SD's don't want to come anymore - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 11:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We got an email from DH's ex wife, she is telling us that the stepgirls are expressing that they don't want to come anymore. They are 7 and 9. The older SD was talking about this earlier, but we thought that we resolved the issue by having DH call weekly and make sure that there was the SD had some 1:1 time with DH.

It's confusing because they really seem happy and like they are having a good time here.They are not telling this to us AT ALL. I don't know if they are having an issue of divided loyalty when they are with their mom, so they tell her this? DH is feeling awful, and I'm feeling bad too. I oscillate btw "fine - then don't come" to "they need to come, they are too young to decide this now" to having DH just visit them at thier house on weekends.

DH's ex wife is wanting to let them choose. I think that it sends the wrong message: that family is optional, that you don't have to anything that you don't want to. I'm feeling that his exwife is being very cavalier with the girls time here - would she say the same thing if they decided that they didn't want to go to school anymore?

If anyone has any experice with this, I'd love your insight. I never had this experience growing up, and my two older children haven;t had any problems going to thier dad's, so this is really uncharted territory for our family.
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#2 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 11:50 AM
 
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I'm on the other side of this right now with my ds who is 10 and my youngest says he'll do whatever his brother is doing. My oldest doesn't want to go to his dad's right now, he feels vulnerable, doesn't want to be away from me, home & his things, etc. He likes being with his dad generally and once he goes, it's okay, but there are tears every week and it is difficult. We talk about it, I've given him ideas, strategies, etc. but he's still very upset and if he had his choice, he wouldn't go right now.

I have no advice. I've been really encouraging the kids to go because I like my little break, but I'm not sure what is best right now. My kids will not talk to their dad or his girlfriend about what they feel, but I do feel grateful they are talking to me, because that's better than not talking at all. In my situation, I wish my ex would come to the kids turf and see them here and do things where we live, but he's not willing, so it makes it difficult.

I thought I'd share because my oldest is about the same age and it might be reassuring to you to know it might be an age/developmental stage and nothing to do with you or their mom.
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#3 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 12:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your reply. It is just upsetting because they are really happy when they are here, and then we get the emails for her telling us that they don't want to come.

Their mom is ok with them not coming; she feels it's good for their autonomy. I feel that since they are safe, cared for and ok once here, that they should just push thru it, becuase it might be an age thing.

I've also suggested couseling so that they real issue, if there is one can be discovered. The step girls tend to be timid, they have difficulty expressing the most basic wants/needs at times!
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#4 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 12:38 PM
 
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It should always be up to the kids.

In my opinion, court order or not, kids are people too and they have a right to decide what they want to do.


How would you feel it if you were uncomfortable in a situation and someone forced you to do it repeatedly anyways? Eventually you would lose trust in that person. Their mom is definately not giving them the wrong signal. She is showing them that they can be open with her and trust her to look out for what they want in their lives.


I went through this with my dad when we were about 10ish. I didn't want to go over to his house anymore. So he started coming to my mom's place and taking me out for the afternoon to a park in my town or to a movie in my town instead of me having to trek 60 miles to his house to sit in his house, do what he wanted, and be bored for 2 days. Made a world of difference and eventually I wanted to start going back to dad's place again.

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#5 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 12:39 PM
 
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I know that if this happened in our family, DH would still expect DSD to come. It might be a little different for us because DSD is with us 50% of the time (more than that, actually - her mom gives up a lot of time). DH's view on it is that in a nuclear family, you don't get to choose your parents, so in a blended family, why should that change? He believes that being a presence in his child's life is important, and not just in a "visit" sense. He wants to be there for her day-to-day life - all of the boring things like homework, toothbrushing and family dinner as well as the fun things like vacation and school events. He feels that even if she doesn't understand why it is important now, that it is important for her to have both of her parents as a large part of her life.

He has a lot of guilt over the couple of years that he was an EOW daddy - he said (these are his feelings - not implying anything about anyone else's situation) that he didn't feel like a real father during that time. So if DSD decided that she didn't want to be here any longer, he would just explain to her that this is how her family works, and that's that. Granted, things may change when she is an older teen, but any younger than that - this is the way it will stay.

