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Thread: Step children - need some advice

  1. #1

    Default Step children - need some advice

    *Apologies for the length - I just really need some advice*



    Hi, just wondering if there is anyone out there who can offer me a little advice...

    My DH has 3 kids to a previous marriage - aged 7, 6 & 3. Their mother is an extremely difficult and bitter woman who does absolutely everything she can to hurt my DH regardless of whether she in turn hurts the children. My DH has court orders stating that he is to see all 3 kids every 2nd weekend and half of all school holidays. Unfortunately since August this year there has been two long periods (one of 6 wks and then 8 wks -contact only resumed the weekend prior to xmas because we went to court) where the children have not seen him due to their mother breaching the court orders. She has been making up lies and saying he is threatening and abusing her, but then texts and says well if you want them you can come to my house and get them. She has also told the children they cant see their dad because he makes her angry. They also say they cried and told her they missed him and she apparently said that she didnt care and they would get over it (whether that is true I am not sure, it sounds pretty harsh if it is - but I do realise kids can embellish things sometimes). We went to court on 18th December (after spending 9K when she gets legal aid - grrrrr!) and he was given and extra night a fortnight permanently and holidays to continue as normal (I hate the court system). We had them for 2 night the weekend before xmas and also overnight on xmas eve. The older two were fine, very clingy (with both of us) but because we can talk with them and they are a little older they seem to be ok, the youngest can barely talk so it is very hard to discuss things with her obviously. The 3yo spent the whole time she was with us - including xmas day - grizzling and whinging and cried when it came time for her to go to bed and kept asking for her mum everytime she grizzled. We tried comforting her but to be honest it made the grizzling even worse, if we ignored her she would just sit there and mope. It is really tough! The problem we have is that they are due to stay with us for 8 nights as of 31st Dec and the week of holidays usually goes fine but because they havent been staying with us I am really worried about how the 3 year old will be and I am already having a tough time with this pregnancy psychologically and dont know if I can handle the stress of the 3 year old for 8 nights. The other problem we have is that knowing her mother if we send her back midway if she is not handling it she is likely to use it against DH to stop overnight contact so we feel that it is not an option to send her home. Another problem we have is that her mother has not toilet trained her. We have tried on a couple of occasions, you know put her in undies all weekend and constantly asked her to go to the toilet and she does really well, but then we send her home and next time she comes back she is in nappies again because I guess they dont follow it through. Last block holiday period in September we did the same, had her going really well through the week and then she went home and goes back to being dependant on the nappies, and I mean totally dependant - she is happy to poo in her nappy and sit in it and play until we realise she has done it. It is quite embarrassing when we take her visiting people and someone says I think X has dirtied her nappy - SHE IS 3! BUT when we picked them up on xmas eve she came in undies (she only went home for 22 hrs so obviously is not long enough to toilet train) so we tried to do the right thing and put undies on her. On xmas day in front of everyone she pooed her undies just as we were about to leave to take them home - then got abused cause they were 15 mins late. The 3yo didnt want to go to her mum (even though she had asked for her all night and day) and all her mum could say was "oh you tired bubby". I felt like screaming no she isnt tired, she just doesnt know whether she is coming or going! So we felt that was unfair on us and her, send her at xmas and expect us to toilet train her. So we feel maybe we should try over the holiday block but then we are worried that we will spend that week at home just concentrating on that and then she will go home and her mum will put her back in nappies. I think it is part laziness but also partly that she would do it on principle as in not let us think for a second we succeeded. Its just so aggravating!

    My questions are: Do you think the 8 night block will help her get back into the routine we had with her prior to August? And how do we handle it when she is constantly grizzly and whingy? Also what do we do about the toilet training aspect? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    We are seriously considering going for 50/50 custody but unfortunately think that because the youngest is only 3 they will use that as an excuse (even though she has left her twice for 2 week blocks while she travelled o/s) and also to be honest just cant afford it... as it is this is breaking us and DH has already said that if it comes to going to court again he will just walk away and hope the kids can forgive him when they are older (which I seriously doubt they will). We are not eligible for legal aid but yet she gets its - I am not quite sure how because she earns 49K per year plus child support and FTB which is a total of 68K all up per year... thats almost the same as we get combined but we dont get it... go figure!

