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How often do you see/have your kids?

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  • How often do you see/have your kids?

    This is aimed more at the separated/divorced fathers but feel free to chime in if this does not apply to you, because I know you want too!

    Background: July last year my (ex)wife moved out with our three kids (9, 7 and 2, strange names I know but they get to change them every year ) and moved to the nearest major centre about 200kms away. I work at a single officer station in a town of about 100 and as a consequence I am working and on-call 10 days a fortnight. On my four day weekend off I drive into town, pick the kids up, drive back home and then on Sunday drive back into town, drop them off and drive back home. I call them during the week and have started texting my oldest daughter now she has a mobile (don't say it, it was a birthday present from her aunt ).

    In the not too distant future I will be transferring into this major centre for many reasons including the ability to spend more time with the kids. The squad I'm transferring to is not general duties but more a street crimes/drug/response unit and has a tendency to change the roster at the last minute, but within guidelines, to cover emerging problems, staffing requests, last minute events/operations. I recently spoke to the ex and told her I could guarantee the current arrangement of having the kids every other weekend and would like to see and have the kids more but did not want to promise anything.

    She did not take this too well and threw back that the whole point of me coming into town was to have the kids more and why couldn’t I demand from my new boss terms and conditions which would include no changes to rosters so that I could guarantee having the kids more. I did point out to her that going into a new job making excessive demands does not bode well for my future but she didn’t quite see it that way.

    Another part of the problem is that I can only really afford to rent a two bedroom unit thanks to extremely high rents, a pay cut, child support and a few poor financial decisions in the past. My ex on the other hand lives in a beautiful four bedroom, two bathroom house courtesy of her sister which, ironically, I’m glad about as the kids get the benefit as well. I do not consider myself a dead beat dad and I pay, in cash, the amount determined by the CSA, she has sole use of the car when she has the kids and she is still covered by my private health cover amongst other things.

    So, the question is, should I be talking to the boss and guaranteeing to have the kids more? How much time should I be spending with the kids whilst having a separate life to my ex? Do others spend more or less time with their kids? As I said I currently live in a very small town so the range of advice is fairly limited.

    Sorry for the long post but needed to rant and I hate the threads where someone asks a question, gets an opinion and then provides further information which makes the responder look like an idiot…

    Let fly!
    No-one is completely useless, they can always serve as a bad example

  • #2
    I *was* a single mother of a now 3 and 2 year old, so I can answer some of your questions.

    Apperantly I'm one of the minority of women that wants my childrens father to be in there life as much as possible. He works in the oil field so he's at work one week, home a week. On the weeks he was home, he could pick up the kids and keep them as much as he wanted. He'd sometimes keep them the entire week! On the weeks he was at work I would allow his mother to see the children if she wanted to, and she frequently took them to the zoo and other fun activities when I worked! I understood that sometimes my ex husband had things planned or whatever and would only keep the kids 1-2 days his weeks home, sometimes not at all! I think you're baby mama needs to stop the drama! You are the kids father and if you can only see them on the weekends you already have scheduled, fine! If you can see them more she should allow it. You need to talk to her and let her know that you want to be in your childrens life whenever you have the oppurtunity. You work, in part, to pay her child support and she shouldn't be complaining a/b that. Chances are though, she won't be as understanding as some women are on that, but you have to try.

    As far as only having a one bedroom appartment.. That sucks, but you have to work with what you have! Get a toddler bed in your room for the 2 year old and a pull out couch for the other 2 children. They're your children, they won't mind too much so long as they get to see you! Eventually, you will have to get a bigger house/apartment, but you'll be fine for now!

    And the boss.. Being a single mother and having to deal with injuries/sickness and missing work, most bosses are understanding to a point. You should sit him down and explain your situation and request (not demand) a work schedule that works for you, your ex, your kids, and your boss! If you don't get what you need, you tried and you can try again in the future. You have to work and no one can fault you for that. At least they shouldn't!!


    Good Luck!

    Success is getting what you want.... Happiness is wanting what you get

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    • #3
      I can't give you advice about your job. As a divorced mom who had to struggle over visitation (he actually had custody for a few years), I have a good idea what you are going through.

      First, the easy stuff. About the 2BR. When I was six my parents had us in a 2BR house -- all 5 kids. Baby with them. Me & 3 brothers in the 2nd BR. and my sis on a roll out in the living room.

