Should I let ex stay at my home so he can visit the children?
August 1, 2014 7:23 AM   Subscribe

My children haven't seen their father since his move to a distant continent last year, following our acrimonious divorce. He is coming to visit soon and expects to stay with us. I am of two minds whether to welcome him into my home.

This was my question last year.

What has happened since is that the kids, now 7 and 8, have been seeing a psychologist at their new school each week for hourly sessions "to talk about missing Daddy", and I began to see a therapist on my own to help me get a handle on things as I plunged into a bad depression. This also affected my relationship with my partner to the point where we started couples therapy, and have now been going for five months.

My ex-husband maintains contact with the children via unscheduled and irregular FaceTime sessions, usually them calling him once they are in bed at night, a few times a week.

It's now been a year since they saw him and he emailed me recently that he will not be coming to take them to his new home for the summer after all, as he can't afford it, but will instead come here for three weeks. I was so relieved to hear this, I wrote back immediately that he was welcome to stay with us.

However, when my partner with whom I bought the house we live in, heard of my plans he said he was absolutely opposed to this arrangement. He has weathered first-hand the hurt and suffering the children and I experienced as a result of my ex's move, and he now deeply resents my ex for it. He says that he will feel awkward at best around my ex in our home and will be strongly tempted to give him a piece of his mind.

We talked to our couples therapist about it, and I also discussed it with my own therapist, and the consensus is that we should book my ex into a hotel and offer to pay for it ourselves if he can't afford it.

So I wrote to tell him as much and by way of a reply he asked why he can't stay in my home. I haven't written back yet.

I have very mixed feelings and wish with my whole heart to be able simply to welcome him in a friendly way and make his three weeks with the children as wonderful as possible for them, sharing my home and car with him and eating together like friends.

However, I still feel very raw and fear that I will not be able to keep it together when he comes. I also feel I should tell him about the full consequences of his decision and that I no longer respect him but that I will treat him graciously for the sake of the children.

The children are very eager to see their father and counting the days.

I want what's best for them. Should I grit my teeth, man up, and just pretend we're all good now, or should I make outside accommodation arrangements and keep out of his way as much as possible, eating separately and speaking to him to the barest minimum, or should I let him stay with us but have the open conversation when he arrives and then treat him as amicably as possible for the children's benefit?

(Note: I mentioned in my original question that I am required to let my ex stay at my house per the divorce agreement but on re-reading it I found that this clause was in fact taken out in one if our later revisions of the document.)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (47 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
What if you make outside accomodation arrangements, make his three weeks with the children as wonderful as possible for them, spending time together like friendly acquaintances? It seems like there's a lot of middle ground here you're not exploring. It's not a choice between "welcome him with open arms" and "treat him like persona non grata".

When he asks why he can't stay with you, "it's not going to work for us" is an appropriate answer.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:31 AM on August 1, 2014 [21 favorites]

Pay for a hotel room. Having him in your home holds the potential for too much drama. Tell him you and your partner decided you're just not comfortable with him staying with you.
posted by summerstorm at 7:32 AM on August 1, 2014 [15 favorites]

He is there to see the children, not you. You do not need to be his friend. You just need to appear friendly. Your boyfriend is very much in the right on this one. It could also confuse the children, to have their father in their home. If you can afford to put him up in a hotel, get a room that is big enough for the kids to sleep there some nights. 3 nights in the hotel, 4 nights home, or something like that. They lost their dad. They don't need to lose their mom too, not even for 3 weeks, so plan to see them during this time.

My children are also in therapy for losing their dad to him being an idiot. He barely speaks to them and only sees them when there are others around so that he can play the role of the good dad, without actually being one. It is difficult but we are getting through it. The one thing that I have learned is that I cannot micro-manage their relationship with him. Once they learned that he was a hapless idiot, it seemed like it was a little easier for them to accept the fact that he is not like a real dad.

