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My children and their new stepmother

(36 Posts)
Sophilicious Fri 15-Jul-16 21:18:47

Looking for some wise advice on how to deal with this issue....
Background: me and XH are divorced and have been apart for 3 years, 3 DD's. I divorced him for EA. He has recently remarried and has step children and a toddler with his new wife.
My children have told me before that he asks them to call his wife 'mum' and they have said they don't like it, but feel they have to do as he asks so as not to upset him (by-product of our abusive marriage I guess, along with him being their dad). My youngest has recently referred to them as mum and dad when she has spent time with them and I have tried to gently ask if that's what she wants to call her and she just says she has to and is told to (she's 4).
Anyway long story sorry, he's just called them as he's been away and spoke on speaker saying 'me and mum have been to xxx' They kind of froze so I said you mean 'her name.' He told me to wind my neck in. They continued talking and finished. After the call he text me to say they chose to call her that and he respects that they refer to my DP as their other dad. I replied, not very calmly, stating that I knew that wasn't true, and also said I don't encourage them to call DP dad as he isn't.
I've since checked my DDs kindles as I regularly do, and there is an email sent after the text exchange, written from his wife, signed off 'love mum and dad'.
I want to email back (calmly this time!) explaining that I monitor their messages and that I do not feel she should, or they should, continue like this. And say if she can't, I'll block their emails until they can be more respectful. For balance, when DD's are with XH I have no way of contacting them at all as he won't allow phone or text or email contact.
Thank you for any help!

fryingtoday Fri 15-Jul-16 21:25:07

Hmm .. I think you need to nip this in the bud. Perhaps agree what she should be called? Usually first name I would have thought ... You are right to battle this - he is trying to stake out territory and failing to focus on what is right for your kids.

RosieandJim89 Fri 15-Jul-16 21:25:52

If they don't want to cal her mum they shouldn't and if your ex pushes it I would be suggesting that they reduce contact as he is bullying them.

ladylambkin Fri 15-Jul-16 21:36:17

You are their mum ..they won't love you any less just because they choose to call their stepmum mum. Remember also that children tell people what they think they want to hear so could be telling you one thing and their dad something else. Try not to make this an issue or make them feel uncomfortable. I think they froze because they knew your reaction would not be good.

Cosmo111 Fri 15-Jul-16 21:42:30

Sounds like they are looking for an arguement. Maybe speak to the DC explain that they don't have to be forced to call her mum.

Mycraneisfixed Fri 15-Jul-16 21:55:49

They have one mother and that's you. Weird of your ex to do this. Could you go to the solicitor who handled your access arrangements and get him/her to write a letter saying that while they like their stepmother they do not want to call her Mum. Nip it in the bud immediately. Make if formal. It does matter.

Shizzlestix Fri 15-Jul-16 22:01:16

Solicitor for sure, but also respond to her messages with what you said. It's not normal. Sounds like he's doing the ea thing on them via the children.

SandyY2K Fri 15-Jul-16 22:03:41

Do they actually have mobile phones and he won't allow their use when with him?

Or he just doesn't allow them to contact you?

How old is your oldest?

Sophilicious Fri 15-Jul-16 22:11:14

Wow thanks for all the replies.

I agree that it's weird and also think there is an element of bullying/control, now through the children as he cant do it to me any more.

We don't have a legal contact agreement, just what we have set up between ourselves. Would a solicitor deal with this in isolation?

SandyY2K they don't have mobiles yet; he doesn't allow any form of contact with me. Oldest is 9, middle is 7, youngest is 4.

I do worry about the telling me what I want to hear aspect, but they were most concerned about how I felt after he'd snapped at me on the phone. They know not to step out of line with him and think that still applies to me.

jayho Fri 15-Jul-16 22:13:30

Hmm, my ex's DP recently told my children that while they are in her house she is their mum.

She's been firmly told by family support that this is not appropriate and that while she may be 'in charge' or have 'her rules' she is not 'their mum'.

Sophilicious Fri 15-Jul-16 22:14:51

What kind of family support is that jayho?

Toffeelatteplease Fri 15-Jul-16 22:17:35

I'm not sure what you expect a solicitor to achieve. He just says they've chosen to call her that. a court will not support scaling back contact for that reason and you make the kids feel even more uncomfortable by making a fuss over it.

