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4 year old says hse doesn't want to go and see her father anymore

61 replies

evolucy7 · 19/11/2010 20:40

Hello.... now before I start, if you have read my other thread about my ex paying £5 per week maintenance, please do not give any 'helpful' advice about how these 2 things or my attitude or whatever may be linked to this thread... has been 2 1/2 years since ex left myself and 2 children now 3 and 4. They have stayed overnight with him every other weekend since October 2009. On several occasions my 4 year old has said that she has not had a nice time when she goes to see Daddy and I have always talked about it and tried to talk about the nice things that she does when she sees Dadddy etc. However in the last few months she has been very quiet when she comes back, and after her last visit she has now told me several things, I know these may not be serious events, and of course children like to tell a tale and make out they are so hard done by etc. She said that she drew a picture of our house and our cats and Daddy scribbled on it, and so she went upstairs and cried on her own. She says when they go to bed, the girls sleep together in a double bed but her sister keeps kicking her legs around and scratching her with her toenails lol! So Daddy has decided that her little sister gets to sleep in Daddy's bed from the start and she gets left to sleep on her own, now to me it should be the other way round, its like the youngest messes around and gets the 'privilege' of sleeping in a parents' bed. My 4 year old has said she doesn't like Daddy and doesn't like what he does with them, it is not fun. She says he just 'plays with his toys' and won't draw with her or anything. She has asked me to ignore him when he knocks on the door to collect them next time and not open it.

Has anyone any experience of this, she genuinely seems unhappy about the whole thing. Ex is impossible to talk to, when the subject first arose a few months after they started staying overnight I did talk to him and he just said she was fine when she stayed with him and that was that. He said until a court told him that they were not to stay with him every other weekend then that is what they would do, kind of regardless of how the children mioght be feeling, the only thing he was bothered about was the court order.

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whoknowswhatthefutureholds · 19/11/2010 20:53

my dss never likes the change between the houses, think you have to keep being positive.

Try and get your ex to talk to you more about it, explain again she is getting upset.

TBH the things she complains about sound like my DS who is 5, a scribble on a piece of paper ends up ebign the end of the world, as for the sleeping arrangements, maybe he feels it better to sleep with the little one rather than the older sibling for numerous reasons (wriggles less, feels maybe inappropriate for your dd to sleep with sm...or something else) .

I would remember that they can get over upset at this age at the littlest things.

evolucy7 · 19/11/2010 21:01

Yes that's what I thought that this is probably quite normal, but when do you worry that it isn't? She is quite mature in many ways and how do you know when she is just going because she thinks she should and people, i.e. me keep saying oh you'll have a lovely time etc and she is actually really unhappy about it.

Also do you think its ok to suggest that perhaps he should get them some bunk beds as they have at home, to solve the sleeping issue, after all he has had them overnight for over a year now so surely he could ensure he makes suitable arrangements.

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secretskillrelationships · 19/11/2010 22:41

evolucy7 no advice, more watching your thread as I have similar issues. My 3DCs are all struggling since our separation just over a year ago but ex will not have it, says they are fine etc etc. However, every time he suggests increasing the time the DCs spend with him, they all ask me not to (they won't challenge him directly). My youngest is really really miserable and spends a lot of his time at his dad's in his room.

DS1 is unhappy at school but I know if I raise this with his dad he'll say I'm exagerating. Have asked DS1 to talk to dad but he doesn't want to talk about anything personal with him.

I don't think any of them have a great time with their dad but are fiercely loyal and so it's difficult to talk to them about it. I can't say anything against their dad but then it's difficult to have a conversation about how they feel without discussing his behaviour.

I think that the time they spend with their dad is challenging for them and that they don't feel he is really available to them. He spends a lot of time in his room. I end up coping with the fall out and it does take them several days for things to get back to normal when they spend a few days with him.

I know that there is nothing that I can do about it even though I am the one having to provide all the emotional, physical and financial support for my DCs. Sometimes I feel very resentful knowing that he can treat them poorly but it won't be 'bad enough' for me to be able to intervene. I try to keep the lines of communication open with the

That said, my father was a very very poor weekend dad, turned up late, failed to plan, did things we didn't like and fell asleap for an hour or two of the precious 4-5 hours we had together. I would have pulled my fingernails out before I would have asked not to go. But that was because I felt he was running away from me and the more he behaved like that the more I clung on, hoping for some kind of relationship with him.

evolucy7 · 19/11/2010 23:04

I like your name by the old are you children?

Yes I think/thought they were being loyal to him in some way as over the 2 years they have never really told me what they do with him and have been very reluctant to talk about it. However they have now been telling me that Daddy tells them not to tell me certain things that they do, like eat crap all weekend and drink coke, ok not the end of the world, but I am big on healthy eating lol! It was more the fact that about keeping secrets from people generally and one parent telling a 3 and 4 year old not to tell the other parent things.

How do your children act when he collects them or however it is arranged? Are they happy to go? Have they said that they don't want to go or do you think that they go out of the loyalty to him just accepting that it may not be that much fun?

