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Dad needs some advice on holidays

17 replies

Afterglow78 · 03/04/2019 20:52

Hi all, I'm hoping for some advice regarding separated parents and holidays. Whilst I realise this is probably a fairly small issue compared to other peoples situations it is causing me a lot of stress, hence I'm here. I considered going to a 'dad's' forum but figured I'd probably get biased advice and so I thought I'd come here and get some mum's opinions in case I'm the one that's got things wrong in my mind.
A brief backstory is that I separated from my ex 3 1/2 years ago, it was my decision and I won't go into all the reasons but there was no unfaifulness etc. I have 2 children, a 6yr old boy and 12yr old girl and I think the world of them so my decision to leave was incredibly hard. I stayed in the family home for 6 months until I sorted out my own place. About a year after that I met someone new and I'm still in a relationship with them although we still live separately.
My relationship with my ex has been reasonably amicable for the kids, I have them every other weekend, every Saturday (so every saturday but every other weekend I have them for the full weekend), Wednesday's (pick up from school and drop off Thursday at school), and every other Thursday night. On the 'Saturday only' I give the ex a lift to and from work to help out as she doesn't drive. Plus I eat with them a couple of nights a week to see the kids at the ex's house. My work have been accommodating with my hours and I'd love to have the kids more as they mean the world to me but I'm at the very limit of what I can do.

So on to my holiday question of two halves after a lot of waffle (more to come), sorry.
On 3 occasions over previous years we have gone on holiday as a group, both kids, me and the ex. But I'd like to take the kids away on a little holiday by myself, nowhere far really probably a UK holiday and for longer than a weekend. When I have touched on this subject in the past it has come with resistance and I don't really know why. If my ex was to go on a holiday with the kids I would have no issues at all with that. She doesn't drive however and because of this I think she feels she is unable to do these types of things and therefore nor should I as it would be unfair to her. But it's the kids that lose out in my opinion, and me as I'd like the quality time with them. When discreetly suggested the the kids have said they would love a holiday which is no surprise.
Similar to this, I would also like a holiday of my own with my new partner for about a week but probably less due to not having enough holiday allowance through work. Again the idea of this clearly upsets my ex and she hasn't been very happy on the few occasions I've had a weekend away with my partner. Again I think this is due to her thinking it's unfair, or maybe bitterness, by the comments she's made and trying to dictate what I can do, but I could be wrong. She is single but if she wanted a weekend away then fine, why would I have an issue with it. Likewise if she wanted to go to Spain for a week with just a partner then that's fine by me, in fact that's when I could have the kids for a holiday.

My gut feeling is that what I want is perfectly normal and reasonable for both the kids side of things and my own. During the separation I felt new emotions of anxiety and levels of stress I'd never felt before. Now a conversation like this with the ex brings those emotions right to the surface, even the thought of the conversation fills me with anxiety due to how my ex can flare up. I do know however that I need to speak to her about this. I have considered mediation due to the reaction I get but this feels like a step too far for what should be normal things in my opinion, and would change the current reasonably amicable relationship.

This is quite a lengthy essay so my apologies and hope you made it to the end. Any opinions or advice is appreciated whether they be good or bad.


OP posts:
CF43 · 03/04/2019 21:05

Hi, from a mother point of view i know it is hard to let go of the kids, god knows i have found it the hardest thing to do and it was just one night.
The thought of not having my children around me for a whole week somewhere else possible quite a distance away is terrifing.

I am at an middle to end stage divorce proceedings and I have been through the mediation for contact and it was a scary process for me.

I appreciate your thoughts as a father, but as a mother of young children it is a hard line to cross and get used to.

Maybe as a comprise you could lengthen the time spent with you slowly maybe an extended weekend or something (friday to monday) or something and build it up giving your ex a chance to get used to the time apart from her children (i know they are yours too).

I expect the fact that she doesn't drive would isolate her somewhat but that's the only thing I can suggest, go slowly and gradually ramp it up to what you want.

As i said as a mother it's really hard even though we know you will look after them, we just miss our children dreadfully when they are not around.

millymollymoomoo · 03/04/2019 22:13

You’re not being unreasonable in wanting to take the children on holiday. Yes it’s hard being away from children but that’s not a reason to not do it.

They’re your children too and you’re entitled to take them on holiday. Simple. Bite the bullet and state this is what you’ll be doing

stucknoue · 03/04/2019 22:18

It's not unreasonable but she probably is just hoping for the previous arrangement. I would suggest that you start by suggesting that you have one full week then she has a full week in the summer holidays, but for the first time stay in the U.K. as it's a bit less worrying for her.

Afterglow78 · 03/04/2019 22:21

Thank you, your input is much appreciated to help me see it from a mother's point of view.
I do often have the kids for a touch longer usually over bank holiday weekends and other school holidays, I think 4 nights in a row is the longest run I've had with them in the past. My ex is quite often keen to hand them over as its often quite a stressfull home, and they do chill out a touch more when at mine. Probably partly to do with me being able to do more things with them vs being a bit trapped and claustrophobic at the other house due to her not driving.
Thinking about it, it could partly be the distance from the kids my ex may suffer with but also a touch of loneliness if she has no plans. Thanks.

OP posts:
Palaver1 · 03/04/2019 22:25

Yes bite the bullet do what’s right this is right.

