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Moving 2.5 hours away...Painful situation/Emotional manipulation... advice on contact for DD's Dad.(29 Posts)
Hi there, questions for anyone who is a co-parent or single parent but it's also to do with complicated relationship with my ex and co-parent & I thought it would be more relevant on this board because it's mostly to do with the relationship between us ! I have been having a pretty painful time with him & I am thinking/planning to move away so I would like to gauge what other people have done/what is the norm for the situation where the Resident Parent moves away from the NRP.
Me and DD (nearly 2 year old) 's Dad split up 9 months ago and I wanted to move back to be nearer my parents in the countryside with DD to be near my family (but haven't yet) - exDP also knew that I never saw myself as bringing up my daughter in the city forever, even before we had a baby I told him this and we were talking about possibly moving before we split up anyway.
I have really tried to make it work staying here in London so she wouldn't have to be uprooted too much and so she could still see her Dad and his Mum regularly. Also I hadn't been able to find any private rent houses that would take Housing Benefit down there...But I have now !
I think about moving to the countryside with DD on an almost daily basis for these reasons: the fumes here, the noise, the dodgy area I live in, my noisy neighbours stomping around upstairs, lack of privacy, the sheer amount of people and competition for jobs, being bombarded with advertising & rude/apathetic people all the time, the lack of nature and fresh air, the over-closeness with my ex, me missing my family and 'home', and the dire offering of good nurseries/schools/secondary school around here is just really depressing at times !
I see my ex almost every day so that he can see DD and she can see him, and what I am realising is that I am making it really easy for everything to 'stay the same' for everyone else so as not to cause upset but really when you split up with someone there does have to be a change and some space from each other ! it's inevitable. I feel pretty lonely most of the time and feel like 'what is the point of me being here? / Is this really where I want to spend my life?' I've been in my new flat 6 months and not even hung stuff on the walls/unpacked properly as I am so reluctant to properly put down roots here because it just doesn't feel right.
Over the last 9 months we have been separated, I have not been able to move on from DD's Dad in my head & heart and have been miserable because of living so close to him & seeing him all the time. I have been seeing friends and doing stuff for me eg. going to the gym and socialising a bit, looking for p/t work, dating a little bit (also pretty dire) but it still hurts so much on an almost daily basis & still don't see myself living here with my daughter long term & feeling at peace and content. Now he is jumping into a relationship (and going on holiday with!) a woman he has known for 1 month....and he has consciously or subconsciously found ways of rubbing it in my face a few times already which has been really upsetting for me.
In order for me to move on with my life, I need to get over him and heal which is not happening. Because he lives just round the corner from me, he has ended up seeing DD (and usually me too) pretty much every day unless he has something else going on, either at my house, his house or at his Mum's house as his Mum looks after her 1.5 days a week. So he is getting all the benefits of being with his child's mother (except no sex from me!) without actually having to be in a relationship with me. And I am alone almost every night & feeling like I've been hung out to dry. He is 15 years older than me and I know this sounds harsh because I love my DD more than anything but I only decided to have a baby with him because he said he was madly in love with me and wanted to marry me and have a future with me...After I got pregnant he just never properly proposed....and things got worse and worse...he did everything possible (except cheat on me) to push me away and destroy our bond. He treated me very badly at times and was emotionally & eventually physically abusive towards the end and I just feel so traumatised by the relationship and so disappointed that this is so not how I thought my life would be when 2 years ago I was ecstatically pregnant with DD ! and totally in love with him.
Now my 27 year old body & health is changed forever (facing possible surgery in future for prolapse from traumatic delivery and huge baby!) and the circle of men who will want something serious with me seems pretty tiny, my career options have changed a lot, I just feel lonely a lot of the time...And exDP's life has hardly changed except he has the addition of a lovely DD he can see whenever he wants and doesn't really have to cope with the hard bits of being a parent eg. daily tantrums and night wakings...he just gets the fun bits apart from 1 night a week he has her. I know this sounds bitter but this just shows how much I have not been able to have the space and headspace to move on, accept and be at peace with the situation.
