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#1 of 10 Old 01-19-2010, 05:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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By now, some of you might have realized that my DSD's mom is a bit difficult, to put it lightly.
We have yet another issue (with a million other issues in between we resolved without posting here.)
Just as background, DSD's mom is a horrible person to DP, me and our DS, but she's a wonderful mother to my DSD.

DSD's birthday is coming up. Every year her mom hosted the party and invited DSD's friends from school, etc. and never invited us. We just host our own "family" party, mainly with other adults (grandparents, etc.)

We really would like to host her party, and DSD has asked the same, so this year we decided to tackle this. DP told the mom our plan and she immediately responded that she already has everything planned and that she's hosting the party with DSD's friends from school, and that we won't be the ones hosting her party.

Well, I feel like there's not much we can do. We could have two parties for her, but I imagine it would be awkward for her school friends (and parents) to go to two parties for her, wonder whether they have to buy two presents, etc. My other idea was to just invite a handful of her friends on a different weekend and go do something fun (not say it is a birthday.) But my DP feels a little weird contacting parents who have met DSD's mom but not us. I'm pretty sure she tells lies to people about us all the time. She made an extra effort to keep us away from DSD's school, birthday parties, etc. We talk to her teacher all the time, but we really haven't met any of the other parents. We know we have to still make that connection happen, as DSD started asking why she never has play-dates when she's with us, but that's a different story. As I write this, I realize that maybe we need to start small and have a play-date with just one kid, see how that goes. I feel awkward just thinking about having a group of parents who all know each other and DSD's mom, but not us in an outing that we organize. We don't even know how to go about getting their information. Do we ask the teacher? Also, which parent would send their kid on a play-date without knowing the other parent? We just don't know how to get into the parents circle (that unfortunately my DSD's mom is a part of.)

We make sure we never say anything negative about her mom to DSD, but it's so hard in this case not to tell her that her mom won't allow us to host her "official" party. I hate that she won't even invite my DS.... And DP gets really hurt about this kind of thing. He really wants to be a part of all aspects of my DSD's life, but his ex builds pretty strong barriers.

Thanks for listening/reading.
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#2 of 10 Old 01-19-2010, 08:13 PM
 
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"But my DP feels a little weird contacting parents who have met DSD's mom but not us. I'm pretty sure she tells lies to people about us all the time."

I don't blame him for feeling weird about it - just the thought of doing something like that makes my teeth clench - but he intends to be exercising his visitation rights long-term instead of disappearing from his daughter's life, he's going to need to reach out to that "parent's circle" and the sooner the better. Not only does she not have playdates at your house - she's probably also missing out on stuff she's been invited to that happens to fall during your parenting time.

Teachers obviously don't want to get involved in parental drama, but I think it would not be out of line to ask the teacher to send notes home with friends X, Y and Z about a playdate at your house. Once those parents make contact, you will then have their names and can arrange things on your own in the future.

Not inviting a half-sibling to a birthday party is a really wretched thing, but as you say, there's really nothing you can do about it.
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#3 of 10 Old 01-19-2010, 09:22 PM
 
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We do 2 modest parties (except this year, when she had a party at mom's and we took her and a friend to Six Flags in lieu of a party here), but we're 75 miles apart and my stepdaughter does have two sets of friends. (No local family except my parents, so we don't do "family" parties--my folks just come up for dinner and cake at some logical time.)

Earlier, though, my SD would have a party at her mom's house (where her preschool was) and we'd be invited--we got along well enough for that.

In your situation, though, your instincts sound good--start inviting for playdates (invite the parent to come along--"we don't know many of DSD's friends and we'd like to introduce ourselves") and go from there. It would be unreasonable to expect kids to show up at two actual parties (especially if there was a confusion about presents).

It does suck, though, that if your stepdaughter only gets one party, then your side of the family is excluded from it.

ProtoLawyer (the now-actual lawyer, this isn't legal advice,  please don't take legal advice from some anonymous yahoo on the Internet)
Spouse (the political geek) * Stepdaughter (the artist) * and introducing...the Baby (um, he's a baby? He likes shiny things).
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#4 of 10 Old 01-19-2010, 10:04 PM
 
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Obviously, this problem is bigger than birthday parties, but when answering, I'll answer as if your DSD's mom is truly unreasonable and no amount of talking/negotiating will convince her to include your house in your DSD's life.

