My ex husband and I seem to be in a good place regarding contact - we are civil at collection/drop off and don''t speak in between unless he texts to ask anything about our daughter, which he never really has. Considering once upon a time he was texting/calling constantly to have a go at me, the peace is fantastic! However, I have several issues with contact and haven''t mentioned them as I don''t want to revert to how things were but I don''t know if I''m doing the right thing so would appreciate some advice. Will list a few issues - some may seem petty but they all add up... (Our daughter is 4 and a half by the way)
When he collects our daughter he is anywhere between half hour early (disrupting our daughter finishing her tea as she stops eating and tells him to take her to McDonalds instead, which he does) and half hour late meaning she usually falls asleep in his car and is then up late and overtired when she returns on the Sunday. Even if he is on time, and our daughter is always ready on time, he comes into the house and comes up with some reason why he needs to look at the calendar (he is nosing at what our daughter and I have been doing, but I''d happily tell him if he asked) and when he returns her he hangs around making small talk sometimes for up to an hour, other times (when his girlfriend is in the car usually) he barely says goodbye to our daughter - she doesn''t want him to stay but the difference in behaviour each time is confusing. Also I have a new baby and him hanging around is inconvenient as I don''t particularly want to feed in front of him/he is loud and wakes baby etc. When he returns her he is anywhere between half hour early and an hour late. He will tell me he''s running late, but never gives a reason. Last time it meant our daughter missed out on plans she was well aware she had (another party!) and being very upset.
Mostly his girlfriend drives back from contact as my ex has been drinking (return time is Sunday afternoon) which I don''t agree with. This time his girlfriend had cut our daughters hair which she had been growing for ages, and very badly too. Our daughter said she told her she didn''t want her to but her dad said I''d phoned and asked her to (!) She came back wearing nail varnish, mascara, lipstick, blusher and several temporary tattoos - again, all of which I don''t agree with and are quite frankly a pain in the backside to remove when Sunday nights are such a rush once she gets back to get ready for nursery school on a Monday. When she is at her dads she plays on a trampoline with no enclosure which I think is dangerous as she is very daring (I know someone whose child broke their neck falling off of one so am perhaps over-worried here?) and she watches 12/15 certificate films which then give her nightmares when she returns.
Her dad will not take her to any parties/activities and so usually I have to swap dates so I can take her and she doesn''t miss out, thus sacrificing my time with her. A few weeks ago she had a party which began one hour before she was due back from contact. I therefore asked if he could return her an hour early and offered him extra time the following contact time instead. He said no as they were going camping, which I thought was fair enough. He didn''t take her camping, she spent the day watching the aforementioned films and was really upset after school on Monday because she''d missed the party for no good reason.
Next contact time he told me he will collect her at lunch time on Sat instead of Friday evening as usual as he is at a wedding on the Friday. He said he''d collect her between 1-2pm. She was invited to a party from 11.30-1.30pm so I said he could collect her from there but he said no, that he expected her to be home in case he was early. Then on the Sunday we''d swapped a day as she has dance show rehearsals, he is returning her at 9am. A parent needs to be present there to supervise and I asked him if he would like to do it as it will be difficult for me to be there all day with a newborn, he said he is busy with his girlfriend. When our daughter was first picked for the dance show, I told her dad and asked if he''d like tickets to see it. He ignored me several times, then went on holiday to Vegas. The ticket sale was while he was away and they sell out in one night so my daughter and I, when I was 38 weeks pregnant, queued for 2.5 hours to get him a ticket (I''d already had one allocated for me) knowing that otherwise he''d say I was blocking his involvement with our daughters activities. I told him I''d got him one when he returned and he complained that I hadn''t got his girlfriend, her brother and his parents a ticket too. They are £10 each and I had no idea he''d want all those people to go. Even if I had, I wouldn''t have been able to afford to get them. Anyway, several weeks on he hasn''t paid me for his ticket and I doubt he will. A few months ago our daughter started swimming lessons on a weekday so as not to interfere with contact time. These lessons are more expensive than weekend ones and when I booked them, her dad said he''d go halves with me. He has never paid a penny.
When our daughter returns from contact she is incredibly rude. Occasionally it''s because she hasn''t eaten; he gives her a tin of beans for breakfast and that''s it for the day. Generally she has either slept in the car or is extremely tired. She is dirty, hasn''t had her hair or teeth brushed in the time she''s there. He returns her in clothes 2 years too small in size which dig in to her and when she complains he tells her she needs to lose weight.
