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Main Forums => Visitation Issues => Topic started by: Missmel44 on Dec 13, 2007, 03:10:08 PM

Title: Help!!! VERY STICKY situation!!!
Post by: Missmel44 on Dec 13, 2007, 03:10:08 PM
Hello everyone, I am new on here so please bare with me !
Here is my situation, I am engaged to a very wonderful man, we both just graduated from college and he has a very succesfull career while I start work on my masters. 2 weeks before I met my fiance he had a one night stand, the woman thought that because they had sex they were "dating" he explained that he was not interested and she went on about her life as did he. In May 2007 we received a phone call saying that he was a father and he needed to man up because this woman had given birth in April to a baby boy. We thought it was a joke and brushed it off, then the text messages came, telling us again about the baby and what not. He still being confused asked this woman if rather than text messages could she call him and talk about this, she never called. SHE NEVER TOLD HIM SHE WAS PREGNANT!! 3 months go by and we are served with papers demanding he declare himself the father and start paying CS. Paternity was proven and we were happy to start paying CS and wanted to meet the baby. We hired a top lawyer to get us involved with the baby.

Here is where it all gets shady...We knew NOTHING about this woman, we knew her name that was it. She would not let the state give us her information so we could talk with her, we hired a private investigator who found that the address she listed in the court papers, is her aunts house, she does not even live there. The aunt gave us her cell phone number and we already knew she was living on welfare with the baby and her other child who was about to turn 2. My fiance called her to talk about all this and to see how the baby was doing, since up to this point she had not told us anything or even attempted to let us interact with the baby. When my fiance spoke with her she was very excited and said she really wanted him to be a part of the babys life, he then explained that he was getting married. From then on things hit the roof, she wont return our phone calls, bails on visitations, she told us the baby had an ear infection and his doctor said he could not travel, double checked with his doctor and they have not seen the baby in 6 months!!! So she is lying about everything. She wont sign the CS papers, the resedential schedule, she is living with her sister and her 3 kids and their mother in low income housing, a 2 bedroom apartment for 5 kids and 3 adults!!! The state has called and called trying to get her to sign the papers, but she wont come in or return the calls. They informed her they were placing her on Non Compliance and now my fiance and I are going to court to have the judge sign the papers so we can start seeing the baby. That threat did nothing to deter the mother, she still will not comply. We would like to have full custody, since we have a stable home, good jobs, nice income and so on. We want more than anything to give this baby a good home and love him. In addition the mothers story changes when we do get to talk to her, one week the baby was 18lbs and 18 inches, didnt eat any baby food and was drinking cows milk at 8 months. The next week he is 26 inches, hates peaches and ham and gravy baby food and god forbid no he is not on cows milk. She is always lying and now that we have to go to court it is going to cost an arm and a leg!!! I have never heard of a mother who is getting aid doing this, she will lose her money! Any suggestions from anyone would be great..and I am sorry this is so long, this is the condensed version too!

Title: RE: Help!!! VERY STICKY situation!!!
Post by: mistoffolees on Dec 14, 2007, 05:40:02 PM
Stick with your attorney and get the court to order something. It's obvious that you can't rely on what she tells you, so don't even try.

If she continues to let you see the child, file for a change in custody on the basis of her failing to do what's best for the child (such as letting the father see the child and not ensuring proper medical care). You may even have enough for that now.

One piece of advice. You stated at least once that 'my fiancee and I' are going to court. Sorry, but that's just plain wrong. This is between your fiancee and the BM. You have absolutely no standing. If you try to take part in the action, it's going to make your fiancee look bad in front of the court. The only way that you'd have any role is if you were adopting the child, but that doesn't happen unless the BM gives up parental rights  - which is not very likely to happen.
Title: RE: Help!!! VERY STICKY situation!!!
Post by: Missmel44 on Dec 16, 2007, 10:19:06 PM
Thank you so much for your advice on this topic, however I disagree with you in response that this is strictly between the BM and my fiancée. We were instructed to fight this together with myself taking part in all proceedings. It shows a united front and a willing and loving family wanting to give him a safe and happy home. We were even asked to elope, that way we are married now, yet still have our big wedding on the date already set. Because of my fiancée’s job, I am the one that talks with the lawyers, does the faxing, the searching and detecting and the crying due to the emotional toll this has taken.  I have been a part of this from day one, taking parenting classes, preparing a nursery, ect.  So if I were to have nothing to do with this action, it would appear that our home is no better than the life that the baby is currently chained to. We were finally able to meet the baby for the first time,  I was sweet and nice and initiated conversation with a woman who made it very clear that she was entitled to my fiancée and my life. I will continue to show my support and stand next to my fiancée and fight for this baby. If given the opportunity would you not want your child to get out of a poverty ridden life? Away from the constant coming and goings of random men in and out of their mother’s bed, I think you get my point. I am sure she is a good mother, but a woman who has a 3 month old baby home, is breastfeeding and goes out to a bar, becomes extremely intoxicated and thinks that it is okay to have sex with a total stranger, gets pregnant with a second child and in the process tells the man that she prefers no condoms and is on birth control, goes as far as to show him the package, is not the type of person I would want a child to learn life’s morals, standards and etiquette from. In addition, this woman and her ENTIRE family suck off the tit of the welfare system and frankly I think it is wrong and am aware of the life that is available to him in this household and want him to have access to it.
Title: RE: Help!!! VERY STICKY situation!!!
Post by: mistoffolees on Dec 17, 2007, 11:05:03 AM
>Thank you so much for your advice on this topic, however I
>disagree with you in response that this is strictly between
>the BM and my fiancée.

Disagree all you want. Legally, a step-parent has no standing. If you get in front of the judge and start trying to throw your 2 cents worth in, the judge has every right to tell you to get lost.

