So sad for my stepchildren!(23 Posts)
I know there is really nothing we can do about this but it is so upsetting to see and I am in the mood for a rant!!
My dsc are very damaged little kids. DP and his ex had the messiest nastiest divorce and only communicate by text or email.
DSD constantly complains of stomach pains (usually when she is told to do something/wants attention etc etc) Her Mum took her to the doctor who has apparently suggested she has IBS (I didn't even know kids could get this) and that it is stress related (she's 8), but nobody seems to want to find out why an 8 year old is this stressed. I think it is down to her poor diet. Her teeth are going brown and to date she has 4 fillings already .
DSS is 11 and poos himself quite regularly and wets the bed but nobody seems to think this is a problem except me and DP. He has loads of fillings too and is very overweight. All he wants to do is play on the PSP or watch DVDs, getting him off the sofa is a mission in itself!
They both arrive to us on Friday nights looking (and smelling) like they haven't washed all week, in dirty clothes. We give them both a bath and they put 'our' clothes on (no transfer of clothing/toys between houses is allowed) and we watch what they eat/drink and do what we can for them but it seems like a waste of time as they are only with us for a few days. We have them EOW.
On the plus side, their behaviour is really improving and DP is finally (mostly) parenting them and less 'Disneying' is going on. They are lovely kids and get on great with my boys.
He has mentioned all the above to his ex wife but he gets told to f* off and stop criticising / mind his own business. We have thought about mentioning it to the school but they have probably already noticed and this will cause almighty problems with his ex wife too.
They aren't being abused or seriously neglected (ie they are fed and clothed and seem like they are happy at home) but surely someone else must see that all isn't right. Mustn't they?
Well your dp sees it isn't right and isn't doing anything about it. Why is that?
It's hard, because you are doing the mothering and its all being undone. And hard for your sec because they come to realise the contrast and begin making comparisons.
No suggestions though. Dss was at his mums last weekend, homework not done, so massive panic Wednesday when he came to us, turned up tues and wed morning filthy. And he knows the difference.
Think in your shoes I'd contact the school, because they need someone fighting their corner. Will think about the soiling....
Mordecai - he feels his hands are tied because his ex is so unreasonable.
She won't speak to him face to face so all contact is via text or email or relayed via the dc. If he brings anything up about the dc she gets defensive and takes it as a criticism or personal attack and gets abusive. He tries so hard to word it so that it can't be taken that way but she seems to thrive on the drama of kicking off at him.
He actually said that if she didn't take DSD to the docs then he would take her himself as at one point she was hardly eating and we were quite worried about her as she is so tiny for her age. She grudgingly did so and told him its stress related IBS and she would grow out of it!!! Apparently we shouldn't be worried that DSD is underweight because DSS is
overweight 'OK' and she treats them the same!!!
His ex thinks I am 'posh' because DSD told her that I don't let them eat sweets or drink coke as it is bad for her teeth and she texted DP "tell your posh bitch to keep her f**ing nose out".
This is what we are up against!!!
I have no doubt that you are up against it as I am sure she is. But as judge Judy would say, he picked her and had babies with her so he has to step up and be a father!
I would like to give you some helpful advice but I will say first that I could be projecting my issues with my step mother so ignore if you wish!!
My parents had a horrific divorce and it scarred us all. It scarred my dad because while he was afraid to lose us, he didn't know how to parent us. It scarred my mum because she could only handle the rejection of divorce by lashing out at my dad. It scarred us as kids.
And when dad got someone new, it made it worse. Because we were in the midle of it. And my dad listened to the new woman who told him how unfit a parent my mother was because our clothes were shabby (he didn't pay for us) and because my sister started wetting herself when she was 13 but didn't tell people and she stunk. But my mum did what she could with what she had. She was human and made mistakes too. Dad and the new girl decided they were now better parents than my mother. It was a horrible time. It only ended when we became an age where we could see dad without her. I don't think you are entitled to form an opinion on her parenting or take credit for their improvement when you have them every other weekend.
I fully believe a child of 8 would have stress related Ibs. H have seen many stress illnesses in my work. I work with kids. The over eating, under eating, soiling, almost depressive nature of the children is common in divorce. Maybe no one is investigating the reasons because they know the reasons. A horrible divorce followed by two warring parents. And your DP is part of that too.
Lastly if it was me, and I thought my kids were mis treated or neglected I would raise hell to protect them from that. No excuses. None of this 'oh she will stop access'. That's what courts are for.
Also, as you know the best thing is an amiable relationship all sound. Hopefully one day you will achieve that. The passing of time or a new relationship can help. How long are they divorced?does she have someone new?
Go to the Dr - at least your DP and the kids should go. IBS and stress is likely in a child this young and being pulled apart emotionally with warring parents. And also speak about the soiling.
Your DP takes the kids to the dentist in future.
He had to step up now and help his kids out.
These are desperately unhappy kids. Have they someone to confide with, just to give them calming support - any kind relative or family friend? Poor kids.
I'm in a very similar position - my DSC are the subject of low level neglect and emotional abuse from their mum with whom they live, and have a number of associated medical conditions.
