest with your ex and your new partner will help.
My partner always told me that his boy will come first (obviously), he will see him when he can and he will want to spend time alone with him every now and then too. It has changed a little as his boy adores me and my girl so always wants us around and now my partner doesnt have the same view as he did at the beginning but we both agree that we both as parents need that one to one with our children, whether it be an hour out of the day or something.
Hope that makes sense, im rambling on lol.

Goodluck and always here if you need a chat or advice.

x

changenameruk Wed 12-Aug-09 19:58:10

i think you have got a great attitude and wish you well. My ex and I have only really achieved an amicable situation after 4 years. (he left to set up home with OW)

Now we are really flexible. He normally sees them everyother weekend as he lives about an hour away but if he asks to see them on extra days i always try and accomodate him. particularly as it is normally a football match he wants to take ds to or a family occasion. we share christmas day but i usually have them on their birthdays.

before it was so rigid - ds was always missing out on parties and playing football . now we truely consider the dc and choose what is best for them, chopping and changing weekends and even sharing weekends.

i wish it had always been like this as i feel that we have at last got it right.

in return he has helped

secretskillrelationships Wed 12-Aug-09 20:22:33

Birchykel - You sound like you have a great attitude and I'm sure that's a lot to do with how you've all made it work. I guess I feel the same way about the children - they are the most important thing at the moment. At present, there is no-one else involved, which on one level makes it easier but, I guess, will probably change over time.

changenameruk - thanks for your post. For us, there was no-one else involved which means that, at least, those particular issues do not have to be addressed just yet. Also, we'd spent so much time trying to get things to work that, having made the decision to separate, the energy being taken up trying to sort things is now free to keep things as amicable as possible.

I picked up a few tips on here and other sites so are working on protecting friends and family as much as the children.

So far, so good. BUT it is very early days and I'm not expecting it to be plain sailing all the way - after all if it was there would have been no reason to part in the first place!

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