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#6 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 12:44 PM
 
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when i was 10/11 i went through a phase of not wanting to go to my dad's on the weekends. i think it was a puberty thing, looking back. i liked being there and loved being with my dad, but also felt an intense separation from my mom when i was there. i was a shy/sensitive child. looking back, i'm glad my parents kept up with the routine.

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#7 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 12:46 PM
 
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It is just upsetting because they are really happy when they are here, and then we get the emails for her telling us that they don't want to come.
That is what my ex says too. He says, "I don't understand, because they're happy when they're here." The kids even say at the end of the day they had fun and are glad they went...but the next time, it happens all over again.
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#8 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 12:48 PM
 
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I know that if this happened in our family, DH would still expect DSD to come. It might be a little different for us because DSD is with us 50% of the time (more than that, actually - her mom gives up a lot of time). DH's view on it is that in a nuclear family, you don't get to choose your parents, so in a blended family, why should that change? He believes that being a presence in his child's life is important, and not just in a "visit" sense. He wants to be there for her day-to-day life - all of the boring things like homework, toothbrushing and family dinner as well as the fun things like vacation and school events. He feels that even if she doesn't understand why it is important now, that it is important for her to have both of her parents as a large part of her life.

He has a lot of guilt over the couple of years that he was an EOW daddy - he said (these are his feelings - not implying anything about anyone else's situation) that he didn't feel like a real father during that time. So if DSD decided that she didn't want to be here any longer, he would just explain to her that this is how her family works, and that's that. Granted, things may change when she is an older teen, but any younger than that - this is the way it will stay.
I get that standpoint too but I have a couple of questions/points and none of them are intended to be attacks.


Is it the kids faults the way the family works? I don't think so, so I don't think it is the kids responsibility to go the extra mile to keep the parents happy. Your situation is quite a bit different then most as you have your step child more than half the time most of the time. But I strongly feel that the parents are the ones that need to mold to the kids in these situations because they didn't ASK to be here, and it is my job as a parent to make sure my step son feels safe. We encourage him to see his bio father, but if he says 'no thanks' then that is that. And he is only 6. In our family it is our job to make him feel secure, not make him feel off balanced.


I get the point of just saying 'this is how it is, live with it' but until you are in your late teens/adult hood you can't really reason out 100% of your emotions, but just because you can't put them to words, doesn't mean you aren't having them, they shouldn't be made to feel that their desire to feel secure in an enviroment is invalid in my opinion.

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oh and

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#9 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 12:50 PM
 
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i think it is really tough to know what to do. my kids went through a long long period where they did not want to go to their dad's. there were several issues that made it hard for them to be at their dad's, and as a custodial parent, it was hard to force them to go when they would cry for the day before they left and the day after they got home. once they were 7 and 9 i did let them choose - sometimes - just to help relieve the emotional stress they were feeling.

your situation sounds much different though.
maybe we underestimate how hard it is for kids to be bounced back and forth, and so sometimes not wanting to go to the non-custodial parent's place may have nothing to do with that parent, but just the feeling of not wanting to go somewhere after a tough or long week, for example.

i'm not sure where i stand on letting kids choose though - my sister hasn't seen her son for three years as a result of the dad "letting" his son choose - that's not right either. but maybe with emotionally balanced parents, letting children choose every now and again can be healthy. kids need to feel heard.

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#10 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 12:53 PM
 
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i think it is really tough to know what to do. my kids went through a long long period where they did not want to go to their dad's. there were several issues that made it hard for them to be at their dad's, and as a custodial parent, it was hard to force them to go when they would cry for the day before they left and the day after they got home. once they were 7 and 9 i did let them choose - sometimes - just to help relieve the emotional stress they were feeling.

your situation sounds much different though.
maybe we underestimate how hard it is for kids to be bounced back and forth, and so sometimes not wanting to go to the non-custodial parent's place may have nothing to do with that parent, but just the feeling of not wanting to go somewhere after a tough or long week, for example.

i'm not sure where i stand on letting kids choose though - my sister hasn't seen her son for three years as a result of the dad "letting" his son choose - that's not right either. but maybe with emotionally balanced parents, letting children choose every now and again can be healthy. kids need to feel heard.
The whole letting them choose can be used wrong too, it is VERY wrong to let a child choose to not see their other parent for 3 years without a VERY good reason.

