My letter to my ex and his family (LONG!) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 03-14-2002, 02:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, I got this vicious email from ds's grandmother saying that they are worried that I am cutting them off from their grandchild because I haven't returned ds's dad's calls yet. UGH!!!! I was dealing with 2 deaths in the family while trying to move! I called and got her answering machine and when I got Biodad he wouldn't give me a word in edgewise, so I had it and sat down and wrote the long awaited email to them all. Before I sent it, I got an apology but sent this anyway. I am going to post it here. Will you guys read and tell me what you think?


Here it is:
Dear (Grandmother), (Grandfather), and (Biodad),

I am writing this in lieu of calling each of you back. I have to write this to you because I won't be able to get it all out on the phone, and I have several issues that I need to cover.

First of all, I am concerned by (Biodad)'s sudden interest in having contact with (ds) since the wedding. I seriously question his motivation for this. He called twice in the month of February and once in March. This is the same number of times he has called ds in the last 3 years. I am afraid that it has more to do with being threatened by (ds)'s relationship with my husband than it does to do with (biodad)'s recent employment status, as it doesn't cost much money to call once a month or to send letters regularly.

I want to stress that I have every desire to do the right thing for my child, however, I want (biodad) to understand that (ds) is not a toy that can be picked up and put down at will. He has feelings and eventually he will realize the impact of (biodad)'s inconsistent contact when he is older. (Biodad) has a nine-year history with me of not following through on promises and not being consistent. I am concerned about (Biodad)'s sudden request for more contact with (ds), because I do not wish for (ds) to be subjected to the disappointment that would surely follow should (Biodad) suddenly stop when he is distracted by his career or relationships in the future as he has in the past.

I have sought advise from a family therapist and feel that I have developed a reasonable plan:

1) You may all have unlimited contact with (ds) through letters and cards. I will promise that every letter you send to him will be answered by him.
2) You may call him once a month to check on him and see how he is doing. I will email you if the number to contact (ds) changes.
3) You may continue to see him twice a year (once in the summer and once over winter break) for a week at a time. He will not be allowed to visit if he is required to go on a non-direct flight by himself. He will also not be allowed to go on visits while school is in session as we are now under a private homeschool that requires attendance.

I feel this is more than reasonable as it allows you the same number of visits you have had for the last 4 years and allows for more phone calls than either (Biodad) or (Grandmother) and (Grandfather) have ever taken advantage of in the past. However, here are my stipulations:

1) I am not going to have contact with you all except to set up visitation. I will email you if the number to reach (ds) changes, and we can set up visitation twice a year via email or, when necessary, via the phone. My decision to reduce our contact has nothing to do with my husband. He has no opinion on this matter. This is a personal decision made by me and has to
do with the way our previous contact has been emotionally disruptive to me.
2) Your contact has to be consistent. If your contact with (ds) becomes inconsistent and hurts my son, then I will be forced to make some changes. I am mostly concerned with (Biodad)'s contact being inconsistent due to his history.
3) You are not to put (ds) through any type of evaluation whether it be educational, physical, mental or emotional, without my express written permission. I understand that both (Grandmother) and (Grandfather) are in careers in the public school industry and are concerned about my decision to homeschool. I also understand that you both disagree with my decision to not medicate (ds), however, as his custodial parent and his sole guardian it is up to me to oversee his schooling and his medical treatment. If (ds) is evaluated for anything while in your care, I will be forced to seek legal redress.
4) All mail should be sent through the mail service we have in (city). The address is: XXXXXXXXXXX. This will ensure that we get the mail as soon as possible without losing any mail in the process of a move.
5) (ds) is not to be forced to call (Biodad) "Daddy." For the first 3 1/2 years when (Biodad) was absent totally and for the last 4 1/2 years when he had minimal contact, he has always called (Biodad) "Birthdaddy" or "Birthdaddy (Biodad)" and called my father "Daddy" or "Grandaddy." He calls my husband by his name or sometimes "Dad" when we are in public and he doesn't want to explain the stepfather relationship. I understand that the name "Birthdaddy" is bound to be embarrassing in front of your friends and family, but it is what the family therapists recommended at that time for an absent or minimally present father. I feel that (ds) should be allowed to change this at his wish but not at anyone's insistence.

