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whats usual re parties?

(86 Posts)
JumpingJackSprat Wed 17-Apr-13 12:56:56

Dss lives with his mum a 4 hour round trip away atvthe moment we have him every other weekend. his mum has accepted a party invite for sunday afternoon which means that rather than leaving ours at 5pm to take him back we will have to leave at 12.30 when we havent seen him for 2 weeks. is it unreasonable for us to say that dss wont be able to attend birthday parties on access weekends unless theyre actual friends? My understanding is that this party is a "whole class" affair. Dss is 5.

allfornothing Thu 18-Apr-13 21:38:32

I like your description of credit/debit and refunds petal. It kinda puts it all into perspective, which is that these children are being treated like a bloody checking book.
To be clear,I don't at all support the idea that I can make arrangements for dd on my 'ex's time'. I don'tmake arrangements on his time. What I also don't support however, is the notion that if dd has a social commitment/invite that happens on his weekend, the only two solutions are a) A flat out 'no' or b) if the child is allowed to go, I must be punished for that by losing time at a late date.

I stand by my earlier point, that these children are people in their own right. I have a problem with references to 'my time/his time, when there's a little person in the middle of all that who can't attend social functions because their parents can't get past their own principles of what they believe to be right and fair.

Latemates Fri 19-Apr-13 08:13:42

I don't think time needs to be made up/books balanced etc. But i do think it is common curtesy to not make the decision over events/parties when the children are with the other parent.
Thats the issue her one parent making unilateral decisions that cause the child upset due to getting mixed messages.
last minute notice, accepting without checking that it is doable lead to unnecessary conflict. And this isn't fair on the child at all

catsmother Fri 19-Apr-13 09:35:16

I simply don't get all the hysteria over the party issue.

I was a single mum for many years myself prior to becoming a stepparent and obviously had party invites for my child which every so often clashed with their dad's contact time. It was no big deal, for me, my ex or our child as the simple rule was that we discussed it with my ex before accepting an invitation as a courtesy in case he'd planned anything which couldn't easily be undone. 9 times out of 10 there was no problem - we'd agree to "swap" a weekend, my child would go to the party and no-one would "lose out" .... my child had the party, I had my "me time" on another weekend, and my ex would see our child a weekend earlier or later. Our child was fine with this - even on the very rare occasions where their dad had booked non refundable tickets or committed to a family celebration because it was clear there was no game playing going on, no cries of "it's not fair, it's my weekend", and that the vast majority of the time a solution could be found which was acceptable to all. This was all done as soon as possible as well - no last minute surprises or disappointments. My ex lived about 40 miles away so it was clearly easier if I took our child to any parties.

My experience of parties with my partner's ex has however been horrendous and they have been just another opportunity for her to sh*t stir and play games. She lives over 100 miles away (she moved) so the distance compounds things but that's still no excuse for a total lack of basic courtesy and communication. If DP was "lucky" he'd be told, usually at the 11th hour, that the kids weren't coming that weekend as they had a party. No regard for any plans he may have made, no regard for his disappointment - or indeed the kids', and her being bloody rude because there's no way on earth she'd have only found out about a party on Thursday night when he was due to collect them Friday evening. I say "lucky" though because at least he wouldn't have had a wasted journey or have been placed in an impossible position, because her preferred method of dealing with parties on "his" contact weekends was often to let him collect the kids, as normal, without any mention of a party at all .... then text him (so no opportunity to have a real time discussion as she'd refuse to answer the phone) say, on Sat night (after shops had shut) or on Sun morning and TELL him the kids had to come home early as they had a party at 1pm - here's the address, you'll have to collect them as I'm out, deal with it. Again, no regard for our plans, no regard for the fact the car might not have been available at that time if I was using it say, no regard for us having to buy presents and cards (we're on a very tight budget) and putting us in an impossible position because the children had been told their dad was taking them to the party and obviously had no idea that this was news to him! Repeatedly asking her to communicate with courtesy had no effect and this dropping us in it happened many times over the years. We've had to endure upset and tantrums from the children on some occasions where we really did have genuine other plans - like family get togethers - which DP didn't want to cancel - or couldn't cancel, because other people were relying on us and would otherwise have been let down. It was awful, and when they were younger I used to dread contact weekends as we could never tell when this sort of thing might crop up .... it got so bad we'd ask the kids if they knew about any parties (tactfully) but obviously you can't expect or depend upon small kids to remember times and dates.