Email ex back and let him know that you weren't thinking when you made the offer. It just wouldn't work to have him in your house. Don't give reasons, and don't let him bully you into reasons. Just hold your ground. And if he decides not to visit then that is his choice and your children will have to accept it. It isn't your fault if he is a jerk.
posted by myselfasme at 7:36 AM on August 1, 2014 [25 favorites]

I used to stay at my ex-wife's house when I went to visit my daughter, 1000s of miles away from where I lived. It was convenient for everyone, and let her have some time off. But my ex-wife and I were on fairly good terms, and there was no new partner who had to deal with me. I have to say that, under either of those circumstances, I wouldn't have done it and I don't think it would have worked. I second the other opinions that it doesn't have to be a black & white thing. But if you can put him up elsewhere, and he's still free to spend as much time as he can with the kids, I think it will be better for everyone. He'll also be able to take them back to the hotel occasionally for swimming, they'll love that.
posted by ubiquity at 7:36 AM on August 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

His being in your home with your partner pissed off at him and you worried about your own feelings, and presumably then torn between supporting your partner and supporting your ex's parenting, is not going to result in anything "wonderful" for your kids.

Boundaries keep people from trampling all over each other's emotions, and it's good to have some here.

"I'm sorry, it just won't work for you to stay here. The kids are looking forward to seeing you." is the only reply you need to send to him.
posted by jaguar at 7:39 AM on August 1, 2014 [32 favorites]

I think you need to treat him amicably because that's the best thing for your children. But it's not the best thing for your children to have him in the house. That's confusing, a potential drama-nest, and fundamentally dishonest-- you resent him (rightly so) and he's not part of your household anymore.

I hope your kids will be able to enjoy the time with him without it being terrible for them when he leaves - that he will be able to transition in their mind to being a sort of fun uncle figure. Kids are amazingly resilient. But I don't see why that means having him in the house.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:42 AM on August 1, 2014

You should pay for him to stay at a hotel, and maybe let the kids stay there for part of the time he is in town.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:45 AM on August 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

You don't have to tell him why. Not really. Just tell him you and your partner aren't comfortable having him stay at your house for that time.

Get him a place on airbnb or something, and if you want and he needs it, offer to pay for some or all of it.
posted by J. Wilson at 7:47 AM on August 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

Do whatever you need to do to make your interactions with your ex as amicable as possible. It's true you don't need to be his friend, but you do need to be polite and act in a friendly, non-hostile manner. If you can't handle being around him a ton, find other things to do if he's spending time with the kids at home, or have some suggestions for out-of-the-house activities he can do with the kids. Try not to make it super-apparent to the kids that you're avoiding spending time with him, if you go that route-- put a positive spin on it if you can "I'm going to do (whatever) while you spend time with dad!", "you're going to do (fun thing) with dad! Have a great time!".

Making hotel arrangements and offering to pay is a totally reasonable alternative, especially if there is a hotel reasonably close to your home. If you can arrange a few overnights while he is visiting, that would probably be great for everyone involved.

I agree with folks suggesting that you simply say "I'm sorry, it turns out that it's not possible for you to stay here after all". Don't explain, it's not a negotiation. If he asks why, simply repeat calmly that it's not possible, and repeat your alternative arrangement suggestions.

Also, your partner needs to both a) support you and do everything in his power to help you be amiable towards your kids' father, and b) keep his mouth shut to your ex and about your ex to the kids. It's totally understandable that your partner is frustrated and defensive on your behalf, and on behalf of the kids, but the relationship between you, your ex, and the kids is only indirectly his business. He needs to support you, not get mixed up in the fray and further complicate the relationship between the kids and their dad.
posted by Kpele at 7:50 AM on August 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

Absolutely don't invite this man into your home to stay. It would undo a lot of work that your kids have done to maybe move on to see him back in your house and very confusing. I am really surprised that you agreed to it so readily without first checking with your partner as this affects them, too.

You seem to do a poor job at setting boundaries with your ex (this and the after bed FaceTime calls are in my mind here). Make it clear that this offer to put him up in alternative lodging is just for this visit, then if he plans for others, to fund them himself and that it's being done for the sole benefit of your children, not him.

You don't have to be buddies with the man, but around the children you do have to be...neutral. Be happy that this makes your children happy and make that your primary focus.
posted by inturnaround at 7:53 AM on August 1, 2014 [6 favorites]

Listen to the advice of the counselors and your current partner. And n-thing that you don't owe him an explanation - or a spare bed in your house for 3 weeks. But by the same token, I don't think you necessarily need to explain "the full consequences of his decision" in any sort of big conversation with your ex. The consequences are, or will be soon, clear enough. Make this visit about getting him some time with kids.