Finally, I want to address the issue of the child support. This issue is irrespective of your contact and visitation with (ds), however, I believe that if (biodad) is truly sincere about his desire to finally do the right thing where (ds) is concerned, then he will follow through with the court order that is currently standing. Back support for the four years during which (biodad) paid no support has been ordered and has never been paid. Also, there is a standing order for (bio) to put (ds) on his insurance that has never been fulfilled. His current support payment is set at the rate for an unemployed father and assumes that I am making a livable wage. Since neither of these situations are currently true, I could easily get (ds)'s support payments raised. I would rather not have to go back to court as I feel that this would create such acrimony between us that it would be harmful to (ds). However, (bio) and (Grandmother) both told me repeatedly that (biodad) was not paying support for all those years so that he could go to school, get a good job and support (ds) better in the future. If this was sincere, (biodad) should voluntarily increase the payments he is currently making. The current payment of $(paltry sum) a month doesn't even cover half the cost of including (ds) on my husband's insurance, not to mention the costs of food, clothing, living expenses, dental and medical treatment, school supplies and fees, etc.

I would have rather not have had to deal with writing this out at such a emotional time in my life as I am dealing with the deaths of two of my close family members, however, I felt that it could not wait after receiving (Grandmother)'s email that implied that I was denying you all the right to be in contact with (ds). I am sure that this is not the answer you were desiring, but I feel that I am being overly generous, not out of respect for your rights, but out of respect for my son's rights.

If you wish to begin your monthly phone calls, you may reach (ds) at XXXXXXXXX. I will notify you if the number to reach him changes.

Sincerely,
(me)
P.S. (Grandmother), I just received your email. While I do accept your apology, I am going to stand by my decision to limit our contact to setting up visits. I just don't feel that we will ever see eye to eye on these issues and I can't take the continued conflict over this.

The end!
Ok, tell me what you think? Fair/No?
I hope this wasn't confusing with me having to dub the names.
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#2 of 21 Old 03-14-2002, 02:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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God! It is so long. I hope someone has time to read it.
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#3 of 21 Old 03-14-2002, 03:05 AM
 
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I think it sounds ok. I mean I think it's good when women stick up for themselves and their babes.

And for Pete's sake, it's between you and your ex, not his parents (I'll never understand that...)

GOod luck
Let us know what happens...
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#4 of 21 Old 03-14-2002, 03:09 AM
 
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I am so sorry that you are having to deal with this on top of the grief you are going through.

I am glad that you have sought counseling by a family therapist~I had to deal w/some ugly in-laws before, so I sympathize with you. My in-laws tried to seek "visitation right" prior to the surpreme court standing on the "Grandparents Rights": .

Good for you !

Hugs~

Lisa

Lisa, Todd, Dane and Amber: & :::
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#5 of 21 Old 03-14-2002, 03:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ooooh, I was so happy with the SC when they ruled that! I watched that like a hawk, because I believe biodad would have nothing to do with ds if it weren't for his parent's influencing him.

I just am irritated that he suddenly wants all these visits after all these years of neglect, but not enough to move back to this side of the nation.

I am just really nervous because dh says I have just kicked the anthill, but I am ready. All I changed really from the past is their access to me and no court will give them that.
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#6 of 21 Old 03-14-2002, 09:52 AM
 
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Hi Lara,

First, I want to extend my condolences for the deaths in your family. You have a lot going on in your life right now, and I hope you will find time to heal, and grieve, and adjust. Two deaths, moving and trouble with your ds's bio family--these are all big life stressors. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

I thought your letter was excellent. The only thing I might have omitted is the promise that ds will answer all letters and cards--did you talk with ds about this? Of course, it sounds like it may be a moot point because his bio family has historically been more interested in bothering you than in maintaining meaningful contact with your son...

Your letter was specific, it was to the point, and you didn't get emotional or lose your temper. Good for you! You may have kicked the anthill, but I see nothing in your letter that you might later regret--no name calling, no anger. It's good, solid, and healthy.

