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ExH and wife not happy about Home-Ed - please help

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
Hi - (I posted this too in Learning at Home and Beyond, but thought folks here may have some advice/experiences to share...)

I am planning on taking my youngest DS out of school after the Easter holidays for an initial 12 week period to see how we felt. I had a meeting with ex and his wife recently to discuss the plans and general philosophies with them. Although my ex stated that he has nothing against home ed and that he would be fine with this as long as he knew they were learning and that the learning they were doing would mean that they could follow their dreams as adults, his wife is very against it. She is a very assertive woman (not a bad thing) but I feel in this issue, she actually doesnt have any decision making authority.

During our meeting, many references were made regards to removal at Easter, how we could all support DS hit the dreaded 'targets' high up before we took him out at Easter, how we could ensure that if, actually we felt school WAS the better place for him after the summer - how we could make sure he was up to speed in September if he went back.

I made sure that they knew it was intention to do this (after the cue from ex that he would have no problem as long as his concerns could be met....) and that we would share resources/info and have more meetings to include them in writing our Ed Phil. So we left on a good and postive note. I since have been chatting with DS about our new adventure and crucially - negotiated a six month unpaid leave break in my contract with a option to return on less hours (which would be totally managable as they are flexible hours). My boss has been SO understanding, and in the current work climate - more than I realistically expected.

However! - His wife called me last night with some news. She wanted to tell me that they had both been made redundant and so this will affect his child maintanence payments. So we are going to be on only my partners income. He is being wonderful about supporting me. But she Also said that DS had been talking about Home-Ed and she is worried that he will be disappointed as they had, in NO way, given 'permission' for this.

I am so confused and frustrated! I also think HE should have told me this too! He doesnt have a problem with Home-ED! She is very mainstream and authoritarian, thinking that a tight structured regime is best for the children. I think the issue is with her, not him and that is irritating.

We are meeting again next w/e to talk more, but I really really thought that we have okayed the concept and next few months would be learning and talking time.

Has anyone else been in position when they have had to 'persuade' an ex? I was only ever suggesting we took him out for 12 weeks of the summer and see how we go. She now says that my ex definately thought we we discussing next academic year, not after Easter. He was there the whole time we were talking about Easter.

I also know that they are worried about their future. In fact, I almost want to say to them that a formal education doesnt make us infallible in adulthood... My ex and his wife are very 'mainstream'.

Please help - especially I need to build my confidence to not care what she thinks when I want to proceed with discussion with ONLY ExH...
post #2 of 36
I don't have any advice for you, but I would be very unhappy about my ex's new wife being *that* involved in our decisions regarding the children. It's between you, him, and the kids! I wish you the best of luck and I'm sorry I don't have any words of wisdom.
post #3 of 36
I say this as a stepmom/new almost-wife (as well as someone who is a strong proponent of public education, though I know it's not right for everyone): While I do wonder whether your ex's wife was just (understandably) freaking out about losing her job, and taking it out this way, she is WAY out of line.

In her defense, it is HARD to avoid interjecting yourself into these situations, but still...you have to do it. I would not even be attending these sorts of meetings with my partner. I only become involved when it affects me very directly (which it almost never does). If it doesn't affect me directly, I might express my concern to my partner privately, but never in front of his ex (or their child).

I could see her point, if you told your ex and his wife that they would have to step up and be responsible for some homeschooling, because for them it would/could represent a big lifestyle and/or income change. And it would affect both of them. But here, nothing seems all that different for them.

One thing I recommend is a book called "Difficult Conversations." I read it for my negotiation class and it's helped me in my interactions a lot.
post #4 of 36
I am torn because I can't really grasp your situation.


My sons bio dad wouldn't really have a say because my DP has full sole physical custody, and he doesn't take part in day to day decisions.


On one side it is a good thing that the SM wants to be a part of the decision making process. I mean, she IS his wife right? I get that this isn't HER child but at least she wants to be a part..... On the other hand you want what is best for your child and there are too many bosses and not enough workers so to speak.


I hope you get them to see your side of the situation but i don't see you having anything else to do other than what you are already doing.

g'luck
post #5 of 36
I'm sorry, why does your wx-dh's wife get any say-so at all? That is what would really tick me off. Her thinking she has a say in all of this.
post #6 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2pinks View Post
I'm sorry, why does your wx-dh's wife get any say-so at all? That is what would really tick me off. Her thinking she has a say in all of this.
As a step parent my say counts. Depends on the situation though. Not all step parents are hands off in parenting.


My 'step' son calls me dad and he calls his bio dad by his first name. Of course my son lives with us and I am a full time dad. In my situation I have alot more say about how my son is raised than his bio dad.


Having a step parent that wants to be involved may not always be convieniant but it is a helluvalot better than one who doesn't involve themselves at all.
post #7 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoshua View Post
As a step parent my say counts. Depends on the situation though. Not all step parents are hands off in parenting.