A nice hotel/extended-stay suites place near your house sounds perfect. Maybe with room for the kids to stay with him a few nights? Maybe they have a pool? My children are about the same ages (I'm also recently divorced -- so I hear you) and hotel pool fun with dad is pretty great for them. Just keep it simple.
posted by pantarei70 at 7:54 AM on August 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

In addition to the potential for awkwardness and drama between all the adults under the roof (which the kids will surely pick up on), I'm struck by something you said in your previous post:
"The children are struggling to get used to not having him around, and often talk about how happy they were ‘when daddy was here’. "
If there's still any element of that in their thoughts and feelings, it might be better to avoid any confusion - even subconscious - on their part that now that Daddy is back in the house things will go back to "normal."

My feeling is that if he's close by during the visit, but not actually living in the house, it might be easier to maintain the acceptance of "Daddy still loves you, but he isn't going to live with us anymore." I don't know your ex, but putting it to him that it's less confusing for the kids if he doesn't stay in the house may help him accept it better.

If you are in a position to help him out obtaining lodgings nearby, that would be a very nice thing for you to do.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:01 AM on August 1, 2014 [14 favorites]

You talked with your partner and the two of you decided it would be best if he stayed elsewhere. Say that, and repeat it a few times if he keeps asking. If you feel like you need to say more, then maybe, "I shouldn't have invited you without discussing it with Partner. I'm sorry you're disappointed."
posted by wryly at 8:08 AM on August 1, 2014 [5 favorites]

Tell him you and your partner decided you're just not comfortable with him staying with you.

Make sure this doesn't somehow turn into "My partner doesn't want you here." You two have to act as a team on this one. You don't owe him an explanation. "It won't be possible" is totally fine, but if you decide to do that you can just say it's too disruptive to the home environment you have. Above all, do not engage in some sort of debate about it. It's your house, your rules, that's it. This is about him seeing the kids, not the two of you having some annoying back and forth about his wants/needs and you trying to accommodate them. He's a grown ass man, with children, and he can figure this out on his own or deal with the consequences of not figuring it out, on his own.

I'm a child of divorce and the failure mode in my parent's divorce was that my mom acted as intermediary for my overworking and barely-interested father so that his not seeing us or failing to show up or whatever became a failure of Team Them (which we knew was a shitty dysfunctional team, that's why they split up!) and just sort of reopened old wounds every time it happened.

You have a chance to be on Team Us with your new partner and this is a great opportunity for you to be in a situation that is less crappy and that you feel less responsible for the crappy aspects of. Be cordial and helpful but don't assume a helper role with your ex. Be supportive of the kids but don't lose yourself in the process. If you can't keep it together go elsewhere and have your current partner deal with logistics. If your ex has unresolved drama with you, then he can lump it.
posted by jessamyn at 8:24 AM on August 1, 2014 [14 favorites]

What if you let him stay but then booked you and your partner a hotel nearby for a few nights. Do you trust your ex in your home without you, with the kids? Would the kids be ok with that? It might be nice for you to get away and have free "babysitting." And taking a little getaway with the boyfriend might ease the anxiety he has over Ex staying.

My dad came and stayed with us when he visited (he also lived on a different continent) and honestly, it was such a special treat to have breakfast with him and relax, and feel like he's our dad rather than a random family visitor.

I think your kids will appreciate getting to see dad at home, and it sounds like that's what your heart is telling you to do, and you're doubting it because of boyfriend. So talk to boyfriend about the pros of him coming to stay, I.e. free babysitting and the opportunity to have a romantic getaway.
posted by katypickle at 8:26 AM on August 1, 2014 [4 favorites]

he asked why he can't stay in my home
"It's just not possible."

I think the hotel is a great idea, especially if the kids can do a few sleepovers. Make sure you and your partner (maybe with your therapists) have discussed ways you will deal with the various scenarios that may arise and have rehearsed a dialog: will he be invited for meals? will you drop the children off or will he pick them up? if he picks them up, will he be allowed in the house? if so, for how long? if not, what if one of the kids wants to show him their room, what will you say? will he have free agency while they're with him or do you want to have approval of their activities? what if one of the kids is upset and doesn't want to be around dad (this happens)? will they have to stay with him or can they come home?