Well done,
Sarah
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#7 of 21 Old 03-14-2002, 11:20 AM
 
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Wow mama, you totally rock! Your letter is so clear, and so straightforward...it really is a huge act of generosity on your part to be so straightup with the people in your son's life about where you are coming from and what you are prepared to do.

I get the sense that you are someone who will absolutely follow through on what you say you will do, in the face of lots of inconsistent and minimal follow-through from biodad - what a great example for your son!!

Since you did ask for opinions, I am going to offer this one: you are asking for biodad's contact with your son to be "consistent." When I read that, I wasn't totally sure what it meant. Do you mean according to a schedule worked out in advance, or at the same time interval over the year, or simply that biodad follows through on planned contact, or something around being "emotionally" consistent? If I had one suggestion to make, it would be that you define and provide some examples of consistency. However, biodad and his family may know exactly what you mean by this, as it sounds like an ongoing theme in your relationships.

THanks for posting! (By the way, off-topic comment: I wrote this response while nursing a baby on a boppy pillow...then the cat came and sat on the boppy as well! I've gotta get a picture of this.)
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#8 of 21 Old 03-14-2002, 12:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks guys! That is just what I needed to hear.

Sarah, I thought about not making promises that he would write back but right now ds wants this contact and I currently make him write return letters to anyone who writes him for school anyway. If he decides in the future that he doesn't want contact, I will revise this or Tay can write, "I don't want to write you."

OneTrickPony, as far as the consistency, I am pretty sure that they know I mean that he can't set up an expectation that he will call, then abandon ds again. Like call every other month for 6 months and then quit for 10 months. But you are right. I should have been clear in writing.

I tried to read this letter as if it were being used against me in court so I wouldn't say anything inflammatory. But I assure you guys, they are going to be really upset and angry about me not talking to them. They think this is all because of my husband, when the only thing he has to do with it is that he gives me the strength to stand up for himself.
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#9 of 21 Old 03-14-2002, 12:37 PM
 
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Laralou, I for one am very impressed. I thought your letter was excellent. Very clear and consise. It's important to set boundaries. It's sad that Dad didn't want to be around these last few years and it makes sense that he is probably feeling threatened by your DH. My EX was the same way! For my DD's first 2 years, he was such an a$$hole! He didn't give her child support and he hardly ever saw her, even though we live in the same town! When he did pick her up, he would leave her with his Mother while he went out and partied. It was horrible for me because I hated his Mother.
When I met my DH and we moved in together suddenly the EX wanted to be around and he took me to court for visitation. :
Now- many years later things are good. We are all on friendly terms but I don't understand why it took me getting another man in my life for it to happen? Know what I mean?

Anyway, not to hijack your thread...Great letter and don't worry if they are pissed that you don't want to speak with them. If they are questioning the choices you make for your child and making you feel like you have to defend yourself, why would you?
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#10 of 21 Old 03-14-2002, 12:53 PM
 
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I think this letter was excellent and to the point. It was actually very non-confrontational and reasonable.

Is it copyrighted? I may have to borrow it in the future.
:LOL

Meka
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#11 of 21 Old 03-14-2002, 01:16 PM
 
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Like they all said, very clear and to the point. I admire your gusto in writing it, in spite of what the consequences may be and for being so upfront with them. Kudos to you too for letting us all read it (and using it--if only it would work in my situation). Sorry to hear about the deaths in your family, and moving, ugh! Wishing you all the best w/ it, lets hope it shuts them up instead of lighting their fire!!
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#12 of 21 Old 03-14-2002, 02:26 PM
 
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I thought it was concise and clear. Have you considered sending a copy of it certified mail, so that in the event of a legal situation, you could verify that they did receive it?

Carrie
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#13 of 21 Old 03-14-2002, 03:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, Carrie! I am heading to Kinko's now to print a copy to send to both. I want it recorded that they received it especially for the point of having him evaluated. They have tried this before and I want some evidence that they were warned if they do it again.

Thanks again all! I love having you guys as a resource to bounce my stuff off of-- I always get great unbiased well-reasoned advise here.
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#14 of 21 Old 03-14-2002, 04:37 PM
 
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I agree with everyone - great letter! I still don't understand what the grandparents have to do with it. Well, I do, but it's none of their business! I'm sure I don't have to suggest keeping copies of everything? Would it be worth your family therapist having a copy on file too?
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#15 of 21 Old 03-14-2002, 06:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, the ants came out...

