Control vs. child's autonomy vs. placating the ex. - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
Old 02-04-2010, 10:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
morgainesmama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Rochester, NH
Posts: 976
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I'm out of energy for this mess, and I'd love some feedback.

Ex and I have separated almost 5 years ago. Kids are 10, nearly 8, nearly 6. He picks bizarre arguments with me about issues but ignores my concerns that the kids don't shower, brush their teeth, are left in the car unattended for lengths of time, etc. Nothing is bad enough that I believe the courts would reduce his custodial time, so I just give up.

However, we're hitting court Monday (he filed) to revisit some issues, and his behavior is getting worse and worse. Over the weekend/this week I have fielded about 10 emails about socks. His wife is emailing my husband. He is emailing me. It's insane.

My kids prefer not to wear socks. Don't like them. Unless they'll be playing in the snow for a while or doing a lot of walking, I don't push the issue. They're old enough to decide.

He's had a fit because they're coming in snow boots with no socks. Has gone as far as threatening to call CPS about it. Made up dramatic stories about my son's feet being purple, which none of my kids seem to remember (and they're wearing insulated snow boots. In warm cars. For transport between homes.). Accused me of being a bad, negligent mother. Major drama.

I have tried to keep the kids in socks for visits to minimize friction. (They're there 2-3 nights a week.) Sometimes it doesn't happen. My 10yo dd adamantly does not want to wear socks. I'm not going to force her. And, they don't even always wear socks home from his house.

My boys are going along with this inane solution my husband created of having socks labeled with their initial and a number, so we can say "We sent them in the O1 and I1 socks this week." They don't want to hear their father complain or get angry about socks.

I've told him I consider the subject closed. He continues to bring it up.

I don't believe socks in their snow boots are a health, hygiene, or safety issue. I believe it's him exercising his need for control and drama. But he points his issues at them.

Where do I draw the line between his need for control, their personal autonomy in deciding what makes them comfortable, and trying to keep him calm and manageable?

Thanks for any feedback. We've been dealing with similar issues for years, but if I spend any more time writing emails about socks (SOCKS!) I may empty my sock basket and just burn the whole pile.
morgainesmama is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 02-04-2010, 11:31 AM
 
mtiger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 2,309
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
We all have our strange quirks. Personally, I'd tell my kids that, for some reason, socks are important to Dad so just wear them to his house. AND... at HIS house, HIS rules apply. So if he wants them to wear socks, you expect them to follow his rules. Period, end of story. If they have a problem with that. they can bring it up with him but they are not to use you and your rules as an excuse.
mtiger is offline  
Old 02-04-2010, 11:43 AM
 
JessicaTX's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 752
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Well I dunno, my kids feet REEK if they don't wear socks with their shoes. And I totally get tired of buying more socks, are they coming home from ex's wearing socks but not going there wearing them? That would add up over time I would think. maybe you could send them all in red socks and tell him you want the red socks sent home with them so they don't come home with socks from his house? or is that not even the root of the problem? I'm capable of throwing fits over socks I think :P I hate them, they are the bane of my existence, and if I thought i had a handle on them and something was screwing with my methods..i'd have a tantrum.

Wife to one : Mama to 4 Gramma to 1 :
JessicaTX is offline  
Old 02-04-2010, 12:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
morgainesmama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Rochester, NH
Posts: 976
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I guess the issue is ... the kids *don't* always come home in socks. For a while, we had a major shortage of socks and underwear for this reason.

Finally, they hit a turning point where the kids were mostly appropriately dressed.

They have pairs of children, rather than children. My son shares a dresser with his wife's 6yo, who is much bigger than my almost 8yo. So my son comes home in underwear size 10/12, rather than 6-8. When he wear socks home, they're often men's socks rather than boys' socks (both boys, actually, also my almost 6).

My daughter is the same size as her stepsister, approximately, so their sharing a dresser is not a problem. But my sons for a long time came home in clothes 1-2 sizes too big for them. Finally, the boys are old enough to insist that their clothes fit. Now their dad has told them they're not allowed to wear sweatpants to his house or he'll burn them in the fireplace (a few months ago I got rid of all the jeans they refuse to wear and replaced them with the soft pants they prefer). I've sent things like socks, underwear, bike helmets, etc. over there when they've had shortages. Extra clothes in the appropriate size. Etc.

