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"I'll-pick-you-up-tomorrow-never-mind-can't-do" parent.

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Do you have a kid who gets ready to be picked up, and then you get a phone call: "can't do today, because <insert excuse>, let's reschedule"? And then this conversation repeats a week later? And the week later?..

Does it bother kids when they are 15? I can't read DSD on this one. Her mom is getting into this <insert excuse> habit, and I'm trying to think "her loss", but I worry it bothers dsd and she doesn't want to tell us. I'm not bringing it up to her, but .. ugh.. I don't know. She really seems okay, but then again, I'd imagine it would bother me if my own mom was too busy to come see me weeks at a time (been over a month since her last visit).

What do you think? Personal experience is especially welcome.
post #2 of 20
I would be hurt. I was hurt when I was 15, I lived with my mom but she was too busy to be a mom to me. She was going out with her friends and such, being a friend to me sometimes. BUT I was hurt b/c I wanted a mom. Sort of the same but not entirely. I thought maybe it applied though.
post #3 of 20
I have experience with this as a child and as a step-parent.

My own biological mother couldn't commit to being a mom. She lived in the next state and my father had full custody of myself and my sister. She would call us and arrange a visit and then either call with the excuse or just not show up at all - with no warning or phone call. She even talked my father into putting us on a Greyhound bus when we were 7 & 9, promising him that she would be at the bus station when we got there to pick us up. She never showed up. The clerk at the Greyhound station had to call my father and we sat in the bus station for 2 1/2 hours waiting for my father to drive in from the next state to pick us up because my mother couldn't be bothered to keep her commitments to her own children. After that, my father and step-mother asked my bio-mom to relinquish her parental rights so that my step-mother could adopt us. She refused and we had to take her to court, where my sister and I had to stand before a judge and tell him - in front of the woman who gave birth to us - that we didn't want her to be our mother anymore. We won and my step-mother was able to adopt us. My biological mother spent the next 10 years trying to have a relationship with us - ANY relationship - but she could never pull her life together enough to commit to a visit.

I am the step-mother to children who have a mom who can't commit to visitation and I can tell you that they hurt as much as I hurt all those years ago.

My DSD doesn't behave as if it bothers her that her mother can't commit to time with her, but I know it does. You can tell in the way she carries herself and the way she responds to efforts to make her happy.

I can tell you, unequivocally, that it is damaging for children to have a parent who doesn't take seriously their responsibility to be there for them.

I know this as a child and as a parent. Your DSD will need you more than ever in the times that her mother bails. Please be patient and kind. She will thank you for it when she's grown.
post #4 of 20
for your DSD. Never experienced it, but I know I hid being hurt when I was 15.

I say, put DSD on the phone and make mom tell the excuse to her directly. And you should leave the room so DSD doesn't have to feel like maybe she's criticizing her mom in front of you if she says she's upset.
post #5 of 20
This is why I immensely prefer the terms "periods of placement" or "parenting time" to "visitation." WI ditched "visitation" awhile ago in favor of "placement" (even for parents who have a supervised afternoon a month with their children, it's still "placement") and it's a far better frame. Think about it--visits seem optional and fleeting. (Who was the last person you "visited?" Grandma? I "paid a visit" to the computer store today.) But "parenting time" drives the point home a bit.

Language matters.

Sorry you're dealing with this. Neither my partner nor his ex would ever dream of calling and saying nope, sorry, can't see her this weekend/week, short of a dire emergency. (Very occasionally, SD stays an extra night in one place or another because the weather is horrid and the 90-minute round trip to the meeting place would become a 5-hour life-risking sheet of suck.)
post #6 of 20
As a child, this happened to me often. As a preadolescent, I told my father that I would no longer go to his home, where I was being abused by his wife. I was willing to see him anyWHERE, any TIME, just not there. In response, he replied that nobody, especially me, would come between him and his wife. And then would have stuff come up over and over when he was supposed to spend time with me. If he DID come, it was always ALWAYS hours and hours after he was supposed to be there. I honestly didn't start to pack till seven if he was supposed to pick me up at five. Why bother? He woudln't be there till eight, if he bothered to come at all.

In the end, after a LOT of work with counselors, and spiritual directors and just plain on my own, as a young adult, I realized that it WAS his loss. I had many other men in my life who loved, respected, and valued me. They CHOSE to spend time with me, and they weren't all blood relations--they had no 'obligation' to care about me, as I felt that my father did. In my revelations as a young adult, this made a HUGE difference in how I saw the situation. I know that your DSD has you in her life, which is going to play a large role, I suspect, in her emotional well being through this.

So...the long answer is, yes. I think she is probably somewhere feeling hurt by her mother's lack of interest. That however does not mean that she will be permanently hurt by it. I grew past it, with work, but also with a lot of love and support from other sources.
post #7 of 20
It hurt me when I was younger. By the time I was 15, I was hardly speaking with my dad.

