Sigh, how do I deal with this one?? What was he thinking?? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 12 Old 06-21-2011, 09:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So ex is taking the kids "as often as possible" lately, before he leaves for the dominican republic for good.  This consists of most weekends, and a planned trip to borrow his uncle's cottage again for a week in July. 

 

The kids returned home late on Sunday.  It was DD's birthday on Saturday, ex turned off his cellphone so I wouldn't be able to call her, after watching me tell her in front of him that I would be calling that morning.  We had planned to do a cake on Sunday for her, and I had people here waiting for her to arrive.  He showed up an hour late without notice, and most everyone ended up having to leave as they had already been here for hours..and we had no way of knowing when he'd finally show up with them.

 

When they finally got here, the rest of the birthday guests immediately got to hear from my daughter that she had "a birthday from H word" (ie: hell), because they made it all about ex's girlfriend's daughter on Saturday, as it was her first time swimming and her first time having a camp fire.  They didn't acknowledge her birthday at all, and she was pretty upset about it.  Then she laughed and told us she had seen daddy's penis this weekend, because he "forgot" his swimsuit, and then DS piped up with "Yeah, and we saw daddy's girlfriend's vagina beard, too!  And her boobies!"

 

They went skinny dipping WITH my children.

 

I am livid.  I'm totally not comfortable with this, and don't know how to approach the topic with him.  I know he expects to take the kids for a full week to this place, where no doubt even more naked swimming is going to happen.  Why would he think it's at all appropriate for him and his girlfriend to fool around naked (DS mentioned they were "making out") in the water WITH my kids out there swimming with them???  I am sick about this.

 

On top of that, when I asked if they had brushed their teeth at all this weekend (fully expecting the typical "No", as he doesn't enforce hygiene at all) it was followed by the excuse that they had no water at the cottage.  No water??  What did they drink?  "Oh, juice, pop, that sort of thing."  It was nearly 40 celcius all weekend.  That's flipping HOT.  And they went without water the entire weekend??  

 

I am so angry at him.

 

Oh yes, and then they came home Sunday night and both cried for literally hours, because ex told them that they would be allowed to move with him to the dominican republic....but mommy wouldn't let them.

 

Nice.

 

 

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#2 of 12 Old 06-21-2011, 10:40 AM
 
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I may be wrong here, but... I think that doing inappropriate sexual things in front of kids is a form of sexual abuse. I would want it documented, at least. 

 

The way he's playing with their emotions is sickening. I don't have any suggestions on how to stop that, other than to be honest with them. "No, I wont let you move to the DR. Your whole life, me, the rest of your family, your friends, your school, etc are here. All those people and things are part of a healthy life, you need them, too. I want your dad to be a part of your life and I will always support your relationship with him in safe/healthy ways." ---or whatever is actually true for you.

 

I have no idea how much or little access would be appropriate at this point... my inclination is to say no overnights.

 

It's a really tough spot to be in... I'm sure my ex says "She won't let me see the kids" and it's true. It's about 5% of the truth! There's a court-ordered report that he failed to participate in that would have determined how much visitation would be appropriate for him. I've agreed that if he can commit to a regular schedule, he can see the kids in a professionally supervised setting (this was years ago... at this point, I'd expect him to establish and maintain email and phone contact for a few months before I'd allow a visit) I've pushed for him to attend counseling with the kids, helped the kids each and every time they decided to email him, etc. It's probably easier when there's an unbiased third party that made the 'rules', but it doesn't take kids long to figure out it's more "Dad won't follow the rules." than "Mom won't let Dad." Bottom line, the kids KNOW what is good and safe and healthy for them, even if they don't want it all the time, deep down they know who really has their back.


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

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#3 of 12 Old 06-21-2011, 12:03 PM
 
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I wouldn't fault you, either way.

 

You could tell him what you think about the skinny-dipping and about how much it hurt your daughter, the way he handled her birthday.  Then, knowing he'll probably disregard what you say, you could still let him spend the time with the kids, since once he leaves, who knows when/how often they'll see him again?

 

You could also say, "Hey, hotshot.  Your choice to move hasn't caused ME to abdicate my role as a parent.  You prioritized the fun of letting your girlfriend get naked in front of our kids, over responsible parenting.  I'M prioritizing responsible parenting over your week at the lake house.  Don't like it?  Take me to court."  (I mean, unless his week at the lake is part of your court orders.  But it sounded like it was just something extra you guys agreed to.)

