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#1 of 23 Old 02-01-2015, 05:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Step parent needing advice.

I have a 7 year old step-daughter that my husband and I have been fighting to get access to. My husband and his ex split up when she was a year old. The mother told my husband he'd never see his daughter again and they moved. It's been a struggle ever since. We've been back to court constantly and have spent about $80,000 to be able to see our daughter. I say "our" because that's how I see it. My husband and I have 2 other children as well but I consider her as much my daughter as my other 2 children. Because of the distance of travel, we only get to see her every other weekend but now its becoming less and less because she has birthday parties etc that she doesn't want to miss. The mother has taught her all these years that we're nothing to her. She doesn't consider my husband her dad or our children her siblings etc. Now, every times it's our weekend she has some event that she would have to miss if she comes so either we be the mean guys and tell her she can't go or we miss the weekend. Her mother pushes it too and tells her "if it was up to me you could go and have fun because I know you don't want to miss it but its not up to me." There's been a lot of parental alienation happening from day 1 and there's nothing we seem to be able to do. So now, do we say no to the party so we can have what little time we're allowed and have her mad at us or do we miss the weekend and let her go again? It's becoming a common occurrence. There's so much more happening but this is the problem in front of us now. Any advice is appreciated.
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#2 of 23 Old 02-03-2015, 01:59 PM
 
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I am so sorry to hear that this is a struggle right now. Have you spoken with a counselor at all? You may find the book Co-Parenting Works by Tammy Daughtry.

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#3 of 23 Old 02-03-2015, 04:31 PM
 
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It's not the mother's fault that your step daughter has events to go to, she doesn't get to dictate when her daughters friends have birthday parties. When it's your husbands' time with her, it's his job to say yes or no to an invitation. All the mother should be doing is forwarding the information to him for him to deal with one way or another. I know it's probably difficult to accept, given the parental alienation in other situations, but this isn't one of those times. It's simply not her job to dictate what your SD does or doesn't do during her time at your home. It does sound like she's laying it on a little thick.

I'm the bio mom and I've been blamed for not telling my ex the kids shouldn't have to eat certain foods or that I let them watch certain TV shows, things like that. The rules are different at his house and they have to accept that... but I tend to get the brunt of their attitude about it. If there are any scenarios like that, where she is getting heat from your SD about the way things are at your house, that could be why she's spelling it out so clearly that she doesn't have any say over whether SD goes to the parties... maybe she is just prioritizing harmony in her own home.

Depending on the timing of some of the plans, you might be able to work it into your schedule for the weekend? For instance if the party is on a Sunday afternoon, everyone drives to town in time for it, and your family spends time nearby while she's at the party then go for supper together before dropping her at home.

When my kids were that age, a lot of parties were in bowling alleys or those rat-maze places. I don't drive so it often didn't make sense to bus home during a party so I'd pay for my other kid to go in and stay for the duration of the party. You could do that with your little ones, too. It'd be a good wayt o become a familiar face for the parents, and maybe once your SD gets to the sleep-over age (it's coming soon) she will be allowed to have a friend come to your place for the weekend.

Sign her up for an activity in your area so that she'll meet kids her age there, or find another way for her to make friends and connections in your town.
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#4 of 23 Old 02-20-2015, 02:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am so sorry to hear that this is a struggle right now. Have you spoken with a counselor at all? You may find the book Co-Parenting Works by Tammy Daughtry.

Live, Laugh, and Cantor on
Ty, yes, we managed to get it put into our court order as the mother was not willing to try. We tried it as a group and individually.Unfortunately, the mother didn't agree with what was being said. She said it wasn't up to her to encourage a relationship between my husband and his daughter and that she's not going to force her to do anything she doesn't want to do and that it's not fair for her to miss out on things to spend time with her "biological father". So that route didn't work too well.
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#5 of 23 Old 02-20-2015, 03:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It's not the mother's fault that your step daughter has events to go to, she doesn't get to dictate when her daughters friends have birthday parties. When it's your husbands' time with her, it's his job to say yes or no to an invitation. All the mother should be doing is forwarding the information to him for him to deal with one way or another. I know it's probably difficult to accept, given the parental alienation in other situations, but this isn't one of those times. It's simply not her job to dictate what your SD does or doesn't do during her time at your home. It does sound like she's laying it on a little thick.

