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When do the DC decide where to live?

(18 Posts)
Whattodoforthebest1 Tue 03-Oct-17 13:38:04

This is going to be a long one, as I’m trying not to drip feed. Name changed for this too.

DP has 2 DC with his ExW, ExW is the RP but we have DC 2-4 nights a week depending on DPs shifts and ExW work. I occasionally have the DC by myself if both DP and ExW are working. The relationship between us all is ok if a little strained at times, but the kids always come first. DP and I live together and in the last year we bought a bigger house so the DSC have a room each.

DSC are 7 and 5. Over the last year or so, the DC, especially the youngest have made comments such as ‘I’m going to live with you when I’m older’ and when saying bye to me at a handover with DP and ExW, they said ‘I wish I could live with you forever’ which unfortunately ExW heard. DP and I know that kids say things to people to make them happy etc and that they probably say the same to their Mum. We’ve never raised it with the DC or discussed it when they have raised it as its been little comments rather than questions about it.

Last week, the youngest asked if she could live with DP and visit Mum, as in the opposite of what happens now. DP had to answer as it was a direct question. He talked to both DC about missing Mummy if they didn’t live with her, they replied they would still get to see her but would rather live with us. DP pointed out that they would have to change schools as the old one is too far away from our house and work to travel daily, both said they would be happy with this although they would miss their friends, oldest DSC said he was sure they’d make new friends at a new school. Their replies seemed very thought out. Older DC is a thinker and often brings up subjects again later when he’s had chance to think it over. DP said that its something that could happen in the future but we should revisit the subject in a year or so.

We would both love to have the DC live with us, we could make it work practically too with a bit of organisation. But we are both very aware that kids change their minds about things so we don’t want to rush into anything. We want what is best for the DC and for them to be happy.

We also know that ExW would not be happy with them coming to live with us and would possibly use emotional blackmail to persuade them to stay with her. She freely admits that she only ever wanted to be a SAHM, but when she split with DP, she had to get a part time job.

This morning the eldest DSC raised the question again, asking when they can come and live with us. DP asked him what he thought Mummy would think about it, he replied she would be sad but that he still wanted to live with his Dad. DSC said they hadn’t said anything to their Mum yet, so she doesn’t know what they are thinking. Personally I think she might have an idea as DSC are reluctant to go home and very excited to come to ours and the last few weeks, she seems to be restricting the amount of time DP can have them.

The other point I’d make is that DP is not a Disney Dad, there are more rules at our house and I’m pretty strict but we do spend time doing things such as colouring, dog walking and playing games with the DSC so I don’t think they are saying it because our house is the ‘easy’ option.

We have no concerns about the care they get at home, their Mum loves them and they are happy, doing well at school etc, but we don’t want them thinking that we are ignoring their wishes. I know they are children and it’s the adults that make the decisions, but at what age do you take their views into account as to where they live?

TheRealBiscuitAddict Tue 03-Oct-17 14:24:57

Well, in truth if you have the DC three/four nights some weeks then it's a 50/50 arrangement really isn't it? In which case I would be telling the DC that they have two homes rather than letting them hold on to this idea that they live at one place and visit another iyswim.

At the moment the courts have presumably decided that the DM is the resident parent, and at age five and seven the courts will go with what's best for the children rather than taking their wishes into account. In fact I would go so far as to say that deciding where they live permanently shouldn't be enabled until they're teenagers, assuming there is no abuse in the equation which from your descriptions there clearly isn't.

Also, be careful that you're not falling into the trap of thinking that whatever they're telling you they're not telling their mum as well. It's entirely likely that they're saying to her that they want to spend more time at hers as well. And never put the burden on to them of making their mummy sad if they decide to want to live with you. I would just let the conversation drop and certainly don't make any promises of reviewing again as they're promises you won't be able to keep.

Just tell the DC that at the moment they have two houses or that they live with their mum and see their dad/you x times a week because that's the way it is, and then let it slide.

swingofthings Tue 03-Oct-17 14:50:14

so I don’t think they are saying it because our house is the ‘easy’ option.
So have you asked the only important question, why?

In the end, as you and your OH would love to have them live with you, it's easy to consider that they should have a right to decide if they have a good reason but that doesn't make it right.

There is no right or wrong answer, but even if there was no reasons for it not to happen if you are ok with it and so are the children, and therefore only the mum would be the one having an issue with it, how much of an impact would living her very upset or more?

I know that the reason for the split shouldn't come into it, but I still feel that in terms of principle, it does matter. If your OH is the one who decided to end the relationship, it really is a double blow to then take her to court (as assume she would fight for it) so that she also loses on her kids' residency. If she is the one who decided to go, well...

