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At what age do you listen to your child...

(38 Posts)
Bloodybloodyhell Thu 19-Nov-15 22:38:42

...when they say they don't want to stay over with their Dad? (We're separated, obvs.)

Ex and I get on pretty well, most of the time. He sees a lot of DS (6) and always has, since we parted 4 years ago.

But for the last few months, DS has been consistently saying, he doesn't want to stay overnight with his Dad.

He still does, but we have had lots of tearful phone calls, saying he wants to come home. And saying in advance that he doesn't want to go.

I've subtly quizzed him about why, and I'm sure there are no worrying reasons. But Ex lives in a big, communal house - and it's just not very homely.

He's also a bit of a Mummy's boy and loves his kisses and cuddles, especially at bedtime. His Dad isn't half as tactile as I am.

He's an eloquent and perceptive little boy and says he doesn't want Daddy to know this "as it will upset him". He says he still wants to see his Dad and do fun stuff together, he just doesn't want to stay over - and has asked me now (repeatedly) to talk to his Dad about it.

So at what point do I start listening to him and telling him he doesn't need to go?

Ex says he's "fine" once he's there and is just "putting it on."

Clearly I don't want to jeopardise his relationship with his Dad - but also don't want DS growing up thinking that he doesn't have any say in what he does?! Help!

bumbleclat Thu 19-Nov-15 22:46:59

My DH and the mother of his child agreed never to let DSD decide and if it was their agreed night to have her they stuck to it. It's worked really well. The rationale behind it was that DSD would not be given that kind of power which could lead to more confusion sand instability until she is a teenager.
I think stuck to your guns and tell him to accept staying a at his dad's as much as at yours

Offred Thu 19-Nov-15 22:51:57

I disagree.

I think though that if he is big enough to decide not to go then he must be big enough to talk to his dad about how he feels and work it out with him.

He needs to understand that you are not the boss of his dad and actually because you are split up it isn't appropriate for you to talk to him on your son's behalf.

I think if you force a child to have contact that makes him unhappy he just ends up resenting his parents.

SrAssumpta Thu 19-Nov-15 23:00:55

I don't know OP but I'm following with interest because my 4year old DD is the same. She genuinely loves her dad and wants to see him but doesn't like staying over (though seems to be fine once there)

UnderTheGreenwoodTree Thu 19-Nov-15 23:07:38

I think I'd listen to him now. Me and my DB spent every weekend with our Dad for years, and never ever complained - we liked seeing him.

WHat about spending a day there every weekend, and coming home for bedtime cuddles? A communal house isn't an ideal place for a child to sleep. Plus - I believe in listening to children when they tell us things. Espcecially when it's consistent.

VulcanWoman Thu 19-Nov-15 23:07:43

Sounds like my Son, he was the same age too. Yes, we listened to him.
There was another thread a while back and someone suggested that they just like to be in their own home with all their things around them, made sense to me. I was a bit sad about it though, for him and his dad.

melonribena Thu 19-Nov-15 23:18:02

I would let him decide. He's clearly thought it through as he mentions it a lot. I can understand, when my parents divorced I enjoyed seeing my dad but come nighttime I wanted to be with my mum.

This changed as I got older as I'm sure it will with your ds and I started happily staying round but I wouldn't force him.

Purplerain067 Thu 19-Nov-15 23:22:56

I'm not sure either.

My daughter (4) says this every time she sees her Dad (which isn't consistent). I send her regardless but she often comes back emotional, although her Dad says she is fine when she's there.

It's hard isn't it?

Bloodybloodyhell Thu 19-Nov-15 23:26:52

It's really hard.

His Dad says it's important he's not allowed to manipulate the situation, which I completely agree with.

But equally, I can understand that DS would just rather be at home (normal, cosy, small home) with his Mum, than in a big, sprawling, freezing cold, communal house.

Aand to top it all, he's supposed to be going there for Christmas this year too...shock

Bloodybloodyhell Thu 19-Nov-15 23:28:08

Also - missed out a sentence. He's really not manipulative. Frankly, he's not mature enough to be. He's a very young 6 and just wants to be at home!

LizKeen Thu 19-Nov-15 23:32:24

I think it would be jumping the gun to stop the overnights on the say so of a 6 year old when there are no real reasons for it.

He is probably feeling torn between you because he wants to be in two places at once. You even wavering slightly on this is going to make him think you agree that he should stay with you.

There needs to be a consistent positive attitude coming from you about staying over at his dads. Maybe when he is 12 it will be different, but at 6 he is too young to make such a huge decision and I agree with a PP, having the responsibility for that decision will be more unsettling for him.

LizKeen Thu 19-Nov-15 23:33:57

But he has two homes, whether it is not what you see as a home or not, that is his home as it is the home of his other parent.

Hero1callylost Thu 19-Nov-15 23:41:23

Him saying in advance and asking repeatedly would be indicators to me that this is a bit more serious than "putting it on".

It could be exactly what Vulcan said about just wanting the security of being in his own bed at night. I'm like that, I'll happily stay at other people's houses but I feel unsettled and out of sorts until I'm back in my own bed! Could it be that his dad's just doesn't feel like home? Are there other relationships with step-parents/siblings that could be uncomfortable for him? Does he have to share a room when he's there? Does he miss any bits of his bedtime routine with you e.g. if you always read to him and have a bedtime chat does his dad do that with him too?

