Uncooperative parent - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 11 Old 04-20-2015, 12:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Uncooperative parent

I have sole custody and financial responsibility of my teenage daughter in middle school. I've been remarried since she was 10, and we live two states away from my ex who has holiday and summer visits which my husband and I also pay for.

My ex is not making anything easy on us as parents and continues to undermine any rules we set for my daughter. For example, her grades started slipping and we had told her she needs to maintain a b average in order to keep her playstation. As soon as we took it away, my ex was emailing us angrily saying that he doesn't "condone" is taking things away from her for grades. We paid for the playstation, I don't feel he has the right to interfere with our rules. And then he tells my daughter good grades are for nerds and as long as she has c's she's passing and it's ok. Now his latest thing is that he's been telling my daughter that my husband and I are rich and we should be getting her an iPad. We are not rich, we both just have jobs and work for our money. My ex is in his 40s, no job, and lives with his mother. This is why we have been stuck paying for his visitations.

My ex doesn't parent. He ignores her except when he wants to play video games with her or his girlfriend is around. Then he just wants my daughter to think he's the fun parent and tells her we must be very boring because we both work. But we are also the ones taking her on vacations, doing things on the weekends and taking her to her social activities.

It's very frustrating why he contradicts everything we say. He seems to think that he has control in what goes on in our home as well. He harasses my husband repeatedly, and tells my daughter she doesn't have to listen to us. I feel like he's setting a dangerous precedent for the future with her because we want her to succeed in life, but with him telling her the opposite, that's not ok. She came home from her spring vacation visit with him and she kept lying to us about homework and school, telling us we had high standards and were being mean.

Anyone know how to handle this kind of thing? We have a policy to not talk to my daughter about her dad at all, which isn't working. Are we allowed to say his ideas are not okay?
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#2 of 11 Old 04-20-2015, 01:35 PM
 
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Stop paying for the visits. He will fade away.

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#3 of 11 Old 04-20-2015, 02:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Unfortunately, we can't. The way my divorce was handled was that because he didn't work or have any income, I would be responsible for making sure my daughter had a continued relationship with him. It does seem forced, and I know he would not be involved at all if not for us. Both my husband and I will probably end up back in court again over it too, which is not something I want.
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#4 of 11 Old 04-20-2015, 10:49 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nemo1980 View Post
...Are we allowed to say his ideas are not okay?
IMO, yes - very judiciously. Assuming she's capable of maintaining a B average, then it's in her best interest to be encouraged to do so. If her dad chooses to do something as selfish and short-sighted as to discourage her from working in school, in hopes she'll view him as the "cooler" parent, then it's his fault - not yours - if you tell your daughter what's wrong with his position.

On lesser things - where it's more of a difference in personalities and parenting styles - it's better to bite your tongue about her father. She will always have in her mind that he is part of her, so criticizing him more than necessary can tear at her self-esteem, even though that's the last thing you intend.

For example, someone (I though it was you?) commented on my post about spring break, describing how her ex insisted their daughter fly out to visit him as soon as school ended and not return until right before it resumed. With my husband being the custodial parent of a teen with an out-of-state mother, I get the frustration! Perhaps it is better, more considerate parenting to want to give a kid one night of fun with her friends on break, before she has to fly out of state; and to want her home in time to rest up before school. And if you have the power to choose her flights, maybe you must insist on the ones you think are best. But as far as addressing her father's opinions, it's best to say, "He must miss you and want every minute he can get with you. I don't blame him! You're a great kid."

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#5 of 11 Old 04-21-2015, 07:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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This is all fairly new to me, my ex wasn't involved at all until within the past 6 months because of his girlfriend. Her family kept inviting my daughter to their family stuff and he all of a sudden wanted to excercise his visitation again. We do want my daughter to have a relationship with her father, and at first we thought it was a good thing, but that has changed quickly. When she does see him, he's been leaving her at his mom's or his girlfriend is the one spending time with her. I've never met the girlfriend, and don't know anything about her.

The other issue we have been having is that my ex seems to think he has complete control over me and my husband. He doesn't understand that we are separate households and he can't tell us what to do. For example, last night, he called my daughter's cell during dinner. I told her after dinner was over she could return his call. He proceeded to text her "hello?????" Several times, and when she called him back was angry that we made her finish eating before jumping to answer his call. For his visit with my daughter this spring, he also demanded we send my daughter with money because he didn't have any. We refused because we already spent a lot on the travel expenses, and he blew up at us saying that he needed to make sure he was providing for his daughter while in his care. He also assumed for some reason that we would be paying for a hotel whenever he wants to come take a "vacation" where we live. He claimed that he gets seasonal depression and he would also be coming to see our daughter so we needed to pay for it. It's a lot of really strange things like this that occur. A lot of entitlement issues.

My husband and I limit our interactions with my ex to only need to know items, and try to set boundaries but it seems we are getting demanding emails from him at least every other week. We ignore 90% of these though, but then end up with threats of being taken back to court.

