Formal arrangements for kids or 50/50 loose split?(15 Posts)
I am quite curious to know what you all think here? Is it better to have a regular arrangement with the kids e.g. EOW sorted in advance; or have a 'loose' 'split' where arrangements aren't really made until the last minute, or it is up to the kids?
I'm asking as I've experienced both, I have really regular arrangments with my DC with my Ex - that changes gradually as he grows and has a little flexibility - but we work it all out in advance with a calendar. My DC can have a say too, but knows this is just what works for all.
My DP had a really loose sharing of the kids, with some living with us, some living with their mum, and going between the houses sometimes on a daily basis and coming here without us even knowing.
So one extreme to the other! Personally I found that for me this meant my DP was and is much more involved daily in his Exs life - lots of texts etc - which annoys the hell out of me! And lately the kids have got cross with DP telling them off and have refused to come this weekend which is a shame. On the other hand, my more formal arrangement means that there isn't as much flexibility. Any thoughts/experiences?
I have a structured routine with my ex. EOW, one day in the week, alternate half terms and Xmas and half of the rest of the school holidays. There is flexiblity and as the kids become teenagers it does become more fluid. It does allow my Dh and I to plan weekends away and going out.
Dh also had a structured routine with his ex, but it has gone to pieces lately and DSS seems to turn up here whenever she tells him too. It is anoying and we do not like it.
As a parent and step parent I prefer an organised system. I know who to cater for at mealtimes, I know when I'll be needed to do stuff with the kids, and I can also plan for when I might get some child-free time without them. And with young kids I think a fairly fixed rota (with occasional flexibility) works best too. But I'm not finding that the fixed rotas that either I or my DH have with our exes are working very well at all for teens at the moment. Or not for some of them at least.
My ex lives close enough that my DC make their own way to and from his house but they are forever gravitating back here at times when they're supposed to be at his - because they've left something here, because they've invited friends round here forgetting they're supposed to be at their dad's, because this house is nearer to somewhere they're coming or going to, because they don't feel like gong to their dad's, or maybe it's raining, or sometimes simply because they've forgotten which house they're supposed to be at . They very rarely turn up at their dad's when they're supposed to be here, and mainly I think it's happening because the "two homes" system that has worked really well when they were younger isn't working so well for them now.
The DSC on the other hand mainly change their routines for practical reasons because of us being handier for their school. We ask them to let us know when they want to stay here, but prefer to know roughly what the routine is each week, otherwise I don't have food in, so DH tried to formalise what had been happening anyway with DSD for her to stay and extra night or two, but her DM objected to this and accused him of trying to "poach" her. So she was clinging onto the "flexible" nature of things to avoid having to accept that her DD is actually spending most of her time here currently. So that's a whole different minefield.
As I write this, DD has just rocked up on her way back from a sports match, because she needs sanitary towels and doesn't believe me when I tell her her dad is quite capable of buying these for her.....
I really don't think the flexibility your dp has works for the kids or anyone else.
Kids need structure and adults need to plan and prepare.
Even teens need to understand that the whole world doesn't revolve round their whims.
Flexibility is great, if agreed in advance and if it suits EVERYONE in both families.
thegreenhen - yes I'm in agreement with you. It feels crap this weekend to be honest that none of DPs children are here. For once it's not me they are blaming, but increasingly I think DP feels like he has to make everything great here or they won't come.
pink as they are all teenagers it does make it tricky that they won't remember half of their stuff! However it just became a silly point of tension. I don't mind some flexibility - but the DSC who got resentful of me - didn't go a day at her mums without coming back here as she 'needed something'. I never had a day knowing when she would or wouldn't be there - and she got really pissed off with me when I started saying - look you should text me first if you've forgotten something. She started saying 'why should I, it's my home etc'. And it became a 'thing'. Exhausting.
Blue - yes I also had this - the kids turning up out of the blue because their mum wanted to clean the house/have time alone with her boyfriend. No joke she just used to send them here without asking anyone - it was like an assertion of territory - I really felt like she was treating the house that I lived in as an extention of hers. I would never have sent the kids to hers like that. Grrr!
