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joint physical stinks for kids

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
My stepson has been living between two homes for the past 6 years. I have so many problems with this on so many levels. First, we live 45 min from my stepsons mom and school. He has been visiting us every wed, thurs and everyother thurs, fri, sat, sun, and mon. Just a little background my dss mother is working on her 4th marriage. She marries for money and takes what she can and then divorces. She actually bragged to me about living with one guy 5 years to save money for a new condo. She also never really deeply bonded with her son. She has been leaving him home by himself since he was 9 years old. Also, she does not allow him to have friends over because she does not want the house a mess. She has left him home from school sick by himself and even left him home during a tropical storm. In addition, when he was little she broke his are chasing him to punish him. She does however, have him in private school in which my dh pays half, her son is more like a novelty. She is not a warm and friendly mom. She does not like animals or small children. She only cares about her botox and how things look. My dh pays child support, colloge prepaid fund and all medical expenses. My problem is that my dh is trying to fix the lack of mother by bringing him to our house and expecting me to be mom not stepmom. However, he is dragged one day here one day there and never has any stability. He also spends the night at his step grandparents from the last marriage. In addition, his biological grandparents are deseased and he has on grandma on his moms side who is ice cold like the mom. As a matter of fact dss never even mentions her. DSS also has a half sister from mothers first marriage. The half sister no longer lives at the home as she is 22years old however, she treats dss poorly. I feel really bad for the life my dss lives. I have tried to give him morals and values. I have gone to his school for his birthday with cupcakes (his mother would never do that) The mother sets a bad example by talking about money, trips and by the way she treats others terribly. My dh said when they were married he was embarrassed to go out to eat because she would yell at the staff and treat them like trash. I know my dh is a good father and he carries so much guilt. I have tried to tell dh he could live with us full time but he said the mom would never go for it. (Probably it would make her look bad). I told dh maybe he should let dss stay at moms house more and just meet him for dinner. Like I said dss school is 45 min away in another county so when he has school they have to leave at 6:45 am and many times he doesnt pick him up until 6:00 in the evening and they get home at around 7:00 with traffic. I have other kids and my dss is oftentimes mean because he says I am home with them. When my dd was born he was saying things like, "what would happen if hot chocolate spilled on her". We took him to a therapist after that. Also, he tried to push my duaghter down the steps she is three years younger. (she was 5 at the time and he was 8). On the flip side he does have good qualities he is neat and for the most part respectful. I just feel like my life is a revolving door. Its hard when he is one day here one day gone. It is disruptive to him and the entire family. But dh is the one who won't let him go. He gets upset if the son has a birthday party during his time because he thinks he should be with us. My dss is going to be 13 and I feel a bad mother is better than no mother. He needs a home and a life. I keep telling dh but he thinks he can make everything right. I feel like a babysitter. When my dss is home with me he just goes to his room. I also, dont want dss to grow up and think it is ok to get married many times like his mom. His mom is only 46 years old and is working on the 4 the fourth marriage. She is back with a guy she lived with for 5 years and took the money to buy a condo. I dont have any answers. My dss has made comments of how lucky my daughters are to have me home with them. Any ideas. Is my thinking wrong. I don't want my dh stop seeing his son only to make it easier on dss. Rather than bring him up during the week take him out to dinner or something. Advice anyone?
post #2 of 30
I don't know if you can afford this, but the first thought that came to my mind would be to make the offer to mom that if she allowed DS to come live with you full time you guys would be willing to continue to pay CS to her anyway. It's an expensive option but with parents who can be bought out ( sounds like she's one of them) it usually works.
I don't know what else to say other than to offer you all hugs. I am not a step mom, I'm justa single mom who has been through the court system and knows the trials of joint custody. Fortunately I get along well enough with my ex and we both love our son. Sad that your DSS doesn't have that from both parents.
post #3 of 30
Thread Starter 
