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Boundaries for the EX and Step Kids when your relationship with your Husband has ended

(103 Posts)
areyoustilltalking Fri 29-Aug-14 15:19:27

Hi All,

I am sure you remember my previous thread and tale of woe. Well as an update I am now heavily pregnant, and following some great support left my husband and have now petitioned for divorce. Myself and my STBXH get on fine, very amicable split. He lives with his parents, who I still have a decent relationship with. He doesn't have a set access rota for our children as he has to work shifts to enable a shift allowance he needs, so we work it out on an adhoc basis. I personally feel with contact its quality over quantity, so I'd rather he spend an afternoon where hes engaged with them, rather than pile them all off to the inlaws, where he isn't there all weekend.

If you have read my previous thread, you'll remember I did a lot for the SDs. They were quite upset when we split, as to be honest their mum and dad are quite useless. Ex was furious, she knew she would ultimately have to stop palming them off every five mins, going on holiday and not telling us until she was at the airport (fortnight here, three weeks there), and other incredibly irresponsible behaviour. I reassured the SDs it was nothing to do with them, they are welcome to come round if they want to, and I still love them but have a different kind of relationship with their father.

All was fine. Until the ex clicked that as STBXH is single, she would have to have her daughters more. Then it really hit the fan. She emailed me a contact schedule for me to have the girls when STBXH is at work. I don't mind them coming for tea to see their half siblings (my dcs) but Friday until Monday morning alternative weekends, when im heavily pregnant so she 'can still have a life) is not happening. So she told the girls I hate them, they are the reason for our split etc. Not impressed at all. t

She then insisted that my ex have them all weekend, and if hes at work, the inlaws watch them. Didn't go down well, but not my problem. However, she has no decreed, that he is not allowed to have her kids and mine together, as it is unreasonable for her daughters to share time with Dad. My Ex doesn't seem to have said no to this so I'm furious.

Then I had another email asking me what the girls would be receiving from the split. I emailed her back to ask her to clarify what the hell she meant. She said well they have suffered, they need compensating. I said all of the property of theirs, beds, clothing, tablets, toys etc was taken to my ex inlaws with their fathers and that is the end of it. Past that, its none of her business. I was then met with a suggested gift list for birthdays and Christmases for the girls, of over 300 each, as and I quote 'so we are clear what the expectations are with you and their siblings, and your responsibilities to them from the outset.'

I can't quite get over this, its absurd. I can't avoid this lunatic as she deliberately moved five doors down when myself and the ex were together. (She had been cheating on her partner at the time, was discovered, and her and the girls were thrown out so she had to find somewhere pronto) - why five doors down - well it made it easy for us (well me) pretty much do 80% of the care, including school runs where she wasn't out of bed until 11. She still expects me to take her kids to school, despite her not working.

I want to tell her in no uncertain terms where to shove it. However, these girls mean a lot to me, and I don't want them to feel rejected and unwanted. They will always be part of the family, but im sick of being taken advantage of, as I care for them, and that being used against me. STBXH keeps agreeing with me, telling me its out of order, but is yet to do anything about it.

What the hell do I do - how do I approach this, and what should I be doing, if anything now we have split. I know it is different family to family, but I don't know how to approach this. I just want to finish my pregnancy in peace, and re adjust to being a single mum, but don't want the girls to think I have rejected them, and hurt them over this. Boundaries are hard when you are a step mum, what about an ex step mum? The girls will always be around due to my kids, and where they live, what do I do. They keep turning up at my house unannounced as their mother has sent them over, its like nothing has changed since their dad was here.

GroupieGirl Fri 29-Aug-14 15:38:26

How old are they? Do they have their own phones? I know it must be very hard, but I'd be trying to minimise contact with ex's ex, and direct her to their father. Or speak directly with them if they're old enough to understand.

It's either that, or get really really busy!

areyoustilltalking Fri 29-Aug-14 15:47:53

They are 11 and nearly 14. They have phones, and do text a lot, but with them living on the same street, its difficult. I get no prior notice of them turning up, they are just there, so no excuses can be made. To be honest if we weren't in, or were going out (and I'd be expected to take them) they would end up at home by themselves. The 11 year old has suspected learning difficulties and is too much for her sister to handle alone, and it would be for hours. So I'd feel guilty and very responsible, especially as STBXH is at work, and the inlaws aren't always easy to get hold of.

FreeSpirit89 Fri 29-Aug-14 18:23:06

Sorry your going through this, it must be hard. Maybe sit down with the girls and explain that you are happy for them to come for tea maybe set a date once a week, or a for night?