My 'step' son calls me dad and he calls his bio dad by his first name. Of course my son lives with us and I am a full time dad. In my situation I have alot more say about how my son is raised than his bio dad.


Having a step parent that wants to be involved may not always be convieniant but it is a helluvalot better than one who doesn't involve themselves at all.
Yes, there are some situations where the stepparent *IS* more of a parent than the bio. BUT that doesn't negate the bio as having primary responsibility. AND...that's not this situation. In this situation there are two capable and involved bios and it is not appropriate for the steps to be involved in parenting decisions in this situation. I was a stepparent, and a single mom, and a remarried mom w/a stepchild. So I'm not talking out of my @ss here.

It's WAY out of line for the stepmom to be calling biomom. This isn't her issue. It isn't her kid. She needs to back the heck off. End of discussion.

I've seen stepparents that act like this. They really give stepparenting a bad name.
post #8 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Theoretica View Post
Yes, there are some situations where the stepparent *IS* more of a parent than the bio. BUT that doesn't negate the bio as having primary responsibility. AND...that's not this situation. In this situation there are two capable and involved bios and it is not appropriate for the steps to be involved in parenting decisions in this situation. I was a stepparent, and a single mom, and a remarried mom w/a stepchild. So I'm not talking out of my @ss here.

It's WAY out of line for the stepmom to be calling biomom. This isn't her issue. It isn't her kid. She needs to back the heck off. End of discussion.

I've seen stepparents that act like this. They really give stepparenting a bad name.

Agreed!
post #9 of 36
Do you have primary custody? What does the parenting agreement say about education? Are you very assertive usually? How is your relationship with them? Are your state laws lenient about homeschooling?

I wonder if you're assertive because it makes no sense that she has the feeling of authority in this situation. What's going on there? Do you get along with her? Do you feel comfortable telling your ex that you will not tolerate this from her?

If you go through a K-12 program, maybe you'll have more rights. Also, look into local homeschool groups and see if any of those people have been through this.

What are the reasons you've decided to homeschool? Maybe if you give him the choice of going to a private school and asking him to pay half or doing homeschool where he gets more flex-time with his son, he might be more up for it. You should not be talking to the step-mother about this. Look into your rights and if you have the right to do this, inform them of your decision and your right to that decision. Then do it.

The women over in single parenting might have some ideas about the parenting agreement as well.
good luck
Lisa
post #10 of 36
umm...in most places, losing your job does NOt mean you get to just stop making child support payments....so..what does your divorce decree say abotu custody, education, and support?
post #11 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobandjess99 View Post
umm...in most places, losing your job does NOt mean you get to just stop making child support payments....so..what does your divorce decree say abotu custody, education, and support?
Yup. CS continues until a court says otherwise.

Now, an involuntary reduction in income is pretty good grounds for a court to reduce CS, but the payer still has to go through the court system to get that reduction. They can't just decide not to pay.
post #12 of 36
As another very involved step-parent, I totally agree with ProtoLawyer's statements that the discussion should happen between the parents. If I have input, I can talk to my husband about my opinion, then let him make the decision.

I have a lot of say about what happens in my house. Her step-dad has as much or as little authority to make decisions in his house as he and his wife agree to. But when it comes to decisions about "the big stuff," it's time for both of us to back off and let her parents decide what is best for her.
post #13 of 36
Add me to the list of stepparents that say that this stepmom needs to butt out. Educational decisions really should be made between the two parents. When my dsd was applying to schools (public), I gave my opinion to DH (because it would have been great if all of the kids could have gone to the same school - they will not ) but I said nothing to either DSD or her mom.

I was a little struck by the comment the stepmom made about how "they" never gave permission. "They" don't need to give permission.

OP, I would start meeting with your ds's father without his partner present. This is something that needs to be worked out between the two of you.

Also, your ds's father really is the one that needs to do the majority of the communications with you, especially on big situations like a job loss. That is his responsibility, and you should let him know that.

A side note for those bickering about how much say a stepparent should have when one of the parents is not that involved - In a lot of US states, physical custody (where the child lives) is different from legal custody (decion making power - especially when it comes to education and medical decisions). Just having sole physical custody does not mean that the other parent does not have joint legal custody (which is standard in a lot of states).

So even if the parent is not around at all, they still might have the legal right to have a say in where their child goes to school (although I am guessing that a parent that uninvolved might really not care). If someday that parent decides to become more involved, you might find that your say in these important decisions decreases markedly. Just something to keep in the back of your head. Stepparents have few (if any) legal decision making rights.
post #14 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by aricha View Post
As another very involved step-parent, I totally agree with ProtoLawyer's statements that the discussion should happen between the parents. If I have input, I can talk to my husband about my opinion, then let him make the decision.

I have a lot of say about what happens in my house. Her step-dad has as much or as little authority to make decisions in his house as he and his wife agree to. But when it comes to decisions about "the big stuff," it's time for both of us to back off and let her parents decide what is best for her.
Lots of people here have said the same - this is absolutely the way i feel. Thank you so much for putting so well what I have been trying to get verbalised in my head!