Also, my dss is not really affectionate towards me. He really doesnt appear bonded to anyone really. His attitude is easy come easy go. I just feel really bad for him and I think the split physical custody has made him more insecure and unhappy. In my opionion joint physical custody does way more harm than good even in the best of situations. He has seen too many people come and go. I think he sees me as temporary. He never even told the kids in his class he had a baby sister or stepmom. Am I just supposed to deal for the next 5.5 years. I get mad at dh because he gives dss guilt trip if he has too many hockey games or birthday parties. For the next three days he will be travelling about 1and half hours to and from hockey games. Tell me if this makes sense...My dh comes home from work to take him 45 min south for a hockey game that will be over and 9:00 or so only to have the mother come in the morning to pick him up for another hockey game. So thats 1.5 hours travel for the next three days round trip. It makes no sense. I told dh he should have left him at moms tonight after game so he wouldn't have to be shuttled back in the morning. Joint physical custody should not be allowed when parents live out of the county. DH says he does not want to drop him off at mothers because he wont get to see him. Does anyone else think this is ridiculous. Then dh said he would have given her custody if she were a better mom. He cant make up for the bad mother.
post #4 of 30
Thread Starter 
wytchywoman- I suggested that to dh as I dont care about the money. He said number one mother would never go for it and number 2 dss may feel bad with no mother in his life. I would be willing to give up the cs for all involved.
post #5 of 30
Thread Starter 
For the life of me I cannot understand the mother. She has some emotional issues and was on medication. She is just going to keep marrying and divorcing as the last marriage lasted a little over 2 years. On a positive note she marries really nice guys who come from loving families. A few years back I took my dss to a soup kitchen to serve food to the poor. The mother said great did you take pictures. She is also very greedy and only cares about money not people. We have tried to teach my dss to be caring and nice to everyone. It has been difficult but I have made progress. Let me tell you a story about the mother just so you get an idea of her personality. She has a daughter who is 22 and when the girl was in high school the mom rented a hotel room for the girl on prom night. (At the time the girl was 16-17) Anyhow, the girl got in trouble for underage drinking and partying. So what does the mom do, she smacks the girl. However, it was her that rented the room. The girl now calls her moms all kinds on names and has no respect.
Another story, the mom's sister is married to a big time drug dealer. I am not talking about a guy selling drugs on the street corner I am talking about international trade. They have a large home and drive really nice cars. Anyhow, the guy went to jail (it was a big case on the news) for a few years. In the meantime the sister meets someone else and I am not sure if they got married or not but she had a child her middle son. Now my dss is always bragging about their house cars, boats, trips etc. My dss also asks me how the older daughter and youngest son belongs to the current husband (he got out of jail) and the middle son has a different father. Talk about disfunctional families. I feel like mine is so normal with my parents being married 40 years happily. They are the best grandparents in the whole world. I just want you to know the family on the other side. Its crazy. Sometimes I think in my mind, ya they have money but a what cost. How many lives were lost. I cant say that to my dss. My dh always tells him to ask his mom.
post #6 of 30
Originally Posted by kellygirl View Post
It makes no sense. I told dh he should have left him at moms tonight after game so he wouldn't have to be shuttled back in the morning. Joint physical custody should not be allowed when parents live out of the county. DH says he does not want to drop him off at mothers because he wont get to see him. Does anyone else think this is ridiculous. Then dh said he would have given her custody if she were a better mom. He cant make up for the bad mother.
If this was your own kids though, and you did not have primary custody, would you not have done the same to see your own babies? I am guessing you would go to the end of the earth to be with your kids, your DH probably feels the same way. IMO, your DH sounds like a pretty stand up decent guy for going to all this trouble to see his son, when there are sooooooooooooooooo many dads out there who live right down the street and just don't give a cr@p, KWIM? I'd rather have a DH that would spend the driving time to visit his son than a DH who doesn't care.
As for DSS's easy come easy go attitude, that doesn't surprise me at all. He learned that from his mother's relationships. He has yet to view a stable long term one. Is he in counseling?
post #7 of 30
kellygirl, I totally agree with all of your feelings. I'm a mom to a son who I share joint custody with his father. His father promptly moved an hour away right before our son started school and has made my and my son's life one long car trip. That was 3 years ago and I'm still amazed that the court let him have him during the school week when he has to drive him so far. ugh.

