step mums(24 Posts)
I'm feeling a bit stuck at the moment... I am very happily married and have two children of my own (6 & 9) from my previous marriage and two step children (7 & 8) whom stay with us thurs and sat night. we are all very happy and get on very well as a family unit. My husband ex wife and the mother of his children left him for a better life and took his children with her. After listening to how their marriage was going i can't say I blame her for doing so I get the impression that things starting falling apart when they had children she felt trapped, he didnt trust her anyway she now has a partner and a baby and we are married. For some reason though she just will not move on and is trying to cause problems for us. I think she thought that maybe leaving would shake him up and then if it didnt work out with the guy she left for she could use the kids card and come back. This didnt happen as 10 mths later he met me and we have been v happy ever since. My step children love coming to our house and we have a very good and loving relationship but she is making my life very hard by throwing in the 'parental responsibility' card at every opportunity. I am now not allowed to take them to the dentist, pick them up from school,drop them at her house etc. my stepchildren have told me and she has sent abusive txts telling me how I am taking her place and she won't be pushed out and that i am evil and trying to take them off her. We have different lifestyles she is career where as I am family my stepchildren used to go to childminders after school but then i picked them up and they had never had that and they enjoyed it. She seems so eaten up with jealousy and bitterness and its focused on me. I am trying to be understanding but i am not perfect and i am finding it hard. I have two children of my own and i am well aware that my stepchildren are not my children but i treat them all the same. as i can no longer pick my stepchildren up from school we have told her they cannot be picked up until 5.45 when their dad finishes work. She has now refused to let us see them at all that day even though they have stayed every thurs night for the past 3yrs. we cannot use a childminder without her permission (parental responsibility) nor have anyone else to pick them up. My children and step children are of course very upset about this as she has blamed me for all of it saying its my fault their dad doesnt want to see them. How do i stick up for myself without calling her a liar. they know and openly say she is jealous and a liar and that they cant wait to live with us. i dont want to get in to the whole she said he said or mess up their little heads any more but where do i draw the line. i don't want any of the kids thinking its ok to be treated in this way. I can feel it bubbling inside me and although both my husband and i have spoken about it and said just ignore it to both ourselves and the kids when do we stop ignoring and do something and what is it we do. i don't want them to grow up thinking her behaviour is ok and to just bury their heads in the sand. I seriously think she hasnt moved on a jot and could do with help but she would just go mental if the issue was even raised. I'm just starting to feel angry about it all now.....any ideas?
If your DH was married to his ex he has PR (parental responsibility) so she is talking crap there.
Status quo is everything in family courts, so ime your DP needs to get that thursday contact restored either by using the little stick of mediation or big stick of court.
Personally I would not have stepped on her toes by doing school runs, dental visits etc but what's done is done. She should have been more reasonable when your DH offered to pick them up later.
Either way it looks like the ex now has issues and she is trying to disrupt the kids relationship with their father. This needs to be nipped in the bud and your DH needs to be the one that's seen to do it. You need to be seen to take a back seat while a satisfactory arrangement is formalised either via mediation (which only works if the parties are being reasonable) or more likely via the courts.
Dont panic too much about the thought of going to court its not as terrifying as it sounds. Certainly it would be better to solve these things by discussion but if one party is dictating and will not compromise sadly the courts are the only recourse.
I'll show my DP this thread, he has been through the family courts and has shared residence for his DD. He volunteers helping parents stay in contact with their children after separation with the charity Families Need Fathers and he also helps parents as a lay legal representative (McKenzie friend) in court.
Hang in there and keep strong
thanks for replying ..its so hard cos my husband used to pick them up from school but his job changed and we didnt want them not coming so i did it (they go to an after school club the rest of the week until 6pm when their mother collects them) the dentist is the same one mine go to and she said she couldnt get the time of work so i took them. I thought i was helping and showing them that its ok to have two families to belong to and be loved by..I suppose that why its so hard being a stepmother you cant win you try and be a good one and treat them the same as your own and your stepping on toes ( no offence taken or meant) and if you treat them different your bad Phew!!!! I'm just happy that we are strong together and the kids can see it.....
I have been in a battle with my dh ex for the whole time we have been together (almost 8 years). She sabotages any time we all spend together, (me, DH, DD and step son) and after a family holiday when it was MY idea to take him along for the first time she went too far and now i refuse to see him at all, suits me as she cannot make allegations if we dont even see eahcother but its starting to affect our daughter now as she doesn't understand why i never go with them nannas for the weekends (contact weekend once a month)
sounds like a rather spiteful ex, sorry to hear about your situation.
elenor is right (she's my DP btw), you were doing things for the right reasons, but your partner's ex has done the psycho jealousy thing and is now abusing the children (in a form of emotional abuse) and playing around with their lives like this.
