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Help - Sensitive Issue

post #1 of 67
Thread Starter 
Please let me preface this with I am frustrated about my own personal situation, and I am not trying to attack anyone here.


I am not sure how to combat, what I feel to be a pretty serious situation with my DSD's Mother.

DP and I picked DSD up from daycare yesterday and AGAIN DSD did not have a coat. It was 35 degrees farenheit here yesterday... close to freezing!!! A tiny three year old should have definitely had a coat on. DSD has at least 2 winter coats, and miscellaneous jackets, so it is not that she does not have a coat. When DSD's Mom came to pick her up and when asked why she did not have a coat on her daughter... "She wouldn't let me put one on her this morning."

Please tell me how a three year old prevents an adult from doing something?? Especially when it is for their own safety and well being!! As the parent, I would assume that it is the responsibility to make sure the child is properly clothed for the weather, regardless of the child's wishes!!

This isn't the first instance this has happened either. DP didn't want to yell or scold his ex in front of DSD so he told DSD that she needs to let Mommy put a coat on her in the morning, in hopes it would sink in to his ex.

Later I went off at him... I couldn't help it. I thought it ludicrous to yell at the child for the Mother's ignorance. I asked him why he doesn't call his ex to discuss things like this. He says he has tried and has told her all this numerous times but that it is like talking to the wall, so he doesn't know what else to do.

I told him we should be documenting all of this. Am I wrong?! I don't want to take DSD's Mother away from her... but I really question her competence as a parent sometimes. I honestly am not trying to talk badly about her, but it makes me very uneasy going to her house and seeing how dirty it is (I'm talking you can see debris and dirt on the carpet). There is medicine sitting right on the coffee table where DSD can access it. There are fast food bags everywhere. And the no coat thing in the WINTER is just really painful to me.

What would you do?
post #2 of 67
Document everything. Sometimes three year olds are hard to put the correct clothes on, they do put up a fuss sometimes. However, she does need to be the parent and take care of the child. Though your DP doesn't think talking will work, he needs to keep doing it, keep telling her, keep suggesting things. She may be a person who doesn't get it the first time around. The living situation sounds gross. You could always call CPS on her. They won't tell her who called and they will see the dirt and left out meds etc. I called them on my ex sister in law because there was a dead rat in their dirty clothes hamper and rat mess in her makeup drawer and other disgusting things. She did clean up her act after that. Good luck.
post #3 of 67
I can understand your frustration! Unfortunately, I think the best you can do is to do the right thing in your own house and support your husband in continuing to talk to his ex about the concerns, even if it isn't getting through. Help him document the conversations and send follow-ups by email if possible ("As we discussed on the phone...") so it would be harder for her to claim later that he hadn't talked to her about it, and that she had no way to know he was concerned. Keep supporting him to do the right thing regardless of her reaction, and over time he might get better at dealing with her when he needs to.

And on the practical level, take a coat with you whenever you go to pick her up so you can be sure she is dressed appropriately when she is with you. Even though her mom is generally pretty good about dressing my step-daughter for the weather or whatever activity is planned, we always bring appropriate clothes when we pick her up (from mom's or from school) just in case... we don't want to be stuck being the parents who have her out in the cold with no coat or running around the park with dress shoes on, so we make sure we are prepared.

And talk to your step-daughter about what to do if she finds something like medicine, matches, etc (don't touch it and tell a grownup is what we tell our kids). It's a good life lesson anyway, and she doesn't have to know that you think it applies especially at mom's house.
post #4 of 67
Hmmm...it is for this exact reason that we keep coats/snowpants/snowboots here for the boys when they come to our house. I, as well, question the competency of their mother as they come over frequently without appropriate winter clothing on.

As for your situation, document this (hopefully you keep a separate notebook for situations like this, so that data can be presented should the need arise) and any other behavior that you feel is detrimental to the child's well-being. You are a partner ("step" as it may be) in bringing up this child, so a certain amount of responsibility is also yours.

"she wouldn't let me put a coat on her" is not an acceptable explanation for a babe not wearing a coat in 35 degree weather. Your DH is probably livid at the situation, yet feels powerless to fix it. Step in where you can and make sure the child's needs are being met, as someone has to. KWIM?
post #5 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by cycle View Post
The only thing I think she did that was weird was to not at least bring the coat with her and leave it at daycare.
This was my thought. And yeah, a 3 yo will be fine to and from the car in 35 degree weather, but what if something happened? What if the car broke down, or there was an accident?