That way you all know where you stand, they have a set date to look forward too.

Sorry no more advice

nefnaf Fri 29-Aug-14 19:53:34

gosh how horrible for you and your SD's. To be honest, I would consider contacting social services and letting them know what is being asked of you to request they do a needs assessment on their mum. She's being neglectful at best, and if you aren't in a position to continue caring and their dad won't or can't pick up the slack, then as a caring and responsible adult I'd feel that I needed to do something to ensure they were being looked after. It might be just the wake up call she and your ex need. You could always suggest that your ex do it if you don't feel comfortable, so that he is aware of just how ridiculous and serious it is.

I hope you get a peaceful end to your pregnancy and good luck being a single mum - it's tough I know. But you will be fine. x

Boomeranggirl Fri 29-Aug-14 19:56:00

I think you need to set very clear boundaries with the ex and stick to them no matter what, that way she will eventually get the message.

I would write the girls a letter inviting them round on a set day at a set time as you'd like to keep in contact with them but make it very clear that dropping round uninvited isn't an option anymore. You don't have to mean about it and would have to word it carefully, but you need to make it clear that the role that you previously had in their lives of taking them places has come to an end. You can end it in a lovely way by telling them how much you still care about them and how much you will enjoy seeing them when they come for the pre arranged visit. Get you ex husband to hand deliver it to them next time he sees them so you can be sure it's reached them.

Next time the ex wife emails you send her this:

I am no longer in a relationship with xxx and therefore will not be offering any more domestic services to xxx and xxx. I will be happy to see them for a pre arranged social visit as I would love to stay in contact with them. You should expect not to recieve any more domestic support from me as the answer to any requests will be no, so please plan accordingly. Any attempts to disregard this will be ignored. Please do not email me again as further emails will be deleted.

You must stick to your boundaries. The request for compensation etc should just be given a good stiff ignoring. If you keep saying no she will eventually get the message. If the girls turn up in your doorstep when not invited, phone in laws or ex husband at work, if unavailable you could as a last resort phone social services if you think they are being neglected. As much as you care for them they need regular support from their own parents and if they cant or won't do it SS should get involved to monitor the situation. You are not a substitute parent for them however sorry you feel for them. Plus you can't keep helping their useless parents in covering up neglect.

You sound lovely and deserve to get on with your own life in peace. Good luck.

AlpacaMyBags Fri 29-Aug-14 20:00:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

wheresthelight Fri 29-Aug-14 23:10:34

christ and i thought my Dp's ex was a nut job!!

i like the email that Boomerang has typed, but rather than telling her emails will be deleted I would consider putting that you will be forwarding any further emails directly to the police and your solicitor and starting proceedings for a harassment charge against her.

Definitely talk to the girls in person though and explain the situation and then disengage completely with their mother.

Ketchuphidestheburntbits Fri 29-Aug-14 23:24:41

Is there any chance you can move away from the area?

areyoustilltalking Sat 30-Aug-14 16:41:44

I've looked into moving but in all honesty its not possible. My financial situation is all up in the air, with maternity leave, the divorce, baby on the way etc. On top of that my children are a bit unsettled with all that is going on, whilst they are coping fantastically well I don't want to push them. The ex is rumoured to be looking for somewhere else, as I have always said she only moved herself onto our street to impose herself on us, and now STBXH has moved in with the inlaws, she is apparently looking to move by them. To be honest at the moment I think both my ex H and the ex in laws are e relieved there is someone around to pick up the slack and keep an eye on the girls. I know however, my Ex H's Ex wife has just received her divorce settlement from her previous partner, so is looking to buy. My inlaws live by a new build development, with shared ownership which would be perfect for her. I have secretly sent some brochures and info to her house, to edge her along. I know that is a bit wrong, but it will just look like a random posting, and hopefully will nudge her along.

The girls have been here all day. Since 7.30 am this morning. Their mum didnt come home last night and they wanted breakfast. In one respect I am relieved they had the sense to come here, and to be honest wish they would have done so last night. Other hand I am furious. I have called my STBXH, told him to get his arse round here now. He has finished work and come straight over. My Mum came over and I asked her to watch the kids in the house, and took our chat into my garage, on the pretext of sorting out boxes, so the kids weren't privy to my bitch fit meltdown

I have told him he either sorts his ex out, or I ring social services. The way thing stand the girls shouldnt with her, and seeing as I have had them every day this week, either morning or at night, including feeding them, he and her can get fucked if they think I'll be an unpaid childminder. I will have them when its convienient for me, not them. I have said, he has all his children, and not to keep mine away just because his girls are there. He has responsibilities to all his children, and if he doesnt start to treat them as equals, I'll stop contact. It is not on for him to spend all weekend with his girls, and two hours with our three nearly four, because his ex has decided SHE doesnt want them all spending time together. He puts his ex in his place, or things will get difficult.

