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#1 of 18 Old 06-29-2012, 08:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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my fiancé and I have been together for 3 years and live our lives like we are married already. We got our home, careers, routine etc. My SD is with us every weekend and my fiancé and his ex(never married just dated) have never been to court just a mediator. She has full custody but shares time really well.

SD is 5 years old and went through kindergarten and my fiancé missed her first parent teacher interview b/c his ex "forgot" to tell him about it. She also forgot to share her school photos, the negatives, and we had to nag her for the newsletters and report cards.

Now for grade 1 beginning in sept should we be more firm with asking the ex for the school correspondence? OR ask the teacher directly to email us any newsletters/ field trip info?

I am torn, I am a step mom and wanna give SD's mother benefit of the doubt that she forgot, but I have a feeling she is trying to make my fiancé look bad with the school.

Also she has for "boyfriend" listed as a step dad and all his contact info with the school, and I would like to add my info as her step mother? Am I being too pushy?

My fiancé is very hurt that he is beingeft out of his daughters eduction, and actually cried when he missed her first interview, and he's not a crying type of guy....
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#2 of 18 Old 06-29-2012, 12:15 PM
 
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Was the result of mediation an agreement that was signed by the Court? Or is it all still informal? If there's a formal Court Judgment, what rights does it spell out for your DP? That's a good place to start. Given this knowledge, there are a few avenues you might pursue.

 

If nothing is official or the Order doesn't provide details about this issue, consult with your state/jursidiction's laws/guidelines regarding default rights for parents. In my state, each parent has the right to access all documents and be involved with decision making regarding major issues, including schooling--absent an Order restricting this right. It can be difficult to enforce these rights without a Court Order specifically granting them, so you could be in for a challenge or need an update to the Order just to make things perfectly clear.

 

If it's clear from the Order that he is entitled to school information, I would begin by contacting the school directly. Bring the Order to demonstrate to the school office that he is entitled to DSD's school information. Request to receive copies of her grade reports and be informed of parent-teacher conferences directly. Offer to pay the cost of postage/copies if needed. Insist that DP be listed as the emergency contact immediately after DSD's mom. I don't personally think it appropriate to list either you or her boyfriend even if you were married to DP now since neither one of you has the legal right to make any decisions for DSD, but if both parents agree to have all 4 "parents" listed as emergency contacts and the school is OK with it, go for it.

 

Regardless of the order, I would reach out to DSD's teacher to find out if she sends regular emails (many schools do this now to save paper) so he could be added to the list. Without creating the appearance that you're trying to make DSD's mom look bad, describe that papers and special event notices like school pictures are sometimes forgotten (even if they are always "forgotten") and ask if she would be able to give you additional communications so you can know what's going on and help DSD when she is with DP. Since you have DSD every weekend, you might arrange a weekly email exchange or 5 minute phone call between DP and teacher, for example. I encourage my DH to reach out to DSD's teacher on the every-other Friday that he picks DSD up so he knows if there's homework for the weekend (DSD's mom has a habit of not sending it and then using it as an excuse for why DSD has to go home early) and what they are working on in the classroom so he can help her practice it over the weekend. I personally think this is important, even in cases where a custodial parent is cooperative on sharing information, just so the teacher knows there's two caring parents in the picture.

 

I would continue to request the information from DSD's mom and simultaneously with the school/teacher. Keep a log of what DSD's mom withholds or misinforms DP about. If this is the only way that she's interfering with DP's parenting I might be inclined to let it go since there's an easy workaround (contacting school/teacher directly). But if it's just one of several things that she's being difficult about, this log can help show the Court or mediator that she's being generally difficult/interfering if you decide to raise the issue.


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#3 of 18 Old 06-29-2012, 01:27 PM
 
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Okay, I'm the mom and on the opposite side of things as you. Here's how I see it: I'm not XH's mommy, and it's not my job to sign him up for anything. If he wants to be informed of what's going on at the kids school, he could give them his contact number and address. If he wants to have a meeting with the teacher, he can set it up. The school has a website with tons of info on it, including a calendar and the teachers email addresses. I'm not stopping him from being involved. I'm not trying to make him look bad to the school. It's about having healthy boundaries, being grown ups and living up to our own responsibilities. She's already probably managing homework, organizing school clothes and lunches, shopping for school supplies and extras throughout the year for little projects, there's library books to keep track of... why should it be her job to coordinate for her ex too?

