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Old 05.07.2021, 16:10
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Divorced Dad - to stay or to leave?

My ex-wife and I (both Slovakian) moved to Zug (Cham) from London at the start of 2016 for my job. We have an 8 year old son who was 2 when we moved here. He speaks fluent Swiss German and goes to a local school in Zug. My wife and I decided to separate and divorce at the end of 2016 (it was a mutual decision) and we remain on friendly terms and share custody of our son. He spends every second weekend with me and every Wednesday night. They remained in the original apartment and I moved to a place in the center of Zug as I commute to Zurich for work (at least before covid). My ex-wife has a good job and salary and is happy here in Switzerland and wants to stay here. My son is well adjusted and has lots of friends, both Swiss and foreign.

Now here comes my problem. I canít stand living in Switzerland and have only stayed here to be close to my son. I lived in both NYC and London before we decided to move here in 2016. I knew after my first year here that I didnít like it but I didnít want to be away from my son and felt obligated to stay after the divorce. Iíve grinded out the last 4.5 years here and desperately want to go back to London but feel guilty about the impact such a move would have on my son. Part of me thinks I should stay another 5 years here until he is a teenager but another part of me dreads the thought of wasting the rest of my 30ís and early 40ís in a place I dislike so much.

My employer would happily relocate me to our London office and, assuming life ever gets back to normal, I would come back here every second weekend to see my son but this would obviously put a strain on my ex-wife and mean I wouldnít see my son as much as I do now.

Just looking for any thoughts/opinions from people who may have been in a similar situation.
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Old 05.07.2021, 16:14
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Re: Divorced Dad - to stay or to leave?

Miserable father = unhappy son.
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Old 05.07.2021, 16:15
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Re: Divorced Dad - to stay or to leave?

Go to London and make sure the boy spends long holidays with you...
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Old 05.07.2021, 16:16
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Re: Divorced Dad - to stay or to leave?

Best to ask your son, maybe heíd be fine with it. If my Dad had done that to me it would have destroyed me - but every kid is different.
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Old 05.07.2021, 16:58
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Re: Divorced Dad - to stay or to leave?

Really difficult call, but from purely personal experience and work/life balance I'd choose Switzerland over London. I lived and worked there for 20 years and getting out in 2004 was the best thing we've ever done. It was fun for the first 15 years and soul destroying for the last 5. London isn't what it was and unless you can afford to live in a very decent part it's a crime ridden and scary place to be IMO. So many stabbings, shootings and violent crimes on the streets.

I moved back to Scotland ahead of my husband in order to get things established for us, visited London about a year later and we realised it just wasn't for us any longer. At that point we were in our early 40s. Husband is an East Londoner and constantly has his sister telling him how bad it is now, she'd love to get out but has their elderly father to consider. I haven't been back since 2013, after 3 days I'd had enough.

However, you must do what you think is best for your young son and that's not an easy decision to make.
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Old 05.07.2021, 17:45
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Re: Divorced Dad - to stay or to leave?

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Miserable father = unhappy son.
So much this!

I've seen so many people stuck in unfit marriages and similar situations 'for the kids', while the truth is exactly the opposite - you just cannot be and give your best if you don't take care of yourself.

And kids will at best, learn that they need to 'suffer in silence for others', and at worst have other mental issues that stem from inevitably damaged relationship(s) all around them. Because, you just cannot have flourishing relationship with anyone if you're constantly miserable.

My vote goes to - talk with your kid.
If you're both unsure, do a trial of a year, then talk again. Repeat each year (the talk).

Kids can be abandonded and emotionally neglected by parents living in the same room, so don't think along lines of abandoning just because of distance.

It's what you do together that counts. And growing/making meaningful memories even in the best families don't happen 24/7 anyway.

Many many many people don't make more than a few, if that, meaninful memories for their kids in their whole lifetime, despite living together.
So, 2 awesome trips* per year will mean more to your real bonding than sitting on the couch every evening. On average.

*awesome is highly dependent on what you both like to do, discovering and sharing activities is important. Like, if kid would like to go to legoland and build cities with you, and you dread that, that won't be memorable. Or you like hiking and he's hateing you for that...

But, to know kids interest isn't hard - you just have to take interest in them, and listen.
Video calls suffice more than enough for that and making plans and hyping up.

Oh yeah, single most important thing - don't promise things you won't deliver. And if something messes up the plans, repair that and do not mess that repair :P

I mean, all this said works for any parenting, no matter the distance, I just wanted to point out that distance matters significantly lower than you might think if the quality is there.

