First of all I feel ver guilty for even having to get on here, almost ashamed, as if I don't like my future step son, the problem is I dont want it to get to that point. I am 32, I have 4 daughters (13,10, 7, 2) which I have full custody of, my bf is 30, a wonderful man, with a 10 year old son who has adhd. He has only visitation rights 4 days a month, but we still have him 2-3 nights every week. He has been divorced for almost a year, but went back to his ex after the divorce because of the son, shortly after that is when he met me, he moved into my 3 bedroom house. The ex I was soon to find out was extremely unfit, I immediately felt sorry for his son and tried to do as much for him as I could. She refuses to work, we have to hound her to get his perscription every month (which I get filled and pay for), and the last school year he missed 21 days of the last 3 months of school because she was too lazy to get up. He has told us stories of her drinking to the point of passing out, we have contacted the proper authorities and cant get anything done. she is 36, he left her the house for the son, she didnt pay the electric bill (3 months ago) and had her power shut off so her, the son, and her 21 year old bf moved in with her parents. All of this is unfortunate and Im sharing this part of it only to give you an understanding of the home which he is in, he has no rules, is not made to mind, and basically takes care of himself because she doesnt, on one occation last month she took him and dropped him off (at 10 years old) with his 15 year old step sister (who she sent away to her other parents because she couldnt handle her and she was into drugs) at six flags. The children where picked up an hour later in the theme park for shop lifting. We had given her $100 to give to the kids for spending money.
Now when he comes to our house, with 4 other children, we have rules, lots of them. We have to to be able to maintain a household with that many children. Ive never had to deal with this situation before and im not sure what the best way is. He does not listen to anyone, even his father, and his mother has told him he doesnt have to listen to me, even though I have him on my own (without his dad) for days in a row sometimes if he is working out of town and she isnt available for us to take him home. I know alot of this is because he has not been made to mind. I dont know what the best way is to deal with this. He does have adhd, and I try to take that into account, but his problem is he has never been taught even the basics in respect. you can say dont pick up the cat and he will smile at you and pick the cat up! I honestly feel like he is a baby I have to watch constantly. I think of him as one of my children and I try to treat him the same. I get upset with myself because I feel overwhelmed and dont know how to handle the situations.. dad chalks alot of it up to his adhd and that hes a boy. And some things or rules I have he doesnt get either, like we have a one soda rule. one a day thats it, we have this rule for 2 reasons, number one if I dont they will open 5 sodas and Ill throw have of each of them away, number 2 5 kids drinking 3 sodas a day gets really expensive really fast. so issue one is I dont know how to make him mind. Ive tried explaining the rules to him and talking to him about why he acts out. Any time me or dad get onto him he blows up, any where from throwing things to yelling he wants to go home because his mom doesnt make him mind.
my second issue is im afraid if i dont push the rules and be hard on him he is going to end up in lots of trouble, he steals and lies constantly. Mainly I think because this is what he sees at home.
Third issue is my children. They have accepted him, they treat him like thier brother, therefor they dont understand why I am more leanant with him, and then to go full circle with that thought they begin acting out and behaving like he does. My 7 year old has even began lying which breaks my heart.
fourth is dad, we tried him being the person who diciplines him, that just blew up in our faces, all of a sudden everyone was picking on his son when he came home and we told him of all the things he did durring the day. I love this man dearly, so do my children, we are getting married in May of next year. I want to do the right thing for everyone, I realize this is a challenge, but any input I would appriciate.
Ideally I think that if we custody of him things would be alot different, I think we could better influence his life, but she will not give it to us because she is living off of his child support (which she does not use for him as we buy everything for him and she is living with her parents) Right now we are still living in a 3 bedroom house because thats all we can afford as we are still paying off his (her) bills from the divorce. So I feel like the kids dont have their own space (especially the son as he has no room here) and that adds to the tension here between them. But where we are living is still bigger then where he is living with the mother. he is a sweet kid, and I know alot of this is because he wants attention, he calls me mom alot, when dads not home he wants to sleep with me, and he does like here. its just such a mess and Im very overwhelmed..... help please
I am in a similiar situation with my stepson, He is only four and does most of these things your 10 year old stepson does. It's very hard **Hugs** My stepson is the same way never had rules, was never taught any manners, we are still teaching him "Please" and "Thank You." He also screams at us throws things, kicks my children, anything possible to get his way. My stepsons mother is the same way as your boyfriend's ex. She is a pathetic excuse for a parent. She doesn't even deserve that title. We got custody of my stepson four months ago. It has been absolutely insane! I wish I could offer some advice but I am still figuring this out for myself. I do send my best wishes, and tons and tons of support and hugs.