 

I email my ex a copy of the reorder form when I get their school pics or tell him the name of the company that did them, but I won't order extras for him because he would never reimburse me. That's the one thing the school really doesn't have control over to pass the information along to him (though I guess he could call the office and ask what company did the pictures) 

 

What would your reason be for being added to the school contact info? She's probably chosen for her partner to be the emergency pick-up if the school can't contact her. She's got custody, you can't make her make you an emergency contact. Once your partner adds himself to get information from the school, you'll get all the information through him. There's probably a line there for him to put in his spouses name, so you'll be on there, but unless the mom gives you some kind of authority I don't see how it makes any difference. they'd know who you are if you decide to join the PAC?

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#4 of 18 Old 06-29-2012, 04:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Now I see both sides I understand if we want the information about SD's school we need to ask for it directly from the school.

 

I just don't understand the "withholding" or "forgetting" it would have been A LOT easier if bio-mom felt that way to tell us directly to contact the school ourselves, and save lots of hastle, for both sides.

 

 

As for the paperwork they signed when they broke up, it was signed by mother and father and a mediator as a witness, but no judge signed it? So I have no clue if that means it is representable in court or not. What I can say is that he had no legal council before he signed it, and had no idea of what full sole custody even ment. Since then I have educated him on making sure you understand papers before you sign them! lol.

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#5 of 18 Old 06-29-2012, 06:10 PM
 
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If she has sole full custody (including legal custody) you need to look at what was signed and check your local laws to see if either grants him any rights. Some states give rights to access to both parents regardless of custody distribution and others (I think most) don't. If neither the signed document nor your local laws grant him rights to the child's records, he technically HAS to go through mom to get information or access. This could mean her giving the school permission to release info or her manually passing info on to DP. So you need to find out his rights. Personally I would reach out to the teacher either way just in case they're willing to share.

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#6 of 18 Old 06-29-2012, 07:08 PM
 
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Well...I understand that it is not the mom's job to babysit the dad.  However, I do think it is the mom's job to pass pertinent school information on to the dad when it comes to her house.  Not everything is sent out via email, or it is often in my experience just a reminder the day before kind of deal.  When we get papers from school that mom needs to know about, guess what, we send them to her house with dsd!  Should we just say, oh well, sorry, I figured you could figure it out yourself, it's not my job to babysit you? Seems kind of petty.  As for the conferences, generally the teachers just have one conference per child here-I don't know if they would accomodate a separate conference for each parent because we have never asked, but ideally, both parents can go together.  Hence, when one parent receives the conference sheet, it is their responsibilty to let the other parent know, even if they don't ask for input as to time, etc. (which is annoying in and of itself), because they are both parents. 

 

OP, I would find it pretty hard to swallow that your dsd's mom "forgot" to let your dp know about the conference.  Seriously? She forgot up until the conference was over that she should maybe let her child's dad know about it? I would be really upset too.  Yes, your dp should definitely get himself put on any contact lists for the school, and put your name down as an approved pick up person/emergency contact if appropriate.  Dp and I are not married, and I know I was put on the pickup list (actually by dsd's mom) because I do the driving sometimes to and from school. 

 

I have heard that some teachers are willing to make extra copies of papers that are sent home for two households-if you get an accomodating teacher like that next year, I would just request that all papers sent home with dsd be duplicated and sent home again on Fridays so you are getting the information.  Most back to school events are listed on websites here with decent notice, so make it a point to have your dp monitor the school's website calendar so he can meet the teacher and find out about big events just in case.  I always check the calendar just because, whild dsd's mom generally tells us about big events like that, it is often not until a couple of days before when she has clearly known about it for weeks at minimum, so that I can plan it out (I.e. her school concert was on  Wed. and dsd's om told us about it that Monday afternoon, but I had it on the calendar for a month already).  The problem is that whiel the big events are generally fairly easy to find out about, things like the school conference time, big homework projects, field trips, and other smaller school events are often not and should be communicated through the parents. 

 

It is easy to feel like we are being set up to fail sometimes, even if it is not intentional. Sorry for the rant, the end of the school year was pretty tough in this regard.

 

 So my answer, I guess, is yes, you should get in contat wit the school to see what you can set up, and yes I think you should talk to mom to let her know you really need want to set up a better communication method so these things don't keep happening. 


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#7 of 18 Old 06-30-2012, 06:20 AM
 
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Dad should contact the school and teacher and ask that he be provided a copy of all information handed out, and that he be contacted wrt conferences, etc. At the end of the day he is as responsible as Mom is to be on track with his child's education.

