Dhs ex! Where to begin?

(41 Posts)
sadsong Mon 11-Feb-13 08:00:01

I've been with dh for 4 yrs and during that time we got married and had a little ds together. Which is the lovely part of our relationship. The not so lovely part is dh's ex partner. Dh has children with her and his previous step children, whom he is also dad to. The door has always been open to them and
although I can't say it's easy at times mostly we manage. Dss came to live with us 3 yrs ago as ex part couldn't cope with him. So he is difficult challenging but he
lives with us and sees his mum alternate weekends.

Dhs other biological dd still lives with her mum along with her half sisters and now another new brother. Dsd really is no bother at all in comparison to her brother. So we find it strange some of the things that go on. Dsd and my dd get on very well and share a room when in our house. Only a year apart, which us nice for my dd as she lives in a house full of brothers.

The problem is we think dsd is being a bit neglected with her mum. Although she does seem to have some expensive clothes (labelled ones) I would say 50% of the weekends she's come over she's been riddled with nits. Now that's fine to an extent as dh and I just comb through with nitty gritty and conditioner and alleviate the itch, but if course because they can sometimes be hopping mad the whole house has to be done. When it's so obvious, I don't know why her mother doesn't get on top of it. Poor dsd (who actually doesn't make a fuss) must be so uncomfortable. Dsd is now 12 and she says mums too busy and she does it herself. There are other things that concern us too. But this to be honest is really getting us down. Poor dsd it's not fair on her. If ex is questioned or reminded she just blows up at us. None of our business etc. We think the important things are being neglected but don't know what to do?

Suggestions welcome!

sadsong Mon 11-Feb-13 08:07:36

Sorry so long! Theres 4 yrs of angst all in a few paragraphs! sad

ohfunnyhoneyface Mon 11-Feb-13 08:09:55

Would she like to live with you full time?

In what other ways do you feel she is neglected?

sadsong Mon 11-Feb-13 08:18:24

Well not just dsd, but dss together. The focus is very much on the new son (he's 2 now) the whole house has to revolve around his routine. This means exs refusal to collect/deliver the children to or from our house/her house at all. So we have to do the journey every weekend, every time. Her refusal to have dss in holidays (he's 13). Dsd feels very put down by one of her older sisters (who is a brain box) and her mum doesn't sort it out properly. I think dsd self esteem is quite low. Also she gives her 14yr old dd alcohol to go to parked with. She's just had her Tongue pierced much to my dh's disapproval. But he's not her actual father so has had no say. Discipline just doesn't seem to be there. No focus on important things. Like spending time with all the children and caring about them equally. Also empty promises because she probably feels guilty. Basically all the typical things you'd expect absent fathers to do! Well she does that really.

sadsong Mon 11-Feb-13 08:26:15

Dsd would miss her friends which of course is a consideration as it would be a school/town change. But we wonder whether staying is doing her more harm than good. If not now we will try to enforce it at 16 when she goes to college.

There are so many concerns really. The newest of exs partners (she's had 3 live with her since I've known dh) has just been done for drunk driving. He's unofficially living there so she can claim extra benefits. Bu choice this isnt an ideal environment for anyone.

purpleroses Mon 11-Feb-13 09:14:42

If your main concern is the nits, treat them properly yourself. If she's got them badly, combing and conditioner won't really work (it doesn't work unless done very consistently for several weeks). Best to see a pharmacist who will prescribe you something that actually kills them. Then treat her, and treat her again after a fortnight.

The other things you describe seem like cause for a bit of concern, but not sufficient to force a move if her mum is resistant. You haven't really answered whether she wants to come and live with you. Has she mentioned it? If it would mean changing schools I think you might be better to do what you can to support her where she is for now, but have the door open to her if she wants to move at 16.

sadsong Mon 11-Feb-13 09:38:45

To be honest she's so easy going she wouldn't mind. But her mum would kick up a fuss we think mainly because she would loose money (tax credits, child benefit etc).

We have tried with treatments, hedrin mostly, but if her mum isn't combing between then there's little point. We see her every other week. This week wax particularly bad as she's not been to us for 3 weeks. She gets psoriasis too so it's important the combing is done regularly.