As your husband has PR he is an equal parent to the ex, she can no more dictate a parenting schedule than he can.
You need to get the overnight staying contact back to where it was before. IMHO a thurs + a sat night is a bit discontinuous. Why not a block of nights, it's a bit by-the-by now that the schedule has been unilaterally changed by the partners ex.
Another thought that came to me is that you are giving the ex ammunition by doing the school run/dentist etc - not that I am criticising you - but these really are things you partner should be doing. When parents separate, it's much harder for the dad to do the things that the mum might have done, but if he wishes to play a significant role, then he has to make the sacrifices and if that means taking time off to take the kids to the dentist he has to do it, if the kids need to go to an after-school club, then he needs to do it - otherwise you are just giving the ex more rocks to throw at you. Not that I'm saying it's right, it's not, but realistically on the ground this is the situation you are faced with.
Right, you need to get the contact back. He can either take control and do it himself - just pick up the kids and they stay o/n as per the normal schedule that has been in place for a long time (as he has PR and presumably there are no residence/contact orders in place, he is free to do this.)
or he can consult a family law solicitor (who will charge a lot of money and send a mealy mouthed letter to the ex who will then ignore it)
or you can suggest family mediation pronto to discuss the parenting arrangements, suggesting that if this is not agreeable then you feel you will no other option but to make an application to court (and I would apply for shared residency and a defined contact order whilst your at it). Sometimes a strongly worded letter as a shot across the bows does the trick.
Join your local branch of Families Need Fathers, or pop along and have a chat with the local branch organiser. If you can keep out of the courts so much the better, if not - well you have to decide if you are going to let the ex throw a hissy-fit and rule your lives any more than she is now. nobody has the right to dictate your life to you and this is what she is doing now, holding you to ransom - and more importantly, the kids. How do they feel now they are suddenly told they can't see dad and their extended family???? Not very child-centric that is it?
they are really upset and we had them in tears on weds because they missed being here we missed them and so did my children. She will not discuss anything with me present and my husband says that as we are all a family now, and she has a baby with her partner both i and her partner should be involved as the decisions made affect us all including the children. She is holding us to randsom with them and I feel really awfully guilty about it even though it was her who decided it. I don't know how some mothers can do this to their own children. I understand what you mean about me doing things giving her ammunition it just comes so natural and then I feel as though i am leaving them out. Its so one sided as her partner picks them up looks after them etc without a word from her. i'm not after PR nor her role as their mum I'm well secure in my role as a mum to my own but i don't think she is. I also think shes wondering why he has changed for me and didnt for them but surely thats a beef she should have with him. It just a shame that shes using her kids cos she is hurt. I don't feel so alone now thanks...... sorry if i've gone on
Don't worry chuck, you're not going on! That's why we're here - to help each other out eh?
... I think you're partner is being a bit naive in expecting everyone to get together and agree.
The children are your partners and his ex - IMHO only him and her should discuss the arrangements. As only they are both legally responsible as they have PR, then I would leave it to them. It will only add more fuel to the fire if you are present. Totally irrational I agree - but the ex IS being irrational.
So it's OK for her partner to do the collections and not you? I wonder why that is? Sauce for the goose some would say. It's pretty hypocritical of her wouldn't you say? ... but that is an argument for another day. Anyway, also remember that the ex's partner cannot be granted PR just because they may be married, he has to apply for PR and be given the permission by everyone with PR (i.e your partner) so don't believe any guff she may say on this matter.
... now, the kids are obviously upset by this unilateral change to the long standing parenting schedule. They are obviously used to the schedule and now it has been changed by the ex, without your partners consent or agreement, they are obviously confused and upset.
... so what are you going to do about it?
my thoughts are to immediately draft a quick letter to her something along the lines of
"Dear Mrs unreasonable
As you know, the parenting schedule for (children) has been XXX.
This parenting schedule has been in place for XXX time. I have notice that you have unilaterally tried to change the above parenting schedule, without any discussion or agreement from me. This is wholly inappropriate and has led to confusion and upset to (children) as they are, quite understandably, wondering why they cannot see dad/come and stay/ etc as per the normal schedule that has been in operation for XX time.
In the short and long term best interests of (children) I propose that the parenting schedule is re-instated immediately and that we attend Family Mediation to discuss any issues in a non-confrontational environment.
I have enquired at the local family mediation services (address below) and they are available at XXX times.
[insert local family mediation services address and telephone number here - find it using this URL: https://www.familymediationhelpline.co.uk/index.php)
If you have a solicitor could you supply me with their details so I can send a copy of this letter directly to them, however, I am hoping that we will not have to involve them.
