Childs mental well-being
Hi everyone, I'm looking for some direction really as I'm getting to a complete loss. Just before Christmas I was awarded shared residency (joint custody) of our child. The Child is 9 years old and we separated very early, ever since then we have been back into court because Mum has stopped contact or actively tried to reduce. Our arrangement is one week on, one week off and its worked really well. A couple of weeks ago I turned up to pick our child up and they didn't want to come in the week anymore, only the weekends. States the reason as it isn't as "fun" in the weeks... despite being in school every day.
I had a chat with the child and explained that there were some bigger reasons we share time and that we need to focus and fix the problems before changing contact. The child then went home and told Mum they felt pressured, its spiralled out of control since.
Bit of background - We've had a section 7 report and also a phycologist assessment which found quite a few problems with Mums attitude towards me. Annoyingly we never actually addressed these concerns and just went back "into the wild" - After a few months, Mums manipulation and coerceon of the child is starting to creep back in.
I've called Social Services for help and also asked school to keep an eye on our child. If we go back to court it will be an absolute can of worms apparently.
Also, hopefully someone can advise. I record all interactions and conversations, this alone has provided some gold but I need to know I can use these if required?
so at present your child is refusing to stay with you mid-week? I would suggest to avoid returning to court. it could be risky and they may decide that arrangements not working, and remove the 50/50 shared care.
That is correct.
However, one of the reasons we have 50/50 is because of the Mum's negativity towards me around the Child which had likely caused a poor opinion of me. This is clearly happening again.
The child has been absolutely fine with shared arrangements up until a half term break in which they spent an entire week off school with Mum.
ok I see. one thing that could help is if you plan some nice trips/holidays for child from next half term. I have planned things for summer. should help cheer up child and hopefully remove any negativity/anxiety. surprise her 🙂
thank you for sharing your situation. I cannot advise on the more legal aspect of things, but as a parent myself, I wonder if any of the following suggestions would help.
I think it is good to write down key developments/situations making sure that you date and time them if possible, but keep to the facts only, and keep the notebook out of reach of your child, as this is something that only you should be accessing.
Again, another good thing you are doing is to keep your child's school informed. Keep communicating with them and ask for regular feedback on how your child is doing: for example interaction with their peers, concentration levels.
When it is your turn to take care of and spend time with your child, there are opportunities throughout the day where you can begin to talk carefully to them and ask them how things are at school, what have they been up to, or is there anything that is concerning or worrying them. For example, at bedtime, when they are settled and in bed, either just before a story or after it, get them to list three things that have gone well in the day and what their favourite part was.Then ask them to name something that they found really difficult, and ask them why. Finally ask them how could the difficult things be made better and what can we learn.
Or, alternatively, there are tools you can use called "Worry monsters/teddies" where children can use these to talk with and too about what is worrying them, and write little messages in. The idea being that you find these bits of paper, read them and then choose the best time to address these with your child.
Another option is to buy a nice notebook and say to your child that they can write down any question or fear or worry they have and that you will look at it and talk through it with them the next time you are in contact.
Is it possible for you to have a video call with your child in the week that you don't have them? Then you can catch up and perhaps find an activity to do together via the call. This way you could do as the other post suggests and plan a few activities together so you both have something to look forward too.
However difficult things are between you and your ex partner, try to avoid saying anything negative in front of your child about them. Children can still love both their parents and feel a strong sense of loyalty to both, despite all that is going on. Keep telling your child you love them, this can also manifest itself in 1-1 time - the difference being that it is child-led time where they are allowed to choose an activity to do together with you. It should not cost a lot, it is about the act of spending time together. Through play you will find that many children will open up and want to share. Also you could share a bit about yourself that your child may not know - make it a fun time and begin to make some new memories that they can only have with you.
Lastly, please don't forget to look after yourself. You are a Dad, which is a big responsibility in itself, and with added stress, there may be times when you need to talk with a trusted friend, or seek some counselling. It is essential for your well being that you keep communicating and if it helps keep a photo of your child somewhere where you can see it to make you smile in the difficult times. With Mental Health awareness fortnight coming up there is lots of online information you can access. Fegans and Care For the Family are two great charities that also have articles and practical advice for parents too.
I wish you all the best,
Fegans Parent Support