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Is this fair?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I want to hear from all sides, I want opinions if you are the stepparent, if you are the parent and your partner is the stepparent, if you are the parent and your ex is remarried.

After the divorce I moved 200 miles away to be near my family. First of all, I was working three jobs to make ends meet and getting no child support, no help at all. In fact, he was borrowing from me. Plus we had other issues (him being at my house whenever he felt like it etc.) Anyway, the distance helped all that. However, ds was born and raised in the same town for his first 11 years, same school k-5th. I had tremendous guilt issues in the first place moving, but he loves it here now. Smaller town, smaller school etc.

The way my ex and I always handled it (before I moved) was ds did what he wanted, more or less, as far as who he was with when. If he got out of school monday and wanted to go to his dads, fine, Id come get him if/when he wanted or his dad could drop him at school tuesday. Maybe we didnt have enough boundries, but I just thought we were doing the best for ds. Obviously we cant do that now, but I try to accomadate weekends. If ds wants to go EVERY weekend, I have no problem with that and I generally drive to the halfway point to drop off/ pick up.

Now, just about the ONLY thing dh and I ever argue about had to do with ds. He thinks every weekend is excessive and that driving half way every time is too accomadating. He SAYS he's mad at my ex for "running all over me". I suspect hes jealous and resentful of time taken from him and our kids to help out my ex (as he sees it, I do it for ds and to be fair, I dont think its unreasonable). Now, when dd was born and ds2, my ex drove all the way for many weekends in a row to accomadate that. Of course he b#tched whined and moaned about it, basically saying that I was neglecting ds1. I feel constantly torn between my kids like that. ANd both daddies basically make it worse.

I tried to compromise with both by saying, Id drive halfway every other weekend and my ex can still have ds the other weekends(and this was dh's idea), he'll just have to do all the driving. Of course that hasnt happened at all and my ex complains anytime he drives at all, even halfway, because he sees it as my fault in the first place for moving. When he drives farther, I have to listen to it, sometimes he even yells or cries (he was verbally abusive when we were togather). But when I DO drive, I hear it from dh, even if I hadnt drove the weekend before. Now, he never yells or cries or anything like that but he just kind of makes snarky remarks, if I call him on it, he claims its my ex he's mad at, not me or ds.

Im so sick of it all. So I'd like opinions on that, but also, the big thing right now: camping.

The weekend before Hurricane Rita ds stayed here to celebrate his birthday. He had been to his dads the three previous weekends, including the one that actually was his bday.His dad also had him for the fourth of july and the labor day weekend two years in a row, most holidays in fact. We took him and three friends out to lunch. Well, then we had a camping trip planned, so he was gonna miss that next weekend too. Well with the hurricane they were predicing bad weather here so we cancelled. He would have gone to his dads but his dad lives near houston, so with the weather and the traffic, he didnt go. Now, if he were to go this coming weekend, its been three weeks since theyve seen each other. We are going camping with dh's aunt and uncle. They all got togather and picked this coming weekend despite the fact that I said ds NEEDED to see his dad. They claim if we wait, it might get too cold at night to camp. In a week? So....
DS really wants to go, of course, dh's has been promising him this trip for three years, but I feel like he's being made choose between this trip and seeing his dad. Plus, dh doesnt understand what its like to not see your kids, to him, its no big deal, whats one more week? (I DO know, when we were first togather, ds went to live with his dad for threemonths before deciding to move back). Anyway, I asked him how he'd feel, so he said to invite my ex to go with us. I thought maybe that could work. Well, no, my ex says he does not feel welcome, that he wouldnt get any time with ds because of all the cousins that would be there etc. and he doesnt want to come. But he was REALLY upset about missing this weekend, because by next weekend it will have been four weeks. ANd to be fair, he HAS been made to feel unwelcome. I dont know, once after dd was born and he drove all the way and it was late, dh offered him to couch to sleep on, but after ds2 was born and my ex drove all the way here and was here hours before ds got out of school, dh said he didnt want him hanging out at our house. But see, dh will say, he could have come and seen his son and he chose not to and see it all as my ex's fault, and my ex thinks we are being incredibly selfish to have scheduled it this weekend at all and that we only offered for him to come because we knew hed say no, because he knows hes not REALLY welcome, and so we wont have to feel guilty.

