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At what age do you let your kids work out their access time with their dad?

My kids are 13 and 16. There are a few issues so I'm not sure if allowing the kids to negotiate on their own is a good idea.
I'm worried it will backfire on me.


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Answers (5)

Maybe there are some lateral solutions to this, that gives everyone a break from the stepdaughter (not making judgements about her, but I know how complex the step relationship can be and sometimes its nice to step away from that for a little time). Maybe dad could come over for dinner with you and the children a couple of nights a week (assuming you two have a good enough relationship and you're okay with it). Or the kids could suggest a dad date outside the house. Maybe they could visit him for an hour or so after school every day rather than for a weekend at a time.

How old is the stepdaughter? I'm a stepchild myself and remember being very conscious of being an "old egg" in a new "nest". Not in a bad way, but I did clue in to the fact that sometimes my stepdad just wanted to spend time with his kids (my half siblings) and my mum. Not always. And he certainly never made me feel unwelcome. But I recognised that they needed to make their core happy family memories and sometimes it wasn't with me in them (like visiting his mother or siblings etc, taking them to do little kid stuff that I was too old for). Same for my stepmother and her kids (not my half siblings). Sometimes they had some family thing on that just happened to be on the same day I was meant to be visiting. What better time to pick up that extra shift at maccas than when my stepsister needed my dad to focus on her.
But in saying that, I was a teenager for this stuff.

Maybe dad and stepmum could have a gentle talk with the stepdaughter about how dad needs special time just with his 2 big kids.

 Thanks for the reply. You sound like you must have been a very intuitive teenager. We have tried what you suggested but it didn't work as their step sister got too upset. She suffers from debilitating anxiety and their dad felt bad when she got upset and would have to cancel. It's hard to tell her she can't go with them. I think my kids just need a break from the melt downs (it's hard for them to understand she doesn't do it deliberately) and feeling like the world revolves around her. I am hopeful that he realised how much it affects the kids and takes some time just for them.
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 I can see how that would be a problem. It seems like dad needs to be a bit more of an adult and either say "tough luck" to the stepdaughter, or learn to lie a bit. Maybe he could tell sd he's doing something else but actually meet up with his kids somewhere. I don't know. He needs to work it out himself or he's going to lose his kids.

Can you show him this post?

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 She is 15. Sorry left that bit off.
I think I will invite him for dinner to talk it over. We usually get along, I shouldn't have got involved on the weekend but it's frustrated when my son called and asked to be picked up. It's not that I don't care about the girl, but my kids can't miss sport for no other reason than she didn't want them to go.

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 15 is old enough to understand that you're not the centre of the universe. But dads in an awkward position. If you find some helpful suggestions for a solution, maybe write them down and just say "hey the kids and I came to some ideas for spending time with them without having to be around XXXXXX all the time. Just so they can have some alone time with you" and then he has time to think it over and reflect on the situation in his own time too. I don't blame you for stepping in and picking up your son for sport. At that age it's important to show commitment, learn to prioritise and compromise. Maybe he could have missed sport if it was a catastrophic event, but if his stepsister is having a meltdown, and does so quite often, he shouldn't have to put that as being more important than a prior commitment. If it had been a one off meltdown out of the blue, maybe. Because she may have been having a crisis. But all the time? she needs to get professional counselling and tbh grow up a little.
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 She is getting help.
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It is up to the mother to organise. If kids are allowed to work it out themselves it can backfire like you suggest.
They can end up seeing their father alot more than is good for them. Beware.

 I'm more worried they will never see him again. He is or was a fantastic dad, but he is struggling to balance a relationship with his kids and his step daughter. I usually stay out of it, but last weekend I got involved and picked the kids up during his time and took them to netball and soccer against his wishes. It's all blown up.
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 End up seeing their father a lot more than is good for them ? ha.
I guess that's open to perception because I know some pretty loopy fu****g women out there with children.

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 ^ F off and go beat a drum at your men's group you sexist pig.
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^ F off and go beat a drum at your men's group you sexist pig.

Personally I would ring a lawyer or legal service and ask. I think they are old enough but like you said you are worried that they won't have a relationship with him. They come above the step daughter so maybe suggest they go on a different weekend if she isn't there

 Thanks. Unfortunately she is always there so no break from her.
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 How old is the step daughter?
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The stepdaughter clearly needs some psychological help