19lottie82 Tue 03-Oct-17 15:22:44

At 5 and 7 they are too young to make this decision. As you have suggested chances are they have based this idea on your house being more "fun", rather than it being the best place for them long term. I'm not suggesting that it isn't, just that they aren't old enough to make a rational descision at such a young age.

SusieQwhereareyou Tue 03-Oct-17 16:33:00

I think I'd find it a bit odd if a 5 year old was saying things like that, even taking into account perhaps more relaxed approach / more fun at yours, just because at that age they're still so bonded to their mums normally. One of my DP's DDs is an absolute Daddy's girl, but even she has never mentioned it. I'd wonder why they were saying it.

Whattodoforthebest1 Wed 04-Oct-17 08:55:53

Thank you for the replies. It's come as a surprise to us so other people's input is really helpful.

We've always told the DC that they have 2 homes, I don't know what message is being pushed from the other side though, we've never referred to it as living with Mum and visiting Dad.

The courts haven't been involved, when DP and his ex spilt, the DC stayed with ExW as DP worked full time shifts and ExW works part time so could pick the DC up from school etc.

DP only asked if they had thought about how Mummy would feel as she will guilt trip them if they say anything to her. I imagine her reaction to them telling her would be to cry in front of them, which I can understand, it would be upsetting for her, but it's not something that the DC should see.

We understand that the DC might be saying similar things to their mum, we don't want to change where they live just because they've asked a couple of times, but we also don't want them to think their opinion on what they want doesn't matter or that we don't want them.

swing it hadn't occurred to us to ask why and it's such an obvious question! If they bring it up again, DP will ask them.

The split was a mutually agreed thing, although DP later found out that ExW had been sleeping with his best mate and went on to have a secret relationship with him and also sleeping with various other people too while still with DP.

Susie our house is more strict than their mums. DP has always done his fair share of parenting, even working night shifts, he'd look after the DC during the day so he's always had a strong bond with both of them.

RavingRoo Sat 07-Oct-17 10:51:37

Sounds like they want one permanent home and the shared parenting isn’t working.

FizzyGreenWater Sat 07-Oct-17 18:00:23

They are 7 and 5.

Your DP may not be a 'disney dad', but he's a person they see more rarely than their mum, so they will see him as a 'special' figure. If they lived with him, they'd be saying the same thing to their other parent. Because they're 7 and 5, and it goes with the territory. Mine say it to their granny, simply because they see them only once a week and it's a treat.

It might also reflect their unease at the situation - it will be unsettling for them sometimes, just as at others it will be exciting. But it doesn't in any way, at this age, reflect any deeper understanding or want. In fact, they would no doubt be absolutely traumatised by not living with their mother as it sounds as if, like most mums, she has been their primary carer since they have been born.

I don't really like the underhand digs at their mum scattered throughout your post, tbh, and I think you would do very well to step back from this. Emotional blackmail? You're trying very hard to paint yourself as the supermum in the wings with all the strict boundaries yet colouring and dog walking, but the casual demonising of their mum and the thought that you could, even if you wanted to 'change where they live' is a bit chilling. It almost certainly wouldn't at all be in their best interests to try and move their residence from their primary carer, the person who's clearly been that primary carer since birth (and I would think their mother might disagree that the only reason her own children live with her is because her ex worked shifts!).

Step back before you make an enemy of their mum. You've no reason to start any discussion about residency and this is about you, not them.

justtiredofcoping Sat 07-Oct-17 21:43:51

Any single mum would cry if their kids told them they wanted to live with Dad at age 5 and 7.
No matter how hard anyone of us tried - that would be hard to cover up and that is not emotional blackmail, that is pure and simple emotion.

People with small kids do not just split - something happened and I do not buy he found out later, all sounds a bit too convenient for your DP.

Sorry - if they had split why did she have to have a secret relationship with his friend and sorry sleeping with loads of his mates- struggling to believe that. Either that or his mates are not worth having.

Next thing you will be saying is that he is not sure he is the father.

How long have they been divorced?


Magda72 Sun 08-Oct-17 08:46:08

I'd be inclined to second ravingroo.
I can only go on my own kids experience. Ex & I didn't do 50/50 but he had them a lot of afternoons to start with & we split every weekend. My two boys (now 20 & 15) said it was torturous when they were younger & they really didn't like moving between houses so frequently especially during the school week - their heads were melted trying to remember not to leave trainers, homework behind when coming home. Now my dd & my 15 year old do one weekly overnight, Friday overnights & eow. They're much happier with this and the midweek overnights are becoming less frequent due to after school activities & exs work.

Quartz2208 Sun 08-Oct-17 08:55:38

Do they gave separate rooms at their mums

I also agree with fizzy green there is something unsettling about your tone as if you have made them say what you want. You are not their mum. And truly if they did live with you what do you think that would mean. At the moment is 50/50 so you would change schools gave them see their mum less?

