Are step-parents, parents??? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 16 Old 07-12-2014, 03:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Are step-parents, parents???

I'm going through a custody study and was asked whether I consider my kids' step mother a parent. I said no. I consider her like a babysitter. Is that the wrong answer?

And honestly, if she was a babysitter I'd fire her for her vicious verbal abuse of me.

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#2 of 16 Old 07-12-2014, 04:02 PM
 
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I think it depends on how involved they are in the kids life, but that goes the same for bio parents. If you aren't doing any parentING, then how can you call yourself a parent? My husband is a step-parent and he is providing emotional guidance, car rides to friends houses, financial support, entertainment, boundaries/consequences, etc. every day... that's a parent. My ex likes the kids to visit him about once a month but there isn't any sort of thought put into their futures or what is best for them... he's more like an uncle, maybe, than a dad. Legally of course he's their parent but aside from that he doesn't live up to the title.
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#3 of 16 Old 07-13-2014, 06:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My kids' dad is suing for more custody (which I don't think he will get). The thing is, when he has the kids, he usually just turns them over to his wife or his parents to watch. My argument is that why would you take kids away from me just to hand them over to a babysitter when I am available and I am a good parent?
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#4 of 16 Old 07-13-2014, 11:36 AM
 
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I think Mummoth made a great point about who should really be called a parent regardless of dna. I'm not sure what effect that would have on a court case for getting more visitation or custody though. I do agree with you though that he shouldn't go after more time with them if he isn't going to spend that time with them.

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#5 of 16 Old 07-14-2014, 12:22 AM
 
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In court is a whole other story. Even given all my husband does for the kids, he is pretty much irrelevant to them.

The court isn't going to expect your ex to spend all of his custody time with the kids, hopefully there are other arguments you can make to support your position.

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

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#6 of 16 Old 07-17-2014, 05:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Are you saying the court considers a step-mom as having equal parental rights as a bio mom?
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#7 of 16 Old 07-17-2014, 05:49 AM
 
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If a parent and step parent get divorced doesn't step parent loose any rights to child?
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#8 of 16 Old 07-17-2014, 11:28 AM
 
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Are you saying the court considers a step-mom as having equal parental rights as a bio mom?
No, not at all! I think the court tries to treat the biological parents equally... for most people, the kids spend a significant amount of time out of the parents direct care... they go to school and potentially daycare, they go see their grandparents or spend time at their friends' houses. That's neccessary and/or desirable for the kids' life. The way courts make their decisions in different places varies, and I am in a very father-friendly area, but I don't think it matters much to the court what percentage of the time a parents' time with their kids is actually spent directly WITH their kids.

I'm saying the father often has equal parental rights to the mother, which includes the ability to make the decision to leave the children in other people's care. The fact that the 'babysitter' happens to be a step parent is irrelevant.

Farmermomma, that's another thing that varies by where you live. In my province, anyone who has had a significant relationship with them, can apply for access to kids. For example if my sister and I had some kind of crazy falling out, we could each apply for access visits with the others' kids because we've been a significant part of our respective nieces and nephew's lives. It's not the same as parental rights, but a previous step parent could certainly get visitation every month.

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

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#9 of 16 Old 07-17-2014, 11:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My ex and I have different work shifts, so when he is working, I am home. He wants to take the kids away from me when I am home and he is working and put them with their step-mom. It's just a jerk move.
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#10 of 16 Old 07-17-2014, 04:29 PM
 
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That is terrible. Hopefully it's obvious to a judge what he's trying to do.

My ex sees the kids about once a month, for a weekend. He often goes off to visit friends or ??? while the kids are there, I don't know for how long, just that they complain about being left with his girlfriend.
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#11 of 16 Old 07-18-2014, 10:19 AM
 
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The thing is, when he has the kids, he usually just turns them over to his wife or his parents to watch. My argument is that why would you take kids away from me just to hand them over to a babysitter when I am available and I am a good parent?
Same happened to me. How much time & authority the step parent has depends on the individual circumstances. In our situation, the move for claiming custody while the father was absent did not fly. They reason is that the courts' opinion of the benefit to the child is that the parent is spending time with them. So custody means that the parent who is named (the father, in your case) is that parent whose relationship is being honored. Moves like this, to attempt to limit or harm the relationship of a birth parent with the child, and not because the OTHER birth parent wants 50% personal face-time, is abuse, through the custody system, of the ex partner and child - and it is, unfortunately, rampant.

