Son comes and goes, baby stays-future advice needed - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 11 Old 07-03-2013, 08:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi all, I've never posted here before so I'm sorry if this has been addressed already.  My specifics are kinda complicated, but hopefully the overall scenario is easy to understand.  I'm female and have an ex-wife.  We have a 5 y.o. son together.  She and I separated 2+ years ago and have been sharing equal custody of our son since then.  We have each entered into new relationships and live with our new partners.  In my case, my DP has no children of her own and treats mine like he is her own.  In my ex's case, her DP has 3 children from a previous marriage to a man, and the kids share equal time with their parents.  Not that a kid ever likes transitioning, but our son was so young when we split that he doesn't really complain about switching houses anymore.  And, in a way, it probably helps him that the other kids also have to go back and forth between their parents.  But now I'm pregnant (8 weeks) and this baby isn't going anywhere once it's born.  We told DS last weekend and he is very excited!  But one of his first questions was if the baby will go with him when he goes to my ex's house.  He understood that the baby will not go, but didn't react with much emotion.  I understand that right now it's still conceptual, so I want to make sure I do whatever I can to make him ok with the changes, especially the fact that when he goes the baby stays.

 

How have you all dealt with this, or seen it dealt with well?  I'm hoping to make this as normal and easy for him as I can, so I'm thinking about it pretty early on.  Thanks!


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#2 of 11 Old 07-03-2013, 12:01 PM
 
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My experience (both my own as a child, and as as a mother now) is that it's the new baby that will have questions, and not the older child who is switching houses. Your son will adapt quickly, and won't think much of it. When the baby is older, he/she will have questions about where their sibling goes every other weekend, and will hopelessly look around for them when they're gone. Your older child might end up with jealousy issues, eventually, as obviously life can't just stop when he's at his other mom's house. You'll still be doing things with the new baby when he/she is bigger, and your older child might struggle with that. I haven't had to deal with it much in my family yet, as the baby is still quite young, and the older two don't see their father often. But I remember when I was a kid, it helped if my parents made an effort to do stuff with ALL of us whenever possible, and just kept the solo weekends (with the new kids) more of a mystery. When your son returns from his mom's, make a big deal about how HIS weekend was, to divert attention from what you did with his sister/brother that weekend while he was gone. Others may have different/better advice. We're still pretty new at this, ourselves. =)
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#3 of 11 Old 07-03-2013, 12:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for that insight!  It's funny, my son was also thinking of the baby's point of view!  He said the baby will probably cry whenever I leave.  That made me sad, but it's probably true. :/  I have been trying SO hard to get to a better place with my ex, but she doesn't want anything to do with me.  I've offered meals together (as a big family group), getting the kids together at a playground (to show them that we adults can get along in their presence), and I'm hoping that we can finally have a shared birthday party for our son this year.  I told her about the pregnancy via email while I had our son for 4 days.  I didn't want her to be caught off guard by him telling her, and wanted to make sure she had time to process without him around.  No response so far.

 

Those are great ideas, though, especially regarding jealousy.  The good thing about babies is that they live pretty boring lives (compared to a 5 y.o. who has friends and goes to school), so it won't be too hard to tell him our time without him was uneventful.  LOL

I'm already pretty good about putting chores/shopping on the backburner when he is here because I want to make sure we have good, quality time together.  I hope to continue this even with a little one around, so DS knows his time is our time.  Thanks for your input, and I'm glad it's going well for you so far!!


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#4 of 11 Old 07-13-2013, 12:53 PM
 
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I am in a similar situation. Dd (6yo) goes back and forth between her dad's and our house. She has been the only child at both houses her whole life (we've been separated since she was 1). Now, DH and I are about to have a baby, and I am both worried and looking forward to have her here sometimes and gone others. I'm worried that she will feel left out, but when I think about it, we definitely won't be doing anything too fun with a NB baby that she would be jealous of smile.gif

Additionally, the break may be nice. I can focus on dd when she is here, and focus more on baby when she is not. I would like it if when the kids are older our new baby could go on outings with dd and her dad/his partner. I know of a blended family who did this, all the step kids went back and forth to all the houses and are all super close knit. I think it would be a nice sense of community, just not sure how our relationship with them will be in the future. It sounds like this may not be an option for your family, but thought I would mention it. I would emphasize the time you spend together as a family, and down play the fun you have without your son. I would make sure that at your house your son feels like he has his own space and time, because it sounds busy at the other house with 3 kids already.

I'm definitely looking on the bright side, and hoping for the best!
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#5 of 11 Old 07-15-2013, 06:16 AM
 
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It's also been my experience that the "left behind " kids (i.e., the ones who live in the same house full-time) are the ones who struggle with that situation. We spend a lot of energy and effort making things okay for the kids who have to adjust to living in two homes, transition between homes, have two sets of parents and rules, etc... but it took me a while to realize that the kids who were with me full-time needed just as much thought and attention to being okay with their situation.


