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6 year old not wanting to stay overnight

Discussion in 'Personal' started by robyn147, Jul 14, 2011.

  1. I'm separated - I pick my son up from my ex on a Wednesday and take him to school on Thursday. This is great as it keeps me in contact with school and gives my ex a break. I've got my own house and my son has a room which although as not "well stocked" as home is still his bedroom.
    Recently he has wanted to go back to his mums on the evening. He "misses mum" and thinks "my house is boring". A trigger is sometimes a phone call from his mum in the evening to say good night., I know why she wants to do this but I do think it reminds him of home. He gets himself really upset and then pleads to go home - there is no way I'm going to force him to stay as I don't think forcing him is a good idea. I want him to be happy.
    He's got toys and books here, we do things together and I also let him get on with things himself. But it's not his usual place where he can totally relax.
    We're (me and my ex) are not sure what to do. She does need the time to herself and also needs to get to work early on a Thursday. I want to spend time with my son and find it really upsetting when he says he's having a boring time (and yes, I know he's 6).
    Any advice - especially on child psychology would be welcome. I have asked my ex not to ring up when he's here - she has always been "an involved mum" but I think she might find that hard.
  2. I am not a parent so not sure I can give any real advice, however I take my guide group away a lot. We do not allow them to take mobiles as we don't want them phoning home as it does make them really upset. Also, if any are homesick we never let them use our phones to call. I think it probably is the contact that is the issue.
  3. Is your ex ever in your home?
    It might help if he/she came to visit you sometimes with your child (without either stopping overnight, unless that is an option for you - we did it when we first separated) and helping all of you to make him feel and understand that he has two homes and that he can feel secure in both.
    Don't try to fret too much - kids go through all sorts of these phases and my son has been through many! Daughter has always been much more easy-going.
    Just keep encouraging and be patient - I personally would not stop the phone calls, I feel they are important.
    But I would try to get your ex involved in "being" there, by joint visits where he can show his room, your house, the garden, the fridge, the kitchen, the loft, the garage if need be! and your ex can say how lovely it is etc. etc.
    There may be some "special" things (like a cuddly toy) which need to pack their bags as well for a visit.
    It is, IMO, important for both of you to always let him know that both places are his home.
    And not push him. It may take a while, but you will all get there xxxx
  4. giraffe

    giraffe New commenter

    I know you want your son to feel equally at home with both of you, but it seems that he has decided that his mum's home is where he lives.
    That might be really difficult for you, and I do sympathise, but knowing that you want the best for him, I think you would do well to respect his feelings.
    It's not really fair that his mum rings him in the evening, but maybe she is missing him too and hearing his voice is a comfort for her. I know that I would have been really stirred up by not having my child aged 6 home at night, even if I was comfortable that she was safe.
    Please don't feel you have to persevere and win him over to you - that would be a massive mistake and you would all lose so much.
    It is normal and important for him to have one home, where he feels settled and where he usually sleeps. This is how he is going to develop a sense of security and stability. By having two bedrooms with two sets of toys etc, that are supposed to be equal, he is potentially going to be getting stressed and anxious.
    You sound as though you and his mother are good at talking and thinking about these problems. I do hope you can keep up the positive way of dealing with this. Let him put down roots at his mum's house and he will enjoy coming to see you and occasionally staying over as a manageable event.
    It will obviously hurt like hell to do this, but you owe him this much; put your own feelings and wishes second to his. You want him to grow up secure and resilient, don't you?
    Please, for his sake.

  5. My guess is that he knows its "temporary". However welcoming a hotel is, the things it has to offer and the company maybe with loved ones, we know it is not home and often look foward to going back.
    I would avoid a goodnight phonecall. Can he bring his duvet as it will be a familiar "smell".
    I doubt he is having a boring time. Why not try getting him to do a bedroom makeover at your house if funds allow. Maybe letting him chose the paint, letting him help paint it and maybe a new set of curtains and bedding would be all it would take. Doesn't have to be expensive - just something he feels is his xx
  6. Richie Millions

    Richie Millions New commenter

    I do feel that young children should be told this is what is going to happen. Not given choices. It is a clear indication that we cannot always have or do what we want. If Mum and Dad give the same message he will accept it.
  7. Do you have a partner at yours? The reason I ask is that I remember as a child I never felt at home at Dad's until I moved there permanently because I was always tip toeing round my step mum. I used to deliberately lie in to wait for her to go to the stables before I got up until Dad cottoned on I did this. I'd also play Mum up massively when I went home, telling her I missed Dad and then would tell Dad I missed Mum... I was just a confused child (same sort of age as your son) and (in hindsight) it was the early signs of on/off depression.... I'm not suggesting that's the case for your son at all but I do think he is just a confused little boy and can I say that from your post it sounds like you are a sterling Dad and the fact that you and ex agree on things is nothing but helpful. Don't beat yourself up over it, you ARE doing a good job and doing all the right things. I agree with previous posters re: redesigning room, Mum coming over etc. Good Luck.
  8. I have to disagree with this.
    The phone calls are important - but they should be phone calls saying "have a lovely time, will see you tomorrow. Just think, if you go to sleep now after your story, tomorrow will be here so quickly..."
    etc. and then build up from there. Some time in the future, it could be a whole weekend...
    He is only 6. He needs to adjust and feel secure in both places and that takes time and patience from both parents.

