Advice on Morning Routine from Single/Divorced Mama's...HELP!

Updated on December 06, 2008
D.M. asks from Valencia, CA
5 answers

My heart is breaking right now...and has been for the last three days.

My son is two years old (July baby), and I am not with his father and haven't been since I was three months pregnant...but, we shared a home until my son was two months old for financial reasons. At birth, my son was 8 weeks preemie, and spent 7 weeks in the NICU...he is an amazing kiddo today and not a single sign that he was early. For the first year of his life, my son's Dad was sort of a fairweather Father and did not put much effort out to see him unless I was driving down so they could visit. Out of nowhere he decided he would sue me for Custody of our son, and we finally this last September went to Mediation and have an order in place that gives him visitation every morning, 730am to 11am and every other Saturday 8am to 6pm. I work full-time, and my Mom watches him while I'm at work. We have been going to Therapy for our Communication Issues, and it has been going well.

My Issue:
For the last 8 days, my son has cried and kicked and screamed when he has to leave with his Dad. I have tried SO many things, like talking to his Dad about it and asking him if anything changed in there routine that could be re-adjusted (and made it clear I didn't need details). In the mornings and before bed, I talk up how exciting it is that he gets to go with his Daddy in the morning and he has started saying, 'No, Daddy Please'. I don't want to overreact, because we've had these problems with Seperation Anxeity before and worked through them in a few days. I've made sure not to make any changes to our morning routine, and been super consistent with him when he needs hugs or loves in the morning...but, I don't know what to do. Monday morning I was 30 minutes late to work because he screamed so hard the neighbors came out to see if he was son's Dad says it's my fault for co-sleeping and letting him be coddled and too attached to me.

I guess my question is, has anyone out there experienced visitation 'hand-off' issues and how did you get past them? I don't want to assume that something 'bad' is happening when he is with his father, because when I call to talk to my son he sounds cheerful and happy. And, I know his Dad loves him so much. I'm just seeking some peace of mind, and a little guidance of my own.

Thanks in advance!

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So What Happened?

I wanted to Thank everyone for responding who took the time to do so...I think it wasn't very clear that my son has spent time with his father for the past year, in a pretty steady routine of two to three days a week...just recently (September 2008)it went to less time total of three hours, but five days a week.

I wish it was just about his Autonomy or being away from Mommy (I've been leaving him to go to work for over a year now and he's not reacted like this before with anyone), but even our therapist agrees that his father needs to take a step back and evaluate how his behavior is effecting our son. Yesterday, we met and she was concerned that my son's father is not working on his own anger management issues and allowing his feelings about our relationship to cloud his judgement regarding our son. Example, didn't believe me that our son was sick and needed to stay home...threatened to call the Sheriff if our son wasn't ready by pick up my little dude has a double ear infection (very prone) because his father probably didn't follow the instructions for keeping him clear that I gave him from his Pediatrician.

So, from here we're going to both get individual therapists for anger management/grief, go to parenting classes seperately and move forward doing the best we can from the relationship we left behind over two years ago.

It's pretty obvious that our son is experiencing and feeling the tension/anger/resentment my son's father has for me and our current situation.

Thanks again for all your thoughts.

More Answers



answers from Honolulu on

Hi Deanna,
well, I know you are a well informed Mom who has good instincts.
So you probably thought of all things already.

Perhaps, have you tried asking your son, himself, "why" he does not want to go with Daddy? Since this has only been occurring for the past 8 days. It is a "new" thing in his behavior.

Is there perhaps a difference in "discipline" or expectations that your Ex has upon your son... and so your son gets a harder time there? Um....your Ex already "blames" and "criticizes" you for co-sleeping and "coddling" your son and for making him this way... so apparently, there IS a big difference in "his" parenting style/attitude/philosophy... so maybe he treats your son differently when he is with him? Perhaps also, since your Ex was NOT a "Parent" and was fair-weather...his suddenly deciding to "be" a Parent does not mean that he "knows" how to be a Parent or "role-model." Maybe your Ex can go to Parenting classes?
And hopefully... your Ex is not taking out his "gripes" about you to your son?? Or perhaps, does your Ex perhaps put you in a "negative" light to your son?

What activities do they do together? Is the environment at your Ex's house "positive" and fine and healthy for your son? Can you ever just "pop in" at your Ex's house to visit and/or pick up your son? Or is this not "allowed" by your Ex and/or the visitation "rules."