We are lucky - we do DSD's birthday party as a joint thing. There are definitely two different theories to birthday party-throwing between the two houses, but all-in-all things have went well.

In your situation, we might be tempted to wait until next year and do the birthday party ourselves, but a month early. Depends on how passive-aggressive you want to be.

But if it is just the experience of throwing your DSD a party, having her friends over, meeting their parents, etc, there is no reason that you have to limit yourself to a birthday party. Last year we threw DSD a "smell ya later school" party the weekend after school let out. It was a just-our-house thing (we do week on/week off), and it worked out splendidly. It was honestly more fun to plan than a birthday party. We are going to make it a tradition.

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#5 of 10 Old 01-19-2010, 11:38 PM
 
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To become more connected with the school, call and ask about it! At my kids' school, there is a Parent Advisory Committee (sort of like PTA) Each classroom has a representative. I receive an email each month about fundraisers and activities going on at the school. At the beginning of each year, I receive a school directory, with the phone numbers and emails of the families who choose to participate. Since he shares custody, your husband should have the right to access to that information, just like he may have asked the school to mail him a copy of her report cards. This way, your family is not dependent on her mother's cooperation to be involved in your SD's academic life.

~Teresa, raising DS (Jan. 02) and DD1 (Jun. 04) and DD2 (Dec. 11) with DH.

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#6 of 10 Old 01-20-2010, 03:54 AM
 
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That's pretty rough, your sd's mom sounds a lot like ours! Though I think we are on the other end when it comes to school functions. I think it's really unfair of the mom to do that to you guys.

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Originally Posted by Mummoth View Post
To become more connected with the school, call and ask about it! A
I agree with this...call the school! Sometimes pta/pto parents are a little weird about stepparents but at least you can get to know a few people or volunteer (in my experience I spoke directly with the principal and she was so happy I was helping out!). I have been volunteering at my dss's school for quite some time because I was a sahm/student and I had the time and felt it was something that helped our relationship. As a result I am quite well known at the school and now that my dd goes to the same school I am seen as a "real" parent.

I see the difference now...for example, I signed my husband and I up every year for room parent and was never selected, now dss is in 5th grade. Many times his mom has been selected even though I had to cover for her because she dropped the ball..anyway, now that my dd is in KG I was selected as room parent. Seems fishy to me! KG parents are ravenous about volunteering, how did I get that but none of the other times? I am just saying this because it is something to be aware of. For the most part I have met most of the parents and we know more of the parents at the school than his mom does because we have worked so hard to be involved. Sometimes that's all it takes. I do avoid people that I know are "friends" with his mom though. (especially the one that says terrible things about me online!)

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Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post
We do 2 modest parties (except this year, when she had a party at mom's and we took her and a friend to Six Flags in lieu of a party here), but we're 75 miles apart and my stepdaughter does have two sets of friends.

Earlier, though, my SD would have a party at her mom's house (where her preschool was) and we'd be invited--we got along well enough for that.

In your situation, though, your instincts sound good--start inviting for playdates (invite the parent to come along--"we don't know many of DSD's friends and we'd like to introduce ourselves") and go from there. It would be unreasonable to expect kids to show up at two actual parties (especially if there was a confusion about presents).

It does suck, though, that if your stepdaughter only gets one party, then your side of the family is excluded from it.
I agree, start small with playdates, you will be surprised how many people have similar situations too!

We seem to do two small parties many years, not on purpose but it just happens that way. If we know we are having a large party we make sure to send invites really early. This has only been an issue once, for the most part she doesn't invite school friends. The one time it was confusing for parents and kids. We kind of have an unspoken rule that we have a bigger party every other year, which includes his sister because they are a week apart.

It's a difficult situation. I find that everything involving stuff like holidays etc..gets hard sometimes. Especially when communication is so bad. I feel you, unfortunately we are right there with you! It is NOT fun.

Artist, teacher, wife and mommy to DSS, DD1, DD2 and surprise baby girl on the way, 7/12!

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#7 of 10 Old 01-20-2010, 02:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much for all the suggestions.