I am nearly 30, and due to a substance abuse problem, she has been flaky about showing up for planned visits (we are 6 hours away) for the last few years. She wound up not attending my wedding last month for similar reasons. And all of that has hurt. I think that a parent's unavailability can hurt at any age.

I'm sorry that your dsd has to go though this.
post #8 of 20
I feel so bad for your DSD. We see this often with my DH's godson & nephew. This young man is like one of our own and spends part of the summer with us each year. His parents fight all the time and call each other ugly derogatory names. When his mom (DH's sister) studied abroad our dear nephew chose to stay with us all summer b/c he just did.not.want.to stay with his dad. We have had quite a few talks with nephew about this (he's 16 now and has been coming to stay with us since he was 9) and he is disgusted by the way his dad acts. I can tell he's hurt as well and I've discussed it with him privately (he would be mortified to show that kind of emotion in front of his uncle). It's just so darn sad.

It breaks my heart when parents are such jerks to their kids. It's not right at all.

post #9 of 20
My biodad did that a bunch of times when I was little...under 5, but I still remember it. I'm 32 now and haven't seen my biodad since I was 5 and it still sucks remembering it. I grew up without my dad and hated answering questions about it.

Yes, of course this hurts your dsd. Being rejected by a parent sucks at any age. I think you should make her mom tell her that she isn't coming, but also let your dsd know that you are there for her, that you're sorry that her mom has done this to her, but not in a "Let's hate your mom" kind of way. She may feel she has to defend her, but that's not her job.
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the replies. She does tell dsd herself. In fact, she only has two types of phone calls: to either tell dsd "will pick you up tomorrow to do something fun", and then the excuse phone call. I honestly don't think there are any other types left.

DSD actually let it slip a couple of times "she probably won't come anyway", and "I bet that she's calling with an excuse, watch this.." (and she was right that time). Her tone is more annoyed than upset, though. I do agree that she feels she has to protect her mom in a way.

Strange world we live in...
post #11 of 20
I'm sending lots of love to her and to you and your dh as well.

I like to take situations like these, the ones that are really painful and try to find a way to reframe them into something positive. Usually, I find something extreme like this can be a way to bring up some really important life lessons and help my kids understand that everyone out there is doing the best they can and sometimes, when people are so messed up, their best is really not all that great.

I use opportunities like this to remind my kids that anything that another person does is about them. (No, I'm not naive enough to think it doesn't affect my kids) but I hope that enough messages about these things being about the other person will help them see it's not personal...it's really about the other person and the crap they're going through.

I also use the opportunity for my kids to understand why I value speaking my word and being my word. I don't do it directly at that moment, when they are hurting, but I do say things at other times about the importance of following through on something we say we're going to do...or not saying anything if we're unsure about what action we can take.

Your dsd is fortunate to have such loving people in her life and have a dad and step mom that are so invested in her. I know that won't erase or take away the hurt she feels, but it will help her to see that she is lovable and people really enjoy being with her.

I'm sending some love & peace & healing to all of you.
post #12 of 20
I wonder what would happen if you started taking DSD to the fun activity. I know there's no way she'd actually do this, but I bet her mom would get her act together ASAP if your DSD answered the excuse phone calls:
"Oh, hi mom...you need to cancel again? What a surprise. ... Um, yeah, whatever. Look, I've got to go, Oriole's taking me to fun activity. ... Well, if you were coming Oriole says she'd be glad to stay home. ... Too bad. When you decide to make spending time with your own child a priority, I'm sure I'll be the first to know." *click*
post #13 of 20
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post
I wonder what would happen if you started taking DSD to the fun activity. I know there's no way she'd actually do this, but I bet her mom would get her act together ASAP if your DSD answered the excuse phone calls:
"Oh, hi mom...you need to cancel again? What a surprise. ... Um, yeah, whatever. Look, I've got to go, Oriole's taking me to fun activity. ... Well, if you were coming Oriole says she'd be glad to stay home. ... Too bad. When you decide to make spending time with your own child a priority, I'm sure I'll be the first to know." *click*
You know what? This happens on our home. Well, not actually like this. No one is trying to hurt bio-mom. But, when she bails on seeing DSD and DSS, DH and I generally end up doing something fun with them to mute the pain a little. All it takes is one "we did something fun with Sarah" comment from the kids to their mother for her to all of a sudden have a few consecutive weeks of keeping her commitments to seeing the kids.
post #14 of 20
From what I know of you and your step-daughter and the relationship you two have been building, you are doing exactly what you can do. Maybe she IS just annoyed, maybe she is hurt, maybe she is confused, maybe she is angry... AND I'll bet she also knows she is worthy of love and respect, and that she is a wonderful person with wonderful qualities, and is a person who others enjoy spending time with. That is something you can give her (and I think have given her) and you can reinforce it every day through all the little things you do. In my opinion, it's the best thing you can do to counter the messages she might be getting from her mom right now. She may be able to work through her feelings about her mom on her own, or she might need help... I bet she knows you and her dad are there to support her if and when she needs you.
post #15 of 20
I know that when I was that age and my bio-mom showed no interest I was pretty upset. But it's a little more than that. It really was those times when she said "I'm coming up this weekend and we'll XYZ" and she didn't show that it really hit home that I just wasn't a priority. As an adult I feel fine about it, because I have excused her from my life. But as a teen I was so hurt and I didn't feel that anyone would understand.