On one hand, I think my ex is wrong, he'd get plenty of time with ds. I'll be tied up with the little ones, he could take ds fishing, swimming etc. On the other hand I blame dh for the position Im in, Im furious in the first place that dh didnt take ds into consideration AT ALL when planning this trip. Maybe he feels like he doesnt have to take my ex into consideration, but really, because of ds, he DOES. I think this is the most selfish thing he has ever done and Im so tempted to say Im not going camping, but I dont want to ruin the trip for everyone else. Im mad and hurt that Im in this position to start with. What would it have hurt to pushed the trip one more week so ds could have gone to his dads THIS weekend? DH thinks Im letting my ex dictate my life, but I think Im just trying to take into consideration the situation with ds, a situation dh knew about before marrying me!

Im so upset right now Im afraid to speak to either one of them because Im afraid I'll yell at someone. Of course my mom thinks thats what I NEED to do to get my point across. And I should have made a bigger deal earlier. DH is gonna say, NOW you back out of the trip?

Any input would be appreciated.
post #2 of 14
Wow. Tough all the way around.

Hmm. I dont know quite what to say.

My first thought? I do see the ex "running" the show. I can clearly see where your dh is coming from. I can also see where you are coming from (pulled from 3 different places) and where your ex is coming from (missing his ds, out of the loop, no control). Please keep in mind, I make no judgement, my blended family is pretty blended :LOL .

Anyhoo, I'm afraid to be looking at your situation through my eyes, so I'm probably biased.

Driving was always an issue here. My ex thought I should do half the driving (20 min across town, btw). I personally thought I had done enough when we were a couple and I did all the shopping, dr's appt, etc. I would do it, but only b/c I got worn down by his yelling, nagging and name calling. My dh was sick that ex wouldnt spend the time (or gas $ as ex used to complain about) to see his son as dh drove 30 min every morning to see his kids for 10 min before they went to school. (they live with us now) So, when push came to shove, I basically had to pick one side, right? I took dh. 'Cause really, he's the one I'm with and family peace in my home, was more important. If I thought that half driving was reasonable, then things may have been different. But once I said a firm, "no" things have been great.

I sometimes wonder if its not exactly the "driving" its just something to feel like he has control? Like, your ex may drive 4 hours in a day for a 15 min visit but feels like he lost that control when you moved away so this is his way of gaining some sort of (possibly false) sense of control? Does that make any sense? Sorry if I'm rambling....

As for the camping weekend, I would be your dh feels mad b/c here is someone that isnt part of the family (though, ex is ...sorta...) who seems to be making a schedule for his family. The same man who wont drive to see his own ds. Like, why should he make any effort for him when ex isnt making an effort to see ds? (not that he's not, dh may see ex whining about driving as not caring enough; cant be bothered; etc.)

Now of course, this isnt about dh, you or ex, right? (this took our family a loooong time to figure out)

Some parents get sooo hung up on whats fair, what's right, who's right. While these come into play, its not everything. (I'm just as guilty - I still have to talk myself out the "dang! why do we have to sacrifice everything and my ex and dh ex get to be the freakin hero's!)

Okay, I've typed out so many things and erased them 'cause they just all came out wrong. I suck at putting my thoughts to paper, I'm much better in person without a toddler on my lap.

So, basically, I say make your decision with your dh on what your family should do that weekend. You know how your ds feels, so make the decision for him, dont make him do it.

Bounderies do need to be set with ex, and a schedule will help immensely, trust me.

I'm going to press submit before I change my mind. :LOL
post #3 of 14
When I first married dh, his ex had moved over 300 (took us 7/8 hours each way) miles away. Our attitude was, you want him, come get him, we'll drive him up there every once in a while during holidays. Our own lawyer told us to suck it up and drive the kid half way everytime. She said if we did go to court, that would likely be the judgement of the judge since it is both parents' responsiblity for the child to have a relationship with both parents no matter who decided to move away or anything. We did it once a month.