If the kids have passports, make sure they're locked away (the passports, not the kids), just in case of sketchy shenanigans.
posted by melissasaurus at 8:49 AM on August 1, 2014 [7 favorites]

Tell him the truth:

"Ex, my first priority is to make this a wonderful three weeks for our children and minimize any potential conflict or source of tension. For that reason, I think you should have your own space. This is not negotiable. We are all looking forward to your visit!


Honestly this kind of person will use something like this as an excuse to not see the kids so I really hope that doesn't happen to you. If it does, it's his fault.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:52 AM on August 1, 2014 [17 favorites]

Should I grit my teeth, man up, and just pretend we're all good now

I firmly believe it is a parent's obligation to do what's best for their kids. I also think that one of the most important things for kids is to have parental figures who are happy and self-actualized. So should you maybe push your personal discomfort down and enable them to have a good relationship with their dad? Sure. Should you do it in a way that makes you miserable? Hell to the no.

On the personal feelings front, however, your partner needs to suck it up and swallow this resentment of the kids' dad anywhere that the kids might see it. None of us are obligated to forgive the way others mistreat the people we love, even if the recipient of the mistreatment extends that forgiveness - that's them, not us. But we can not allow our own refusal/inability to forgive to cause more pain for the mistreated folks. There are people who hurt my friends who I will not be in a room with but that's about them and me, not my friends. Your partner doesn't ever have to trust or like your ex, but allowing his anger to make the kids' life worse is an offense in and of itself. He needs to be better, for their sake, because they are not mature enough to understand that two adult loved ones can dislike each other without it being about them.

That doesn't mean you need to welcome someone into your home if you cannot be comfortable with that. Setting good boundaries is good for everyone and having a miserably unhappy parent is bad for them. That's even aside from the fact that I think just having this guy come and go from the kids' home is a little confusing. There's no harm to them - I think it's a net good, in fact - if they get a clear picture of the relationship between the two of you and where it is now. It should be a courteous and respectful relationship in both directions, but keeping it crystal clear that daddy does not live there and is not a member of your household is in everyone's best interests, IMHO.

I think having him nearby but not in the home is a good one, and I think you need to be very firm and on the same page with him before he shows up. The initial offer and rescind is unfortunate but it's your home and your comfort. "You can't stay here because I decided it would make me uncomfortable" is all you owe him, and he owes the kids to accept it and keep his damned mouth shut about it with the kids. Offering to provide paid housing (maybe look at airB&B or Homeaway rather than nightly hotel pricing? Or at least corporate housing or something that will be less painful) is exceedingly generous and if he can't accept that and a clear boundary then that's on him, not you.

If you think he can't honor this with integrity and a brave face then you should unquestionably get your attorney involved.
posted by phearlez at 8:57 AM on August 1, 2014 [4 favorites]

Also, my ex is at my place all the time and it's so, so irritating. We get along fine otherwise but something about him being in my space just makes it yell time. Seriously, this whole staying-at-your-house thing is such a bad idea.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:58 AM on August 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

Another thing to consider is, depending on where you live, if you let him stay with you, and he refuses to leave at the end of the three weeks, you might have to go through the entire eviction process to get him out of your home.

That's worst-case scenario, but possible.
posted by 1066 at 9:11 AM on August 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

Homodachi: From your previous question: "Our divorce agreement states that he can visit the children here and stay at my home and I am fine with that." Consult a lawyer before you do something that contradicts your divorce agreement. (And see about getting that agreement amended!)
See the end of the current question, this is not part of the final agreement.

I would vote against letting him stay at your home, but do help him find a place near to you where he can spend time with the kids.
posted by Ms. Next at 9:14 AM on August 1, 2014

Another thought on the black or white thinking. Maybe he can stay at a hotel this time and see how it goes, then once you see how everything goes, maybe he can stay with you (or not) next time around. Who knows, you might find this works great, you might find dealbreakers for ever having him in your house, you might find you can go on a vacation with your partner while he house sits and spends time with the kids.

This is just the first step. It is a learning process that has to take into account how everyone feel now, a year later. I think baby steps, such as getting a hotel, sounds about right.
posted by Vaike at 9:21 AM on August 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yes, as Vaike says, baby steps.