I totally feel you about the time spent in the car, the lack of bonding, the never falling into a pattern, the emotional issues. I hate this. I wonder everyday if I should just let him live with his dad, but I know what effect that has on children. That would equal abandonment to him. And his dad is not an great person, either, so I understand that part too. I have no answers, I just wanted to say someone else is in the same boat, even if I'm on the other side of it.

We are going back to court this month, so we'll see if anything changes.

Your dss is a few years older than my son. What does he want? The courts here start taking the children's opinion seriously very early. Actually too early, IMO (like 6). If your dss knew he had choices, what do you think he would want? Has your husband talked to him about changing things?
post #8 of 30
Thread Starter 
redebeth- I am sorry for you. I have a daughter from a previous marriage and she sees her father about once a month and 10 days in the summer. My daughter is very well adjusted. She has friends in the neighborhood and gets along with everyone. If I were you I would try to reason with your ex. It kind of reminds me of King Salamon when he wants to divide the baby and they real mother steps forward and says give it to the other woman. Love is putting someone elses needs above your own. Children are not property to be split in two. I agree with you on one thing its better to let the dad have custody and have a stable life. I am so into mother bond but I also think stability is important. I am a teacher and I had two kids in 5 years in a 50/50 split and they were peeing in their chair at school in 4th grade. What do the parents do but blame the teacher. The kid was having such a problem with it. I would really try to talk to your ex and if you are religious I would pray. I honestly believe God can rise above it. As far as my dss is concerned he would rather stay with mom but does not want to hurt his father. I would love to have him live with us all the time and give him a normal stable life. We eat dinner everynight as a family, go to church once a week, teach respect for adults, chores, and love.
post #9 of 30
Originally Posted by kellygirl View Post
My dss is going to be 13 and I feel a bad mother is better than no mother.
I do not believe that it's always best for a child to have a bad parent in their lives. It doesn't sound like your DSS's mother is so bad that your DH should seek to have parental rights terminated or anything, but I do believe that your DH (possibly with your guidance), needs to sit down and think long and hard about what's best for his SON, not his son's mother. It is not his job to take care of his XW - only his son. Sometimes it takes some hard soul-searching to come to the realization that enabling bad behavior in a bio-parent is actually detrimental to the child. It sounds like your DSS is crying out for love and stability and consistency. That may mean LESS time with his bio-mom, even if it seems illogical. Yes, it's important for children to have knowledge of and access to their bio-parents, but to what extent is critical.

I'm touched by your concern for your DSS and for your family in general. You'll be in my thoughts...
post #10 of 30
Thread Starter 
Also, in remarriages it is not the fathers taking care of the kids but the stepmothers. I have a great dh but I have seen the insecurity, depression, and sadness this has brought on my dss. My dss doesn't and has never had a close friend. I had a talk with dh telling him it was not normal not to have friends at soon to be 13. I got him a few friends in our neighborhood and they really did not take because he doesnt go to school in the area. He has a few acquaintances in hockey and as a result gets invited to about 2 birthdays a year. In which my dh gives him the guilt trip by telling him the party is on his day with us. My dh wouldnt even let dss sleep at aunts house (dh sister )because he said it was his day and he doesnt want to miss the time. Now I am happy that my dh is kind and loving but sometimes it is too much. My dh is close with his sister and trusts her but did not want to let him go. I sometimes think it is an abnormal attachment. I have a two year old and my stepson thinks it is abnormal because my two year old only wants to be with me. I feel helpless like I cannot fix the situation. I cannot give dss happiness and security. Once again, I would take my dss and treat him as my own but being dragged all over town is not healthy. In July he spent one night at ex-step grandparents, next night birthday sleep over, then one night to our house then two nights at his mothers then back to our house for two days. Its dreadful. I would hate living like that.
post #11 of 30
Originally Posted by kellygirl View Post
Also, in remarriages it is not the fathers taking care of the kids but the stepmothers.
I wouldn't necessarily say that this is always true. My df does the majority of the care of my dsd when he isn't at work. Because it is summer, things are a bit different now, but he is the primary parent at our house.

Joint custody is tough. But it isn't always the worst thing in the world. My dsd's mom lives in a different county than us, but we are less than ten minutes away. So it works out just fine. I do believe that for my dsd, this will be the best thing for her in the end. But, she has very cooperative coparents. With your situation of 45 minutes away, for the schedule that you guys have - that is a little insane.

It sounds like you guys do drive him to school, despite the length of the commute. Since you are doing a lot of driving anyway, has your dh thought about proposing a schedule that is a little less complicated? We do every other week, and that is really easy compared to this night but not if it is this week where he is with us this night and that one. I'm shocked the poor kid knows who is picking him up from school from day-to-day.

Your dss is old enough where a court might take his opinion into consideration. How does he feel about things? Have you asked him what he thinks?
post #12 of 30
I should clarify that he only has him 1 overnight during the school week, ( and every other weekend) but our son goes to school halfway-ish between both of us, so he doesn't have any close friends from school because we both live so far away. Throw in sports and homework and field trips and a co parent who refuses to answer calls or communicate in any way other than in writing who has a work schedule that is completely not family friendly hours and it's a MESS. Sigh.

And I do feel like we are splitting the baby, that story has been in my heart from the start and it makes me hurt deeply for my son.

Your husband sounds like a great guy. He seems to have him around 50% of the time, is that right? It seems like a lot of time, I don't understand where this guilt your DH is feeling is coming from, regarding dss going to activities and parties and such. I mean to say, if he had him two nights a month or something i could totally understand him wanting him home. Are your husband and son very close? Do they communicate okay or is it awkward / strained?
I would imagine that is a hard age no matter the circumstances with some kids, but I haven't gotten there yet with my own.

