Child not wanting sleepover at Dads-age 10

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  • #29902 Report

    Caitlin33
    Participant

    Please can anyone advise. We are a year into separation and my daughter age 10 is finding it increasingly hard to stay over at her dads, her anxiety levels are worsening and she cannot sleep. She had a recent holiday with him and came home distraught,exhausted, angry and extremely anxious and stressed. It’s taken 2 weeks of TLC to calm her but now she has another 3 nights looming. Can she say No? Can I say No? If he ignores us and insists on her stopping over then what can I do ? What are her and my legal rights? Obviously it’s more complicated than I’m explaining, there is a history of difficult nasty behaviour from him and I have concerns about the damage and cumulative impact this is having on my daughter. It’s below threshold for an immediate social services referral however is significant and concerning. I feel powerless to fully protect her and to help her have her voice heard and needs fully met. Does anyone have a similar experience or advice. Thanks

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    #29912 Report

    Pumpkin62
    Participant

    I’m so sorry to hear this, it must be an incredibly worrying time for you.

    Is it possible for you to write for your daughters dad either email or letter explaining how she has been since she returned from her last visit. That you aren’t saying and outright no to all visits but you think it would be a good idea to postpone a visit for the time being until her behaviour settles. Sending something written removes all the emotion that inevitably will come out of you try to speak to him – your a mum trying to protect her daughter and you have an emotional history with dad. If you think it might work, I’d suggest writing / reviewing / writing the message to him over a few days to make sure you remove any language that you think might raise a negative response in him, if you keep it neutral, he might listen. Maybe?

    #29968 Report

    AmyLondon
    Participant

    Hi Caitlin,

    I have had a very similiar situation, my son has just turned 11 and had a two week holiday with his Dad and brother this summer. Both the boys came back quite ‘shell shocked’ and actually came home early. It’s heartbreaking that they don’t want to be with him and just want to come home. I can’t speak to my ex husband about anything like that without being abused verbally so as much as in an ideal world it is best to try and speak about it calmly, in reality its not always like that.

    We have a court order which stipulates two week holiday every summer, however in reality if my eldest didn’t want to go and I didn’t want to ( for whatever reason ) let him, then there isn’t a huge amount the father can do , family court would take in to account the childs feelings at this age if it went that far.

    It is such a difficult balance to tread and is always so complicated and multi layered in my experience. If I were you I would take some very basic legal advice , at the end of the day as much as we want to encourage our children to have relationships with both parents, it’s not always that easy and very upsetting when they are upset and don’t want to go. Also does she have a phone so she can contact you if she needs to or needs some reassurance when she is there? As long as she knows she can always come home to you if she wants to that might give her the confidence to go again on a visit. Or perhaps shorten the length of visit if at all possible.

    Good luck I know how delicate it is.

    A

    #30062 Report

    Caitlin33
    Participant

    Thankyou so much for your replies. I did write the reasonable childcentred email proposing 2 days contact but to sleep at home. I even forwarded an email from the GP outlining her sleep anxiety etc The response has been very negative , he does not agree and wants 3 nights.. also a few threats. I’ve no idea of his next move and am fearful that he will upset our daughter even more and be abusive towards  me. It seems so tragic to withhold contact when she wants to see him and I want them to have a relationship. But he has to communicate n cooperate with me and meet our daughters needs and rebuild her trust. If only he would engage and consider family therapy- or even a parenting plan.. She is crying out for help and this has crossed a line now for me. I cannot let her down.  I have now engaged a solicitor, I already have a key worker at a women’s centre and I have finally reported his historic/current and potential for further domestic abuse to the police. I’m taking action to protect her.. and myself.. but it’s massively scary the unknown of this weekend ahead .. even just getting her to school in morning. Will he turn up at door or school.. I have no idea .. There is now no agreed plan for contact  – and no one to help mediate n resolve this acute situation. I fear it may end up escalating even more.. my gut feeling is that I may need to stop contact until this is resolved .. at this point I would welcome help from court/ cafcass anything .. to help me.. to advocate for kids .. anything.. it’s all so frustrating..needless and toxic.. Any thoughts on stopping contact ? I guess that’s where this is at 😰

     

     

     

     

     

    #30064 Report

    AmyLondon
    Participant

    Hi Caitlin,

    It’s so hard to know what is best in these situations but in my opinion you’ve hit the nail on the head saying you have to protect her . Whether it’s emotional / physical abuse or just anxiety,  she is old enough to know she’s not happy sleeping there but probably does still want to be wanted by him and have her own time with him. At the end of the day you are her mother and you have to go with your gut feel and please don’t live in fear of the repercussions – I did for a year and in the end I realised I had put them

    in situations that were harmful because I was too scared of the backlash. Sounds like you definitely need some external help and advice . Court will always try for both parents to have healthy relationships but they also take emotional and physical well being seriously and given her age they will investigate and speak to her .

    Stand up for yourself and her, write everything down and remember this might only be temporary and could all change one day for the better and in a year or so she can do whatever she likes . If you are adamant about sleepovers but open and flexible about other arrangements the court will see that.