  9. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    Thanks for advice. No - no partner at home. I do understand he has one home. I used to have a girl in my class (y2) who basically had 5 days with mum, 3 days with Dad. I thought that must be really hard for her because she must have felt like she was always living out of a suitcase. That's why I never went down the shared custody route.
    All I would like is for him to want to stay a night. He used to quite happily - then he went through a clingy phase, got out of it and is back into it. Part of it is when he is tired after school. He just seems to want the routine of home - trampoline, tea, books and playing in his room and bed. It's stable security and I understand that. I would never force him to do anything he does not want to - he has had a hard enough time with his parents separating and we both want to do the right thing by him. It's hard enough when all you hear is parents who separate have a bad effect on their child. I do tutoring and it really upsets me when I see families together doing happy family stuff and knowing everything my son is missing out on.
    I am not sure about the phone call - it is my ex ringing up. On holiday, she rang up to 3 times a day (and we were abroad) - she has always been a very involved parent. We never went out as a couple for almost 2 years because she could not leave him for anyone to look after. Don't get me wrong - she is doing a fantastic job in difficult circumstances.
    I will think about giving him some ideas about decorating the room. My ex has been over once at Christmas. Maybe I should invite her over again.
    Anyway - good advice so thanks.
  10. I have to disagree again!
    We have joint custody - our children have TWO homes. They do not live out of a suitcase and they have always been happy and well-adjusted to the situation.
    (joint custody is standard in Germany)
    Once a day is enough. Perhaps she needs to let go a tiny weeny bit...

  11. tartetatin

    tartetatin New commenter

    Och, I feel for you. Yes, of course we put our feelings to one side for the sake of our kids, but it can still bloo.dy hurt. I agree that you sound like a brilliant and very sensible dad.
    I think the other posters have come up with some great ideas for helping your son to settle: visits with mum, helping with room decorations, etc. I know for example that you can buy these 'stickarounds' wall stickers for the bedroom, in a variety of designs (spaceships, cars, animals, etc.). They transform the walls in a big way, are cheap and easy, and help to personalise the room. They are also perfectly suited to a rented property as they peel off afterwards.
    There's also someone round our way who paints kids' bedroom ceilings with stars, comets etc. in an 'invisible' paint that's only visible at night. Maybe something special such as this, which would really distinguish his room at your place, would help.
    Also, maybe you could try introducing a specific activity at yours that you could enjoy together. I know that kids often respond well to a sense of routine.
    I'm no expert on child psychology, but I'm not sure how necessary the phone call from mum really is. I feel that this should be 'your time' with your son, and it doesn't sound like the call is helping anyway. Maybe try not having it one week, unless he specifically asks? I dunno ...
    All the best to you x
  12. tartetatin

    tartetatin New commenter

    Sorry if my response sounds a bit random - I posted it after taking a break from the computer, so missed some of the earlier replies!
  13. No more random than usual...[​IMG]
    (only teasing, tartiepie xxxx)
  14. tartetatin

    tartetatin New commenter

  15. moonpenny

    moonpenny Occasional commenter

    Hi Robyn: maybe he's suffering a little from separation anxiety.
    It sounds as though he and his mum have a very close bond and he has been used to being with her most of the time.
    When my kids were little, from being babies they used to spend time away from me for several days ,especially when I moved South and they stayed with my mum up North while I was working part of the school holidays (I'm an FE lecturer)
    They have never minded but recently my daughter, who is 11, has gone through a stage where she wanted to be with me all the time - it co-incided with me being ill and needing a major operation and I think it has meant that she needed me more than before.
    We have let her stay with us when she's wanted to rather than going to see her dad. It has worked out well as my son has had what he calls 'father and son time' Lol - and my daughter has explored the local curry houses with us.
    I also remember a short period of time when my 2 used to say they were bored when we still lived up North and used to pop in to my mum's even though she is one of their favourite people.
    Since they have been staying over the holidays she has got them a Wii to use when they stay and my son takes the laptop up there.
    I do think it is quite natural to feel more at home when you have your own things around you - I know my kids are happiest here when they are left to their own devises and can just relax and chill.
    One of the things I was thinking is while he is feeling like this, could you pick him up for the evening and cook him a nice meal or go out for a cheap tea and then take him back to his mum's for bed.
    I think it is really considerate of you to worry about your ex having free time and I think you are right,she will need some as it's exhausting being the primary carer for a young child but maybe at the moment, your son's needs should take priority.
    It could well be a passing phase and without pressure he will chose to stay over - I think all you can do in these situations is play things by ear and adapt as you go along.
    Could it be that something else has unsettled him - kids sometimes don't let on when somethings bothering them(sometimes because they don't want to upset anyone) and he may be worried about something and it is showing in the way he feels the need to be so close to him mum all the time?
  16. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Lead commenter

    I agree with this.
  17. moonpenny

    moonpenny Occasional commenter

    If he is feeling unsettled, a phonecall probably will make him miss her more.
    My daughter sometimes sends me a good night text but I never hear anything from my son,unless there is a problem and I think I feel happiest when I don't hear from them as that means they are happy where they are and they are having a good time.
  18. I think the phone call is probably unsettling him too.
    I know mum might be missing him, but she needs to do what helps him settle best and not what makes her feel best.
    As she needs this to work, as much as you, I would suggest to her, that she maybe doesn't ring for a few weeks, just to see how he settles.
    Maybe there might be some other way of letting him know she is thinking of him, or she is not too far away, without a phone call - maybe a picture of her in his room, or a note tucked in with his pyjamas.
    When I was young my mum used to work night duty, and she had to phone me before I went to bed (even though she had only left the house a short time ago) and she had to find time to phone me in the morning, incase she wasn't home before I went to school, because I missed her so much.
    My mum became ill a few years later, and had to spend a lot of time in hospital, and I was heartbroken. I cried night and day.
    I know it seems hard now, but it will do your son and his mum both good, to be able to be away frome ach other for short times. Good Luck xx
  19. That's going to make the OP feel just dandy.
  20. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    She does try really hard in her call to get him to stay. But a 6 year old can be very persuasive. He is coming on the weekend - need to have a chat with my ex.

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