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#8 of 18 Old 06-30-2012, 08:10 AM
 
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But is it the teacher's responsibility to have to do these things twice for parents because they cannot communicate?  Sure, some of it is as simple as adding an extra name to an email list, but some of it is making and organizing extra copies, sending things home on different days, etc. that I don't feel is the necessarily the teacher's/schools responsibility.  If it comes down to it, absolutely request it, but I do feel like the parents should be the ones keeping track of these things and keeping each other in the loop. 

 

This is kind of personal with me I guess-dsd's mom gave us a really hard time for not sending over one paper that we received during our time with dsd (it got lost in the shuffle, etc.) but then proceeded to not tell us about a whole bunch of stuff that she received (including big homework projects, field trips that we needed to get her ready for on our day, etc.) We are on all the email lists, both PTA-type, from the teacher, and from the school as a whole.  Dp has attended all school events, so the teacher knows him and knows he is involved.  It very much felt like her mom was doing this to make dp look bad, look disorganized, and look unable to care for dsd and get her ready for school properly (which is what she had previously accused him of).  Whether it was truly intentional or just due to being busy, etc., it was very frustrating and left us feeling very out of the loop and scrambling at the last minute for things unnecessarily.  Very frustrating overall.

 

It is absolutely the dad's responsibiilty to stay on top of his child's education, but when mom is receiving the bulk of the papers from school and not sharing the information, it kind of throws off his ability to do so.  Maybe some schools don't use paper anymore and it is easier to stay on top of things via email, but that has not been our experience as of yet. 


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#9 of 18 Old 06-30-2012, 08:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I agree this is exactly what we went through this entire year. Hubby and I talked last night and if the school is still open on tuesday, he is contacting them to be placed on all emailing lists, and to get a copy of all paper correspondence. I hope this isnt too much of a hastle for the teacher our SD will have next year.

 

ALSO hubby is going to speak to his ex about communication, and anything to do with school that is "special", or last minute, or happening on our days with her, she(bio-mom) needs to let us know everything that she knows, so we can parent to the best of our ability. AND withholding information about school is not going to hurt us, but its going to hurt her daughter, and set her behind in school.

 

Thats just my 2 cents after reading all of this and talking about it with hubby, and this is how we chose to deal with it, hopefully Grade 1 turns out a lot better.

 

 

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But is it the teacher's responsibility to have to do these things twice for parents because they cannot communicate?  Sure, some of it is as simple as adding an extra name to an email list, but some of it is making and organizing extra copies, sending things home on different days, etc. that I don't feel is the necessarily the teacher's/schools responsibility.  If it comes down to it, absolutely request it, but I do feel like the parents should be the ones keeping track of these things and keeping each other in the loop. 

 

This is kind of personal with me I guess-dsd's mom gave us a really hard time for not sending over one paper that we received during our time with dsd (it got lost in the shuffle, etc.) but then proceeded to not tell us about a whole bunch of stuff that she received (including big homework projects, field trips that we needed to get her ready for on our day, etc.) We are on all the email lists, both PTA-type, from the teacher, and from the school as a whole.  Dp has attended all school events, so the teacher knows him and knows he is involved.  It very much felt like her mom was doing this to make dp look bad, look disorganized, and look unable to care for dsd and get her ready for school properly (which is what she had previously accused him of).  Whether it was truly intentional or just due to being busy, etc., it was very frustrating and left us feeling very out of the loop and scrambling at the last minute for things unnecessarily.  Very frustrating overall.

 

It is absolutely the dad's responsibiilty to stay on top of his child's education, but when mom is receiving the bulk of the papers from school and not sharing the information, it kind of throws off his ability to do so.  Maybe some schools don't use paper anymore and it is easier to stay on top of things via email, but that has not been our experience as of yet. 

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#10 of 18 Old 06-30-2012, 11:12 AM
 
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I think a lot is a matter of perspective. I, too, am a CP. So that's the place I see things from.

 

Has Dad checked to see what information IS available online? I know our local schools (not just in our town) have the important dates (school pictures, conferences, etc.) online. That is something either parent should be able to find otu themselves. It could be that the CP would be more amenable wrt providing the info that ISN'T available online if the NCP made an effort to get what IS available. Maybe not - some CPs (regardless of gender) are PITAs. But many ust want to see some effort on the part of the other parent.