You are, of course, entitled and expected to do what you can in the background to be supportive and make a good home. But you have no place in the legal proceedings because you are not the child's parent.
Title: RE: Help!!! VERY STICKY situation!!!
Post by: Missmel44 on Dec 17, 2007, 01:04:00 PM
Okay I am guessing there has been some major confusion here, where in my statement did I say, I was going to talk to the judge, I was going to plead our case? I didn’t, I know better than to open my mouth to a judge about a child that is not mine! I said "my fiancée and I are going to court", because we are! WE will be there, WE will be in the lawyer’s office together, I talk to the lawyer and I am the one that does all the work. HOWEVER when in court, I will sit politely and speak only when spoken too. I know my legal rights and I am well aware of what a judge will and will not say to me. I do have a degree in law and justice myself, and if I specialized in family law I would be doing this all myself, EVEN though it would be a huge conflict of interest. Not that it is any business of yours, I am the one that has to do all of this research and coordinating because of the sensitive nature of my fiancées job, there are no phone calls home during the day, there are no days off in the middle of the week for court hearings and so on, ect. Perhaps I am passionate about this case because the mother drank and did drugs well into her 2nd trimester with the baby. She smokes while holding him on her lap, the list goes on. But not one place in my post did I say "I" was talking to a judge, no no it says WE and if you and anyone have ever gone to a shopping a mall, and someone asked you what you did, I am a 100% sure you said " We went to the mall" , so please do not misconstrue my words. I wanted advice on the situation; it is not a very common one and wanted to inquire if others had heard of something like this before. Even with my law experience I could not find a thing. SO I am apologizing for your confusion, but your words sting and make a touchy situation all the more uncomfortable.
Title: Never mind!
Post by: cinb85 on Dec 17, 2007, 02:09:18 PM
Title: Hon...m
Post by: Giggles on Dec 17, 2007, 02:55:57 PM
Welcome to family court and I suggest you get some tougher skin because many things in "Family" law don't make sense.

You can have tons of proof that the BM is horrible, but to some judges it's a matter of a difference in parenting styles.  Many judges are biased toward women and will rule against a great father just cuz.

The "Family" system is seriously flawed and you have a long road ahead.  It's great that you and fiancee want to be in this childs life, just be prepared to accept the things that just don't makes logical sense or aren't fair!!!

In order for you to get that baby removed you will need some serious proof of her not doing what is in the best interest of the child.   You may think you can do that, but it's difficult to convince a judge of that!!  As long as the child has a roof over its head, food and clothing...even if it's horrible food and's a matter of parenting difference...see where I'm going here....

Good luck!!
Title: RE: Hon...m
Post by: Missmel44 on Dec 17, 2007, 05:31:13 PM
You are right this is a very long road and I thank you all for your  advice, I'm not here to argue, I really am here to learn from others. In regards to the " roof over its head" comment, that is just it, this woman and her children do not have a home, they float to random places, who ever will take them in for that night is where they will stay. I can see that judges dont make the best choices, but all that aside and I ask this next  question with all seriousness, what makes the mother the better choice, why does the judicial system always leave a child with its mother? I know she carried them in her womb and in some cases, there is the breastfeeding issue, but when you boil it all down, why mommy and not daddy? Oh and would it be an option to right into the parenting plan that at an appropriate age the child can choose where he wants to live?
Title: RE: Help!!! VERY STICKY situation!!!
Post by: mistoffolees on Dec 17, 2007, 10:19:14 PM
>Okay I am guessing there has been some major confusion here,
>where in my statement did I say, I was going to talk to the
>judge, I was going to plead our case?

For example, in your original post, you stated "We would like to have full custody".  Sorry, but 'we' (you and your fiancee) can not have custody. The father and mother will have custody.

Throughout your post, you kept talking about all the things 'we' were doing.

If you're staying out of it from the legal side, that's all I was trying to suggest. But your original post sure read like you were personally involved in the legal side and I was just giving a friendly warning.

And you might want to get a thicker skin. No one attacked you yet you're responding in a very hostile way ("not that it is any business of yours" when I never asked - nor do I care). Dealing with custody matter is stressful enough without flying off the handle when someone tries to give you advice.

Title: RE: Help!!! VERY STICKY situation!!!
Post by: Davy on Dec 18, 2007, 01:12:43 AM
Whoa !  when I first read the OP (original post) I thought how blessed this child and man were to have a very understanding, gracious and intelligent real female involved in their life.  When she used terms like 'we' my interpretation was one of 'bonding' for the well-being of her financee and moreover authentic well being and focus on the child.

I consider her posts are both admirable and inspirational.  Like most folks she came to this board for support and to learn and to share.  I suspect she is wisely researching in an attempt to discover what to expect.  Appropriately I think she considers herself as an assistant and helping hand.  I do think they have good advice from their attorney concerning her presence in this matter as an attractive alternative to a money-grabbing child-abusing government custodial preference.  

Some considerations in this matter.  Assumming paternity is scientifically verified, consider full custody rather than visitation  except supervised vistation for the birth mother.  Document and orgainize any and all events, observed behaviors, etc. For example, most MAY consider hiding the pregnancy from the father until after the birth (and probably discovering the $$$ entitlement was  not good enough) goes towards her unfitness as a parent.  The articles section (bottom of page) on this board MAY contain a lot of of good information for the newbee.

Also noteworthy, decide what you want in the end as is in the true best interest of the child's life, then stratigized, plan and execute to obtain that goal.  FOR EXAMPLE, start with frequent visitation then move for full custody. Dcoument everything from the beginning.

AND continue to post.  There may be some posters that berate and are controntational  then twist and turn your posts onto themselves for sake of arguement to stroke their own egos.  You are not the first newbee to call someone out.  Just stay focused on the subect matter at hand and hope he/she/it goes away.