For me the fact he is so close has caused very mixed feelings in me because on the one hand I love seeing my DD so happy spending time with her Dad...and I don't want to rock the boat... But at the same time we are still very close & I think he is still emotionally manipulating me a bit. Seeing him with her all the time hurts so much to see 'this is what you could have, but can't have' in my face all the time, if that makes sense. Because he is suddenly being so 'lovely' (except when things don't go his way) it's been a bit of a headfuck really as he suddenly started acting as I always wanted him to act when we were together eg. stopping smoking weed / making me and DD a priority instead of partying and socialising and having a much more balanced and responsible life and schedule, all whilst saying how I just really pushed his buttons and we weren't right for each other. He seems to be trying really hard to be 'a good Dad and ex partner' but at any disagreement he will drop in a little dig about how he is paying for this and that and that I am not working which he also did when we were together whenever I would complain at how he was treating me but I am looking after our daughter pretty much full time & looking for p/t work/doing housework the majority of the rest of the time! or he'll throw in a comment about how hard I was to be in a relationship with and how controlling I am (but he hopes I will be happy and find someone) or about how he is worried about MY mental state (he is almost definitely bipolar but won't go to the doctor about it). When I mention I am still thinking of moving to the countryside as I really don't feel happy here, he says stuff like "Do what you need to do but me and my Mum won't be able to offer you the same level of support as we do now..." (he means money). These subtle digs just make me not trust my own judgement and I start to believe them and feel like no one will love me & I am a shitty person & girlfriend / makes me feel I couldn't cope on my own and maybe I am going a bit nuts ! Even though I know I wasn't like this before I met him ! I also know that if for some reason he can't come and see DD & I know I'm not going to see him for a day or two then I have the best day and I feel so much better and happier within myself somehow ! I don't feel like I can't cope then, I feel much happier & enjoy my time with DD more !
Anyway sorry this has been a bit of a long post ! I am a bit torn but I've not felt that it's right for me to live here for a while, even before we split up, and I feel that moving back home to be near my family & in a familiar and safe setting would provide a better quality of life for my daughter & me eg. fresh air, safer than the area we're in now, really good schools, a happier Mum probably ! a sense of community and connection to nature. She would definitely still have regular quality time with her Dad, I would be sure to make that happen and so would he, it just wouldn't be every day as it is now.
So I am wondering what is the best arrangement?. At the moment he is paying a bit extra £ towards our rent that Housing Benefit doesn't cover so we can be close to him as his area of London is expensive, and I've worked out that if he was to drive to see my DD every weekend then he would save about £150/month.
I thought about doing alternate weekends and me doing the drive with her every other weekend but DD hates the car and more often than not the journey is incredibly stressful for me and her (I'm talking tantrums in the back of the car and screaming until she makes herself sick whilst I'm driving 70mph on the motorway! )
The thought of 2 x that journey in one weekend every other weekend makes me break out in a cold sweat! And not fair on her either I don't think. It's a 2.5-3 hour drive depending on traffic so that'd be 6 hours of her weekend in the car... But I was thinking I could go up to London with her once a month, and he could come down for the weekend 3 weekends a month, until she is a bit older maybe? I was thinking when he comes here he can stay at my house with her & most of the weekend I could make myself scarce by either working at the weekends, go to the gym, see friends, go and stay at my Mum's or my brother's or Dad's house ? At least then I'd only see him 2 days of the week rather than 6 or 7 ?
Opinions/thoughts/ideas greatly appreciated thank you !
I think you would have to do far more of the traveling than you sound prepared to do. Could you compromise and move half way?
I think you need to move for the family support and be prepared to do some of the travelling. If he's in London you can use a train to get there. But I think it's completely reasonable to want to move for the reasons you've said. London is not an easy place to live long term without much money. Good luck with everything.