The half way trip must take you 4 hours roundtrip? That is a lot, and sound like a lot for a kid to be in the car everyweekend, but if it works, go for it. Is it making your dc happy? Are you ok with it? Try for 3-4, if dc wants it, but to me, getting the kid there at lwast 2x a month would be my priority and when trips and such start cutting into the that, I'd put my foot down. You don't want your ex to feel like he needs to go to court and all since your flexible arraingement seems to be working for you all right now.

I do also feel for your dh. Dss is in karate now, 2x a week. He is with his mom 2 nights a week and these things often happen on the same night. She "can't" take him, so dh does. He leaves here at around 6:15 and gets home at 8:30, after picking him up, and dropping him off and all that. It irks me bacause I work all day, too, then come home to have ds2 to myself all night because dh's ex doesn't want to take him to karate! It is irritating to have my life inconvienced for the ex. I want my hubby home with me not doing errands for her. Grr. That's just part of stepparenting.
post #4 of 14
Ok. I am the stepmom. Just so you know where it's coming from. Let me start with: I think it is AWESOME that you give DS so much say in what happens. That being said - while it was great when you were close to ex, and even after that when it was just you and DS. But now you're talking about 3 other people (DH, DS2,DD). I think driving 4ish hours EVERY WEEKEND is probably excessive. What happens when your younger two get involved in activities? Are you gonna miss them because your driving DS? Also, is DS gonna be allowed to miss all of his siblings' activities because he's at his dads? I don't think any of that is fair to your other two.

At the same time, IMO, expecting your ex to drive 4ish hours EACH way to pick up DS for the weekend, and then ANOTHER 4 hours to bring him home, I think that's VERY unreasonable. ESPECIALLY since it's you that moved away.

So -- all that said, I think y'all should switch to every-other-weekend visitation, and split the driving. Either each of you make the whole trip for the pickup and the other make the trip for the drop-off, or meet halfway each trip.

We live 45 mins from ex and we do all the driving for drop-offs and pick-ups. That's because we moved away. At one time, we live 1 1/2 hours away from her, we still did all the driving, again, because we had moved. Before that, we only lived about 20-30 minutes away, and she would occassionally come to our place for drop-off or pick-up (especially when she was shopping in the area). Even now, if she or the kids has something going on and we need to adjust pick-up/drop-off for one, she'll make the drive out here (like if DSS has a late-Friday night baseball practice). She's fairly accomodating about things like that, but we do most of the driving unless there's a compelling reason for her to do it.

Camping this weekend: I really think it's unfair to ask ex to go four weeks without seeing DS because the family doesn't want to wait a week to go camping. Especially since he's used to every weekend. My DH only gets to see his kids every other weekend (unless they have some event that we go to) and he hates when he has to skip a week. It IS VERY hard on him to not see his kids. I also think it's unfair to ask ex to join in your family weekend. We have invited the kids' mom to join us, and she honestly is welcome, but she doesn't feel comfortable. She shouldn't be penalized for not wanting to be a member of MY family, and neither should your ex.

From one step-parent to another: You DH thinks that ex is not part of HIS family? He's wrong. That's part of being a step. You have to learn to let an outside party (that maybe you don't like) control an aspect of your life. Not to the extent of letting them schedule everything, but definately enough to be considerate of ex for some scheduling.

I think it was REALLY inconsiderate of your DH's family to schedule the camping trip for this weekend, and I wouldn't let anyone do that to the kids' mom, even though I don't like the woman. As the kids' mom, she deserves some consideration.

Wow. That was really long. I hope it helped somewhat. Keep in mind that I've been a step-mom for 6 1/2 years. It takes a little while to make all this stuff work.

ETA: I agree with your mom that you SHOULD start yelling at people. Your ex is being unreasonable expecting you to drive the whole distance every weekend and your DH is being VERY unfair expecting you to not accomodate your DS having a relationship with his dad.