I believe ex will appreciate it if you say that although it won't be possible for him to stay with you at this time, you do hope that his visits will become more comfortable for all of you with the passage of time.
posted by JimN2TAW at 9:41 AM on August 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's now been a year since they saw him and he emailed me recently that he will not be coming to take them to his new home for the summer after all, as he can't afford it, but will instead come here for three weeks.

I don't know how recently he let you know this but it is really, really short notice to change plans so massively, even if it didn't involve kids! You are being incredibly flexible and accommodating even without the question of him staying with you.

It really sounds to me like this guy is doing a number on you and is constantly turning things around so that everything is your burden to manage. I know you are trying to take the high road here, but no matter what you do he is going to push your boundaries. As a reason for him not to stay, I would cite that the kids need things to be stable and predictable. Someone who changes plans like he does is going to throw your household into chaos more than once in three weeks. (You don't have to say anything critical to him though. He knows he's being unreliable. You can just say you need the kids to not be confused.)
posted by BibiRose at 9:42 AM on August 1, 2014 [12 favorites]

Having anybody, even beloved drama-free family members, stay in your house for three weeks is a lot to ask. I agree that you shouldn't make this sound like your partner's decision, but like your own decision.

"We're all excited to have you come. One change -- I've thought it over more, and I've decided the visit will go best if we each have our own space. It's not going to work for you to stay here. Instead, there's a hotel only a couple miles away, here's the website, and we can talk about how to make this work."
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:13 AM on August 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

Having you pay for his hotel is weird, in my opinion. Is he an adult? Then he can arrange and pay for his own hotel; you aren't his mother that has to do everything for him.
posted by saucysault at 10:18 AM on August 1, 2014 [15 favorites]

Good point above that if he stays in your home for 3 weeks, he becomes a legal resident and you might have to evict him in court if he decides not to leave....

I would not tell him this fact, but absolutely he should not sleep in your home.

Nthing that he's effing with you. My first thought is he is going to blow up this conflict so that he doesn't have to come visit at all.

On the on hand, you really stepped into his trap by enthusiastically making that offer. It's useful here for you to see where this guy still pushes your buttons, so you can become immune down the road.

On the other hand, you really really really should treat this as though he's not showing up. Withdraw your excitement and emotion. Be business-like, only.

I'm really sorry. The guy tipped his hand to his plans when he wrote back challenging you about his accomodation. He's looking for a way to get out of the visit altogether. I'm so sorry.

I don't know how you want to frame this to your children, how you prepare them for possible disappointment if he uses this as an excuse and doesn't show up. I think, though, solving this problem is one of the rewards of remaining business-like. Your choices are clearer when you have a plan and are not responding to your ex's curve balls from emotion.

Work with your counselors on a new operating system so that you can consistently deal with your ex from now on and into the future that puts his own responsibilities squarely on his shoulders, and also manages your children's expectations.

Never ever should your children get the impression you are throwing up road blocks to keep daddy away from them. Right now, your ex is manipulating you into this position. Stop playing his game by becoming straightforward and bussiness-like.

Your response should be:

"Dear Ex,

Children are looking forward to seeing you on Date X thru Date Y.

Partner and I have confirmed and will be paying for a hotel room for you to stay at during your visit at Z Hotel from X Date thru Y Date.

Please let us know your travel plans. With airport security these days, I know Little Bobby and Cindy can't pick you up at the airport, but we'd love to coordinate something similar so they can have that experience of welcoming you for this big visit. Please keep us in the loop so we can work out something special.

The children are super excited for your visit!


posted by jbenben at 10:40 AM on August 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

He should not stay with you.

It's not to keep your partner from losing their temper. It's not because your ex was a bad spouse. It's not to punish him. Truthfully, it's because it would disrupt the kids' schedules and emotions too much, and because three weeks is too long for any houseguest to stay no matter how beloved.

I wholeheartedly agree with everyone upthread that the only "explanation" you need provide is that "it's not going to work for us for you to stay here afterall, but we're very happy you're coming to visit the kids." You're not being evasive or dishonest by not getting into the particulars, it's just not up for negotiation, period.