Thanks for responses... No I wouldn't move half way because then I'd be somewhere with no family support, friends or ties to the area... Where I am moving to is where my Mum, brother, Dad & a few friends live with also my best friend & DD's godmother is saying her and her partner are going to move back there in a couple years to start their family. Another one of my best friends lives there and is having a baby in November too. Quite an up and coming area in terms or jobs and art & culture with an internation art gallery having open there in 2014 (I studied art) & loads of great schools. The train I'm not sure is a regular option because it's about £70~80 return (I'm on benefits & not working yet as DD not going to nursery part time until Sept) A tank of petrol takes me/DD's Dad there & back for £35. But maybe I could get a railcard or something to make it cheaper... I just thought he would do most of travelling for now seeing as he brings in quite a good wage, likes driving & wouldn't have to have her in the car with him so would limit the stressful car trips for her. It's a small inconvenience for him surely to see his beloved DD no? Rather than the sacrifice I am making by living here mainly for him, not wanting to be here & missing my family support & "home" every day ! Just so he can see her every day. It's his need to see her every day - she doesn't need to see him every day, in the ideal world our family would still be together and we all live together & she and he would see each other day, but it isn't and that's down to him. She has a great bond with him & would have quality length of time with him, just not every day.
Sorry for spelling mistakes I'm writing on phone quickly with DD on my lap ! Basically at the moment he sees her every day mostly but doesn't see her when it suits him eg. He goes off on luxury golfing holidays, he's going for a mini break for 3 days soon with this woman he's been on a few dates with, if he has too much work or something. So then I'm like fine I'll go the gym when he comes to see her & give her dinner, put her to bed etc but then if he doesn't come because he's doing something else he will let me know but I feel my life is always just hanging on what he's up to ! I just feel so much happier when he's not around because it's too painful be weird to be seeing him almost every day when he broke my heart & treated me insanely badly for a lot of our relationship. It's really toxic for me & DD ends up with an unhappy Mum too
Oh, just move back home and be done with it. He'll need to make some sacrifices to see his child. It sounds like you are making lots at the moment and him, none at all. He might do a tap-dance about it but he'd have to take you to court to force you to do all that driving once a fortnight. And even then, it would likely only be half-way and you meet somewhere and hand the child over.
Seeing this bloke almost every day must be absolute torture for you. I can't imagine how you would try to get over it with having to see him all the time. And I'd put a stop to him visiting you in your home. He wants to see his daughter, he picks her up, takes her somewhere else for a couple of hours and brings her back.
It's a difficult one. I totally understand how you're feeling, and the need to move on, and especially as you provide most of the child care etc. But I can also see how he feels too. Would you be happy if he were to take your daughter and move away? It's weighing up the balance - is it better for your daughter to see both parents regularly, or to have the support of wider family? A tough choice!! Good luck.
Tbh while I understand your motivation it would be unreasonable to move your DD 2.5 hours away from her dad, a step which would change their relationship and mean he would e.g. Not be able to be involved in large parts of her life such as her education, never being able to go to school concerts/performances/parents evenings etc and while you may think that this wouldn't be necessary for him, it might well be important for her.
Also when you e.g. State that she doesn't need to see her dad every day, would you be happy to apply that argument to yourself? It is far more preferable for children to have an equal relationship with both parents growing up.
However, it does sound as if you are currently allowing your ex into your house rather than having him take your DD for periods, and this won't be helping with your own ability to move on, so I would look to change that arrangement to one where he e.g. Has your DD on his own e.g. Perhaps for one night a week and every other weekend. This will give your ex a chance to be a parent in every sense of the word but will also give you the chance to have some time for yourself and to get your own space back.
I think you need to try other things before making such a drastic move. Is it necessary for you to see your dd every day?
Tall to him about a proper contact schedule where he is actually responsible for her so you can have some time to build a life.
If he's not having any of it then there will be less doubt in your mind about the move. If you do go though I think you should have to fund the cost and travel time for contact.
Thanks for some good points to think about... I cannot fund the cost of the travel completely - I am on a scarily low income from benefits ! I don't have money to buy anything but essentials really. He had a baby with me knowing I never wanted to bring up my child in the city (not that there is anything wrong with others choosing to do that!) All my family are there ... What about my Mum who sees her granddaughter about once a month now ? She misses her all the time & hasn't had a chance to build a proper relationship with her. Same with my brother and Dad. Why should o be expected to stay where all his family is when he had/has no interest in making a relationship work with me ? I had a baby with him on the promise that we were going to get married. That didn't happen & he instead treated me like crap when I was pregnant and after I had his baby & just made it impossible for me to have a relationship or future with him, so why should I stay just for him when I don't want to live here ? He is freelance/self employed so if he wants to come to school plays etc her can. His work also doesn't have to be in London 7 days a week really so he could move as well to be closer to her & work.