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#6 of 11 Old 07-15-2013, 06:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, nice to know we are in similar scenarios! I am also hoping for the best, and I do think it will all be ok in the long run. Good luck with the new baby! I sometime think it would be possible for the baby (maybe at age 5+) to go with my son when he leaves but it might be wishful thinking that my ex cares that our son wants to be with his bro/sis. We'll see. Keep me posted on how you guys manage all this. smile.gif

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#7 of 11 Old 07-17-2013, 12:15 PM
 
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In this situation here, too. I've been glad to have DSD (9) with us for the summer as DD (6 months) is starting to gain preferences for who is around and figuring out who her family is, so to speak. I am worried that summer will end before DD figures that out and that she'll "not like" DSD for a while--the typical "I don't know you, please give me back to someone I know" kind of "not like," and that DSD will take it too personally when she comes for weekends during the school year. Simultaneously I've worried how DD will take it when DSD isn't around all the time. Will she worry that we're going to send her away--is that how she will see it?

 

So far, DSD is much more inquisitive of how we spend our weekends when she's away than she was before baby. Before she seemed to not care in the slightest what we did with our time away from her. We didn't bring it up too much either, other than the need-to-know kind of stuff, like "it's Grandma's birthday today" while omitting "so we're going out to dinner with her," so she wouldn't feel unduely left out when we did fun things or spent time with family without her. She is so disappointed when she knows we're going to do something she wants to do and she can't participate because she'll be with her mom (not that we can shield her from all of life's disappointments, but it's really frustrating when her mom plays the "oh, it's too bad you have to go to your dad's house because you won't be able to do this-really-fun-thing," game, so we try to avoid the same). Now DSD asks what we're doing without her (usually phrased in terms of what we did with the baby) so I feel like we either have to constantly lie by omission or make her feel left out/excluded. She's also been hyper-curious about the way we did things when she was a baby, if it was the same way that we do it with DD now. It's been hard to navigate since the honest truth we can't tell her is "your mom wouldn't let you visit your dad when you were a baby, so no, we didn't do this with you." When we tell her it's not what we did she wants to know details of what we DID do with her. It seems like she's trying to make everything into a competition with DD, for example, comparing "who had more hair when they were born?" No amount of "it doesn't matter who had more, you both had lots of hair" seems to help, she wants a winner and a loser.


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#8 of 11 Old 07-17-2013, 05:14 PM
 
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I agree with PP that, at least in our case, the littler ones who lived with us full time had a harder time of it than dsd did.  For her, I think it was easy to compartmentalize mom's house and dad's house, while for my dd and ds, when she wasn't there, there was an empty room, their routine changed, etc.  My dd still counts down the days until she sees her sister and how many nights she gets to see her for.

 

Dsd did occasionally get jealous about something we did, but we would just gently remind her that she did fun stuff with her mom that our kids didn't get to do, plus we 99.9% of the time planned the bigger "special" things (vacation, amusement parks, etc.) for when she was there. 

 

For a while, I did try to hide what we did when she wasn't there, but I eventually decided that wasn't healthy either, plus the kids got old enough to tell her about it anyway and I didn't want it to feel to dsd that it was something that we should be ashamed of, KWIM?

 

That said, I am now single and the thought eventually maybe marrying and having more kids (not even a remote possibility at the moment, but it could happen eventually I guess!) scares me because of this situation-I know I would have a hard time with the guilt of having to "send my kids away" every other weekend while a new baby stays :( I don't say that to make *you* feel guilty at all, I just know that is something I would struggle with-it sounds like you are really on top of the situation, aware of the possible complications, and will do your best to ease the transition.   Good luck!


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#9 of 11 Old 07-21-2013, 05:23 AM
 
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Originally Posted by gamitzer View Post

I'm already pretty good about putting chores/shopping on the backburner when he is here because I want to make sure we have good, quality time together.  I hope to continue this even with a little one around, so DS knows his time is our time.  Thanks for your input, and I'm glad it's going well for you so far!!

 

On the other hand, then he views time at your home as fun time. Doing chores, shopping, etc is a part of life that should really carry on. Not stop simply because one child is there. Look at it this way - how will the baby feel when older that chores get done when s/he is with you, but not when her older brother is?

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#10 of 11 Old 07-26-2013, 05:34 PM
 
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This past year I fell into the same groove that y'all are into. I had a third baby with another man, and the baby stays while the older two (4 and 7) go back and forth. So far the older two seem to be ok with separating from Pip for half the time but I have worried about how little Pip will feel when his siblings leave, especially for some holidays. We are thinking of having another child so that the older two have each other when they go back and forth and Pip has a sibling who stays with him. Also, I just love havin babies. 


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#11 of 11 Old 08-07-2013, 01:32 PM
 
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I have 2 DSs from a previous relationship, my DH has a DS from a previous relationship, (all close in age), and we just had a baby together who is just over a year old. 6 months ago my SS's mom had a baby too- we all have split custody with the older kids so they are all at one parent's half the time, and the new babies are in their respective houses full time. I think with the stress a new baby puts on parents (needing a lot of attention etc), getting breaks to be with the other parent helps the older kids get a little down time/ more attention. Now for my ss it's that way in both households, but as my little one gets older it's less intense focus on the baby and he plays with his brothers more, the stress level in our house has gone down some. Like others have said, I think eventually it will be harder for the stay-home kids watching their siblings come and go, but right now our baby seems to like the balance- he lights up when the brothers are here, but also revels in the one on one time when they are away!

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