I'm the bio mom and I've been blamed for not telling my ex the kids shouldn't have to eat certain foods or that I let them watch certain TV shows, things like that. The rules are different at his house and they have to accept that... but I tend to get the brunt of their attitude about it. If there are any scenarios like that, where she is getting heat from your SD about the way things are at your house, that could be why she's spelling it out so clearly that she doesn't have any say over whether SD goes to the parties... maybe she is just prioritizing harmony in her own home.

Depending on the timing of some of the plans, you might be able to work it into your schedule for the weekend? For instance if the party is on a Sunday afternoon, everyone drives to town in time for it, and your family spends time nearby while she's at the party then go for supper together before dropping her at home.

When my kids were that age, a lot of parties were in bowling alleys or those rat-maze places. I don't drive so it often didn't make sense to bus home during a party so I'd pay for my other kid to go in and stay for the duration of the party. You could do that with your little ones, too. It'd be a good wayt o become a familiar face for the parents, and maybe once your SD gets to the sleep-over age (it's coming soon) she will be allowed to have a friend come to your place for the weekend.

Sign her up for an activity in your area so that she'll meet kids her age there, or find another way for her to make friends and connections in your town.
Ty for your response, I am trying to understand the mothet's side as well. We've tried suggesting we swap weekends but the mother didn't want to. We have taken her home early to make it to some of these functions before but when it lands in the middle of the weekend and it's a 4 hour drive each way it makes it almost impossible. When putting into account the travel we only get the 1 day with her. There's also been some functions in our area that she's been invited to, we've asked the mother about them and she just says it's not our weekend so she can't go so we just try not to even mention it to my SD and downplay it if she knows about it. It is definitely hard for everyone involved and there are no easy answers.
My SD tries to tell us how it should be because her mom tells her how it is. She tries to tell us what she is and isn't allowed to do because her mom is always right and she's the only one she has to listen to and unfortunately, her mother has said to her point blank and in front of us that she can do whatever she wants when she's with us and we can't stop her. Things can be very difficult.
Ty again for your advice and your side. I know it's hard for everyone involved and that's why I ask, I need all the help I can get. Best of luck to you.
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#6 of 23 Old 02-20-2015, 06:02 PM
 
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Can you move closer. That's a lot of driving for a little kid.
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#7 of 23 Old 02-20-2015, 08:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Can you move closer. That's a lot of driving for a little kid.
Agreed, it is a lot of travelling. We've thought about it and we may try still but everything is here, our jobs, our families, and she was born here and the rest of her family lives here as well. There's a great support system here. We've hoped that the mother would move back as neither she nor her spouse work or own their house and there's nothing else stopping them from coming back but no luck.
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#8 of 23 Old 02-20-2015, 11:40 PM
 
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Maybe try talking to the rest of SD's family about encouraging the bio mom to consider coming back? Surely they all wish they would bring granddaughter/niece would live nearby, especially if there's no reason for them to be attached to that town 4 hrs away.
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#9 of 23 Old 02-21-2015, 12:33 AM
 
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Why was the Mom allowed to move so far? That seems too far.,
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#10 of 23 Old 02-21-2015, 10:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Maybe try talking to the rest of SD's family about encouraging the bio mom to consider coming back? Surely they all wish they would bring granddaughter/niece would live nearby, especially if there's no reason for them to be attached to that town 4 hrs away.
Ya maybe we can try that, we don't see them often but it's worth a shot.
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#11 of 23 Old 02-21-2015, 10:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Why was the Mom allowed to move so far? That seems too far.,
We had no choice in the matter. We didn't even know she was moving until it was too late and apparently the only thing we could have done is taken her to court before she moved and gotten a court order saying she couldn't go. But we only found out a couple days before she moved and we had no idea where she was going.
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#12 of 23 Old 02-21-2015, 07:47 PM
 
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You could have taken her to court after. Courts often award custody of the child back to the parent that stayed or force the other to move back. I am sorry you are stuck in this situation.

