Hi - I have been divorced for three years and have split custody with my ex of our two teens, now 15 and almost 18. Our schedule has been two weeks alternating with each parent. There was a situation where the kids stayed with their dad for a month, and now they are both saying they no longer want to do the two weeks and would rather stay at their dad's more permanently and just visit with me. This was heartbreaking for me to hear, even though I know it's not personal against me. I have an excellent relationship with both kids and their father. He knows their feelings and is trying to work with me to come up with a solution. The kids have always been our top priority and we have always done what is best for them, regardless if one of us ends up with hurt feelings because of that choice.
The hardest part of the breakup for the kids has been the non-stop back and forth between houses. My teen daughter has four or five bags of stuff to schelp around every two weeks and is very vocal about her dislike of this routine. My son feels the same way and says he no longer wants to constantly relocate. Their dad kept the matrimonial home, so this is the place they were born and raised. They have a pool and trampoline and massive bedrooms and a boat and lake lot. I own a half duplex with no fun toys or 'extras.'
My ex is a great dad, but absent a lot of the time because of his demanding job and does not spend a lot of time with the kids. I make it a point to spend time with the kids, I work their job and school schedules into mine so I will be available, keep the majority of my social activities confined to my two weeks when they are at their dad's, and make sure we sit down for meals as often as we can together. My son still hugs me in front of his friends and says 'I love you,' and my daughter shares texts from boyfriends with me to ask my advice. I'm so worried that with them wanting to no longer stay with me for the two weeks, we will lose this closeness and connectedness
They are kind of open to different scenarios of visitation and seem to like the idea of maybe a month at a time with each parent with maybe some evenings and weekends thrown in during the month they are with the other parent. I guess I am writing to see if anyone has experienced anything similar or even if anyone has some advice. Maybe some alternatives to visitation? I understand and sympathize with their situation, but I can't fathom not seeing my kids on a regular basis or not continuing to build a relationship with them.
Do they need to realize on their own that what I provide may not be materialistic, but it's still extremely valuable and perhaps more important in the long run? Will they miss me on their own and actually make the effort to come see me? I can make the effort instead, but I don't want the odd lunch here or there or a phone call. I know they're older, and maybe I'm strangling them a little with those apron strings, but they will always be my babies and I'm having a very hard time with this.