How much contact do you allow your children to have?

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roughdiamonds1

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How much contact do you allow your children to have?
« on: February 16, 2020, 05:14:24 PM »
Just hoping to get a few different experiences from people with young children, and how much contact you allow your PD ILs to have with them?

I wrote in a previous post recently about how I'm about to separate from DH, and we are in the middle of discussions about how much contact his family will have with our preschooler and early schooler (both under 7). The main person I'm wondering about is my MIL. She usually targets her toxic behaviours towards me, but there have been times where those behaviours have indirectly affected our children. I.e. she has cut me out of her life right after both of them were born, and didn't see them or me for the best part of a year each time. In all of those instance, they were too young to remember, but they are now getting to the age where my older child at least would be cognisant if they started having regular contact with her again, only to be dropped like hot potatoes.

In more recent years and while I was still in contact with her (I'm not now), she cancelled plans with them at the last minute about 70% of the time. Some of those times, she has let them down on a important occasion by cancelling, and has then told other members of the family that it was me that was stopping her from seeing them.   :stars:

She has also had rage episodes while they have been in the same vicinity as her (like at a park), where they were distracted and so didn't pick up on it, but she does sometimes swear and rant when things don't go her way. She also buys extremely extravagant gifts and then doesn't see them for months etc. As you can see, she's quite unpredictable. But she also has a side where she's extremely caring and loving, and  I will absolutely admit that she often shows that side to her grandchildren, and they do enjoy spending time with her.

I'm hoping to keep things super amicable with my DH as we separate, but this is a real sticking point for us, and we argue when we talk about it quite a lot. He pretends he can't remember the bad things she's done that could potentially hurt them if she were to do them again.

We currently have their contact set to once a month, supervised with my DH. He wants to make it once a week.

I'd really love to know anyone else's experiences with this? Things you've done that have worked well? Things you wish you'd done looking back in highlight?

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Poison Ivy

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Re: How much contact do you allow your children to have?
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2020, 06:20:06 PM »
I only have experience as a parent generally, not as a parent who separated while children were young.  That said, I think once per month visits with the grandparents is plenty, in any situation.

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roughdiamonds1

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Re: How much contact do you allow your children to have?
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2020, 06:32:11 PM »
Thanks so much Poison Ivy... thanks also for your comment on my other post.

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candy

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Re: How much contact do you allow your children to have?
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2020, 11:01:29 PM »
roughdiamonds1, I have silently followed your other thread and although I didn’t really know what to contribute I would like to state first that I admire your strength.

What a hard and lonesome decision to make, how brave of you to long for no less than true partnership in marriage. I keep my fingers crossed it will be possible you‘ll find arrangements with your stbExH in the best interest of your kids.

IMO the best case scenario would be: your PD IL‘s consider it their ultimate „win“ once the divorce is finished and loose interest in hurting you further. That way MIL will „only“ be an unreliable, sometimes raging and swearing grandmother who is fun at other sometimes.

I have an uNPDgrandma myself, and I can assure you that my siblings and I picked up on her to be „crazy“ grandma at a very young age, way under 10 years. We all didn’t like her for being mean to M. Not one of the siblings has a close relationship with grandmother today.

I could imagine your MIL (and SIL) trying to get at you by trying to manipulate your children. Talk bad about you in your absence, force the little ones to take sides, that kind of stuff. Worst case scenario!
You would have to trust your DH to protect your children during encounters with the IL‘s then. As he is willing to set contact to once a week, quite frankly I doubt DH sees the dysfunction for what it is: potentially damaging to the children psyches.
It is damaging, toxic behavior to try to interfere with the primary relationship children have with their parents!

It sounds like you are going for shared custody? Is it legally possible to find regulations concerning the extent of contact with MIL and SIL during the divorce process? In my part of the world grandparents only have a right of contact if they‘ve had a close relationship at some point. The rights of parents beat the rights of grandparents. It would be sthg you could give definite rules for beforehand.
Maybe you can talk about this with a lawyer?

Would it be possible for you or a person you trust to supervise those meetings once a week?

If I imagine the time I share with my child was reduced to 50% due to a divorce, I would do anything to have true quality time with my child. Apart from all good intentions you and DH may have now, you just cannot know what kind of toll the divorce and its new realities will take on your children... it is possible your little ones will need much more one on one time (respectively one parent on two children time) than they need now.

IMO your DH‘s priority shall be how to keep and improve his bond and relationship with his young children when time is reduced instead of negotiating his mother’s interest already. Would that be something he would be willing to think about?

