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Old 01-25-2011, 12:02 PM   #1
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Shared Custody- looking for advice from those who have been here

DD is nearly 3 now, and I am really starting to think that I need to seek out some help to learn what I can do to make the trastitions from home to home that DD experiences easier. Lately, I have started to have some behavioral issues with DD, and some of it I chalk up to age, but others I feel may be because of confusion and struggling to adapt between 2 homes.
Her Dad and I do not have a very communicative relationship. He dismisses suggestions that I make and has some very different parenting views.
I am wondering if there are other Mamas who have experience with sharen custody and a toddler? Have you ever gone to family counseling? Does your child go to counseling?

I just want to find the best solution for my DD, it breaks my heart to see that things are sometimes difficult with her in terms of adjusting between households. I really want to find help in getting her Dad and I somehow on the same page with doing what is best for DD.

I appreciate any suggestions, input, experiences, etc.

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Old 01-25-2011, 01:38 PM   #2
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Re: Shared Custody- looking for advice from those who have been here

sorry you are going through this momma. my oldest is almost 12. i know what it is like. i finally told my ex it was not about us anymore but our son and we needed to grow up and take care of him. we have shared parenting but i do have him mostly. i have been through it all. the 2-3 houses the spoiling on purpose...uhhh. i feel for you momma really i do.
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Old 01-25-2011, 01:47 PM   #3
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Re: Shared Custody- looking for advice from those who have been here

subbing so i can come back and answer later
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Old 01-25-2011, 01:59 PM   #4
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Re: Shared Custody- looking for advice from those who have been here

XH and I have been apart since DD was born, so I have gone through the ringer when it comes to shared parenting. I totally know how you feel. For years I tried to control how he cared for her, because like you I thought it would be better/easier for her if things were the same at both houses. She will be 8 in April and I think in the last year or so I have finally realized that it's not going to happen. Even if we do the same stuff at both houses (same bedtimes, meals, discipline, etc) it's just NOT the same. It's a different parent, different space. He has different ideas of how things should be, for example he spoils her with toys and clothes and STUFF, and allows sweets pretty frequently. I don't do either. It took time, but she adapted and it's just the way things are to her.

The toddler years were really hard. The transition times between houses were extremely frustrating, she would act out and be teary and horrible for a day after returning home. It was like she was a different kid, but I think she kind of shut down to deal with the change. Two things helped a lot. She used to come back on a Sunday morning, which meant our entire day Sunday was awash, dealing with her tantrums and such. We started doing the switches late in the day, like 4pm, and that made a difference. The day was almost done, she would eat dinner, play a little then go to bed. The next morning all was normal, so we only had to deal with an evening of trouble. Then I stopped making ANY plans at all for that day, when she was coming home. It was to be home time, we didn't go out, see anyone, do anything. That eliminated any expectations of her to be social, friendly, well-behaved, or whatever. She could just come home and relax. Things got a lot better once I recognized that she NEEDED to just be terrible and tired or whatever was going on during that transition time. No, I wouldn't just let her run wild, but by creating a nice calm space for her at home, she was able to chill out and make her way back slowly. Now at 7 she still comes home and just goes in her room for a while. She colors or reads but seems to like being alone at first. We will sometimes have things planned these days, like friends coming over, and she handles that well, but afterward she still needs that down time to reconnect with our house and her stuff.

We have never done counseling for us or her, honestly I wouldn't want to have to spend that much time with XH. DD is not the kind of kid who would do well with it, I think, she kind of shuts down around strangers. I think the best thing that happened for our parenting relationship was the two things I mentioned: letting go and allowing him to parent in his way, and giving DD a time to make a transition.

I will never be the same kind of parent he is, and he will never parent like I do. I would be upset if he expected me to change my parenting style to be more like him. He does realize that naps and bedtimes should be consistent between homes, and for the most part I think he tries to maintain her bedtime, but he is certainly less strict about it than I am. I just have to realize that she won't be ruined if she goes to bed an hour later one night. When she's not here, things are different for her, but she will be okay. The older our children get the harder it is to give up the control we have over them but they will be okay in the end.
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Old 01-25-2011, 03:47 PM   #5
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Re: Shared Custody- looking for advice from those who have been here

My boys go and see their dad every other weekend. We sat down and disgussed al parenting issues, and found agreements and comprimises as far as the kids go. I guess I got lucky because we agree on most things i know it can be hard!
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Old 01-25-2011, 04:20 PM   #6
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Re: Shared Custody- looking for advice from those who have been here

My DS1 was 8 months old when his father moved out. From the age of 15 months to 4 years, he went to his father's house during the week while I worked. Overnights began around age 2 and full weekends between age 3 and 4. Every day when I picked him up, I would devote the entire first hour to him and only him. No running errands, no cooking dinner, no returning calls/checking email. That hour was for the two of us to play, snuggle, sleep (if he needed a nap) together.