In our case, parties were nothing to do with what the kids wanted - though of course if DP ever dared to object to how rude and unreasonable she was being that'd be thrown at him - how he was stopping his kids doing what they wanted, how he was selfish not to take them etc. No, they were all about her causing us maximum disruption and unexpected expense. Thing is, had she been reasonable and discussed this all in advance, DP would have reacted just like my ex used to and would have been happy to swap weekends to accommodate parties - there'd have been no question of him insisting upon "his" time to their detriment.

Overall, while I accept that most children love going to parties and that it's nice to try and enable this wherever possible I do also think it's important to raise children who appreciate that the world doesn't revolve around them alone and that it's basic courtesy to consider the effects of what you do on others before you do it. Hence me always saying to my child that before accepting an invite we'd need to speak to dad. In a similar vein, my child also knew that there were some rare occasions where I might have made plans which made a party impossible that particular time. DP's ex though was of the "why should the children miss out because their parents are split" school which was hypocritical bollocks because this was only ever rolled out to paint DP as "bad dad" if he ever objected to the way she went about the whole thing - not parties per se - and never applied this maxim to herself when she declined invites because she had something different she wanted to do with the kids. It had nothing to do with a splitn and everything to do with her game playing, causing disruption whenever she could and being spiteful.

Kaluki Fri 19-Apr-13 12:03:01

I don't see what the fuss is about either.
If my kids are invited out on a weekend they will be with my ex I don't accept and say I will let them know when I've spoken to him.
If they are free (and they usually are) he will take them. DS is 13 now and often wants to see his mates at weekends which his dad and I facilitate where possible. Common sense!!
DP's ex accepts offers regardless and often turns up at the said party to see the DSC while they are there which is of course 'stealing' DP's time. They argue about every school disco (Friday nights are DP's time so he loses out!!)
Who suffers? Ex? DP? No - the poor kids do. They feel guilty for something which other kids (mine included) take for granted.
It is easing up now and they are being more reasonable but its taken a long time to get here and God only knows what damage it has done their kids.

allfornothing Fri 19-Apr-13 12:09:29

'Stealing DP's time'

You've just proven my point of treating these kids as possessions.

Latemates Fri 19-Apr-13 12:21:52

Kaluki point is that the mother in her DP case is creating the situation where people become time focused/possesive by making decisions/demands for the father without consultation or consideration.

In these high conflict scenarios it is children who suffer most. By the mother turning up the children become torn and again in the middle and this rather makes the party less enjoyable for them.

It all rather depends on the intentions of either parent and also the results of the action taken by the parent.

in out case the mother making decisions/responding to invites/demanding behaviour is a form of controlling our lives and causing conflict. It is the children who suffer. If she thought about them first shr would not behave the way she does but she justifies all manner of behaviour by saying she is doing it for the children because she loves them most

Latemates Fri 19-Apr-13 12:22:21

Very well written post cats mother smile

allfornothing Fri 19-Apr-13 13:33:26

I get this all the time though and it's exhausting. If I ask can dd attend an event, I'm controlling their lives. If I happen to be (rarely) attending the same event I'm 'stealing their time and it needs to be paid back. If I supply the presents for birthday parties dd is allowed to attend, I'm controlling. If I don't, I'm forcing an expense on ex. If I make any form of a request, it isn't a request, but a 'demand'.

Honestly, I'm not extrapolating my experience here because I know most people aren't my ex, but there's a fair bit of extrapolating going on here. Sometimes, just sometimes it's worth considering that the other parent is not in fact attempting to sabotage your family life, but is just trying to get on with their own, whilst meeting the social needs of their child.

Kaluki Fri 19-Apr-13 13:40:20

Don't think I'm agreeing with how DP and his ex carry on. I'm not.
They are boy guilty of game playing and using the Dsc as pawns in their battles sad
Ie learnt to detach now though as I actually can't be arsed to keep on about it to him. He knows what I think.

catsmother Fri 19-Apr-13 14:24:11

Yes, Allfornothing, unfortunately, it takes both parents being courteous, fair, honest, communicative and mindful of everyone affected to thrash out a solution to the party situation. I'm sorry your ex seems to be pretty petty when these events arise for you.