 

I know that, in MY situation, my ex expected me to provide every snippet of info. I started off sending him the photo info (for example) and offering to order/prepay a package for him OR to order a larger package and splitting it evenly with him (both photos and cost). After a few times of ending up getting his agreement, then having him ask for pone photo each and not getting reimbursed? Yeah, screw that. I ordered what I wanted and sent him the link to order his own And then I got complaints that I wasn't sending him photos.

 

Conferences? I let him know when they were (in general) and when I had arranged one that worked for my schedule, as well as contact info to arrange his own if he couldn't make the one I had planned. Whixh resulted in his complaining that my one didnt work forhim and I should organize one for him. Uuuuh.... no.

So yes, I sent him the link for the school website, I made sure the school (and he) knew that he was to have any and all info he requested, and pulled back from sending any info except what was sent home and not posted.

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#11 of 18 Old 06-30-2012, 01:37 PM
 
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Mtiger, it sounds like you were trying to be very accomodating and now have reasonably backed off when he didn't try to do anything for himself.  I'm not saying the CP is responsible for ordering pictures for the other parent, just that they should send the form (or a copy, or link, or whatever) when it arrives at their house to the other parent so they are aware of what is happening and have the opportunity to do it themselves.  Likewise, we know the general week of conferences from looking at the online calendar ourselves (and so don't expect dsd's mom to let us know about that), but we do expect that if dsd's mom receives the sheet giving the time of dsd's actual conference (the schools here choose the time for each kid and let us know via a note home) she share that information with us (just like we share it with her when it comes to our house).  Yes, I suppose we could ask the teacher to send it twice and bypass mom, but as I said, that just doesn't seem fair to the teacher and should be the parent's responsibility if at all possible.

 

I guess it is just a balance-I can see how in your case it was frustrating hearing complaining when you were trying to make his life easier and ending up feeling like you are babysitting him.  I also see how unfair it is when the NCP is left scrambling for information because the CP chose not to share it, for whatever reason.  I guess I am not talking about parents who don't even make the attempt to participate in the kid's education or get information for themselves, but more the parents who are seriously trying and using all the information they can get, but are still left out of the loop because they are not getting the daily paperwork that goes home with kids. 

 

Also, this was just the OP's 1st year dealing with school, so I'm sure both parents will have to make lots of changes re: communication as time goes on.  Hopefully you will get a workable situation going!  We are headed to middle school next year and I am super nervous about how that will go since there will be multiple teachers a day and all the resultant paperwork/homework/scheduling to deal with!


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#12 of 18 Old 07-02-2012, 10:53 AM
 
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At the end of the day, the *parents* need to make the commitment to be involved in these issues. If the other parent doesn't make it easy? Then the other parent can - and should - get their butt in gear and contact the school. And figure out a way to make it work for him/her and the kid.

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#13 of 18 Old 07-02-2012, 06:32 PM
 
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Now for grade 1 beginning in sept should we be more firm with asking the ex for the school correspondence? 

 

Nope. Your SO should make contact with with the teacher and the administration directly, and ask to be put on all the mailing lists. This will result in some extra work for the teacher - but guess what, she is already doing that same work for some other noncustodial parent. This is not an unusual circumstance. 

 

You are dad's girlfriend, not the mom or the stepmom. You should should not be involved in any of this stuff. Someday, you'll be the stepmom and your role might increase, but for right now, nope. This is your SO's issue to deal with or not. 

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#14 of 18 Old 07-03-2012, 05:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We are engaged and planning a wedding, and I take an active approach to my step daughter. For the past three years I have been active in every aspect with her, I will not take a lazy approach and let dad handle everything and struggle, A marriage is a team work, and I think if I do set back and let him handle everything thats a bad attitude on my part.

 

I was just asking how other step families communicate about school. and I got a farily clear answer to contact the school directly, which we have done.

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Now for grade 1 beginning in sept should we be more firm with asking the ex for the school correspondence? 

 

Nope. Your SO should make contact with with the teacher and the administration directly, and ask to be put on all the mailing lists. This will result in some extra work for the teacher - but guess what, she is already doing that same work for some other noncustodial parent. This is not an unusual circumstance. 

 

You are dad's girlfriend, not the mom or the stepmom. You should should not be involved in any of this stuff. Someday, you'll be the stepmom and your role might increase, but for right now, nope. This is your SO's issue to deal with or not. 