Best of luck in all you're doing !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Title: RE: Help!!! VERY STICKY situation!!!
Post by: Missmel44 on Dec 18, 2007, 01:34:40 AM
Thank you! I can not say how much your words lifted me, the tension in the knots consuming me are a little less at this moment. Any advice you have is always welcome. Again thank you!
Title: I think the trend is changing...m
Post by: Giggles on Dec 18, 2007, 08:07:41 AM
and judges are seeing more and more the importance of the "Father's" role in rasing children.  Prior, many based their opinions on the "tender years doctrine" thinking that women were better suited for child development...not always the case as you can see with what you're dealing with!!

It's very sad when parents aren't able to make the right decision in regards to the "best interest" of their children, they become tugs of war in a battle that drains finances and shatters families.

One thing I've learned from being on this board for almost 10 years is the extreme importance of having a very detailed parenting plan.  From the sounds of your fiances case, he's is going to need one.  However, the sad reality is that it is damn difficult to get a judge to take a hard stance on violations.  I have a friend on these boards that has paid out over $175K in legal fees to just try and enforce visitation!!!

It's a long hard road, very costly with sometimes very little satisfaction.  My best advice is to focus on "the best interest of the CHILD" and not so much on the comings and goings of the BM.  Try to nail down a iron clad parenting agreement and keep posting here...even if to just vent about the F'd up "Family" court system...we've all been there done that.

Good luck!!
Title: learn life’s morals, standards and etiquette -- Careful how you judge
Post by: tigger on Dec 18, 2007, 12:10:56 PM
your finance  was a part of that night and had no more morals, standard or etiquette than she.
Title: RE: learn life’s morals, standards and etiquette -- Careful how you judge
Post by: Missmel44 on Dec 18, 2007, 03:06:37 PM
You are right he is just as guilty as she, but that was not the issue. The issue is the quality of life...ect and lack of cooperation on her part. Keep the topic on track, thanks
Title: You brought the topic up and I responded. eom
Post by: tigger on Dec 18, 2007, 08:20:10 PM
Title: RE: You brought the topic up and I responded. eom
Post by: Missmel44 on Dec 18, 2007, 08:27:48 PM
I did not bring up " who is worse than who"! I sought advice in regards to a mother that did not want to share custody and be cooperative. Do not put words in my mouth, I am trying to get advice not get a lesson in morals, because in this case, you are correct it took two to get into this situation. Now if you do not have anything beneficial to add to this topic, please keep your two cents to yourself, I am tired of sparing, we are not ten. Thank you

P.S. Im new...what does EOM stand for?
Title: I beg to differ...m
Post by: Giggles on Dec 19, 2007, 07:11:48 AM
You did come across very judgemental in your original posting and you continue to be "snotty".  If it's advice you seek, then ask questions and be prepared to get some answers you may not like.  Tigger is a very long time poster here and has a ton of very valuable advice.

In the courts eyes, they could give a rat's behind at what pedigrees you and your fiance have.  Sure you probably could give this child more in the way of materialistic than the mother....but what is important to the court is that the child's best interests are met.  So what if the Mother is on welfare, so what if she has to live with others to make ends meet...none of that is any of YOUR concern.

I've been on these boards for over 10 years...and you come across as someone who feels they are better than everyone else....that you want to take this child away from it's mother because you have a pedigree and could do so much better than her....wake up call....SHE is the childs mother...NOT BACK OFF!!!
Title: RE: You brought the topic up and I responded. eom
Post by: MixedBag on Dec 19, 2007, 07:49:35 AM
EOM -- end of message.

A person will usually put that in the subject line when there's no content to be read by clicking on the subject line.

I stand behind what Giggles and Tigger said.

Think of it this way....

You posted your situation or "the" situation giving out the facts that you thought were relevant to the story so that we could understand the whole picture.

What is being said is that some of what you think is relevant, really isn't at all when it comes to making the final decision or course of action.  

I too made the mistake years ago thinking that yes, we could provide a better home than EX#3's EX and my EX etc.....and found out in court that it was probably considered "irrelevant" on a scale of 1-10.

Hang in there!!!  It will get better!
Title: What were you going to say Cin??? ....m
Post by: Giggles on Dec 19, 2007, 08:53:55 AM
although I think I pretty much have a clue...hehehehe
Title: RE: You brought the topic up and I responded. eom
Post by: Missmel44 on Dec 19, 2007, 09:17:28 AM
I am going to put this out there for the last time. I am not snotty, let us not forget that computers do not have the ability to give off inflection. I do not think that I am better than anyone, at all, this has nothing to do with material items that can be provided, I am not trying to be this childs mother. My post was about a mother who WILL not let the father have anything to do with his child, who will not cooperate, the list goes on. Forgive me for being concerned with the well being of my fiancees son, but when my fiancee has a private investigator watching her every move, sees her leaving her kids to go party, get high or whatever activity that day brings, then you are correct my "pedigree" might get the best of me.  Is there anyone here from Washington on this board by chance? In my investigation of this mess I have found that Washington has the most hosed up family law system, so if anyone has been through the system there, your advice is welcome.  I would like to ask questions but just seem a little deflated after fielding all this nonsense, my attempts at keeping this post on track have been tossed to the side. So how about this, lets just end this post, if anyone knows how to take it down or to leave it alone, let me know.

Title: Where is your thick skin???....m
Post by: Giggles on Dec 19, 2007, 09:44:30 AM
In the family law game you really need to develop it otherwise you'll be an emotional mess!  Judges don't care about emotions...they deal in facts...just because you FEEL you could give this baby a better home doesn't mean anything to a judge.

The one sentence that rubbed me the wrong way was this:

"We want more than anything to give this baby a good home and love him."

Who's to say this baby doesn't already have a good home and love?  Plus, having a private investigator to "DIG" up trash on the Mother just doesn't sit well.

As for messed up family laws...Washington state isn't by far the worst...that would be New Jersey...OMG.

