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How much contact...

(32 Posts)
croquet Mon 10-Feb-14 14:54:36

would you expect a NRP who lives two hours away to have with teen kids?

uc Mon 10-Feb-14 14:56:26

With teens? As much as both parties wanted I guess, presuming they have their own mobiles etc.

purpleroses Mon 10-Feb-14 15:45:52

A good chunk of the holidays and then indirect contact in between - phone,Skype, email etc on an ad hoc basis as much as the DCs want.
I'm assuming you mean younger teens here. From 16+ then depends what DCs are up to in the holidays and what they and their parent want

HuglessDouglas Mon 10-Feb-14 15:51:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

croquet Mon 10-Feb-14 18:01:32

So at what age do people usually think it's ok for the pre-decided Eow type contact to devolve to kids choice?
I hear lots on this board about v strict arrangements but til what age does that continue. It's hard for teens to spend big chunks of holidays in a different town to their friends.

purpleroses Mon 10-Feb-14 19:17:50

We still have ours on same routine as always and eldest is 16 - though she does alter it around a bit to meet her needs (in terms of which house is handyist for the party she wants to go to)
However we live in the same town.
I don't think I'd push an EOW schedule on a reluctant child much beyond about 13 if it means 4 hours in a car and no contact with their friends all weekend.

Petal02 Mon 10-Feb-14 19:22:47

My household was paralysed by a ridiculously strict access rota, which ran til DSS was 18. Things only relaxed when he passed his driving test. By the time a teenager is 14/15/16, ordinarily they will have a social life and interests beyond their parents, and you would expect the rota to be flexible by this point, otherwise Real Life starts to take second place to the rota. Factor in the geography of this particular case, and I think you could seriously dent the social development of a youngster if they're away from their friends, activities, netball team etc on a strictly rostered basis.

HuglessDouglas Mon 10-Feb-14 22:24:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Frogbyanothername Mon 10-Feb-14 22:45:21

When the child is older, evening contact becomes more of an option though - so if there is a run of weekends which don't fit with a teens social life, a late dinner out with Dad on the Friday night meeting halfway (assuming public transport is available) might be possible?

When a DC lives so far from a NRP it's inevitable that they will be guests in their home - and as they get older, visiting family becomes less of a priority.

lostdad Tue 11-Feb-14 10:27:39

I would expect whatever contact to be whatever is in the best interests of the children. Simple as that.


Frogbyanothername Tue 11-Feb-14 11:47:34

lostdad That term is so incredibly subjective though - who can say, with any degree of certainty, what is best for the DCs?

Our legal system places responsibility for that with the teens themselves in relation to this issue - my experience of teenagers is that they are often the last people to know what is best for them in other aspects of their life - are they really so well informed when it comes to the benefits of a relationship with their parent?

purpleroses Tue 11-Feb-14 11:53:32

I think there's a compromise though lostdad Teenagers are too young to be given the choice of seeing their NRP or not - it's the adults job to ensure that there's sufficient contact for them to build up a meaningful relationship with both parents.

But there's lots of ways of doing that. Teenagers are old enough to have some say in the pattern of contact that works for them. And that may involve reducing the frequency of contact as they get older in favour of larger chunks and more indirect contact in cases where there's a big distance involved.

purpleroses Tue 11-Feb-14 11:54:39

Sorry - that last comment should have been directed at frogs - as it was her point I was responding to.

(I agree that saying whatever's in the best interests of the child is correct but a bit of a non-answer when you're trying to work out what really is in their best long-term interests)

Hellocleaveland Tue 11-Feb-14 12:27:05

This is on my mind too at the moment. We currently have DSC EOW (sat morning to sun eve) and a bit more in the holidays. They are 17 and 14. We have had this arrangement for the past 8 years - when I met DH. DH is desperate to spend this time with them still, but I am finding it harder and harder as they seem less and less enthusiastic about being here. DSD (17) barely lets go of her phone the whole time she is here and DS (14, nearly 15) is never off his computer/DS. DS(5) loves seeing his half brother and sister and they are pretty good with him. Their mother is pretty keen for them to be with us EOW I think. We are also a fair way away, about 1hr 30 mins. I don't know how things could/would change though. Who starts that conversation? I don't think DSC would voice their reluctance to keep coming so regularly as they wouldn't want to hurt their dad's feelings. And of course if I say anything I am the wicked stepmother not wanting to see the DSC confused

Sushiqueen Tue 11-Feb-14 12:40:14

We had that conversation with the DSS's when they were a similar age. We all sat down and DH told them to be honest with him.
They admitted that some weekends they were being made to come by their mum and they would rather have done other things.
With their agreement DH wrote a letter to their mum thanking her for all her efforts but that he thought the boys were old enough to decide for themselves now. He emailed a list of weekends we weren't around every few months and said that any other time they were always welcome and just had to text/call and one of us would pick them up.
It ended up that some months we hardly saw them but then other times they were constantly at ours.
Their mum later admitted that it made life became easier as she had less rows with them about coming to ours. Plus they felt as if they had a say in what was happening,

Petal02 Tue 11-Feb-14 13:37:48

The last couple of posts have mentioned that the children's mother is keen for EOW contact to continue, and I'm sure this was a factor in our situation. The ex had remarried and had two more children, and she seemed to enjoy Thurs-sun EOW with her 'new family'.