We got custody because CPS proved her unfit and removed all three children from the home and put all of them into foster care. Once in foster care we fought hard to get him and won. But it seems like the real battle has only began.
I have the same problem here too, my insurance won't cover it and with four children and only one of us working the price is wayyy out of our range.
CPS let alot of crap go here before they did anything, they knew that her boyfriend was mentally screwed up, physically abusive to children, mentally abusive, flat out violent threatening the children's lives with assault rifles and stuff, but that didn't matter to them they didnt remove the children from her care until she was facing criminal charges for leaving an infant alone in a vehicle while she went in a bar and partied.
That is horrible, I'm sorry you are dealing with that. I feel bad for him too. No kid needs to be in that situation or feeling like I can just immagine he is right now. It shouldn't have to get to that point before they will do anything, they are up my ass all the time, literally here every two weeks, and I haven't done a damn thing wrong and yet people get to do stuff like that and behave like children and they get away with it... Makes you wonder who's side the system is really on doesn't it? It's crazy someone that drinks so much her 10 year old is playing parent, compared to someone that does not drink or do anything like that, has to deal with them all the time. I hope they do something with the mother go get this poor boy help, the situation he is in isn't healthy for anyone. I send my hugs and support.
Omg that is terrible that it has to get to that point before something is done. She has gotten into fights with him and he's taken off in the middle of the night and she has t looked for him! And he threatened her with a gun because she wouldn't quit drinking. The poor kid is trying to raise his mother and doesn't know how to handle it. I'm really afraid he's going to do something drastic one day.
I'm not going to pretend it's easy for a father to get custody. But the idea of having to prove that a mother is "unfit" before anyone would consider letting a child live with his father is very outdated. If you think about it, that would mean that in cases where neither parent is unfit - they're just divorced - one parent would always get custody simply because of gender...an idea which cannot stand up in today's lawsuit-happy world. You can read your state's family law online, to find out for sure. But the criteria for awarding or changing custody almost certainly revolves around "the best interest of the child". So don't think of it as having to prove that your step-son shouldn't be with his mom, but that he has a better situation with his dad.
In fact, if there is no glaring fact you can PROVE in court, to show that Mom is so bad that maybe she shouldn't even be around her kid, your fiance may come across much better in court, if he's NOT trying to attack her and say she's an unfit mother, but instead calmly - without anger - points out the ways living with him would be even better for the child, although he still respects and supports the importance of the child's relationship and time with Mom.
Here are some of the factors I imagine would be relevant, in your family's case:
In Dad's favor:
- He has his own home. (Well...he will, after you are married.)
- He can provide consistent parenting. (Whereas, sometimes Mom is not available for her son to come home to her, even though it is her court-ordered parenting time.)
- Already, he is regularly exercising more parenting time than the court order describes.
- He takes on more of the responsibility for ensuring his son's prescription is filled.
- He reliably pays child support (showing he is able to take care of his share of the child's financial needs), whereas Mom appears unable to support herself, much less meet her own financial obligations to her son. (That is, if that's the reason she lives with her parents...)
- Your step-son has a significantly better attendance rate, at school, on days Dad winds up in charge of getting him there, compared to days Mom's in charge of this.
- Your step-son has a professionally-diagnosed condition that demands structure and careful guidance, to help him learn to control himself and meet his academic and social potential. Dad's home provides more of this structure than Mom's.