The reason I called you evident right here:

"I would like to ask questions but just seem a little deflated after fielding all this nonsense, my attempts at keeping this post on track have been tossed to the side. "

You need to remember...we are only going on what YOU tell us, we don't know the facts of your case so if we go off track, you could nicely say "Hey..that's not what I meant...this is what I mean"....then explain your point of view or add more details...or just ignore what was said all together.

As I stated before, I've been here for 10 years, Tig and Mixed have been here for years as well!  We DO want to help you and we are trying....but you need to listen as well.  You're not the first one that is "new" to all of this...we're just saying have a little patience with us and we'll have more with you.  And quit being so darn snotty...hehehe
Title: other thing...m
Post by: Giggles on Dec 19, 2007, 09:50:03 AM
I do hope you don't feel like we're picking on you...we're not.  One of the best things about these boards is the ability of its members to show you the many different sides there are in custody cases.  Right now you're very focused on YOUR side, what YOU think is right and what YOU want to see happen....We're just trying to point out to you that YOU are not the only party in this and there are many sides and points of view.  You need to open your mind to other possibilities and options...otherwise you stand a chance of being ignored not only by this board but by the court as well.
Title: RE: other thing...m
Post by: Missmel44 on Dec 19, 2007, 12:05:19 PM
No no I fully appriciate what you are saying and I apologize for coming off as snotty, again Im not, I assure you. I think that rubs me the wrong way is, while I see the advice you are giving, and its great!! I know that you are trying to keep me leavel headed and toughen me up, the sad part is ( and Im not saying this because im so involved with this) but this woman is the kind of person that you would not even leave your dogs alone with.  I guess I am really confused, again I get what your saying, but it doesn't make sense to me. On another note, we were able to meet the baby last weekend and he clung to us and didnt want to go back to his mother, that didn't make the situation any better, it's just a mess, she signed the parenting plan but then says she will only agree to parts of it, for instance and this one really stings; my fiancee and I both fought in the Iraqi war, a nearly 3 1/2 years served in the sandbox and the BM said that He could not have the baby on Veterans Day, when asked why, she said " its not a special day, who cares".  The BM is trying to pull the strings on everything, agreeing to meet us one place then claiming she has no car, and can we add another 90 miles to 550 we already drove to meet her. Please dont be offended by my next comment, but I saw children in Iraq that lived better than the BM does. If a person is on a TANF grant then they are supposed to be searchinf for work, she told my fiancee, she isn't and has no intention of doing so, that is what he is for. Im just confused, but please know I already removed myself from the situation, explainging to my fiancee that he needs to do all the legwork now, and I bought a pretty little suit to sit quietly in, while with the judge. Again I am sorry for the confusion, I just wish I could teleport you here so you could see it first hand, I feel like Im crazy sometimes!! Okay...snotty one out :-)
Title: ((((missmel))))...m
Post by: Giggles on Dec 19, 2007, 01:06:07 PM
Oh...I know what you're saying that's for sure and it is very sad that these BM's are this way.  It's frustrating because you know you could give that baby a much better life...I do get that!!  That's why I stated you need to get a tougher skin.  Many things are not going to make sense, many things you'll feel are unfair and you'll get very frustrated with the system!!!

You're on the right track  The best thing you can do is support your fiance, but he does need to do the majority of the work.  You can certainly help, but you have to keep in mind that you're going to be the "step-mom"...I've been there done that it's an extremely thankless job and you will be the fall guy for a lot of crap.  I will post the disengaging essay for it, learn it and live it.  Trust me, it could save your marriage down the road!! that we have the snottyness behind us is what you should be doing: Document...Document...Document everything.  Keep a log of all visits.  Write down the condition you got the child in (dirty, hungry, clothes don't fit, etc), write down the dates you have visitation.  Has the court order parenting plan been signed off on??  Has CS been established?  In your parenting it specific?  We cannot stress enough how specific these plans HAVE to be....if they are not, then they cannot be enforced and it sounds like you have a real winner on your hands that will need to have stiff reigns!!!

As for me seeing first need.  I grew up in Washington...I lived it.  My mom was a welfare mom, state came in and took us kids away and I spent 4 years in a foster home.  I know what type of person you're talking about because the majority of my extended family was/is that way.  Thankfully for me and my siblings, my Mom met and married a wonderful man....whom is the greatest Dad a girl could ask for!!  They got us kids back from the state and we moved to Germany because at the time my Dad was in the AF and we spent the rest of my "childhood" overseas.

You have a long long haul ahead.  Slow down...relax a little and pray a whole lot!!

PS....when I first came to these boards, I was MUCH like you...a few posters set me straight and I've been here ever since!!  They really showed me the many sides involved in custody disputes and taught me to open my mind just a bit.
Title: Disengaging essay
Post by: Giggles on Dec 19, 2007, 01:22:26 PM
Please keep in mind that "disengaging" is NOT for everyone. Many of you have DHs (dear husbands) who are TRULY supportive - which is not the same as DHs who only THINK they're supportive.

I've found that for my friends with whom I've shared this, understanding some background is sometimes critical for real “disengaging" to begin. A lot of this is opinion, intuition, & a lot is also experience. Please keep in mind that the people in my "model" are not psychotic. They are relatively normal people with good intentions, husbands & wives who love each other & want to stay married, in SPITE of their step kids!

