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#1 of 11 Old 07-27-2006, 09:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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OK, my boys are away for the week: Saturday to Friday. Sunday morning ds2 was taken into hospital, fwex coped very well, I hated him a little less. Sunday evening ds2 was let out of hospital, fwex still doing well, me still not hating. Ditto Monday and Tuesday.
Wednesday, yesterday, I was at work when they rang to talk to me and to arrange the return handover. I rang back when I'd got in to find that all hell was breaking loose. Apparently ds1 had deliberately, and for no reason, wet himself that morning and had been rude and surly ever since. His attitude, generally, had left a lot to be desired on Tuesday and Monday as well.

Now, whilst I haven't explicitly told Alex any of this (and I'm trying very hard not to) I already had a lot of reasons to dislike his dad and his new stepmum. In particular, the ridiculous financial settlement (he gives his children 50GBP per month: to put this in perspective, this is half what the government pays me to raise them. That's between them, not each) and makes this conditional upon me transporting them half way to access visits. That's 60 GBP per visit. CSA are on his back now about it and will be removing money from his wages in the long run, but that just offends me.
PLUS when this unsatisfactory arrangement was drawn up, I received an extremely offensive email from the new stepmum accusing me of taking fwex's money from their family for my own. Erm, yeah. I am, and I don't have a problem with this.
Plus, of course, the fact that he's a physically and emotionally abusive piece of dog turd who broke my heart and a number of geographically remote bones and left me totally unable to cope for a while. Again, Alex remembers some but not all of this. He remembers being smacked. And believing that he wouldn't come back to me after a weekend with his dad.
So, over the course of this week my guys have told me that they've watched their s/sisters dance class, karate class and went swimming whilst she had a swimming lesson. Now you don't have to be gifted at maths to figure out that this takes money, which daddy isn't giving us, and we don't have a lot of. If I were a bright 7yo, this would upset me. Plus s/mum thinks he has aspergers (I told his class teachers this and they laughed. No indicators at all, he's just a stroppy little lad when he wants to be.) Plus daddy isn't taking time off work when they're there at all, and his one day off this week is being spent shopping for birthday presents for s/mum. Words fail me. I think if I were a bright, ferengi 7yo I would be livid.
I can't stop access entirely, but I can stop enabling access (by driving the boys anywhere) and as we're moving, I can choose to not pass along the address, should I choose. Or I can just continue to suck it up (hate that phrase, but in this context it's appropriate) and act like his doormat.

Right now, I seriously hate him. But nowhere near as much as I hate her.

Please, if you've got this far,tell me what I do next.

Helen mum to five and mistress of mess and mayhem, making merry and mischief til the sun goes down.
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#2 of 11 Old 07-27-2006, 11:32 AM
 
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Just wanted to give you a
I totally understand, I'm sorry I have no good
advice for you...I've been stewing in anger here for
a week myself about my children's stepmother and their
father too, to a bit lesser extent....
Its all very difficult, isn't it? Especially when money is a problem, I get it both ways as I have an ex and I'm a stepmom!

Try to find a little way to relax and give it all a rest for a little while today, I have to force myself to do that or I'll go crazy.
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#3 of 11 Old 07-27-2006, 12:17 PM
 
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Only a bit of advice: Can you have his support re-assesed by the court? If there is money for the 'new kids' to do extras there should be enough to go around for your boys and maybe make it a bit less lopsided??? Ex's and steps run the gambit from awful to great, I have an ex in the awful category too hope your situation gets better mama. You aren't the only one stewing :
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#4 of 11 Old 07-27-2006, 02:10 PM
 
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Sounds rough! (by the way, I love the phrase "stroppy little lad" - it's marvellous ).

I'd really encourage you to take a deep breath, and try not to imagine how your sons "must" feel about their dad, based on what you know about his dad and your assessment of the quality of the time they're spending there. I'd also encourage you to continue to facilitate access to their dad, and not play games around denying the dad their address or anything. When it comes down to it, you don't like the money situation, you don't like what he's done to YOU, and you would do things differently around access times if you were in their shoes. I don't think these are good reasons to make it hard for the children to continue to see their father, or to put them in the middle of a power struggle over access. Power struggles over access hurt kids!

If there were major safety issues that would be one thing. If their dad's a loser, well, they'll probably figure that out on their own over time without you intervening. If you intervene, they'll remember the conflict and how it made them feel, and they'll never know what kind of a person their dad might have turned out to be if they'd continued seeing him.
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#5 of 11 Old 07-27-2006, 02:13 PM
 
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I would strongly advise that you don't just up and not give them a forwarding address. But I would revisit your solicitor and have your dk tell them about what the steps were doing the whole week the dk was there, how the father had not taken any time off so dk were in the 'sole care' of the step (i.e. not with the parent with custody) and everything else. Make the point that you are spending x percent of the family income on enabling access visits to said father when the father is not actually seeing them. And do give the CSA a kick up the bum.