Last thing, I promise: I really tend to see this more from the side of the non-custodial father. That's where we are. However, I'm sure that if DH wanted to spend half of every weekend shuttling kids back and forth, that'd piss me off, too.
post #5 of 14
Yep. I'm with your mom on this one too. I think you need to go back, print out the above post and cross out every bit that's to do with other people's feelings- and then look at what you wrote about how you feel.
We hit the point where we flatly refused to do half-way transports a couple of years ago. I couldn't, wouldn't do it every weekend. I think it could potentially cause devastation to everybody's life.
Daft suggestion- your son is 11 or 12 now? Could you start getting him used to public transport now, so that he's in a position where in another year or so he can make the journey himself?
As far as the camping weekend goes, it looks like your son has a prior commitment. I'm not saying that your dh picked this weekend to provoke a confrontation about visitation, but it's definitely turning out to be a side benefit, getting you off the fence once and for all. I'd ask your son to make the decision about where he wants to go, and do everything it takes to honour his decision.
post #6 of 14
hope you can sort this out its hard being a blended family
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 

Heres what happened: since no one wanted to make the decision for ds and he didnt want to either, I did. I decided he would go to his dads because that was fair, that was the prior committment. Then I really told DH how I felt. He cancelled the trip. Or tried to. Cancelled on our end. His aunt and uncle had already taken time off, rented the campsite etc. so they were going (in thier defense, I dont think dh every really told them that any of us had a prior committment, though I did mention it but that was AFTER the arrangements were made).

Anyway, our fosterson and nephew were REALLY looking forward to it and I didnt want to disapoint them, so I said, no, dont cancel we'll go, but Im going to be unhappy and feeling guilty the whole time and its your fault because I told you and now feel like you just left ds out and dont ever do that again.

After all that.......my ex changed his mind. His family wouldnt make definite plans to go anywhere or do anything so he got mad at them and said just take ds camping. And told me to have a good time. He does that a lot, throw a fit, fight for days, get his way then change his mind and *let* me have my way. In this case, I felt he was right, but often he's wrong to start with and it really ticks me off when he acts benevolent about it. But thats neither here nor there.

It all worked out well for everyone but my ex. He sucked it up but I do know it was very hard on him, to go that long without seeing ds. We also came to an agreement that every friday that ds goes he will drive two thirds of the way to accomadate my job and trying to get home to two babies (because when I work then drive and dont see my little ones for like 12 hours, I generally hate the world for it) and we'll meet halfway on sundays. Now, I suggested making a schedule up ahead of time, at least a month or so in advance so that we know when he'll be here and when there and everyone can plan around it. Reasonable? Not to my ex, he says Ive changed and Ive never "treated ds like that" before. He thinks ds should choose each weekend, yeah, see how thats working out. He also thinks the sched. should be that ds goes to him EVERY weekend unless we have something special going on, but see, thats why we cant every schedule, because if we do that, the second I schedule anything, that will be the weekend he has something planned down there and we'll be right back in this situation again. I dont see whats so unreasonable about a schedule.

Good point about missing his siblings stuff. Although ds is 14 now. On one hand Im counting days till he's 16 and can drive himself, but on the other, a 16 year old driving on interstae scares the crap out of me! And theres no way Id put him on the bus, Ive taken that exact bus trip, between here and his dads and Ive been robbed once and molested in an empty bus station by the employee (theres a huge layover in waco for hours in the wee hours of the morning and the stations in the worst part of town). Im scared of buses, Im afraid if I put my kid on one alone, Id never see him again.

I guess from now on, I'll just have to do all the planning! seriously though, after all that (our first REAL fight too) I doubt dh will EVER plan anything without checking with me first.

I doubt my ex would ever go to court. For one, he has no money. Two, on paper HE has custody. It was the only way not to have child support. The court would not put the divorce through without him paying support, but if the divorce said he was the custodial parent then they didnt have a problem not making me pay (big ol double standard). My ex helps when he can, and I know he should do more, but frankly, we make tons more money than he does (also tons more bills) and he goes in and out of jobs and I knew he wouldt be able to keep up and if it was court ordered, he'd end up in jail and I just couldnt see how that would help ds at all. At least this way, my ex buys clothes, shoes and a lot of the extras when he can. Well, I know that WE can never afford the extras becasue we have to do the support since my ex doesnt, and thats WHY he CAN do the extras....but, it is what it is. Its not fair, but life isnt fair and like I said, having a dad in jail would not be good for ds.