One thing you should not do is quiz your child on how much time is spent with the father. Asking the child these questions is emotional abuse.

The courts will not defend the step-parents "rights" to a child - because they don't have any unless it has been specifically assigned by prior court order. So it only comes down to which of the 2 biological parents is able & willing to spend face-time with the child. In my case the step mother was not even allowed to attend custody and support hearings if I didn't agree (and vise-versa, but I asked my husband not to attend anyway in order to give me more authority in the room).

Try children & youth services to discuss what you can do. They are experts. A lawyer can also supina your ex's work schedule or submit requests for "primary caretaker" affadavits in terms of who is actually caring for the child when the father has custody.

Additionally, if you can document that the step mother is defaming you, you can get a restraining warning issued, but since that would probably escalate things I wouldn't do this unless you are facing serious "divorce poison," meaning that your child begins to hate and show contempt for you due to the brainwashing of the other home.

Most of all, take the high road. Your children will judge you most on who you show yourself to be, not what others say about you.
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#12 of 16 Old 07-18-2014, 07:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Additionally, if you can document that the step mother is defaming you, you can get a restraining warning issued, but since that would probably escalate things I wouldn't do this unless you are facing serious "divorce poison," meaning that your child begins to hate and show contempt for you due to the brainwashing of the other home.
Yes, that is what is going on. It has already escalated beyond all reason. And thank you for such a great post.

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#13 of 16 Old 07-19-2014, 04:55 AM
 
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Yes, that is what is going on. It has already escalated beyond all reason.
Are your kids in therapy? Having someone neutral to talk to & to help to guide them through this situation could be very helpful to them.

Anything you do can be spun against you, you should probably expect that to happen. Any action you take to protect yourself & your kids from the "divorce poison" can be spun so that YOU are the one doing the poisoning, such as taking the kids to therapy (you are trying to turn them against the other household), etc. So be very careful what you say & do. The point of divorce poison is as much to unnerve & intimidate the other parent as it is to deprive them of their children's affection. You may want to try some therapy yourself & get some strategies in place for dealing with this. One thing I did was to continually keep communication open with the other parents, so that if the child says "[stepmom] was right, she said you would say this/do this" you can say "[stepmom] knows that she can talk to me about that or anything else that is on her mind, and I just talked to her a few days ago, but she didn't mention it. This is really between she and I anyway and you don't need to be concerned about it" and change the subject. Unfortunately you don't have the option of protecting yourself in the normal way (breaking contact with someone who mistreats you or showing anger toward them) because you have to put your kids first. If you don't react in ways that justify their badmouthing you then they will have a harder time making their character assassination seem accurate.

Assess your behavior and make any apologies that you feel are warranted to your ex and his wife. Be as cooperative and supportive as you can of them. Improve your parenting skills, stay positive and happy around your kids. Don't believe that they can actually destroy your relationship with your children; they can't, but you can if you fall into despair or react badly, and provoking you is a big part of the reason people do this; they usually are not very interested in the children themselves. It's a grueling way to live. I'm very sorry for anyone who has to go through this.

Your children are in a worse situation, though, because they have 2 choices: love you and lose the love of their father/stepmother or hate you (knowing that you will still love them anyway) and keep their father's love as well. They are being emotionally abused and are being shown *conditional* (not unconditional) love - "love" they have to earn by destroying a part of themselves: their love for you. It's a massive injury and they will need your calm understanding and love at the least and some therapy most likely as well
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#14 of 16 Old 07-19-2014, 05:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, I am in therapy, and my kids are on a waiting list.
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#15 of 16 Old 07-20-2014, 07:28 PM
 
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Are your kids in therapy? Having someone neutral to talk to & to help to guide them through this situation could be very helpful to them.

