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Reducing contact by stealth

(29 Posts)
NotaDisneyMum Wed 26-Sep-12 07:23:07

DPs ex has systematically been organising more and more activities for DSS that coincide with contact time with his Dad - with no consultation with DP, and most recently, not even notifying him.

DP already has a commitment on that afternoon (which he currently fulfils with DSS) so he won't be able to collect DSS afterwards. It is reasonable to assume that DSS mum will be collecting DSS after the club and that DP can pick him up later on?

ToothbrushThief Wed 26-Sep-12 07:30:16

She is very wrong to organise things without discussion. However sometimes things arise that DC wish to go to on their contact weekend and this is when discussion should involve all affected

I have to often miss 'my commitments' in order to collect DC. I suspect this lad's mum does as well. She should have asked but equally your DP should consider whether he can collect DS.

My DD has an invite to something this Sunday and was supposed to be seeing her Dad. She doesn't see him that often - his choice. I asked her what she wanted to do. Then I mailed him and asked him if she could (but would have thought badly of him if he stopped her). I then agreed to collect and take her. She is coming home to me afterwards however - if he had her after, it I would have expected him to take on that boring part of parenting which is collecting a child.

exoticfruits Wed 26-Sep-12 07:35:27

Couldn't you go and pick him up?

NotaDisneyMum Wed 26-Sep-12 07:41:16

toothbrush - DP and I spent ages last night trying to work out if there is any way he can collect DSS afterward but it will have a knock on impact on other people, too - as well as effect the following day and the arrangements we've currently put in place for another regular activity that DSS does the next morning!

As a SM, I'm not allowed an opinion wink - but if I was, I'd think that 4 sports clubs, a creative arts club and a musical instrument lesson each week is a lot for a 9 year old, especially one who is struggling with the realities of growing older sad

NotaDisneyMum Wed 26-Sep-12 07:44:30

exotic - no, I'm at work, and won't do that on a regular basis anyway because of DPs ex behaviour when I have had sole care of DSS.
I'm prepared to help out on the odd occasion, but we avoid setting routines in which I'm responsible for DSS because she has form for screaming at DSS, DP and me and causing a scene sad

exoticfruits Wed 26-Sep-12 07:52:52

A bit difficult because she is clearly using the DC as a weapon.

NotaDisneyMum Wed 26-Sep-12 07:58:28

Yes, I'm struggling to see a different explanation for her behaviour - poor DP always ends up the bad guy sad

exoticfruits Wed 26-Sep-12 08:01:05

Apart from making sure that he has a good time with you and that it is relaxed and happy I haven't any answers. It will backfire on her, but it isn't any help in the meantime.

catsmother Wed 26-Sep-12 08:03:51

To me it's simple - she's moved the goalposts so to speak - without any consultation, let alone agreement - and should therefore have to "pick up the pieces" which arise as a result of that unilateral decision.

Your DP has very good reason why he can't collect SS - he's not being difficult for the sake of it, and, by the sounds of it, would pick up him as soon as he could from his mother when he'd finished the stuff he was already committed to and which normally would have included SS.

I wouldn't however "assume" that the ex would therefore collect SS - assuming that she realises this new arrangement means DP won't be able to do it. Instead, I'd make it very clear to her that as a result of her organising something without having the courtesy of a conversation about it, this means that SS would need to be picked up from her at x o'clock and not from said activity. Otherwise there's the possibility that SS will be left high and dry on his own waiting for someone to collect him. If the ex objects to doing this pick up then she will have to cancel the activity - she simply can't make arrangements on DP's time and blithely expect him to be able to fall in with new times and so on. Having said that, we have, in the past, been in a similarish situation where skids have been taken to an activity which we were then TOLD about as a fait accompli - with ex sailing off into the sunset TELLING us they needed collecting at such and such time, it was our "problem" etc etc and we were left with no choice but to do the collection despite the fact that like you, this had a significant impact upon other plans we'd already made and on other people too. I hope your ex isn't quite so selfish and irresponsible.