I disagree with Offred's point - of course it's appropriate for you to talk to his dad about it. You may have split up relationship-wise but you still need to be a team parenting-wise. When you have parents who aren't together there's always an element of guilt at the thought of favouring one over the other. If it was me I would be advocating on his behalf and would arrange for him not to stay if he doesn't want to. There's obviously something bothering him.

abbsismyhero Thu 19-Nov-15 23:44:18

sometimes my son just wants to stay at home he doesn't want to go to his dad's he just wants to park his arse on his own sofa and play on his 3ds end of!

DadWasHere Thu 19-Nov-15 23:45:23

He's really not manipulative. Frankly, he's not mature enough to be. He's a very young 6 and just wants to be at home!

I assume you do not have older children. He seems to have made you very anxious about him. He would not understand the full dimension of that but he is certainly old enough to understand that 'protective love' now has complexity way beyond you swatting a mosquito that lands on his arm. He will explore that and its not about manipulation, its about love and exploring his ability to influence the world around him.

Offred Thu 19-Nov-15 23:45:40

Not all parents are capable of co-parenting unfortunately.

I'd say this is one of those cases since the op has already raised it and her ex has dismissed the concerns as their son being manipulative.

Offred Thu 19-Nov-15 23:50:05

This is essentially that the child has an issue with his dad, I'd be encouraging him to talk to his dad about it therefore.

Aussiemum78 Thu 19-Nov-15 23:53:52

I would rule out problems with the flat mates first - do they drink? Fight? Is there any abuse? Might be overreaction but overnights in a big communal space would be risky imo. Who are these people?

Then I'd talk to Ex about his sleeping arrangements. Is it private? Comfortable? Does ex do a bedtime routine? Is he nearby if ds calls him in the night? Try and fix whatever is making ds uncomfortable.

As a last resort, change the custody to suit ds. He might not be old enough to enjoy overnights, and it is best for him to have lots of visits with dad but the constant of sleeping in the one place. This can be temporary and be in ds best interests without being detrimental to ex.

timelytess Fri 20-Nov-15 00:02:30

Listen to your child.

If he's not comfortable staying there, don't force him.

UnderTheGreenwoodTree Fri 20-Nov-15 00:34:04

Remember, that in court, contact disputes between the parents are meant to make the 'child's best interests' as paramount.

Therefore, the child should have a say. If the child is repeatedly saying he doesn't want to spend the night in a large, communal, reportedly 'unhomely' home - then maybe both mum and dad should listen to him.

He will still have valuable contact with his dad - he wants to still see him, just not spend the night. Why wouldn't both parents listen to that?

Offred Fri 20-Nov-15 01:01:54

A court wouldn't listen to a six year old or the other parent if there were no child protection concerns.

Blodss Fri 20-Nov-15 01:05:35

I would be concerned as to other reasons as to why your little boy is uncomfortable staying at his Dad's. There may be things going on that are inappropriate or potentially abusive. He is only 6 and deserves to be listened to and protected. Have all the other tenants been checked out.

kitsnicket Fri 20-Nov-15 03:33:30

You should definitely listen to him, but, tbh, I'm not sure whether you should stop the visits. If you are sure there's no abuse going on (and you must be sure, stay sure, and keep an eye on that), I'm not sure it's really fair on your exH. I mean, let's be real, it would be a pain. I'm a lazy kind of person (grin) so it would be my idea of hell, having to get up and go to somebody else's house from my own for a weekend. But he might adjust?

And, also, I noticed that you say you don't want him to feel he can't choose, but learning to put up with some unpleasant-ish situations IS part of growing older, sadly...and I can't tell from your other posts if you've actually asked him why he doesn't want to go? I mean, if he's crying when he's there, surely there's no reason to be subtle? How good terms are you and your ex on? I can't tell if I'm just being dense if I suggested just figuring out EXACTLY what your son doesn't like about his dad's and trying to fix it (or at least alleviate it somewhat) before pulling him out of visits altogether...

Just my $0.02.

April2013 Fri 20-Nov-15 06:02:18

If I was his Dad I'd be obviously fairly devastated but ultimately would never ever want to make my son feel uncomfortable and would agree to focus more on the daytime and stop the overnights. Kids get different things from each parent so it doesn't mean his Dad has been demoted, tbh his Dad perhaps should consider moving into a smaller shared house that might be more homely and then could potentially try again with overnights if your son wanted to. I think the one manipulating the situation is your ex, he is putting his needs over his sons, but maybe he just hasn't seen that yet. I would stress to your ex that he is very upset, give him word forcword what he gas said, and that you think a trial of no nights would be good, to see if he is happier, as a compromise could you offer more day time\evening time to your ex to ease the blow?

Baconyum Fri 20-Nov-15 06:41:40

I agree we need to know more about his dads living situation and the people involved. Dad may be OK that doesn't mean they are.

Also as he's consistent is be concerned that something is happening that is frightening/worrying him.

Fwiw always listen, doesn't mean letting them dictate but they need to be heard. We have a horrific history of not hearing children in UK.

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