I could go on and on (as you''ve probably guessed...!) but just would like some opinions as to whether I''m being petty and should bite my tongue and let these things wash over me or whether I should say/do something?
Congratulations on your new arrival - I trust you and baby are well.
You are right, all these little issues do build up, taken on an individual basis they are quite minor (with the exception of the age-inappropriate films) but bundled together and occurring regularly, I can imagine that it''s quite frustrating for you.
Turning up early and your daughter not finishing her meal but insisting that she is taken to a fast-food place - I think with this one a) you can;t stop him turning up early and b]your daughter is giving you both the run-around in insisting on a burger and not finishing her meal. I think with this one you need to be firm with her and say "no". Explain to him that turning up early (or indeed late) is inconvenient and it is better that he sticks to the pre-agreed times so that you make sure daughter is ready on time.
The calendar - I would remove this from view each time before he comes round.
I think you need to be firm and politely ask him to leave when he drops of daughter so that you can attend to both your children. there''s nothing wrong with having a cup of tea together and a chat for 20 mins - this shows your daughter that you and he can get along, but there needs to be a reasonable time limit on him staying - otherwise it''s making you feel uncomfortable. Does he stay for a long time when your partner is there?
I would avoid making any plans for your daughter for immediately after she is due to be dropped off - you know his time-keeping is unreliable and its not fair on her to be promised to go to a party if she is returned too late to attend.
The make-up, nail varnish etc- let that one go. yes its a pain removing it all on a Sunday night, but it''s not worth fighting over.
The trampoline - you could suggest that an enclosure is required for safety reasons, but you can''t insist on one, or that she doesn''t use the trampoline if there isn''t an enclosure on it. Its just one of those additional worries. She could equally injure herself from falling off a swing in the park when she is with you.
The age-inappropriate films need to be tackled, I remember you saying that she has suffered nightmares after watching them.
You don''t have to continually swap times/days so that your daughter can go to every party she is invited to. My rule was always that if a party fell during Dad''s time, then it was up to Dad to say if the kids could go and for him to take them.
You are too kind at times, re the dance show tickets. Let him start taking some sort of responsibility for attending his daughter''s events. As long as he is aware of events and how to obtain tickets, let him get on with it, you shouldn''t be standing in a queue, days away from giving birth simply because he can''t be bothered to get his own ticket!
He isn''t obliged to contribute to additional activities, as CM should be classed as a contribution to these.
How are things with your partner, is he giving you a lot of support and practical help with the baby?
Thank you Baby and I are very well and my daughter adores her new sister!
Regarding not finishing her meal - I tell her if she doesn''t finish it then there''s nothing else to eat until breakfast. She knows her father won''t back me up on this and will drive her straight to McDonalds so don''t know what else I can do? I have asked him to be on time, he thinks this is so I can hide things from him (which is what he accused me of last time I removed the calendar before he arrived.) No, he doesn''t stay at all if my partner is there. My daughter actively tells him to leave and I make it clear we have plans but he just doesn''t take the (very unsubtle!) hints!
I have spoken to him before about the films but he doesn''t listen. She spends the majority of her time there with her fathers girlfriends brother who is almost 9 and he wants to watch older films rather than the younger ones she''d like to watch and he always gets to choose. Her father thinks I am trying to disrupt our daughters relationship with the boy by saying she has nightmares and so refuses to change what he''s doing.
Regarding parties - her father won''t take her to any and she already doesn''t want to go to contact so have been swapping dates so daughter doesn''t miss out and so she doesn''t dislike contact even more. When she is difficult at contact (which would be more often if she knew she was missing parties because of it) then her father blames me for er behaviour and badmouths me, leaving our daughter more upset when she returns hence swapping dates to keep the peace.
Regarding the dance show tickets - he couldn''t have got one himself as he was on a stag week in Vegas. It just frustrates me that he now hasn''t paid for it and refuses to help out with the rehearsals. I know he isn''t obliged to pay towards activities, it just frustrates me that he said he would which is why I booked more expensive ones and that he then didn''t. He constantly tells our daughter he can''t afford to do things with her because he gives me money, when he actually earns very well.