Anything you do can be spun against you, you should probably expect that to happen. Any action you take to protect yourself & your kids from the "divorce poison" can be spun so that YOU are the one doing the poisoning, such as taking the kids to therapy (you are trying to turn them against the other household), etc. So be very careful what you say & do. The point of divorce poison is as much to unnerve & intimidate the other parent as it is to deprive them of their children's affection. You may want to try some therapy yourself & get some strategies in place for dealing with this. One thing I did was to continually keep communication open with the other parents, so that if the child says "[stepmom] was right, she said you would say this/do this" you can say "[stepmom] knows that she can talk to me about that or anything else that is on her mind, and I just talked to her a few days ago, but she didn't mention it. This is really between she and I anyway and you don't need to be concerned about it" and change the subject. Unfortunately you don't have the option of protecting yourself in the normal way (breaking contact with someone who mistreats you or showing anger toward them) because you have to put your kids first. If you don't react in ways that justify their badmouthing you then they will have a harder time making their character assassination seem accurate.

Assess your behavior and make any apologies that you feel are warranted to your ex and his wife. Be as cooperative and supportive as you can of them. Improve your parenting skills, stay positive and happy around your kids. Don't believe that they can actually destroy your relationship with your children; they can't, but you can if you fall into despair or react badly, and provoking you is a big part of the reason people do this; they usually are not very interested in the children themselves. It's a grueling way to live. I'm very sorry for anyone who has to go through this.

Your children are in a worse situation, though, because they have 2 choices: love you and lose the love of their father/stepmother or hate you (knowing that you will still love them anyway) and keep their father's love as well. They are being emotionally abused and are being shown *conditional* (not unconditional) love - "love" they have to earn by destroying a part of themselves: their love for you. It's a massive injury and they will need your calm understanding and love at the least and some therapy most likely as well
This is all just perfect, wonderful advice.

Being open about communication has helped in my family as well. When planning a visit, my ex usually says he's available for a certain number of nights, but then finds some way of backing out of part of the visit. Then he tells the kids that he wanted them to stay longer but I said no. I've started just doing my end of the planning in a way that they can hear mine and my husbands willingness to drop them off and pick them up on the original days, and then hear us having to adjust our plans to accomodate the changed times.

I had been keeping plans quiet until they were finalized because I know he's likely going to shorten the plan before it actually happens and I was trying to spare them from knowing the longer plan ever existed and getting their feelings hurt. Then wy ex would tell them and I'd have pissed off kids to deal with when they came back, thinking I was 'trying to keep them from their dad'. I can't control what he says, but being open changes how they react when he tries to spin things against me.

I don't say anything negative about my ex, but I don't 'protect' them from knowing who he is, either. I haven't been in the position of denying accusations and trying to get them to trust my word since I made that simple change... I've only once had to say "Hmmm, that's odd, I think it went differently. You were around when we made arrangements, remember?" and that was the end of that.
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#16 of 16 Old 07-27-2014, 08:13 PM
 
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If a parent and step parent get divorced doesn't step parent loose any rights to child?
No, unfortunately, step parents have no rights to their stepchildren, especially in divorce. You can raise a child half his or her life, but if it's your stepchild and his or her parent divorces you, then you're pretty much at the mercy of the biological parents when and if they allow you to continue to have contact with that child.

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I don't say anything negative about my ex, but I don't 'protect' them from knowing who he is, either. I haven't been in the position of denying accusations and trying to get them to trust my word since I made that simple change... I've only once had to say "Hmmm, that's odd, I think it went differently. You were around when we made arrangements, remember?" and that was the end of that.
Unfortunately, this is the best way to go- be honest, be gentle, be age appropriate, but most importantly, be honest. Don't cover for the other parent, but don't make them out to be a monster, either. And hope for the best.

I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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