I'm not gonna lie. The year we spent toilet training him was probably the roughest for him. I tried to go along with what his father wanted (never going back to diapers, underpants only, pushing and bribing, verbal reprimands for accidents, holding him on the toilet until he produced) instead of demanding that his father conform to my preferred method (train him when ready, weeks of bare bottom time, no undies until pottying practically mastered). Obviously, the methods were very different and there was no way I would be able to do what his father wanted me to do.

By the same token, I had to just let go of him while he was at his father's. I couldn't micromanage him there. His father/nana/stepmother had him all day, wore him out, and then I got to deal with a tired, cranky toddler/preschooler every evening. I tried to communicate what was going on as best I could without sounding knitpicky, bossy, etc. Most of the time it fell on deaf ears and I had to accept that "he'll lay down and take a nap when he needs one" to just be their parenting philosophy and that I would just have to do my best to give DS time to sleep as much as possible on my end.

A few months after he turned 4, I was able to resign from work and stay at home with him. He kept the weekend schedule with his father. He had a hard time transitioning back for a while at that age. Around age 5-6 we started a Sunday evening routine that involved pizza and a movie. DS1 knew that when he came back, there would always be that transition routine. He's 8.5 now and recently had a snow day that had him come back at a different time of day. He was still looking for that pizza and a movie routine.

So, in short, let go of the parenting when he's not with you otherwise you'll drive yourself batty. Carefully make any parenting suggestions so that they don't sound critical, be ready to have them rejected, and be ready to accept some from the other side. Lots of routine upon return helps them feel safe and gives a sense of stability.
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Old 01-25-2011, 05:48 PM   #7
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Re: Shared Custody- looking for advice from those who have been here

I have 50-50 with my ex and my boyfriend has 50-50 with his ex. Our kids are now 6, 6, and nearly 5 but my nearly 5 year old is autistic so he is developmentally more like a toddler in many ways.

What has made big differences: Keeping the schedule simple. My ex's wife works every 3rd weekend. So I used to have them 2 out of 3 weekends so that every 3rd they could all be together, then our weekdays changed on where we were in our 3 week cycle. Too confusing. Now we have it set so that ex has them m-t, I have them w-th, and we alternate weekends.

Having patterns at each home. I know you can't influence your ex's home but making your home life as predictable as possible really helps. The predictabiliity makes everything a little less confusing

We do exchanges in 1 of 2 ways everytime. Either I take them there that morning (if new wife has day off) or they go to school and the other parent picks them up after school.

We also have a communication book for our youngest. Its actually for school but it works for us too. Since he has issues his school started writing down how he does during the day, they want to know from us how he ate/slept, and then what he did that evening.

If I need to mention the other parent I do it positively, and try to say something like "you are lucky to have your daddy and stacey" "your daddy sure loves you lots" and other things that make me barf but they seem to be successful. Brady thinks nothing of inviting me over for a sleepover (never going to happen but I'm glad he thinks its possible)

We also do birthday dinners out to eat together. Since we have 2 kids its twice a year. And we all go to school meetings together.

As far as getting along, for me asking for advice from their dad and really trying to listen or pretend to listen helped our relationship and opened up communication. His dad reallly doesn't want any advice from me, the new wife is a little more willing to discuss. but questions like "have you seen him do ____" or what do you do when he _____ because what I'm doing doesn't seem to be working" helped a lot. I still want to roll my eyes and slap my ex when we talk but I am grateful that he does talk about our kids some with me.
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Old 01-25-2011, 06:01 PM   #8
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Re: Shared Custody- looking for advice from those who have been here

I just wanted to say that I am going through the same thing. My two boys do seem to act out when they come home.

My kids hate coming home to me, kicking and screaming. They always prefer to be with their dad. It hurts me a lot. I think that they dont like to come home to me because their dad is a "big kid" (he lets them do whatever they want, no schedule, if the boys cry/whine they get their way).........where as I do try to discipline them and have them on a schedule.

Its miserable doing shared custody. Sometimes I think that it would just be perfect if I got primary custody (which I had initially asked for in court). I feel that my boys would feel like they "belong" somewhere and then I could control what my children are exposed to.

ahhhh sorry for going off topic. Just wanted to let you know that I feel the same....and also dont know how to deal with it
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