IMO it's utterly unfair and very arrogant to assume that just because changed arrangements are on your ex's time that they can therefore accommodate any changes just like that without any discussion. Believe it or not (to those who'd suggest otherwise) NRP's do make plans with their time, obviously incorporating the skids, but these sometimes can't be cancelled at the last moment without letting other people down/throwing money down the drain and so on. If an ex believes the NRP should do all the running around on as it's "their" time then they bloody well shouldn't be making plans during that time as, by their own admission, it's the NRP's time.

NotaDisneyMum Wed 26-Sep-12 08:09:12

cats I'm fairly sure that she's not going to be available to pick DSS up - she arranges her shift pattern around the contact schedule and is usually at work herself on those days.

Her previous behaviour suggests that she expects our household to fit round her work pattern - she was apoplectic when DsD told her that we didn't have her shift pattern to hand!

purpleroses Wed 26-Sep-12 09:17:20

"I'm sorry but I can't collect DS at that time, so he won't be able to do XX unless you or someone else can drop him back afterwards. Could you ask me first next time he wants to do activities on the days he's with me? Or get him to ask me direct?" ought to be the right response. But from your previous posts I'm guessing it's not that easy....

NotaDisneyMum Wed 26-Sep-12 10:25:53

purple It might be this time, you never know - she's very inconsistent!

DP has gone off to meet her for coffee - she wants him to sign over DSD's savings account to her confused, and there are ongoing health issues with DSS to discuss following a Drs appointment that DP went to last week with DSS GP.

DP only knows about this latest "club" because he happened to be in the school when the notice went up about who was attending and the staff confirmed that DSS mum had signed the form - so he's going to see if DSS mum mentions it, and take it from there. He won't leave DSS in the lurch with no-one to pick him up, but isn't going to deal with the consequences of her choices any more - if DSS mum doesn't inform DP that DSS will be late out of school, then DP will have to be there to pick DSS up as usual, won't he?

Thumbwitch Wed 26-Sep-12 10:31:32

Is this an activity that your DSS really wants to do? because if not, and if no one is available to pick him up, then if I were your DP I'd consider pulling him out of it on the grounds that it's impossible to manage the pick-up.

NotaDisneyMum Wed 26-Sep-12 11:41:39

Is this an activity that your DSS really wants to do?

I wish I knew! DSS has very few independent opinions and does what he thinks people want him to - so if his mum has said "you want to join this club, don't you?" he would have said yes, and DP asking him whether he "really wants to do it" would result in changing his mind as that's what he would think DP wanted to hear!

He is a very unhappy, conflicted and anxious little boy - but I have no influence over that, and can only do the best I can to make his time when he is in our home as enjoyable as possible.

Thumbwitch Wed 26-Sep-12 11:55:15

Oh poor boy sad

Thumbwitch Wed 26-Sep-12 12:32:43

Just to clarify - I meant that I was sad he was unhappy and conflicted and would say what he thought either parent wanted to hear - that's just so sad.

Is there any way you can ask questions around the activity to gauge his feelings about it without directly asking him if he still wants to do it?

Petal02 Wed 26-Sep-12 15:22:12

NADM – just picking up on an earlier comment of yours:

I think that 4 sports clubs, a creative arts club and a musical instrument lesson each week is a lot for a 9 year old

Yes, that does seem rather excessive. Do you suspect that a percentage of these have been arranged just to cause problems for your DP?

My DH’s ex used to specialise in arranging medical appointments during DH’s time. The ex doesn’t work, and has Monday-Thursday to take DSS to the doctor/dentist etc, however we used to find that even routine stuff like dental check-ups always appeared in the diary on Fridays (DH has DSS from 4pm Thursday EOW) and causing DH some real problems with work.

It’s the same principal – spiteful manipulation. I think Thumbwitch makes a good point – that unless DSS is really keen to participate in this latest activity, I would consider pulling him out of it, on the grounds that it’s totally impractical.

Even kids in ‘together’ families can’t always attend every single club/event/party, it often boils down to simple logistics. And just because a child has separated parents, practicalities still apply.

purpleroses Wed 26-Sep-12 15:26:20

I'd have a gentle chat with him about which of his activities he likes best, what his friends go to, etc to try and figure out whether he's really keen or not, and take it from there.

madelineashton Fri 28-Sep-12 15:19:00

Could the contact change do she regularly has him during that time and your dh has him another time?