The 'letting them choose' means to not take them out of their comfort zone. If your sister's ex has custody and the kids don't want to go to her house? Well what would you expect after 3 years?????? Go to a park and just have mommy stop by on 'accident' or even prep them that she is going to be there and start re-introducing. After 3 years mommy has become a stranger, and if she has a desire to see those kids, then that is just wrong.... Sorry she is going through that.

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#11 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 12:58 PM
 
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The 'letting them choose' means to not take them out of their comfort zone. If your sister's ex has custody and the kids don't want to go to her house? Well what would you expect after 3 years?????? Go to a park and just have mommy stop by on 'accident' or even prep them that she is going to be there and start re-introducing. After 3 years mommy has become a stranger, and if she has a desire to see those kids, then that is just wrong.... Sorry she is going through that.
she is fully aware of that and realizes that it would be more detrimental for her son to see her right now. the court ordered her little boy to be in counseling to re-introduce her into his life but the ex has been refusing to follow the counselor's suggestions and the judge's orders. she is in court this thursday to try and get some follow up.

the specific example i gave was about my own children, not about her, so i'm not sure where you got the idea that she thought it was reasonable to step back into his life like that ...

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#12 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 01:03 PM
 
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she is fully aware of that and realizes that it would be more detrimental for her son to see her right now. the court ordered her little boy to be in counseling to re-introduce her into his life but the ex has been refusing to follow the counselor's suggestions and the judge's orders. she is in court this thursday to try and get some follow up.

the specific example i gave was about my own children, not about her, so i'm not sure where you got the idea that she thought it was reasonable to step back into his life like that ...
Did I say that she wanted to? My bad if you got that impression. All I said was that it would be detrimental to kids in a situation like that. My step son is in a similar situation where his bio dad calls once every 6+ months and asks to see him alone, to which we always say 'lets start with a park' and then drops off the radar after 2 or 3 park visits.

So as to 'where I got the idea' it would be personal experience talking about reality.

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#13 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 01:07 PM
 
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Did I say that she wanted to? My bad if you got that impression. All I said was that it would be detrimental to kids in a situation like that. My step son is in a similar situation where his bio dad calls once every 6+ months and asks to see him alone, to which we always say 'lets start with a park' and then drops off the radar after 2 or 3 park visits.

So as to 'where I got the idea' it would be personal experience talking about reality.
gotcha ... my ex is like that too ... see the kids once every 2-3 months and then wonders why they don't really care to see him

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#14 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 01:15 PM
 
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My kids do not have a choice in seeing the dad and my step son does not have a choice in talking to his mother on the phone (they don't have visits, she lives too far, but I wish she were closer). Anyway, my oldest is 12 and until he is honestly TOO BUSY with things like work etc, he will not be able to get out of going to his father's house.

My youngest (9) doesn't like to leave my side, he is very attached to me, but he loves his dad too. He doesn't always want to go to his dads, but boy does he enjoy it when he gets there and when he is there, he doesn't even want to bother talking on the phone to me.

I think, and this is just from my experience, that unless there is abuse or neglect, I think that the kids need to be pushed to see the other parent. If they are having fun, they will never regret that time when they are adults, and might not even remember being forced to go, but if something happened, man they might not regret it.

When my parents seperated I was never forced to see my dad, even though I loved him very much. He died when I was 15 and I really wish I had had a LOT more time with him. I wont let my kids have those regrets.
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#15 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 02:24 PM
 
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Is it the kids faults the way the family works? I don't think so, so I don't think it is the kids responsibility to go the extra mile to keep the parents happy.
No, but DH's point of view is that there are a lot of things in life that we cannot control, so sometimes we must learn to adapt to the situation. This would be one of those situations.

Also, this isn't about making the DH happy. Believe me, having DSD here is exhausting (this may explain why her mom is so willing to give up time...). It is about doing what DH believes is the best for his daughter. DH and I make decisions all of the time for both kids that they aren't necessarily happy about, but are in their best interest. Sometimes it is as small as me taking DS' crayons away because he is eating them, other times it is as big as DH making sure that both parents are involved in DSD's life.

