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How can contact work in these circumstances(15 Posts)
DP and I have recently split up. My decision, partly as we have simply grown apart but a lot to do with his general selfishness and lack of responsibility (constantly running up debts behind my back).
Whenever I have tried to end things before he has always threatened to go for full custody. At first it used to scare the life out of me but I have come to realise that it is mainly hot air. Not only is it very impractical with his debts he could never afford to support them) but I very much doubt he'd actually want full custody. Although I know he loves our DC, he does minimum with/for them, instead choosing to spend most of his time on his hobby.
I do think it is very important that he has as much contact as possible though and to that end I have offered to find the money for a deposit on a flat, and a (cheap) car so he can get around. I have also said that as my mortgage is about the same as it will cost him to rent a small flat, that I am happy to forgo maintenance as long as he contributes to the childcare (which is a lot less than it should be as my mum helps out and I only work 4 days and have arranged my hours round pick up/drop offs). He said no to these things as he is worried what people will think, even though I have promised it would just be between us.
He has decided instead that because of his debts he can't afford a flat so is going to rent a room - which basically means he can never have the kids at his. He was a bit vague how he saw it working but talked about taking them out when he can and then popping round to put them to bed etc.
This makes me uneasy for several reasons. Firstly and most importantly he will have much less time with the children this way, I don't think that is fair on them. It also makes it harder to explain to the eldest who is 4 as I was going to go down the route of two homes, how exciting etc.
It also means, and I know this will sound selfish, but I will never really get a proper break. I do most stuff now so it won't really make a difference, but I thought if he had them on his own he might realise what hard work it is and be forced to take on some of the responsibility. I also feel like if I want a night out, I am going to be dependant on him agreeing to look after the DC and then see him when I get home (because he'll have to have them at mine). i don't have anything to hide from him (finding someone else is literally the last thing I want), but that doesn't mean I want him knowing what I am up to and who with all the time.
The thing is, I can't make him get a flat and for their sakes I do want him to have contact whatever the circumstances so i have to make it work - but how? what ground rules should i set down?
Well, he needs to start taking responsibility for his own life, doesn't he? I really would not be offering money for a flat and a car. Sorry, I know you are thinking about the DC in this, but still.
Unfortunately his family are not near by (he's not particularly close to them either).
I know I should let him get on with it but I'm so scared what thus will mean for the DC. I know it won't be my fault but I can't bear for them to be hurt by all this.
Why would they be hurt by him spending days with them rather than having them somewhere overnight? He's being very selfish at the moment and you're facilitating it. If you stopped propping him up he'd have to be more resourceful and start taking some responsibility. You shouldn't have to 'buy' your kids a Dad....
No, overnight contact is not going to work under these circumstances. It is never a good idea to have the X 'babysitting' at yours while you are out unless you get on exceptionally well and have no issues - which most co-parents don't in the immediate months/years following separation. Personally, given his comment about going for 'custody', I suspect his assumption that he can just have them at your place, eating your food, watching your TV, using your water/gas/electricity, possibly rifling through your things, is all part of the sense of entitlement he has over your life and time regardless of the fact that you've split. You need boundaries, and him being at your place isn't giving any.
While I understand your frustration and sympathise that you shouldn't have to bear sole responsibility for the DC, I think you may have to accept that relying on your X for 'babysitting' is not an option. It can (and probably will be) used to control you. If you need childcare for work, it has to be 100% reliable. If you want a night out, you'll have to ask friends/family or pay a babysitter. Otherwise your life is dependent on the whims of your X, and an X who threatens to go for 'custody' in the event of a split is not one who is going to play fair.
Also, bear in mind that picking up the pieces after an X who doesn't want to play a full and active role in your DCs life simply creates a false illusion of a great parent. At some point, when you stop carrying him, he will let your children down badly. Far better for them to have a relationship with him on his own terms (however poor that is) because it doesn't create unrealistic expectations.