    I hope you find a good solicitor

    A

    #46026 Report

    Voiletpickles
    Participant

    Hello,

    I know this is an aged thread but I am going through the same.

    Her dad isn’t the easiest character, there is a history of domestic violence towards us, and he is a bully. My daughter saw her dad every other weekend until recently. He was babysitting another child as well as his own during the weekend and had no time for our daughter. I finally put my foot down and she now visits every other and she is so happy!

    My daughter has not wanted to stay overnight for the past three years. This coincided with the birth of his new child and his new partner moving in. His new partner does not have a relationship with my daughter and my daughter feels ignored and left out and very sad. When she visits they are constantly arguing and the child doesn’t sleep during the night and constantly cries.

    My daughter is such a happy go lucky little girl but her anxiety is through the roof. She asks her dad to come home and she is ignored. My daughter has informed me that her dad is sleeping in her bed with her. He is using this as leverage to get her to sleep. It’s baffling to me why he is doing this rather than too big headed to let her just return home and . It’s massively inappropriate and worrying.

    My daughter is eleven and in year 6. Each time he collects her, she has sickness and diarrhoea and sobs. Does she have a say in her life? Will her voice be heard if she is asked?

    I don’t know where to turn and it’s a horrendous situation to be in. She cannot talk to him because she says he gets angry with her and she is frightened about upsetting him. I am an advocate for my daughter but he is blaming me and accusing me of making things up about how she feels. He has arranged a mediation session in a few weeks to discuss. He is incredibly jealous of my new life and attempts to control both my daughter and myself.

    If anybody has any advice, it would be very much appreciated.

    Thank you.

    #46027 Report

    AmyLondon
    Participant

    This is such a hard situation and I had similar with my 12 year old boy. His dad is also incredibly controlling over me and refuses to accept any responsibility as to why my son doesn’t want to go to his house. He just blames me.

    Do you have a court order in place? If not it sounds like you need to get one , which can incorporate whether or not she stays over.
    They will always encourage it but will not force a 10/11 year old to go.

    I would write a clear message to the dad, saying you want to encourage his relationship with her but for the moment she is not going be staying over, whilst she is uncomfortable with it. Then you have proof that you are trying to support the relationship but also support her wishes. It’s very hard for you.  She doesn’t have to sleep over if she doesn’t want to , that’s the crux of it. You just have to take the heat in the meantime!

    I would speak to a solicitor and if you can’t afford it try a domestic violence charity who might be able to help with legal aid. It sounds like it has been very hard on you.

    You could also phone the NSPCC, Child Services or the schools if you need advice or support, don’t be afraid of these agencies, they can really help to get it straight in your head.  You have nothing to hide but you do need support.

    I’m happy to talk anytime if you like , having been through the court system, DV , and safeguarding issues with my ex husband I might have some good advice!

    #46030 Report

    Voiletpickles
    Participant

    Thank you so much for responding so quickly. I’m honestly at a loss. I have tried my best to make him realise I only want what’s best for her and will always encourage a relationship but it’s not good enough for him. My daughter left this morning in tears.

    We have no court order. He’s always left me to my own devices with regards to parenting, her schooling, decision making, etc. He’s not been interested in having her at Christmas and birthdays as he doesn’t believe in the materialistic things. However, in the past couple of years, he’s decided to become increasingly more demanding with her making life difficult for both of us. I think this could potentially be down to him feeling guilty. I honestly believe while he was a single man as my daughter was growing up, she was an inconvenience. His new child wasn’t planned and it’s only since the new child has arrived, he is now making more of an effort? Sounds bizarre really.

    I have spoken to a solicitor, she frightened me to death and said the court could say she has to go for holidays for extended periods and be made to go their for Christmas Day, etc. If my daughter was happy to do this, I would fully support her going but I know she would not. He co-owns a business which he denies and has listed himself as an employee so I receive the very minimum in child maintenance. I’m dealing with a really nasty complex character and with little support from family, the idea of court worries me so much. I hope she is not at an age where her opinion counts.

    I would be grateful for any advice as I really think I need it! xx

    #46032 Report

    warwickshire1
    Participant

    Family courts wouldnt make an order where your daughter for christmas unless her father actually asked for it. If he chooses not to have birthday , xmas and half of school holidays they wont order it but may question why he doesnt politely.

    If she is getting upset maybe you could suggest he picks her up from school on a friday instead. At age of 11 she would have some say in what happens if went to family court albeit not much. She is at an age however where she is likely to pick up on your resentment of her father

    #46033 Report

    AmyLondon
    Participant

    If you don’t have a court order then you in some ways have more protection because there is no formal agreement.

    given her anxiety around this relationship and sleeping over , I personally wouldn’t let her go and it’s not a crime not to send her. It might well be a phase but if she is that unhappy you have to take it seriously , especially given her age. It’s having the confidence to make these decisions when you have someone nasty and controlling questioning you. I know how hard that is trust me!

    I’m not sure if this allowed but if you wanted to speak on the phone I’m very happy to? I have had four and a half years of very similar issues and I know how much is takes it’s toll. All you want is for your children to be happy.

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