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OrwellianDisease · 20/11/2010 17:55

I would be very wary about making your DC visit your ex if they are unhappy with it. My mother always tried to push a relationship with my father after they divorced, she believed that it would be the best thing for me to maintain a relationship with him.

I tried to tell her when I was about the same age that I was unhappy with it, but she insisted on it. My father was essentially neglectful and never really made an effort during these visits and I was made to feel like I was causing him trouble.

It wasn't until I was a teenager that I was able to stand my ground and absolutely refused to go after that. I don't have a relationship with my father any more and I am still unravelling the years of hurt caused by his manipulation and neglect. I wish my mother had listened to me and looked out for my best interests rather than going along with the mantra that a child must have contact with the absent parent. It's not always in the child's interests to do so.

DreamTeamGirl · 20/11/2010 18:49

Do you actually have a court orsder in place lucy?
If so of course there isnt much you can do

If not tho, then I think asking him to review the sleeping arrangements is certainly ok to do.

kis can make up some stuff up/ sound worse as you say, and her dad drawing some smoke out the chimney translates to 'scribbled on' for my own DS Hmm

What would make them and you happy? Still have time but not overnight? Overnight but less often? or somethign else?

hotdoginabun · 21/11/2010 23:32

Orwellian I totally agree with you. I've just read a more recent thread about contact on here and half way through stopped reading. So many people declaring that fathers must must must have contact.

When will these people realise that being a Father doesn't make a man a saint.

If a child is uncomfortable or unhappy at spending time with their father then that child's feelings must NOT be ignored. I say this as a person who was "made" to see my dad even though, like you Orwellian, he wasn't a pleasant man and I was left feeling as if I was causing him such trouble. I didn't really like him and was always so relieved to say goodbye.

secretskillrelationships · 22/11/2010 19:08

I do think it's a bit of a case of damned if you do and damned if you don't though. I think my ex would make life very difficult if I tried to reduce access (which I wouldn't unless my DCs wanted it). But I don't think I would 'win' if it went to court.

That said, my DCs are older (13, 10 and 6) so more able to express a preference which would need to be taken into account. However, I know they are very loyal to both of us. They love their dad so want to spend time with him. They want to know he really cares for them and I think they are hoping that will happen when they go.

To answer your question, DCs go to their dad via school but he drops them off after the weekend. They find moving from one to the other difficult. They are happy to go but have also said that they get bored and don't know what to do.

I do feel frustrated that all the ground rules I thought we'd agreed seem to have gone out of the window now we're apart. They're not major transgressions but they do tend to make me look like the meany parent. I also seem to spend a lot of time in the day or so after their return reinstating the boundaries.

NicknameTaken · 24/11/2010 13:14

No answers, but I share the dilemma. DD has just turned 3, and I split from her father when she was 18 months. Sometimes she is okay and even keen to go to him, sometimes she asks and asks not to go. There is a court order in place, so I don't have much choice.

It's difficult. I'm trying to steer a course between the two extremes: paying attention to her in case she has real concerns, while not encouraging her to make a drama out of small stuff. (She confided recently, in a fit of agonised weeping, that daddy hadn't.....sob....bought her weetabix).
I don't want her to subconsciously feel that she has to complain about going to him out of some kind of misguided loyalty to me.

It's complicated by the fact that (a) he was abusive to me so it's hard to trust him - obviously the primary concern (b) he is a different ethnicity and has a different mother tongue, and I think it's very positive for her to know that part of her heritage.

There's this image of malicious mothers blocking fathers having access out of spite, but I think that mostly we genuinely want to do the right thing for our dcs and it's agonisingly difficult to work out what that is. I can understand why some mothers might be quite risk-averse. So far, I'm encouraging contact but also trying to listen to DD's concerns and hoping that as she gets older and more articulate, she will be able to make it clear if there are real problems with her time with her father.

mjinhiding · 24/11/2010 15:29

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STIDW · 24/11/2010 17:17

It's perfectly normal for children to align or reject parents from time to time even with in tact families. Our daughter rejected me almost on a daily basis when she was a teenager and didn't get exactly what she wanted. However, children often change their minds and allegiances, and separated children can carry a load of guilt if they have favoured one parent over the other.

Parents need to listen to children sensibly with their best interests at heart. Although children can be encouraged to express their wishes and feelings it is adults who make the decisions - eg parents may discuss moving house or changing schools with their children but ultimately the decision lies with the parents.

Not wanting to go for contact is rather like not wanting to go to school. If a child is finding school not stimulating, can't be bothered going or fears a row, say for not doing their homework, it would be a foolish parent who did not insist they went. Not going is simply not an option. On the other hand if a child is persistently bullied, increasingly anxious and the school fails to address the matter insisting a child goes can have dire consequences.