I believe that men & women convey different facets of life to their children. Women tend to be concerned with socialization: manners, morals, respect, appreciation, cleanliness, thoughtfulness, etc, as well as physical & emotional health. Men tend to be concerned with results: touchdowns, batting averages, spelling bees, "accomplishments" in general. In normal (not critically dysfunctional) nuclear families, this arrangement works pretty well. The children develop bonds with their parents which permit the parents to maintain the "moral authority" to deal with their kids. Most of these men think they've been great parents, & have terrific kids who could be loved by anyone. Then they get divorced & eventually marry us second-wives, expecting everything to function in the same way that it did in the first marriage. The problem is, they have no idea beyond their own personal, limited "parenting" what is involved in raising kids. One stepmom on one of the boards made the remark "I just don't understand how his 4 year old son can be sitting directly between him & the TV, & he doesn't see the kid playing with a lighter!" I believe he doesn't see because he's never had to. There has always been a woman in his life who takes care of "that stuff."

When we as stepmoms come into the lives of these people, many of us already mothers to our own biokids, we assume that we can expand our mothering role to include our new SKs, intending to keep on doing what we've been doing. Even
those who have never had children of their own have those "mothering genes." Our problem is that we don't have the bonding with these kids that is required to give us the "moral authority" to parent our SKs.

The only way we can get that "authority" is through DH, & he must give it to us by expecting & demanding that his kids respond to us with obedience & respect, or at least respectful behavior. THAT is what is meant by a supportive DH. Most of them THINK they are supportive, & many of US think they are supportive. But
unless they are willing to discipline their children every single time they speak disrespectfully to us, or ignore us, or disobey us, they are giving their children permission to continue & sometimes escalate, this behavior. And because our DHs have NEVER had to be mothers, they don't know what we're talking about when we try to get their help. They are still being the same parents they were when they were married to their exes, things worked out ok there, so they assume that the problem is US!

The more we "nag" & point out what's wrong with their kids, the more convinced they become that at the least, we have no parenting skills, & at the worst, we are child abusers. The more we are determined that these kids ARE GOING TO MIND US, the more parenting we do. And the more parenting we do, the less our DHs have to do. Which is exactly the way they want it. They would rather we didn't scream so much, but we're getting the job done (the kids brush their teeth when we are red in the face, they go to bed when we are spewing spittle). Dad can just keep on being a father, which means he doesn't fool with this stuff. But he's still thinking we're crazy, & can't understand why we're so mean to his kids. In addition, our "criticism" of his kids is seen as a criticism of him.

DH is not a mother, has never been a mother, & doesn't know what it means or requires to be a mother. DH is content being the same parent he has always been, & thinks his kids are fine the way they are. He's just as confused as we are about why we're having so many problems with our SKs, but in his heart, he believes that we are at fault.

Now we come to the kids themselves. Here we have children who, for the most part, have been raised by two parents with whom they are bonded & for whom they accept the power of their bioparents authority. We stepmoms come into their lives with no bond & with no authority. But we blindly assume the role of mother in our own homes, & all the responsibility involved. After the "honeymoon" with the kids is over, if we even have that period of peace & tranquility, the kids begin to test the waters. Now, keep in mind, they do this with their bioparents too, but quickly submit to the authority of these people for whom they have respected,
admired, and depended on since birth. They look to DH to see what they can get by with, because they have no intention of submitting to our authority until they are made to do so. DH has never involved himself in these struggles between
his ex & his kids, because she can handle it herself. He doesn't see the problem. The kids don't know that he can't see the problem. They think he is giving them unspoken permission to defy us. And so they do. The struggles become more angry, more bitter, more frustrating.

And another amazing thing occurs. In some cases, we give these kids their first real taste of power. With their parents, they are willing to submit, because if nothing else, they fear the loss of their parents' approval. They feel no such need to have our approval. They find that with the mere shrug of a shoulder or a rolling of the eyes that they can turn a big strong adult into a raging maniac. By this time, we have become so frustrated, everything they do infuriates us. And in letting by with disrespectful behavior (& they get by with it because DH doesn't stop it), they are encouraged to even greater heights of disrespect, & they hone
their cunning on us, gaining an even greater sense of power. We end up handing these kids tremendous power over us, on a silver platter, & they love it.

There we are, doing all the work (laundry, helping with homework, grocery shopping, cooking, chauffeuring, supplying needs, the list is endless), doing everything reasonable to maintain our family as we had envisioned, and these kids are treating us like bugs on the soles of their shoes. We are raging to our DHs, who can't understand why we're so angry, & we're wondering what
we're doing here, working our rears off, trying to raise these children, feeling abused & unappreciated by DH AND his kids. Sometimes we think about divorce.

Now it's time to disengage.

In order to successfully disengage, you have to accept some realities. They are:

1. Your SKs are not your children.
2. You are not responsible for overcoming their previous "raising."
3. You are not responsible for what kind of people they are.
4. You are not responsible for what kind of people they become.
5. You are not obligated to become an abused member of the household just because you married their dad.
6. You are not responsible for raising your SKs.
7. All the responsibility belongs to your DH.
8. Your DH is not a mother.
9. Your DH is not going to raise his children the way you want him to.
10. Your SKs are not going to turn out the way they would if DH supported you.

What all this means is this: You must stop parenting your SKs. You must stop telling them what is expected of them. You must stop disciplining them. You must turn over all responsibility for them to your DH. You must allow DH to make whatever mistakes he makes. But first, you must explain to DH & SKs what is happening. This is what you say: "Everyone is unhappy, our home is miserable, & I'm completely frustrated & angry all the time. You kids are angry & frustrated with me, & it's getting worse. Someone has to do something about this, & I decided that it will be me. I have decided that I will no longer be responsible for getting you to bed on time, or getting you up in the mornings. I will not tell you to wash your hands before dinner, & I will not tell you to brush your teeth or take a bath. (You must list all those things for which you have assumed responsibility, whatever they are). I am no longer going to do anything that will give you the opportunity to treat me with disrespect. In the future, if you need anything, you must ask your dad. I will no longer take responsibility for (whatever, getting your school supplies, shopping for your clothes, doing your laundry, taking you to basketball practice, etc.) What I hope to accomplish is for us to begin to get along with each other, & the only way I know to do that is to let your dad be the parent."