If the grandmother has a history of canceling appointments, I doubt she will constantly hold onto weekly meetings anyway. Maybe DH would consider the effect of unreliability in adults on children going through a divorce?

My experience with PD IL‘s (MIL, FIL, GCBIL) is about being a parent and different levels of contact of the spouses. I‘m NC with MIL & FIL, DH is VLC. When we were still in contact, we‘d only do supervised visits with both parents present. But DD still was a baby then, anything else would not really have made sense.

I went NC bc of a constant interference with our parenting and repeated boundary violations. My MIL is obsessed with our child, so it might not well apply to your situation.

Anyhow, my NC means NC for DD as well. I understand why my DH, or any parent, would like their child to have a loving relationship with the grandparents. But DH and I agree on a basic requirement for a relationship btw DD and her grandparents: if you want a relationship with our child, you will have to treat both her parents with common decency and a little friendliness. We won’t allow our children to watch her dad or mom be treated badly.
As MIL & FIL have shown to not only be incapable to meet our requirement but to actively fight us having boundaries, DH and I agreed that for now a relationship would not be in our child‘s best interest.

Those were exhausting discussions I had with DH. We still need our marriage counselor to help us communicate without getting stuck in patterns of thinking we each learned in our dysfunctional FOOs. It must be challenging to discuss stuff like this with an all-foggy husband.

My best to you!

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roughdiamonds1

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Re: How much contact do you allow your children to have?
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2020, 09:07:36 AM »
Thanks so much for all of that insight Candy. It's helpful to hear what other people have done and under what circumstances. I can only imagine what it's like to have to have those conversations about your parents not spending time with your children, I'm glad you came to a resolution together in the end though.

Yes you're right, it is really tough going through all of these discussions with someone who would rather not remember or deal with what has happened in the past and therefore what might happen in the future. I would feel much better about supervised visits if I knew that he was completely clued into what is appropriate and what is inappropriate and knew he would enforce any boundaries we agree. But I guess he's spent a lifetime learning how to ignore and make excuses for poor behaviour from his M, so given the way the conversations have been going, I'm very worried he will just do what makes her happy because he can't deal with the fallout of not. I can already see the strain on him since I went NC.

Because she's so tetchy about me having gone NC, I don't think I'm ready to be in the same space as her for now and therefore don't think I could handle supervising the visits. I'm wondering if it might be a good idea for me to write down a very detailed description of what behaviours are deemed acceptable or not, what to do if she breaks those boundaries, and just try and trust him to stick to it... maybe boundaries could include her reliability, i.e. if she missed one visit, then we wait till the next scheduled one instead of rescheduling something else in. i don't know if he'd agree to that but it's worth talking about.

And by the way, you verbalised the exact thing I'm hoping for... that I'll become less interesting to MIL and SIL once they have 'won the war and got me out' and they'll leave me alone!
« Last Edit: February 17, 2020, 09:20:21 AM by roughdiamonds1 »

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Alexmom

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Re: How much contact do you allow your children to have?
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2020, 02:38:12 PM »
In your current situation with a separated husband who cannot stand up for you, I would not want my kids - at these vulnerable ages - spending any time with your MIL or SIL without supervision, which really puts you in a dilemma.   I wish I had some advice here, but without you present to monitor what your MIL or SIL are doing and saying to your kids, I don't know how you can protect them.  I am sorry you are going through this.  It is not easy. 

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roughdiamonds1

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Re: How much contact do you allow your children to have?
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2020, 04:11:11 AM »
Thanks for your thoughts Alexmom. I totally get what you're saying.

I have no trouble in restricting their contact with my SIL. The levels of aggression she's gone to make it much easier to make that decision. Although I'm sure you won't be surprised that others in the family unit believe I'm completely wrong to not want them to be around her. Their opinion is, what's the worst that could happen? Seeing their mother being abused is pretty damaging imo and I don't want them to think that this is what family is and should be. 

I'm truly at a loss about MIL though...

I'm thinking that maybe we need to get through the next few months and then maybe seek some counselling to help us work through this issue. DH's psych has suggested it is fine for them to spend time with her with DH there to supervise. So I feel that me kicking up a fuss is going to cause problems. And in all honesty, as I said before, if I felt he was fully aware of her behaviours and supportive of my boundaries, I would be okay about it. So that's an issue between him and I that I guess we need to try and work out.

Thank you again to all of you. x