Stepmum Advice needed re: Christmas

(34 Posts)
AliceinWonderhell Mon 11-Nov-13 12:05:29

My DH is waiting for a court date for an initial hearing following the DSC Mums application to discharge the contact order. It is expected to be the week before Xmas. DSS is currently refusing to come for court ordered contact but is happy to see DH at school and on trips/meals out.

I have absolutely no idea what to do/think/plan for Christmas. The plan (before the latest issues) was that DSS (10) would be with us for a few days before Xmas, and come back for New Year, along with my DD (12), and DSD (16) would spend some time with us during that period, too.

Now, I have no idea what is going to happen. My DD's Dad has asked that DD doesn't spend time with DSS until things have settled down again (to protect her from the repeated emotional rejection of the DSC refusing contact at the last minute and to avoid her being caught up in any more of DSS allegations) - and I have to say I agree with him. DH has agreed with that and made it clear to the DSC Mum that is the case. She isn't happy about that as she thinks he's putting my DD before his own DC's. DSS has been told that "I won't let him" be here when DD is - although the reality is that if he does come and stay while DD is here, I'll ask DD's Dad if she can spend a few extra days there. I don't want to mess her around though - she's got a schedule that works.

So, we might have no DC's, or DSC might suddenly decide they want to come after all, or they might expect DH to take them out - I have no clue. If it's just the two of us on Xmas Day, we'll have a very low-key christmas; we've not got any spare cash so wouldn't bother with a special meal or anything. But if the DSC suddenly decide to come, then I think we ought to do something to acknowledge Christmas - otherwise, it's going to make things worse, surely? And what if they decide they want to be here when DD is?

It would just be good to know - it's the only time I get off work all year (I'm self employed) and I don't really want to spend the week on tenderhooks, half expecting that call saying that DSD has had a row with her Mum and wants to come round, or DSS has decided he wants to see his Dad and will be distraught if he doesn't see him soon. I want to enjoy my time with DD, not be worrying if she'll be going to her Dads suddenly because the DSC want to be here. If DH refuses a visit/contact over Christmas, even if it asked for at the last minute, it will not look good in court - he's going to have to agree to see the DSC at their (or their Mums) behest.

I appreciate it's a crap situation for the DSC to be in - and I guess I should just put on my big-girls panties and accept that this is how things are - but I'm at the limit of my resilience after the last few weeks, and now I've got this hanging over Christmas, which I have been looking forward to for months cos frankly, I need a rest.

Kaluki Mon 11-Nov-13 12:37:29

I really don't know what to suggest but it does seem a bit mean that your DD could suddenly be shipped off to her dads at short notice on the whim of DSS/DSD doesn't it.
Surely you have a right to know so you can plan meals etc.
Why is your DH going along with this - its quite ridiculous to give a child that much power over a whole family.

AliceinWonderhell Mon 11-Nov-13 13:00:38

What's the alternative for DH Kaluki? I really can;t se how he can do anything else without jepardising DSS contact with him in the long term.

CaptainSweatPants Mon 11-Nov-13 13:05:56

I'd leave dd's plans as they are
She'll be fine if her step siblings do come as she's 12 & you'll be there
Why would you ship her off?
Make plans to have a lovely Xmas break & whoever comes the more the merrier

CaptainSweatPants Mon 11-Nov-13 13:07:15

Or maybe you could elaborate on what the 10 year ok'd dss allegations are against your dd ?

Petal02 Mon 11-Nov-13 13:15:09

Kaluki - that's an excellent post. Why on earth is one child being given the power to alter everyone's plans??

AliceinWonderhell Mon 11-Nov-13 13:27:32

captain DDs dad and I have agreed its best for DD if she's no longer exposed to her DSSibs dramas - We've had police and paramedics here for DSD at different times, and DSS has refused to see both his Mum and his Dad at different times because he is scared of them - we've had social services involved too.

If I disregard her Dads opinion, then I'm putting my own relationship with my DD at risk - her Dad could, and probably would, refuse to allow her to come here if I disregard the agreement we've reached. I'm trying to avoid having to move out and uproot her from her home but its looking like that might be the only option.

AliceinWonderhell Mon 11-Nov-13 13:40:06

I'm afraid "the more the merrier" is not a term that I can relate to.

The DSC's behaviour has created a great deal of upset, turmoil and distress in both their mums home and ours - we are constantly on tenderhooks waiting for the next issue to come up.