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#15 of 18 Old 07-03-2012, 08:01 PM
 
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It's not "lazy" to respect boundaries. It's really hard work, in fact. I'm sure that you love your stepdaughter tremendously, and treat her like your own when she's in your home. A wonderful gift that you could give her right now, when she's young, is to establish expectations with both her mother and her father that they will deal with each other as coparents, without using you as a surrogate or go-between. Your job is to be the mom of your house, not to insert yourself into the parents' nonsense. You may think you can do better than they're doing. But an imperfect job done by Mom and Dad is better than a really excellent job that is project-managed by Dad's girlfriend.
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#16 of 18 Old 07-04-2012, 09:14 AM
 
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I was just asking how other step families communicate about school. and I got a farily clear answer to contact the school directly, which we have done.

 

 

I think it is great that you are being proactive about it, which is really the only thing you can do. I also think mom is being a weenie. Every single form I fill out of my kids has spaces to write separate contact information for the other parent. To just leave it off is passive aggressive.

 

None the less, there isn't much you CAN do but just go around her.

 

FWIW, I have found email to be a great way to communicate with school teachers. It's easier than phone calls because both parties can say what the need to without getting the whole timing thing right -- teachers only have tiny blocks of time when they can return calls. As far as missing conferences, if all the adults aren't getting along nicely enough to do one together, Dad can request a separate one, and he can request one ANY TIME HE LIKES. He doesn't have to wait for it to be the time set aside for all the students to have conferences. He can just email the teacher and request one. Parents hardly ever do this, but it is an option. It is something I've done, and teachers have been uber nice about it. Mostly, teachers seem to like parents to be more involved rather than less.

 

Your situation is not uncommon. About half the kids in my kids school have parents who no longer live  together, and all forms/address books/etc are set up for this. I think a lot of families have trouble working out the communication thing with school. I hope your year goes better!


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#17 of 18 Old 07-04-2012, 10:16 AM
 
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I also think mom is being a weenie, just to be clear. I wouldn't put an ex-partner's new partner on school paperwork, but I would put the ex-partner himself! It is most definitely passive-aggressive to leave him off. He's the dad. Who else should be on there, Santa Claus? 

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#18 of 18 Old 07-05-2012, 09:42 AM
 
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We are still working to find the balance after 5 years of schooling, and trying everything from insisting mom fax or email everything she gets from the school the day she gets it... to leaving mom to decide what information she thinks she needs to share. Neither of those extremes worked well, so we are trying to find something in the middle that works for both parents and, most importantly, best supports their daughter.

 

We have a clear custody order outlining, for the most part, what both parents are required to provide. Even if one parent thinks the other parent has access to the information from other sources, it doesn't relieve him/her of the responsibility to provide it. While I don't think parents are responsible for babysitting the other, there is a LOT of information that you just don't get unless you are the one who gets the weekly folder or are there in person for activities and events. Each parent is responsible for at least letting the other parent know that information exists. Just like one parent might feel better about making an extra effort if they see the other parent trying to access as much as possible on their own, it is easier to forgive the other parent for forgetting to tell you about a recital or a change in schedule if you are generally getting most of the information. If you are only getting information when you ask for it, by necessity you become a pest trying to make sure you are getting all the information you want and need... and that doesn't feel good to anyone.

 

In my case, I am a very involved step-parent... but my biggest role (besides directly supporting my step-daughter's education as part of our relationship) is in helping my husband stay on top of her school stuff. I set up our phones so that I can set a reminder on mine and it will send an alert to his, too. At the beginning of the year I put important dates in the calendar so they are on both our phones. If there is something he should be there for, I make sure he knows about it. If he wants to have regular communication with the teacher, I set a reminder on the phone to go off every month or every other week (whatever he says he wants) to email the teacher. If he wants to text mom every Wednesday when the weekly folder comes home, I set a reminder. I check the school calendar and the e-blasts and forward him information (like when a school performance that he couldn't attend was going to be videotaped, I emailed him the info and asked if he wanted me to order one). If there was a special event at school, I put it on the calendar so he can ask his daughter about it afterward.

 

I am VERY involved with my step-daughter on a personal level, but on a decision-making, parenting, school-communication level I handle the logistics and help my husband be as involved as he wants to be and get the information he wants, and I offer him emotional support and problem-solving help when he isn't getting the communication he wants/needs from mom. "School stuff" is my domain with the kids who live with us full-time, so it works well for me to keep track of dates, times, events, etc. for her as well... but all the direct communication is left to my husband. 

 

I hope that helped. 


Parenting four little monkeys (11, 8, 6, and 4) with the love of my life. Making it up as I go.
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