Plus - your kid will have more options in life and will see the world, that's never a bad thing
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Old 05.07.2021, 17:58
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Re: Divorced Dad - to stay or to leave?

This is so funny "talk to your 8y old" ... sometimes people think things are like in hollywood movie..

the thing is a young child does not and should not have really a clear perception of what that means "dady will now go to another city, 2h by plane".. Even we dont know what it means if it's close or far away since it's relative.. and by "talking" you can even intall a fear , an emotion that wouldn've been there on the first place. And a child can reason only through emotion so "daddy will go" that can mean "i'll never see him again" and who knows what.

So, you make the decisions and set up a nice plan and see how it goes.. trips to london can be fun and the child might even find that fabulous.

As well, so many non-divorced couples are having those situations..when the father/mother have to be away because they're a diplomat, visiting professor, coach, foodballer etc) and sometimes they live in another city-country. So , no big deal it just depends how you lay it out .
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Old 05.07.2021, 18:15
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Re: Divorced Dad - to stay or to leave?

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My ex-wife and I (both Slovakian) moved to Zug (Cham) from London at the start of 2016 for my job. We have an 8 year old son who was 2 when we moved here. He speaks fluent Swiss German and goes to a local school in Zug. My wife and I decided to separate and divorce at the end of 2016 (it was a mutual decision) and we remain on friendly terms and share custody of our son. He spends every second weekend with me and every Wednesday night. They remained in the original apartment and I moved to a place in the center of Zug as I commute to Zurich for work (at least before covid). My ex-wife has a good job and salary and is happy here in Switzerland and wants to stay here. My son is well adjusted and has lots of friends, both Swiss and foreign.

Now here comes my problem. I canít stand living in Switzerland and have only stayed here to be close to my son. I lived in both NYC and London before we decided to move here in 2016. I knew after my first year here that I didnít like it but I didnít want to be away from my son and felt obligated to stay after the divorce. Iíve grinded out the last 4.5 years here and desperately want to go back to London but feel guilty about the impact such a move would have on my son. Part of me thinks I should stay another 5 years here until he is a teenager but another part of me dreads the thought of wasting the rest of my 30ís and early 40ís in a place I dislike so much.

My employer would happily relocate me to our London office and, assuming life ever gets back to normal, I would come back here every second weekend to see my son but this would obviously put a strain on my ex-wife and mean I wouldnít see my son as much as I do now.

Just looking for any thoughts/opinions from people who may have been in a similar situation.
I truly believe you should talk to your son about this (no, he's not at all too young to undertsand as some pl.... what ever ... claims further up).
Then get a feel for how your son reacts and mainly: Answer all his questions and answer them honestly.

Circumstances (good relationship to the mother, employer willing to keep/relocate you) look exceptionally good. When things go back to normal and you plan to fly in every second week-end - where would you stay with your son? That's something to plan.

Discuss this with your son. Explain your reasons for your idea (I hate Switzerland won't do ), make him understand he is free to express any feeling about this, ask any question. (He might come back a couple of days later with more of them).
This is not only important, you might be surprised what kind of input you get from your son as well.
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Old 05.07.2021, 20:15
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Re: Divorced Dad - to stay or to leave?

You write that you have joint custody of your child: what does your ex-wife think of your plan?
If you leave Switzerland for a foreign country, your ex-wife will have to bear the major responsibility for your child. Would you be comfortable with this in London ?


Just my 2 cents. I wish you and your family all the best.
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Old 05.07.2021, 20:24
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Re: Divorced Dad - to stay or to leave?

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Really difficult call, but from purely personal experience and work/life balance I'd choose Switzerland over London. I lived and worked there for 20 years and getting out in 2004 was the best thing we've ever done. It was fun for the first 15 years and soul destroying for the last 5. London isn't what it was and unless you can afford to live in a very decent part it's a crime ridden and scary place to be IMO. So many stabbings, shootings and violent crimes on the streets.

I moved back to Scotland ahead of my husband in order to get things established for us, visited London about a year later and we realised it just wasn't for us any longer. At that point we were in our early 40s. Husband is an East Londoner and constantly has his sister telling him how bad it is now, she'd love to get out but has their elderly father to consider. I haven't been back since 2013, after 3 days I'd had enough.

However, you must do what you think is best for your young son and that's not an easy decision to make.
I lived in a very middle class bit (Putney) and saw a man very nearly bleed out after getting repeatedly knifed infront of my eyes - still get occasional flashbacks. It's a terribly ran and violent place. If it wasn't for friends I'd happily never go back.