- The child gets in trouble (the shoplifting) while in Mom's care. This hasn't happened while in Dad's care. (I would not bring up giving Mom money to send with the kids, at the amusement park. I assume you guys suspect that she kept the money for herself and the kids stole because they had no means to buy anything on their own? But you can't prove you gave Mom the money, if she denies it. It also makes it sound like you and your fiance helped plan this irresponsible outing, where a 10-yr-old ADHD boy was supervised only by his 15-yr-old drug-addicted stepsister. Much better to show restraint and simply tell the court, "It was Mom's parenting time. The kid had inadequate supervision and was caught shoplifting. No such thing has ever happened while he was with Dad." That's it. Be quiet. Then Mom can try to explain why she wasn't with the kids and why she thought it was OK to leave the kid with his stepsister in that environment [when it has already been shown that was a bad call]. Mom might even try to defend herself by saying, "How would I have anticipated they would steal anything? I gave Johnny $100 from his Dad, to buy what he wanted!" In that context, your fiance looks better; whereas, if he brings up the money...then calls Mom irresponsible for letting the kids go in the first place...he looks fickle.)
In Mom's favor:
- Until you're married, her living arrangement is more stable than your fiance's, since right now they're both living in someone else's home, but she'll presumably always have a relationship with her parents, whereas you and he have not yet made any legal commitment to each other.
- Your fiance travels for work. It DOES help that there's a second, reliable adult in his home, to care for the child. But it's a lot easier to be able to say Dad doesn't travel that regularly, than to try to prove that the kid is better off with you, while Dad's gone, than with his own mother. So, the more your fiance can reduce travel, the better - starting long before he goes to court. And you both have to avoid saying things like, "Mom tells the kid he doesn't have to listen to his step-mom, which is bad for him since sometimes she's watching him for four days in a row, while Dad's traveling and Mom's off partying." You can't prove what Mom tells the kid and such a statement raises as many questions about Dad's ability to care for the child, as it does about Mom's.
- You want to have custody of five kids in a three-bedroom house. If Mom's parents provide your step-son his own bedroom, Mom may have an advantage. However, if she and the kid share a room there, this flies out the window. If the kid is sleeping on a couch at his grandparents', forget it! Still, it's best if you can say your girls have the master bedroom and two sets of bunkbeds and the boy has a separate room; or if you can convert some space in the house into a bedroom for him. (E.g., every house in our neighborhood has a utility room which is not large, but by moving the furnace and washer/dryer hook-ups to the garage, some owners have converted these rooms into a small, extra bedroom, sometimes maximizing space with a loft bed so you can fit other furniture under it. Be creative.) Even better if you can move to a larger space before asking for custody. You absolutely cannot defend having your step-son (who will be entering puberty anytime) share a room with a 10- or 7-yr-old girl, or making him share a room with a toddler.
- It is not sustainable, to have your fiance discipline his son after he gets home, for things that occur while you're watching him. OF COURSE it will make your fiance defensive, coming home to "My 4 kids are just perfect and let me tell you how rotten your kid is. Now either fix or punish him." That will ruin your relationship. Perhaps more significantly, it reinforces to your step-son that neither of you are effective parents and he DOESN'T have to listen to you. To the kid, you seem completely ineffective, unable to do anything but threaten what's going to happen to him when his Dad gets home. If Dad DID do something when he got home, the kid would still realize Dad's going back to work the next day so all rules are gone 'til he gets back. But instead, the kid realizes Dad feels torn when he gets home, wanting to be able to enjoy his kid, not punish him and feel like a failure as a parent, the minute he walks in the door. The older the kid gets, the more he will take advantage of that and play you and your fiance against each other. Any adult has to be able to manage the kids in their care, while those kids are in their care. With your step-son's issues, it may be impossible for you to manage him well, but you need to recognize your entitlement to make rules and try to find ways to enforce them - not because of your relationship to him, but simply because you are the adult responsible for him, during certain hours. You cannot rely on someone else, who's not there, to care for this child for you, over the phone, or via future threats.
- I'm sure you recognize you are a package deal, with your four kids. It is irrelevant how much a man may love you, as a person. You cannot consider a relationship with him, if his relationship with your daughters won't work. It is always harder to recognize that the man you love is also a package deal. I know you realize this, intellectually. But it doesn't sound like you see it, emotionally. No matter how much you love him, before you marry him you have to consider whether you and your girls - and his son - can have relationships that work. If the answer is no, it does not mean you and your fiance love each other any less. But it might mean you can't make a life together. Love does not fix everything. Good, mature, responsible decisions do. Sometimes good, mature, responsible decisions can be heartbreaking. Are you adding more good than bad, to your daughters' lives, by bringing not only your fiance, but his son, into their family?