And every time they ask you for something, or ask permission for something, you say "Go ask your dad." Your SKs may end up missing out on some terrific things because of your disengaging, but it was a choice they made when they decided to make your life miserable. Never give them the opportunity to treat you disrespectfully.

Many of you may be saying, does all this mean I have no rights? Absolutely not. You must choose your battles, & to disengage, your battles should be about those things that DIRECTLY affect you. For example, you have a right to keep your home with the degree of neatness & cleanliness that you desire (just leave the SKs rooms alone & concentrate on the communal areas). You can say, “From now on, I expect everyone to put their stuff away by bedtime. Since I will no longer be asking you to do it because I don't want to argue with you, anything that is left out after 9:00 will be disposed." Period, no discussion, just do it. If it's important to DH for his kids to keep their "stuff," HE will parent his children, or do it himself. "If you don't clear the table after dinner, I will not set a place for you at the next meal." Period, no discussion, just do it If it's important to DH for his kids to eat, HE will parent his children, or do it himself. "If you leave your dirty clothes on the floor in the bathroom, they will be disposed." Are you getting the idea? If DH chooses to do his children's chore, let him. The aim is NOT to straighten out your SKs deficiencies, it's to get your DH involved with his children, in whatever way he chooses, & to lessen your work load. If the kids are going to be unappreciative, let them be unappreciative of their dad.

You see, the REAL problem is not between you & your SKs, it's between you & your DH. These children are HIS responsibility & if he wants good things for them, he will parent them. If he doesn't care (believe me, he really does!), why should you beat your head against the wall?

My son ALWAYS had a bedtime, my SSs NEVER had a bedtime. Now I tend to my son & let DH tend to his. If he wants them to get a good night's sleep, he will parent them. If it's not important to him, I don't make it my concern.

My DH goes to work at 5:30 AM, which leaves me the task of getting everyone up & ready for school. It used to be a nightmare getting my younger SS up, he would growl & yell & scream & roll over & go back to sleep until I was screaming my lungs out, jerking the covers off. Every day started like that & I was miserable every evening, thinking about my next morning's task. So....I just stopped. I told DH to get him an alarm clock. And I told DH that if he wanted to help his son start his day well, he might consider making sure that SS goes to bed at a reasonable
hour, but that I would no longer make it my concern. SS missed 2 days of school because he wouldn't get up & I refused to make a second trip to take him there. DH decided to parent his son. He did it without being home by using consequences if his son did not get up in time to get ready for school.

The point is this: DH must decide what is important to HIM. You must be willing to put up with some degree of inconvenience to "allow" him to parent his children. But whatever inconvenience you suffer will be minor compared to the conflict that might be part of your life right now. My DH stepped up to the plate. Your DH might not. But that's HIS decision. Don't expect him to agree with your "new position." He doesn't agree with your current position. Don't expect him to like what you are doing - or to be more precise - not doing. The less YOU do, the more HE must do & that will not make him happy. You must remember that he has no right to expect more parenting from you than he is willing to do himself.

You may be thinking, this is nuts! We agreed to be "parents" to each other's children. Yes, but he also agreed to be a parent to his OWN children. None of this means that you can't do ANYTHING. It's very likely that DH will need your help. That's OK. The issue here is that DH must ASK you for your help, instead of what you've been doing - assuming the responsibility & being unappreciated for it.

When DH needs something done that he can't do himself (a ride for one of the kids while he's a work, for example), first, you have already told the kids "Go ask dad." So DH is REQUIRED to become involved in his children's lives. He now must THINK ABOUT what's involved in raising his kids, & we all know it's a lot of work. And you can agree to help out, only if DH asks. BUT, to disengage, you must be willing to withdraw your agreement to help IF the kids, between now & the event, treat you disrespectfully! And you must refuse to assist next time if DH & the kids don't say "Thank you." You also have a RIGHT to have your efforts appreciated.

When you begin to value yourself in this whole relationship by expecting to be treated with respect & appreciation, you'll feel a lot better. When I say "to value yourself" I mean that if your efforts are not appreciated - don't do it! Sometimes the SKs will think, "Well, we're in the car on the way to the ballgame, now I'm home free to be disrespectful!" BAM! They smart off to you! Well, turn that car around & take them back home - don't raise your voice or act insulted or point out
how ungrateful they are. Just say "I'm sorry you've decided to treat me disrespectfully. I must withdraw my offer to take you."

BTW, these are also good methods of getting your OWN children's respectful behavior!

I know, from my own experience, just how hard it is to "let go." But it's up to you to make the choice - "Am I going to continue to live in this awful situation, or am I going to do something about it." While you fear what will happen to everyone when you "disengage," as if the family will fall apart, you will be surprised at the change in your own life. I can't guarantee that everything will turn out the way it has for me, but I can guarantee that you will no longer feel angry, frustrated, resentful, & hurt. The HARDEST part is giving up the need to straighten out these kids & "change" them into the children YOU want them to be.

Addendum by SweetPea

disengaging is being missed. To me, disengaging isn't about the stepkids at all. YES, they are greatly effected by the decision to disengage, but I don't think they are the driving force. You don't disengage because you don't care or don't love them. If you didn't care you wouldn't have engaged with the kids to begin with. You disengage because you can't fix something that isn't your problem. I'm not talking about the children. Children will be children, I'm talking about "fixing" someone's parenting or lack there of. It's not about accepting or rejecting children. It's REFUSAL to take up the responsibilty that belongs to someone else anyways. You try and try and try and nothing changes until you can't try anymore.

The stuff that you talk about, Rave, with your SDs, as far as I can see, is all for their own good and legitimate stuff, but your DH doesn't see it like that. Instead he sees it as your side or their side, as an attack against them or BM. Not that its best for them. You tried so hard to change that. I don't blame you one bit for disengaging. Your DH always seemed very defensive, and my DH reacted the same way. Until finally I told him, SD isn't doing anything that I didn't do, but it's up to YOU and ME and BM to correct it. It's not an attack against her.