It sounds like it's the Mom that needs help to be a better parent. That's unlikely to happen though.

I would be tempted to stop allowing changes to his weekends and work hard to make them amazing weekends for her. His relationship with her is more important that whatever the Mom is creating to interrupt your weekends.
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#13 of 23 Old 02-22-2015, 01:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ty. We are trying to make the most of our time but sometimes it's hard to do something amazing every time and if the mother finds our any of our plans before hand she makes sure to do it first. We tried planning a special trip to the aquarium but the mother found out and took her first. Or if we do do something that she really enjoys the mother has to top it. It's also becoming very expensive and with all the lawyer fees and stuff, most of our money goes to that so we can't afford quite as good of stuff.
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#14 of 23 Old 02-22-2015, 07:03 AM
 
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I wasn't necessarily thinking of paid things. Time to really connect and talk and play is so important. It's that she will remember and will help build things up.

I can't imagine how hard this must be. It must feel like you are both constantly fighting to maintain a relationship with her.
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#15 of 23 Old 02-22-2015, 01:03 PM
 
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I don't think it's a great idea to move there... what's to stop her from moving again?

There are lots of relatively cheap things that will leave an impression on kids... my daughter was baking with her step mom yesterday, which is one of her favourite activities.

Does her school have a website with a calendar posted? You could ask for visits to start a day early whenever she has a pro-d day. If you do end up going to court, that's a request I'd make for scheduling visits, that you get her for pro-d weekends.

For travelling, is there a bus that goes between the two cities? She's too young yet, but once she can travel alone it could extend the length of visits for her to bus it to you guys.

That's annoying when they try to sabotage your fun plans with the kids... we had mentioned to ours once that it would be pizza night when they got home, and my daughter was excited and told her dad about it early on in her visit with him. So my ex took the kids for pizza right before he dropped them off. It wasn't a coincidence, his usual way is for themt o be starving when we get them. Luckily, our son is 13 so in the 15 minutes it took them to get from the pizza place to our house, he was hungry again
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#16 of 23 Old 02-22-2015, 09:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ty for the responses and I'm sorry to hear you go thru it too.
We try to do simple yet fun stuff too. I used to make coloured pancakes on Sunday and put them into shapes or make smiley faces but the mother started doing that too. Or we'd make cupcakes, do special crafts and now our nighttime routine includes writing in our secret diaries, all of which she says her mom now does. We had gotten a family dog and she loves her so now her mom is getting her a dog, it seems no matter what we try to do, the mother will do. I guess the good thing is they obviously make her happy and she now gets them everywhere.
I'm not sure about a bus but I doubt the mother would allow it at any age. We're not even allowed to get other relatives to give her rides anywhere or get a babysitter or anything so I don't think she'd be allowed on a bus with a stranger driving. But maybe one day the mom will let go a bit of her control.
If our weekend falls on a long weekend we usually do get the extra time but the mother does complain and if it's Easter or anything she says it's different because it's a holiday and we're supposed to share holidays. We're supposed to get half of the holidays (Christmas, Spring, Summer)and even though it's court ordered she fights it and tries to say no. Last Christmas we were supposed to get 8 days, we got 16 hours instead. So, back to court we went. The court said again we are to get half, come summer break it was back to no again. So again, back to court. Nothing really happens, we spend thousands in court, they tell her she has to follow the court order, she agrees then when the time comes she fights it again.
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#17 of 23 Old 02-22-2015, 11:39 PM
 
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If she keeps that up it seems that sooner or later you two should get custody. She is actively attempting to alienate the father!

Can you ask for more clear dates for holiday division? Usually holiday weekends are alternated; one parent has the weekend in odd years and the other even etc. Having to create schedule from scratch with someone like her is too much and gives her too much power.

Her copying you gives you a weird power. You might have fun with that!
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#18 of 23 Old 02-23-2015, 06:54 AM
 
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How is she forcing your husband to not take all his time? What would happen if he shows up to get his daughter at the correct time and then doesn't return her until the correct time? I know it can be tricky and you don't want to stress out dsd, but it sounds like it might be time for your husband to stop giving in where ex is concerned. Your husband needs to at least prove that he is attempting to uphold the custody schedule before he takes his ex back to court-otherwise she will just say that he willingly gave up that time.