FWIW you sound like a wonderful stepmom.
post #13 of 30
I agree that children need as much stability as you can offer, I also agree that children can still gain stability in a joint custody arrangement.

However, it takes a lot of sacrificing from the parents and unfortunately there are times when one parent must sacrifice more than the other.

I am on the reverse of your story in that my DD's bio-dad seems much like your DH. He is adamant about having his parent-time regardless of how our DD feels, her friend's birthday parties, family visiting, etc. It is like he keeps an overnight score card. : We do not live so far away but that is because we (me and my DH) have made the sacrifice to stay close.

Our DD is also having extreme difficulty with her two house situation. I have yet to meet any child living in this type of situation who does not have difficulties but that is not to say that if at least one side is willing to truly put their child first, that the child won't experience a somewhat "normal" childhood. They can and so can the parents!!!

We have had our DD in Play therapy since April and I am amazed at the difference. She is handling her two family, driving around, crazy life so much better and we have learned great ways to support her and celebrate her life no matter where she is or how it looks!!

I would try to get your DSS into counseling it is a great way to start healing and moving in a new direction.

Also, have you guys thought of moving closer to where your dss lives?

It seems that if your DH still wants to enjoy ample parent-time than maybe it is time for you guys to rearrange your life verses expecting the son too.

I feel for you I really do
post #14 of 30
Have you guys thought about moving closer to him? We were in a very similar situation with traveling 45mins each way from downtown to the burbs to pick DSD up from her mother's. We also had a joint custody situation. It actually worked well for us, but it certainly was not ideal. We wanted more time available to spend with DSD that wasn't spent on traveling. So, we made the decision to leave the area we LOVED to move out to the bubs 5mins from her mother's house. This also turned DH's commute from a 5min one to a 30min one. So, this has not been the easiest transition for us. However, it has been the best decision for DSD, and we do not regret moving for a minute.

There is a lot in this situation that you can not control or change particularly with the bio. You and your DH need to sit down and work out a solution that can work the best for your family. Think outside the box for solutions. Your DH should not have to sacrafice his time with his son, but there are certainly ways to make it work.
post #15 of 30
Joint physical/legal custody has worked well for us ,
We do week on week off , simple and easier for the kids to understand and deal with ..
Both parents chose a school that was halfway between houses (charter school) so neither one could "complain" about the drive.
We start the week on Mondays after school , so we don't have to drive to the others house.
We alternate outside activities if an activity is nears us the next activity will be near them ..
Our kids have lots of friends from school , they have sleepovers here and over there .. The kids also have friends from each neighborhood they spend time with.
We work hard at keeping the lines of communication open on both sides , because quite frankly it's not about US and what is easier for US , it's about the kids and what is best for them .
And seeing both parents with equal time is what is best for our kids ..