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#16 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 02:24 PM
 
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my parents split when I was nine and, unfortunetely, it seemed like neither of them wanted to be the grown-up anymore. My brother and I spent a month at a time away from one parent or the other, shuffled back and forth, until I got meningitis and encephalitis, which put me into a coma.

My parents then got back together during my recovery (I had little brain function for a few months after and need a lot of extra care, so it made sense).

When I was 14, however, they divorced and my brother and I were back to fending for ourselves. We went between our mom who was anal and naggy and stressed, and cruel, to our dad who was a junky alcoholic (and started both of us on varrious drugs, had us sell for him, brought hookers home regularily, et cetera).

we hated being with either parent and spent a lot of time staying with friends, their moms and dads feeding us and getting us to school.

So, not saying that any of your situations are similar but my parents seemed to be rather clueless about what was going on in each other's homes (couldn't of helped that they haven't talked since the breakup )

I do feel that the kids should be able to decide, within reason, who they stay with. Visitation should be encouraged under normal circumstanced and parents should try to help the children adjust to their new situations, not just give in.

I like the idea of meeting in neautral places too

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#17 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 03:06 PM
 
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My SD wouldn't get a choice.

Why? Because the schedule is designed, largely, with her mom's work schedule in mind. If she didn't come here, she wouldn't be spending time with her mom--she'd be spending time with a baby-sitter (on top of the time she already spends in school and aftercare). She's never really had problems with transitions, but if she did, our answer would have to be gently getting her through it, not rearranging things to get her out of making transitions.

She's told us a few times that she would prefer to live with us and see her mom on weekends--but then when it's summer, we have exactly that schedule and she wants to switch. "The grass is greener" and all that.

This schedule probably will become untenable once SD is old enough to stay by herself for hours at a time, because by then, she will probably be involved in sports, drama, clubs, friends, whatever. Then again, by the time many kids in intact families get to be that age, they also spend a lot of time on sports, drama, clubs, friends, whatever, and don't spend most weekends just hanging out with their dads (or moms). We'll get there when we get there.

I don't think kids should get a choice whether to see their families or not, though I think they should get age-appropriate input into *when* -- I didn't get to decide that I didn't want to visit my grandmother anymore, but I could pipe up and let my parents know I had a youth group dance that night and could we do dinner with grandma another time (or could they go without me and I'll come the next time)?

Likewise--my stepdaughter doesn't get to decide whether to go to school, and my future kids won't either (we're not a homeschooling family). However, if there are real problems with a particular school or teacher, we'll listen.

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#18 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 04:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you to everyone for thier insight.

I've been thinking alot about this issue. What bothers me the most is that the SD's are telling their mother that they don't want to go. There is no explaiation why - and no exploration about why coming from either parent. She would like them to decide each scheduled weekend if they are coming or not, but would like to enforce visitation on Father's day, DH's birthday and scheudled holidays. So we're supposed to sit on standby each weekend?

I guess I feel that the root of the issue is something else, and can be resolved. Maybe they are having more friends and would like to do that on weekends, or maybe two nights here is too much, but one night would be fine. I just think that there can be a more creative problem solving approach going on rather than what is happening at this juncure. If they are having a problem with something we're doing as a family, or one of the other kids, this is an opportunity for growth, and avoidance will not solve anything.

And while I agree that children are people, there is a reason why children have parents. At 7 I wanted to change my name to She-ra and eat chocolate all day. I'm very thankful that my parents thought otherwise Limits and boundaries can be set without it being coersive.
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#19 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 04:25 PM
 
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what does the children's father think about all of this?

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#20 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 06:48 PM
 
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Is it the kids faults the way the family works?
Nope.

It's also not my children's fault that they are required to attend school once they turn 6, that I work full-time, that I am their mother, that they have siblings, that we live in Vermont, or that they have to wear a seat belt in the car.

But none of those things are up to them either. We are more than happy to listen to their feelings about any of them, to help problem-solve with them, to explain the reasons behind any of them. We are happy to think about and make accommodations that may help them work through their difficulties with any of the above situations. AND, in the long-run, those things still aren't up to them.