Palaver1 · 03/04/2019 22:27

Encourage her to learn to drive

Bouledeneige · 03/04/2019 22:28

I'm a ten years in divorcee. My XH had the kids every other weekend, and wednesday evenings.... till we got to GCSE's and the kids then exercised their own choices (sadly for him they only went occasionally to his house after that). We never did evening or meals together except for birthdays - it would have felt like play family. But getting to the point we always recognised that each would have holidays on their own with the children - thats what divorce means. From the first year we did separate holidays for a week to two weeks at a time. Proper holidays. Thats perfectly normal and okay. Of course its weird for the other parent but its also freedom to do what you like and honestly, thats the meaning of being divorced. Separate lives. So do it OP. Its the right thing to do. And don't feel obliged to play family. Thats gone. but there are new ways to live and enjoy life.

Afterglow78 · 03/04/2019 22:29

I hadn't considered she might be hoping for us to all go away together again!
I know I need to bite the bullet, I just need or want to do it in a way that won't provoke or cause a heated discussion which is what usually happens.
Thanks for the input, I'm glad I asked in this forum. I'm sure if I was on a dad's forum they would all just say to take the kids away and she can't stop you.

OP posts:
WarIsPeace · 03/04/2019 22:29

It's much more weird to go on holiday as a family unit if you are not together, than what you are suggesting.

We've been seperated nearly a year. ExH and I have both taken the children on holiday separately. And will do the same this year.

Afterglow78 · 03/04/2019 22:31

I've tried the encouraging to learn to drive for years, but there is always an excuse. Any suggestions I ever make are always met with a reason not to do something.

OP posts:
GileadWivesAreFashionIcons · 03/04/2019 22:31

I was in your ex’s position a couple of years back so I’m going to answer based on my own experiences, apologies if I’m way off the mark!

Yes I think PPs are right about it being hard for a mother not to be with her kids etc, but actually on the surface of it I think it’s more to do with you and your relationship with her.

You say it was your choice to split, you lived there for 6 months afterwards, you drive her to work and you eat with them a couple of times a week? I’d bet my house that your ex has been in a sort of bubble of denial where she can pretend that you’re still a family of sorts (regardless of your new relationship) but you wanting to take the kids away without her/go away with your partner brings into sharp focus the fact you’re not and that stings.

My set up with my ex is similar, and it’s great for the kids but all too often it’s easy for at least one party to read more into it than is intended and it can really hurt when reality strikes.

None of this changes the fact that you have the right to take them on holiday, just offering some insight into why she may have reacted like that.

WarIsPeace · 03/04/2019 22:32

The driving is a bit of a red herring holidays wise imho. I do drive but took them abroad, taxi transfers to the airport at this end and I don't want to drive abroad anyway.
If I was to do a UK holiday I'd go on the train most likely.

Afterglow78 · 03/04/2019 22:34

I should probably add that we were never married but it was a 16 year relationship which is as good as married I think!

OP posts:
purpleboy · 03/04/2019 22:38

I think gilead has it exactly right.

I know you trying to do right by your children but I feel the family dinners and holidays are blurring the lines and I think you need to take a step back from that. It could well be confusing the kids also.
Maybe a frank but kind conversation about the current situation is in order.

You sound like a great dad and I wish there were more like you around, who actually gave a shit about the kids once they split.

Afterglow78 · 03/04/2019 22:39

GileadWivesAreFashionIcons - I think you might just have hit the nail on the head with how my ex reacts, as that all feels like it fits my situation perfectly.

OP posts:
Afterglow78 · 05/04/2019 21:12

Just an update for anyone that's interested. Last night I made some time to speak to my Ex, I'd been dreading it all day but it's in my nature to get things over and done with despite how stressed and anxious it makes me feel. I'm glad I did as it went reasonably well. She's ok with me taking the kids on a holiday but she did seem to think she had the power of giving me permission. I carefully explained that I have equal parental responsibility but moved the conversation on to prevent things getting heated. Sadly though I feel I did need her permission, and I accept the kids are hers and she'll miss them, but at least I have her blessing so to speak. I'll stick to the UK and probably do a long weekend away first, then later in the year aim for around 5 or 6 days. Ramp it up slowly as someone above suggested and I tend to agree.
As for a holiday with my partner, my Ex seemed ok with this much to my surprise. We'll aim to go away probably in school time so the kids are out of my ex's way for part of the day at school. This should minimise the stress level of her not getting a break which has always been a thing for her. I do understand that but she simply can't see her own contradiction of wanting a break from the kids but previously not wanting me to take them away. My conclusion is it is a lot of emotional feelings and conflict, and probably due to my situation and playing families as identified above.
As for the playing families I intend to change this as the lines are too blurred, but one step at a time.
I really appreciated everyone's advice and insight, it certainly helped and gave me the boost I needed along with seeing a mother's point of view.
Thank you all.

OP posts:
GileadWivesAreFashionIcons · 06/04/2019 13:24

Glad to hear you’ve addressed it OP, and I hope that you can move forward in a way that works for everyone.

FWIW I don’t think you should change the existing arrangements completely. I’m a huge advocate of separated parents being able to spend time together with the children, as long as no one is under any illusions about what that means. There is no one size fits all approach to these matters and I hope that you and your ex are able to strike a balance that works for all of you.

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