Me and my partner of 3 years have two dc together, an 18 month old and a 12 week old. Yesterday a court order was made and DP's two older DC from previous relationship were moved in to our care, (lots of evidence of emotional abuse from their mother etc) they are 5 and 7.
5 year old seems absolutely fine so far and is happy but 7 year old finding it a bit more difficult, she thinks she isn't going to see her mam again and needs constant reassurance (there is to be no direct contact for around 3 weeks while they settle, only letters and pictures and then contact is to be supervised for her). Any advice? I've gone from having no children to 4 children in under 2 years! Scary X
I think you need to be consistent and honest, don't promise what she may not be able to deliver even if it may feel easier in the short term.
It will take a long time before they realise it's for their own good. Good luck, you've made a lot of changes in the last 3 years.
Oh the poor things!
At 7 she is old enough to understand that Mummy still loves her but because the judge has said they have to live with daddy he wants them to have time to settle and get used to it so mummy cannot see them for 3 weeks but that she can write to her mummy or email her and draw pictures/take photos to send her. I would probably also try and book the first contact visit now and right it on a calendar for her so that she can see how long she has to go.
It will be hard for her and her behaviour may be erratic for a while but try not to punish her too much. This poorly little thing needs lots of hugs!
Good luck you are doing an amazing thing!
OMGoodness, you have taken on a huge task! However, these 2 little girls are going to need some careful/caring handling, I agree, don't promise anything you may have doubts about being able to deliver.
If the mother proves to be unreliable regarding contact, I would keep their visits with her as special surprises....when you know for absolute sure they'll happen! I know that won't be very practical or easy, but imagine their disappointment if you tell them they're going to see mummy next *day, and she lets them down!
I think you and your DP, should sit down and plan your new lives, (if you haven't already) because this is a whole new ball game, and you both need to be on the same page as to how you're bringing them up...good luck!
It's not you who has taken them on, it is your partner, so the question should be what is HE doing to make the transition better for them. Poor kid, however bad her mum was, it sounds like she misses her greatly and is petrified she might never seen her again. That's awful and your partner should be dedicating all his time to give them the reassurance they need. You have two little ones to concentrate on, this is not a responsibility you should be taken on at this point.
Make the school aware of the situation - they can put extra support in place for your DSCs and will also be able to keep an eye on things. They are also a stable factor when everything else may feel in a state of flux.
When the Mum of my DSCs suddenly left them and they came to us full time I found I acquired little shadows every waking moment. They have an amazing relationship with my DH, but they just wanted to be with me all the time. I suspect it was because I'm a woman and they just needed the reassurance that there was still a female figure in their lives. So while I agree with PPs that it is for your DP to sort out, and is his responsibility, the DSCs may choose to involve you more. And frankly when you've got DSCs who've had their world ripped apart it's impossible not to want to scoop them up and hold them till it all goes away. It'll take time so accept all the help you can. Things were tough for the first three months till we got into a routine and they felt settled.
We also got a counsellor involved for one of the DSCs who found certain things really difficult - she was brilliant and gave us great ways to help the DSCs express their feelings which really helped.
We had a lot of issues with early contact - it was erratic and I wish we'd been able to manage it better. For some reason it took me ages to realise the nightmares one of the DSCs experienced were always straight after contact - so do watch out for a return to disturbed sleep and possible bedwetting. Widgin's point about not telling them about visits in advance(if she's unreliable) is good - while there will be some shock at seeing their Mum suddenly it's much easier to manage than the heartbreak of anticipating the visit, telling their friends, planning it and then it not happening. We quickly learned it was better for them to feel a bit blindsided by her sudden contact, than devastated she'd not be seeing them again.
Don't forget about your other two - they will be losing some of your attention, so try to get some one-on-one time with them.
And finally, look after yourself. It is tough, but it is also do-able! I went from one, to four in the space of a week. And I wish I'd realised just how much support I needed - so learn from my mistakes and get help from grandparents, aunts and uncles and friends.
It will get easier and better.
I agree Swing, it's not the OP's responsibility, it's the children's father's! But life being what it is, inevitably she will be drawn in....that's why both adults must be together on this, or it won't work!
I also agree with Sneez, the OP's own DC must not be sidelined, so it's a mammoth task, but if you take it on, you have to be prepared to pull together!.
Also I'd speak quietly to your own family and friends to find out how they want to play it...do they not particularly want to be involved with these children, or are they going to welcome them and treat them all the same! It's wise to be aware of these things beforehand!
I agree, it's not like OP can't ignore these poor children, but ultimately, it is her OH who should consider the impact it will have, make suggestions about the best way to deal with it, and provide comfort to his children.
If OP start taking over, taking all the initiatives, it won't be long until her OP start to rely on her for every decision making, and when she is exhausted from it all, that's when resentment will come in. A clear message from the beginning that he is responsible for his children will avoid later headaches hopefully.
Wow, that's a big thing to take on! Poor kids. Poor you!
First I'd sit down with DP and talk as honestly as you can, both of you, agree that this is going to be a bumpy ride. Does your DP really know how much even your two littliest ones are taking up of your time? Make sure early on that he and you know that this is a really big undertaking and one that may not work out - you can't feel trapped.
But if you really want to take it on, if there is no option at all at the moment not to, then get help very quick!
- Friends, family - set up as much other support as you get, afford or muster. Social services, can they be of help? Anyone. If anyone can provide regular child minding then do it!
- Sort out any practicalities, school runs etc - if your DP can get any flexibility at work then it is important that he takes time to do this - even some parental leave or reducing his hours. Do NOT take this all on yourself, you will break.