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#21 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 07:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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what does the children's father think about all of this?
We just got the email yesterday night. He was just feeling bad, that maybe he did something wrong, just feeling really confused because, as I said, there is no indication while they are with us that they don't want to be here. Pick up/drop off went well. Further than that, we haven't talked because he's been at work today.

I think that he feels that his spouse is being really gilb about how important the girls time here is. The email basically said " J and M told me that they don't want to come. So starting this weekend I'm going to let them decide. You can call me if you like."
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#22 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 07:40 PM
 
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Kids do hate going somewhere and "being bored" for hours or days on end. If DH is okay with visiting them at their home, taking them to the park or whatever, that would probably be the best thing to do.

My daughters are teenagers now and, during times they didn't want to visit their dad, the more he pushed, the less they wanted to be around him. It was only when he acted like an adult instead of a spoiled child who wanted to punish them for not wanting to come (not saying your DH is doing this - it definitely looks like he is not), that they gradually became more willing to visit.

X even used the courts to force the oldest to visit - just a year ago. But what does that say about you when your child wants to visit only b/c she was threatened to have to live with you permanently if she refused to visit. BTW, X is verbally, emotionally (everything but physically - except once) abusive so I'm sure this doesn't fit your situation (and the judge has bought into his "victim" lies hook, line, and sinker). Sorry for hijacking the thread.
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#23 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 07:49 PM
 
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We just got the email yesterday night. He was just feeling bad, that maybe he did something wrong, just feeling really confused because, as I said, there is no indication while they are with us that they don't want to be here. Pick up/drop off went well. Further than that, we haven't talked because he's been at work today.


that must be really difficult.

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#24 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 08:02 PM
 
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that must be really difficult.
I second that.
I was once in your dsd positions, but I can't help but feel pretty sad for this daddy.
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#25 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 09:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sdm1024 View Post
We just got the email yesterday night. He was just feeling bad, that maybe he did something wrong, just feeling really confused because, as I said, there is no indication while they are with us that they don't want to be here. Pick up/drop off went well. Further than that, we haven't talked because he's been at work today.

I think that he feels that his spouse is being really gilb about how important the girls time here is. The email basically said " J and M told me that they don't want to come. So starting this weekend I'm going to let them decide. You can call me if you like."
Ugh--I'd be hurt too if someone was so cavalier about something like that.

Your husband may want to remember that the law often doesn't let children that age choose, and he could end up in court for failing to exercise his visitation. (Yes, it's a catch-22...I'm wondering if Mom is setting this up. I'm usually not so suspicious of the ex-spouse--I generally assume most people are looking out for their kids' best interest--but something is setting off my ain't-quite-right detector.)

For that matter: Why does Mom get to decide this? Isn't Dad a parent too? If your husband told his ex-wife that the kids didn't want to go back to her, and he'd let them decide if or when they would return, he could be charged with interference with a custody order, or perhaps kidnapping.

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#26 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 10:40 PM
 
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I think that he feels that his spouse is being really gilb about how important the girls time here is. The email basically said " J and M told me that they don't want to come. So starting this weekend I'm going to let them decide. You can call me if you like."[/QUOTE]


Courts don't give children a choice at this age. I don't think you should either. If they are having trouble or are conflicted then while they are with you engage a child therapist to help them talk through with their dad what is really going on here. Do NOT let ex help them drop out of their life. I can't believe anyone would even contemplate that at these young and vulnerable ages. 7 and 9 year olds CAN be manipulated and parental alienation is real and common.
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#27 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 10:41 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post
For that matter: Why does Mom get to decide this? Isn't Dad a parent too? If your husband told his ex-wife that the kids didn't want to go back to her, and he'd let them decide if or when they would return, he could be charged with interference with a custody order, or perhaps kidnapping.
This.
When dsd is at our house and says she doesn't want to go back to her mom's, would it be okay to just e-mail her mom and say that dsd is choosing to stay here. Call me if you want.? I think not.

This must really hurt your dh's feelings, and yours.

Would it be possible to sit down with the kid's mom to discuss this? Or even with the kids? If they are having a good time with you, than it might just be a situation where they are saying "We don''t want to miss xyz's party this weekend, so we don't want to go", etc. or something to that effect and mom is running with it. Or, it might not, but at least you could get a clearer picture before changing something.