He phoned her in front of me and asked her where the fuck she was. Said he had come to the house, and no one was in. She panicked and said the girls werent with her, and he then said they arent with me or my parents where are they? She said have you checked your ex's, he said why would they be there, she said she always has them - he again said why, and she went quiet, penny obviously dropped. He told her I am pregnant and not to be used for childcare, when she hardly sees the kids, not to leave them, and if she doesnt pull her finger out, he will be removing them from her care end of.

So a start. By this point I was an emotional hormonal mess and just cried. I said some things to him I perhaps shouldnt have. That marrying him was the worst thing I ever did, he has ruined my life, and made it hell. My pregnancies have all been stressful because of his stupid ex, and I have had to deal with endless shit for being with a bloke who doesn't give a shit about me or my kids, and when I finally face the shame and humiliation of divorcing him, nothing changes.

I wont even get into how I feel about him being at the birth, or his plans to bring all of his kids to the hospital to see the baby.

needaholidaynow Sat 30-Aug-14 17:21:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BigPigLittlePig Sat 30-Aug-14 17:21:37

I think what you said to be stbxh was quite restrained. I remember your previous thread(s).

Well done for sorting things out, I am so pleased to hear he has moved out.

I agree with what others have said, hard as it is to remove yourself from 2 girls you have cared for for so long. I think the idea of tea once a week is great, and will make it easier to say "no" when they appear at other times (provided the waste of space of a mother is at home, that is).

As for her Christmas present list. Well that just made me grin

Polonium Sat 30-Aug-14 23:59:33

They sound useless parents, both of them. sad

Those poor girls. They need love and support. I's no wonder they drift towards you as you are the only person in their lives offering them anything. You sound lovely.

I'm sorry I have no real advice. x

areyoustilltalking Sun 31-Aug-14 12:14:51

I am just fuming I have been put in this situation again, where I am being expected to parent them, even though there is no reason why their actual parents couldn't step up. Do they seriously think I don't have enough going on anyway? I feel a mug for trying to make this split as amicable as possible and for being considerate, when the needs of my children and me are the last thing to be considered, by anybody really.

My useless ex took his girls home yesterday and made sure his ex was there. Then took my kids out for dinner and ended up having them until this morning. First time for an over night at the in laws since he left (well I threw him out as he keeps pointing out). He was going on about how much he didnt want to end the marriage, how we could work things out - I said of course you didnt want to end it, life was made very easy for you and your stupid ex by me. If you had any notion of actually wanting to come back, you would be bending over backwards to show me how important I am to you, not how easy I make it for everyone. Instead you allow your ex to take the piss. Again. Point made as his face fell again and of he sculked.

What make me furious is I had years of 'you are not and never will be their mother' from his ex and him. 'You are just a person who lives with their dad', 'your kids arent their real brothers and sisters they are just half' 'You must be careful not to over step boundaries', 'It is not your place to discipline them in any way'. No I am just their taxi, cook, cleaner, nanny, counsellor, bank, teacher, personal shopper, and cleaner up of pee. And anything else related to parenting they couldnt be arsed with. Now I have ended my marriage as the demands being placed on me by his ex and his kids were intolerable and he is too cowardly and lazy to sort anything out, and yet here I am still being expected to sort them out.

It would be easier if I didnt care at all for them. But you dont spend years with children and be able to turn everything off. On top of the fact their mothers behaviour is at times dangerous, and if anything happened to them I would feel awful. But the more I intervene to in effect keep them safe, the worse his ex behaves, and leaves them etc. I have been text by eldest SD today to find out they have no school uniform, shoes, coats etc for tuesday. I know their existing uniform no longer fits, and the mother was meant to have purchased supplies but hasnt. I have had to text my ex at work and tell him. He phoned his ex, and she says she hasnt had time. WTF, six weeks and no time. He then phoned me and asked me if I would do it as hes at work and he will give me the money. I'm tempted to say no as again its covering up for her negligence, but I dont want the kids to go to school with poorly fitting uniform. I have said I would, but not to ask for favours like this again as the answer will be no. He said he has stopped her maintenance for this week to cover it. Again irrelevant to me, but at least he can see shes a nightmare.

