What I am going to post is not going to be what you want to hear and it may not be accurate for your situation but please calm down and try to be patient.
My stepsons were 6 & 9 when I met their father. My husband and his ex share joint custody. His ex frequently changes the schedule due to her work, her desire to “party” and sometimes (I feel) just to stress everyone out. The only reason that my husband settled for joint custody is because that is what the children wanted.
Both children for the last 4 years have told horrible stories of how they have tried alcolhol at their mother’s because there was a shot glass sitting there…have tried smoking because she left her cigarrettes out. All sorts of things. They get no supervision and she yells at them all the time.
They have complained to her that we get mad at them for everything and that they don’t get to do anything. They tell her that I read all the time so I don’t pay attention to them.
They have been asked by both my husband and his ex at different times if they want this situiation to change. Both of them have said no. They have gotten angry with their mother for calling us and fussing over something that they told her. They don’t necessarily want anyone to fix the situation, but they want to make each parent look bad to the other.
The bottom line is that the children are taken care of, they are in no real danger. Your children taking baths together probably should stop in the very near future, but I do not see that there would be an issue yet. They are still children.
Your ex taking prescribed medication, as long as he’s not taking more than prescribed, is not illegal. If it was prescribed for him for any reason and is needed, you can not ask him not to take it while the children are there.
Drinking to exess and not being coherant, yes that would be cause for alarm. The children should contact you immediately and you could go pick them up. But as long as they know what to do in an emergency there’s not a lot that can be done legally, if your ex has a few drinks every day.
Of course the children love him. That is their father and they feel the same as they do for you. Maybe his parenting skills are not the best…there’s little that you can do. They want to vent to you. They want you to know that they love you more. AND they probably do the same thing to their father about you…
If you can not listen to them without wanting to fix the situation, and it upsets you and them when they tell you these things, maybe you should ask them not to tell you. Let them know that you are there for them but that when they call you and they are upset, your job as their mother is to fix it. If they are going to get angry at you for this then you would rather not know about it.
Children react to things by watching their parents react to things. They may not want to go into the store and pitch a fit everytime your ex has to stop for gas. There is little that he can do except lock the doors and keep and eye on the car. They may know that these fits would not be something that you would put up with so they don’t do it with you. They know that you expect them to go into the store. Maybe you buy them a treat when they do go in with you and their father doesn’t do that…
Unfortunately, children learn how to play parents against each other to get what they think they want. Watch them when they are with you. Make sure their grades are steady…keep an eye on their behavior for anything really out of the ordinary.
We noticed that my oldest stepson always gets upset and cries about his mother when he’s gotten into trouble for something at our house. He complains to my husband how rotten his mother is and we’ve figured out that though he may feel this way at times, it also takes the focus off what he got into trouble over.
The youngest tries to always point out that his older brother gets to do something so he should too. It’s been difficult to get him to understand that they are two separate people and that his older brother is going to be able to do things he can’t yet. He complains about staying with us to his mother, and we noticed that it’s normally when his grades are slipping (His mother does not think school is important).
If you and your ex get along well enough, maybe you should discuss some of these concerns and see if there really is an issue. If the children get upset, let them know that you are their parents and you are going to HAVE to discuss some things regardless of whether they want you involved or not.
I will keep you in my thoughts and hopefully, some of the others will have some input.