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access/contact arrangements

(18 Posts)
2blessed2bstressed Thu 18-Aug-11 18:44:57

I'm sorry if this has at some point already been done to death, but I'm looking for a bit of advice here regarding dps 2 dds, and their arrangements for seeing their dad.
At the moment, they see their dad for tea once a week and stay from Friday at 6pm til Sunday 6pm every second weekend. There are also random nights to the cinema, bowling, a concert or something.. but they're not set in stone obviously.
Lately, eldest dd who is nearly 14 has not been v happy to come to her dads at weekends - she wants to be with her friends instead. She has been quite confrontational and argumentative about it, and last weekend was extremely abusive to dp, screaming and shouting at him, and telling him she wanted to go home. So, dp took her home in the morning, and told her she was welcome to come and see him whenever she wanted - he would always want to see her.
Her mum was livid, and says that dp "has" to take her on those weekends, if she doesn't want to go thats tough luck. Dp - while very sad that his daughter doesn't want to spend time with him - feels that she is getting to the age where her wishes do need to be considered, and that maybe formal access is no longer appropriate.
I just wanted to know how other families deal with this, and at what age do you stop seeing the dcs on such a rigid schedule? And, once it's changed, how much does the non resident parent see of their children?

HerRoyalNotness Thu 18-Aug-11 18:55:40

I imagine as her mother says she has to, it would be difficult in your situation to have a flexible arrangement. How far do you live from her usual home life? ie Is it close enough that her friends can come over to your house, or you could arrange some things for them, dropping her off shopping with them, to cinema, sleepovers (at yours) etc.. That way she still gets to spend time with her friends, but also keeps up contact with her dad, and still has the nights at your home.

Smum99 Thu 18-Aug-11 19:15:45

At this age teens do want to spend time with friends but can it be incorporated into your dh's weekend? Even if that means she brings a friend along with her We do this for DSS who is a similar age - it's the parents dilemma, you end up being a taxi driver, escorting the teens to their social engagements:0

Has your DSD just started to get angry? Your dh might need to try a few strategies to get her to communicate calmly - teens are often like toddlers so you have to go through the 'training' stage again - telling them calmly what is acceptable behaviour and consequences (like withdrawing PC access for a few hours) as sanctions for poor behaviour.

chelen Thu 18-Aug-11 20:31:03

I can see why your DSD and your DP may want flexibility but I can also see why the ex doesn't want it. We make plans often when my SS is away and I wouldn't want my plans to be potentially disrupted all the time.

I think if your SD is really saying she doesn't want to come then access arrangements will have to be rediscussed with her mum. Otherwise potentially the teenager gets a major amount of autonomy which might be a lot to handle at 14?

nenevomito Thu 18-Aug-11 21:06:24

As DSD got older we saw her less and less as she wanted to spend time with her friends doing sleepovers and parties and the like.

If her mum wants your DSD to come to her dads no matter what, is it possible for her to bring a friend with her or go to social events from your house instead? If she sees that she can still have her social life from your house, she should chill out.

If you live a long way from where she lives then the having a friend to stay with her could work.

Petal02 Fri 19-Aug-11 10:56:37

My situation is a little different, in that SS wasn’t keen on this to start with, but DH and I were keen that he took a few small steps towards a ‘young adult’ arrangement rather than a ‘young child’ access pattern. However we found it all worked out quite well, until the ex stuck the boot in.

She insists that DH ‘takes SS off her hands’ as per the rota, and also if there was any change to the prescribed amount of overnight stays each week, that DH’s maintenance payments would be increased accordingly. DH pointed out that even if SS is with us, the ex still has two babies to look after (she had these with her new husband) so it’s not like she’s ‘free’ if SS is with us. Also, DH took some legal advice over whether maintenance payments had to be varied if flexible visiting were taking place – his solicitor advised that the ex would be very lucky to ‘win’ on that point, particularly given SS’s age and that “courts expect rigid contact to diminish once the child gets to around 14” ……..

However I’m convinced that DH’s ex just wants us to stick to the rota out of spite, because our lives are then run around HER schedule. I think it’s all about control. I think the OP’s situation is also about the ex wanting to control things (probably out of spite), too many BM’s aren’t bothered about the development/life/changes of their children, just so long as the rota is adhered to. If the child starts to become more independent, they think that the father is then ‘getting away with’ less parenting, (even though the BM must surely also have ‘less parenting’ if their child is going out more).

I really don’t think you can expect a teenager to live by a schedule that has probably been in place for literally years – life changes, children grow, surely the access arrangements should evolve too? But I fully expect we’ll be living with the access rota until SS goes to Uni, just to keep the ex happy.