A few weeks ago, he called me about the socks. I said I'd try to be more aware of it, mentioned the problems with the underwear, and thanked him for bringing him up. They've worn socks since, mostly. This past Friday, we house sat for my mother and I forgot to pack socks, thought, "No problem. I'll put them in the socks from their dad's house" (They were going back the following morning for another overnight). They *had no socks* when they came home, so I sent them back with no socks, as I had none to send. He and his wife have sent my husband and I approx. 8 emails about socks since then, insisting the boys wore socks home, insisting I'm a bad mother because the kids don't wear socks.

The boys wore new, specially marked socks Wednesday, and my dd and I had a conversation about socks. She said, "I don't wear socks at dad's house; he doesn't care if I wear socks." She was polite and respectful and I said, ok, and off she went to school. So I got an email about THAT.

It's insane.

And it's not (I think) about socks, as my kids have never routinely worn socks at either house. I really feel that it's a control issue. Certainly they follow his rules at his house, but if in the hurry to leave on Wednesday morning they forget their socks, then I might expect a brief comment at pickup "The kids didn't have socks; can you please try to double check them Weds. mornings?" and not this slew of emails or heavy pressure that stresses out the kids.
morgainesmama is offline  
Old 02-04-2010, 12:53 PM
 
Deefodil's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 100
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
that is insane. sorry I have no advice, but I wanted to respond at least. <shaking head>
Deefodil is offline  
Old 02-04-2010, 03:33 PM
 
violet_'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 1,166
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
That's pretty ridiculous.

We had some weird clothing issues like that, and we try our best to keep them in socks/underwear that we buy for when they're with us, and send them back in stuff their mom bought. We mainly do this because she'll send 2 or 3 pairs for a 2-week trip, so we just use ours and separate out hers so we don't lose them. It's easier that way. I can't imagine keeping up an email correspondence to tell her to send more underwear or socks. Maybe she only has 3 and does laundry all the time? I have no idea, and it's not my business. Similarly, if your ex wants them in socks, he can buy them and stock them and keep them. They can leave in whatever footwear you sent them in. This all sounds so petty.

Sorry you're having to deal with this.

violet_ is offline  
Old 02-04-2010, 03:46 PM
 
GoBecGo's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 3,405
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Can you, he and the kids all meet together face to face and discuss the issue?

As in you have your say (which might be "in MY house i don't mind if you wear socks or not") then he has his ("in MY house i want you all to wear socks at all times") then the kids get a say (DD: "I'm really not excited to wear socks dad, why is it such a big deal?", DS's: "we'll wear socks if it's a major deal" or possibly "we don't really want to wear socks but we don't want to make you mad dad"). And from there everyone work it out?

I do get that clothes can be an issue, because we've had various similar problems in the past (my pet peeve being when i send DD to her dad's in her brand new, correct size whatever and she comes home in some thing that doesn't fit and hasn't in a long time, and i next see the new item when it's already too small because it's sat in a drawer at his house and not been worn for 3 months...) but i find being very direct about it is what works for me. I only have so much time in my life to talk about such frivolous things (sounds like you've run out of resources to discuss socks!) so i'd rather spend it doing something as constructive as possible.
GoBecGo is offline  
Old 02-04-2010, 07:01 PM
 
heidi526's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 18
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
No judge is going to care about whether or not you make your kids wear socks. If they didn't have shoes and it was cold, that would be a different story, but socks -- give me a break. Let him complain. He can buy the kids socks if he wants them to wear socks.
heidi526 is offline  
Old 02-05-2010, 11:34 AM
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 4,639
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
We keep the clothes from each house separate - it makes things a lot easier. At each house, the clothes she came in go into a bag and passed on next time the parents see each other/get dropped off. But DSD has one of everything at both houses.