When DD goes to nursery or school everyone will see a lot less of her anyway. And no I don't need to see her every single day & I do enjoy my time to myself as well when exDP has her overnight one night at the weekend & does get lots of chances to have her on his own, he comes to my house 2 or 3 evenings a week, I leave & go to gym or just read in my bedroom or fold washing etc, and he sees her at his Mum's the other 2 days a week as he works there. Then he has her overnight 1 night & most of the rest of the next day at weekend. But yeah she still has a need to see her Mum who she lives with every day I think as most almost 2 year old does. She only stopped breastfeeding 2 months ago. She is very attached to me and always has been. I spend the majority of time with her out of anyone & have done since she was born. She only started having whole day at her DGM's about a month ago. She loves her time with her but for example when DGM was in hospital for 2 week recently DD was totally fine not to see her and never asked about her, she accepted me explanation that Granny was in hospital and we weren't sure when she would be home but probably soon etc. and actually DD was better behaved & perfectly happy just being with me the whole 2 weeks & seeing her Dad a bit but not quite as much as well. Also he can't really take her away those evenings he comes to mind as he finishes work at 5 then she needs to start getting ready & winding down for bed at 6.30 cos she takes ages to wind down. .... Anyway hope that answers some questions..
But is it possible that the OP is allowing access in her home because she feels that she wants to still be there with her DD even though this is essentially the time when her dad is with her iyswim?
If the OP changed the agreement I.e. That ex's contact happens in his space where he takes the DD out or home or wherever but not at the OP's house, then she too would be in more of a position to say to him "I have a job interview/night out/other arrangement and I need dd to stay with you tonight."
The fact that they may have been planning to move back before the split is irrelevant. Life changes and relationship changes alter the plans made.
Wannabe read my post above yours - it's not cos I want to be with her when it's his time - I often go out to the gym to give them time alone & so I don't see him much. It's more to do with my DD's bedtime schedule. Also I can go and do job interview etc but I haven't found any part time jobs yet & as I said I don't really want to be here ! Even him picking her up I still see him every day !
Please please move back home, you are not living life you are just existing it seems.
If this man is as devoted to your daughter as you have stated he will make the effort to see her on a regular basis.
What he did was very cruel and although I'm not sure you are totally convinced yet, he was wrong for you, he was and still is abusive to you.
It seems as though you have put your life on hold for him and he is quite happy that you have done that, anyone with half of a heart would be able to see your predicament and encourage you to go home.
Do not waste another minute of your life on that man.
Btw you sound like a great person and mother from your posts.
I think you need to weigh up which of the two options is most in your child's interests, and only consider her parents' interests as they also affect her.
TBH in the situation you describe I think your DD would benefit from a settled, happy, stable home in your family town. You sound stressed, upset and treading water where you are, and that can't be good for her.
I had anticipated siding with your ex when I clicked, but as it stands, I think you can offer a happier childhood and a more settled one if you move. More of a routine if her father has a set pattern of contact, too.
It's not as simple as telling the OP to move back home!!
Op I don't think you are being unreasonable at all it but how do you think your ex will react? Just to warn you that you could find yourself dragged through the court system. Not to put you off but have a think about getting some initial advice before even making any noises about doing this
He could certainly apply for a prohibited steps order (is that still what they call them?) but it's not as though the OP is planning to move an unconscionable distance away, and nor could he claim she was doing it to foil contact - her reasons are very solid and understandable. I think people assume the order is really easy to get - when the move isn't that far and the parent has a strong record of facilitating contact as she has here, I don't think that is correct. In fact my understanding is to the contrary.
Agree that legal advice would be good, but the OP isn't in a position to obtain it unless his abuse of her is recorded with a HV or other medical or social professional, as she clearly can't afford to pay a solicitor. Maybe post on legal, OP?
I haven't read the whole thread but I absolutely love London and I think there is so much to do there for kids and yourself but if you're not from there it would feel very different. I would move near parents for the sake of support and coming from someone who moved out of London and miss it to no end mainly because of family. I think mums tend to do most things so you need to do what's going to make it easier for you to raise your DD.
