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SD's don't want to come anymore - Page 3

post #41 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by MsChatsAlot View Post

I'm a bit surprised, on an AP site to find people so willing to dismiss children's feelings. So, when they're babies, we respond to their needs, but as they get older, we step in and say, "well, I'm the parent, so my needs trump yours now?"

I'm more of a consensual parent and I like to get to the bottom of things. If this has come out of the blue, there is some discussion, connection, information to be sought. I have no doubt the OP and her husband love these girls and want to continue to have a close relationship with them. I have no doubt the OP & her husband will do what it takes to keep connected with them. There is something amiss here and sitting down, having a discussion, allowing the girls to express themselves and have their feelings be honored is an important part of that, as it is for the parents.

I wish you all well.
Lets look at it this way. Assuming your children have a close and loving relationship with their grandparents. One day, out of the blue as they have always been reasonably happy livign in your household, they come to you and say "I don't want to live with you anymore, I am moving in with grandma and grandpa" Do you just say okay and allow the move? Or what if they decide they want to move in with a friend because they have better toys and serve dessert?
post #42 of 53
Thread Starter 
Again, thanks to everyone for giving their perspective. This is a really confusing time for me - this whole thing is bothering me A LOT, and by virtue of my position as the step parent, I feel frustrated that I cannot due more. The following I wrote more for myself, it's just my perspective on things, I'm not trying to make a case for anything, accuse their mom of anything, it's just an epiphany I had earlier.

My gut is telling me that something is wrong. My older SD has had issues with leaving her mom for a while…off and on. I think it started when we told the girls that we were expecting DD3. OSD was ok initially, but later had a moment when her younger sister commented that a horse in a coloring book looked like "it had a baby in it's tummy". After that, during Labor Day weekend 05, we went to a joint b-day party for OSD and for some reason she was unaware that the plan was for her to come home with DH and I. So she freaked, and DH and his former wife deceided that she would stay home, and the ex and OSD would come up the next day and we would all attend the Scottish Games the next day. The visit was fine, all seemed ok.

Then their mom, later that year started seeing someone (around Nov) and by the spring they were moving to another state (alothough only about 40 min away from their old house and 2hrs away from us) and that's when she really started having a tough time. She would cry hysterically at exchange time about 50% of the time. But then, her mom encouraged her to go anyway. This was also a time when visitation with the girls was a lot more liberal than usual. We were being called a lot to see if we wanted the girls for some "extra" time. When it finally came time for the move, DH and mom got together, because apparently since it was out of state, DH needed to be aware and be ok with the move. My gut told me that something wasn't right - OSD was having a tough time, and the move would take her away from her grandparents (her mother's parents), girl scouts, their school, dance etc., and the school year was almost done (it was March) - maybe they could move in the summer, after OSD finished up the year. It bothered me that mom told us that OSD "was fine" all the time, when it was obvious that she wasn't. BTW-- the younger SD seemed like she was just going with the flow.

After DD3 was born, things seemed to be ok for a little bit. Occasionally, there were weekends that she would want to call her mom, but it was hit or miss. Drop off seemed to go ok.

Then there was the haircut issue. DH took the SD's for a trim (really, it was a trim) and their mom was really angry with DH. She called him nearly every day for two weeks about it., and about a month later I was doing OSD hair in a braid and I said something like "you're hair is so long and pretty" (because it is!) and she started crying and told me that she was not allowed to get her hair cut or her ears pierced unless her mother was there.

Then it was quiet again for a while. Last Oct/Nov their mom sent an email about OSD not wanting to come. At pick up she had a hard time again, but once she got to our house all went well. Funny, it was a particularly good weekend. Then we got the email, and the reasons that OSD told her mother that she didn’t want to come was because she had to share a bed (which wasn't true) and that my ODD snapped at her (which was true, but something that was resolved by DH and I), and that she wanted more time alone with her father (which we thought was happening, but no big deal, we made it so that there was more time). Everyone talked, DH made a plan to call every Wednesday eve, and everything went well thru the holidays. Then came this weekend, and its just weird.

I don't know if OSD just has a hard time with transition, or separation anxiety, or what. She has said that she wishes her parents were still together a while ago. I don't think or know that there is one cause, but maybe a bunch of things adding together?