We are both worried her mum is setting a particularly bad example of what to expect from life and not getting the encouragement all children need and thrive with when they get.

purpleroses Mon 11-Feb-13 09:50:17

But at 12 years old surely she's old enough to be combing her own hair? Especially as the best way to get rid of nits is to comb it in the bath whilst full of conditioner - I wouldn't expect to be in the bathroom with my 12 year old helping them with that. Agree it would be good for her mum to remind her, but if she doesn't a 12 year old ought to be old enough to be told strictly by her dad that she must do this, and trusted to do it. She must be embarrassed by them at that age surely? You'd think that would make her want to get it sorted herself? Do ask your pharmacist what to use though - nits in some areas are reisistant to some products.

sadsong Mon 11-Feb-13 09:51:05

When dss came to live with us, she sent him in the clothes he stood up in. Not even a coat. I find it difficult to understand as I have children of my own and would never favour one over another. When another was born no one was neglected. It doesn't have to be like this, but you can't speak to ex about anything. When ds hit his head in the playground air ambulance situation, it took 4 days before we could get hold of her to tell her what had happened.

sadsong Mon 11-Feb-13 10:07:29

She has got long hair. It's lovely but tricky to do on your own effectively. My dd is 12 and although she does comb through herself I make sure she's done it properly. I'm not the nit police! Kids get nits that's common place, bur as parents you should help them. I've caught them from her in the past. But dh helps me as my hair is long. I'm 33 but nothing wrong with a but if help. wink

The nits is just one factor, it's that on the face of it her mum just can't be bothered.

ohfunnyhoneyface Mon 11-Feb-13 10:08:42

purple has given some excellent advice.

I would put as much in place as you can for her whilst she's at her mum's, I would be loathed to remove her unless she REALLY wanted to move, as school and town change can be a huge emotional upheaval and she'd have to be fully on board and committed to it.

sadsong Mon 11-Feb-13 10:18:02

Thankyou but I have done those things already. Have we just got to sit back and watch? Dss had to move schools and town but actually he is better off with us. Yes it was an upheaval but he wouldn't have got the consistency and support he needed from his mum that he does with us. She wouldn't be alone, she has my dd, my ds and her own brother would be at the same school. Of course I don't underestimate change is hard for children, (as clearly we've been through it with dss) but if it would give her a better life it has to be a consideration.

ohfunnyhoneyface Mon 11-Feb-13 10:30:22

But you haven't said she wants to move? Surely that's the most important thing?

If you're telling her to comb every day, why haven't the nits shifted?

Perhaps a hair cut is in order to make it easier? At 12 she is risking social isolation if you can't fix the nits. At secondary, nits are not viewed the same as in primary. Have you contacted the school about your concerns?

sadsong Mon 11-Feb-13 10:51:30

Children need reminding of all sorts of things, homework, nits, have a shower etc. We aren't her primary careers as she lives 30 miles away. She does do things for herself but is only in her first year of secondary. She isn't getting support at home. As much as we encourage we can't do very much on a daily basis from a distance. When dh calls her on the phone, no one answers. When he insists on important things ex has a go at him for being dictatorial. We actually can't win in this situation. It is very difficult. We haven't spoken to the current School no, although we did the previous one. They were under the impression that little attention was given to either of dh's children by their mother.

purpleroses Mon 11-Feb-13 10:53:47

My 9 year old has very long hair, but is quite capable of combing it herself. Best to put your efforts into changing what you can change (eg DSD's haircombing habits and the nit lotion you use) and not waste your efforts on what you can't (her mum's behaviour).

In terms of her mum being a bad role model, she'll be this regardless of where DSD mainly lives. Best you can do is to ensure that she sees better ways of living at your house.