Yes, a lot to think about .. Thanks all so much for responses especially QuiteLikely5 - reading your response made me cry (in a good way) and put me in the best mood just to know that someone even a stranger was recognising all I have been through and supporting me ... The just existing thing is exactly how I feel. .....my ex won't go to court as he can't afford it and neither can I and he wants his life to be flexible he doesn't want the court to decide stuff about his life... And he does want me to be happy & he does see the benefits for DD of countryside living. He said he will be devastated but I definitely will be thinking long and hard about the best way to go about it all & I have told him multiple times over the last 9 months hat it is still on my mind to move & we have discussed it a bit at various points. I told him we will work something out so he can have lots of quality time with her - and that may end up being quality over quantity and frequency but there is no way I am going to shut him out. I will also offer my DD's DGM to come and stay at my house as well (or my Mum said she can stay at hers) if she wants to come and visit us often & I will come to London monthly as well so hopefully between those 2 options she can still have quality time with her - I will be happy to just let them spend most of the weekend with her but maybe this will change when she is at school 5 days a week & I will want some weekends with her .. Depends if I have more children eg. If at some point I had a small newborn I wouldn't want to do long drives at that point, things will def change and evolve as both of our life circumstance change, no one can predict how life will go but I have the utmost respect & gratitude to paternal DGM for all her support she has given to me & I will bend over backwards to make sure she is still regularly in DD's life. Same with exDP really. I think he's a shit boyfriend but he's a great Dad & pretty devoted.
Thanks all, the insights are really helpful !
Also the move could be for a couple years and then I could find a job I was passionate about in London for example and then that'd be a solid reason for me and DD to be based there and put up with the kinda stinky city living ... But right now there is nothing for me here & it doesn't make financial sense for me to go back to work full time as all my wages would go on nursery & I wouldn't be able to afford to live in this 2 bed garden flat in NW London so we'd have to move anyway to the outskirts of London ! And be far away from exDP and his family & also my family too ! I just feel like I'm in limbo at the moment & I need to get back on my own 2 feet, heal from the breakup & be happier for my DD ! She gets grumpy, teary & stressed Mummy a lot ! And whenever we go to the countryside to visit my fam I just feel so calm and happy and relaxed & free... So we have a great time there. She does occasionally ask for her Dad or Granny whilst we're there but hardly. She's just having a great time. She has such strong bonds I think she just feel very secure that he will see them again soon.
RosieSW I wasn't suggesting it was likely. It was hypothetical. Was just trying to look at it from all angles, as other posters have said this has to be a child centred decision. Although there are always 2 sides to every story , I think the OP has had a rough ride and there are no easy decisions here. I can't understand any parent who puts a social life before their child - but there are plenty of them. The best thing for the child is always to have a good relationship with both parents, where both parents are on board. My dad fought for me, and as a result was fiercely 50/50. My ex is also 50/50 - that's not easy either, and fortunately for me my family are close too, so I know I have been lucky. As I said before it's a tough decision for the OP. I honestly don't know what I'd do!
Also forgot to say earlier to Wannabe
about this point : "It is far more preferable for children to have an equal relationship with both parents growing up."
yes it is far more preferable but that usually happens when both parties are loving, caring, respectful and non-abusive to each other and therefore commit every day to doing things in their life that will make their relationship with the other parent work and sustain....exDP did none of these things. Yes it is preferable for a child to have 2 parents who live together and love each other but....that isn't going to happen for my DD. That is her life unfortunately.
exDP had many many chances to change before I left him ...I stayed through so much shit because I desperately wanted our family to stay together & believed he would change for me and DD but he just constantly made me believe I was being unreasonable to ask him to make certain lifestyle changes eg. stop smoking weed, stop drink driving, stop occasionally selling drugs, start talking to me and DD in the morning rather than just being on his computer and being a zombie, sometimes coming to bed at the same time as me, initiating sex with me, telling me he loved me, prioritising us over partying and socialising, golf and football.
So I started to believe him that I was just being unreasonable and I should just live with him and accept him 'as he was' ..... then after he was eventually violent to me I left him and realised what he was really capable of and was honest with myself....I knew deep down he was not treating me right and would continue not to & continue not to prioritise me & our relationship. He resented having to 'answer' to someone else and consider their feelings. He has little to no empathy.