If he can't afford to pay for a hotel, split the cost with him. Help him find somewhere to book a room because you know the area better, but don't do it for him as if you're his wife or secretary.
posted by desuetude at 10:43 AM on August 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

Big vote against having him stay in your home. The divorce between my husband and his ex-wife was relatively okay-ish and they have maintained even contact and shared custody. My stepson was 4 when they separated. It took some time but he is fairly clear that his bio-parents aren't getting back together ever again. Both his father and his bio-mom have remarried, everyone is good.

However, I can only imagine the confusion and upset and false hope that my kid would have if his mother moved in for three weeks. I would never in a million years allow that to happen. he is a smart kid but that would be so utterly confusing and upsetting for him. We spent a lot of time (and therapy) to make it clear for him that we love him, his bio-parents love him and will be his parents forever but they aren't ever getting back together. Being a kid is a confusing time. Don't do this to your kids. Please.

And DEFINITELY don't phrase it as "My partner and I aren't comfortable with you staying here" because all he will here is "Her ass-hole boyfriend is keeping me from my kids". Your partner has nothing to do with it. Just tell him that it won't be possible for him to stay with you during the visit and then list some nearby hotels that he could stay at.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:45 AM on August 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you could find an airbnb location that is walking distance from your house, that would be an ideal compromise.
posted by fermezporte at 10:52 AM on August 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

I frankly find it bizarre that he would expect you to house him, ridiculously selfish and disingenious that he would actually question why you changed your mind (I men really, duh) and completely reasonable to make him pay for his own lodgings. If I were your partner I'd be seriously worried about your boundaries due to you having made this offer and being reluctant to change it. I would wonder why your priorities involved doing so much for him at the expense of our relationship and yes, your children, who would not benefit from him staying there.
posted by celtalitha at 11:00 AM on August 1, 2014 [14 favorites]

Ah, I missed the part where you already informed him that he couldn't stay with you.

Still standing by your answer to "why" simply being "it just won't work for us."

> "I have very mixed feelings and wish with my whole heart to be able simply to welcome him in a friendly way and make his three weeks with the children as wonderful as possible for them, sharing my home and car with him and eating together like friends."

That's not really wonderful for the kids any more than being a jerk to him would be good for the kids. Either your kids believe the act and get confused about why Daddy isn't here all the time since everything is fine now, or (more likely) their BS detectors go off and they get confused about why you're pretending.

I would suggest treat him like a business associate -- friendly but not too personal. Sure, arrange to have dinners together. You can invite him to be included for other meals as needed to try to keep the kids on their regular schedules as much as possible, but without extending "mi casa su casa"-- he shouldn't be rummaging around in your kitchen to make them snacks, for example.
posted by desuetude at 11:00 AM on August 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think it will be very confusing for the kids if their father comes to live in the house with you like one big happy family again. I also understand that your new significant other is uncomfortable with it and you would be disrespecting your relationship by allowing it.

I think you should do everything you can to facilitate a great three weeks with your kids and their father, but I do not think you and your ex should be hanging out and he absolutely should not be staying in your home. Maybe he can stop over for dinner and games with the kids while you and your new partner go out. (Assuming you are comfortable having your ex in the house while you're not there.) Try to facilitate the kids hanging out with dad "off-campus," like an amusement park or something. At least that's my advance as someone whose parents got divorced, but I've never been married or had kids.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:26 AM on August 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm not of the mind to call BS on his last minute change of the plans being some insidious plot to make it your problem/take advantage of you/worm his way back into your life since well, shit happens and life happens and this has been a year of plans fucking up for essentially every person i know offline. In micro, and like this, macro ways. I'd give him the benefit of the doubt on that one. Just that one though, no other excuses that have or will come up. With one exception i'll get to in a minute.

I agree with the choir that letting him stay is bad, but i think the nearby AirBnB idea is brilliant. Especially if he can rent an entire place.

The main thing to emphasize there though, is that just because he's nearby doesn't mean he can drop in randomly/unannounced or generally just pop up at your house. Boundaries on that part need to be clear.

I also agree with others that you shouldn't pay for the place he's staying with the exception that if he really can't and you believe him, then do it if it would mean bailing on the whole trip otherwise.

Not paying for it if he can't feels too much like taking it out on the kids to me. And as a kid, i always saw that kind of stuff when i grok'd it as basically punishing me as fallout of shifting blame, rightfully or not, onto the other person. Kids learn that concept of arbitrary punishment and fallout punishment very, very young. I got pissed at friends parents for doing stuff like that at a very young age. While you might be morally in the right in some way, and drawing boundaries and stuff... it just strikes me as a bit of a cockish thing to go "Well you don't have the money because life stuff came up? tough, sounds like you suck at life, you don't get to see the kids."