Petal02 Fri 19-Aug-11 10:58:47

Don't know what happened there, the first bit of my post got lost, am posting it again:

This is a subject close to my own heart – SS has now left school, and DH and I wanted to introduce flexible visiting, as we realised that sticking to rigid access rota took SS away from his village, any school friends, and meant he was literally marooned at our house for Thur-Sun alternate weekends.

My situation is a little different, in that SS wasn’t keen on this to start with, but DH and I were keen that he took a few small steps towards a ‘young adult’ arrangement rather than a ‘young child’ access pattern. However we found it all worked out quite well, until the ex stuck the boot in.

She insists that DH ‘takes SS off her hands’ as per the rota, and also if there was any change to the prescribed amount of overnight stays each week, that DH’s maintenance payments would be increased accordingly. DH pointed out that even if SS is with us, the ex still has two babies to look after (she had these with her new husband) so it’s not like she’s ‘free’ if SS is with us. Also, DH took some legal advice over whether maintenance payments had to be varied if flexible visiting were taking place – his solicitor advised that the ex would be very lucky to ‘win’ on that point, particularly given SS’s age and that “courts expect rigid contact to diminish once the child gets to around 14” ……..

However I’m convinced that DH’s ex just wants us to stick to the rota out of spite, because our lives are then run around HER schedule. I think it’s all about control. I think the OP’s situation is also about the ex wanting to control things (probably out of spite), too many BM’s aren’t bothered about the development/life/changes of their children, just so long as the rota is adhered to. If the child starts to become more independent, they think that the father is then ‘getting away with’ less parenting, (even though the BM must surely also have ‘less parenting’ if their child is going out more).

I really don’t think you can expect a teenager to live by a schedule that has probably been in place for literally years – life changes, children grow, surely the access arrangements should evolve too? But I fully expect we’ll be living with the access rota until SS goes to Uni, just to keep the ex happy.

theredhen Sat 20-Aug-11 07:56:28

As a Mother and a Step mother, I can see both sides of this. When DS was younger and I had no help whatsover and a job, I really needed a break for me to carry on being a decent parent the rest of the time. Just one day a fortnight was what I got and that was enough to stop me going mad. As DS has got older there have been plenty of times he has said he didn't want to go to his Dad's for the weekend but my DS has also said he didn't want to go to his favourite sports activity or see his friends, however, when he returns home from doing all these things, he has had a great time and that is how I guage next time whether he really wants to go or is just being lazy!

If DS behaved like the OP step daughter, I would not be forcing him to go. I would try and encourage contact to remain but in a different way, perhaps just tea on Saturday night and back home Sunday morning if distance isn't too much of an issue and it didn't affect other children too much or I would agree to cut out the weekend visits if DS agreed to more telephone contact with his Dad and to meet up once a month to go out or something. Basically I would talk with all parties involved and come up with a compromise. DS at 13 is no trouble or hassle to me now and if I wanted some time to myself, I can either go out and leave him at home for a few hours or he can go to a sleepover at a friends. Insisting he does something he REALLY doesn't want to do would not help our relationship at all! I think the OP mother is making things harder for herself in the long run as she is not being fair to the girl at all adn the teenager is going to really resent her Mother and your DP if not careful. There is a compromise to be found but it's very difficult if the mother refuses them all. But at 14 yrs old, no court would force contact if that's not what she wants.

I too get a sullen 14 yr old girl (my DSD) shipped off to us for 40% of her free time. Yes, we can have her friends here and yes, we can be constant taxi sometimes driving hundreds of miles in a weekend, but who is that really benefitting? Not DP, who then never gets time to see his other kids, not me, who is resentful of being left with all the other kids for hours on end while he is taxi-ing, not other DSC who see less of their Dad, and not DSD who ends up having to get up earlier, leave earlier and have less freedom because she has to organise us to collect her rather than just jump on a bus to home. But again, her Mother wants us to have the "hassle" of running her around and wants time with her BF without any kids around. I would gladly have this young lady for dinner one evening a week rather than the forced weekends where we see even less of her than if she was to come for dinner and an evening.

2blessed2bstressed Sun 21-Aug-11 22:45:57

We don't stay far away from her mum, we've got loads of stuff here as I've got 2 dcs, and she knows (and has in the past) that she can have friends over no problem. She wants to be OUT with her friends!
She has big disagreements with her mum about it too - although her mum allows her more freedom than her dad, so I think she wants to be OUT from there, not here, cos its easier. She doesn't actually want to spend time at either parents home!
I'm afraid I don't have too much sympathy for the "I need time off"....how does that work in families where the parents stay together? My mum and dad didn't ship my sister and I off every fortnight so they could have a break...and my dh was taken from us 7 years ago, so it's me and our dcs 24/7.
Slightly off topic there, sorry .