I, personally, haven't disengaged, but I thought about it, for different reasons than what you went through. I don't think I ever thought it was a bad thing. In fact, the first time I read the essay, I printed it and out and tucked it away just in case.

I contemplated disengaging because I felt that I was enabling my DH to not become a better parent. My situation was a little different, because BM is very supportive, I have a wonderful relationship with SD, and things SEEMED to be going smoothly while she was living here, for everyone BUT me. The problem with me was BM freely admits to not doing what she should as a parent (disciplining, keeping up with her education, chores) but instead of trying to fix it, she'll just send SD to me. So BM can continue being the doting, loving mother, and I get to be the hard ass and disciplinarian, and the one to teach her right from wrong. Why should I take responsibilty for teaching HER child when she doesn't even care enough to try, but expects someone else to do it? My DH, he just thinks I am wonderful mother material and should get an award for best SM of the year. Unfortunately, he was no better at discipling SD than BM was. But he fully expected me to be the hard ass as well. The one to show SD the right path to walk and guide her and make sure she was OK. While he gets to just make sure she's happy and smiling. I told him its all well and good that you think I'm a good role model, but you can think I'm a good role model AND make a few rules of your own.

My whole life was rearranged and upheaved, yet my DH's life continued with a few minor changes. WHAT UP with DAT?? This isn't even MY kid YET MY whole life is changed? It wasn't his fault because he was as new to the living situation as I was, and he just continued being the type of father he always was. Not really taking the initiative or being involved in the every day stuff. That stuff he left to me.

When I talked about disengaging he was not happy. I didn't do it because SD left before it got to that point of frustration, but he had a fit. "If YOU don't want SD to come live with us, than she won't. You keep saying your not her mother, so if you don't want to have anything to do with raising somebody else's kid who is so problematic, she just won't ever come back to live with us."

I told him, "Don't make me the bad guy. SD is NOT problematic. She is a regular kid. She does stuff that all kids do. It's not SD. It's YOU, heaping ALL the responsibilty of YOUR child on ME. I WANT to HELP raise YOUR child. I love her. I want her to come live with us. I just don't want to raise her BY MYSELF." That kind of made him pause. I told him he could not be the same type of father that he was in the past, because I wasn't her mother and he needed to realize that. SD did, I did, he needed to recognize it. I told him no matter what I do for SD that it didn't excuse him from what he SHOULD do.

I didn't talk about disengaging because, I don't love or get along with SD, but I know my DH, as long as I do it, he WON'T. I was being an enabler for both HE and BM. He even acknowledged it. But if and when SD comes back, we will definitely have to try it a different way. I have a career that is VERY important to me. The quality of my work was declining, I have a job that requires a lot of travel, and I did only a minimal amounts because SD was here. Instead of being the 2nd resort when it came to SD, I was the first. If I couldn't change my schedule DH would "HAVE" to change his. I told him that didn't make any sense. SD should be his primary responsibilty not MINE, because she's HIS daughter. I should be the one helping HIM, not the other way around.

He finally got it. When SD was living here, it got to the point where I began resenting her, until I came to my senses and laid the blame squarely where it belonged. On DH, myself and BM. I was so tired, and SD demanded so much attention and energy that I wasn't used to giving. DH was used to it, but I wasn't. I became SM and began losing me. I wasn't DH's wife, I wasn't me, I was SD's SM and that's it. My career became a blessing that saved my sanity because I would leave for a week and be able to get away.

Some people might say I'm being selfish. Fine, then I'm selfish. If I had wanted to be a full time parent, I would have had a kid. When I said "I do" I agreed to HELP DH with his daughter, NOT do it for him. Do I love my SD? Yes. Is she my top priority? Of course. I'd give my right arm for her. Does that excuse DH from his responsibilities? NO!!!!
And that's my story and take on disengaging.

Title: Long version of my point --
Post by: tigger on Dec 19, 2007, 03:43:59 PM
Some people go through bad times where they don’t feel worthy of anything good.  You see how the ex /ONS (one night stand) is living and seem to be thinking “No one worthy of being a parent lives like that”.  I hear the description and my heart breaks for her.  Yes, she’s putting her kids in bad situations but think of how much she must be hurting to 1) put herself in that situation, 2) put her kids in that situation and 3) be willing to use people.  It sounds to me like she has low self esteem and thinks herself unworthy of anything better.  She goes out, gets drunk and sleeps with whomever in a desperate attempt to find love.  My point was that your fiancé was a part of that and when you commented that she was not someone that you would want the child to learn morals, standards and etiquette from, it came across as judgmental.  Your fiancé was no better than her because he was willing to use someone who (according to your version) was drunk for his own pleasure without consideration for the future.  

It’s possible that she loves her kids very much but isn’t in a good place (within herself) right now.  I’ve been there.  Not to this extreme.  No men, no drinking, no drugs.  From the outside, I looked like I had it pretty much together.  It was obvious to anyone walking by that I loved my kids.  Inside, I was hurting.  I felt unworthy of a decent job and therefore kept taking nowhere jobs.  Don’t get me wrong, I had great benefits, my kids have never been without health insurance because of me.  But I didn’t stretch myself for a really good job with better pay and of course, more responsibilities.  I lived in a trailer because I didn’t think I deserved better.  Ask Giggles.  She was around three years ago when I finally realized that I was worthy.  I got a better job; the person who hired me was so impressed with me that she hired me at $2 over the minimum rate.  A gift I continue to benefit from as I’ve taken two jobs since then and I get a 5% raise each time and while the new employers are stunned at the rate, they are more convinced that I’m right for the job because of my rate.  Weird way of looking at it but it’s true.  (I work at a University and have transferred from position to position, thus the new jobs with high raises.)  I bought a house three years ago.  An actual house, not a cardboard box on wheels (a description of what I owned before, not a disparaging comment against all trailers.  Mine was poorly made in the first place and then poorly maintained.)  I take care of my home, I plant flowers and keep the grass mowed, more or less, wasn’t home much this past summer.  