However, my DP has changed a lot and there is more structure, but it is falling back into whatever the kids/Ex wants again. As they are becoming adults this is natural in some ways, but still are dependents. It makes me a bit gutted to see how the kids are now ignoring DP, when previously we'd have them every weekend. Which is probably why he is literally the taxi service to and from college every weekday - and yet they can't be bothered to turn up and spend time with us!
I think insisting the honour existing arrangements regarding meals is a reasonable start, but then try to let them come and go as they need to other than that. I'd be cross if I was your DP - and I wouldn't ever let my DC just decide to miss a whole weekend at their dad's on a whim. That's just bad manners
Bananas It is hard getting teenagers to stick to routine. I did neglect to say (forgot) that eldest DS (17) never goes to his fathers any more. His father moved house a year ago, still within walking distance, and he has only spent one or two nights there. Goes to see him but always comes home after. I am used to that now and don't include him in my calculations of where the kids are at the weekend. He is out a lot anyway and his father does not seem bothered.
With regard to DH's ex, she almost has sixth sense and will call just as we are about to go out, to say that DSS needs collecting as she is unwell, going out or he wants to come over. Grr too.
This is a bit of a teen thing rather than a step thing though. My DCs are adults now but were hard to pin down as teens. They would often sleep over at friends or boy or girl friends houses or they would have people to stay at our house. I didn't mind at all even though the house was a bit chaotic at times.
If extras turned up I would cater for them if it suited me otherwise they could sort themselves out. Nobody seemed to mind. I didn't like wasting food though so if people didn't confirm they were home I wouldn't cook for them.
I can see that asking a teen to text before coming home wouldn't go down very well I think it would come across as though you were trying to make sure they know it's 'your' house (which, of course, it is)
The teen years don't last long and the kids grow and mature a lot along the way. I think I would get involved in agreeing set 'visits' but I would have a think about how you deal with meals.
Blue yes point taken. Teenagers like to be able to take things 'as it comes'. I just find it a bit sad that they have an 'option' to freeze out a parent if they are cross with them, whereas if they hadn't they would have to just get over any arguments. In real life, they won't be able to walk away from disagreements.
That's Yes I do see that they want more flexibility, e.g. with friends etc. I didn't ask DSC to text before coming home though - that is fine and I've obviously known to expect her at a rough time.
I asked DSC to text if she was going to be there at a time that I would be expecting - I asked them all to do that just out of consideration for me really. I said to them all there is no problem if they have forgotten stuff when they were at their mums, or even if they just wanted to come back, but that they did need to let me know so that I knew where people were. Only one DSC got cross about that, the one who had a problem with me asserting anything really, and she used to come back because she'd forgotten something all the time and then just stay for hours. No one would know where she was.
How old are the Step children? I'm not sure why you need to know where they are though. It would be different if they were younger. I presume they all have keys and are capable of getting around on their own.
We've always had a bit of both ,weekends without fail and maybe an extra night here and there. We've always wanted a flexible system , they can come and go as they please as it's their home as well. However , their mum likes it regimented as she relies on the children a lot for childcare (they're teenagers ) and over the years even the weekends have been sporadic. Pity really ,as partner can't make plans for them as he never knows which kids he's got and when.
It worries me, as you say, that they can go to either house when no-one is there. And no-one knows they have gone there. It's a recipe for trouble, esp if they realise you are away.
outtoget is absolutely right. My DSD when she was about 15 managed to exploit the two home situation badly - we were going away and she didn't want to come with us, so told us that her DM said that was fine she could stay at hers instead. Except she then told her DM that she was going to a friend's for a sleepover instead, which her DM didn't check out at all (possibly because she considered it "our" night to be responsible for DSD) and in fact she stayed here whilst we were away and hosted a teenager party.
We only found out because of the things that got damaged
If you're going to have a flexible situation, you do also need a really good degree of communication between parents, and to be clear on whose responsibility it is to know where the DC are if they spend any time not at either home.
It's really interesting to see people's views, I guess one 'system' doesn't fit all.
pink and out - I have sometimes felt this too, that the 'too flexible' or loose system, meant that we really weren't parenting the kids tbh. You have to know where they are for a start, even vaguely! My DSD also used this to meet up with her boyfriend in her mum's empty house, and got into a not nice sticky situation - for once I got thanked both by DSD and my DP (but not her mum!) for checking to see where she was and found her quite tearful - as her mum had just presumed she was with us.
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