And I would definitely make sure it is your husband, and only your husband, who is enforcing the custody schedule! It's very likely that your being involved would escalate the situation-especially with the copying, it sounds like she is jealous of you guys.

As for the copying-take it as a compliment and then ignore it. Keep doing whatever special things dsd enjoys. She likely doesn't mind colored pancakes and fun games at both houses! I know it's annoying, but the need to one-up each other, or worse, just giving up because you don't like that mom copies you, is not going to be good for dsd in the long run.

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#19 of 23 Old 02-24-2015, 07:56 AM
 
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Why was the Mom allowed to move so far? That seems too far.,
In the US, non-felon adults have the right to move wherever they want. So, many courts see revoking child custody if a CP moves as an illegal punishment for exercising a legal right. Many times, the NCP has the burden of proving why moving is more detrimental to the child than being separated from the parent they're accustomed to living with.

Even though moving a child away from the NCP can be an integral part of parental alienation - and courts recognize this - actually keeping a CP from moving with the child can be difficult or impossible. Moving the child away without giving the NCP proper advance notice is even more characteristic of alienators. Nevertheless, once it happened, there may not have been much the dad could do besides wasting money asking the court to slap the mom on the wrist, after the fact. That's exactly how it was for my husband, with his ex wife. In the end, my husband got custody of his son - and the way his ex handled her move was cited as part of her overall pattern of alienation - but she had to do many more clearly egregious things, before the court considered revoking her custody.

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...We tried planning a special trip to the aquarium but the mother found out and took her first. Or if we do do something that she really enjoys the mother has to top it...
Unless and until the relationship with your SD improves, you should never tell her about your weekend plans. Let her be pleasantly surprised, even if it's something simple. If she's somewhat alienated, then building her up for a fun weekend won't actually excite her the way you hope; it will mostly give her mom a chance to find ways to stifle her enthusiasm.

If Mom copies or competes with you guys' activities, after the fact, that's a whole different dynamic. I'm sure it's frustrating. But remember that underneath it all, Mom is sending the message to her own daughter: "What your dad and step-mom do with you is actually so neat that I'm jealous."

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I don't think it's a great idea to move there... what's to stop her from moving again? Exactly. Especially if Mom and Step-Dad moved away from their own families, where they don't have jobs and can't afford a house...maybe their main motive for moving was to complicate the OP's husband being an involved parent.
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...I used to make coloured pancakes on Sunday and put them into shapes or make smiley faces but the mother started doing that too. Or we'd make cupcakes, do special crafts and now our nighttime routine includes writing in our secret diaries, all of which she says her mom now does. We had gotten a family dog and she loves her so now her mom is getting her a dog, it seems no matter what we try to do, the mother will do...

1) Your SD describes her activities with you guys so positively that Mom wants to copy them. Some step-kids always tell their moms they hated every minute of visiting Dad, no matter how fun Dad and his family tried to make it. She is interested in spending time with you guys!
2) This is an insecure mom, afraid her daughter will love/want her less, if she grows attached to you or your husband. Mom's not a simple, hateful monster. She thinks she's in competition with you and she's afraid of you.
---A) Possibly, you guys could make interactions with her smoother, by tending to her insecurity. Tell her positive things the daughter has said about her, or life at her house. Ask for a bit of advice from her, about what your SD likes - let her feel you and your husband are turning to her as the expert. It could backfire. But it might break down some of her defenses.
---B) If you find yourselves asking for a custody change, be very careful. If she already feels threatened by you making pancakes with her daughter, she may lose all control if she feels you're altogether trying to take her away.
3) It's also possible that Mom *doesn't* do all these things. Your SD might feel guilty when she enjoys things with you, like she's being disloyal to her mother. Telling you "Mom does that with me, too," may be an immature way of giving herself permission to enjoy the activity with you, by taking you down a peg: making you think you're not so special (at least, not more special than her mom).


