Ex neglecting kids! How do I stop it?(11 Posts)
Hello, this is my first post ever. My story may sound familiar, but there's a bit of a twist at the end. I'd really appreciate your opinions though!
2 years ago, my spouse of 5 years "L" walked out, abandoning me and our two kids, age 2 and 4. L has a bad temper, and increasingly emotionally abused me since we got married. L couldn't hold down a job, kept calling me home from my job to help with the kids, and pretty much ignored us when I was on my days off, so I effectively was single parenting! L couldn't cope with the kids. I tried everything I could to help, to make the family work for their sake.
Long story short, we got divorced on ground of unreasonable behaviour. L moved into a flat, while I'm the resident parent at the family home and my family help out with childcare while I return to work. Things have been working out, we even got to the stage where L is having them one night a week. The kids seem fine, we appear to be moving on.
However, last week I got a call from social services saying they've had reports of L neglecting the children in public, and has (known to be falsely) accusing me of abuse and showing people bruises they have (bruises which are normal, especially where the two often play fight!). I took advice from childcare professionals and also legal advice, and they said contact should remain for now, as we agreed that my judgement is that they are in no immediate danger and contact with the other parent is important. I don't know when I should take action! Should I tell L I won't tolerate this behaviour, possibly being exposed to more emotional abuse? Should I give an ultimatum or will that make things worse? L doesn't know I know this information. I have worked so hard to make this work for the kids, but L is just so vindictive and unstable. I am worried for them.
By the way, I am the father in this. L is their mother and my ex wife. Does this change your perception of the issue? I would love some practical and constructive advice, and generally appreciate your take on this situation.
When you say 'neglecting them in public ' what do you mean? I would probably stop all contact if my ex's parenting had been such that people felt a need to report to SS.
Difficult one, like Desmond asked what is classed as neglect ?
Also are your current arrangements through court?
What are social services saying? Are they taking it further? Have they said to carry on with contact? I think I would be guided by them.
The claim was that she was leaving them with strangers at a function while she was distracted with her phone, and also ignoring them when they tried to get her attention. The complaint also included that she was trying to convince everyone that I was being abusive.
The current arrangements are based on the original court order, but these based on supervised contact, court order was made this time last year. Over time I have gradually worked to extend trust to her by letting her have them unsupervised with certain conditions such as having contingency plans.
SS say they're making an enquiry. I don't know if I'll get to see the results of it, if they'll make recommendations, or if they'll leave it to me to make the decision. Haven't been through anything like this before. Either way I feel I'm damned if I do something or damned if I don't!
Leaving with strangers at a function is a funny one, if they were playing with other children and been entertained by another parent that would be OK?
But yes it's wrong that she is calling you abusive if you're not.
I would leave it in the hands of SS for now and not let on that you know, keep things to the court order
I would hardly say it's abuse, if I'm invited to a function and dc is playing then it's hardly a crime to check my phone or ignore occasionally as being a single dad I'm sure you can appreciate not jumping to every whim or murmur a child makes.
To be honest, it sounds like you are both trying to point score, to get one over each other, rather than consider the children's needs & basic human right, which is time with you both separately without vilifying the parent in charge - as it can't be easy for them & they will remember and make sense of it when older.
I think that is very unfair lollylou, the op has said he has worked to help ex have kids for unsupervised visits which is more than the court order allowed for. He also has said he doesn't feel kids are in immediate danger and is leaving contact as is. I don't know how you can decide he is point scoring? His emotionally abusive ex on the other hand is falsely accusing him of abuse of his kids. OP, what you've described as the complaint doesn't sound particularly neglectful but it all depends on context. Is she leaving 2 year old in care of younger kids not able to care properly for them, is she ignoring them when they are asking for food, drink ,needing to go to loo, is she getting sloshed while the kids wander around at an event with no one taking any responsibility for them, were they in danger of being able to access a road etc OR was it just that they were playing in a safe environment with someone else supervising? It does really depend on context as to whether or not you should be concerned. Can I ask why her visits ordered to be supervised? Is there any history of neglect that would worry you?
Hippomammy - yes possibly in retrospect.
I say that because social services and other agencies op involved, saw fit for the children to remain in unsupervised contact for the time being whilst enquiries are ongoing, as he himself said he didn't think they were in immediate danger.
As someone who works in this field it is easy to bandy the word abuse and neglect about. If a court had issued an order for supervised visits only for the mother, the op himself would have broken the law/ legal agreement himself by allowing them to go to her unsupervised which evolved to an overnight stay, therefore being neglectful by allowing them not only to visit but to stay overnight in an environment deemed unfit by a family court. - Or the family court saw fit at a later date to allow her unsupervised contact visits and an overnight, after being assessed on her supervised visits, by professionals which suggests that her parenting is fit for purpose.
I say point scoring because of the above paragraph (maybe I'm wrong) that is how it reads to me and if so the various agencies see these behaviours on a daily basis and will see through it, maybe it's just normal parental worry and concern. Either way social services will inform both parties of any outcome and future requirements - without an additional ultimatum having to being issued by him in the meantime.
Why tell her anything or give any ultimatum? How would that benefit the dc?
You believe the dc are in no immediate danger, have taken advice and decided to continue with the current contact arrangements for now. That seems reasonable.
Wait and see the results of the ss investigation. As pp said, they should inform you of the outcome. If they make any recommendations, follow them.
You do not have any control over the behaviour of your ex. All you can do is protect your dc and look out for their best interests.
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