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[Solved] New house, but with not their Mammy?!?

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chrisbird616
(@chrisbird616)
Active Member Registered

A bit of information first:
- I'm a single dad, 44, with two girls, 9 and 8.
- Living in the house I've lived in since 2004 and the girls' first home.
- Separated from my ex wife in late 2015 (so girls were 3 and 5), divorced in 2018.
- I got a Court Order in 2018 that recognised the girls should live with me 50% of the time and 50% with Mum.
- I had to take my ex to court to establish a regular and equal pattern of time with the girls.
- Since the Court Order the girls have a fortnightly rota with me and Mum, but with handovers on school days every 2-3 days.
- I have had a new partner since May 2017.

Me and my girls have been in a good but not ideal pattern 50/50 time between me and their mother. It's not ideal because the girls are back and forth between me and Mum every 2-3 days and it's not a settled routine for them. Maybe the real problem is that me and their Mother really do not get on still, and we rarely agree on any aspect of their parenting. Neither of us respect each other's position well, but for my part I have had to spend a lot of time and emotional resource fighting their mother because she does not see me as an equal parent, did/does not really recognise the significance of the Court Order and believes that I frequently fail them as a parent. For my part I think she is overprotective and depends on our children emotionally for her own wellbeing.

I have been in a serious relationship since May 2017. We live separately and so only see each other a few days a week. I introduced her to the girls in 2017 but slowly, they recognise she is my partner since and they have had lots of fun times with her since then, both memorable and dull/routine. Given my rota with the girls she only sees the girls a couple of times a month though. She has really worked to be part of the girls' life, both by being there when I have the girls and contributing to me with things like the girl's personal development, their worldview, things for me to do with them, etc., etc.

In late 2019 she proposed we would buy a house together. It would be physically located near the girls' school and family. It would be better than the house I currently share with the girls.

My daughters welcomed this news when we told them. We have since found a new house for my partner to buy. Unlike our current house the girls will have a garden to play in and be off an A road. They will have bigger bedrooms and a downstairs playroom.

At the time of the announcement (Jan 2020) both daughters seemed really happy with this. In the months since, older daughter is still good with it. Younger daughter increasingly less so, some instances of being upset.

My older daughter still seems OK with this. My younger daughter has not been so OK. This week (the week of her birthday) she opened up to me and told me she 'doesn't want to live with a woman who is not her Mammy', again, upset about the idea. Really clear about not wanting to move from our current house.

I am fairly certain the move will be good for both girls. They have reservations about living with 'a woman who is not their Mammy;, of course. It is a a massive change. tbh I am pleased that Younger Daughter is talking to me about it.

I would like some advice on (a) how to recognise what me and the girls are going through, and (b) what can I do to talk though how we feel about it together.

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Topic starter Posted : 03/05/2020 2:37 am
Bill337
(@bill337)
Famed Member

hi,

i think it will take a bit of time for your kids to adjust to the new environment. when you told them that you and their mum were no longer together, how did they take it? i hope your children are genuinely speaking for themselves, and not words that their mum have put into their mouth. you should be happy that you have your kids 50/50. most of us dads can not get that. if you think the kids are being moved around too much, maybe they can stay with you for 1 week in a row, and then 1 week with their mum.

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Posted : 03/05/2020 2:47 am
chrisbird616
(@chrisbird616)
Active Member Registered

tbh, I never had the conversation with our girls when we were splitting up. It was 'obvious' in terms of practical matters - the girls moved to a different house - but I definitely prolonged making it really and absolutely clear to the girls. They - particularly Younger Daughter - maybe had hopes we would get back together, they have told me they have had thoughts of us - Mammy and Daddy - being together again.

I can see the girls speaking for themselves, but very much in the context of their Mother telling them what to think:
- You should live with Mammy.
- Only Mammy can look after you when you are ill or worried, etc.
- I am your only Mammy, and Daddy's new partner isn't. Don't listen to her.

i'm REALLY grateful for my fortnightly rota where I see the girls 50% of the time. The frequency is not great, I would rather see a weekly type rota but the Court Order in place is better than what was before.

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Topic starter Posted : 03/05/2020 3:04 am
flyingember
(@flyingember)
Estimable Member Registered

Your kids will take time to adjust.

I suggest you take it slow - covid19 is unfrotunately in the mix..

Have they had sleep overs when your new partner was present?

Has she done things like prepare dinner together, and generally act like a household the four of you for a few days? perhaps as part of extended contact.

Have you done day trips together?

basically, do all the things that families do for an extended period of time, more than a few hours

If not.. I'd definitely do those first...

