Constant battle getting time with my daughter
12 June 2019 at 12:07 pm #26355
I’m a dad who separated when our child was nearly 4 (now 7 years ago). My ex decided to move back to her home town about 1.5 hrs from where i live. With some sadness I accepted the dad ‘norm’ of every other weekend and stints in the holidays. Given ongoing difficulties for me securing time with our daughter / her not wanting to come to me, we went through meditation resulting in a semi formal agreement which confirmed dad to have every other weekend and half of all holidays. Problems still occur, with our daughter often upset, especially with any periods longer than weekend. I accept it’s not all about what the parent wants but I take what was agreed to be a bare minimum and really struggle when receiving the inevitable texts “she’s saying she doesn’t want to come”, “she’s asking if she can come for just 3 nights instead of 4.. 2 nights instead of 3”, “i’ve told her she can ring me if she wants to come home”.
I accept it would be impossible to confirm this here(!) but i really do enjoy a great relationship with my daughter when we’re together. Yes, she finds it hard to be away from her mum (when asked why she finds it difficult leaving mum she simply says “I miss her”) but when left to our own devices we are active, playful, open, fun. In fact at one point several years ago i was asked by her mum to encourage her to play on her own more since on returning home s’d expect the same level of attention, role play, play productions etc! I share this not to try to boast, merely to try to get across that i believe there is a strong loving relationship and once we actually get together, have a lot of fun.
The issue as it appears to me is one of a) distance – the travel is of course a pain and very boring for her and this can’t be ignored (but it was mum who chose to move) and b) separation. Her mum never bad mouths me and is pretty supportive of access.. but, i have always felt she ‘over talks’ arrangements with our daughter. It’s great that they have very open communication but i have witnessed now for 7 years the same pattern; namely that at the first sign of distress she will open discussions with our daughter, yes, reassuring her but also negotiating e.g “we’ll see if daddy will come down here instead” “I’ll tell him you only want to come for nights” or (even recently) “You can call me if you want to come home early”. I understand that she’ coming from a place of wanting to help our daughter. But from what i have read elsewhere, contact arrangements should be clear and adhered to, only changed if unavoidable.. and in that way causing less anxiety for the child. I have explained to mum the pattern I see at most handovers where mum/daughter enter a series of little conflabs, reassurances, mini negotiations, are not helpful. Mum never sees that 10 mins after we’ve left in the car together we’re having fun, singly joyously along to an ABBA cd or similar! I also think mum misses that there’s an issue of loyalty (to her). Perhaps sometimes she’s telling mum what she thinks sh wants to hear.
I’m just so tired of what feels like a constant erosion of the little time i have with my daughter. She’s getting older now and soon her friendship group and interest clubs will inevitably take precedence.. and i’ll have to accept this as a natural development for her.. but i’d appreciate others’ views on this (i assume this issues isn’t uncommon) and in case it’s helpful for others in the same situation who might benefit earlier from advice!
Thanks12 June 2019 at 3:48 pm #26364
On your daughter finding travelling boring, I had that. My ex lives 90 miles away & kids do find motorways dull. I shifted the travel to bedtime, pickup on a Friday night was 7pm, not 6pm. Son into the carseat in his pjs with teddy & duvet. He was asleep in minutes and unaware of the drive. The other end, I lifted him out and straight into bed. Same for drop-off. It’s good for avoiding rush hour too.
Could you try booking treats for the first & last day of her visits that she won’t want to miss? Stick to your arrangements and if your daughter is stressing, help her choose a present for her mum or draw her a special card. And stick to your guns. Your time is precious.12 June 2019 at 9:12 pm #26372
Thank you for your reply. Yes, actually i proposed that (several times) to mum and daughter! Our usual pick up (actually handover at a mid point) is Sat morning. As a way of helping our daughter with the travel I suggested picking her up from her mums’s after her Friday dance class, hop in the car with a snuggly duvet and drift off to sleep and kill the time… but the proposal was never seriously considered. Actually i think this was even put in the mediation plan as a suggestion. It would also have had the added benefit of giving me more of a weekend with daughter (as it is, Sat morn handover frequently drifts to 11am or later)! This also highlights another issue i feel as the ‘other’ parent; i’m effectively powerless as without mum’s buy-in nothing changes.
Yes, i try to ensure some fairly exciting things lined up, or alternatively play dates with old friends here, to make visits more attractive! Agreed, when we went to Spain together (+ my current partner) last year there was no issue at all! As i say, i think there’s more to it than just the travel and missing mum, a loyalty or dependency issue or something,
Thanks again for your thoughts.