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Kids want contact with dad, but dad will only come and see them if at ex's house

(30 Posts)
BarbaraFromMarketHarborough Wed 10-Feb-16 14:04:22

Does anyone have any advice for my best friend?

She is at the end of her tether, and wanted me to post for her.
I'm going to call her "Sandra" here for clarity.

Sandra split with partner, father of her three DC (ages 3, 5 and 10), about 18 months ago. His behaviour had been, and continues to be (IMHO) pretty appalling. He rarely pays maintenance, and has been, I think many would argue, controlling and abusive towards Sandra (history of smashing her stuff, refusing to take any responsibility, refusing to give maintenance, stealing from Sandra's friends, undermining Sandra and telling her friends and family malicious lies about her, attempting to turn children against their mum... I could go on).

The issue is this. The kids love their dad, and he has managed to organise a situation whereby he comes to visit them every weekend, staying at Sandra's house. Sandra has her own house (it has never belonged to ex in any way, although she allowed him to live in it when they were together). He lives in a van during the week, and comes over to stay at Sandra's and see the kids at the weekend (where he does all his washing, etc., too). He can be pretty unpleasant when there (e.g., generally being nasty, snooping on Sandra's computer).

Essentially, this is the only way he will reliably see his kids (who are desperate to see him). He has form for taking off when things are not going his way. If Sandra breaks off this arrangement, he is very likely to start letting the kids down again which will upset them enormously. Does anyone have any ideas?

Many thanks.

BarbaraFromMarketHarborough Wed 10-Feb-16 14:10:43

Incidentally, "Sandra" is a really amazing mum to the kids, and is always intent on doing the best for them and avoiding any upset for them. I think this is why she has put up with everything she has put up with.

donners312 Wed 10-Feb-16 14:29:53

That sounds absolutely terrible poor Sandra. I don't know what to suggest but I would say she might have to manage the children's disappointment that Dad can't visit until he grows up and provides somewhere suitable for them to all meet.

I know that is not ideal but that is his problem.

If that is likely to have him 'taking off' I would have thought it was good riddance.

I know the children love him but is he benefitting their life really?

BarbaraFromMarketHarborough Wed 10-Feb-16 14:34:29

Thank you for replying, donners.

Yes, I think it feels pretty terrible for her. As well as (primarily) being concerned about the kids, I think she's also still scared about the ways in which her ex will become generally unreasonable and unpleasant towards her if she tries to change things. I think the children certainly feel like they're benefiting from seeing him, although I can't imagine that the ways he acts towards their mum benefits their relationship with her. It's so hard for her.

Offred Wed 10-Feb-16 14:35:56

Yes, let him bugger off if he is going to.

She can't let him make contact with his kids about maintaining control over her.

TaliZorahVasNormandy Wed 10-Feb-16 14:37:45

It is far more damaging to the kids to witness his unpleasantness towards their mother than it will be for their father to take off and not bother.

She needs to not martyr herself to him for their sake. They wont thank her for it in the long run.

BarbaraFromMarketHarborough Wed 10-Feb-16 14:38:55

Thanks, Offred. It does really appear from where I'm standing that contact with the kids is a way to control Sandra. In the past he has refused to see them apparently to hurt her.

BarbaraFromMarketHarborough Wed 10-Feb-16 14:39:54

TaliZorah, I'm not 100% sure how much and what they witness, although it does sound like there's some undermining. I'm going to show Sandra this thread, so she may at some point reply herself.

coffeeisnectar Wed 10-Feb-16 14:41:37

She needs to put boundaries in place and stop him coming in. It seems he is using seeing the kids at her house as a) a way of controlling her b) a way to get his washing done for Fred and c) a way to keep tabs on what she is doing.

I'd absolutely insist she tells him this isn't working and he can take them to the park or out for good but contact Will not be taking place in her home anymore.

He sounds like my ex. Absolute control freak who used my kids to try and tell me how I should live my life because "that's my kid, it is my business" and then got violent and abusive when I wouldn't do as I was told. He hasn't seen dd in 15 months.

coffeeisnectar Wed 10-Feb-16 14:42:33

*for free. Not Fred. I have no idea who Fred is.

BlondeOnATreadmill Wed 10-Feb-16 14:43:10

This isn't going to work, when "Sandra" gets a Boyfriend.

Why can't he collect the kids at 11am, take them out for the day, and bring them home at tea time? At a push spend time in the house with them, but he has to push off before dinner.