There is a lot more that your DP could be doing; my DP secured a contact order when his ex withheld contact and he has, on a number of occasions, sought medical treatment for his DCs independent of their mum - including youth counselling for DSS who has a range of anxiety related disorders.
He is actively involved in the school - despite their resistance - the school have a legal obligation to treat both parents equally, something that DPs solicitor had to remind them of by letter at one point!
I'm afraid I don't have any patience for men who claim that they can't do anything to protect their DCs from their Mums neglect/abuse, but are in fact, not trying to do so at all.
Mordecai - yes you are absolutely 100% projecting.
Our situation is entirely different from yours.
DP and his ex split 5 years ago. She left him when he found out about her year long affair with a so called friend of his. She now lives with him and his dc and they have one of their own too. All this happened literally overnight. One minute the dc lived with mum and dad, next she moved them in with him and his family and told them they weren't seeing their dad again and the NM was now their daddy. DP fought this and got a court order in place which she has never got over. She hates the fact that a court has overriden her decision and this has fuelled her hatred of DP.
DP has never missed a payment, he pays over what the CSA amount should be and he also buys all their clothes and toys to have at our house. There is no reason for them to be in dirty tatty hand me downs.
I absolutely do not think I am superior to her or a better parent and I would never criticise her to them. I respect that she is their mother and we all do things differently and all make mistakes along the way.
I do appreciate your advice though and I will suggest to him that he takes them to a doctor - does he have to take them to their own doctor or can he take them to our local one? Does he need her permission to do this? it will be difficult to do when he has them weekends only though.
Believe me he WANTS to step up and help them but we don't know the best way forward.
He can take them to the GP that they are registered with, and assuming that he has PR, can give consent to any treatment independent of his ex.
I would start with the school and set up a meeting with them.
Phone your Doctors surgery or go in and ask for advice on what you do about them seeing another Doctor. Or if you know their Dr's your DP makes an appointment and talks to the Doctor about the situation.
Just start getting the wheels in motion to help these kids.
Well as I say, I'm projecting so ignore away. He has pr, so there is no reason not to take them to doctor- dentist or see how they are doing in school. With all due respect to your DP, I think he needs to man up for the sake of his kids and he should be telling her, not asking, that he is going to the doctor etc. If she objected to that or made a fuss to that in the courts, how unreasonable would she look refusing heR children medical care.. they would laugh her out of court. I don't know about where you live but doctors often do late night appointments on Friday nights and dentists are usually open sat mornings. It doesn't sound like fun but it won't be every weekend.
The reason I ask how long they are divorced is because I was curious to know had enough time passed whereby the hatred had gone and they could sit and work out what's best for the kids. I guess it hasn't.
I can see why you would project though and I'm grateful for any advice at all.
Sadly I don't think they will ever get to the point where they can amicably discuss the dc. DP is willing to let bygones be bygones but his ex is so bitter. She acts as though he has wronged her by wanting his own children. In her mind, they are her possessions and she grudgingly lets him see them and so any chance she gets she uses them as weapons as they are his weak point and she knows how much he loves them.
He is similar to your dad in that he is afraid to lose them but finds it hard to parent them but he is learning and we will definitely make those appointments.
They are little people and deserve so much better than this
kaluki I really feel for you. It's so hard when all you can see is helpless kids who just want to be loved
I can also see that there is a risk, that by critiscising the mother, you will make life worse for the kids. the ExW might shout at the kids for showing her up etc...
I think you owe it to the kids to fight for them. And I know what you mean, feeling like there's little you can do when you only have them for a few days at a time, but it's still worthwhile. It sounds to me like you are doing a great job and at least those kids will know that you cared for them and made them feel safe, which counts for a lot.
Part of me thinks they aren't my kids therefore its not my problem, especially when she tells me to mind my own business and now they are better behaved maybe I should pick my battles but it is so hard to see them with problems that their mum won't and their dad feels he can't help them with.
I just discussed it with my sister and her opinion is that there are kids suffering far worse neglect than them and its all well and good taking them to the doctor but if their mum doesn't agree she will make it impossible to treat whatever it is thats wrong anyway, which I believe is mainly psychological. Same with the dentist - they have mouths full of filings but she won't change their diet.
If a Dr diagnoses a problem that requires treatment, and the DCs mum refuses that treatment, the Dr can (and probably will) file a child protection report.
That's what happened to DSS - he was diagnosed by his family Dr with anxiety and referred for counselling which his mum forbade DP to take him to. DP told the Dr that mum wasn't supportive, the Dr phoned mum, who refused to talk to him about it! The Dr filed a CP report, and arranged the appointments for DSS in school time so that DP could collect DSS and drop him back. DP was advised that he could seek a Specific Issue order in court if his ex continued to obstruct the treatment by keeping DSS off school those days.
Eventually, DPs ex realised that it was going to happen with or without her involvement and she reluctantly engaged with the counsellor, who did an excellent job of appeasing her!
Another time, DSD had 60 infected flea bites on her body - DP made an appt, picked her up from school and took her to the Drs for treatment and then asked the Dr (in front of DSD) to inform him if DSD didn't attend the f/u appt that was made.