- Try to minimise anything else stressful in your life. Get home delivery shops. Get a mothers support group/see what is around locally. Don't wear yourself out cooking dinners 7 days a week. Get some really easy options some nights, like pizza.
- Get your partner to give you a complete break for at least a morning/afternoon every week. From all kids. For him to have any understanding of what 4 kids entails he needs to be left to cope by himself regularly. A day a week would be better!
As other posters have said, there may well be emotional fall outs, but the next few weeks are all about survival and adjustment. If you make this work you can be very proud! If it doesn't, then be just as proud that you tried but don't hesitate to find some other solution if it really is impossible.
I totally agree that ultimately, your DP is responsible for his own DC, and he must take that role on so you don't get overwhelmed. And yes, he should get as much help as possible from f&f.
Also, having read another thread where the poster looks after her DSC, but is not allowed to discipline them, I would advise a full and frank discussion with your DP about parenting roles!
Very good point about not announcing the visits Wdigin2this. Really used to upset me when I'd get dss fed, cleaned and dressed of a morning, waiting for the doorbell to ring and the minutes turned to hours and I'd get a text in the afternoon 'I just woke up' with not even an apology.
Same goes for presents and letters; I'm still waiting for a present that was apparently sent from Europe 2+ years ago by dss' bio mum. Apparently she paid €30 delivery but there's no receipt or code to track it... Like an idiot I believed that it was on its way at the time and told dss about it. Luckily he was ok about it but it's not the point, obviously!
Wishing you the very best of luck OP. Just be wary and keep your wits about you. Just when we thought bio mum was getting herself sorted out, she phoned dss a couple of years ago completely drunk and hurled some really hurtful, abusive, threatening comments at dss. My dh grabbed the phone as soon as he realised but the damage had been done, dss was in pieces. Again, we had thought we were doing the right thing by encouraging dss to speak to his bio mum but in our case, no never again. All info and updates after that came from the adults. Dss was 9 at the time and didn't sleep for days- he was nothing short of traumatised so people can judge me if they like but I genuinely don't care.
In our case, there were only 2/3 phone calls after the abusive one and the last one was over a year ago. Bio mum has said that she wants no more to do with dss and blocked my number on whatsapp so that I could not send her any more photos.
My word some kids have a lot of rejection to cope with, so sad.
Yes bananas I do think it's sad and now that he's getting older dss often comments on how 'cool' it is that dh and I met when he was so young.
We've never blanked out his past or shut the door to bio mum's family but over time they have just not wanted to know and our little family of 3 just became closer and closer.
I've told him that I would understand he had qs for bio mum and wanted to speak to her one day but he genuinely doesn't want to, understandably so, but if he changes his mind then I'll be ready and I'll support him.
late and OP you sound like good people, thank goodness there are people like you in the world.
Thanks for the replies, the first night was a bit emotional for everyone but since then neither have asked about their mum at all even though we encourage them to say whatever they feel and speak about whatever they want. They're settling in really well. They are fantastic children and seem a lot happier, they're brilliant with their little brothers, always trying to mother them. They follow me around the house constantly and seem to have taken to me really well which I'm pleased about. I hope everything goes well when they start having supervised contact, their mum turned up at the school yesterday morning at drop off time which she's not supposed to do, luckily the children didn't see her, why would she want to distress them further?!
OP good luck and I hope that their mum doesn't make a habit of confusing the chn
All the best!
Sounds like you're doing a fantastic job, OP, keep it up.
That's really sad, Crumpet. I hope she doesn't do it again.
It sounds like you're doing a marvellous job in a very stressful situation. Remember to take some time for yourself as well
I completely disagree with swingofthings. This is absolutely the dad's responsibility but it is very much the OP's too. They have taken joint custody of these children and the OP will obviously play a critical role in their lives. This is now a family of 2 parents and 4 children. It cannot work with any kind of split or separation.
Crumpet it sounds like you are doing an amazing job. Listen to them and help them talk about their feelings, this must be terribly difficult for them. I'm sure they will be just fine with you both.
You sound lovely.
Id love bomb . I'd make them feel very important and very much wanted. These two girls will really need building up as I bet they have really taken a knock emotionally for some time. Id be kind and as honest as I could be about the situation.
I wish my sm had touched me more. I can't remember a single time when she actually put her hand on me - even for a hug ect. I missed that about my mother. It kind of solidified the gap between me and my brothers and sm as they were tactile with each other. I think my SM didn't want to step on my mothers toes.
You do sound lovely OP. I second the sitting down and working out many of the little details with your DP as regardless of what previous posters have said, you inherently have a responsibility for these children while they are in your home and you must be on the same page.
I sometimes struggle with DSD (d) wanting Mummy (but I'll never be Mummy) and although we both know that we are figuring out how to be there for each other!
It's great that they love the little ones so much - even though it will be hard work for you, letting them join in/help with age appropriate tasks with the babies will strengthen their relationship as siblings and also feel part of the family. Best of luck and keep posting for advice - the suggestions I've received on this board have been invaluable
this is the honeymoon period ,op. when they feel secure enuf they will act up . Then you will know when you have done your job well? I agree with the pp who say set it up that the f does have sole care for at least 1 day a week, otherwise what you are doing will not be understood and appreciated. Re the mother turning up at the school, can this be reported and stopped, as it will cause disruption and distress.
Totally disagree with Swingofthings.
You sound like an amazing stepmum OP. Don't ever stop wanting the best for those little girls and despite the inevitable bumps in the road ahead, they are very lucky to have you central in their lives.
crumpetHead How are the DSC? Hope they have settled in well.
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