I have also spoke to my sister and a couple of people 'in person' and everyone has said she is out of order and overstepping the mark to being taking the lead on communications about the Big Stuff. I also just found out that she has been into DS's school and spoken to his teacher. I am mad about that too!

I feel so much stonger now and more determind to keep this positive - I will let ExH that I expect US to talk about this as DS's parents. End of.

Feeling better now and not like just some woman with a bizarre idea of life - I am DS's MUM! I think I need to gently remind her of that.
post #15 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by papermoon View Post
I have also spoke to my sister and a couple of people 'in person' and everyone has said she is out of order and overstepping the mark to being taking the lead on communications about the Big Stuff. I also just found out that she has been into DS's school and spoken to his teacher. I am mad about that too!

WOW! I'm not a SM nor do I have one in my life, but I just had to share my shock and surprise at this womans gall. Good luck mama.
post #16 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by papermoon View Post
I have also spoke to my sister and a couple of people 'in person' and everyone has said she is out of order and overstepping the mark to being taking the lead on communications about the Big Stuff. I also just found out that she has been into DS's school and spoken to his teacher. I am mad about that too!

oooooh, that would be IT for me! I would.be.FURIOUS.!!!!! I would also be furious that my ex-dh allowed this as well.

You need to nip this behavior in the bud. Of course, be diplomatic and polite, but, if she refuses to back off, you may have to be more firm.
post #17 of 36
I disagree with the fact that my DSC are vaccinated and the way my DSC mom parents but I never get that much into it. I AM A SAH with full physical custody to them and I would never think to do anything like this.

Talk to your DH rather than her.
post #18 of 36
Thread Starter 

Update

I saw my ExH this morning when I went to collect the children from their w/e visit.

I calmly asked to speak to him in private for a few moments and he refused, infront of his wife. She told me that she would be present for all conversations and he agreed to this. I told them both that I wanted to discuss a parental concern with him and that it was appropriate for the parents to do this without the other spouse being present. She was furious.

She shouted at me that SHE was his STEPMOTHER and has legal responsibilities for him!!!! I told her No. She Did Not. She told me that as the one handles 'the house', she is as much a part of ALL decisions as he. I agreed with her - for her own house and family - but my Ex and I are the parents of DS. No matter who's house he is in!!!

It turned out that he had asked her to speak to DS's teacher. Because he didnt have time.:

This is so much more complicated than it seemed at first. I really dont know what to do.

Apparently, she told me (in front of him!) that he finds it hard to talk to in private as their is often confusion?? Well - how about actually ADDRESSING that as a grown man rather than letting your wife deal with it? He said he relies heavily on her for a lot of things, but I am sorry - you cannot give your parental responsibilty to someone else because you dont have time for it??

Am very mad. and sad. She was so angry it was strange. Am more confused than ever now.

He is going to come over this week - just him and me - to begin to talk. Maybe it will be a good thing....

sorry so long.
post #19 of 36
first, i would talk to the school. they have most likely violated a privacy issue by speaking to your ds's SM....permission has to be given by BOTH parents for communication like that.

second, we are a blended family and my DP is very very involved in my sons' lives...much more so than bio dad but when it comes to negotiating an agreement, that is done b/w the bio parents. period. i can see where a SP would be present if everything were amicable but apparently in your situation, it is not. If i were you (which i am not of course) i would go back to Ct. and request a ruling that bio dad and you be required to meet ALONE to discuss BIG ISSUES (and categorize those...medical, educational, etc. etc.)....IF you dont have primary custody on those issues. If legal custody is shared, then that usually involves education also so the bio dad does need to agree....however, if that is what you have....getting an order that he must communicate with you in absence of his overassertive wife would be the way i would handle it. i wouldnt give her a chance to do this to you again in teh future. get it fixed now, and move on, yk?


Quote:
Originally Posted by bobandjess99 View Post
umm...in most places, losing your job does NOt mean you get to just stop making child support payments....so..what does your divorce decree say abotu custody, education, and support?

exactly. i would send them an email explaining that until they go to Ct., they have that obligation. and if they have assets that can be tapped (including 401k accounts), c/s wont be reduced until they cant afford it. im sure they will both be receiving unemployment (well not certain...but if they apply, etc. etc. etc.).

dont let them bully you. thats what this sounds like to me (of course im not there, just saying thats what all of this sounds like...i wouldnt be surprised if you hear "well we will agree to HS'ing if you agree to reduced c/s").
post #20 of 36
Of course she was mad. People who bully don't like it when people stand up for themselves. I'd be at that school ASAP telling them not to talk with her anymore.

I had an acquaintance who was a step-mother. She would actually call the biomother and ask if the kid's homework was done each night. And then, try to ground him at his mom's house. You DON'T want that kind of thing going on. Nip it now. You need to find out what kind of custody you have and what your rights are. Good for you for asserting yourself. It sounds like you got her true colors to shine brightly.
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