It confuses me as why he would move away from his child that he professes to care about.  I admit I’m shortsighted on this because I know of others here who have done the same thing but I think their kids were older (and therefore could maintain contact through letters and phone calls.)

As for the child not wanting to go back, don’t read too much into that.  My kids love their father very much but they didn’t always want to leave my home to go to his.  Conversely, they didn’t always want to leave him to come home.  It’s the moment, not necessarily a long term desire.  It’s what kids do, even babies.  If they are content where they are, they don’t want change.  As much as my child loved me as a baby, if Granny was holding him, he wasn’t crazy about leaving her arms for mine just because in that moment, it was change.  Didn’t have anything to do with loving her more than me.  And for people who are around kids a lot, it does make sense.  

Also, I’m coming from a point of view of someone who is being attacked by the wife.  Even after all these years, she hates me and I’ve done nothing against her.  Honestly.  If anything, I’ve viewed her as a hurting person who will eventually stop hurting and in turn, stop trying to make my life miserable.  Although, I think it really makes her madder that I don’t allow her to have an effect on my life.  

What I gave you was advice, though I didn’t go into details and because you don’t know me or my story, you can’t understand my point of view or why I see things the way I do.  Where she is right now isn’t going to be relevant if she suddenly “gets it” and starts improving so judging her lifestyle is wasted energy.

Is this currently healthy for the child?  Probably not but that’s where your focus should be.  Does she feed, clothe and love the child?  Does she leave the child in a locked car while she’s at the bar, or with a responsible caregiver?  The fact that she goes to the bar is irrelevant.
Title: RE: Long version of my point --
Post by: Missmel44 on Dec 19, 2007, 05:54:11 PM
Thank you for sharing your story with me, this whole experince has been an eye opener. My fiancee did not move away from the child, he finished college and we were living on the other side of the state before we even knew the child existed and the unfortunate part is, we can not move back to where the baby and the BM are. they live in a town that has maybe 100 people, his degree requires him to be in the city and sadly it may take us to another state, but if he does not work, then there is no money, no money, means no CS. I don't hate this woman, I just really hope that she will feel better about herself and make choices that are not just focused on herself but her children as well. On another note, the prosecutor informed us this afternoon that the BM has filed for prenatal care again, nothing is confirmed but that is suspect for being pregnant again. I want you to know that your words do help and I would love to continue to learn from all of you, so again thank you for sharing with me and I look forward to learning more.
Title: Sounds like she's still in the same pattern. This is going to be a long
Post by: tigger on Dec 19, 2007, 08:49:53 PM
road.  The pattern that she's living isn't conducive to healthy, happy kids but it may be a long time before a judge is willing to change custody.  The fact that he's tried to be involved since he found out is good but don't be stunned if it's not enough.  Judges don't like to give custody to dad's, especially of infants.  The tender years concept is gradually giving way to best interest but it's a slow change.  

And yes, I do believe that some fathers are quite capable of having custody.  I was raised by my dad and stepmother.  Perfect childhood?  No.  Stepmother was insecure and drove away my birth mother.  It took me a while to realize how insecure she was.  It drove her nuts that my dad made sure that my brother and I continued a relationship with her side of the family.  
Title: RE: I beg to differ...m
Post by: mistoffolees on Dec 19, 2007, 10:04:42 PM
Well said.
Title: RE: You brought the topic up and I responded. eom
Post by: mistoffolees on Dec 19, 2007, 10:08:34 PM
>I am going to put this out there for the last time. I am not
>snotty, let us not forget that computers do not have the
>ability to give off inflection.

True. But when virtually every poster says that you're coming across as very snotty and demanding, maybe you should listen?

> I do not think that I am
>better than anyone, at all, this has nothing to do with
>material items that can be provided, I am not trying to be
>this childs mother. My post was about a mother who WILL not
>let the father have anything to do with his child, who will
>not cooperate, the list goes on. Forgive me for being
>concerned with the well being of my fiancees son, but when my
>fiancee has a private investigator watching her every move,
>sees her leaving her kids to go party, get high or whatever
>activity that day brings, then you are correct my "pedigree"
>might get the best of me.  Is there anyone here from
>Washington on this board by chance? In my investigation of

IF those things are true, then you call CPS with the evidence and have them get involved. If a private investigator had witnessed all those things, I'd say the odds of CPS taking the kid away are very high.

>this mess I have found that Washington has the most hosed up
>family law system, so if anyone has been through the system
>there, your advice is welcome.  I would like to ask questions
>but just seem a little deflated after fielding all this
>nonsense, my attempts at keeping this post on track have been
>tossed to the side. So how about this, lets just end this
>post, if anyone knows how to take it down or to leave it
>alone, let me know.

Or maybe you can back off on your attitude and ask questions rather than ranting? I didn't see any questions in your original post. If you're looking for advice, you lay out the background as neutrally as you can, and then ask your question(s).

So what questions are you trying to get answered?
Title: RE: You brought the topic up and I responded. eom
Post by: Missmel44 on Dec 19, 2007, 10:22:05 PM
Did you read any of the other posts today, we have moved past this, at least I have, and it appears others have as well,the great advice and good things people had to say were very enlightning. Please stop, thank you
Title: I was just going to say...
Post by: cinb85 on Dec 20, 2007, 07:10:44 AM
that she needs to be careful when in court.  If she speaks up the Judge could kick her out of the courtroom because it is really between her fiance and the mother of his child, but then I saw her message about that fact that she understands that.