You say she's "easygoing" about where she lives. It could be more that she's aware that others around her have strong views and doesn't want to cause arguments. My DSD is 12 and often fails to find her own voice over issues where she's aware her parents disagree. It's easier to go along with her mum than to cause an argument. She just doesn't have the confidence for that. In that situation I still think the kindest thing is to work on increasing her confidence, but to do all you can to reduce the conflict with her mum - taking her to court over residence (and probably losing - as you'd need stronger reasons that you suggest you have to change the status quo, with her settled at secondary school already) wouldn't really help things a lot.

purpleroses Mon 11-Feb-13 10:55:48

Does your DD have a computer or phone? Either would help your DP to have direct contact with her that don't rely on someone answering the house phone. I had a good friend in a similar position to your DP (concerns about ex's parenting ability) and he found skyping his DS to be a great way of making sure he was OK in the time when he was with his mum.

ohfunnyhoneyface Mon 11-Feb-13 10:55:52

Perhaps the school would be supportive in having a chat with her to cope with her nits- I can't imagine a 12 year old not being massively bothered by having nits? If her mum isn't helping, perhaps her form tutor could have a daily chat with her about how she's getting on with combing etc in a discreet way.

Also- hair cut? Has this not occurred to you? Could also stop the 'recatching' happening.

Does she have her own mobile? Could you not contact her on that?

Have you asked her about moving in with you? How would your dd feel? Have you asked her?

sadsong Mon 11-Feb-13 10:56:16

Surely if children aren't taught these fundamental things then it is a problem. Both dsd and dss can't flush a toilet? Dss has now finally got better at this since being with us. It's so frustrating for me as all these basic things I taught my dc from tots. It saddens me they haven't had the same care and nurture that mothers give their children.

purpleroses Mon 11-Feb-13 10:59:14

You really, really aren't going to get a court order for your DSD to live with you on the grounds that her mum doesn't make her flush the toiliet!

I realise you have other concerns too, but you'd need something much more major to convince a court to remove a 12 year old from her mum, her school and her home town against her mum's will (and doesn't sound from what you say that her mum would agree to her moving)

sadsong Mon 11-Feb-13 11:02:07

I'm sure she is bothered but she pretends not to be. I think it's become so common place for her now. She has had her hair shorter but it made no difference. She does have it cut regularly but her mums friend does it and isn't bothered about nits apparently. We've sent her home with combs, nit solution etc but if she has no support and no one bothered enough to enforce anything how will anything get better for her.

sadsong Mon 11-Feb-13 11:05:19

She does now have her own mobile yes, but doesn't always have it in her, battery life etc. I'm sure this will improve with time. As in a year or two it will probably be stuck to her fingers!

My dd would be fine about her living with us. Yes we've discussed it. They share a room now anyway. They actually get on very very well. We never forced a friendship on them but it's lovely that they are close.

sadsong Mon 11-Feb-13 11:27:36

Of course you couldn't get a court order for non flushing. And if that was the only concern then it would be simple. Its the long line of men that move in and then get kicked out, the lack of consistent parenting, favouring one child over another, false hopes and promises dashed. Ex wouldnt allow dsd to come on foreign holiday with us. Pure spitefulness and jealousy really. Don't know why you'd deprive your dd of a holiday??? Ex expecting everyone to run around after her, basic poor mothering. Not actually teaching them the fundamentals. The list is never ending. sad to watch at the side lines, when we know she would be better off with us. So no not just one thing but the whole picture togethersad

headinhands Mon 11-Feb-13 11:38:54

'hopping mad'? Headlice can't hop. Just go through her hair first thing and you won't need to do the whole family.

sadsong Mon 11-Feb-13 11:41:49

Headinhands I'm afraid they can if left for 3.5 weeks which is what had happened with poor dsd. They were huge and quite jumpy.

sadsong Mon 11-Feb-13 11:48:57

Her mother couldn't have possibly missed it unless she had her eyes closed. This is a consistent problem and yes we will have to get tougher with dsd to make sure she tries to do it herself but such a shame her mother can't support her.

headinhands Mon 11-Feb-13 11:54:44

Nope, doesn't matter how big they are, they can only walk and hence can only be transferred via head to head contact.

headinhands Mon 11-Feb-13 11:59:07

If they're jumping about they are not headlice. Are you sure they're headlice and not something else like rabbits?

sadsong Mon 11-Feb-13 12:02:26

Well this isn't just about nits, but on this occasion they were very large as well as the usual eggs. The large ones were crawling over her crown of her head and when I moved her hair slightly, maybe I caught it at a funny angle it did seem to jump. She really was infested this time poor thing. Her hair is very blonde so very obvious.

theredhen Mon 11-Feb-13 12:07:15

I agree her mother should be supporting dsd. I also think your dsd is probably quite behind in her development because of her mothers neglect. I'm sure the headlice are just one example of the neglect that's making you frustrated.