DP and I do get all the school emails and announcements, but DSD's mom RSVPs right away and tells us she's taking her. In the past, we've let it pass because we are just so tired of fighting with her! But we really need to step out from the darkness, be more confident and put ourselves out there. My DSD's mom did so much damage, with ridiculous letters, false accusations, people she rallied against us, etc. that we've spent the last 2-3 years constantly defending ourselves. This woman is full of anger and really bad energy. Of course nothing came out of it for her, but at the end it made my DP and I want to lay low and be weary of everyone except our family and close friends. I'm almost afraid of leaving the curtains open at night, worried that she (or one of her people) might be looking in, trying to find something to use against us. I mean, we live in constant fear while at the same time we are trying to have a healthy loving family. It's taken us a while to reach out and connect with DSD's friends and parents because we've been concentrating on having a strong family unit, correcting all the things that DSD's mom told her about us too. That's been our priority.

DP, DS and I went to DSD's first school invitation last week, but there were no parents - we did meet her friends though. Her mom was also there (and not very happy.) I was so pleasantly surprised that one of the teachers was so warm to me and thanked me for participating because I'm part of DSD's family. She said: "You wouldn't believe some of the things that go on on the other end." However, the other teacher and admin people were so cold and impolite. I wonder if it's me being predisposed to feeling that way or if that's how I was received. I even feel weird saying I'm DSD's step mom; I expect someone to come out and say: "you're not married, so you're not." It's so weird, I've never had an issue with unmarried couples. In fact, I respected the fact that they didn't feel the need to be recognized in front of the law and just did their own meaningful ceremony. I'm realizing the difference it makes for a blended family is huge, or maybe this is again my own insecurity that results from this whole process.

In any case, I'm not giving up. I'll keep trying. I like the different ideas for meeting other parents. Of course, DSD's best friends are the ones that her mom knows best and whom she has play-dates most often, but what can I do? Maybe I'll encourage her to invite someone different the first time.

I love the idea of having a party (just because) at any other time of the year. I wouldn't mind if her mom has her "official" birthday party every year and we do a fun party for some other reason.

Thank you!
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#8 of 10 Old 01-23-2010, 05:53 PM
 
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I'm glad the teacher was so nice to you, that "other end" comment seemed kind of strange, was it awkward? I mean, was she talking about her mom? Being stepparents would be so much easier if all parties agreed to be civil. My DSS is 11 and I'm just waiting for his mom to grow up (hasn't happened in 10 years, don't see it happening ever!). She says all kinds of crazy things to people about us, has even filed a bogus police report. (and her husband is the one that spent time in prison!) So I totally understand and have just decided that she isn't going to grow up all we can do is be the bigger person and foster a good relationship and loving family.

What about getting your dsd into some extra curricular activities where she can meet friends that will be neutral? Or join some sort of parenting group with kids that are her age? Could you do something like that? Sometimes getting into a neutral area, away from a pretty fixed environment like school may help.

Artist, teacher, wife and mommy to DSS, DD1, DD2 and surprise baby girl on the way, 7/12!

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#9 of 10 Old 01-25-2010, 03:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think doing extra curricular activities is a great idea. We've done music classes but all the kids are always a little younger (in the past, we've tried to do things that both DSD and DS can participate in, so they've met half way.) Now her mom signed her up for a bunch of things which happen to fall on our parenting time as well. She, of course, will be attending every class (arrrgh.)

But I feel more confident and ready to get out there, whether it's through our own activities or slowly introducing ourselves to her school friends' parents.

Thanks for the great suggestions.
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#10 of 10 Old 01-25-2010, 08:57 PM
 
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"Now her mom signed her up for a bunch of things which happen to fall on our parenting time as well. She, of course, will be attending every class (arrrgh.)"

"She" meaning mom? Nope, that is not how it works. I think your husband had better draw the line on that one - he's happy to take dd to the classes that fall in his time, but it is HIS parenting time, and if mom shows up at some ordinary (non-recital, non-exhibition) class then he and dd will leave so they can have their time together.

Same thing with school events - mom can RSVP until she is blue in the face, but if it's an actual public event at the school, you guys should make a point of showing up. Everysingletime, you are polite and enthusiastic and THERE. Conferences. Spelling bee. School play. Open house. Whatever.

You can "win" this one, because you are fighting for a positive thing (more love, more support, more family presence for dd in her daily life) and her mom is fighting for a negative thing (isolation/alienation of dd from her dad and her brother).

I can only imagine how exhausting this all is - but the framework you set out NOW is going to pay off over and over again as your dd gets older. Do you really want to go through this crazy struggle on Prom Night? At her varsity basketball games? At her graduation? At her wedding? It's a fight worth fighting while she's young.
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