When your coparent is not awful, just not a good parent. :( - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 05-27-2010, 09:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm so discouraged and sad.

The kids' dad and his wife want the kids there. In fact, have filed for additional custodial time. My kids love the huge group of kids to play with (9 in all in their blended family) and at our house, often complain that they're bored with just the three of them here. Their social needs are well met. They eat a diet not as healthy as I'd like, but reasonable by US standards. They're not supervised well, but we've been blessed that no accidents have come of it, and now that they're older, I don't worry about safety.

But if they're sick, they are not cared for. Puke in the middle of the night? Clean it up and tell adults in the morning.

And they're strongly discourage from having any outside interests, even school. They consistently (4 times out of 5, according to school records) bring kids late to school -- at least 10-15 minutes late. DD's teacher has complained and attributed it to her school difficulties. dd's dad insists teacher has said "it's fine," but the teacher has complained to me numerous times, and when I told her what he asserted in mediation, said she's never spoken to him.

They don't encourage the my oldest to practice her instrument, and have not brought her to her last 2 school concerts (and I've offered to pick her up and bring her). They have made the kids feel so badly about playing soccer that they're not sure if they should play this year "because dad hates driving to [our town]" or "might get mad."

He has them almost half the time, so dd's late to school 2 days out of most weeks. She waits a half hour longer than everyone else to get picked up. (Boys are homeschooled. He refuses to let me send work for them to do and insists that my youngest, who can read, doesn't know his letters.)

There's nothing I can do, right, except to compensate the best I can? We're in mediation again next week. We've been separated over 5 years, divorced over 4.

I feel really sad for my kids; they are so resigned to his ways of just not. doing. DD told me yesterday, "I'll call you if dad decides not to bring me to the concert tonight." Sure enough, she called.
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#2 of 8 Old 05-27-2010, 12:18 PM
 
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Does your agreement, order, or state law say anything about both parents sharing responsibility for ensuring the kids make it to school or get their HS assignments done, and get to reasonable activities on time? That might be a place to start with the mediator.

As you've surmised, there isn't much you can do about food, caretaking, and the like, so long as they're not actually being neglected. Even levels of supervision need not be consistent, so long as they're legal. (FWIW, parents in "intact" families often disagree as to whether a four-year-old can play by herself in the backyard, or whether a fifth-grader should be allowed to walk to school, or whether 13 is old enough to baby-sit.)

Though their response to puking in the middle of the night seems extreme. We're often on the receiving end of "you don't take care of her when she's sick," but that's because we don't keep her home for the sniffles or drop everything to cuddle for an hour after a stubbed toe and the like, not because we don't respond to vomiting.)

Good luck...compensating the best you can might be your only remedy for the lifestyle things, but hopefully you can get the education and activities sorted out.

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#3 of 8 Old 05-27-2010, 12:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Our agreement says I'm responsible for homeschooling, and that each parent is responsible for transporting to activities and accommodating those activities as the kids grow.

As to neglect, it's really borderline -- dcyf has been involved but decided it was ok in the end, but we're talking about supervision issues in which three separate times, three separate children 2 and under in their house were found in or across the street they live on (which is a 55-mile an hour country highway). The last time their 2yo wandered to the neighbor's house across the street in the snowy winter, unnoticed until their stepmother came home and asked where he was (dad was playing video games in his bedroom). Inground pool left unlocked with (at the time) 5 children under the age of 8. Things like that.

Mine are 6, 8, and 10 now, so I've enrolled them in swim lessons and taught them safety things, and worry less about their physical well being because they're no longer tiny. My only fear is if one of their siblings (3 under 4) fall into the pool and one of mine tries to save them (deep end is 12 feet).

Winter and summer, they leave the kids in the car while they go into the grocery store, bank, to visit friends, attorneys, taxes, whatever errands must be done. For a while, my 7yo was supervising a 5, 3, 2, and 1 yo in the van. Now, he's 8, and while it still happens a fair amount, I've made enough stink about leaving the kids in a hot or cold car unsupervised that they do it less often and for shorter periods of time, from what I understand.