So the ex wanted to stick to the rota, DSS had been almost brainwashed into thinking the rota underpinned life, and DH would rather have stuck pins in his eyes than upset the ex or say 'no' to his son. DSS, like many teenagers, had no idea of what was really in his best interests, and had become so infantilised by all this, that he thought it was for the best.

He's now been at Uni since September, away from the rota and some pretty questionable parenting - and he's absolutely thriving. He's morphing into a really nice young man who can think for himself when given the chance.

croquet Tue 11-Feb-14 13:44:15

yes- I think it can infantilise kids. What normal teenager spends the weekend with their parents? It's a problem if they don't have all their stuff/any friends at the NRP's house.

Petal02 Tue 11-Feb-14 13:53:09

My DSS was quiet and introverted by nature, and taking him 'out of area' EOW gave him an excuse not to engage with his peers; we often heard the comment that there was no point in sports/hobbies/activities as he was only at home on alternate weekends.

And then DH would put on a Butlins-style, no expense spared, entertainments schedule for access weekends, so it was preferable to spend leisure time with Dad than with lads his own age.

lostdad Tue 11-Feb-14 14:49:10

Apologies if I come across as a little flippant.

It's just that when questions like this arise what people are usually asking is `What contact does everyone else's DC have?'

The problem with that is that you'll end up with the `Henry T Ford' of contact: i.e. children are all different and contact needs to be to suit long as it's `every other weekend and midweek tea'.

As a McKenzie Friend it's certainly something I recognise: The NRP wants contact, the RP will only allow to this because it's `normal' or generous to who? the NRP who in law doesn't have rights to contact?. Normal as `all my friends do the same'.

The thing is...only the OP will only know what works and what doesn't. And likely NRP has his/her own views on the matter. And the kids might have an opinion too.

A good deal of the problems separated parents have is no or insufficient communication. Come to think of it though, a lot of them are people sticking their oars in with their opinions.

My opinion oh, the irony is to talk to the kids, the NRP, etc. and work out something everyone can live with.

croquet Tue 11-Feb-14 14:49:14

oh dear Petal. Well congratulations on his launch into independence!

Frogbyanothername Tue 11-Feb-14 14:55:32

lostdad How significant do you think the "wanting to keep both parents happy" factor is?

My DHs DS ping-ponged between more-contact and no-contact for about 6 months, because he'd tell his Dad one thing, and his Mum another. When they all finally sat down in a room together, DHs DS clammed up, couldn't speak, shrugged "don't know" or "not bothered" when asked direct questions.

He is at that difficult age where court won't quite leave it up to him, but yet he is too old to be 'taken' for contact.

If families are expected to work it out for themselves, how do you overcome the influence of each parent on the child?

anklebitersmum Tue 11-Feb-14 15:12:07

It's situation and child dependent isn't it? There really is no 'right and wrong' because everyone's situation-be that financial, geographical or emotional and the individual needs of the child are genuinely different to everyone else's.

I agree with lostdad. Whatever is genuinely in the child's best interests.

In an ideal universe (teens) Mum talks to child, Dad talks to child, Mum and Dad talk separately, reach an adult compromise and communicate that to child. For younger children Mum & Dad discuss, it happens.

Of course this ideology falls down where one or both parties refuse to act like adults themselves.

lostdad Wed 12-Feb-14 10:00:39

Frogbyanothername `lostdad How significant do you think the "wanting to keep both parents happy" factor is?'

The interests of the children are paramount.

What I mean is that an ideal solution means everyone is content (if not happy) with a compromise situation. As anklebitersmum says this falls down when one or both parties refuse to act like adults (i.e. compromise, not be selfish and think of the kids).

Kaluki Wed 12-Feb-14 12:14:23

We are approaching this problem with my DS1 who is 14. He is getting a social life now, meets his friends on a Saturday and feels like he is missing out every other weekend when he is at his Dads (1 hours drive away). My ex understands this and is happy to let him stay home sometimes, but DS2 is 10 and still wants to go EOW so DS1 misses out whatever he does.
According to DS1 the solution to this is for his Dad to move nearer to us but that's a tall order!!

Petal02 Wed 12-Feb-14 15:46:31

Kaluki you're generally quite balanced in your views, so I'm assuming you're not one of these mothers who insists her ex does a very specific amount of parenting each week, regardless of what else is happening in everyone's lives?

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