Otherwise, could mum fetch him from the club and take him to wherever dad is?

In a 'normal' world, your dh would say 'sorry son but we do xyz on that day so you'll have to miss that club' is there any way that could work? He would be the bad guy for a while but if he gives in to this one surely she'll just keep on doing it...

He does enough clubs! It must all cost a fortune, not to mention that he must be exhausted. No wonder he suffers from anxiety. And he's old enough to know that it's eating in to Dads contact time so if he does go then he's upsetting his dad, but he can't not go for fear of upsetting mum. Poor boy. sad

NotaDisneyMum Sat 29-Sep-12 08:25:34

Contact is Court Ordered - And it's highly unlikely that DPs ex will agree a change as she doesn't want the DCs to have any contact at all!

The good news is that the Club has been postponed due to poor uptake - so it might not happen at all.

DP did challenge his ex about it - apparently, she said that DSS had told her that he didn't do anything at Dads on that day and that she could only go by what DSS told her!
DP reminded her that he has a phone (mobile and landline) and email, asked if she had his number LOL!
She then said that she'd 'forgotten' that DSS was with DP every other Friday (the Order has been in place for over 2 years) and then told DP that she'd forgotten to check with him first......basically, she came up with loads of excuses and none of them were genuine, and she knew it!

DP has decided that he's going to wait and see what happens if they reschedule the club, but if she enrolls him, he'll pull DSS out of one of the other clubs that he has more input into (ie one that he pays for).

purpleroses Sat 29-Sep-12 09:26:44

Have to say that pulling him out of a different club sounds a bit like getting into game playing. Is this just a school run (ie free) after school club on a Friday? If so couldn't DSS just go on mum weeks, or on dad weeks only at times when your DP can manage the pick ups?

NotaDisneyMum Sat 29-Sep-12 12:20:50

There is a fee for the club that DSS mum has paid to the school already (I think it's an external coach) - and which they have held on to despite the club not being run yet! Weekly attendance is also required - the letters from the school are very dictatorial! With all the conditions the school puts on their clubs, it's not a surprise that there hasn't been a lot of interest in them!

In contrast, when DSS asked over a year ago if he could join a football club associated with our local professional team - DP agreed the arrangements with his ex first, pays the subs, but DSS never goes on the nights that he's with his mum, she either forgets, or is working, or says that DSS is ill/tired/doesn't want to - DPs even offered to pick-up and drop off but is refused sad

It's the football that DP is thinking of dropping - Highlighting to DSS that he can't always do everything he wants to do. When he's a bit older, I think it might be a good idea to explain to DSS that his mum can't really agree to things on his Dads behalf because she doesn't know our plans, so if there's something he wants to do at a time he's with us, he should ask Dad first smile

Thumbwitch Sat 29-Sep-12 12:31:37

God, I have to say your DP's ex sounds a bit of a nightmare. I think it would be very rough to drop the football if your DSS is still enjoying it, even if his mum is being an utter PITA about taking him - just doesn't seem fair to punish him for his mum's behaviour. sad
But if this new club goes ahead with a continuing lack of any form of regard for your DP's problems with it, then I think perhaps your DP should just do what his ex is doing - not let your DSS go when it's not convenient for him.

Petty? Yes. A bit childish? Yes. But fairer on your DSS than stopping him going to something he asked your DP to do.

NotaDisneyMum Sat 29-Sep-12 12:48:47

I suppose the alternative is to tell DSS mum that DP won't be able to pick DSS up from the new club on the days he's with us - if she chooses not to withdraw him, then either she collects him and gets him back to DP, or he doesn't go on those days (and he's likely to lose his place, if so)

Thumbwitch Sat 29-Sep-12 12:51:56

I think that's fair enough, tbh, your DP has to work and she could choose to do something about it if she felt like it, she just doesn't want to. She's just trying to make your lives harder than they need to be, rather than doing it for her son, from what you've said already.

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