(for other posters info - In the UK we no longer have the ability to take maintainance to the court for reassessing where the parent with residency is has receipt of benefits (other than child benefit, which is universal), we have to go through the CSA. And as the CSA is going to be disbanded you can tell just how 'good' they are :roll: )

As they never come to your house could you prehaps not tell them of the move straight away, but have the post office do you a long term redirection? You'd have to tell everyone else to be official, and even them eventually unless you can come up with a strong reason why they should no longer have access (which would have to be strong and serious abuse :-( ) But your solicitor should help with that when you tell them everything that has gone on this week. What an agreement could do is require them (i.e. father, unless you are in agreement that step could come) to come and collect the dk. Given that if they then don't turn up you haven't done anything wrong

Anyway hope you can resolve it and dk isn't too scarred by the whole week :-(
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#6 of 11 Old 07-27-2006, 02:42 PM
 
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I think that his working full-time while the kids are with him may impact the quality of their experience there, but that it's not really for you or for the courts/authorities to micro-manage, any more than they should micro-manage who you choose as a caregiver during your time with them. On the plus side, they're experiencing day to day life at dad's just the way it would usually be, rather than life with a Disneyland Dad who drops everything and showers them with so much special stuff that they're bound to find you a disappointment.

So far as leaving off info about the move as long as possible goes, go with the Golden Rule. If you were the non-custodial parent, would you want to know if your children were moving?
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#7 of 11 Old 07-30-2006, 04:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the responses.
I'm feeling much calmer now, and dh and I have come to the conclusion that
a) he's lied to me about how bad his financial situation is
b) we have done things to make his life easier: like driving the boys half way to see him- which was unnecessary, both legally and in terms of logistics. The money I saved him on petrol would have paid for both boys to take up an extra sport each week, things like that (that they have been asking for and we simply haven't been able to afford). This is stopping. From now on, I am doing the bare minimum required by law and good manners: I will not be coercing 5yo to speak to his dad on the phone when he doesn't want to, will not be driving anyone anywhere, just won't be doing it. Life is too short, and so I am handing back to my children their relationship with their father.
mammastar2, things Alex has said in the past have made me believe that at 7, he already sees through his father: I think that's the root cause of all of the problems this week. I don't think his father/sm helped themselves, though. I'm not actually aiming to micromanage: what I want is to be able to let go and know that my kids will be treated with respect, love and dignity, even if it gets shown differently. Right now, I don't have that. I also don't agree with your assertion that money is about him and me: fundamentally, he is financially responsible for the children that he fathered and he is refusing to accept this responsibility.
Helen A, good point about asking the solicitor for help. The CSA should be making contact within the next few weeks (I asked them to leave the phone call until Monday, but we have a case officer and apparently our file is top of her pile because of the delays. They lost our paperwork.) and so the clock starts ticking then.

Helen mum to five and mistress of mess and mayhem, making merry and mischief til the sun goes down.
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#8 of 11 Old 07-30-2006, 05:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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And an update: Alex and I have been out for a long chat tonight, and he has said that he doesn't want to go to daddys again. And it wasn't in response to a leading question either.

Helen mum to five and mistress of mess and mayhem, making merry and mischief til the sun goes down.
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#9 of 11 Old 08-01-2006, 10:06 AM
 
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Question --

Would you let you son decide he doesn't need to go to the doctor anymore? or the dentist? In fact, I would be surprised if you let him decide how much dessert he can have in a day.

If he is too young to make those decisions, he is too young to decide whether or not to continue to visit his father. Besides, your hostility towards your ex is very evident on the boards, so I wouldn't be surprised if (even without doing intentionally) you have influenced your son. He may seem very negative around you, and still be very pleased and happy around his father without you being aware of it.

With regards to the gas and the money. Your ex is clearly not doing his part economically. Not being British, I can't give you any advice as to how to remedy that. My question for you is with regards to the gas money -- is it more important that your son have a relationship with his father (however half-assed and inadequate you judge that relationship to be) or that he learn basic karate or swimming? Which means more over the long term?

Also I note that you are making the assumption that their relationship will remain static over time. Some men do have a harder time relating to younger children -- things can change as your son gets old and they have the ability to do more "guy stuff" together.
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#10 of 11 Old 08-01-2006, 04:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, I am hostile towards my exhusband. I have reason to be, given our past history of physical, emotional and financial abuse: I've been posting on these boards trying to find a way to work with him despite our past history.
To answer the question: what means most to me is that my son can look back at the age of 18 or 21 and say " I did the best I could": and also "my mum did the best she could". Right now it is a mute point, as we have been told that Alex is not welcome there over the October half term, as his stepmother is afraid that he will hurt his new brother. I can't find words to add to that.
And to deal with your analogies: if a doctor or dentist used as many damaging words to my son as his father has, I would be lodging formal complaints and would encourage my child to find an alternative professional that they got on with. We are an unfooding family, therefore yes, I allow my son to eat 12 different kinds of dessert in one day if he wishes. So far, the situation has not arisen. Yet unfortunately, we live in a society that does not make it acceptable for a child to tell his parent that he feels uncomfortable with aspects of their relationship and assumes that the child must love that parent unconditionally, no matter what a shit he's being. In other words, you have given my ex ownership rights over my son and taken away Alex's ownership of himself.
I am taking on board the point about the hostilities influencing my son: but then, the reason I post here is so I can get another perspective on it and not say the words out loud that WILL influence my sons. As for the relationship changing: it may. He may feel more comfortable with a teenager, but that doesn't make it any more acceptable for him to dismiss his 7yo as he is doing.

Helen mum to five and mistress of mess and mayhem, making merry and mischief til the sun goes down.
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#11 of 11 Old 08-02-2006, 04:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks bczmama, you made me think. For anyone in a similar situation, I found this helped a lot: I've also sent the link over to my ex to see if it makes any sense to him at all.

I'm also going to sit down and write a big, big, long, long email to my ex detailing exactly how I feel about him and the state Alex came home in. Then hit delete.

Thanks for the help.

Helen mum to five and mistress of mess and mayhem, making merry and mischief til the sun goes down.
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