I got a receipt online BTW and she responded so I have proof that Grandmother at least received and understood my request. And I am definately keeping records and a journal of phone calls. She was extremely angry and bitter and said lots of unnecessary things about me but the jist was that she would not go to court and that they would abide by my recommendations so if I can get over the insults I can breathe a huge sigh of relief.

The things she did say just reiterated why I would want no contact. She tried to put blame on me for her son's abandonment and neglect. Oh well...
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#16 of 21 Old 03-14-2002, 06:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't expect a response from him. Like I have said before, he is not a man. If this were the case, he would not need his mother to fight his battles for him.

Ironically, I only wanted to set limits on him not on his mother until she decided to champion his cause and accuse me of denying him contact. She can't see right now that she pushed me into this position.

I am not responding to her email and frankly I just skimmed it to be sure they wouldn't sue.
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#17 of 21 Old 03-15-2002, 02:48 PM
 
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Lara, I have much of the same situation with in laws and birthdad. Though ds dad has been consistant in always ( at some point days, weeks , months) coming back to "see " his son. I wouldn't say that he's not a man just not responsible in the ways that I am. I feel the issues go very deep. I appreciate your sharing and hope that you won't feel judged in my response to the letter. I am going to be fairly critical only because i personaly direct it so closely to my own decisions. I 'm afraid that if and when ds bd(birthdad) chooses to be fully involved in the caretaking that I would have closed all doors in order to protect myself from the hightened conflict. What if things do change? Can I say: too late damage has been done ? I do not want this however I need to protect myself. ( I can do this by being sure to have support and love from those who appreciate me) How do I know if ds best interest is what is at hand for all of us? I/m sure that ds would want peace and resolution even if every other party chooses only to have superficial contact, no responsability no committment. I don't want my authority to ever overstepp the relationship that ds could have with any of them even if I see their beliefs as wrong or bad. I need to be aware of ds temperment and wishes. Will I respect his will or will I use my authority in knowing what is best? if he feels hurt by them what can I do without making them into ennemies?
Ds dad definately becomes more involved, more angry and more passionate when ds spends time with others. he wants to have say and control over what we do on a regular basis as well where we live but forfiets all responsability of $ support, carrying and playing, learning about parenting. He still wants to maintain status as dad for both many ill and good reasons.
What can I be teaching ds? I want him to know that he does not need to tolerate too much stress but also that we can learn from such struggles and confrontations. It's a fine line I can't quite see.
But I do know it is there. It says We are all good people trying to do what we deam is best. We all love you. You are important. Lets play.xoxo
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#18 of 21 Old 03-15-2002, 04:37 PM
 
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I am proud of you! That must have been very difficult to write, especially within the context of your life presently. You set a bottome line, very clearly. This, I believe, is the best you could do for your DS. I bet that in the future, you will be able to look back upon this letter and your decisions with pride. What else can you ask of yourself??

Three cheers for one great mama!
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#19 of 21 Old 03-17-2002, 01:51 AM
 
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Great letter, Lara. You are wise to always read your letter as if it is being used in court. Your ds is very blessed to have such a clear thinking mom to advocate for him. You are in my thoughts as you wade through the grief of all these situations.
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#20 of 21 Old 03-19-2002, 12:44 AM
 
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I thought your letter was very thoughtfully and clearly laid out. I wish my stepdaughter's mom would be as clear about her wishes, and as supportive of her DD's relationship with my DH!

breastfeeding, babywearing, homeschooling Heathen parent to my little Wanderer, 7 1/2 , and baby Elf-stone, 3/11!

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#21 of 21 Old 03-19-2002, 12:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, Ravin. Trust me I have been much nicer in the past. It is only the yo-yo behavior and the failure to take responsibility that has lately driven me to this point. I can't feel guilty because they have now had the phone number for days and no one has called my son. Even when biodad was calling and emailing, he was trying to reach me and not ds. What is up with that? I don't want to hurt my son by shutting them out, but they pour so much negativity into my life that I need them out of my life at least.
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