I mean, if you really think he's manipulating you don't do it. Ditto if he has a history of imposing or manipulating money out of you or whatever. But if you think it's even possible he's telling the truth then just pay for it. Otherwise it just kind of seems obstinate.

I don't disagree with what was said above about him being an adult, but sometimes even as an adult life kicks you in the balls when your savings were wiped out by the first two problems, or planned expenses(house down payment and then emergency?), or whatever.
posted by emptythought at 12:26 PM on August 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just a reminder, because it's easy to lose track:

You're not being a jerk by saying no. HE'S being a jerk by pushing the issue. "Why?" isn't his business to even ask.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:28 PM on August 1, 2014 [14 favorites]

Do you have to be there for the three weeks? Rather than pay for a hotel for dad, can you and your partner take off and have a break (the break that you would have had, had the kids gone to stay with dad)?

Otherwise, my first thought is, honor your partner. If he's uncomfortable, you have to do what needs to be done to make him comfortable, because he's the one who's there supporting you and your kids emotionally in your day-to-day lives.

Dad is a grown man, it's his responsibility to figure out what he needs to do to see his kids, including the financial end. Your generosity is noble, but too detrimental to the rest of your life.
posted by vignettist at 1:01 PM on August 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

my partner with whom I bought the house we live in heard of my plans he said he was absolutely opposed to this arrangement

if you were to attempt to have your ex stay in your house against the wishes of your partner, you are going to do some serious damage to your current relationship. It's his house too.

Also, what's best for your children is a stable, happy home life now and in the future. Your current relationship being solid, loving and respectful is key to this.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:21 PM on August 1, 2014

The way you explain it to your ex is: "That simply won't be possible."

Book him into a motel with a pool and he and the kids can spend the days outdoors enjoying it. Besides, you have them all the damn time without respite, he OWES you some time alone with your partner.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:26 PM on August 1, 2014

You absolutely do not owe your ex-husband access to your house or your car or any explanation. You share the children--but do you really? You have full custody; his priority, when he moved away, was not them. So it's now up to him to prove himself to them.

He's already broken one promise, a big one, about seeing them (that being that he would bring them to visit him). And it looks like he's gearing up to break another one. I agree with the above posters that your not letting him stay with you, eat your food, use your car, and so on, will be the excuse he uses not to visit at all. If it's not that, it will be that he doesn't want to stay in a hotel. Or something. Anything. It will be whatever he can grasp onto to make it your fault that he's not visiting his children. (And make no mistake, this will go on for years. Long after they are adults he'll be telling them that you didn't allow him to visit or he tried to visit but you made it too difficult or you prioritized your partner over them by not allowing him to stay with you. Lather, rinse, repeat.)

So what do you do? Your boundaries should be decided upon (with your current partner and your therapists--though, excuse me, but why would/did your therapist suggest that *you* pay for him to stay in a hotel?), set (but with zero explanation to your ex, leaning heavily on the emotionless, non-apologetic, "That won't be possible"), and then made inviolate.

"It will not be possible for you to stay here. There are nearby hotels; check google." Stop negotiating with him. And definitely stop negotiating against yourself in regards to him. And, while you're at it, you might gear up for the future: "From now on, these are the times that the children can take your Skype/phone call. After those hours, they are in bed."

Your kids deserve more than a doormat; they deserve a loving, stable, reliable, honorable mother. Be that mother.
posted by GoLikeHellMachine at 3:10 PM on August 1, 2014 [5 favorites]

Your kids might miss Daddy, but I'm in my 30s and I'd rather eat glass than share a roof with both my parents, who have been divorced for 29 years. There are less than five occassions we've all been in the same room since they divorced and those have all been horrible experiences. They don't fight, they just don't speak, don't make eye contact and completely ignore each other. It sucks so bad I get panicky just thinking about them having to be in the same building.

Your kids want their parents back together and everyone to be happy about it, they don't want a three week disruption to their normal routines while the grown ups are awkward and uncomfortable.