I would appreciate confirmation within 14 days of receiving this letter that you are going to attend Mediation so we can discuss childcare arrangements in the short and long term, otherwise I feel that I would have other option but to make an application to Court
Mr Wonderful Dad"
.... this may have the desired effect. Of course it may start off world war 3.
but you have to decide whether you are prepared to have a bully dictate to you about the children - because that is what she is doing, she is being an aggressive emotional bully and using the children as a weapon. It's sick.
Look up and find out about the local family mediation services.
Read the Families Need Fathers website information (www.fnf.org.uk) - loads of info on shared parenting, mediation, court process (should you need it).
I do this to try and help you AVOID court later down the line, because it is emotionally and financially very very draining.
I was faced by an emotional bully who used my daugther as a weapon. She refused to attend mediation, refused to discuss child arrangements and wanted it all her way and me just there as a convenient babysitter/walking wallet despite there being a shared care arrangement in place which our daughter loved. She applied to court for a sole residence order, spent literally thousands (has no money now) on a wasted court action, I had to self-represent myself as couldn't afford solicitors, still skint now, and there is a shared residence order in place now (after cafcass said it would be be a suitable order in our case). FNF helped me out immensely and now I chair a local FNF branch helping other parents out too.
good luck, feel free to PM if you want a natter.
better still - get your partner to read this forum and post on here! He needs to face the situation head-on because it's not going to go away. bullies need to be tackled.
thanks that letter is fantastic!!! as thats the course we wanted to take. we really don't want to stoop to her level of all this. The only reason he doesnt want to speak to her is that what could be said in 5 mins takes an hr and a half and most of it is lies. He is indifferent in emotion to her because she lied to him left with someone else and took his kids. I think she knows that the kids see right through her, which is an awful thing to have to see at 7 and they constantly say can't wait to live with you dad, and is just trying to make us look bad to keep control. we have got a solicitor who told us it would be a waste of money to start court proceeding as in a few years they'll sort of be at an age when their feeling will be clear and they won't be just shut up with "cos I said so". She is an emotional bully to everyone. I feel sooo much better its great to know we're not alone even though I wouldnt wish it only any adult or child. I think i'm prob naive too cos I just expect everyone to have morals and understanding. i would never treat my ex husbands partner this way my kids think shes great and I'm just pleased that thay are happy....
Your partner has the same level of parental responsibility as his ex. You don't need to have parental responsibility to pick a kid up from school, loads of grannies and childminders do it. What you need is the permission of an adult with pr ie their dad, which you have got. When the kids are with you it is up to you and their dad who does what, in the same way that if she has a partner she can delegate tasks to him.
I do think visits to doctor and dentist should be done by the parent though.
I would go to court to get agreement sorted. The court will help clarify the fact that your husband can delegate tasks to you if he wishes. Don't let her get away with stopping access.
On the side of the mother though,, I do think agreements about children should be decided by their parents. Stepparents etc should not be involved in major decisions re access, schooling etc.
My husband doesn't get involved in decisions about my kids, and I don't get involved in decisions about his. Stepparents also don't go to parents evenings etc in our families.
Stepfamilies aren't the same as nuclear families and it's better for the kids if just the parents sort stuff out, although obviously the parents will bear in mind the effect of decisions they make about the kids on the new partner.
I think your husband is wrong here.
jojo - your solicitor is rubbish, think about sacking them. wait a few years whilts the emotional damage is going on? would you stand for that for physical abuse?
sack your solicitor, find one who is a Resolution member or consider going LIP. Most of the initial work you can do yourself - forms are a doddle and the initial court hearing partner could go LIP with a McKenzie friend (again, go to your local FNF group) or just employ a solicitor for the latter stages of any court action (i.e. attendance), you will save thousands but the court process ain't nice.
Is the ex on legal aid? I always found racking up their costs a good tactic.
Look into mediation asap, phone them up asap, get an appointment made, invite the ex and if it isn't going to look like mediation is a go-er make an application to court.
so if you have PR, if you are unhappy about things at the home and dont feel comfortable returning the child do you have a right to keep them with you until things have been sorted out? eg.School repot said step son had missed a LOT of school and when we asked him why he said "mummy told me to keep my mouth shut", my dh was furious as you can imagine and said he felt like keeping him with us and I am not sure how we stand with thta, We can't afford any more solicitors, we always end up with £hundreds bill and she gets it all free and laughs in our faces
If there is no residence order in place then any parent as long as they have PR are free to collect the children/drop them off from school - whatever.
You can NOT 'kidnap' your children if there is no residence order in favour - if she calls the plod.
You have to balance this up against upping the ante, it's probably better to try and discuss matters first, ideally at mediation.