Sorry this is long. DH talked to their mom, and everyone's emotions were running a little high, but at the end, they resolved to look into counseling for the girls, esp OSD. The funny thing is after all this their mom told DH that the girls are "really excited" to come see him this weekend! She said that the girls don't have a specific reason for not wanting to come, or at least haven't given her one. So everything just feels in limbo. I'm frustrated with DH - maybe he could have put in more effort, or I wish that both of them could see the problem that was happening a few years back, and maybe addressed it then. I'm frustrated with myself, because maybe I should have said something earlier, but it's just so weird being the stepmother, and their mom and I have periods of getting along with periods of just not talking to each other.
post #43 of 53
What you've written really reveals a lot about what's going on. You are obviously a devoted, loving and concerned step mom and that is a true gift to your step daughters.

It sounds like there is a lot going on (in both homes) and I know, when my son is feeling most out of control, he really just wants/needs to be where he feels safe until he can work through his anxiety.

Based on what you've written, it sounds like both mom and dad need to really be involved right now and do what they can to help their daughter through this and feel more confident and self-assured.

I think they are very fortunate to have you in their lives and not be willing to just let this lie. I believe it's important to really honor how she feels right now at the same time her dad probably needs to be more involved than ever. And, if she's not comfortable in coming to him right now, perhaps you can find a way for him to go to her. I love how some of the responses here have shown how the child's feelings can be honored as well as the parent's desire to be with their child. There is a win-win way that can be found, I'm sure.

I really hope you can all find solutions that work best for everyone and honor everyone. I believe with the kind of approach you seem to be bringing to this situation, there is a lot of concern and love that will help her through it and emerge a healthier and happier girl.

I wish you all peace, understanding and cooperation to help her through this time.
post #44 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by sdm1024 View Post
Sorry this is long. DH talked to their mom, and everyone's emotions were running a little high, but at the end, they resolved to look into counseling for the girls, esp OSD. The funny thing is after all this their mom told DH that the girls are "really excited" to come see him this weekend! She said that the girls don't have a specific reason for not wanting to come, or at least haven't given her one. So everything just feels in limbo. I'm frustrated with DH - maybe he could have put in more effort, or I wish that both of them could see the problem that was happening a few years back, and maybe addressed it then. I'm frustrated with myself, because maybe I should have said something earlier, but it's just so weird being the stepmother, and their mom and I have periods of getting along with periods of just not talking to each other.

I think that the counseling is a great idea and I'm glad that the girls want to come see their dad this weekend. I'm sure that it made your dh feel good. I know that feeling of being in limbo and it is very frustrating. I don't think that you should be feeling frustrated with yourself though, it's obvious that you are doing your level best and a you're a blessing to all involved.
post #45 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommyto3girls View Post
Lets look at it this way. Assuming your children have a close and loving relationship with their grandparents. One day, out of the blue as they have always been reasonably happy livign in your household, they come to you and say "I don't want to live with you anymore, I am moving in with grandma and grandpa" Do you just say okay and allow the move? Or what if they decide they want to move in with a friend because they have better toys and serve dessert?
Of course not. Grandma and Grandpa aren't their custodial parents.

However if at 10 or 11 my child says to me "I don't want to live with you anymore dad, I want to go live with my mom" and his/her mom were fully capable and responsible parents, then why wouldn't I take their desires into consideration and talk it over with their mom?
post #46 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommyto3girls View Post
Lets look at it this way. Assuming your children have a close and loving relationship with their grandparents. One day, out of the blue as they have always been reasonably happy livign in your household, they come to you and say "I don't want to live with you anymore, I am moving in with grandma and grandpa" Do you just say okay and allow the move? Or what if they decide they want to move in with a friend because they have better toys and serve dessert?
i think this is much much different than a custodial parent and non-custodial parent looking at what is going on with children who do not want to visit the non-custodial parent, while making alternative arrangements to support the child's relationship with the non-custodial parent (like meeting in a public place, spending time with the children in the custodial parent's house, altering the access schedule temporarly etc).
post #47 of 53
MsChatsaLot, I was referring to the original situation in the post, not yours. I did not mean to insult you. You're right, it's unfair to diagnose a situation of PAS from cyberspace.
We all speak primarily from our own experience, and my DH has suffered a good deal from PAS and also occasionally from people assuming it must be because of something he did, when he is the most accommodating parent I know.
I do think that people should be more aware of it because the longer they are in a PAS situation without doing anything to counter it, the worse it will get. People in a situation have to assess that for themselves.
Part of Dad's time is for children to spend it in his house--and hopefully, to make it feel like their house too.
I hope the counselling works out. It sounds like a lot has been going on for these children, and it may take some time for them to adjust.
post #48 of 53
I would strongly recommend counseling for the kids, and for the kids and their dad. Having been in that situation, it was really a great experience to have our family sit down in a "safe" place and talk about things. In the end, in my case, there was abuse by my father's wife, so the counselor and then the court upheld my decision to NOT go there anymore. But that isn't the case in your situation, and it is very possible that you can find a way to make them more happy about coming...or at the very least, you can find out what is at the root of their not wanting to come at the last minute.
post #49 of 53
Sometimes my stepkids don't "want" to come, know why? Cause they got a new xbox game at home. Nothing more, nothing less.