It's their emotional happiness I worry about, and their general satisfaction when they become adults and look back on their lives. I used to worry constantly about their safety, but it was never quite bad enough that anyone would intervene from a legal perspective. I fear that less and less as they get older; I worry sometimes a serious illness will go unnoticed, but they're only there 2 nights/3 days at a time, and it's unlikely they'd be that sick that I couldn't pick it up in the touchpoint.

Thanks for responding. I'm just so frustrated and sad today, and having dd miss yet ANOTHER chorus/band concert last night really set me off.
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#4 of 8 Old 05-27-2010, 12:38 PM
 
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What is your school's policy on tardies? I know a parent who lost custody for about four months for too many tardies. Granted, they were often later than ten minutes, but in some schools tardy is tardy, be it ten minutes or two hours. The parents had 50/50, and the school involved CPS. The parent who did bring the child to school was forced to hire a lawyer and request custody. The authorities threatened to take the child away from both parents because they "were not coparenting effectively."

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#5 of 8 Old 05-27-2010, 03:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by pinksprklybarefoot View Post
The authorities threatened to take the child away from both parents because they "were not coparenting effectively."
This is why the courts scare the crap out of me. It takes two parties to coparent. I really believe I've made a good faith effort to do so; even, for a time, invited them over to the house for the kids' birthday parties, etc (long side story of why I had to stop) and tried to communicate equally with both stepmom and their dad. Any communication eventually breaks down to them swearing and screaming, and me hanging up. They refuse to meet in a public place except that I was able to negotiate court-ordered mediation on a few things.

The thought I might lose my kids because they're unwilling to coparent leaves me trying to not rock the boat too much. I've not had great experience with courts during the first custody battle (when the judge tried to force me to wean my 18-month-old). On the other hand, nobody but the court is going to find a way to get the kids to school on time, since he told the mediator he's unwilling to find a solution to the school tardiness.

And so on, and so forth.
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#6 of 8 Old 05-27-2010, 06:38 PM
 
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These are legitimate complaints and you need to document!

Tardies (non excused) are not acceptable. Once -- it happens but multiple there is an issue.

Going to extra activities can be mandated by the courts. Not taking to concerts is disapproved of greatly.

I would plan homeschool at your home but there are things he can do to back you up school or no.
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#7 of 8 Old 05-27-2010, 08:20 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by morgainesmama View Post
The thought I might lose my kids because they're unwilling to coparent leaves me trying to not rock the boat too much. I've not had great experience with courts during the first custody battle (when the judge tried to force me to wean my 18-month-old). On the other hand, nobody but the court is going to find a way to get the kids to school on time, since he told the mediator he's unwilling to find a solution to the school tardiness.
If it helps, the person that I knew was the responsible parent (the one getting the child to school on time) and she was the one given temporary full custody after the authorities were involved by the school. But if she had not gone to court over it, CPS would have taken the child. The authorities basically told her, "Go to court and get this fixed, or you risk losing your child." She was granted temporary emergency custody, then the father was granted EOW when the first hearing occurred. Four months later, at the review hearing, custody was restored to its original balance.

Long story short, I think that you are right to nip this in the bud now. At least you will have it on the record that *you* were responsible and *you* attempted to remedy the situation.

What a tough situation.

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#8 of 8 Old 05-30-2010, 01:05 AM
 
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My EX is so much like yours. He REFUSED to change anything he did, because (as he straight up said to our court mediator) "I think my way is the best way."

His lack of willingness to co-parent at all ended up costing him quite a bit of custodial time. He went from 51% to 17%, on paper. In reality, he sees DD 0% because SHE is sick of his bullying personality.

Get a lawyer. That's the best advice I can give you. It may seem like it doesn't matter, but it DOES. My first and second times at court were like yours -- I felt pushed around and scared of what the court would do. I retained a lawyer the third time, and she made all the difference in the world. We spent $8000 and it was worth EVERY PENNY.

Hang in there, mama. Do the best you can and your kids will know that. You can't beat yourself up or take responsibility for someone else's choices. Make no mistake -- your children KNOW which one of you really cares for their well-being. They may never say it, but they know.
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