Personally I find it hard to think that anyone could dislike Zug / Zurich so much they'd move away from their only child. I'd stay if it were me.
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Old 05.07.2021, 20:36
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Re: Divorced Dad - to stay or to leave?

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This is so funny "talk to your 8y old" ... sometimes people think things are like in hollywood movie..

the thing is a young child does not and should not have really a clear perception of what that means "dady will now go to another city, 2h by plane".. Even we dont know what it means if it's close or far away since it's relative.. and by "talking" you can even intall a fear , an emotion that wouldn've been there on the first place. And a child can reason only through emotion so "daddy will go" that can mean "i'll never see him again" and who knows what.

So, you make the decisions and set up a nice plan and see how it goes.. trips to london can be fun and the child might even find that fabulous.

As well, so many non-divorced couples are having those situations..when the father/mother have to be away because they're a diplomat, visiting professor, coach, foodballer etc) and sometimes they live in another city-country. So , no big deal it just depends how you lay it out .
I am with you on this. Not only because of personal experience but it is logical - no 8 year old son (and especially from a family that does not have a real larger family support here) will ever say to his dad "of course, dad, go and spend more time away from me in a foreign country where I cannot just ring your bell in case that..". It will be heartbreaking, even if he is a trooper and will not let OP know. It traumatizes many children.

OP - I completely understand your situation. Hodně štěstŪ. It sounds from your post that you have made your mind up and feel bad about it and maybe would feel better if we told you that it is a good choice. I have to tell you that I think you should stick around for your kid. You have a child and having a parent in a foreign country is not something that children want. It is bad enough that grandparents are probably far away too, and other relatives. Sometimes we have to adjust for our children, make a ton of effort to improve our situation so we do not have to change theirs, much. It is already not easy to have parents divorce, usually. If he is well adjusted now at 8, it does not mean that it will always be that way. Your son is little. I wish you all the luck there is, and my Slovakian friends party a lot here, make a ton of halušky, though without brynza. We laugh a lot.

I have to tell you that my 1st year was so tough. It got easier later and now after so many years, this place is more home than anywhere else. Let us know if we can help with anything. Invest in social life. It goes easier if one does not tell oneself that you are staying here for somebody else, but that it was you who decided and for the best reason.
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Old 05.07.2021, 20:53
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Re: Divorced Dad - to stay or to leave?

do you really only see him wednesdays and alternating weekends? if so, that is still doable if you're willing to fly regularly. or if you consolidate the wednesday you could maybe reduce to once a week or once every 2 weeks.
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Old 05.07.2021, 21:14
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Re: Divorced Dad - to stay or to leave?

I am just a stranger on the internet, but I feel moving to London would be chasing something that is not anymore. Both in terms of your life in London 6 years ago and in terms of London as a city.
I feel you still have one step to do: move to Zurich (or Baden, if you prefer Zug size). Or, if you can (work-wise), even Geneve, with respect to Zug, it will be a big change.

Move 6 months to Zurich, then you will have a better idea about what it means living away.
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Old 05.07.2021, 21:23
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Re: Divorced Dad - to stay or to leave?

It's a really tricky decision and one I have no personal experience to relate. I will just offer two snippets of advice:

1. However fond your memory of a place, it won't be the same - it never is. The happiest days of my life have been in places that either don't exist any more or, when I did try to recapture them, turned out to feel very different. I think it's a combination of rose-tinted nostalgia and personal growth.

2. You say, "wasting the rest of my 30ís and early 40ís in a place I dislike so much" - it's interesting, the regret I always hear from older parents is, "I wish I hadn't missed so much of his childhood".

Is it that you're thinking you would like to start another relationship and to have more children, and that you don't feel able to do that in Zug?
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Old 05.07.2021, 21:23
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Re: Divorced Dad - to stay or to leave?

I agree with the suggestions here to talk to your son about it, just to try to gauge his feelings about it at least. But maybe you should also ask yourself if living here really is the source of your unhappiness and if perhaps you could also end up being unhappy living in London (or elsewhere, outside of CH). Also, could you potentially end up dealing with any guilt issues, for having moved away from your son?
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Old 05.07.2021, 21:29
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Re: Divorced Dad - to stay or to leave?