I do understand why your dh wouldn't want to get into it in front of the child - that is a good policy, IMO. But regardless of whether the ex is receptive or not, he does need to bring things like this up with her.

I often feel the same frustration as you - my DSD's mom is not so good in areas that are not complete neglect, yet still important (not washing hair, never clipping fingernails, smoking around DSD, not telling her the marriage/move to Greece is off). DF doesn't feel as if he can really say anything now, because they do not have a legal custody agreement in place and it is best if everyone is on good terms until that is worked out. I cannot wait until this is all done and he doesn't have to bite his tongue.
post #6 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by cycle View Post
The only thing I think she did that was weird was to not at least bring the coat with her and leave it at daycare.
This was my thought. And yeah, a 3 yo will be fine to and from the car in 35 degree weather, but what if something happened? What if the car broke down, or there was an accident?

I do understand why your dh wouldn't want to get into it in front of the child - that is a good policy, IMO. But regardless of whether the ex is receptive or not, he does need to bring things like this up with her.

I often feel the same frustration as you - my DSD's mom is not so good in areas that are not complete neglect, yet still important (not washing hair, never clipping fingernails, smoking around DSD, not telling her the marriage/move to Greece is off). DF doesn't feel as if he can really say anything now, because they do not have a legal custody agreement in place and it is best if everyone is on good terms until that is worked out. I cannot wait until this is all done and he doesn't have to bite his tongue.
post #7 of 67
:

Just wanted to add my 2 cents and support. Talking to my dh's ex is also like talking to a brick wall. Nothing ever changes so he has given up . . .however as others have said document everything. My dh has pages of documentation. When he would get off the phone with his ex - he would get on the computer and start typing. I would say more but my wee toddler is wanting breakfast !
post #8 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
I know the difference between a mostly clean house that the sweeper wasn't ran that day or that week to a house where it looks like the sweeper hasn't been run in MONTHS!!!

The floor has dirt and debris and miscellaneous fast food bags, and it multiplies each and every time we take DSD to her Mom's house... this is ongoing build up, not just a slightly messy house at wrong timing. I'm not that much of a drama queen/stickler.
s
Your feelings towards your DSD's well-being ARE valid.

There is a certain amount of "suck-it-up-edness" that step-parents need to deploy, however, children without appropriate outdoor clothing ON and AVAILABLE is not open to negotiation. 35 degrees is COLD--yes, you can go from your house to your car in 35 degrees and not get frostbitten...but, a 3 year old should not be expecting the latitude to choose whether or not to wear appropriate clothing (whether at home or at daycare--thankfully, daycare providers will not let a child play outside if they do not have appropriate clothing). Buy some extra coats at the second-hand store if need be, and keep them at your house (and perhaps providing an extra one to day-care just in case) for instances like this. By doing this, you are setting an example--a good one.

You do what you feel you need to. Documenting is advised by attorney's and should be done, it protects the integrity of what is happening/not happening.
post #9 of 67
I think your feelings are valid about the coat issue. I question why this mother didn't bring a coat even if the child didn't want to wear it that morning. That is the troubling part to me.

That being said, let your DH deal with the ex-wife. Try not to fight with him over things she does because it will only hurt your and his relationship. Taking a step back can sometimes alleviate the stress of being a step parent.

What I do when I have situations with DH's EX is I discuss it with him. I tell him what I think he should do about a particular situation. If I feel very strongly about something I tell him that too. Then I take my feelings off the table and let DH handle it. More than once he didn't do something the way I said he should and it backfired on him. That is when I say "told you so".

The big thing is he needs to deal with her, not you. And I understand about DH's who have no idea how to deal with their ex's. Mine was being controlled for the longest time. Not anymore!
post #10 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtiger View Post
I really must be completely confused. While I agree that calling CPS is ludicrous over the lack of a jacket at 35 degrees, I'm not sure I understand the support OP is getting for being ticked at Mom allowing the child to say no. That's really the issue, IMO. If we were talking 0/5 degrees, where frostbite might be a serious concern, I could see forcing the kid to dress differently regardless of the refusal. But it's 35. Don't want a jacket? Fine - learn from it.

I'm confused.
I think the real issue is the child is three years old. I really don't think a three year old has the ability to learn from it as much as a six or seven year old would.

Example:

I send DD in layers to daycare. She has a long sleeved shirt, a light sweater, and a coat over it all when she is dropped off in the morning. I never know how cold it will be later in the day so I ask the teachers to give her the big coat if she needs it and keep her light sweater on inside if it is chilly. Half the time I come to pick DD up and she is ice cold. She never tells anyone she is cold. She does not ask for her jacket. They play outside at least 5 hours of the day (which I LOVE because she is so happy just being a kid outside, but I digress).