I think I am going to have to talk to social services about her. I dont want to, as somehow it feels like I'm being sly, but this cant continue. I think my ex needs to re consider residency. His ex has not long phoned to see when I am taking the girls for their uniform, and I had a mini explosion. Told her to send them round now as it needs doing, and shes a selfish, unorganised idiot for it not being done already and she needs to sort her priorities out. She said 'dont give it the whole perfect parent shit to me, your marriage has failed and you want to preach at me, I would have done it this week at some point' - could have screamed. I replied with, 'when you have to rely on your EXH ex to sort your kids uniform out, as you are too lazy to get organised yourself then you know you've fucked up somewhere hey'. Then put the phone down. Havent even got time to order it online as im scared it wont be here in time for tuesday morning. Eldest ex SD has calmed down, as she was worried about having to go to school in a jumper that finishes half way down her arms, but again who is it that is sorting it out. I asked her why she didnt text her dad, she said he would have just text you anyway, well there is the problem hey.

I think me, my solicitor, and social services are going to have to have conversations this week. I've even joked I could not send them home and I doubt the ex would notice, but its starting to not be a joke anymore.

I could quite happily sit here and cry x

needaholidaynow Sun 31-Aug-14 12:45:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

areyoustilltalking Sun 31-Aug-14 13:26:52

I am starting to think it is more of a case of she has blown money on going out and useless shit and didnt have the money to buy it. As lets face it, how hard is it to buy online. If she would have told my ex this, he would have quite rightly questioned her as to where the child maintenance is etc. Her costs have been quite minimal this holiday, as they have been at my house a lot, and with my ex and ex in laws, so really no excuse.

I am lucky in that I have managed to get to the shop where the school jumpers are sold and obtain three (wash wear and spare) each. I rang the shop before and thankfully the lovely man put the sizes to one side. I paid for the purchases on my card, so if she tries to take them back she cant, as they require the actual card used. So it took one phone call and one trip of about 10 mins. Then took them to Clarks (five shops down) and had their feet measured. They are both at least two sizes bigger than the shoes they have on, and they were wrecked. I was embarrassed actually when the lady saw their shoes, and their socks had holes in, which yes I should have checked before we left, but stupidly assumed they would have decent pairs on. Purchased two pairs in less than 20 mins (with them being fitted and measured) as the shop was quiet. But my credit card has took a battering. Then due to lack of time my Mum went into George at Asda, whilst I was doing Clarks and purchased new socks, underwear, trousers, skirts, polo shirts, school bags and two new school coats, two pencil cases and stationery. Again done at break next speed, including dinner. (I have given her the money and am cooking dinner as a thank you). I am not long home, she is on her way back. Total damage - just short of 250 quid, and thats without PE kits. They need new trainers and new everyday shoes, but am hoping they wont have PE the week they get back so Ex will have time. I have offered to order trainers and track suits for PE online, on his credit card, he said yes, so will get that done later. That will push it up by at least another 130 quid I would have thought, as they insist on brand names, and are at the age where they would be bullied for non branded trainers etc.

Have kept all the receipts, ex is bringing me half the money today and half on friday. Which isnt too bad as Clarks and their school shop went on my credit card, so as long as it is Friday, so I'm not paying interest thats ok. Ex DSD text her mother to tell her it was sorted, and what she had, when she was told it was George at Asda, due to lack of time, she went 'what, could she not find Next, just as tight as ever'. The Police had amazing foresight not granting me a gun license. Have got the girls for dinner, to make sure they have one, and will probably have them overnight. My best friend is a mobile hairdresser, and is coming tomorrow to sort my mop out and my kids, and has agreed to do the girls too, as they need sorting out. She doesnt charge normally, but is charging my ex for the girls, 'as he gets enough help from you, without a freebie' - he agreed to cover it - shocked. So they will be showered and presentable for school.

Ex MIL text with a thank you for doing it (shes currently in Cornwall). Ex has also rang to say thank you, and was surprised it wasn't more expensive. I have told him he and his ex need to sit down and discuss the state of his girls clothes, shoes, socks etc and sort them out. Theres no excuse for them to be going about with holes in everything. And I am not a personal shopper.
He has asked to talk later when he drops the money off and the kids are in bed. I think I will outline my expectations going forward in regards to what he needs to do for the kids, and what I wont be doing anymore. Its getting to the point, I feel like not sending his girls home and having them here so I know they are looked after properly, but again, is that over stepping the mark.

