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15 year old and living issues with ex husband - please help

(11 Posts)
andwhatnow Sun 02-Nov-14 13:41:47

Hello, my problem is probably not an uncommon one but I am unsure how to sort this most easily.

My ex and I separated 4 years ago at my instigation. Obviously things weren't easy as ex didn't want to split although he did meet another lady within a couple of months. Financially he has always been a tightarse and he contributes little, but, as my son generally stays at his 3 nights a week (which differ week to week as he works shifts) I don't push for anything financially.

Last year my exs girlfriend moved in with him. She has a 6 and a 3 year old which, even my ex admits, are hard work. About 6 months ago my son seemed unhappy and eventually said he found it hard living with the children. I mentioned it to the ex who instantly flared up and said I should insist the living arrangements remain the same. It kind of blew over, although my son later said that his dad told him that he should change his attitude and learn to live as a family when he was at his dads.

It did ring alarm bells because I felt my exs reaction was very black and white. I have been living with my partner for about 9 months whom my ex hates (I think he would hate anyone to be honest) and I imagine he was upset that things werent running as they 'should' be in his mind.

Anyway, several months on, it has come up again. My son says that the children are hard and its chaotic at times at dad's house. My son is a sensitive sort who I think would find it hard to directly discuss it with his dad. I feel my son is looking at me for some kind of solution. Generally he gets on well with his dad (who apart from screwing me financially and being unwilling to understand that our son does not necessarily fit into his new family) can be a good father in many ways. My son has also always got on with dad's girlfriend. I'm not sure what the solution is. I'm not sure how much to suggest to him about how living arrangements could change. I think he's upset about upsetting his dad. His dad is so bloody black and white and I don't think he could bear to lose 'control' of the situation iyswim. The annoying thing is that I have worked with teenagers etc and I normally have all the answers but it is so difficult to help your own children. Until my son actually states to me exactly what HE wants to do, I am finding it so hard to sort. Please help.

Jengnr Sun 02-Nov-14 13:47:03

Ask him what he wants you to do?

BitterAndOnlySlightlyTwisted Sun 02-Nov-14 13:48:31

Your ex doesn't have control of the situation, your son does. He's 15 so can decide for himself whether he does to stay at his Dad's and how often.

Where are most of your son's friends located? At that age I would expect a young person to have less and less interest in being with either parent in their free time.

andwhatnow Sun 02-Nov-14 13:49:12

I have done and he says he doesn't know. I think basically he wants a more flexible arrangement but his dad will and has insisted that we stick to what we have.

NettleTea Sun 02-Nov-14 13:52:19

Maybe you dont need to sort it right away. Maybe you just need to let your son know that you have heard him, that you understand and that you are willing to help him when he has had a think about what, if anything, he would like to do about it. It may be that he doesnt actually want to DO anything, just have somewhere to vent, and at 15 he is getting to the point where its OK for him to start making the decisions, backed up by you, rather than for you to jump in and fix things.
If he is wanting to change the arrangements then go by his lead as to how he would like to do that - what would work best for him. Do you think your ex is worried that you will ask for more money if your son stays more with you? Would you? Does your son have GCSEs coming up? Is he finding it hard to concentrate with smaller children making a noise? Contact can always change, but it has to be whats best for the child. By 15 it really is up to your son, not to the parents. If he decided never to see him again then a court would listen and respect that at his age (not that I am suggesting this is what is happening, just demonstrating how an older child gets to call the shots really)
His dad may be black and white, but he really will have to lump it if your son makes up his mind not to stay there so often.

andwhatnow Sun 02-Nov-14 13:56:03

He has friends close to both mine and his dads (although we only live a couple of miles apart).

nettle tea - yes he would certainly begrudge paying more if things changed despite being in a position to do so. I see exactly what you are saying about letting him know he has been heard. I think it is about helping him along with whatever he wants. Its just so hard when I know his dad (although lovely most of the time) is so hard when things aren't going his way.

tribpot Sun 02-Nov-14 13:56:36

Do the 6 and 3 year old spend time at their dad's house? Your ds might prefer to schedule some of his time at his dad's around this. Could he suggest that with exams coming up it's easier for him to be based in one place more of the time? I'm thinking a gradual withdrawal from three nights a week might be diplomatic - to what extent is your ex insisting on this arrangement because it gets him off the hook financially?

Quitelikely Sun 02-Nov-14 13:59:03

Two different ways to look at this:

First: your son needs to accept that his dad has these little people living with him now. Not ideal, children that age can be a nightmare but your son should suck it up................

Second: your son isn't comfortable being around these kids all the time do he reduces his days at his dads house..........

You husband cannot control how much time he spends there, he's a teen now and you just say he wants to spend more time with his friends.

Tell him that he shouldn't make your son feel bad about this. As these teen years are full of hormones and stress for him as it is.

Btw don't let him escape his financial duty towards your son. He isn't above the law. And the law said he should pay towards your sons upkeep.

andwhatnow Sun 02-Nov-14 14:03:52

The 3 and 6 year old spend very little time with their dad. My ex has just made things so hard financially. It took him 2 years to leave the marital home so we could sell it. Basically the 3 nights to him was practically 50/50. I get the child benefit and when I looked into maintenance it was fairly minimal based on that arrangement PLUS he initially promised to pay at least half of everything else such as clothing, trips etc although this is very gradually falling by the wayside. To be honest, my gut feeling is that in the first, say 18 months after we split up, if I had pursued him for extra money he would have probably tried to make our son live with him through whatever means he could.

Quitelikely Sun 02-Nov-14 14:11:25

God I hate greed I really do!

I would tell him that your son isn't going to come as frequently then about a month later ask for financial assistance. It's his son, he needs to step up in financial terms.

I hate the thought he only has his son so much just so he can avoid maintenance!

WannaBe Sun 02-Nov-14 14:25:49

at fifteen your ds very much is in a position where he can make his own choices, although he still may feel guilt over e.g. deciding that he doesn't want to stay at his dad's because of the children, and that is a hard one for a child to reconcile. All you can do is be there for him at this stage and listen to him and also let him know that he does have a choice, and for those saying he just has to "suck it up," actually no, he doesn't. The downside of being a separated parent in another relationship is that at some point children do reach an age where they are able to make the decision for themselves as to where they live and how they choose conduct a relationship with e.g. step parents/step siblings. They should of course be made aware that their thought processes/actions have consequences and could be detrimental to their relationships with the parent they are choosing not to stay with, but they do still have the choice, and any parent who blindly goes into a relationship with someone else with the understanding that the kids should just "suck it up," is potentially letting themselves in for all sorts of issues as those children grow up.

Op just leave the door open for your ds to make the decisions for himself, and let him know he is welcome there any time. If he feels he can't talk to his dad about these things then he may well just have to make his feelings known through his actions.

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