This is really a decision the parent or caregiver needs to make for a child this age, not the child. My DD is two years old. But I can't imagine she will be so mature in a few months as to be responsible for that.

We live in Los Angeles but it has been cold here off and on. It is usually about 42F on the morning when we leave.

Also, the other issue is a problem. That is the fact that this mother didn't even send a coat. Period. I mean, who does that? Just because the kid says she/he does not want to wear one in the morning? So you don't send one at all? Even for when they do finally say "oh boy, I'm cold can I have my coat now"? That is just ridiculous, IMO.
post #11 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
I have to ask... if I was a Mother that was concerned about the treatment of my child by the Step-Mother would I be met with the same exact responses?
Nope.

Anyway, ATTEMPTING to get back on topic so another thread doesnt get closed......

I understand your frustration, btdt.
Keep some spare outerwear at your house, it sucks, yes, but its impossible to change her mindset. And document too.
It may also help to remind yourself that sometimes parents make some not-so-good choices. Like giving kids chocolate cake and a can of pop for breakfast, for an example. Allow yourself to make "mistakes" and remind yourself that she can too.
That being said, I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. If you feel, deep down, there may be an issue of neglect, than I believe you. I understand how hard it can be to really sort thru those feelings, (sooo many associated with being a step) so that what you're feeling is real, and not just anger. (which is valid too!)

And keep talking to your dh, dont bottle in your feelings. Neither should he. At the very least, you guys can vent to each other, and be each others support.
Hang in there,
post #12 of 67
Thread Starter 
I don't know where you all live.. but it can SNOW here in 35 degrees... that is a painful cold, add in wind and it feels even colder.

Maybe I am more sensitive to weather than most because I have fibromyalgia... *shrugs*

And for the record I'm frustrated with the Mother for not bundling the child to protect her agains the weather. That is responsible in my book. *shrugs*
post #13 of 67
If it is 35, I don't make my kid wear her coat. I bring it for when she changes her mind and wants to wear it.

I don't find 35 cold at all and don't wear a coat if I am wearing a sweater.
post #14 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawn1221 View Post
I think the real issue is the child is three years old. I really don't think a three year old has the ability to learn from it as much as a six or seven year old would.

Example:

I send DD in layers to daycare. She has a long sleeved shirt, a light sweater, and a coat over it all when she is dropped off in the morning. I never know how cold it will be later in the day so I ask the teachers to give her the big coat if she needs it and keep her light sweater on inside if it is chilly. Half the time I come to pick DD up and she is ice cold. She never tells anyone she is cold. She does not ask for her jacket. They play outside at least 5 hours of the day (which I LOVE because she is so happy just being a kid outside, but I digress).

This is really a decision the parent or caregiver needs to make for a child this age, not the child. My DD is two years old. But I can't imagine she will be so mature in a few months as to be responsible for that.

We live in Los Angeles but it has been cold here off and on. It is usually about 42F on the morning when we leave.

Also, the other issue is a problem. That is the fact that this mother didn't even send a coat. Period. I mean, who does that? Just because the kid says she/he does not want to wear one in the morning? So you don't send one at all? Even for when they do finally say "oh boy, I'm cold can I have my coat now"? That is just ridiculous, IMO.
:

Exactly my point. I do know DSD pretty well... she is three, she doesn't grasp every lesson yet. She is just too young.
post #15 of 67
I have removed many posts from this thread due to the inappropriate, adversarial, and/or personally pointed nature of the points, or posts in comment to them. I am reopening the thread for discussion but ask that you all please keep a few things in mind:

One: This is a forum that hosts discussion of Blended Familes and Step Family Parenting concerns. Please post respectfully of everyone involved, whether that be a member present or an individual not a member of this forum. Speaking in an unnecesarily harsh, negative or critical manner can raise the hackles of people on different sides of the parenting fences and that can be carried over into your discussion posting.

Two: While we certainly host discussions of consentual family living and parenting and TCS (Taking Children Seriously) in nature, Mothering and MDC do not advocate either as a parenting philosophy. Certainly some or many aspects therein are a part of Gentle Discipline. But discussions of this nature belong in GD and should not be the focus of disagreement in discussions outside the GD forum. If you want to educate someone about the topic simply invite them to discuss it in GD.