We had thus issue both ways. DC called the DP I lived with when they were young "Daddy name". I certainly didn't force them and he behaved like a dad to them. EX complained in court and court didn't bat an eyelid.

Ex had them call his wife Mum. I had complaints from DC that they didn't want to as she didn't act much like a mum and they felt disloyal. I told them I didn't care what they called their stepmum. DC breathed a sigh of relief and got in one less bit of trouble.

2-3 years on its irrelevant anyway as neither dad nor stepmum have contact.

Mum and Dad is just a name, Kids knew what it really means.

Sophilicious Fri 15-Jul-16 22:22:14

Thanks for that view Toffee. I have also said the same, whatever you want to call her is fine, but they don't want to. My middle one said a while ago that she calls her by her name and if she is pulled up on it then she will say that forgot. So it's definitely not a natural thing that has developed.
In the past although she has not done anything unkind towards them she isn't really interested in them, they've said it and I've observed it. In a rare moment of honesty my XH has also said it! I think they're just trying to force one big happy family. She has three children plus one with him so there's a lot going on. I worry about them being forced to fake a relationship that isn't there and I don't want them to be any more damaged than they already are.

Lookatyourwatchnow Fri 15-Jul-16 22:22:53

It's beyond inappropriate. But I think in this situation you are quite limited in what you can actually do to prevent the children feeling under pressure whilst having contact with their dad to use the term. He sounds a diamond, by the way confused

Sophilicious Fri 15-Jul-16 22:24:18

I know Look... my biggest regret has to be the choice of my children's father sad

jayho Fri 15-Jul-16 22:29:36

My children have a family support worker through educational/social services. My ex refuses to have any contact with me so she mediates. I've found her invaluable as the children see her in school and then she sees the parents separately so is able to communicate their wishes independently.

Izzy24 Fri 15-Jul-16 22:34:21

You could contact social services for support in addressing issues of emotional abuse since it seems your ex won't work with you on this.

Sophilicious Fri 15-Jul-16 22:34:56

Oh I see. That sounds really useful. Although school have been good with offering counselling services to the children they have not been very good at working with separated families. Just today they've come out with school reports, one child has two copies (1 for me 1 for dad) the other has only one copy!?!
I wish we didn't have to keep having issues but I think it will be going on for years to come yet confused

Sophilicious Fri 15-Jul-16 22:36:43

Thanks Izzy we did used to have a family support actually from a children's centre, I wonder if I could get in touch with them again, although I'm not sure they would be in a position to talk to him?

Toffeelatteplease Fri 15-Jul-16 22:39:43

Tbh I had no idea it was even a thing that they shouldn't until I read Mumsnet.

Yes it is totally about building the relationship by the name instead of promoting the relationship itself. But kids know that very quickly. I did put a stop to it when we broke up for a bit. Eventually My DD told me she will call him what she wants cos that how she feels about him. Nowadays he gets called whatever is most convenient at the time.

If you have a particular shit for an ex I'd choose your battles carefully. For me this wasn't one I needed to fight.

jayho Fri 15-Jul-16 22:42:33

try the children's centre, they'll point you in the right direction

bluecashmere Fri 15-Jul-16 22:47:27

How long do they stay with him with no phone contact with you? That doesn't sound fair on them or you. Maybe you need a formal agreement rather than one you've organised between yourselves, that puts the kids' needs and welfare at the centre of things and not what your ex wants.

Toffeelatteplease Fri 15-Jul-16 22:47:43

FWIW when we had social services involvement they didn't care about this at all. Although they weren't too good on emotional abuse full stop and the emotional abuse DC were taking was way in excess of the step mum mum thing.

They did manage to do something just when the abuse crossed over to physical.

smartyclogs Fri 15-Jul-16 22:59:44

This would make me really mad, uncomfortable and sad.
I think that this needs to be sorted out asap. What a horrible situation for you Dds.
Your Dp and your Ex's wife should be referred to by their first names.
End of.

Ps your ex sounds like a dick, he shouldn't stop you from contacting your Dc if you wish to do so.

springydaffs Sat 16-Jul-16 00:18:35

imo the 'mum' thing, though completely unacceptable, is the secondary issue here.

The key issue is that you can't have any contact with them when they're with him. I would get advice about that - and if I were in your shoes, I wouldn't let them go to him if you can't contact them while they're there.

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