Petal02 Mon 22-Aug-11 15:42:35

I agree that the "I need time off" argument doesn't hold water, simply because it doesn't happen in "together" families. I've come to the conclusion that my DH's ex is hell-bent on ensuring that DH "does his fair share" so she'll insist on despatching SS as per the rota until he starts Uni. (And even then, she'll probably try and have some sort of rota over Christmas, Easter and summer holidays). I suspect there's something similar going on with the OP's situation.

I used to think that separated fathers found it difficult getting access to their children - how wrong I was, quite often it's just the opposite.

theredhen Mon 22-Aug-11 16:25:53

2blessed2bstressed - there is a real difference between someone wanting a break for a few hours and the single parent who doesn't work at all with school age children or teens that are out and about all the time. Some parents single or otherwise have family support, some don't.

To be fair, parents in "together" families can get time off by leaving kids with other parent while they go out or they can leave them downstairs while they escape for a long soak in the bath. A single parent can't really do this if the kids are young.

I suppose what I am saying is that some single parents really do need a break (not all get it) and some single parents just want to "punish" their ex's by getting them to take the kids when it's really not convenient whilst still normally keeping their hand out for the maintenance!

I am sorry to hear about you and your kids losing DH.

stabiliser15 Mon 22-Aug-11 16:30:50

Petal02 - my DH is one of those Dads. He's not allowed any time over Christmas or Easter. He's also not allowed to take DSD on holiday.

He is allowed one afternoon after school, and 2 weekends a month he is allowed a 24 hour slot in that weekend. In school holidays the one day after school does become an overnight stay.

He'd love to share holidays etc but DSD's mum says that it is "her" time with DSD and why should she give it up?

DH is all too aware that one day, when DSD is a teenager, she's going to be disinclined towards coming to stay with him, and is keen to make the most of now, but without disrupting the fragile peace, that isnt going to happen until his ex-P sees the advantages of such an arrangement.

MJHASLEFTTHEBUILDING Mon 22-Aug-11 20:32:48

Message withdrawn

2blessed2bstressed Tue 23-Aug-11 10:44:03

theredhen - dps ex lives with her fiance, she works 15 hrs a week and dsd's are 11 and nearly 14......can see why she needs a break so much, must be exhausting grin
Seriously though, I don't really want to get into ishoos regarding discipline and freedom on this thread....but as I have 2 dcs of v similar age (although one is quite seriously disabled) we have made it clear that the rules apply to all in the house when dsds are here - and frankly I am not prepared to let a 14 year old girl wander the streets at 11 o'clock at night even if her mum lets her. I just don't think it's a good idea.
Still no clearer on how to proceed really confused

theredhen Tue 23-Aug-11 12:19:43

2blessed2bstressed - DSD certainly does not need a break in my book from what you mentioned above. Although she looks positively hard working compared to DP ex! grin

And no, I wouldn't want a 14 yr old wandering the streets at 11pm either and I agree it's very hard if you have children of your own of similar age.

Could you not just agree to have her over for tea / Sunday lunch / similar at the weekends? Then you can take her back to Mums and she can do whatever her Mum sees fit when she is there?

2blessed2bstressed Tue 23-Aug-11 12:30:54

Well that's the crux of it really - that's what dp and I think may be the way forward, but his ex is insisting that she wants both dsds to come alternate weekends and one evening during the week. End of story. Younger dsd is quite happy with this arrangement, older is not. Is now refusing to come at all this weekend, her mum is going batshit, and dp is stuck in the middle - he wants to see dsd, wants her to come, but feels she also has to want to come, otherwise what does anyone get out of it?
I honestly don't get why her mum is so keen to force this, when she has been happy to deny contact in the past, and veers from "you don't have to see him if you don't want to" to "you've got to go because I said so" seemingly for no reason other than, possibly, the waxing and waning of the moon grin

theredhen Tue 23-Aug-11 12:35:08

I would be inclined to go with DSD wishes more than ex wife. After all, it is DSD you will have a relationship with (hopefully) long past her 18th birthday when ex wife will not be in your life anymore. Ex wife can't take you to court to make you have DSD.

Sounds like ex wife is a bit of a control freak and wants everything all ways, she is just starting to learn that 14 year olds aren't quite so easy to control as little kids.

Talk to DSD and agree a plan. Ex wife will have to lump it, to be honest.

2blessed2bstressed Tue 23-Aug-11 12:48:46

Yep, the girls have been used as pawns for a long time - I guess they're knights now...wanting to ride their horses all over the board <<stretching the analogy too much?>>

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