It's hard to understand why a mother doesn't appear to care that her 12 year old is riddled with headlice but I guess that's just a difference in parenting styles really. Same with the toilet flushing.

All you can do is make sure you teach her to be more grown up at your house and equip her with the skills she needs at her mothers. It shouldn't really be your job to teach her, but that's the joy of being a step parent sometimes. Having to step I when the resident parent can't be bothered. hmm

sadsong Mon 11-Feb-13 12:15:57

Thanks theredhen! Well we do insist on our rules in our house etc. She's a lovely kid, very easy going like her dad, but yes a bit immature. Bug then given the choice a lot of children would take the easy way out if no one noticed they hadn't/had done something. Perhaps I need to have a chat with her to see if there is anything we can do from a distance?

Fairy130389 Wed 13-Feb-13 11:50:55

I really really feel for you. There are definitely some paralells here with my dsd's mother but thankfully dsd has never lived with her (not since small baby anyway) I know that when she did, as a baby, she would be constantly filthy, ill, living with random men in and out all the time, strange dogs in the house constantly, being whisked off to stay in strangers houses sleeping just in the pushchair, bottles not sterilised (I could go on!) those things on their own might not seem like the end of the world but when they pile up like that you have to ask yourself how that would make a child feel...

I agree that it wouldn't be fair to move a 12 year old now unless it was something she was activeley pushing for, but can you increase your contact? every weekend for example? I don't know how far you live from them but it might help to take her out of the situation more regularly?

Otherwise, all you can do is remain consitent and care for her properly when she is with you, and try not to worry - easier said than done I know!!

ElenorRigby Wed 13-Feb-13 17:55:17

DSD's mother neglected her for years.

She had nine rotten teeth taken out under general anaesthetic at just 6.

She had niit infestations for years, we used to treat them all the time but the life cycle meant they always came back. We would treat them, mother wouldn't, so they were always managed rather than eradicated.
The worst of infestation came when DSD's mother stopped contact for months (she made false allegations against DP, went through social services, police and numerous family court hearings) When DSD returned to us her lice infestation was that bad, she had lice crawling over her face and scabs on her face from scratching. When she gave her granddad a hug she left lice crawling on his shirt.

She also got verrucas so bad they spread across the ball of one foot leaving it painful to walk. Again we treated them, her mother didn't. They eventually got so bad they had to be frozen off at the GP's.

A friend of DSD's mother (a nurse) ended her friendship with the mother telling us DSD was being neglected. DSD was being put to bed ridiculously early. No food in the house. Mum having a revolving door on her bedroom. Addicted to cocodamol and booze. Clothes that didn't fit, dirty, smelly etc.

We took advice and were told that there was no point raising concerns as it would be found mother was just stressed and doing the best she could.

OP at 12 nobody will bat an eyelid about the neglect your DSD is suffering, her mums doing the best she can don't you know!

All you can hope for is that she chooses to vote with her feet (courts give some weight children's views of where they want live beginning at 11ish).
You can facilitate that by telling she can move in whenever she wants and emphasising how much better life would be in your home.

Best of Luck.

I know through experience how horrid it is to see a child neglected whilst your hands are tied. sad

sadsong Wed 13-Feb-13 21:09:58

Fairy & elenor thankyou! I think you've hit the nail on the head with what we are up against. And yes nits have crawled down the side of poor dsds face. This has been going on since I've known dh. She was 7 when I first met her. After a day of doing craft with her I too was infested for the first time. I'd never caught them from my own dc before as never had they had it to the extent she gets it.