...We're supposed to get half of the holidays (Christmas, Spring, Summer)and even though it's court ordered she fights it and tries to say no. Last Christmas we were supposed to get 8 days, we got 16 hours instead. So, back to court we went. The court said again we are to get half, come summer break it was back to no again. So again, back to court. Nothing really happens, we spend thousands in court, they tell her she has to follow the court order, she agrees then when the time comes she fights it again.

This kind of thing is what led to my husband getting custody. The ultimate argument was that Mom's refusal to honor the existing court orders kept the child from spending an appropriate amount of time with dad and *wasted the court's time*, forcing judges to keep re-hearing the same issues. No matter how many times a judge clarified what Mom was supposed to do, she kept not doing it or finding new excuses to keep doing the same things. Since Dad had no history of refusing to follow court orders - and could presumably be trusted to give Mom her court-ordered parenting time without problems - giving Dad custody would keep the family out of court and *save the court's time*.

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#20 of 23 Old 02-24-2015, 09:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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How is she forcing your husband to not take all his time? What would happen if he shows up to get his daughter at the correct time and then doesn't return her until the correct time? I know it can be tricky and you don't want to stress out dsd, but it sounds like it might be time for your husband to stop giving in where ex is concerned. Your husband needs to at least prove that he is attempting to uphold the custody schedule before he takes his ex back to court-otherwise she will just say that he willingly gave up that time.

And I would definitely make sure it is your husband, and only your husband, who is enforcing the custody schedule! It's very likely that your being involved would escalate the situation-especially with the copying, it sounds like she is jealous of you guys.

As for the copying-take it as a compliment and then ignore it. Keep doing whatever special things dsd enjoys. She likely doesn't mind colored pancakes and fun games at both houses! I know it's annoying, but the need to one-up each other, or worse, just giving up because you don't like that mom copies you, is not going to be good for dsd in the long run.
My husband and his ex don't get along at all so I was asked to be the mediator between the two if them. Whenever they see or talk to each other it turns nasty. She's called him names, told him he's nothing but a sperm donor, that he's just a pathetic little boy, that he's nothing to HER daughter and so on. Then of course when she starts calling him out he either gets mad or walks away.
One problem is we try very hard not to argue in front of any of the kids. One time we went to pick up my sd and we sat there over an hour arguing because the mother kept saying she didn't want her to go and that we were the "bad guys" for making her go and just kept going off to the daughter. She finally called her lawyer to see if she had to let us take her and when the lawyer said yes she tried convincing us to not follow thru and when we said no she just went off on the daughter again. The daughter started crying and said "my mom's right, you ARE the bad guys". Another time she threatened to call the cops and say that we kidnapped my sd. Other times she just shows up hours late to meet us or comes early and says she's taking her. That's why more often than we'd like we miss out on our time, sometimes it's just too hard to fight and we try our best not to fight in front of the daughter.
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#21 of 23 Old 02-25-2015, 11:23 AM
 
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In that case, I'd bring a third party as a witness to the pick ups and hope having a set of unfamiliar eyes there gives her pause. Do you have any friends or family that live in her town?

What are the police like in her town? If she is irate and making threats, that is a valid reason to call them. Some places they are very hands-off about this kind of thing though, so they may not be a help. If you do go that route, you'll need to bring along a copy of the court order.
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#22 of 23 Old 02-25-2015, 03:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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No, unfortunately we don't know anyone there. I have taken a friend with me before, it didn't go much better. It was when I was dropping her off and the mother tried to pick a fight so I tried to get in the car to leave and she wouldn't let me get in the car and was screaming at me, I tried to tell her we could talk about it in private and not in front of the kids which only made her more angry. She started calling me all sorts of names all the while I was just trying to get in the car to leave. I finally got the door shut and drove away, she kept yelling and chasing me as I left. It made my friend very uncomfortable and honestly, we thought it wouldn't go like that. And no one really wants to go for that long of a drive either. We've tried getting it court ordered that we do exchanges at either a police station or court house or something like that to prevent further incidents, we've also tried making it so a third party does the exchanges but she won't to agree to it and the judge basically said if she didn't agree then too bad. Sometimes the court system really bothers me.
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#23 of 23 Old 02-26-2015, 04:26 PM
 
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Yeah, it really bothers me too sometimes.
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