Three: When you post a thread to a general public forum asking members "What would you do?" you are asking members to put themselves in your shoes and share their thoughts and advice. Certainly some people will offer advice that you do not agree with. That's simply the nature of discussion. You need not take the advice and need not agree with what is said. Thank everyone for their input and ignore that which does not resonate with you and your situation. Try to avoid making an issue out of such posts in your discussion. You can post to disagree if you can keep it respectful, in the interest of conveying your feelings on the issue to further the development of the discussion and get the input you need or in the interest of helping the OP. But posting things like "the MOTHER of the child" and "What do I know, I'm just the stepmom" are charged statements that will derail a thread of discussion quite quickly. Don't use such wording or emphasis when you post.

With those things in mind I am opening the thread for discussion again. Please post appropriately or the thread will be closed and members posting in a way that derails the discussion will be alerted or warned as necessary.
post #16 of 67
Thank you, Cynthia.
post #17 of 67
I'm curious to know where exactly you are in Eastern PA. 'cause here in Chester County, it's been in the 60s for days - including at night. We've been doing nature walks, biking, I've been wearing tank tops. Today was chilly by comparison - it was only 55. I s'pose it could be colder in the Poke-a-nose, but it's never *that* much colder. 35? Yesterday? Where?

My girls always give me flak about wearing coats. I'll push the issue if it's severely cold, but here in Eastern PA? Truly, it rarely happens. Sometimes I'll send them out to the porch to decide for themselves; other times I'll just bring coats along for whenever they decide they want them. And you know what? Occasionally I forget. And the girls get cold. And for a few days they listen to me when I recommend a sweater or jacket. Unless we're spending lots of time outdoors, I don't worry about cold from house to car, car to <fill in the blank>. 35 degrees, or even 15 degrees, isn't going to kill in 60 seconds - or even the five minutes it takes to get the car warmed up. 'specially since I have lap blankets in the car for the girls.

If it bothers you that much, pick up two coats at a thrift store and leave them with the daycare. If her mom forgets again, dsd can come home with you in one of those coats. Then they have another on hand in case she needs one before you can get that one returned.



Dirty house? *snort* Sorry, I can't empathize with you on that one.
post #18 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by tboroson View Post
I'm curious to know where exactly you are in Eastern PA. 'cause here in Chester County, it's been in the 60s for days - including at night. We've been doing nature walks, biking, I've been wearing tank tops. Today was chilly by comparison - it was only 55. I s'pose it could be colder in the Poke-a-nose, but it's never *that* much colder. 35? Yesterday? Where?

My girls always give me flak about wearing coats. I'll push the issue if it's severely cold, but here in Eastern PA? Truly, it rarely happens. Sometimes I'll send them out to the porch to decide for themselves; other times I'll just bring coats along for whenever they decide they want them. And you know what? Occasionally I forget. And the girls get cold. And for a few days they listen to me when I recommend a sweater or jacket. Unless we're spending lots of time outdoors, I don't worry about cold from house to car, car to <fill in the blank>. 35 degrees, or even 15 degrees, isn't going to kill in 60 seconds - or even the five minutes it takes to get the car warmed up. 'specially since I have lap blankets in the car for the girls.

If it bothers you that much, pick up two coats at a thrift store and leave them with the daycare. If her mom forgets again, dsd can come home with you in one of those coats. Then they have another on hand in case she needs one before you can get that one returned.



Dirty house? *snort* Sorry, I can't empathize with you on that one.
Yes, I live in SE PA too and it has been well above 35, until today my ds didn't need a coat at all.

I think you need to rethink your reaction to your dsd not wearing at coat, there are much bigger fish to fry and her mother was in no way abusive or even neglectful.
post #19 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seaturtle View Post

Personally, DF's children are not allowed to tell us "no", unless we are asking them a question. They are children, for heaven's sake, and their opinion on clothing or coming when they are called is irrelevant (in our opinion). I think the youngest (2.5) told me "no" once, I told him he was to never say "no" to me, and reitterated the command (to say good-night to his mother on the phone, he had been refusing to talk to his father on the phone, so I think he was just used to telling her "no", and her letting it be.). He immediately complied, and has never told me "no" again. But, again, that's just us.
Would you like to discuss this in gentle discipline? Or parenting?
post #20 of 67
My son wore shorts to school this week. I didn't give it a second thought. I was digging through dd's spring/summer clothes on Wednesday trying to find a short sleeved dress for her to wear into Philly for a doctor appointment.

I turned off the heat and opened the windows during the day this week, too.

Definately not coat weather in the Philadelphia region! I can barely call it jacket weather. Maybe long sleeved shirt weather? For my teen, it's practically summer
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