I suspect that the "living with a woman who's not mummy" is bullshit they have been fed by someone else. It may not be the mother - it may be someone at school, a relative, etc...

The best way to counter it is to just show them the awesome time they'll have...

spend a night... have them be woken up to a nice breakfast by both of you... just have some quality time

I introduced my child to my partner 1 year after meeting her. First meet was a few hours.

I'll never forget the initial look he gave her - it was this mix of anguish, excitement and fear.

Fortunately, she is great - and she made him feel good.

Time gradually increased, and they slowly built a bond beyond what I could ever imagine. All over a period of 1 year... a few more hours here and there, then overnights, then moving in together....

At times now it feels like I am the third wheel in this dynamo..we always have a blast.

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Posted : 03/05/2020 3:10 am
flyingember
(@flyingember)
Estimable Member Registered

tbh, I never had the conversation with our girls when we were splitting up. It was 'obvious' in terms of practical matters - the girls moved to a different house - but I definitely prolonged making it really and absolutely clear to the girls. They - particularly Younger Daughter - maybe had hopes we would get back together, they have told me they have had thoughts of us - Mammy and Daddy - being together again.

I can see the girls speaking for themselves, but very much in the context of their Mother telling them what to think:
- You should live with Mammy.
- Only Mammy can look after you when you are ill or worried, etc.
- I am your only Mammy, and Daddy's new partner isn't. Don't listen to her.

i'm REALLY grateful for my fortnightly rota where I see the girls 50% of the time. The frequency is not great, I would rather see a weekly type rota but the Court Order in place is better than what was before.

Yeah just standard bullshit...

Counter it with ACTIONS - and positivity

Have a good time... the kids will come to their own conclusions

ReplyQuote
Posted : 03/05/2020 3:17 am
Bubbleberry
(@Bubbleberry)
Trusted Member Registered

Your daughters are independent young ladies with a full range of emotions. They will discuss those emotions with whoever is available, currently their mom and yourself, and each other. As they get older they will develop a network of peers, boyfriends, and partners. Your job is not to worry about the conversations they have with others, it to engage on an emotionally mature and responsive manner when they have these conversations with you.

The house you currently live in has been your daughters home for their entire life, it is where their first memories were logged, it was where mommy and daddy, their family, lived as a unit. It is their home. Do not discount the emotional impact of losing that home.

You are their father, the only man they truly care about. It will be that way for a very long time. Currently they accept your girlfriend, albeit on a limited basis, because they have little choice. What you are suggesting is a very different proposition. They may feel that they are being replaced. They will understand that regardless of how it is presented, the time that is dedicated to their needs will be greatly reduced, and they will be forced to live with someone not of their choosing. Would you like someone of their choosing to move into the family hone and share all of the fa,ily activities and time ?

Children of all ages, need a certain amount of control, of self determination. They need a say in their own lives, and they need to feel that their concerns, their needs are important, and valid. Do not discount these feelings because they may have discussed the issue with their mother. Who else would they discuss this stuff with. And do not think that they are secure enough in their relationship with you to be completely direct and open about how they feel. They are still very young, they still have a whole lot of growing to do, especially in the realms of emotional intelligence.

It’s a whole lot easier for them to express their feelings from their mothers perspective than from their own. They may feel this carries more weight, they may feel uncomfortable being totally honest about how they feel, and they may need you to step up and consider how this feels from their perspective, not yours, not your ex wife’s, and not your partners.

How might these huge life changes impact two young girls, who have witnessed huge turmoil in a divorce and custody dispute, and who may very well be feeling insecurity’s and emotions that are suppressed ?

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Posted : 03/05/2020 4:19 pm
actd
 actd
(@actd)
Illustrious Member

It might be worth speaking to Relate - they aren't just marriage guidance, they do family relationships as well and it might get any issues out in the open and on their way to resolution.

ReplyQuote
Posted : 03/05/2020 4:54 pm
chrisbird616
(@chrisbird616)
Active Member Registered

Thanks, that's good to know.

I'm a bit loathe to involve Relate as I had a fairly awful experience with my local office when my marriage was failing. But I wasn't aware that they did families as well. I might try their online counselling services.

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Topic starter Posted : 04/05/2020 2:27 pm
chrisbird616
(@chrisbird616)
Active Member Registered

Thanks Bubbleberry - I certainly feel that (a) I am not really prepared mentally to discuss things with them, and (b) that they will have a whole range of feelings and thoughts about the situation that they are not fully equipped to talk about with me.

This is my main motivation to discuss this on this forum. I think that really speaking that this situation will need more than getting some pointers for me to use, but I am very interested in knowing what other people think and suggestions on what to do.