Most of our arguments were him defending him and his Mum's right to smoke weed and be stoned when looking after DD and telling me I was being silly and overzealous and oversensitive. Surprise surprise after we split up he realised it would look bad to anyone outside eg. if possibly went to court or whatever if he was looking after DD and smoking weed so he finally after 3 years of me asking him, he stopped. I told him my only condition for him seeing her was that he was not to ever be stoned when looking after her. He agreed to this and then flouted the condition once...I finally put my foot down & told him he couldn't see her as he was stoned, and even though it massively inconvenienced me I took her with me to a counselling appointment so as not leave her with him whilst stoned, and I think then he finally realised I was serious and he was losing his grip on the control and he knew I meant business. So now he says he's stopped and I have never seen him stoned again since. Phew. So that is great for DD. But yeah...he just made me believe I was the problem for asking for these basic levels of responsibility and respect from him.
And I am starting to realise it's not me who was the problem...But seeing him every day and the discussions we have whenever we have to have them, bring up all that stuff and emotional abuse again and he puts these little digs in which again make me question and doubt myself. He will even go so far as denying things have ever happened, for exmaple he left DD in the bath on her own when she was 1 year old and I was in the other room and heard this...I then heard her slip and screamed his name and he ran back in there as he was closer than me...Then he came in to the room I was in again (leaving her again) and shouted at me saying I was being crazy for shouting his name to alert him because I heard my baby slip in the bath ! Telling me he wasn't doing anything unsafe as he can run back in there in a second. and being like "Why can't you just trust my judgement/capabilities! She's fine!" (arrogant ! -- putting his ego over DD's safety) He promised he would never do this again after I explained how children can drown in 2 inches of water and she's too little to be left etc. and he did it 2 more times in the next few weeks and the only way he would listen to me about it and stick to his word was when I completely lost my shit after the 3rd time and shouted at him and his Mum about it (She backed him up and told me he hadn't put her in real danger......) and I told him he would not be allowed to give her baths anymore if he can't stick to basic safety.
Finally after that he pleaded with me and said ok ok I REALLY promise it will never happen again. We spoke about it recently and he said 'she never slipped I don't know what you're talking about' and said that I attacked him verbally. Hell yes I raised my voice at him after the 3rd time he put our 1 year old daughter in danger ! I think that was warranted ! He wouldn't respond to me asking him firmly and calmly as I did the first time, he just kept pushing the boundary until I had to end up raising my voice and getting extremely heated with him and his Mum about the issue. It's just SO stressful.
I think he has been on his best behaviour these last few months to stop me moving home and to try and show me "Ok ok, seriously, I totally can be a really responsible Dad I promise" because he has now realised how much he has to lose & has fallen even more in love with DD the older and more chatty she has got etc....But I wonder how he will act towards me when he stops getting everything his way and made easy and flexible for him? I wonder if he will revert to how he was before/the real him.
OP, I was not suggesting that it is preferable that parents should stay together - merely that the preference should be that a child have the ability to have an equal relationship with both parents Something which, if either parent were to move a significant distance away wouldn't be possible.
WRT your ex's abilities as a father, there are plenty of women on MN who will tell you that splitting up has been the making of their ex's as decent fathers because they have had to be iyswim.
You need to try to separate what's happened in the past I.e. Your reasons for separating from what is happening now I.e. Your DD's relationship with her dad. Because if this goes to court they won't be interested in the past, they will be interested in whether your DD currently has a close relationship with her dad, whether she has regular contact, whether a move would be detrimental to her relationship with her dad and to the current contact they have.
If he went to court he could obtain a prohibited steps order to prevent you from moving DD away, but it is more likely that the courts would award him a set contact schedule of e.g. Every other weekend, half the school holidays (once she's at school, every other Christmas and birthday, and because you are the one who has chosen to move the burden would be on you to facilitate this I.e. To be the one to bring DD to her fathers every other weekend and home again.
In the short term it would be far better if you could agree a proper contact schedule with your ex which e.g. Gives him dd for one night during the week and every other weekend or perhaps a night every weekend (depending on your agreement) but all of which should happen away from your home.
I absolutely understand your reasons for wanting to move closer to your family, but the courts will always rule that a relationship with a parent takes precedence over a relationship with extended family.
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