Tell him that if he wants to live in a room rather than a flat, that's fine, but he will have to accept he can't have the DC overnight because it is inappropriate for him to see the DC in your home. That's his issue then. If he wants to see them that badly, he will find a way. Plenty do.
Hurt because they can't spend as much time with him as they would like. I realise I am facilitating him, I always have done and that is part of the problem.
If he pulls his finger out they can spend a lot more time with him. That's the same for most parents... being with our kids is usually top priority and we're willing to make sacrifices and a special effort to achieve it. If you make it solely your responsibility that your kids have a good relationship with their father and jump through too many hoops to achieve it, you're not doing him or them any favours. When he lets them down (which he will, by the sound of it) he'll blame you...
I was going to write pretty much exactly what Dahlen says. If he chooses to move somewhere that makes overnight stays impracticable then he ends up not having the kids overnight. It's the obvious consequence of his choice.
Unless you are on extremely good terms with him then do not allow him to see the kids in your home. Just don't. Sooner or later you'll regret it. I learned that one the hard way.
You cannot turn him into an involved and proactive parent by bending over backwards for him. It won't help your children in the long run. All it will do is allow him to exploit your guilt at ending the relationship and use that to walk all over you.
I would tell him that its his choice if he just gets a room but that you still expect him to have the kids regularly.
my dad had house shares and I still stayed. I slept in his bed and he slept on the sofa.
he needs to work something out.
you wouldnt have the option to just take a room cos its cheaper without thinking where the kids will fit, so he needs to grow up and think about his responsibility too.
you know what, i have arranged my life so that i get to spend the main part of my Dc's ives with them. i have made it this way. i could have chosen to do what my EXp did and have a forces career when our ds was 18 months old. i could have chosen not to see him for 3/4 months at a time. i could have chosen to not have a house in the country where my son lives so that i wasn't able to care for him overnight when i was home for a visit. i could have then chosen to buy house 1 month before i knew i would be ending my employment leaving me with a massive mortgage and no job so i couldn't pay child support. and i could have chosen to constantly blame my 'circumstances' for my lack of presence in my dcs lives as if it was all something that happened to me rather than something i made happen.
but i didn't. i chose to parent and that meant choosing a career path and a home that mean my dcs had me on tap. that meant career sacrifices, (massive) financial sacrifices, location sacrifices, opportunity sacrifices. i did all this because the will to do so was there.
if your EXP wants to be a parent he will make it happen. you dont need to provide anything for him to enable him apart from making the DCs available. you do your part already.
My ex used to fly in, arrive at 2am and then demand to kip on my sofa. He'd then hang around for breakfast,play time, a cup of tea, packed lunch and a shit in my toilet, before eventually taking dd off for the day.
Things improved greatly when I moved and he doesn't come anywhere near my
Honestly, don't allow him to come in and fanny about doing bedtimes etc. It will only confuse the dcs. Get the csa and contact organised officially and he can sort himself out.
What's the point of splitting up if you are a) letting him see the children i your house b) paying for everything and organizing it all just like you did when you were married and c) he's still not stepping up to the plate either as a husband or a father?
You have had great advice, when you split up, really do split up- let him learn the hard way how much you have to earn to run a house and have a great relationship with your children. If he wants a one bed flat to see the children, he will have to earn the money for one. Don't just spend your life trying to cushion the children from the reality of him, that won't help them build authentic relationships and as someone else has said, once you or he move on to other relationships or you stop doing everything for him, it will all come crashing down.
Thank you all for your replies. Lots of food for thought, but the general consensus is that it cant work under these circumstances. I really need to rethink things don't I
Am off out with the DC now so will read through and reply properly this evening but didn't want to just disappear.
no he cant be a proper parent unless he arranges his life to suit his children. so no it cant work unless he gets somewhere they can stay.
you really dont need to be rethinking anything othetr than deciding not to pay for him to be a parent.
split up properly. that means he collects them at your house (i wouldn't let him across the door- he sounds like a complete piss taker) and leaves .no coming in and making cups of tea, using your internet, sleeping on your sofa, using your towels for a shower and then leaving them for you to wash.
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