For Those Who Parent Shuffle



Do you ever feel guilty for wanting them to go to their dad's house?

I get so tired sometimes. Because difficult child has had so much separation anxiety, my energy reserves are pretty stretched most of the time. And unfortunately, difficult child seldom wants to go to his dad's house. I'm sure a time will come where he won't want to be with me, but for now, it's all mom all the time. But mom sorely needs a break.

I don't know why I feel so guilty. It's probably silly. But difficult child begs me not to make him go. There is nothing wrong with his dad's house except for the fact that there is no structure, and the house is filthy. I think it's mostly that difficult child doesn't like that break up in routine. It's not his fault that his parents couldn't make it. Why should he have to pay the price and shuffle back and forth? The thing is, his dad wants him and I want him gone for one day out of the week so I can get some sleep. It's just that he doesn't want to go. His dad and I both try to honor his feelings about the matter but this mom is crumbling under the pressure.

Today is my 46th birthday and I feel 56 (and look it too today). difficult child decided that 6:00 was a good time to wake up. I need more than 6 hours of sleep. I'm one of those people who disintegrates when I go too many nights without enough sleep. He NEVER gets up without getting me up too. I have these visions of being in my 60s and he'll be in his 30s and waking me up. It's like he never did sleep through the night. He calls me out of a cold sleep half the time with being afraid. It's taking its toll.

Now this has turned out to be a vent and I wasn't intending for it to be so. I just wondered if my guilt was normal. Should I get over it for my own good or am I being a selfish mom by not honoring where he wants to be.

I don't know that there are right or wrong answers here. I am just curious how other moms feel about sharing the parenting time.

I feel ya!

You feel bad because of him saying he wants to be with you. But this is one of those things where as long as dad is not harmful, he gets a turn too. I'm guessing his fears are probably linked to his anxiety. It sure seems like it will last forever. He will outgrow it. My older daughter was like that. My younger, she takes off to go outside and I don't see her all day. I NEVER see her!

Don't feel guilty. Although yes, it is normal to feel that way. Try not to. He needs this time with his dad. And you DEFINITELY need the break! Enjoy your time alone (with husband).


Thank you so much for the validation. I really appreciate that ((((((BBK))))).

timer lady

Queen of Hearts

Don't do the parent shuffle - however I utilize respite for kt whenever & wherever I can. And saying that, I do the happy dance when she leaves for respite. I think I should feel guilty however I know I need the difficult child free time to recharge.

Yup, you're supposed to feel guilty. I just don't like to feed into negative emotions - takes too much energy out of my system.


Active Member
Linda's right, guilt is a draining, negative, unproductive emotion. You don't need it.

A close friend of mine has easy child kids (apart from ADHD in her son - he's OK though). She was divorced from her husband but they got on OOK (once he was stable on medications). She INSISTED he have access, even though the courts would have totally eliminated his parental rights. At first it was supervised access and then SHE agreed he was coping and so the kids would go to him for school holidays, etc. And every other weekend. He remarried, which increased his stability.

And she would look forward to her kid-free time, she would make plans specifically for the times her children were with their father. She and her second husband would go away for a few days, they would invite people to dinner, they would do all the things so difficult when kids are underfoot.

And these were PCs. She and her THIRD husband (we don't talk about the second) are now on very good terms with the kids' father and his wife. Her kids are now grown and independent, but close to both parents.

Michele, I do think the problems difficult child is having, are less to do with his father and more to do with CHANGE. Try to see it from your ex's perspective (maybe ask him about what he sees) - I suspect difficult child makes a similar fuss when it's time to leave his father and come back to you. If so, this could be concerning the dad and making him wonder, what the H is going on at your place to make difficult child so unwilling to make the change. You probably need to talk to each other about what you each see when difficult child is at each other's home. Don't get defensive or anything if DEX says "he's fine with me, nothing wrong with him, it's all in your mind," because not only is that NOT the issue here, it's quite likely what he does see - a different environment makes it easier to mask symptoms very effectively, especially with a bright kid like yours.

It's not a deception in any way, it's simply a dislike of change. Of course, if he's not at his father's for more than a couple of days this won't be so much of an issue. It's when they're there long enough to adapt, and need to make a change to come home, that you see this mirror image situation more.

It's also not personal (unlikely to be) although his dad's different parenting style could be causing some confusion also.

But don't feel guilty. As BBK said, "if dad is not harmful, he gets a turn too." That is a good explanation for difficult child. (at least the "he gets a turn too" bit)

Hang in there. Yes, we feel guilty. My friend did, even though she would make plans. But if you didn't feel guilty, you probably wouldn't feel you were as good a mother.



Well-Known Member
Think of it this way, you will be a better parent when you get that break. You need that break, it's vital to your well-being. Relish it!! Don't feel an ounce of guilt! It will only take away from the enjoyable day off. It's hard work being a parent, everyone needs time to themselves to rejuvinate. -Alyssa


Here we go again!
Heck, I often wish they would go to ANYBODY's house but MINE!!! And I live with their dad, so there's no place to ship them to on weekends! And yes, I feel guilty, but I think that's normal.


Well-Known Member
I do the major shuffle. 50/50 split of time.

difficult child hates the switching but also claims to hate going to dad's house. She is fine once she is there.

As far as I am concerned, difficult child is lucky that both parents want to be with her so badly. I feel it is important for all kids to spend time with dad as well. No matter if they want to or not. It will be part of the childhood memories.
For all you know difficult child will look back on his childhood thinking dad did not want to be with him. difficult children can change any truth around to make themselves feel bad it seems.

Send him. It will be good for everyone. Nobody loses.


You all have really helped me with this. You've given me great perspective and I thank you.

He's coming home here shortly despite the fact that our informal agreement is that he stays all day. But I got my full night sleep so I'm good to go. It does hurt his dad's feelings to some degree but he says it doesn't. I think he realizes that it's more about the change in routine. He keeps saying "I'll come up with more things to do while he's here". I told him, it's not about that. You're doing fine, we just need to keep up the consistency until it becomes his routine. Probably the fact that we've not forced the full time on him he's not been able to establish that as part of his routine. He called early this morning while I was still sleeping and talked to husband asking to come home. I'm very fortunate to have a husband who is so understanding and agrees to let him come home even though it cuts into our peaceful time. Yesterday he was all about hating husband and saying he hated him, he ruined his life and he wished I never married him because we would have been better off. husband just says that all boys who are so close to their mom need some conflict with a father figure. Maybe he is right.

On the plus side, the celexa has made a wee bit of difference this past week. I went several days without hearing that I was the worst mom ever. And by Thursday he was going back into his bad behavior pattern (he says curse words or provokes and says he doesn't care what the consequences are I can't make him stop). But after about 10 minutes into it he cried out "Can't we just start this night over". GOD yes! We hugged and the rest of the night was fine. That's never happened. Usually it's me who has to turn it around.

I hope everyone has a great Sunday.



New Member
We have "shared" parenting. While we had to file a plan with the courts, my kids were old enough (14 and 10) that we basically told them to choose how they wanted to do the share. They came up with a week at each house - they did/do (the oldest is 20 and in the Navy) the switch on their way home from school on Monday.
My younger one (who's 16), now that his brother is gone, is VERY insistant about spending the exact same amount of time at each house. If one of us has a special plan for the weekend, he will try to make it so it's on "our" weekend. If not, he will switch days around to accomodate, but keeps a running track of where he was when. When the older one is home from the Navy, he, too tries to make things "equal" - but now that he's married, he has a whole other family to also include in that timeframe.

We do plan things for when we are "kidless", including some of our volunteer things if possible. The kids know that and are perfectly fine with it.