 

On the one hand, some day it will probably be nice to be able to say you bent over backward to let the kids spend extra time with their Dad before he left; and for them to feel they got that extra time.  On the other hand, getting used to spending more time with him than usual will just make it seem all the more traumatic when he leaves.

 

I'm sure it'd be more helpful if somebody would just tell you what's the right thing to do.  I'm saying whatever you, deep down, feel is the biggest priority...no one can say you're wrong.  Do it and don't doubt yourself.  You are, more and more, the only real parent in this situation.

 

In spite of my original response when you talked about him moving, if his judgment really is so poor across the board, and if the D.R. really is that dangerous, I definitely would not agree to send the kids there to visit him, unless he makes the effort to get a court order forcing you to.  Just keep telling him he's welcome to see them, if HE's the one who travels.


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#4 of 12 Old 06-22-2011, 12:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sigh, I think I'll just have to bite the bullet and let them go.  Otherwise I'm the bad guy in their eyes, yet again.  I will mention to him that the naked swimming parties are to cease around the kids, and hope he follows the rules.  The kids are pretty good about flat out telling him when he's being inappropriate, though.  How sad is that?  This has come up before, when he was taking showers with my - at the time - 7 year old daughter.  I told her it was completely inappropriate, she told him the following weekend that it wasn't right, and the shared showers stopped.  He has the worst judgement in the world, I swear.  He's completely clueless when it comes to how to raise children, it's so amazingly frustrating.

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#5 of 12 Old 06-22-2011, 05:21 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ~Nikki~ View Post

  He has the worst judgement in the world, I swear.  He's completely clueless when it comes to how to raise children, it's so amazingly frustrating.


Different people have different values and beliefs, sometimes based on the beliefs and values they grew up with. We have some serious issues with some of the things my step-daughter is exposed to at her mom's house and some of the parenting choices her mom makes, but they are differences in our family values and beliefs. There are plenty of other parents making the same (and worse) choices for their children, so unless it can be easily classified as abusive or neglectful, the best we can really do is damage control... we talk to her about why we make the choices we make here, we talk to her about how she feels about it, and make sure she knows what she can do if something that is happening is not okay with her. I'm fairly certain her mom has had the same conversations with her about some of the things we do here that she disagrees with. 

 

I'm not saying I disagree with your parenting choices and values... I'm just saying that values that are different than yours are not necessarily bad judgement and terrible parenting.  Very often a big part of the reason we are not still with our exes is because we have very different beliefs and values when it comes to relationships and parenting. So it stands to reason that serious differences in parenting choices is a major challenge when it comes to co-parenting.

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#6 of 12 Old 06-23-2011, 10:07 PM
 
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I'd meet him in person away from the kids and give him a piece of my mind. Performing sexual acts in front of children is a form of sexual abuse. I think I'd call the police. I'd restrict visitation to my home only. I can't even say what I think of this "dad." And a lack of water is ridiculous. I'm sure he has heard of bottled water!!

 

(((HUGS MAMA)))

 

Ugh.

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#7 of 12 Old 06-24-2011, 02:39 AM
 
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Originally Posted by butterflylover View Post

I'd meet him in person away from the kids and give him a piece of my mind. Performing sexual acts in front of children is a form of sexual abuse. I think I'd call the police. I'd restrict visitation to my home only. I can't even say what I think of this "dad." And a lack of water is ridiculous. I'm sure he has heard of bottled water!!

 

(((HUGS MAMA)))

 

Ugh.

I think everyone agrees that the dad's choice to skinny-dip with his GF and kids was completely inappropriate, uncomfortable for the kids, and that the OP should find some way to strongly communicate to him that she expects that to stop.  Or, like I said before, if she decides to cancel their trip to the lake house because of it, she would be perfectly within her rights.

 

The good news is, last time Dad made a similar bad judgment call (continuing to shower with his 7-year-old, like she was still a baby), when it was pointed out to him that he should stop, he did.

 

But "making out", to kids, may very likely mean just kissing, or a long kiss.  I think equating this with "performing sexual acts in front of children" and "sexual abuse" risks trivializing the pointed, hateful cruelty and the life-long trauma and damage to a kid's sense of self-worth, that actual sexual abuse entails.  From what's been described, this is not an abusive dad, but an immature, self-centered dad, infatuated with a new love-interest, who had some Blue Lagoon back-to-nature idea that everyone in his pieced-together, fantasy "family" felt so comfortable with each other that it was OK for him and his GF to jump in the lake with the kids au naturel.  