OddBoots Wed 10-Feb-16 14:44:35

This situation is not sustainable, it will have to change at some point, it will be much harder for the children if that is a year or two down the line than it would be if it happened now.

AnotherEffingOrangeRevel Wed 10-Feb-16 14:44:42

I think if Sandra suggested that, Blonde, she is worried he might refuse, and/or be unpleasant about it.

blindsider Wed 10-Feb-16 14:44:50

IMO It is very important for both parents to have a relationship with their children, having said that your only obligation is not to stand in the way of it, it doesn't include having your personal space invaded to allow it to happen.

You need to explain to your ex that he needs to make arrangements to see his kids somewhere other than at your house. It is controlling behaviour.

blindsider Wed 10-Feb-16 14:45:52

*Sorry Sandra needs to explain

BarbaraFromMarketHarborough Wed 10-Feb-16 14:46:42

Yes, I think that is her thought process, AnotherEffing. But you're right, Blonde, it sounds very reasonable.
Yes, blind, it seems controlling to me too.

AnotherEffingOrangeRevel Wed 10-Feb-16 14:49:13

Sorry, incomplete post up there. What I meant to say is that this might mean that "Sandra" needs help/support to find a way to tolerate any unpleasantness/refusal, not that she has to give in to this.

LovelyFriend Wed 10-Feb-16 14:54:09

how are her children benefiting from seeing their father treat their Mum so badly? Unfortunately he will continue to behave very badly towards her IME.

After I split with (abusive) XP I used to let him see the children in my home - entirely for his/their benefit. And yes he continued to be very nasty indeed. So I took back the keys and left him at the front door.

Surprisingly he behaves mostly very well towards me when I keep him completely at arms length. Any time I start to relax and engage with him, let him in, treat him like a "normal" person, treat him as I'm naturally inclined to treat people, he will quickly revert to his normal abusive self.

Keeping him very far away, emotionally and physically, puts him on much better behaviour and we are all much happier.

I don't see any good for anyone with what your friend is doing. Of course her intentions are good. But his aren't. So it won't work.

Its not good for her, its not good for the children, and it is enabling the ongoing abusive behaviour of an arsehole.

lazymoz Wed 10-Feb-16 14:56:19

I think arranging a contact centre would be in everyone's best interests

hellsbellsmelons Wed 10-Feb-16 14:58:27

This sounds like a terrible arrangement.
Poor poor Sandra.
I don't see any issue with saying he can't stay over.
And as he pays fuck all, he certainly cannot do his washing etc... when at her house.
Bless her, I can see why she does it but she absolutely does NOT have to.
I'd be knocking that on the head pretty quick.
If he then can't be arsed well that is not Sandra's problem.
He's a grown up and can look after himself.
If he can't well then he's better off out of the kids lives.

BarbaraFromMarketHarborough Wed 10-Feb-16 15:01:28

I think this will be very useful for Sandra to see. She often feels confused, guilty and unsure of herself when to the outside world I think it looks very different.

I can't tell you enough what a lovely person she is, and what a great mum. I often try to model my parenting on hers!

TheOnlyColditz Wed 10-Feb-16 15:02:17

I was in this very situation many years ago.

The only answer is to be firm about it. No, he cannot come in. No, he doesn't need to. You are sorry he is CHOOSING to not see his children if he cannot use your washing machine.

I tolerated this for years because I thought it was the right thing to do for my children, but it wasn't even that. They witnessed so much seething on my part, so much needling from his.

He's not going to turn into a shit parent because of her actions, he either is one or he isn't one. She cannot fix him, and nothing she does will make him a decent person.

LovelyFriend Wed 10-Feb-16 15:02:30

I'd like to assure Sandra that once she takes the step to keep this man out of her house her life will improve dramatically! She will quickly start to feel so much better in herself without this constant horrible pressure hanging over her once he stops coming into her home.

LovelyFriend Wed 10-Feb-16 15:04:23

She often feels confused, guilty and unsure of herself
Absolutely some of the side effects of being in the orbit of an abusive person.

I recommend she reads "Why Does he Do That" by Lundy Bancroft if she hasn't already (answer in a nutshell - because he wants to)

BarbaraFromMarketHarborough Wed 10-Feb-16 15:08:52

Thanks again. As I said, Sandra asked me to post and wants to see what people say. I'll be showing her the thread later. I know she will appreciate your responses.

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