In any case, I am fairly certain that if you have a court ordered custody agreement, she cannot just decide to let the kids choose their visitation. Call domestic relations, but I believe that she can get in a lot of trouble for refusing your visitation.

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#28 of 53 Old 02-24-2009, 11:53 PM
 
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lots of hugs.

We are going through this with my DSD as well. Last weekend actually went well, but the one prior to that she told DH twice that she did not want to visit anymore... I'd say majority of the weekend she is happy here and absolutely smitten with her new sister... but I think it's part of the whole transistions/changes are hard.

We are sticking by you can't choose your family and that 4.5 is just far too young to decide such a big decision such as wether or not to see your family.

I had posted my situation a couple weeks ago here and got all kinds of different answers as well. In the end you will need to make a choice of what feels right to you... but I really think BOTH parents are EQUALLY important in a child's life and they should not be able to dicatate to not see one or the other on child's whims. (Standard disclaimer that visits should stay as long as there is no abuse, etc.)

I agree with a PP who stated that at 7 she wanted to change her name to She-ra and eat chocolate and is thankful her parents didn't give into her. I wanted the same thing at that age. lol I fully agree that kids have parents for a reason. They are people too and need to be respected and listened too... but in the same breath, part of respect is giving them guidelines and values to grow to be an outstanding adult.

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#29 of 53 Old 02-25-2009, 03:31 AM
 
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I feel strongly that children should not have a choice, because they can be very easily manipulated.
SDM1024, dont' be so sure that the ex is representing the children's feelings faithfully. She may be exaggerating, or outright lying. The children may be exaggerating too. They may well get a lot of sympathy from her / rewarded for criticizing Dad, etc. Her response sounds similar to my husband's ex. The children, to her, should be allowed to choose everything--but believe me, if they chose to live with their dad, she would be the first to backpedal on the idea of free choice. When they were given the choice whether or not they would go to a funeral on their dad's side, I was disgusted that they were given a choice, and that they did choose not to. I was brought up to have strong family obligations, and "getting out of" a funeral would be unheard of. It's just part of being a family.
When faced with a parent who is trying to alienate her children away from their father--something my husband's ex has been trying to do for years, with only occasional success--sticking to a schedule is very important. The kids are told that only their mom is important, and that dad is disposable. Sticking to a schedule helps cement the father's role, and can relieve children of the stress of having to make a choice--especially when it's very clear what choice Mom wants them to make.
Yoshua, I suggest that a steady schedule--that the father is eager to maintain--gives children that sense of security that is important to them.
I know that my stepdaughter, age 13, is currently in a "I don't want to be forced to be here" mode, which she refuses to talk over. But I know that a) she is swayed by mom, who is now going through a second divorce and is likely more clingy than usual; and b) she does have fun with us once she relaxes. She's going through a moody adolescent stage, and studies show that daughters of this age do need their fathers for their emotional development.
I also feel that the whole family deserves to know in advance what the schedule is, if only to make plans. Most important, my toddler daughter adores my SD, and she deserves to be able to count on when she's going to see her again. This bond will be important to both of them, and time spent together should not be "optional" and at the whim of a 13 yr old.
SMD1024, if you feel that your husband's ex is trying to alienate the kids from him, seek out a book by Richard WArshak called Divorce Poison. It is really very good. He will even respond to emails (after a time lag).
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#30 of 53 Old 02-25-2009, 10:07 AM
 
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I brought this thread up to DH last night, and we had an interesting discussion about it. He mentioned something that I didn't even really think about.

Letting the children choose if they should see their father or not is putting a big responsibility on a child. It makes the child responsible for the the relationship instead of the parent. During the conversation, I realized that my mom and dad had done this exact thing with me - I chose to stop seeing my dad around the age of 13 or 14. He didn't push it, my mom was happy about the decision, and thus the relationship was up to me. Eventually I figured that he didn't really care about me, so I stopped trying. I even changed my last name to my stepdad's name.

When I was in my early 20s, it took a couple of years of seeing each other almost every day to repair the broken relationship with my dad. He missed almost 10 years of my life - smoething that he can never get back.

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