Kaluki Mon 11-Nov-13 13:42:27

I know it sounds harsh and it's easy for me to say but your DH should make a stand.
DSS is obviously not scared of his dad - he's using that as a ploy to get you all to do what he wants.
You, DH and DD should make your plans for Christmas and DSS and DSD should fit in around them. If they refuse then they miss seeing their dad.
If he doesn't do this now it will get worse and moving out will be your only option.

Kaluki Mon 11-Nov-13 13:44:16

And what message is it giving your dd to be sent away because DSS wants to visit. I agree you should keep them apart but surely it is her home and she shouldn't be shoved out at short notice to accommodate DSS.

catsmother Mon 11-Nov-13 13:52:15

I'm afraid I don't have any advice, I just wanted to express my sympathy for your situation. I have to admit I'm not a huge fan of Xmas as I associate it with various historical incidents and emotions, let alone the pressure and commercialism etc. but obviously have always tried to make an effort for the kids. However, this is made 10 times more difficult if you don't know what's happening - because, for example, either the ex and/or the stepchildren won't commit one way or another (or, depending what mood they're in, won't even speak to you - unless it's to demand presents of course) and your plans therefore have to remain up in the air until the very last minute. We have had several Xmases where we've literally been waiting until the 23rd or 24th before someone deigns to tell us what they're doing - and even then, we often don't get the whole picture re: pick up and drop back times etc. It's incredibly frustrating because, apart from being damn rude (I think that's been the objective in some years) like most people we're also trying to juggle the expectations of the wider family and are therefore also unavoidably keeping them dangling too, which I feel terrible about.

Many a time I've tried to say to DP that if we issue an invite months in advance, and don't hear anything back, that as it gets much closer to Xmas we should just say to the ex/stepkids that if we don't hear by such and such (more than reasonable) date, we shall assume they're not coming and look forward to seeing them asap in the New Year. That'd mean we could then be courteous ourselves towards other people who've kindly asked us to theirs and so on, work out budgets for food and travelling, sort time off work and the rest of it. But of course, DP is scared to issue such an ultimatum as apparently it would be seen as "unwelcoming" and therefore we have no "choice" but to sit here like lemons and let other people dictate. (I suppose my "choice" is to go ahead and make my own plans with my kids and family - but that could well provoke a very nasty atmosphere, so I'm kind of stuck really).

Now obviously, every family's different, and if you don't have an extended family to consider too, you may feel more relaxed about the stepkids just turning up whenever if you're not planning on travelling anywhere - but I do appreciate that even if that were the case, you want to know what's happening in advance so you can meal plan, make up beds and so on. It's about being able to get all that needs to be done sorted and "ticked off" in your head so you can properly relax. I TOTALLY get the self employed aspect to this as well. I've had ONE bloody day off all year and like you, Xmas is my only extended period off (wow, six blinking days off a year - and guess who'll be doing all the cooking, planning ?)

Though we no longer have the sort of difficulties you do (but have had in the past) I still have no idea when or if my stepchildren will be making an appearance this year. They've been asked, but are very non-committal right now and whilst I'm prepared to give it a little longer I think I shall have to ask DP to put his foot down a bit more nearer the time as I want to be able to work out what needs to be bought, and, also cement plans to see my own family (which can't easily be done with stepkids in tow due to car capacity, everyone living 100s of miles apart in different directions, ex's refusal to help with travel).

