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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I have 2 daughters 6 1/2 and 3 1/2.Their mother and i

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Hi,i have 2 daughters 6 1/2 and 3 1/2.Their mother and i seperated over 3 years ago(at the time my eldest had turned 3 already and my youingest was 7months)
Until they moved away last August i had contact nearly everyday and they stayed with me every weekend.Now i only see them once or twice a month for a weekend.
Last week i had a text message of their mother saying my eldest didn't want to come this weekend.I replied by saying i'll call a bit later that day.
I did this.Firstly speaking to my youngest and then to C****** my eldest.I told her she had a party at a friends first.Then i went on to explain why she has to travel on the motorway,because they live so far away it's all i can do to see you both,i told her i don't like travelling either but if i want to see you and you me,then i'm afraid we have to travel back to my home(One way is actually 120 miles-i do this pick them up friday afternoon after school. Then drive back-then i take them home on sunday afternoon and again drive home by myself)I said to her if your mom bothered to explain why you have to travel too.Maybe you would be able to understand.I tried to explain that our relationship broke down and people fall out of love and told her some people aren't interested in other peoples opinion only their own.
I said i loved her and her sister very much and said don't let anybody ever tell you any different,i then asked if she wanted to come up this weekend then-The answer was a resounding yes.She then said i'm going now and mom wants to talk.
Their mother straight away started shouting-how dare you say that-she's a child for god sake-if you want to talk talk to an adult-she does't need to here that.I said she needs to be told the truth-you moved away-i- have to travel to fetch them,so they have to travel on the motorway.
No you shouldn't be telling her things,she's 6.Yes and i rang as a direct response to your text saying she doesn't want to come.No you shouldn't be telling her she won't understand(Getting more irrate)She asks me questions all the time about why she has to go on the motorway i said and i've always been honest with her and told her it's because you moved a long way away.Still not happy with me telling her she eventually hung up on me.
I had my daughters this weekend just passed.No problems,no real bad behaviour as always(always good for me)Dropped them home on sunday tea time 5pm.No problems,group hug and told them both be good for mom and (boyfriend)
Now this week their mom has said i can't see my girls till beginning of June 4 weekends away!
I contacted her and asked why.Her answer.They need a break from you.Before you do any-more damage.
Then followed a long winded argument about me being honest with her.Again i said she asks questions,she deserves the truth.
Their mother kept saying you bad mouthed me to her.This explains alot.(meaning they are always naughty when i drop them off-so she says?)
You can see them then.
I've stood my ground and been honest with my daughter.Is their mother right?Should i ignore any questions.I feel she deserves to be told the truth.Can i really do any damage?
I asked this last night-many thanks

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

This is a difficult part of custody arrangements for parents. Each person is going to want to parent the way they see fit. If you were still together with your ex wife, you both would be most likely arguing about what was appropriate and you would work it out in some agreeable way. But as it is, you are divorced, which makes this very difficult because now it has become a power struggle with the kids in the middle.

It is a good idea if you and your ex wife would sit down together, just the two of you, and find a compromise. Tell your ex wife that you want to do what is best for the kids and that both of you should be putting the children's well being first. Then find a compromise. The final agreement should not be one sided either. If your children want to ask you questions, for instance, then there should be an agreed upon limit to your answer. For example, if your daughter asks why you live so far away, you respond with what you said about mommy and daddy living apart because they aren't married anymore. Follow up with telling her how much you both love her and care about her. Then let it go. The idea here is that you are able to answer the question, but you appease your ex by limiting the information.

If your ex will not agree to compromise, then suggest short term counseling to work out the issue. It doesn't need to be with a therapist. It can be with a pastor, mediator or a neutral family friend. Someone whom you both believe can be neutral.

But if neither of these work, then you may have to resort to legal means to get your right to see your children. You want to avoid this as much as possible to spare your children and try to keep a civilized relationship with your ex, but if she refuses to work with you, seeing the children takes priority over your relationship with your ex.

Here are some resources to help you find more solutions:

Surviving Divorce and Custody Issues: The Single Father's Guide by Anne P. Mitchell

Building a Parenting Agreement That Works: Child Custody Agreements Step by Step by Mimi Lyster Zemmelman

Stop Fighting Over The Kids: Resolving Day-to-Day Custody Conflict in Divorce Situations (Mike Mastracci's Divorce Without Dishonor) by Mike Mastracci

You can find these books on or your local library may have them for you.

I hope this has helped,

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