We've made some decisions this week about me going very part time and meaning I will be a sahm. We can afford it and i think it will make a calmer family life than currently it is.

squiddle Fri 15-Feb-13 09:01:54

My friends dscs were the same - nit infestation so bad she found them crawling in her bathroom. Mother would not treat and the teenage dscs just seemed to get used to it. The dscs used to remove clothes at the door, be treated and change - but all my friend and her dh could do was manage the situation. So sad. I would say your dsd would be much better off with you but you are unlikely to manage that. So yes you do have to stand by and watch. But you can make dsd's time with you stable and comforting and happy. Kids can cope better with difficult situations if they have trusted adults who acknowledge their difficulties even if they can't change them. You sound like an amazing sm.

squiddle Fri 15-Feb-13 09:03:01

And great if youcan go part-time and devote more time to the family - hard to manage everything with a fulltime job.

purpleroses Fri 15-Feb-13 11:22:05

You have DSD every two weeks. You really don't need to stand by and watch her suffer with nits. Go to the pharmacist with her and ask them what to treat them with. If the one you've used hasn't worked - this is quite likely because the nits are resistant. Something that works properly should kill all the nits, and then two weeks later you treat again, so the eggs that have hatched are then killed too. Buy her a nit comb to take back to her mum's, and some conditioner if she doesn't have some there. Instruct her on how to comb her hair every day - and tell her firmly that if she can't manage that then she will have to have her hair cut shorter. Text her to remind her.

There may be other areas of her mum's behaviour you can't do much about but this really isn't one to be washing your hands of - you have sufficient contact time to sort this one out.

sadsong Fri 15-Feb-13 13:43:12

Purple I don't think you quite understand how I and dh have tried. And I certainly haven't written her off and will continue to support her. We have tried a number of treatments at different intervals but IMO unless the combing is done in between visits it is more of a managing task. I actually don't think I can go all wicked step mother on her, dragging her to the pharmacy demanding they inspect it, tbh totally humiliating her. I think she would hate me If i did that. A few years ago she wouldn't let me comb her hair and would scream and haul. Now she let's me help and sees that it's important it gas to he done.

My problem really is with her horrible mother. That if we started making demands via text she would either ignore it or her mother would tell her to ignore anything I said.

We've have addressed it with her mother this week and she ignored the messages, phone calls and made her other older dd text back it's dsds job not ours. I've sent numerous combs home, conditioner and treatments. I expect her mother puts it in the bin.

ElenorRigby Fri 15-Feb-13 14:15:38

Sadsong and purpleroses unless they are continuly treated over a least 3 weeks but preferably longer it is a managing task due to the life cycle of critters. Expecting anything of a mother that doesn't give a damn is a futile waste of time.
DSD also never had her hair and nails cut under her mothers "care". DSD's mother even told DSD she didn't know where to buy nail clippers. So we sent nail clippers home with her numerous time to no effect, it made nooo difference.

purpleroses Fri 15-Feb-13 14:28:09

I thought it was a 2 week life cycle - so you kill the adults, and then 2 weeks later the ones that have hatched since are just getting old enough to breed, so you kill them again. We've found too that it's best to comb regularly too to get rid of them - but a 12 year old really ought to be able to start doing this herself. In the bath whilst coated in conditioner is the best time. Do go to the pharmacist and ask advice - you don't need to drag her with you if she'd hate it - but they really are able to tell you which types work in your area and this moment in time. The school nurse may also be able to tell you that (ours gives vouchers out too). Your DP can talk to her school and school nurse. He doesn't need to rely on her mum for that. It's miserable for them to have nits at any age, and a 12 year old risks being ostracised once her classmates notice.

Do appreciate that it's difficult if her mum won't help - and must be very frustrating as you would hope she would care about her own DD enough to do so sad

ivykaty44 Fri 15-Feb-13 14:29:33

olive oil for the nits and at 12 I would be expecting dd to de nit her own hair, she cuts her own nails as she doesn't like toehrs doing it -though I give her strict instructions never to do so after a bath and alway straight across

sadsong Fri 15-Feb-13 15:16:41

When she's with us of course we encourage nag dsd to do things for herself! wink but at home there's no enforcement. So dc that aren't shown from early on how to care about themselves and the importance of it face a different and harder battle. She simply isn't being nurtured at home hmm I dread to think how she's going to cope with periods!

Her mother buys her a designer jumper and considers that mothering. But actually other things are more important, but sdc dont seem to understand that. She's one of many in our house, but she fits in beautifully. Very laid back and just wants to be part of the family. She doesn't attention seek at all.

Dss who has lived with us for 3 yrs, still idolises his mum. Children do, dont they! Even though she's let him dreadfully.

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