Our home: We are vegan and eat mostly whole foods cooked at home, we do not have a TV or video games, we do not watch age inappropriate movies with DS, we read...A LOT (especially to DS). DS has shoulder length blond curls that he does NOT want to cut. He LOVES pink, sparkles, unicorns, tap dancing, ballet, theatre, musicals, the symphony, long books and My Little Pony. His entire room is pink and he wears pink and often sparkles every day to school. DS wears pink dresses out in public and has no problems letting people know he's a boy. Dad's home (16 hours away, he's there 9 weeks a year): Dad makes him eat meat, feeds him crappy foods with plenty of refined sugars, dyes, HFCS, etc. Dad let him watch Harry Potter when he was four, and he came home with nightmares for WEEKS. He does nothing but watch similar movies at his dads...and a lot of them. He bought him an iPad for xmas this year (thankfully it stays at ex's house) and he also has a separate TV that he watches videos on while his dad watches whatever he wants without disturbances. Dad constantly tries to convince DS to cut his hair, telling him it makes him look like a girl. Dad refuses to let DS wear anything pink...not even a boys pink button up Ralph Lauren Polo. His dad tells him that he's trying to protect him and that bad people might do bad things to him (like bullies) if he wears pink or dresses like a girl. (while we understand this *is* a reality...we address things differently than this) Dad only gets him very, very boyish clothing and will not let him dress himself. For xmas, besides the iPad, he got him nothing but cars and motorcycles to play with. Won't even let him have Legos or Playmobil at his house because there are "too many pieces and those are mama's home toys"). The list could go on but this is just some insight into how completely different his life is in each home. His individuality is not honored or respected in his dad's house and he constantly tries to change who DS is as a person. How would you address this issue, KNOWING there is NOTHING you can do to change how things are handled at dad's house? How would you help your child with this situation?
I am their with you.
My DD struggles A LOT with the transition between her two homes. We live a very different life here then they do their. DD knows Mummy's house is different then Daddy's house and we have different rules and realities for each house but it does not make the transitions any easier for her. Dad is a brick wall about discussing and working together to make it easier for our DD. So I am left to ride out the storm that results with each return (and often when the reality of next upcoming transition hits her, before Christmas there was a RAGGING tantrum when the reality of which family Christmas traditions she would be missing this year because she would be with Daddy hit. The fun that would be replacing it did not matter she like a child wanted what she wanted). All I can do is be loving and firm letting her know I understand and I wish I could help her to better deal with her frustration. It is my hope that as she becomes more self aware and confident she will begin expressing herself to her father and he will finally begin working with us to make the transitions much easier for our child.
You are lucky in a way having your ex live so far away the transitions will be less frequent and hopefully easier on your DS as a result.
I am sorry you are going through this. I am dealing with something similar. The only thing you can really do is accept the fact there is nothing you can do. Keep your rules and routines consistent. Make your home a safe haven. My kids spend every other weekend with their father and usually come back with diarrhea, attitudes and sinus infections (which ceased since he moved). I cannot change what he does. All I can control is the environment I provide for my children while they are with me. Let your child talk about it, let him express his feelings, but be careful not to x-bash. I'm sorry I don't have a magic answer for you.
One Mom, Three Kids. Life is Great.
Ugh...sorry that you mamas go through this too, it's a rotten situation to be in. DS also comes home with tummy issues (He's ALWAYS plugged up when he comes home b/c we're vegan and his dad forces animal products on him. His system just isn't used to it.). He also has to "decompress" when he comes home...it sucks. I try very hard not to x-bash around him...sometimes I simply just have to text my DH or my sister to get out a vent when he's around! Like last night when he told me that ex puts him in the corner when he's "bad." Uh...we NEVER have a problem with DS listening to us and the only time he has emotional or tantrum type issues is either when he comes home from his dads and is decompressing or if he's overly tired. DS told me that he was put in the corner once because he was "grumpy" because he was tired (he was probably acting out b/c he was exhausted...I know how it goes) and he fell asleep in the corner!!!! How about just making him nap or putting him to bed at a decent time for crying out loud??? I do count my blessings that he's only there 9 weeks a year but it sucks that most of that is in the summer now (7 weeks) so he doesn't get a break from it for two months straight. The good thins is that he's extremely appreciative of our lifestyle when he gets home so transitions are generally just about getting him back on track with his sleep.
BabyBearsMummy: This was the first year that ex took DS over Christmas but, after some struggles we did manage to schedule our holidays so that we had both of our kids (my DS and my DSS) at the same time so that we could do Christmas together. We are very flexible with the holidays because of our family dynamics (DS's dad in CO, we're in IN and DSS lives in NC!!). We don't have a relationship with my parents (they don't support our lifestyle and how we raise kids) and my inlaws are VERY flex and laid back so that's a bonus in making our holidays work.