At ten and eight, I would guess that the kids could keep their clothes separate from their step-siblings. Heck, even the six year-old could probably do it with a reminder.

love.gif

pinksprklybarefoot is offline  
Old 02-05-2010, 12:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
morgainesmama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Rochester, NH
Posts: 976
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinksprklybarefoot View Post
We keep the clothes from each house separate - it makes things a lot easier. At each house, the clothes she came in go into a bag and passed on next time the parents see each other/get dropped off. But DSD has one of everything at both houses.

At ten and eight, I would guess that the kids could keep their clothes separate from their step-siblings. Heck, even the six year-old could probably do it with a reminder.
My son tried to restructure the dresser once so that he had drawers and his stepbrother had drawers, and he was reprimanded.

They have 9 children altogether, and I think it's much easier for them to separate the clothes into fewer piles when they fold it and shove whatever's approximately the same size into one dresser. The kids are not allowed or encouraged to have personal space. My son keeps a few of his prize toys under his mattress so his 3yo brother doesn't take them any more, and stopped keeping an art notebook after his 2yo sister shredded the one he had filled with drawings of superheroes he invented.

I know they can keep things separate, but they're not given the tools to do so. They're strongly discouraged from bringing a backpack of things, forbidden to bring homeschool work, and if one is overwhelmed and wants to be alone for a while he gets in trouble for asking the others to leave the room (whatever room, be it a bedroom or what).

I don't understand it.

But this is, of course, all off topic -- though you can probably tell how frustrated I am.
morgainesmama is offline  
Old 02-05-2010, 04:37 PM
 
Smithie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 4,422
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Hmmmm. In this situation, I think I'd select a "going to Dad's" uniform for each kid, with socks, and send them in that every time. I wouldn't send anything else. If they ask, I'd say "you obviously have a system for dressing all the kids that works for you. We don't want to mess it up. If you want be to contribute some jeans or shirts or whatever, just let me know the sizes and I'd happy to do so."

Are you going to court in April, or to mediation? In court, they probably wouldn't care to hear such trivia, but in mediation I'd definitely mention the lack of personal space, being forbidden to bring homeschool homework, etc. Really, if you ex and his wife don't want to make any additional space whatsoever for your kids, and zero changes in their routine, they are not acting like people who want to have the kids in their house as a regular thing.

That thing where ex threatened to burn the kids' clothes - I might even mention that in court. That's unacceptable. This guy needs a sharp set-down from a person he'll listen to - and maybe a judge is that person.
Smithie is online now  
Old 02-07-2010, 12:46 PM
 
mtiger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 2,309
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by morgainesmama View Post
if one is overwhelmed and wants to be alone for a while he gets in trouble for asking the others to leave the room (whatever room, be it a bedroom or what).
I'd likely be somewhat peeved about this, as well. If you're in a room and want to be alone, it really isn't fair to ask others to leave (unless it is your and your alone bedroom). Finally, if there is nowhere else to get a few moments alone - there's the bathroom. I would be quite annoyed if one of my kids asked the other (and/or me) to leave a common room.
mtiger is offline  
Old 02-07-2010, 03:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
morgainesmama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Rochester, NH
Posts: 976
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
The common room is his bedroom, which he shares with three boys. He's tried holing up in his baby sisters' room, too, as they're 1 and 3 and don't use it often, but the other kids are allowed to intrude on him there.

They're not supposed to hang out in the bathroom, as there are 11 people in the house and two bathrooms the kids are allowed to use, or at least that's what I'm told.

Their house is huge. Two living rooms and five bedrooms, a dining room, kitchen. They have three bathrooms. I have a difficult time understanding why if one child (one of mine, in particular) needs to be alone, his dad and stepmom can't help him carve out a place for that and tell the other kids to respect it rather than allowing them to stand and call him names/harass him because it's a common area. The whole house is a common area.

Here, if he wants alone time and there truly isn't an area the other kids aren't using (he shares a room with his brother) then he's can hole up on my bed .

Anyway, it's been since Wednesday and I've received no more emails about socks.
morgainesmama is offline  
 
User Tag List

Thread Tools


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off