It's OK to tell him you spoke too soon and that a prolonged stay won't be possible. And don't pay for his hotel room -- sorry, but that's on him. I get that he's broke but it's not your job to subsidize his ability to be a responsible adult and get his shit together for his kids. (No money to see the kids but he has a new house? Lame.)
posted by mibo at 5:32 PM on August 1, 2014 [4 favorites]

I don't understand the people who think you need to pay for even part of this hotel room. No. This is an adult. He can figure out his own money. There is no need to enable his shitty decision making by dropping a grand or three grand on his housing. Enforce boundaries. On that topic, enforce facetiming boundaries. Let your ex know that phones and computers go off at bedtime, he can call at a different time.
posted by studioaudience at 7:00 PM on August 1, 2014 [9 favorites]

Boundaries boundaries boundries. I'm ambivalant on the paying for his hotel aspect, but can see it if he strapped for money. But, I'd also make it clear you're not paying for his hotel in the future. I think him staying in your house is a very poor option for everyone involved.

Just go with the It's not going tho work for you to stay here, here's a hotel we'll help you pay for this time. Next time you'll have to make the arrangements yourself.
posted by edgeways at 7:33 PM on August 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Why are you being so accommodating to your ex?

He is treating your children so carelessly and casually. He runs away from the country to be with a girlfriend; he doesn't give the children the comfort of regularly scheduled interactions via Facetime -- THEY have to hunt him down after they are in bed? And now at the last minute he bails on his agreement to take the kids for part of the summer, after getting their hopes up, because he can't afford it?

He wants to come stay in your home, bond with your children on their turf, in their safe domain of home, and then trot away again, leaving them sad and probably re-opening the original abandonment wounds.

No way. I'm with your partner on this one. Don't let him stay in your home. Even if the kids think they would enjoy it, they aren't old enough to understand the longer term implications, the huge let down and sadness after he goes, which will now be attached in their memory to the home you and your partner have built. Not fair to them, not fair to your partner, not fair to you.
posted by nacho fries at 8:08 PM on August 1, 2014 [10 favorites]

I would normally consider it his responsibility to pay for a hotel room. But, in an etiquette sense, I can concede that you did initially say that he could stay with you, so it would be proper to split the cost (or even grit your teeth and pay in full JUST THIS ONE TIME for the greater good) in deference to the fact that you changed your mind and you know he's cash-strapped.
posted by desuetude at 9:27 PM on August 1, 2014

Just want to point out that he planned his visit BEFORE you said he could stay with you. So offering your house and then changing your mind doesn't actually put him in a worse position. I think paying for the hotel actually creates more problems than it solves, since it again enforces a dynamic of the ex making decisions that you have to smooth over and try to fix. It's not like you asked him to come for three weeks and stay with you. He invited himself; he can be his own travel agent and bank. Nothing (including etiquette) requires you pay. Also, I didn't see anything that said you were independently wealthy and have no need of your own for the money required for the hotel. Make decisions that consider your family's needs. To me, that would mean being gracious to your ex in front of your kids and encouraging a positive relationship between them. His needs should not come before your needs, your partner's needs, or your kids' needs.
posted by studioaudience at 11:30 PM on August 1, 2014 [4 favorites]

When the father of my children can be bothered to come and visit them (from 400+ kilometres away), he stays in a motel or a cabin in a van park in our town, and the kids stay with him. They enjoy it because it's like a camping holiday - they get to sleep on bunks in sleeping bags (because he's too cheap to fork out for linen), there's a pool, lots of tourists, grey nomads with friendly dogs, lots of new friends to be made of all ages.

It is seriously like a holiday for them, even though they're within 2 kilometres of my house. It's a novelty, so they think it's fun.

It also gives dad the chance to do normal parent things, like taking them to school or sports, meeting their friends, making sure they have clean clothes, planning meals, supervising homework, making sure they get enough sleep... all that stuff that parenthood entails.

Is that possible for him? (A long-term stay of three weeks should be negotiable for a cheaper rate than per night too, I'd imagine.)

Under no circumstances should he stay at your home, because it will screw with the whole family dynamic on so many levels.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 1:42 AM on August 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you absolutely feel you must front the money for ex's lodgings (by the way, malibustacey9999's ideas are great), then call it a loan.
posted by JimN2TAW at 9:26 AM on August 8, 2014

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