Personally, I've never suggested - in this thread or any other - that "all" ex-wives are rotten, just because my partner's is! I can however only speak from experience and sadly have to say that IME, some parents - whether it's the PWC or the NRP - do seize upon anything and everything they possibly can in order to cause unnecessary and avoidable inconvenience and expense for their ex - and sometimes their own kids too, to score points against the other parent by setting them up for a fall, to cause general unpleasantness and disquiet etc etc etc. Parties in particular are ideal occasions for anyone thus disposed to stir up trouble as most children do enjoy them, want to attend, and it's therefore relatively easy for someone inclined that way to place the other parent in an almost impossible position. I remember one time we were actually already out for the day - when DP got a text about a party which would have meant us leaving for home immediately in order for him to get the skids back in time. The kids themselves were enjoying our day out and hadn't mentioned this party at all. DP texted his ex back straight away to say this would be impossible, that he'd made plans for the whole family in all good faith and so on - and received in response, a whole spew of ranty texts about what a crap dad he was, how he was being selfish, letting his kids down and so on. He didn't take them back but spent the whole day on edge, fretting that the kids would suddenly say something (they didn't, I wonder to this day if there actually was a party at all) and worrying that they were "missing out". In situations like that, there's no doubt in my mind at all that the ex's intent was to sabotage our family life, what other excuse could she possibly have for informing us at the very last moment ? - so it does happen. If she really cared about facilitating her children's social needs, she'd have ensured she'd have discussed any upcoming party well in advance with DP - if on "his" time - to make sure there was no clash, and no possibility of them missing it.

allfornothing Fri 19-Apr-13 17:10:02

Point scoring, yes I can identify with that. Ex has even banned me from popping into say hello to dd at her childminders on 'his' day. He isn't even there, but can't bear the thought of me being anywhere near dd.

brdgrl Sat 20-Apr-13 02:14:25

But surely time with a parent isn't only for the kid's benefit. It is also for the benefit of the parent. Can we all stop pretending that adults are meant to be selfless and see their time with their children ONLY in terms of the benefit to the child? Obviously a child's needs come first - but there are also the needs of the parent, and often of other children as well. It is not regarding a child as a possession to acknowledge that the love a parent feels for a child is by nature possessive and motivates many parents to actually want to spend as much time as possible with the child. I suspect there will be times over the coming years when I refuse to let DD attend a particular social event because I want to spend time with her. Selfish? OK...

A kid may want to go to a party. Does he/she have a need to go? Possibly, or possibly there is a need to go "to parties" more generally but not to each and every party specifically. Does the "need" for the party trump the need of the child, in the long-term, to cultivate a relationship with both parents? Or with half-siblings and step-siblings?

allfornothing Sat 20-Apr-13 08:36:43

I hardly think attending a party would negatively impact on the ability to cultivate relationships with parents and siblings! Isn't that a bit dramatic? Unless you're talking about the child literally being busy with parties and events every weekend, (which wouldn't be acceptable), then I still believe they have the right to that time with friends and parents should, where possible support it.

Galangal Sat 20-Apr-13 09:43:23

Your ex sounds a nightmare allfornothing. And I agree, going to a party or even parties isn't going to jeopardise a relationship with a parent. It's what you do in the time you do have them that counts.

Alwayscheerful Sat 20-Apr-13 10:10:47

Children go through phases of receiving no party invitations, invitations every week and sometimes two per weekend.

Families can find themselves ferrying children from swimming to dancing to a party on a Saturday. And again on a Sunday. Petrol and gifts are expensive and the amount of time involved is huge and sometimes dominates the weekends.

Two parent families and split families should both consider balance in family life. Life is not all about what children want or what they need sometimes it is about what the adults want and need too. Weekends can be about pleasure but they can also be about rest and relaxation and that includes children and adults. I think getting the balance right is important, children need to enjoy themselves at the weekend but not at the expense of adults. It is good for cHildren to return to school on Monday rested and relaxed, Sometimes just chilling at home as a family is more important than another party, good for adults and children. It can help to teach children to be selective to help them make the right the choices eg choose the party on a Saturday? Or the party on A Sunday? The party 10 miles away or the party round the corner? Choose between a
family occasion at their grandparents or best friend party. Life is full of hard choices and it is never too early to teach life skills.

For some families it works for Saturday to be a busy day and Sunday to be a relaxing day, others just run around like headless chickens all weekend insisting children should go to every party they are invited to. Parties are great for children visiting grandparents, time relaxing as family and family outings are good too.

In split families balance can only be achieved with communication, I do wonder if ex partners are sometimes more interested in control than balance in their children's lives.

Alwayscheerful Sat 20-Apr-13 10:13:05

Sorry missed a comma in last sentence
Parties are great for children,

JumpingJackSprat Sat 20-Apr-13 13:09:59

Good post alwayscheerful. thats the way i see it. my op probably made the situation out to be more fraught than it is. on this occasion we are taking him to the party and if the same situation arose again we would do again unless it clashed with something we had already arranged. dp's ex wasnt underhanded about the invite or anything like that but i just wanted to see how other families manage in case of any potential conflicting arrangements etc later on.