There's an age where boys start to become independent and leave home by themselves. At 8 years old dad is a hero. Some years down the road, sooner than later, this switches to dad, you embarrass me with my friends. These years between 8 and 1x are never coming back. Maybe it's a clichť, but if you ever dreamed camping with your kid, it's right now. Don't know your kid, no idea how independent he is. Maybe the divorce thingy has made him grow up faster. In any case, there's a deadline until the kid starts to say, NO PHUCKING WAY DAD. What other EFers think?

I can only say that people is taking impulsive decisions. It's OK, the damned virus upended many lives. Wait for a few months of back to normal and think about it again.
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Old 05.07.2021, 21:57
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Re: Divorced Dad - to stay or to leave?

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I am just a stranger on the internet, but I feel moving to London would be chasing something that is not anymore. Both in terms of your life in London 6 years ago and in terms of London as a city.
I feel you still have one step to do: move to Zurich (or Baden, if you prefer Zug size). Or, if you can (work-wise), even Geneve, with respect to Zug, it will be a big change.

Move 6 months to Zurich, then you will have a better idea about what it means living away.
scrabblegreay has a point here. Did you ever live anywhere else in Switzerland but Zug? I used to live there ages ago but still have friends there so I know: They still fold up the sidewalks every evening around 20.00h

Move to Zurich, it's only a stone's throw away from Zug. If you still feel the same after 6-12 months have a rethink.

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It's a really tricky decision and one I have no personal experience to relate. I will just offer two snippets of advice:

1. However fond your memory of a place, it won't be the same - it never is. The happiest days of my life have been in places that either don't exist any more or, when I did try to recapture them, turned out to feel very different. I think it's a combination of rose-tinted nostalgia and personal growth.

2. You say, "wasting the rest of my 30ís and early 40ís in a place I dislike so much" - it's interesting, the regret I always hear from older parents is, "I wish I hadn't missed so much of his childhood".

Is it that you're thinking you would like to start another relationship and to have more children, and that you don't feel able to do that in Zug?
This. And one often doesn't realize that it was not the places that makes the memory all that wonderful but the people one hung out with at those places. And they - like us - have moved on. Either away or in their life phase.
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Old 05.07.2021, 22:20
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Re: Divorced Dad - to stay or to leave?

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I lived in a very middle class bit (Putney) and saw a man very nearly bleed out after getting repeatedly knifed infront of my eyes - still get occasional flashbacks. It's a terribly ran and violent place. If it wasn't for friends I'd happily never go back.

Personally I find it hard to think that anyone could dislike Zug / Zurich so much they'd move away from their only child. I'd stay if it were me.
London is actually very very safe. I know it might not seem like that because news headlines accentuate the extreme but on the whole it's incredibly unlikely you will get attacked in London.

And it's great. I would love to go back but my kids are settled here now.
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Old 05.07.2021, 22:38
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Re: Divorced Dad - to stay or to leave?

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will ever say to his dad "of course, dad, go and spend more time away from me in a foreign country where I cannot just ring your bell in case that..". It will be heartbreaking, even if he is a trooper and will not let OP know. It traumatizes many children.
Especially now when we have some feedback from "once 8y olds who got asked that question" I was one of them.. So, I asked myself recently , where does this thing "talk to your 8old and see what they say" comes from... and it's true it's just this new-age thing(movies and books) ... Because, if we really think about it, these desicions arent easy even for a grownup (since we all know , london/ny/berlin etc changed since we last lived there and were happy)so how can someone, a little child even think whether this or that decision is going to be the good one . ... Then, once you see experiments with children from 6 to 13 .. you see how even the notion of "time" is not clear. If you ask them, "you can have this candy right now or you can have 4 times more candy but in 4 hours" the child is going to choose always the first option.Because,they dont have the notion of "4-5-10hours" or let's say they have but still "in 4 hours lot of candy" does not motivate them since that's like an eternity ... so straight away candy - works the best.

Also let's not forget the burden they have to carry..If that same child says "noooo dont go anywhere stay here" .. the parent will listen to it and have perhaps a miserable life (because somewhere depp inside of them they'll be thinking how that option2 was the right one) .. and once the child is 18-20y , that parent says "heyyyy BECAUSE OF YOU I chose to stay here and now you..." and the child would be like "What??? how come I made you do this or that???" and so on .. all in all the brest success stories are coming out of peopole who really followed their instinct, vibe.. after all,the guy may be disappointed and will go back to CH... I hate to admit it , but Chuff was so right on this one
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Old 05.07.2021, 22:42
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Re: Divorced Dad - to stay or to leave?

Maybe OP needs to go to ZH this Thursday evening.

For some good ol' EF support.
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