My 3.5yo daughter spends 2 separate nights at her father’s place (separate because he can’t do 2 together). This has been going on for about 18 months (these are also court ordered). We have a routine that she will call the other parent at bed time to say goodnight. About 50% of the time when she calls me she’s either just been crying or is crying saying she wants me. I quickly change the conversation to what she has plans for the next day. Sometimes this doesn’t work and she can get quite upset. I try and comfort her and tell her this is her special time with daddy. When she’s back with me it doesn’t take long until she tells me she missed me and she doesn’t like staying at daddy’s, I try and remind her about the fun she had at daddy’s. Last night though, she started crying and said she missed me (this is the first time she’s broken down about it afterwards). I asked her when, as it had been 3 nights since she had stayed at her dad’s. She told me it was when she stayed at daddy’s and that when she spoke to daddy about seeing mummy he said she had to wait until the next day and wouldn’t let her call me.

He is a very controlling person, and that’s the reason we had to go to court. He wanted 50/50 week on week off when she was 3 months old. When I refused I got a letter in the mail from his solicitor. We’ve tried mediation and that was a mess with him laughing at anything I suggested (and I mean really laughing). I am concerned that these over nights are having an affect on our daughter but whenever I have told him about her behaviour when it is time to go to his (tantrums, crying, screaming, etc) he says she does the same with him when it is time to come back, though when she’s back she runs straight to me for cuddles where when I drop her to her dad’s she’s very clingy and crying.

She’s absolutely fine when I drop her off to childcare/preschool. I have no issues at all. Just some clinginess but definitely not as bad.

I just don’t know what I can do. I feel really bad when she is on the phone to me crying and even more when she tells me later on that she misses me. I have tried talking to him and telling him that he can bring her back if she is upset, or even call me in the middle of the night if she is wanting me. I’ve also told him that I want her to know that she has the option to come back to mine so she doesn’t feel she is being forced into something she doesn’t want to do. He is not interested in any of my suggestions. I am worried this will lead to anxiety issues or her reacting later on for being ‘forced’ into doing something she didn’t want to do.

I am just wanting to know what my options are. I can’t talk to her dad as he immediately dismisses it. The court orders where the final ones so I would have to contact my solicitor and reopen it. And if I was to seek professional help he doesn’t believe what they have to say (as he does his own research to prove his way). We have tried 3 different psychologists who all said the same thing about a previous issue but he still fought that his views/research was the right way. Sorry this is so long!! I am just feeling lost.

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  • Thanks for sharing how it all progressed.
    I really wish you and your girl all the very best.

  • Thank you both for your reply. Earlier that day before I found out the devastating news about my daughter I had contacted him regarding her behavior and suggested we see someone together with our concerns (he would not have believed me he I I gave him the results if I had been on my own). he agreed and I had made an appointment to see someone. that evening out of the blue and unprovoked my daughter said the allegation. I took this allegation to the police and as I said earlier they’ve issued an AVO and court precedings are starting soon. it’s been a nightmare last month, but she’s now out of harms way and within a couple of weeks most of her behavioural concerns I had have disappeared.

    and Rita, I’m actually surprised of the lack of answers too! obviously sticky stains are far more common than a toddlers behaviour issues! :)

  • Think u should ring family court & speak to a councillor .These should be able to point u in right direction.If over a long time her upset when there is access etc ,reveiwxis called for .

  • Wow! I am sorry to hear that your investigations unveiled truths that were of such concern. I am however very glad to hear that you were able to get to the bottom of it and take the necessary action to ensure your daughter’s safety. Just goes to show we really can’t ignore our children’s behaviour (and our mothers intuition). I really hope that your ex gets a wake up call from this and backs off. It’s kind of ironic, because a couple days after I replied to your original message, my ex decided to exhibit his manipulating controlling personality again 30minutes before handover.
    It’s a shame they make things more difficult than it needs to be.
    I hope your little girl is doing well emotionally and you should be so very proud for being the strong intuitive brave mother that you are. It takes a lot to stand up to these bullies and you should be commended for it!
    I will be here in MoM if you need xx
    Ps: I STILL can’t believe no one else replied! They reply to questions on removing adhesives or on what to feed a budgie, but not this??? It’s Ridiculous!

  • Thanks for your reply Rita, I had entered my question in about a month before it come up on here. About 3.5 weeks ago I found out the reason for her anxiety and other behavioural issues that weren’t mentioned, though now knowing the reason it all makes sense. I wish I had your reply months ago, maybe I would have found out sooner. As I cannot contact you privately, all I will say is there is now an AVO on her father and court proceedings.

  • Firstly, I’m not really sure I have any answers for you, but I just can’t leave your desperate question hanging with absolutely no response!
    This is a very tough and sensitive one.
    I have 50/50 care with my 2 older children which works well, with the exception of dad no longer allowing me to call the kids each night. I think having that chat, even if it’s short, just to see how their day was, say goodnight and basically, let them know you’re just a ph call away and thinking of them is important. Unfortunately, the ex is also controlling and I know this is one of his few ways of waving his controlling wand. I can completely understand how impervious their stubbornness and manipulation is. He is just being a p***k to get at you. Terrible, because it’s the little one that’s suffering.
    I thought about this one overnight, and what concerned me was why your daughters anxiety and clingyness was less at daycare than at handover with her own father??? It is important for children to have quality time with both parents and I think you are doing the right thing by trying to facilitate that by talking positively with her about her stays with her dad. But I wonder have you spoken to her a little deeper about WHY she doesn’t like going. Ask her if she has fun with her dad. What do they do together? Is daddy happy when she is there? Does she get in trouble? Do they play? Does she like her room? Etc… Try and find out what exactly she finds upsetting. The fact that your ex can’t handle 2 nights in a row is concerning to me. Why??? He should LOVE that opportunity! If he finds it difficult then I’m wondering if he finds interacting with her difficult too. She is going to pick up on that and feel like she is missing that paternal love and care. His r/ship with her sounds a bit unnatural and awkward to me.
    My advise would be:
    -Dig a little deeper with your daughter?
    -Continue to highlight the positives of staying at daddy’s to your daughter
    -identify any negatives (emotional abuse? Neglect? Fears)
    -if any negatives exist, then address them with him. Document it. If it doesn’t change and things get worse, reopen the case. He needs to facilitate her happiness too. If he is going to be stubborn and difficult just to spite you at the expense if his daughter then maybe he needs a reality check. Kids do go through phases of adjustment where they will cry on handover. I remember it happening with my kids. Both at different times and with each parent. The whole phase lasted about 2-4 weeks. It is going to vary with each child. Age and personality will be a huge factor in this. I knew though that my kids emotional, mental and physical needs were all being met at both homes (regardless of the manipulation happening in the background) so I wasn’t worried it was anything other than an adjustment phase. I think once you can identify that all is well regarding her wellbeing at her dads, then you can take the next step to help the situation.
    Good luck xxx

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