So Frustrated please help


#1

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.


#2
quote:
[i]Originally posted by stepmother[/i] .... 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 this the 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.

I agree 100%. Children DO watch the way their parents react to things and they are very skilled at getting their wants and needs met.

We are dealing with similar at our house right now. The child tells the mother how terrible it is to be at our place when he is with her. I think some of it is because he knows it’s what she wants to hear, and some of it is he knows it will manipulate her into getting whatever he wants. He tries the same when with us. And, like Stepmother’s situation, it does often seem to coincide when things aren’t going so well at one house or another. Because he is so skilled at this, both parents and the grandparents have poured more financial resources into this one child than the others combined, probably twice as much as the others combined. (The other children have similar manipulation techniques, but money isn’t necessarily the end goal with them.)

The comments he makes aren’t hearsay, per se, but they are often exaggerations or interpretations of events out of context.

It is also not the first time I’ve seen this. I dated a divorcee with an 11 year old several years ago who knew how to play both parents off of one another like Yo Yo Ma plays a cello. The parents competed heavily for the child’s affection and were so much focused on the “threat” of each other that neither noticed the very real problem of her retreating into the internet unsupervised until the police became involved (long after I was out of the picture and had already warned both parents about the potential problem).

Basically, you need to establish a united parental front. You got divorced, but that doesn’t mean that you are no longer a parental team. Listen, keep your reactions very neutral, and watch for changes in behaviour. Children do this not out of maliciousness, but simply because it’s what they are hard wired to do…get their needs/wants met. It’s just that the situation of divorce makes it easier to succeed, because the parents are commonly already at odds with each other and willing to believe what is being said.

FWIW, I tried the same thing as a child of divorce. Both my parents, but especially my father, supported the decisions and views of the other parent without question. I eventaully learned that it was ineffectual to attempt that kind of manipulation and stopped.


#3

Can you afford to take the children to see a therapist? if you can’t afford a PI you may want to consider seeing if you have a friend who could get some pictures of him caught in the act.

P.S. Please feel free to bring up this or any other topic on our live call-in show every Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. EST. Visit radio.rosen.com for details

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#4

I’m so frustrated, scared, worried, sad, disappointed that I can’t even write in full sentences - so here goes - ANY & ALL suggestions, advice, criticism & prayers are WELCOME!!!

Legal seperation ~2 years, custody agreement = joint w/ odd visitation sched
Both of us had great representation that worked well together, but we had a HORRIBLE judge
I no longer have representation due to no money
Ex has history of alcohol and Rx abuse and VERY BAD parenting skills and judgement
Children complain after each visit about things that happen while they are there. Fortunately, they still want to visit even when he’s “been bad” as they put it.

His bad parenting has varying levels of severity - mostly stupid/bad judgement, often dangerous to sometimes illegal.
A few examples:

Makes 8yr old son take a bath with 5yr old daughter. Doesn’t understand why I’ve asked him not to do this?!? Obviously not illegal but really bad practice.
Misses scheduled visits very often due to work - children get very sad when he calls to say he had to go out of town for work and will not be able to “visit” with them.
The custody agreement states that he will not drink or take his legally prescribed Rx when the children are with him - He does - no way for me to prove or enforce.
Leaves the children alone in the car if he goes into convenience store!!! I called the local police the last time this happened and they wouldn’t even make a report because it was hear say!!!

This is where my frustration comes in - everything the children tell me is hear say?!?! PLEASE help me understand. My children call me from his house scared, mad, or sad and there’s nothing I can do about it. The children love him and get mad at me when I try to advise/request/enforce common sense parenting practices.
I do not want to stop visitation with him by any means - however, I WANT MY CHILDREN SAFE IN HIS CARE!
I am physically sick with worry each time the children are with him. I feel like I’m hopeless - the last officer I called recommended a private investigator? Seems expensive and a gamble? Any ideas other than fervant prayer?