I do appreciate all the input though. I was feeling guilty for feeling like I was "taking my exes side". But really I was taking ds's side and thank you all for pointing that out.
post #8 of 14

You aren't alone - we go through the same thing!

Our oldest daughter, lives an hour away from our place. Makes it difficult. Sometimes, things can be tense. For example, she wants Daddy to come all the way there for school stuff (its only fair to the other girls that he goes to theirs too). Our usual routine is every other Mon, every Thurs and every other weekend. Well on Thurs, and every other Mon. He drives all the way there, picks her up from school and drives all the way back home. Why? So we can see her, her sisters want to, I want to, Meme and Grandpa want to, and ofcourse Grandma wants to too. Sometimes, it's difficult because I have to stay at home make sure that both girls get off the bus. There will be times, that he stays out there with her. Which I understand, since gas is very expensive. We had issues when child support was to be dropped off. Her real mom, wanted him to come all the way out there when it was his day off both from school/work. She is expecting a child, and expects him to drive our oldest all the way to where she is. (Farther from home). The amount of money we spend alone on gas. is crazy! But, you know we do it for her. Because we love her. We want to spend time with her. We make sure that we pay her real mom, as soon as we pick her up (to avoid any necessary travel times). We do anything and everything to try to help out. Sometimes, I think her "real mom" takes advantage of him, and askes way too much. But its really for our oldest. He says, he doesn't want to make her life easier, he just wants to see our daughter, and so what if we can keep it neutral. It's all good." I agree. But there are times, that I get alittle frustrated (rarely) but sure why can't she come and pick our oldest up if she wants her back ( hehe, we'd love to keep her! ) But anyhow for now, I guess that is the way it is. No hard feelings, you do what you have to do. That is what we have to do.

post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
My ex and I were talking the other day (sometimes we can act civilized! :LOL ) and its funny: everyone on his end tells him that I take advantage of him and manipulate him. Everyone on my end says he walks all over me and controls me. It just goes to show that its all in perspective. I said I feel like he's controlling my life and he said he feels like we are controlling his. We had a lot of the same issues. Go figure. We came to the conclusion that its just rough all the way around. Its the situation really. And I tell anyone that asks me for advice on relationships to be very careful who they have children with, because its the children that really pay for the mistake. Live and learn, right?
post #10 of 14
ok, im coming from both sides, i have an ex-h and 3 kids with him, i, like you, try to accomodate the kids when they want to see their dad. i usually drive one way. even though the courts around here think all driving should be done by the non-custodial parent.
then, i have a step-son. my dh is the non-custodial parent. his ex chose to move away and my dh is responsible for ALL the driving. not fair in my opinion at all.
I think, that since you chose to move that far away, it is your responsibility and only fair that you drive at least 1/2 of the driving. Your son desserves his father in his life and its up to you and your ex to make that happen. i dont think he should do all the driving nor do i think you should, i think you should split it. and since you were the one who chose to move, i think maybe even you are more responsible to provide the transportation...but that is just my opinion.
I think he ex was the one who chose to move, then he should do most or all of the driving.
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
Well, I do tend to feel guilty that I moved so I do try to accomadate as much as I can. However, let me just say that the reasons I "chose" to move involved such issues as him not paying ANY child support while I worked three jobs to be able to stay where we were and him constantly trying to borrow from me, until I got to the point where I felt I had to move home where I could get help and support from my family. Not to mention him camping out at my home, showing up whenever he felt like it, refusing to leave, sleeping on my couch (I could NOT wake him) then coming into my room at three am to wake me and yell at me about issues from years past, calling me at work 24/7, basically stalking me and still refusing to go to ds's baseball games, school programs etc. I felt that distance was the only way to ensure that he leave me alone. I begged him to get counseling, I begged him to help me financially (I recall one week where we had backed potatos for dinner several nights in a row because it was all we had and he was taking his new gf and her kids out to eat every night that same week). So while I do feel guilty for taking ds this far away from his father (for ds's sake), I also feel that had it been a priority for my ex to keep his son in town, he could have helped me be able to do so. Point of fact is, he has become a MUCH better dad since I moved, I think he finally realized he had to WORK at that relationship. Plus, he had to go cold turkey in obsessing over me and once he quit doing that, he could focus on other stuff. But I feel that he rather forced me out of town to be quite honest.