Alwayscheerful Sat 20-Apr-13 14:53:01

OP, sorry I was so ingrossed in the thread that I forgot your original post, my daughter has a little one and finds the party circuit expensive, exhausting and time consuming at the best of times , but as a family they are managing the situation by being selective.

As a blended family we found it very difficult because the Ex did not allow it, ocasionally on a Friday, she would send an invitation (but sometimes 2 ,one for saturday and one for Sunday) plus present all wrapped and insist the youngest DSS was to attend, with no regard for our plans, the childs wishes or the convenience, so I can sympathise with you, I would say start as you mean to go on, explain its fine this time and time with DSCs is precious, so please check next time. In an ideal world she should check your family plans before accepting or pass the invitation for your family to reply to. In practice this is courtesy which is shown.

Alwayscheerful Sat 20-Apr-13 14:54:01

rarely shown .. dam phone!

balia Sun 21-Apr-13 15:49:22

Can I just come back to a point made upthread about not replacing time that the DC miss with Dad because

"even if you're a resident parent, if you work long hours you might not get much more 'quality time' than a NRP"

Unless the parenting is 50/50, and particularly if the contact is the EOW, this is a staggeringly ridiculous justification for not replacing the time. I work full-time but the impact this has on my time with my DC's is NOTHING like the lack of time DH has with his DS. He gets 4 overnights a month. At the time his ex was insisting that parties were more important, DSS was getting 74 hours with his Dad per month. Trust me, that is nothing like having your child living with you, even if you do work long hours.

And later, when DSS told Cafcass how desperate he was for more time with Dad, he certainly didn't say that he would rather attend parties, or do more hobbies.

Petal02 Sun 21-Apr-13 16:41:14

But i still don't see the sense in making up a couple of hours that a NRP may lose if the child attends a party. So if Jonny attends a party from 2pm-4pm on an access weekend, his Dad can claim back 2 hours at a later date? This is just silly and the 'balancing the books' parenting model is a very slippery slope. Surely both parents will take a 'hit' on their time at some point, to the point that it balances itself out in the long run?

Petal02 Sun 21-Apr-13 17:03:18

I should add that regardless or how desirable (or otherwise) it's deemed to make up for any missed time, sometimes it's simply impractical. DH's ex used to insist, with mathematical precision, that any lost time was re-paid to the point that if we'd been on holiday for a fortnight, DH would be left with a 'debt of time' that was almost impossible to work off, unless he took time off work to facilitate extra access, because there are only so many evening/weekend hours in the week. As I said, compensatory access is a slippery slope - and time spent at parties can soon become the least of your worries.

balia Sun 21-Apr-13 20:25:58

If either parent is going to be completely rigid and unreasonable then no system is going to work well for the DC's. And my point was not necessarily that all contact time should be 'made up', but that refusing to do so on the grounds that an RP has as little quality time as an EOW NRP is nonsense.

But how can it possibly balance out for the child when they spend so much more time with one parent? In our case, DSS got 74 hours with Dad, and nearly 600 hours with Mum. And if this limited time isn't prioritised (and certainly from our experience of the court process, Cafcass and other professionals, it should be) then what message is that sending the DC's? That time with Dad is optional, if a better offer comes along that's fine? It's not silly to make sure that the bond between parent and child is maintained, and the best way to do that is regular, quality contact. Attending a single party may not have a huge effect on that, but it's easy to say that parents should support children's social lives when you see your child every day. When attending a party takes 20% of the time your child has with you when he/she is awake, it's a very different thing.

mumandboys123 Sun 21-Apr-13 22:21:09

I didn't suggest, balia, that the RP should have their 'quality time' made up, I merely commented on the fact that my quality time with my children is very important to me, but there is an expectation that I ensure that our children are involved in various activities (not just parties) at the weekends. That time is never 'made up' to me in anyway. Either I forgo the activity (and do exactly this sometimes) or I ensure that our children are able to participate in a range of activities in the way that their friends are. My ex would soon start shouting if I didn't allow our children to participate

I'm not sure where you get the 600 hours from - does that include sleeping time and the time children are at school and parents are at work? I also stand by the fact that I don't get quality time with my children during the week although I accept the fact that it is time my ex doesn't get. I have about 2 1/2 hours a day during which time we are getting dressed/undressed, eating, tidying up, putting washing on, having a bath, finding shoes, dealing with school paperwork etc. I know it isn't the same for all NRPs but my ex certainly wouldn't swap roles with me if I gave him the chance - it's too much like hard work!

Galangal Mon 22-Apr-13 08:21:39

I don't understand the 600 hours either. I too get a couple of hours in the evening, taken up with chores, homework, activities, cooking.

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