Routine is important to children, as are boundaries set by adults.
post #50 of 53
I can only share my personal experience with this...

My cousins decided they didn't want to see their dad. My aunt didn't force it- he wasn't a very responsible parent anyway.

Fast forward eight years. Estranged from both his daughters, my cousins' dad had a stroke at age 38 and died. It's been like a bomb went off in their lives. My aunt lives with regret everyday. It's been terrible.

Within the first year that DH and I married, DSS went thru a phase where he didn't want to spend the night at our house. As he spent 3-4 nights week there, this was a Big Deal. DH was with me thru the ordeal of my cousins' dad, and we both insisted that DSS be "forced" to spend the night at our house. DSS's mom was uncomfortable with this, understandably, but went along because she thought that the consistancy was important.

We found out that DSS didn't want to spend the night because MIL took him to a haunted house that scared the pants off of him, and the window in his bedroom rattled at night. (He was five.) He was scared to sleep. So it was pretty easy to fix once we got to the root of the problem.

If we hadn't "forced" DSS to stay at our house, chances are we never would have known what the real trouble was. How long that would have gone on, and what damage it would have done to DSS and DH's relationship, no one can tell. Over something that, as it turns out, was pretty silly.
post #51 of 53
Kids shouldn't be deciding at these tender ages whether they go to a parent's home or not. Parents' roles are to (a) decide on a schedule in their best interests; (b) keep to the schedule; and (c) assist the children in dealing with their feelings surrounding the schedule.

When my kids were 7 and 9, we definitely had issues with not wanting to go to their dad's. Especially the youngest, who still gets sad (at 10.5) when it's time to go to dad's. But with the benefit of hindsight over the past 7.5 years of separation, I can say that it was in their best interests that we maintain the schedule (tinkering with it here and there).

The kids need to be heard, but they also need to know the adults are responsible for their well-being and will be making the decisions. In CAnada, kids don't get a 'say' in where they spend their time until they are 12, and they don't really get to be the decision-makers until they are at least 15. I feel this is eminently appropriate, based on the extensive work I have done in this field.

I do agree that counselling is important and should be offered to the kids - both of my children benefited a great deal from it when they had rough patches. It's so easy to say the kids are struggling, let's make a drastic change to the parenting schedule. It's harder to say the kids are struggling, let's address those emotions because we don't want to interfere with the important bond they have with each parent.

I would also add that often my recommendation when kids are having a hard time transitioning is to increase, not decrease the length (not necessarily frequency) of visits if at all practicable. Sometimes children can become overly bonded to one parent because they're not given enough opportunities to bond with the other.
post #52 of 53
I think what Joyfulgrrrl says about increasing the length of visits is interesting. When people say things like "it's not the quantity of time you spent with kids, it's the quality," they often don't understand that it's different in a divorce, non-custodial context. It takes time for kids to unwind and transition between homes--it takes quantity of time to get to quality of time. . . .
post #53 of 53
The exwife should not even be telling them that they get to chose. Honestly, it sounds like this is coming more from her than any place else. Do NO give in to this. I am in an intact family and I would never allow one of my children to just opt out of our family. Same goes for split families. They are too young to decide. Really, kids do not get the idea that they have that choice unless someone else tells them that they do which is why I would be so suspicious of the exwife and what she has been telling them.

Keep having them coming and keep being yourselves and do not give in to this.
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