He spent the nine years we were married letting me do all the work, letting me do all the child raising, laying on the couch eating ice cream and smoking pot while two short blocks away when asked yet again "Is daddy coming to my game THIS time?" I had to lie and say "Daddy had to work late". And I guess maybe I still have issues, cuz I feel like he is STILL putting the burden of HIS relationship with ds squarley on MY shoulders. IE, if I dont drive, he "CANT" see ds because its "too hard on him" and "too much to take". Because all that driving "just kills him" and he "has too much stuff going on in his life". He lives with his parents, had no bills but his car payment and still pays no child support. I provide ds's insurance at the rate of about $400 per month and he doesnt help with that or copays or deductibles or, well, anything. He sometimes buys clothes and/or school supplies but mostly takes ds out to eat all weekend long, to movies, shopping for toys and video games and out to arcades. He calls that his share of support. He has just himself and ds to consider in life. Meanwhile, I have ds plus four other kids, including an infant who gets very distressed when Im gone for those long drives to meet halfway but I NEVER carry on and act the way he does about it! But I do resent it, I resent the time it takes away from my baby and I cant help that. He says that I should take his stuff into consideration, most recently, he couldnt get off at 2pm, but had to work til 3 and I got yelled out for three days because I did not consider him and drive farther that day. Of course, me driving farther was the diffrence between me being home an hour later than usual or three and when I mentioned that if we were considering each others "stuff" I did have a nine month old who wasnt going to see me AT ALL if I drove to where he wanted me to, and I was told "SO WHAT?" As it was, I got to get home on time, spend an hour with my baby then leave again for a couple of hours then come home to a sleeping baby.

He insists that I stick to what we plan, but expect I should happily and gladly rearrange on a dime to accomadate him. THat is the kind of thing that makes me want to say forget it, if you want him, come get him, but I cant do that to ds. I still dont think its unreasonable for me to drive halfway every OTHER weekend and him to do it all in between if he wants those weekends as well. I feel like I am entitled to a life too. I feel like my other children are entitled to some amount of time with thier mother too.

Gosh its late and I didnt mean for that to turn into a rant, but I guess I had some issues I needed to vent!
post #12 of 14
Originally Posted by Anglyn
It all worked out well for everyone but my ex. He sucked it up but I do know it was very hard on him, to go that long without seeing ds. We also came to an agreement that every friday that ds goes he will drive two thirds of the way to accomadate my job and trying to get home to two babies (because when I work then drive and dont see my little ones for like 12 hours, I generally hate the world for it) and we'll meet halfway on sundays. Now, I suggested making a schedule up ahead of time, at least a month or so in advance so that we know when he'll be here and when there and everyone can plan around it. Reasonable? Not to my ex, he says Ive changed and Ive never "treated ds like that" before. He thinks ds should choose each weekend, yeah, see how thats working out. He also thinks the sched. should be that ds goes to him EVERY weekend unless we have something special going on, but see, thats why we cant every schedule, because if we do that, the second I schedule anything, that will be the weekend he has something planned down there and we'll be right back in this situation again. I dont see whats so unreasonable about a schedule.
If he wants his son to choose when to go then you should get together with your son to come up with the schedule.
post #13 of 14
In our experience, it was bad to let dss have any say in the schedule because he tends to feel guilty about everything that way. Even though he's ten now, if you say, do you want to ask you mom if you can. . .blah,blah blah, he gets nervous, says, I don't know. So I guess he likes us to decide.
post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
I had both of those thoughts. One, let ds be in on making the schedule. But really, just winging it and letting him choose each time CREATES the situation we just had! Plus, I KNOW it puts pressure on him, he worries about hurting each of our feelings and thats too big of a responsibility for a 14yr old!
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