Now, you also mentioned "hand-off issues" when your son goes to your Ex.... but since your Mom ALSO watches your son while you are at work... does your Son have "hand-off" issues or "separation anxiety" with her????? If not, then I would say it is specific to your Ex.

Separation Anxiety, if this is the case... would be more generic....and occur with other things as well, not JUST in conjunction to your Ex and the "hand-off" situation. To me, just my opinion.

It seems, that since last September when the custody/visitation schedule was determined...there has been about 1 year of your Son having time with his "Dad"....but only the past 8 days your Son has been screaming/kicking and crying about having to go with his Dad. BUT meanwhile, I assume your son does NOT have "hand-off" issues with being left with your Mom when you are at work. And I assume your Son does not act this way in other situations throughout the day...over the past 8 days? If so, then by narrowing it down via process of elimination... it seems your son only does this when having to go with his Dad?

ALSO, I would talk with your Mom and ask her how your son has been behaving the past 8 days... when he goes to HER house or is under HER care. Does your Ex drop your son off with her... or does your Mom pick your son up at your Ex's home? AND, if so, how does your Son act/react at these junctures of transitioning and "hand-off" times between them???? That would also be something you might want to consider or find out about.

Or, yes, maybe it is just a 2-year old thing... and their moods ebb and flow. But, I would heed to your son... and observe/see how he is reacting OVERALL to other "hand-off" situations in his life. Then, it may or may not be a simple case of "separation anxiety." BUT maybe he needs some child counseling to help him cope with the whole thing...?

OR, as another way to figure this out...imagine if this were your son reacting this way to a Daycare situation for the past 8 days... how would you handle it and "help" him or in the way you would investigate and find out what the "problem" was?

All the best, just some ideas,

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I'm sorry for what your son is going through, how tough for the poor little guy.

I just wanted to chime in on what your ex said regarding your son's behaivor. (kicking and screaming when getting picked up). He is behaiving normally!!!! His Mom and Dad aren't together - he has to go with one or the other, not both. Of course he is distraught. It has NOTHING to do with co-sleeping. I know someone going through the same, she never co-slept, in fact, she isn't very attached to her kids and they are hysterical when Dad picks them up. I've read posts from you in the past, so I know you already know this. How sad that your son's Dad feels the need to blame your parenting style on your sons behaivor. Especially when it is a no brainer. If your son wasn't kicking and screaming, I'd wonder what was wrong with him. It's going to happen, this is so confusing for him. My little brother was 11 when my parents split and he acted the same way. It was torture for him to have to leave a parent for the other.

I think as long as you and Dad are getting along and making sure your little guy knows that none of this is his fault (any fighting in front of him, even at this age, will change him - he will figure out a way to blame himself for all of this) that was a bit Dr. Phil-ish but so true. You both need to be consistent with routines, he needs to know what is going to happen next at all times and he needs to know that it's OK to get upset. Afterall, he is only 2.

I wish you all the best,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

maybe you could try a neutral drop off and pick up, hopefully dad is eager to solve the problem too. I would try to take him to grandmas before its time for dad to pick up and then let dad pick him up from grandma. Remind your ex that transitions are sometimes difficult on kids and sometimes a small adjustment would make it easier on the baby. If your ex is doing this just to make your life more difficult, I would remind him firmly that he is making life harder on the one who should be chaising puppies and digging in the dirt good luck and God Bless.



answers from Los Angeles on

Don't let some of the advice scare you.

My son's father and I are still together - I am with my son nearly 24/7 yet he still kicks and screams when daddy tries to take him somewhere if I'm not going. It's just a preference he has. Assume that you have a best friend... you do everything with that friend... and suddenly, someone stops letting you do everything with that friend and makes you start doing things with another "new" friend that you don't like as much as the first.

It's about his autonomy as well. He wants to control what happens in his life. He wants mommy. Suddenly, he is being forced to spend time with a man he doesn't know very well. It is perfectly normal for him to be experiencing that.

An AWESOME book I would recommend for helping him through this is called Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves by Naomi Aldort.



answers from Los Angeles on

it sounds like theres something going on. thats a big red flag when a child out and out refuses to go somewhere you arent. im not trying to alarm you but does your child emotionally act different or have any unusual bruises. ask your son why he doesnt want to go. i would also make writen documentation about the days he refuses to go and write down why he doesnt want to go. just because you so a lot of affection to your son you are not to blame for his behavior. loving your son does not make them act like that. good luck!

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