I almost saw her as she could do no wrong. Once I got a job she would show up long enough for a sob story and to borrow/steal money, and then she'd disappear for a while. I knew that it was wrong, but it upset me to think of it as wrong because she was my mother. So if she didn't value me, I must not be of value. And if she did mean things to me, I must be capable of mean things because she's my mother. If someone would say "I'm tired of your mom doing this and that. She's so worthless." it shook me to the core. It was very confusing and painful.

And teens are experts at hiding feelings. Even if she acts fine, she might not be. Really work on your relationship with her. If she can see herself as lovable and valuable to someone else, it may make a huge difference in how she sees herself.

Hugs to all of you.
post #16 of 20
I have this same problem!
Ex is supposed to have DS every other Saturday night... But on average every other Saturday something will come up... The week before we left on vacation he couldnt come pick him up because he was playing some Star Wars game. I guess it was a tournament of some sort and he was winning (we are talking winning of $50 or so). He ended up loosing the tournament and didnt get to see DS before we left on vacation for a month. He has canceled for many reasons.. and I am not even sure if I should tell DS the reasons he canceled or if I should just say he was too busy to come.

When we get back from vacation it will be the Ex's weekend again... We arent even sure if he will remember or cancel again. It makes it sorta hard to plan things since we never know if DS will be gone or not. :

Honestly I am not sure what is better.. Ex calling to cancel so much or him not being around at all. I feel like if the Ex wasnt around at all DS could spend more time trying to bond with DH and forming a better relationship with him.

Anyway... Oriole I am sorry your DSD has to go through this. I am SURE it bothers her. And I hope that you and your DH do everything in your power to show her that you value your time with her and that she is a valuable person.
post #17 of 20
This just happened with my DS's father but I have been around this block so often that I try not to tell DS until it seems like his father will actually make a visit happen. DS's dad was supposed to come for DS's last football game next weekend - he has never seen DS play football in the two years he has played. But money and every other thing came up and no visit. I hadn't told DS about the possible visit because I didn't want him disappointed.

My father did the same thing when I was growing up and I remember how hard it was to be all ready for him to come, waiting and waiting, and he wouldn't come and sometimes wouldn't call. One year my mother lied and said it wasn't Christmas because he was supposed to come that day and wasn't there so we had Christmas on the 26th.

It is easier now that we live so far from DS's dad, DS can't be regularly disappointed the way he was when we were in the same city and his dad would say he would come by that night and then not come (we never had a formal visitation shedule). Now DS sees his dad every 4-6 weeks when I fly him to the city his dad is in and that has worked out much better than I ever thought it would.

Good luck OP your DSD is lucky to have you.
post #18 of 20
This was my dad when I was a little kid... and I still meltdown when people change plans on me at the last minute. Waiting for somebody to come and pick me up is the absolute worst, I continually think they're not going to show up - to the point where I feel upset for days afterward, even if they do show up.

Typical scenario with my dad would be to call (already late by this time) and say he was going to be another hour. Then call an hour later to cancel altogether (drunk). Hard to understand at 5. Easier at 15 but still not okay. Although at 15 I also would have pretended not to care... at that point I was only seeing my dad about once a year so it wasn't much of an issue.
post #19 of 20
I guarantee this is hurting your dsd, whether she seems okay or not. I would give her lots of extra love and, if your not comfortable doing so, have her father open up a dialogue with his daughter about this hurt. It would be better if an adult around her validated her feelings and talked them out with her. DON'T sweep it under the rug and pretend everything is okay. If I were your husband I would have a discussion with her mother, as well. I think what she is doing is nothing less than neglect.
post #20 of 20
My father did this to my sister and I when we were little. It hurt alot. Mom just gave us extra love and we did something fun.....

On the other end of the spectrum however.....the past year or so when Dp went to pick up dsd she would change her mind and say she didn't want to come...even though he had talked to her a few hours prior to picking up....and it was random. They didn't have a formal custody agreement....it's just always been 50/50 shared without the paperwork and it's worked fine for them. I knew he was hurt by it. He's never chatted with her about the why she changed her mind or what not. Was always just like Ok. and then left hurt while she went in happily to her mom to watch a movie (how he described it and how I saw it a few times....)....I've been in her life 6 years. She's 8.

Many hugs to your dsd!!!!
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