I do appreciate what you're saying about protecting DD if you are in the middle of fractured contact when, basically, you don't know what's happening and what may or may not happen in the future. Obviously, if DD has also been involved in allegations of some sort, this is going to make the situation more difficult. However, even if there were no allegations and it were "simply" a case of one or other stepchild refusing to come to your house for extended periods (we had this in the past - for months at a time, and then, eventually, years - ended up in court. What a farce - long story. Situation manipulated by teen - as in, will see dad for "special" days out, but won't come to house) then it can be extremely damaging to the resident children whose relationship with the "missing" kid(s) is obviously going to be affected if they just suddenly "vanish" one day. My child was a lot younger than yours when we had similar issues, and it was heartbreaking to see them assuming responsibility for the actions of 2 much older kids by asking if they'd done something wrong, or, if their elder siblings "didn't like them any more". However much you'd try to reassure them, they'd still keep asking why, if it wasn't something to do with them, did the older ones not want to see them ? I admit my blood boiled - however much sympathy you have for kids caught up in parental alienation (which was the root cause of our problem) your first instinct as a mother is to protect your own children, and more so, when they're much younger and more vulnerable. Like you, I was also very very wary when it came to the older ones "coming back" after a considerable absence, because I had no way of knowing if they'd turn up, and then disappear again, thus breaking my child's heart all over again. Unfortunately however, you can't insure against that - other than "speaking" to older children and seeking their reassurance it won't happen ...... and in the meantime, the younger child (in my case) just had to take their chances, which, though the objective side of my head knows is unavoidable, the subjective side rages about because I hate the fact my child has been dragged into an upsetting situation they have no hope of properly understanding (heck, as an adult, I won't ever completely understand it). Though at 12 your daughter is older than my child was, I still appreciate your worries - 12 isn't really old enough to understand this sort of thing either .... and they are still more than capable at that age, of feeling very hurt if, for example, an older sibling turns up - at a special time, like Xmas - everything seems "back to normal" and then they go off the radar again having got their presents.

So, as you can see, I don't have any answers, but I wanted to try and explain that I think I know where you're coming from and offer a bit of sympathy. If I had more money, I would have truly been tempted, on many Xmases, to gather up my kids and go abroad for the duration, just to avoid the stress of trying to organise Xmas - when your partner understandably wants to see all his kids - but where the ex is as obstructive and rude as she can possibly be about it all.

AliceinWonderhell Mon 11-Nov-13 14:18:53

cat It does help to know that I'm not alone - although I'm so sorry you're going through this too.

One of the most worrying things is that we don't know what DSS has alleged. On the one hand, he has told his mum he's scared, and his mum is saying that fear is increasing by the day and whatever it is that DH/me/DD has done is significant enough for DSS mum to apply to discharge the contact order (and consider having DHs PR removed all together). On the other hand, he is happy to spend time with DH alone when facilitated by the school and they went out for the morning together over the weekend.
But, whatever it is/was that he said is still there. It hasn't been dealt with, and will be the subject of the court hearings when they begin.

AliceinWonderhell Mon 11-Nov-13 14:48:15

DSS is obviously not scared of his dad - he's using that as a ploy to get you all to do what he wants.

I'm not sure he is, though. I think he wants whatever he thinks the parent that he is with at the time wants.
He's said that recently that one of the things he's scared of is DH encouraging him to think for himself. He has said that he believes that DH only does that to make his mums life difficult. And yet a few weeks earlier, he asked DH and I for help to ask his mum if he could do the very thing he is now saying he only did because his dad bullied him into it.

DSS mum has berated DH many times over the last few years for being awkward/difficult etc and she says that's why the DSC have rejected him. DH has asked her repeatedly what he should do differently, and she's always said the same thing "just be a Dad to them". I'm beginning to think that what she means by that is a DisneyDad and that there will be conflict all the while DH attempts to fulfil any kind of parental role.

catsmother Mon 11-Nov-13 14:52:49

That must be awful. In your shoes, I'd be imagining all sorts of things .... well, it could be anything couldn't it, and then of course you must be worried about what might happen next depending what these allegations are.

Having said that, what I don't understand is that if whatever-it-is is bad enough for ex to try to remove PR, then why would she still send SS to see his dad at all ?? Trying to rack my brains to think of anything which would be serious enough to warrant the legal action you described - yet which, at the same time, isn't serious enough to consider contact should be stopped - or supervised. It seems totally contradictory.

In a similar vein, if it were allegations of physical abuse or neglect, then surely by now, Social Services would have been involved ? It wouldn't have just been put on a shelf until court ?

Must be an awfully stressful limbo to be living in - and I can quite see why you're dreading Xmas with this hanging over you. Hardly puts you in the festive spirit does it ?

(As for me, our contact issues are now over, the older kids being that much more older now and no longer influenced as much by ex. Now, it's just a case of being rude (IMO) and not bothering to return calls - and clearly waiting (not just at Xmas) to see if they get a better offer when we invite them over, and what's more accepting "better offers" when they've already agreed to something .... which disappoints my youngest. We tend not to bother telling youngest they're coming now as they can't be relied upon to keep their word. Not ideal, but what can you do if neither parent impresses good manners on them ? This seems rather trivial though compared to your situation).