JoJoSM2 Sun 08-Oct-17 09:24:03

I would try to get to the bottom of why the children say what they do. My concern would be that the relationship with their mum isn’t great and they’re a bit miserable with her.

Also her sleeping with her husband’s best mate behind his back, sounds like she’s emotionally unhinged.

FizzyGreenWater Sun 08-Oct-17 09:49:39

Emotionally unhinged? Sounds far more like OP is parroting what her DP has fed her about why they split. Yup, she was sleeping with the football team don't you know! Even though she had a baby and a toddler and a husband who worked shifts. Yes, I totally believe that hmm

This post leaves a nasty taste, I'm sorry. Lots of twisted language about messages being 'pushed' (as opposed to the oh so caring and child centred 'chat' daddy has in the car) but when it comes to it not even OP with her clear agenda can find one thing to complain about - it's all just nasty insinuation about her mental state, which is such a massive red flag- it's classic language used to demonise someone by a vengeful ex.

OPis also busting a gut to try and put herself across as the parent figure here but she simply sounds like she doesn't grave much experience with children of this age, and certainly no experience of how they might work through having separated parents. So the 7 year old is 'a thinker'? Um no, they're 7, so yes compared to the five year old then they will talk and be able to think through things in more detail, and will spend so much more time then they did at 5 wanting to pick apart things of interest to them (sometimes over and over again...) OP doesn't seem to get this at all - I'd guess that she doesn't have children of her own and has maybe not been in their lives for many years. Same as the wanting to live with daddy- of course they will say this. It absolutely doesn't mean that they do or that it should happen. Quite frankly even if their care was less than excellent at home, it's doubtful whether that would outweigh the huge disadvantage of being removed from their primary carer.

All this is about OP and her partner. It's natural that he might want his children to live with him (especially as there's a built-in carer waiting) but he needs to watch his step. He's not acting in his children's best interests to be anything other than supportive about their living situation as he knows deep down that's where they should be. Going further with this will do nothing except undermine the whole situation, and if I were their mum and saw hints that daddy was encouraging any confusion then I'd be keeping an eye on contact too.

OP do you plan to have children with him yourself?

Whattodoforthebest1 Sun 08-Oct-17 21:51:27

Thank you for all the different opinions, it's good to have others views.

For those saying that DP has fed me lies about the split, both DP and ExW had said they split because they didn't want to be together any more. It was only much later that ExW had to admit to DP about his best friend as someone else was going to tell him. I didn't bring this up in the original op as I didn't think it was relevant, but someone asked about it.
DP and I are happy with whatever the living situation is, we were just a little surprised when they asked to come and live with us and are genuinely looking for advice on what to say or do.
I'm sorry if I've come across as being negative about their mum, I know she adores the children, but it was good to have it pointed out.
Thanks for the the input. The DC didn't bring it up again this weekend so we haven't had to have the conversion again.

zaffa Sun 08-Oct-17 22:06:27

OP - I really think you're being judged unfairly. It's hardly inconceivable that a father is as invested and involved with his children than the mother, and it's not right that PP have suggested that the father should put the mothers feelings ahead of his children. Unfortunately for her, she isn't his priority any more. The children are. He (and you!) knows them better than we do and so anything we say is simply speculation. If you both believe they will be negatively impacted because they feel no one cares about what they want, then whatever you do, their wishes need to be acknowledged. If now isn't he right time (and it may very well not be) then that's completely right and nothing should be done in haste. But if the children continue to express a desire to live more with their parent that they have 50/50 residency with already, I think it needs to be acknowledged and addressed. Finding out why is definitely the first step. And I think it should be highlighted that you're willing to take on the responsibility of your step children and step into that role of parenting them, along with their mum and dad.

cansu Sun 08-Oct-17 22:27:24

I think the kids need reassuring that living in both houses is OK. The requests to change and live at yours should be gently quashed with a reminder that they do live with you and with their mum. I think that encouraging them to in some way decide at such a young age is really a bad idea. If you were to go down this road, it would irrevocably damage the relationship and relatively harmonious set up you have. Then what happens if they change their mind a few months later or half way though a bitter court case or even two months after moving in with you?? The kids are far too young to make the decision and the best way of dealing is by firmly ruling out any changes and encouraging them to see both houses as their home.

SandyY2K Sun 08-Oct-17 22:32:10

This couple be my brother's DC.

He's remarried and my observation is they like his house better because it's nicely done up, bigger and cleaner. It's more of a family house... as his Ex is single.

They'd like to live with him too, but I think they'd be afraid of upsetting my ExSIL.

ohreallyohreallyoh Mon 09-Oct-17 19:18:54

Because a single parent + children couldn't possibly be a family, could it? confused

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