If the child is missing school then I think it would be prudent to have a meeting with the headteacher to discuss matters and consider taking/collecting the child from school. After all their education is pretty important yes?
we cant because we live about 170 miles away, we have sent stamped addressed envelopes to the school and asked to be kept in formed of stuff, they never told us about him missing school we just recieved his end of term report in July and it said he had misses about ten weeks altogether which is terrible as she doesnt even go to work and lives a few yards from the school, we can't discuss it with her as soon as we try and discuss anything she just puts the phone down and threatens to stop us seeing him
yerblurt, i think we should pay you haha she has threatened us with the "kidnap" thing before but didnt go through with it money is the major issue here with her she can't get enough of it and tells the kids we don't give her any!
2rebecca I'm not sure if i've sorta phrased about all meeting together wrong. I agree that too, parents should make the decisions for the benefit of the child however she makes decisions to suit her and then either emotionally blackmails my husband into saying yes or goes on til his ears bleed! Myself and her partner were not going to be making the decisions it was to stop the oh i'll check that fits kind of thing on arrangements that affect us all. I have always been to their parent meetings because the dsd's asked me to and then we can discuss school etc. My husband is fully involved in decisions regarding my two and is a very positive role model. I know that stepfamilies are different but I have no trouble with my ex's wife carrying out any motherly duties for either of my children as long as they are happy. I think dsd's mother is insecure about working full time and being asked why she isnt doing things the way i do them. My dsd's have never been picked up from school by her they go to an after school club. I know i have shown them a different way but i have explained that women have different ways and some work some don't but neither is right or wrong and I'm not changing the way i'm a mother to stop her feeling insecure. All my sons friends mums are "much better and cooler than i am" but I wouldnt take that to heart nor do I when they say my ex's wife has done something better than me. I just say yes and get on with my day. i do fit in as a stepmother and i sit back when i have to but when i have two dsd's crying because of some nasty thing she has said or done where do you draw the line on doing nothing?
we have sent the letter which was hand delivered on friday afternoon. The girls came as normal and said they were not allowed to mention either their dad or me because we had sent her such a nasty letter she could'nt bear to discuss us ever again!!!! They asked if they could see the letter and my husband said yes and explained to them what it meant however they understood most of it. We have stated that we want a response by tues to get things back to normal so we shall wait and see what develops now. I personally think shes seen her arse about it. We have got all the kids their own diaries with keys so they can write down any thing thats bothering them, two were out last night so we'll see how that goes too. Thanks for all your help and responses...
IMHO it's not a good idea to involve the children in adult matters.
The ex is clearly wrong and not acting in a child-centric manner by discussing matters with the children. It's probably the only way that she can rationalise it to the children i.e. child "want to go to dads like I normally do", ex "no you can't , look here's a nasty letter, you're dads nasty etc etc"
You can't unfortunately control how or what the ex does in her own time and what she tells the kids, it isn't child-focused and it is a childish, nasty, potentially damaging tactic.
What you can do is reassure the children that mum and dad are trying to sort things out and you are doing the best that you can, but sometimes adults can't agree and you are trying to do the best.
Probably a good idea for the kids to have diaries - they can put their thoughts down rather than internalise matters, but the ex may read them!
I would follow up the letter (and I hope you're keeping copies of all of these letters as you may need them in future!)
"Dear Mrs Unreasonble
I notice that this weekend when (childrens names) came for their normal parenting time at our house, they seemed upset and confused.
From conversations with the children it appears that you have been discussing the contents of the letter (dated XXX) that I hand delivered to your home address on XX.
The children appear to be confused and upset as you appear to have asked them not to mention their father.
This is completely unacceptable behaviour and I would appreciate that any discussions regarding parenting are solely discussed between ourselves.
I of course, will do the same.
I look forward to hearing from you that this is agreeable and that you will be attending Family Mediation so we can discuss parenting matters in a constructive and non-confrontational manner.
Mr Wonderful Dad"
There is a danger that the ante is going to be upped and the ex is using such emotional leaning on the kids so that they feel divided loyalties. Have a look on tinternet for Parental Alienation, especially the work of professor lowenstein, for an idea of the spectrum of such behaviour. It is more widely known as badmouthing the other parent/undue influence etc. I would be aware of any behaviour changes in the kids and get this Mediation sorted out ASAP. Also, please contact the local chair of your families need fathers branch for a discussion.
If you want to email, please feel free;
doh, email addy is "firstname.lastname@example.org" , sorry!
Jojo I have replied to your post on the Am I being Unreasonable thread.
Please dont let the story of that dad upset you too much.
My DP is yerblurt, he can help you and your DP. He has helped many others. Its a passion for him now as he has seen first hand and lived through the family courts and the fallout.
He now finds great solace from helping others.
What has happened today, you said your ex has stopped contact on the other thread...
yeh she has on a tuesday. I've sent your super dp an email and I will update 2nite thanks to you both...it was just so bloody frustrating and hard yesterday....
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