A Problem Shared: Issues Sharing Custody Of My Son

A Problem Shared Parenting & Family Advice | by | 14th Jan 2019

A mother is having issues with her son’s father not giving him the same rules as her. Find out what advice FamilyPoint has to offer in this week’s A Problem Shared.

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Dear FamilyPoint,

I’m having problems with the custody of my son. The courts have given his father access to him but it seems every time he goes to him, he comes back a complete and absolute nightmare. It’s like getting a different child back, the back chat, not listening, the “I want”. He’s having nightmares and night terrors, and it takes me about 3 or 4 days to settle him back in.

At home we try to keep to a healthy diet, regular bedtimes and everything. I know that different foods, sweets and chocolates make my son really overactive. I’ve explained this to his father but he continues to give him the stuff that we’ve completely cut down on. My son is coming back tired; full of junk food and his behaviour is getting to a stage where I don’t know what to do. I need some advice on what to do please.

FamilyPoint Advice


Thanks for coming through to us here at FamilyPoint. It sounds as though both you and your son are struggling at the moment. Co-parenting following a separation/divorce can be very difficult. Both of you will have different ways of doing things and it is almost inevitable that there will be things that you don’t agree on. 

Is it reasonable?

You didn’t say in your e-mail how old your son is and how regularly he has contact with his dad. If he were only seeing his dad once a week for example, then it would not be unreasonable that his dad chooses what to feed him. However, if he were seeing his dad maybe 3 times a week then it would make sense that you both work together to ensure that he does have a healthy balanced diet. Again with the late nights, if this is only once a week when he is with his dad, and of course if it’s at the weekend, then maybe it’s only fair that his dad decides what time his son goes to bed.

However, his changes in behaviour and of course the nightmares and night terrors are a cause for concern. In an ideal world both you and your ex would be working together to encourage good behaviour.

Working it out

However, as I’m sure you already know, what is acceptable behaviour for one person is not for another. If you have spoken to your ex about this, have attempted all options (for example arranging mediation between you both, getting assistance from family/friends) and nothing has changed, then all you can do is to remain consistent about your expectations of your son’s behaviour when he is in your home. Talk to him about different homes and different people having different rules. Make sure that he understands why you expect him to behave in the way you do. Reward good behaviour and challenge behaviour you find unacceptable.

As for the nightmares/night terrors, if you haven’t already, perhaps speak to both your son and his dad. See if either of them knows what is causing them. If they have no idea and they don’t improve then it might be a good idea to visit your GP for advice.

I am sure that you both love your son very much. I know it is not always possible, but it is always beneficial if both parents can work together when problems arise.

Take Care

The FamilyPoint Team

FamilyPoint Helpline

If you would like further information on national or local support services, then you can contact us at FamilyPoint Cymru via phone 0300 222 57 57, text 07860 052 905, or IM/Chat. We are open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm.

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