So I am having some major issues with my 4.5yo not wanting to stay with his dad overnight.
Some background - we separated probably close to 2yrs ago now. Our relationship is very amicable for the most part. We dont have a fixed parenting arrangement - mostly because of our work situation - he is a firefighter, so on rotational day/night shifts, and i work part-time, so xDh will have the kids, if he's not working, while i work after school etc, and also help out with "babysitting" as needed as we have very limited family here. So he sees the kids several times a week - sometimes for an hr or two (at my home) and sometimes for the whole day. Early in our separation, he had his own house with rooms set up for the kids (3kids - 12,10 and 4.5) etc and they would spend 2/3nights there and all have a great time. About 12mths ago he moved in with a GF and her 3 children. His GF is nice to my kids and treats them well. Of her 3 children it seems the 2 youngest have some sort of "Spectrum Needs" - I'm not sure of the issues and in fact if they have a diagnosis at all, but it seems they are "difficult" and "needy" and my ex DH finds them very difficult to live with. My children dont enjoy their company My children have been catered for in the home, with (shared) bedrooms etc. Unfortunately, my XDH and his GF seem to have a very volatile relationship, lots of arguing, often about her children and lots of other things.
XDH is a very loving dad, his children are extremely important to him, and he wants to be very involved in their lives, but over the last 12mths, due to his living arrangements, our children have had less and less overnight sleepovers (In the Xmas school hols it was 4-5 separate nights, usually when GF children arent there).
My older children are happy to stay overnight, despite not loving it there, because they love their dad and want to spend time with him. My 4yo is getting more and more adverse to staying there, if he goes he cries for me and calls begging to come home, wont go to sleep. He gets anxious about it long before actually leaving. Tonight as I kissed him goodnight, he said "I dont want to stay at daddys", and I havent even mentioned him staying over. When I ask him why, he just says "Becasue I want to stay with you, because I love you". If I ask him if he loves his dad, he says "Yes, but I dont want to stay there". I dont think there is anything bad going on, although he did tell me a few times that the 9yo son told him "You're a dead-man". He will happily spend hours with his dad but not overnight at his house.
Its making us all upset and sad - I want the kids to have a great relationship with their dad, but I feel awful forcing him to go somewhere he really doesnt want to. His dad feels hurt and rejected and sad, but also sort of feels he shouldn't make him stay there.
I dont really know what to do...anyone got any advice, tips? Anything! Happy for non-single parents to reply!!