Oh and I have exams for uni and two essays to get in, as I've had to re sit some modules with everything going on. Exams start tuesday. Want to curl up in a ball, and hide.

FunkyBoldRibena Sun 31-Aug-14 13:27:24

Hi. Stepmonster here.

Don't get the uniform. Tell them you have changed your mind.

The more you do the more they will expect you to do. Really. It is enabling them to do bugger all. Why can't he take them today? Why can't she? Because they both know that you will pick up the slack.

I do feel sorry for the girls but at some point you are going to have to step back and say 'no'.

FunkyBoldRibena Sun 31-Aug-14 13:28:52

Aah - too late.

You can tell them all you like, until you start saying 'no' - it really won't change.

needaholidaynow Sun 31-Aug-14 13:37:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AlpacaMyBags Sun 31-Aug-14 13:39:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

areyoustilltalking Sun 31-Aug-14 13:40:27

He was/still is at work to be fair to him, 12 hour shift pattern until Thursday and FIL is in hospital (MIL in Cornwall - dont ask) but you are right should have said no. But in the end I cant handle the girls going without or suffering etc. I need to start distancing myself from them and letting the proverbial hitting the fan, so they learn the consequences of their actions. But it will be the girls who get bullied for ill fitting uniform, holes in their stuff etc. I'm way too soft and they know it. I have even had a message from her mother (the sds maternal grandmother) saying it is only now she realises how much I did for them now we've split - and how she is scared for her granddaughters. Didnt reply but it says a lot.

I know I need a 'not my kids, not my problem' mantra, but its hard. I would never get into a relationship now with a man who has kids again after this.

Superworm Sun 31-Aug-14 13:43:17

Sounds like an utter nightmare and you sound lovely Op. I think it's great you love and care for them so much and it's wonderful they have you as a protective factor in their chaotic lives but unless you can keep this up 24/7, you need to let her fail as a mother so SS can do a proper assessment and implement a plan.

They are clearly both severely neglected and this needs to become clear so the children can receive the support they need. It is not good enough for any child to wake up hungry, alone and without food or not have proper fitting clothes and shoes but at the moment, it is your word against hers this happens.

I work with child protection and from experience, SS need hard evidence of neglect before they can intervene unfortunately. Some parents can be very manipulative and sly, and bullshit you and it sounds like she may be one of those.

Turning up at school without adequate uniform would raise concerns that can be documented, as would them being late, hungry or dirty. Concerns raised by schools or professionals carry more weight generally, as it's often too easy for parents to insist other informants have a vendetta against them.

I've not read your other threads but you really do need to speak with SS about this. Neglectful home environments are really damaging.

needaholidaynow Sun 31-Aug-14 13:46:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

areyoustilltalking Sun 31-Aug-14 14:02:14

Both schools raised concerns when I was still with my ex, and suggested he go for residence, as they could notice a difference between them coming to school from hers, and then from ours. I feel guilty in that I have enabled this to go on for so long. I see an immediate problem, hungry kids, no uniform, and see them upset, and automatically go and fix it. But it isnt fixing the core issue, which is their parents. My ex is actually a really good dad when hes there, and has support from my ex in laws and his extended family. I am not even saying I would withdraw support completely just not at the level im being expected to give it now. But he needs to be pro active. However, his failure to do this was a key factor in the breakdown of our marriage, so im not hopeful.

My concern would be, with his shift patterns and hours, if he went to court they would see it wouldnt be him doing the majority of the childcare, and she is unemployed so would deem her better as in theory shes at home. Statements from me would be looked at as biased due to our past relationship etc, so he needs to evidence gather.

My Mum has just seen the ex, sat in a pub garden, looking ten sheets to the wind, on her way back from Asda. Explains a lot. No money or time for uniform but time for that. Again my fault, if I hadnt of taken them, she wouldnt have time. But then again she would have either taken them, or left them at home. But again suppose could have reported her, but the Police would have ended up calling my ex, and they would have ended up here.

Practically, I get maintenance from my ex, if hes coming out of work to sort this out, he doesnt get paid, therefore where would maintenance come from. With a baby on the way need all the help I can get. But can see me having to re budget so his payments are a bonus, so if they stop im ok. Can see the ex and her bullshit affecting his work, just another way her selfishness impacts on my family. I am in a nightmare.

HansieLove Sun 31-Aug-14 14:17:40

What nerve that woman has, to complain you did not get supplies at a more expensive store.

I do wonder at why the girls insist on brand name trainers (that's sneakers, right?) when their shoes were two sizes too small.

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