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Topic starter Posted : 04/05/2020 2:32 pm
Bubbleberry
(@Bubbleberry)
Trusted Member Registered

What make you feel that you are not mentally prepared ? It sounds as if they are ready to discuss it, so perhaps this is an opportunity to strengthen your relationship ? Take them out for a few hours fun, and organise a pizza or takeaway. When your all sat together, explain that you have been thinking about their worries about your girlfriend and the POSSIBILITY of moving house and living together. This will let them know that you understand their concerns and value their opinion, which I assume you do. Explain that it’s important for you to better understand their perspective, and ask that they explain how they feel. Whatever they tell you, explain that you understand how they feel that way, and that you appreciate how worrying those concerns might be. Whatever they say, tell them that you really appreciate their opinion, and that you would like some time to think how you can make things better for them, and that if they have any ideas, that they should let you know. Keep it as chilled and casual as possible, use it as an opportunity to encourage healthy, relaxed communication around difficult issues.

You might find, that once they feel heard, and valued within this process, their concerns naturally fall away.

Can I ask, have they seen the new property ? If not, you might throw into the conversation, that before any decisions are made, by anyone , that you, and they, without your girlfriend, view the new house, so you can better understand how they feel.

It’s very possible that they are feeling really insecure about this new life you are planning, so get them involved as much as possible.

Kids are not stupid, when empowered and secure, you might find you value their opinion and guidance.

Get them involved, it’s their life, their future, just as much as it is yours.

Relate might be good idea for you and the ex, but I feel that both parties must be engaged,. It’s got to be a process that is welcomed as an opportunity to improve the children’s life. It was suggested for me and the ex, but I have little faith. We were there years ago, and she refused to go back as soon as the focus shifted towards herself. But it might happen and if it does I will update you.

ReplyQuote
Posted : 04/05/2020 3:16 pm
chrisbird616
(@chrisbird616)
Active Member Registered

"What make you feel that you are not mentally prepared ? "

Because I'm not prepared for any serious discussion or talk with ANYBODY, let alone people who are dear to me, I get quite anxious about engaging with people verbally.

I like your advice about how to talk to them and make sure that they feel they are (a) being heard, and, (b) involved in making the decisions. The complicating factor is maybe that I thought we had already gone through that process, the talk of moving into a new house with them was started in January, they haven't been inside but we have done drive-bys and looked at the estate agent photos. And the girls were doing things like discussing with me and each other about allocating bedrooms.

Something has changed in the meantime, maybe it's just them/her having time to reflect, but I am wondering if the lockdown consequence of my partner being semi-out of the picture for the moment is having some effect. Either they are liking more time with Daddy with my partner being absent, or Daughter #2 is seeing an opportunity to be more assertive about concerns. Or they are being 'coached' in the background... (their mother did actually suggest to me we move back in together because of the lockdown...)

"Relate might be good idea for you and the ex, but I feel that both parties must be engaged,"

I definitely wasn't thinking of my ex being involved, even in a mediation setting experience has shown that we can't discuss things, for a variety of reasons. I was only thinking of me, my girls and (probably) my partner.

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Topic starter Posted : 04/05/2020 6:13 pm
Bubbleberry
(@Bubbleberry)
Trusted Member Registered

There are so many complexities, it sounds like it’s going to be hard for you and them either way. Moving house, moving in with a partner, introducing your daughters to a new family dynamic is a lot to process for anyone, young or old. Just like adults their perspectives and emotions will change, and as you mentioned, if mom has discussed the possibility of you moving in, they will be very confused, and will also feel a certain duty to protect their mother emotionally.

You stated that “ Either they are liking more time with Daddy with my partner being absent, or Daughter #2 is seeing an opportunity to be more assertive about concerns. Or they are being 'coached' in the background..”. It could very well be all three. It sounds like they love you very much, and it’s obvious that you love them, and by posting the issue in the group, it suggests you have already taken their concerns and the issues discussed seriously.

Relate and or personal counselling sounds like a great plan. Have you already made contact ? I would be interested to know their thoughts.

As a father of three young ladies, I feel it’s vital they are able to communicate any and all concerns. I am not always there to protect them, but if we can talk, about the good and the bad, they will come to me if anything ever happens. Your daughters need to know they can discuss the difficult and important issues in THEIR life, with the most important male they will ever know.

Anxiety around emotive topics is not unusual, Relate will help, or signpost you to an alternative. I would appreciate you coming back and letting me know what they thought, as it might be useful in my own situation.

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Posted : 04/05/2020 7:00 pm
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