      We survived.

      Also, my daughter, with 7 kids at home when the steps visit, has a 4BR. That's 3 rooms for 7 kids.

      Best solution: bunk beds or a trundle bed and a small bed for the toddler. A bunk bed with some fun fancy stuff (there are really cute arrangements) could take the sting out of having to share for your oldest.

      How much time should you spend with your kids? There is no easy answer to that one, other than "as much as possible while still having a life of your own." And that "life of your own" being pretty limited, at least until the kids are grown...same as it would be if you were still married.

      Your ex, if she truly is concerned about you spending more time with the kids, needs to be more flexible about when you can see them. If you are in the same town and can take them to school in the morning, why not an overnight in the middle of the week, if you have it off?

      Of course it is better if you can have them for long blocks of time. There is always that "transition" period when the kids are cranky because they have to adjust to you and your way of parenting. And they need as much stability and regularity as you can muster. But if changes in your roster end up excluding you from a weekend with them, seeing you in the middle of the week would be helpful. Also, if you end up losing one weekend, why can't you get the next soonest weekend?

      I know she wants to be able to plan ahead & I don't blame her, but the kids' needs come first. And the kids need their father to be in their life as much as possible. This isn't about what YOU or SHE needs. It's about what THEY need. Perhaps if you approach it that way she will be more open to the flexibility.

      In between visits other technologies can help, too, if both of you have video-enabled computers. I chat with my grandchildren using the video-cam.

      The most important thing will be what you do with the kids when they are actually with you. If you are emotionally present to them and play/interact with them a lot when they are with you, you will be able to maintain a good relationship with them no matter how much time they are with you.
      Hatred never ceases by hatred, but by love alone is healed.
      Happiness never decreases by being shared. -- Buddhist quotation
      A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. -- Proverbs 15:1

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      • #4
        Ladies, thank you for your advice.

        The two bed thing is not such a biggy really, I suppose. The two girls have always shared and they have bunk beds here. The young fella has his own room and still has an afternoon nap so I’ll probably stick him in my room and get a trundle. I do know what you mean though as both my parents grew up in two up two down terraced houses and so did I when I was young. I suppose it’s more that I would like to be able to provide them with a bit more space. Where I am at the moment, the station and house yard sit on 4 acres and my nearest and only neighbour is almost 100m away, so I’m probably the one who has to do the most adjusting to having near neighbours!

        As for seeing the kids, I have thought through a few scenarios. If I’m working 6a – 2p I was planning on picking the kids up from school and day care and having them until the ex finishes work. On days off during the week I want to have the young fella for the day. The problem is I don’t want be the dad who promises one thing and then can’t deliver because of shift changes. I also don’t want to upset the kids schedule and even the ex’s by leaving things to the last minute and then asking to see them.

        There have been times in the past where I was unable to have the kids on my regular weekend because of courses, leave, having to cover other divisions etc, but we managed to work through that (just). I swapped a few weekends around so that over that time I saw them for the same number of weekends as I would have normally.

        The ex is very keen for me to have more to do with them and see and have them more often. Partly because, I think, that she’s tired of playing mum; she has an 18yo from a previous relationship who now, incidentally, doesn’t want anything to do with me after looking after her for 12 years. But I think the ex wants firm, definite plans that are set in concrete so that she can have more of a life. I don’t begrudge her that but there is only so much I can do and she did leave me not the other way round.

        I suppose in the end I’m asking if having the kids for a single night here and there and the odd afternoon as well as alternate weekends is going to be too unstable for them and whether it works for other people?
        No-one is completely useless, they can always serve as a bad example

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        • #5
          Well, I'm going to respond again.

          I can relate to your ex needing a break, and I say that you're plan sounds like a good one. Just keeping the kids after school and the young one during the day would help her out a lot! And save money on daycare/sitters! Also if you both have a day off on the same day, keeping the kids for a few hours will enable her to get things done she needs to do, or just relax without kiddos running wild! The kids do need stability, BUT they need daddy more. You seem like a good upstanding father, and I commend you for that. You will be fine! It will be hard but you will all make it through and one day it will settle into a routine that works for everyone and be happy with it! Feel free to PM if you have any questions! Good Luck!

          Success is getting what you want.... Happiness is wanting what you get

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