ElenorRigby Mon 11-Nov-13 15:31:20

have police or social services been involved?

Kaluki Mon 11-Nov-13 15:34:00

He sounds like a very messed up kid sad

AliceinWonderhell Mon 11-Nov-13 15:40:11

what I don't understand is that if whatever-it-is is bad enough for ex to try to remove PR, then why would she still send SS to see his dad at all ?? Trying to rack my brains to think of anything which would be serious enough to warrant the legal action you described - yet which, at the same time, isn't serious enough to consider contact should be stopped - or supervised. It seems totally contradictory.

Exactly! And that's my DDs dads quandary, too - on the one hand, there's clearly a significant issue for DSS mum to be given the legal advice she has, and yet on the other, she's happy for DSS to spend time alone with his Dad if that's what he wants. So is there a risk to DD or not? I asked DSS mum the direct question and she evaded it, telling me I had to do what I believed was right for DD and she wouldn't get involved in that.
The application to discharge is currently being reviewed by CAFCASS - if they have any Child Protection concerns these will be raised ASAP. We can only wait and see what happens next. Something has got to give though - I can't live my life from one drama to the next like this for another 8 years or more.

ElenorRigby Mon 11-Nov-13 15:45:49

How long have you been with your DP?

AliceinWonderhell Mon 11-Nov-13 15:52:45

elenor Yes - but not recently.

SS were involved when DSS said he was scared to go back to his Mums earlier this year; they established that mum had been violent with DSD during an argument and DSS had witnessed it. There was no long term involvement.
DSD has been arrested recently for petty crime - she begged the officers not to take her to Mums, so she turned up on our doorstep and a 'community resolution' outcome was agreed on the understanding that DH would be dealing with her. Unfortunately, DSD decided not to face the consequences DH put in place and instead told her mum about the arrest. She's been no-contact with DH since then.

AliceinWonderhell Mon 11-Nov-13 15:54:24

Weve been together over 4 years, living together for just over 3; he spilt with his ex nearly 6 years ago.

Stepmooster Mon 11-Nov-13 15:55:05

Your DP needs to take charge of the situation. Otherwise you're going to have 3 children with 'issues' over the breakdown of his relationship with his ex and his children.

I cannot see how the ex is going to prove what she needs to prove in order to erase your DP from her childs life. Do you have a solicitor? What are they saying?

I think you need to make it clear to your DP what is going to happen at christmas regarding you and your DD. Do you have relatives/Grandparents you could spend the day with?

If you say to the ex you are away this xmas and DSS and DSD are welcome to come but you need to know by X date then if the deadline rumbles on its tough. Put it all in writing, prove to the court you are being reasonable about xmas.

You need to look after yourself and take that rest. If not for you then for your DD.

ElenorRigby Mon 11-Nov-13 16:12:52

I agree with stepmooster your DP needs to take the fight to the ex. The skids need protecting from this vile woman.

The ex struck DSD, DSS saw it and SS were involved???
She also has a long history of disrupting contact?

She could easily hang herself with this next court hearing.

As for your DD just protect from this situation as well as you can. Forget about Christmas for this year, this wont be sorted for months.

When my DSD's mother alleged DSD had witnessed me being beaten up by DP in front of DSD (then 7) and DD (then 2) for years and that DP tried to attack the girls as well but I stood between and took the beating for them, it took 6 months to resolve with 2 sets of police, 2 sets of SS and a think 10 family court hearings.
During that time I concentrated on protecting 2yo DD from what was going on.

Your case wont be as complicated especially as your DSD's fruit loop "mother" already has plenty of fruit loop form. She may well hang herself smile

Get yourself to FNF and get yourself a McKenzie friend, look after your DD support your DP and forget about /have a low key Christmas.

Good Luck!

Kaluki Mon 11-Nov-13 17:17:26

So he's been scared of his mum in the past too?
Do you really think he isn't playing his parents off against each other? Because that's the only explanation I can think of confused

AliceinWonderhell Mon 11-Nov-13 17:34:59

kaluki it doesn't matter if he is or not - if that's what he tells CAFCASS, and they believe him, then it's quite possible that the current contact order will be discharged and DSS will only see his Dad when he chooses to - always assuming DH goes along with it.
Is that really the best thing for a 10 year old?

ElenorRigby Mon 11-Nov-13 17:42:55

Alice why the hell do you think she will believed?
Did you read my post?

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