We have a clause in our agreement about how far each parent is able to move away and if one chooses to move out of state the parent living in the "home state" automatically gets full custody of the child , with the other parent having full visitation ..
post #16 of 30
Thread Starter 
redebeth- To answer your question my dss would never go to court because he does not want to upset either parent even if he really wants to be in one home. Also, my dh has guilt because of the ex being married and divorced three time and now is working on number 4. I anticipate she will either be moving in with number 4 or marrying number 4 within the next 12 months. The ex has a daughter from husband #1 and the girl is really mean and cannot find a serious relationship (boyfriend in general) at 22 or 23. The ex as I have said is not the warm and fuzzy type at all. My sil told me when dss was little he threw up on mom and mom nearly threw him because it messed up her dress. The ex is more interested in money and taking from men. My dss always brags how she has 100 thousand in her savings (which is probably true). Also dss tells me his mother has 99 Christmas presents under her tree (last year) . She buys dss anything he wants and gives him none age appropriate items. For one of his x-mas presents at age 11 she bought him R rated movie for his ps2 or some game unit. The ex stepfather(nice man and comes from nice family) still pays for dss to play hockey. It makes me sad that she has never been a real mom to her kids. Dss always makes comments about my 2 year old by saying when he was little no one cared about him so why should he care about fixing the baby gate. Like I said I knew my dss as I taught at his school and did afterschool. I told dss mother not to get divorce and she was nonchalant about it. (I only knew her on professional level) She mentioned she was getting divorce. It upsets me because she doesnt care. She only cares to put herself first and has made marriage a mockery. She takes from the marriage financially and leaves. Keep in mind this is a woman who never got highschool degree (maybe a ged now) but last lived in a half million dollar home.
post #17 of 30
Thread Starter 
It upsets me on 2 levels. First, overall despite what he has been through he is a good kid. He makes all a's in school, he is neat, he does his chores etc. He is just mean at times and I mean, mean. However, I would take him in a minute if there was no mother involved. So in that aspect I am upset that the mother does not treat him the way a mother should. She does not like to deal with the day to day responsibility. She only wants the glory. Let me tell you another mother story. My dh told me when he was married to ex they went to a water park, well a small child jumped in front of her on one of the raft rides, and she told the kid he was "a little ahole": (well she didnt say ahole she said the real word) This is just the way this woman is. My dh said he was so embarrassed because the little boy was only 7-8 years old. When dss was little dh had to get up and feed him because mother did not want to get up. Also, on the weekends dh said she slept in and so he had to take care of dss. Also, at the time she was in her late 30's and she wanted to go out dancing and leave dss with babysitter. Now I have no problem with date night actually I encourage it (helps the marriage) however, dh said she wanted to be out til 3-4 in the morning and he knew he had to take care of dss in morning. They had the bio grandma (who is an alcoholic) watch dss and the mother got mad at her mother because the grandma pooped on the toilet seat. Also, at 3 in morning dss is still in clothes with lights on. The bio grandmother is not really involved in dss life. Bio grandma is like mom she wants to be taken care of and will only do something if something is in it for her. This is what dss has to deal with. Now keep in mind my dh was raised the june cleaver with wonderful mom and dad until they both died. I too, come from a wonderful family with parents married 40 years. No craziness. So #2 I really have a had time trying to fix the situation because it is eyond my realm. My parents dont want me ever telling my kids that dss no longer has step father because they dont want them to be influenced. So now do you see why my dh carries guilt. My dss like I said is not really connected to anyone.
post #18 of 30
Thread Starter 
Correction when bio grandmother pooped on the seat I mean she went on the cover. So dh's ex got mad at her mother and started swinging the cloth cover and almost hit dh in the face. This is how some people live.
post #19 of 30
Thread Starter 
I have just seen so much damage done by joint custody so have my fellow teachers. I would love to see how many parents would have one home for the kids and the parents move in an out every few days. Those parents could never get married or have relationships or have a life. I can assure you this type of set up (especially if court ordered) would not last very long as the adults would find it too unstable. Now think of kids who do not have a foundation, teenagers trying to fit in, kids who never attach to anyone because all their relationships are diluted. Now I understand some of you agree with it but you have yet to see the results. When those kids get older and form relationships or lack there of. It prepetuates a learned behavior that this is the norm. It is very sad for the kids. It is only convenient for the parents the kids are only part of the 50/50 property settlement. Get this straight I am not say fathers are good parents. I have seen cases where I would immediately give the father custody such as in our case. I am just saying kids need a home they dont need a revolving door. Take the challenge of one mammal in which the father is the primary caretaker or that it is split. Other than the penguin which is a bird there arent any. Once again the father may have split custody but it is stepmother doing caretaking in most cases.

Redebeth- I will pray for you. You sound like a good mom a very good mom. Not a selfish mom who is in denial. You have seen what I have seen and that is what good mothers do. I really hope things work out for you. I wish I could give you a big: Try not to be down your son knows you love him and things have a way of working out especially for those who care. I know I may not be politically correct in the way I speak but I have seen 99% of these cases fail. Some parents go into denial but in the end they loose that closeness.
post #20 of 30
Thread Starter 
ma vie en rose- Let me ask you (cause I am a nursing mother 2.5 years and 3 years) would you put your bio children in that situation. I have the most wonderful husband in the world but he knows what detriment it would be to take our kids away from me. Think about it more personally than a dsd to your actual children . Could you be away from your children 4-5 days at a time every other week? Do you think they would fare well? I only ask all parents considering this to think twice. To think about the learned behavior. It is no different than children who become child molesters as adults because they were abused or children in abused homes who become abusers. How about teen mothers who give birth to kids to become teen mothers themselves. Kids learn from their parents. This split custody teaches them instability is the norm and family is diluted to steps and half siblings. I am in this situation so I can speak first hand. First of all I would not get a divorce unless I was in an abusive situation or infidelity etc. If I can cooperate with the ex then those of you should have stayed married. Some people are just too selfish to consider anyone but themselves. Maybe those of you who agree with joint custody did not grow up in ideal homes. My mom loved me and I have the worlds best dad but as a kid if my parents divorced I would have stayed with my mom. My dad is a great dad and maybe even the best grandpa on earth (changed my daughters diapers) loves them with his life. However, my dad would have loved us enough to have wanted us to have stability. My father is totally for fathers rights but feels so bad for step grandson being shuttled.
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