 

If MOM and Dad had forgotten their swim suits and used the "birthday" variety - and even kissed, while they were in the water - the kids would have yelled "Gross!", but it wouldn't have been the end of the world.  Some families would never do this; others would be OK with it.  But nobody would think it was "abuse".  Dad's poor judgment was in failing to realize that his kids AREN'T as comfortable with his affection for his GF, as they would be if he were married to, and affectionate toward, their mother.

 

Trying to involve the police would only add unnecessary trauma for the kids, when they're already trying to figure out why their Dad's leaving and whether their Mom is in any way to blame for their impending separation from him.  Advising this risks making the poor OP (who is already frustrated enough with this situation) feel like she may be responding inadequately.  She sounds like a good mother and I'm sure she would respond appropriately, if her kids really were being sexually abused.

 

 

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#8 of 12 Old 06-24-2011, 10:53 PM
 
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As you say, we all have different beliefs and values. If the OP is going to post the info on a public board then she should be prepared for all of the various thoughts and comments (and I'm sure she is). I would not allow my ex to take the children anywhere if what she described happened to my child. It is a hill I would die on.

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#9 of 12 Old 06-24-2011, 10:55 PM
 
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Also, I never stated she was a poor parent. She sounds wonderful to me actually considering all she has to deal with.

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#10 of 12 Old 06-25-2011, 04:16 AM
 
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Originally Posted by butterflylover View Post

Also, I never stated she was a poor parent. She sounds wonderful to me actually considering all she has to deal with.


Sorry - I realize you didn't say that about her.  My point was that, if you're going to call this sexual abuse and say it merits calling police, then the decision the OP had already made (that she'll probably let the kids go to the lake with their Dad, anyway) would mean - from your point of view - that she would voluntarily let them spend a week with people she knows are sexually abusing them.  If you believe it's sexual abuse, that would be neglectful and irresponsible, on her part.  

 

Instead, I believe that it's not sexual abuse and she is just making what she believes is the best decision for her kids, given two crappy choices:  Deny them extra time with their Dad, before he moves out of the country; or let them spend a week with him, when she disapproves of his parenting.  "Sexual abuse" is serious and applying the term lightly (i.e., to this situation) risks creating additional, unnecessary concerns and guilt, for a mother who has a sufficient dilemma, on its own, legitimate merits.


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#11 of 12 Old 06-30-2011, 02:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just coming back to this thread after a busy week with a newborn. =)

 

No worries, I'm not offended by anything you guys are saying.  I usually only post for advice when I want various different viewpoints, to make sure I'm not freaking out for no reason.  I don't think I was freaking out for no reason.  For the record, I'm not worried about sexual abuse from their father.  He has terrible judgement when it comes to parenting, but I don't think he'd ever do anything to harm the kids in that way.  My partner - who is a very blunt person - flat out asked the kids if anything happened after their skinny dipping story, and they both immediately said no, it was just the two adults swimming naked for no apparent reason.  It doesn't make me any more comfortable about the situation, and I had planned on having a chat with their father about his behavior when he came to pick them up next.

 

As it turns out (and as I kind of expected) that's not even going to be an issue.  His month of "wanting to see the kids as much as possible before he leaves" has turned into him bailing on the kids for every one of his scheduled visits but one (his parents planned a goodbye party for him so the kids will be going there that particular weekend), and he has now bailed on his "cottage week" with them, as well.  So it has become a non-issue.

 

And as much as I want to give him a piece of my mind and tell him everything he's been doing that infuriates me, it's really pointless as he'll be thousands of miles away by the end of the month.  All it'll do is start a fight, and it's just not worth the stress given that he'll have minimal contact with the kids (and zero solo time with them as he's now staying with family, who I trust) for the rest of the time he's in the country.

 

Phew!  Three weeks to go and then he's out of my hair.  Then I get to deal with the aftermath of sad kids.  It's going to be a difficult summer for them, for sure. =/

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#12 of 12 Old 06-30-2011, 05:20 PM
 
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I'm glad the remainder of his time here sort of worked out... though it sucks that their dad is treating them this way. Are things amicable between you and his family? It might help the kids to be able to still see them, so they still have that connection. 


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

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