Just because other DCs are worse off doesn't make this right - if your DH is prepared to just accept his DCs being neglected without doing everything he can to put it right, then what kind of Dad is he?
My DP knew that DSD would HATE him for taking her out of school to see a Dr against her mums wishes. That incident contributed to an 18 month estrangement between DP and his DD. But, DP had got treatment for his DD and just as importantly had shown his DD that her needs were more important to him than her mums threats. Even while estranged, DP stayed informed about medical care, schooling etc directly - as he has a right to do. Although DD rejected DP for a while to keep her mum happy, she is now realising that her Dad is the one who has consistently cared.
Hi Kaluki. Like notadisneymum, I'm in a similar situation. Like everyone says, your DP does have every right to take his kids to their registered doctor.
We had the same situation with my DSD (constipation, stomach pains, cavities - bad diet basically). BM claimed to have taken DSD to the docs and also claimed the doc had said there was nothing wrong. When my DH took his daughter the doctor told him that BM had never taken DSD at all. So absolutely, I'd encourage your DH to take her.
Furthermore my DH didn't believe his ex when she said the dentist had told her 4 cavities in a 5 year old had "nothing to do with diet" so he made his own private apt for DSD at our dentists and now he takes her to all her dental appointments. When BM realised DH was taking DSD, she stopped bothering at all. If the BM in your situation is as lazy and neglectful as you say she is, I would imagine she'd be happy for your DP to step in and handle the healthcare stuff.
My advice mirrors what everyone else has said. Get involved with the school, get more contact if you can. Be consistent, be firm. Do the 'right thing' by the SC regardless of whether they appreciate it / BM kicks off. Keep YOUR side of the street clean basically. There's nothing you can do about hers!
Sorry I should say, on the diet thing, we have SC about 12 nights a month so DH felt a bit helpless trying to improve their diet too. One thing he did was take over paying for school meals each day - that way we knew they weren't getting a sugar overload for lunch. Yes it costs but my DH figures it's money well spent. BM readily agreed because it's cheaper / easier for her anyway.
When SC are here we're strict, I cook proper meals each night and we sit around the table togther. They don't appreciate our strictness (!) but they do enjoy the mealtimes now because they don't get them at home and "what's for dinner" is one of the first things they ask when we pick them up from school.
It's not perfect but I do feel we make a significant difference to their overall diet albeit probably only 50% of the time.
Kaluki you sound very kind. I realise what I'm about to suggest is irrrelevant to the main problems but i was struck by what you said about dss being on the sofa. Could you encourage him to do something physically energetic on the weekends with you? A sports club maybe? Or, at the risk of being sent back to the 1950s, how about you all four going for walks in the nearest thing you have to countryside? Im not a sporty type myself, but it does seem that phys activity lifts children's (and adults!) mood and self-esteem, and fresh air is good for us!
Sorry, realise this is nothing to do with the more major probs, but maybe a small thing you and dp could do?
Bloody hell it's all hit the fan now!
DP made an appointment with the school for Friday. The school somehow sent a letter home with DSC confirming his appointment and so their mum now knows about it.
She is going apeshit!
I'm running for cover - she is one crazy woman when she's riled!!!!
Stay strong. Hopefully, she's creating a scene with the school, which your DP can use to his advantage.
My DP has discovered that school staff and other professionals are a lot more open with him if he doesn't draw attention to his ex's unreasonableness, and instead focuses on the DCs. I remember he asked DSS Headteacher for help supporting DSS at handovers. He said something along the lines of quite understandably, <DSS> mum gets very upset and tearful when I go to pick up <DSS>, and <DSS> also gets upset when he sees his mum crying. How can I help DSS in this situation?
As a result, it was the Headteacher who described DSS mums behaviour as inappropriate, and told him that his ex shouldn't be crying infront of DSS - rather than DP saying how dreadful his ex was, and it opened a lot of doors for him that might otherwise have been closed if he'd been openly critical of his ex.
I don't know what her problem is!
She seems to think he is undermining her as a parent or backstabbing her.
She has dragged DSD into it too, because she obviously gave the letter to her Mum instead of her dad by mistake and got a grilling about why Daddy wanted to go to the school. Poor little bugger - no wonder she is stressed!!
It has strengthened his resolve to go ahead and speak to the teachers, which is good but I did tell him to avoid slagging her off if he can and go at it from the angle you suggested.
Watch this space!!!
Sounds just like my DPs ex - she has come out with such gems as but I don't need you to be involved and her favourite why are you being so difficult? when DP displays any interest in his DCs lives
If its any consolation, it does get better. Eventually, DPs ex realised that she was better off keeping DP in the loop, because if she didn't, DP would go off and do his own thing anyway! It's taken years and she's still dictatorial and openly questions the purpose of the DCs seeing their Dad or him being involved in their life
When DP asked her what secondary school DSS should apply for next year she said "what's it got to do with you?" And she was deadly serious - it's like she resents him for being their dad!
She was planning to just apply without even telling DP!
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