We are really just learning on how to deal with my ex for the most part without causing any issues for my daughter. Do most people also try to keep things separate? Like our home our rules sort of thing? Is it going to be a problem if we refuse to include him in our lives but keeping up with visitations for my daughter? I feel that we are divorced and we do not share the same values or morals at all, we really don't need to be friends to raise a successful child together.
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#6 of 11 Old 04-21-2015, 04:06 PM
 
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It sounds like you've got the right idea and he isn't respectful of boundaries and pretty clueless in general about what being a parent means. I agree with your house, your rules. I would mostly say "Thanks for your concern, the situationis being handled."

I've interferred a bit when the kids were with my ex, but only when it came to extreme circumstances. He provided them with alcohol when they were 8 and 10, for example... obviously I needed to speak up on that one! They complain about his old-school controlling 'clean your plate' at the table and that he forces them to have quiet time and read a lot... those things I don't discuss with him because his house, his rules.

My daughter was complaining about life at our house to my ex and I got a couple of emails from him. I just told her that if she wants things to be different here, she needs to talk to me. Not everything is up for debate but I'm always open to hearing her point of view. Her dad has no vote in how things go at this house because he doesn't live here. By all means vent to him to your hearts content, but don't expect a darn thing to change over here by talking to him over there.
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#7 of 11 Old 04-21-2015, 08:50 PM
 
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How is your daughter handling all of this? Is she falling for his "cool parent" act, or is she upset with his behavior? Has she talked to you about her dad's girlfriend, or does she shut you out? How to handle this really depends on how your daughter is responding.

It might be worth asking her if she wants to see a counselor to have an unbiased 3rd party to talk/vent to. This is probably a pretty confusing situation for her if her dad basically came out of the woodwork 6 months ago and is trying to control her life and win her favor.
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#8 of 11 Old 04-22-2015, 02:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It's been a little of both. I was very young when I had her, and I never really had a relationship with my ex. For a good portion of her life, it was just me and her and she remembers that, so sometimes my ex annoys her. But then, she's also a teenager, and has started to test her boundaries with me and my husband. So when the ex gives her reasons she doesn't have to listen to us, it causes problems.

She doesn't really know the girlfriend and the only thing she has said to us is that she feels bad for her. I guess my ex "borrows" her car a lot, and my daughter has said she's seen him take money out of her purse on several occasions.
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#9 of 11 Old 04-23-2015, 01:54 PM
 
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Follow the law, follow your agreement. But it is OK to say that you don't agree with the biofather. It is not OK to lead your daughter to reach conclusions about him. It is OK (and legal) to say that you disagree with his point of view and why. Not with his life's choices, or with his economic situation, or with his lifestyle, but with his attitudes and opinions. It would be worse for your daughter NOT to get your feedback. She will need it. A man who steals from the women in his life will not be welcome in hers for long. It's a pity but it's the only legal and responsible way for this sort of thing to get resolved. You need to watch out for the biofather to rope in the child with tales of woe and make her his codependent. I gave my opinion with the caveat that I consider the biofather as an adult, expecting him to be responsible for his own actions, no excuses & no codependency ("double standard" where dad gets a pass). Children wise up quickly and childhood isn't forever. I would bet that this problem will be in your collective past in the next few years.
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#10 of 11 Old 04-24-2015, 11:42 PM
 
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I lurk a bit here because of the valuable insight shared in some of these discussions that can also apply to single parenting (without blended family issues). I hope that's okay....

A man who help himself to his girlfriend's purse (assuming this is without asking), and who neglects his daughter, and makes court threats,etc. is clearly lacking in empathy/boundaries and very likely to be abusive to his girlfriend.....and he IS already emotionally abusive to his daughter (so it won't surprise me if there is a lot more going on there than is apparent). That dad sounds so mentally unstable. He could be abusing the girlfriend (exposing your daughter to family violence, which could warrant child protection involvement possibly). I would try to find a counsellor who deals with these situations, and can be a validating voice for your dd. The more credible third parties who are involved, the more tools she will have to combat her dad's crazymaking....and the more possibility that you might even be able to stop these visits altogether. It sounds like a very unhealthy situation over there.

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#11 of 11 Old 05-19-2015, 03:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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To be quite honest, yes, my ex was abusive to me in the very short time we were together. I did not want to get into that because the courts basically don't care, and I was told that it was my job to make sure my daughter has a relationship with her father. It was supposedly "in her best interest". For years, he only had supervised visitation with my daughter, but he chose not to use it for several years. Once the girlfriend came into the picture, he all of a sudden wanted to keep up with his visitations, and even wanted joint custody at one point. Because of the abuse with me, I was able to keep sole custody and move with my daughter to a different state. He has not been allowed to contact me directly in 6 years, and is not allowed near our home.

I honestly do not know what kind of relationship he has with the girlfriend, I've never met her. I don't know anyone that still associates with him either. I basically got divorced, moved away and never looked back.

It has been tough, because I have noticed that he will use my daughter to try and control me, and it makes me very upset, but the courts won't do anything about it. There's been many, many times where he's been a huge letdown to her as well. For example, he has never even gotten her so much as a card for her birthday. Just a few months ago, he apparently called my daughter's school to get a copy of her grades, but didn't even know what grade she was in or what her birth date was. He lies repeatedly to everyone, and my husband had to start recording all his conversations with him because of it.

Yes, it is a mess. I guess I'm trying to figure out how to best deal with it, and was hoping someone else has been in a similar situation. I'm looking for tactful ways of dealing with him that are the least obtrusive as possible.
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