My suggestion is to be consistent, persevere with the contact and don't create the impression that your daughter has a choice. If over a matter of months it becomes apparent that she is suffering significant emotional harm it will show at nursery or school etc and you will be in a position to get professional help. Sometimes the answer is more contact, not less.

evolucy7 · 24/11/2010 17:26

I have to say that I disagree that it is like not wanting to go to school, and I disagree that she should not have any choice?! Surely if she tells me about how she feels I should not give the impression that it doesn't matter she has to go anyway Confused

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mjinhiding · 24/11/2010 17:35

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evolucy7 · 24/11/2010 18:01

I don't recall saying that she was 'my' child and completeley agree that both parents are important, and she is the child of both of us. However as many other people here have said it is not always in the childs best interests to say you must go and that is that!
Again while I agree that obviously children and certainly young children should not be given too much control, I do believe that something as important as this needs to be listened to and thought about. If she is genuinely unhappy every other weekend that surely is not good for her.
By the way I am not saying that that is the conclusion that I have reached, obviously I am trying to work out what she really means and what can be done to help her/her dad realise he needs to do something different/or whatever.

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hotdoginabun · 24/11/2010 20:02

"don't create the impression that your daughter has a choice." Shock
"If over a matter of months it becomes apparent that she is suffering significant emotional harm it will show at nursery or school etc and you will be in a position to get professional help." Shock

Christ almighty! Are you for real?

mjinhiding · 25/11/2010 09:09

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evolucy7 · 25/11/2010 10:06

I agree with what you have said that yes maybe she is fine when she is there, but I don't know for sure and I am trying to work this out.
However I still stand by not just saying you have to go and saying that he loves you and misses you, I don't think she should think she has to go because he misses her Confused

Yes they do need separate beds...Smile

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SparkleSoiree · 25/11/2010 10:38

When my DSS's are here they are absolutely fine. Yes, they have tantrums from time to time like all children but they fit in with the rest of the family just fine.

When they go home in the car however they become withdrawn, quiet and very sullen. The eldest one takes to falling asleep almost immediately getting in the car. This is in total contrast to when they are picked up and sometimes we cannot get a word in edgeways with them telling us all their week's news! Smile

We have just had an emotionally difficult year with the eldest telling DH that he wants to live with him yet on investigation over the course of a few months with DSS, DH and EXW DSS has said that he would prefer remain with his mum. The reason is that as much as he loves his dad he feels guilty when he leaves his mum as she is on her own in the house for the weekend and it really upsets him. We can't do anything about this and it upsets us both that DSS feels so much responsibility for his mum but having an 18yr old myself who had a similar attitude 10 years ago when I was a single parent, I completely understand it. The whole exercise whilst emotionally exhausting was worthwhile as it taught us something about DSS that we never knew before and that was how much responsibility he felt for his mum.

Children worry about the parent they are not with I think and it is a stress on them worrying about it. Earlier in the year my youngest DSS didn't want to leave his mum on weekend visits so that left ESS visiting us. We didn't force him to come and neither did his mum but it has culminated in YSS being very upset recently with his dad on the phone saying he misses him very much and wants to visit him again. He says he never wanted to stop seeing his dad but he was really worried about his mum being on her own at weekends.

We're all working through this together at the moment.

OP - it is very easy to lose perspective when your child is upset but being a parent, as you know, means making difficult choices even if your child gets upset. I don't think there is enough evidence to warrant stopping your child visiting her dad (except he really does need to sort out two singles instead of a double) but I would speak with your EXH and explain to him again that it is really upsetting you how your child is feeling and that maybe you both need to try and make handovers more positive occasions. It seems that there is an air of disharmony between you both in relation to access in that you have not reached a point of being happy to talk to each other and listen to each other's opinions about your children's welfare so maybe a little more work on your co-parenting relationship with your EXH could make a bit of difference to the visits for your children?

I know everyone's situation is different but just thought I would post.

NicknameTaken · 25/11/2010 10:47

Just another thought - last week I ended up going for a meal with my ex and our DD (once for DD's birthday, once because we bumped into each other by chance) and we explicitly said to DD that we both love her and it's good that she can love us both and it seems to have really helped her.

SparkleSoiree · 25/11/2010 10:51

Nickname that is a really good thing to read. We often hear situations of parents that don't co-parent well together so to read something positive about co-parenting is really good!


evolucy7 · 25/11/2010 10:52

Thanks for your input, some interesting thoughts.
You're right about disharmony, but I can't see much progress to be honest, personally I actually think the eldest is just finding out the aspects of his character that would make her not want to go lol.
That said he is a bit thick and perhaps hasn't even thought about 2 singles instead of a double to solve the bedtime problem Grin

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NicknameTaken · 25/11/2010 11:21

Thanks, Sparkle! I wouldn't say that we're always fantastic about the co-parenting (ex still tends to prioritize his own convenience over anything else) but we're doing a better job than I ever hoped when we split up 18 months ago.

mjinhiding · 25/11/2010 11:58

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SparkleSoiree · 25/11/2010 12:13

mjnhiding - it's such a shame for children that cannot have that positivity in their lives when we know it is possible to create it!

We need to hear more positive situations!!

mjinhiding · 25/11/2010 12:50

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