    I do apologise for the length, this has turned into partly a vent as well

    Thanks, Mel

  2. #2

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    Wow what a difficult situation for you all. All I can suggest is that when they are around you let them know that they are loved and wanted, I have been in their shoes and I know that the last thing I wanted was for my parents to put each other down in front of me, They need to know that they are free to love you all without feeling bad. With the toilet training, that is something that can take time, and with the mother not helping it must be very confusing for the child, kids will still have accidents every now and then, the best thing is to praise for her good efforts and make as little a fuss as possible about the mistakes, sometimes toilet training can be hindered by anxiety.
    I suppose you have talked about doing the best for the children with the mother and asked her to act like an adult and keep the children's best interests in mind, if not she sounds like she needs a reminder as it sounds like some very childish/ selfish behavior on her part.
    Good luck, and give those kids the love they need

  3. #3

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    In the short term you are in for some hard times, but I think that if you act consistently and lovingly over the longer term, that is what the kids will appreciate and respond to. You can't change their mother's histrionics or what she tells them when you're not there, but they will know when they feel secure and loved and all the routine stuff you do with them will help with that.

    With regards the toilet training, if communication is so strained at this point in time that you can't both discuss this with the mother in a calm fashion, there are family mediation services in each state that will help you with regards to getting an agreement between both parties on consistent parenting, and also negotiating access visits. Worth ringing to see how they might be able to help you. For what it's worth, lateness with toilet training can be a sign of stress in a child so you might just have to ride it out (but it would help if you knew what the mother is doing about it). Have you tried using the pull-up pants and getting a sticker reward chart going for every time she is successful with the toilet? Try to stay positive, she will get there.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marydean View Post
    In the short term you are in for some hard times, but I think that if you act consistently and lovingly over the longer term, that is what the kids will appreciate and respond to. You can't change their mother's histrionics or what she tells them when you're not there, but they will know when they feel secure and loved and all the routine stuff you do with them will help with that.
    I totally agree, well said.
    This will make it easier on you anyway - have your own little world with the kids regardless of what their mother does. Consistency is what these little tackers need, and they will eventually work out that their mum isn't always right about things. Don't dispute things she says to them, or 'talk to them' about it too much, just be you, same you, same routine, same smiles and safe place to be when they are with you. After dinner games, a cooking session in the afternoon (easy bikkies etc), maybe the bigger kids can tell YOU a bedtime story. Distracting them is an absolute must - especially if the older 2 are used to being in school all day. It's not supposed to be a summer camp - this should all be primarily done by the kids dad. Each time the mums tells them their dad sucks, they can think "well he wrestles REAL GOOD", or 'well he tells a killer bedtime story', and any apprehension will recede over time.
    I strongly advise you leave the discipline to their dad too.

    It can be very hard with a grizzy, mopey 3 yo, I'm not sure on the TT thing myself, but try to remember that when she is at her whiny worst - it's the time she needs you most of all. However if comforting her makes her worse - leave it. They are darn good at manipulating their environments so don't be a doormat!
    Be firm and smiley! It will take time, hang in here.

    P.S - you are right, the children will never understand if their dad walks away. I get the line of thinking, but it never works.

    P.P.S - do have have to have legal representation in the court? Can DH represent himself? It's a loooot of $$$, I'm sure the ex wouldn;t be such a pain if she was paying out that kind of money.

  5. #5

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    Thanks girls...

    Rosehannah - Unfortunately the way things are at the moment, their mother refuses to have face to face contact with DH because of his abuse and threats (which is obviously all untrue) And even a note would probably result in contact being suspended. About 6months ago DH did ask her what she was doing in terms of TT and explained that we would like to be consistent with what she is doing and she flew off the handle and told him that he should butt out cause she is their mother and will be the one to decide when and how she is TT - thats the reaction every time he tries to talk about anything. Its so frustrating, consistency is the only way to get it done but she just wont communicate.

    Marydean - We do have a star chart for all 3 kids, anything they do really well earns them a star. Mainly with TT and cleaning her room with the youngest, but the older 2 like to help with vacuuming (god knows why!), cooking, dishes and stuff like that so they get stars and earn rewards. I do realise that all of the things going on with the youngest can and probably are signs of stress, but I just really dont know how to help her. I hope that the 8 night block will help us to give her a little consistency and am wondering if maybe we can do a good job with the TT while she is here she might tell her mum she doesnt want nappies when she goes home. She does say they are yuck so surely she doesnt like them. I also noticed she is going through a "scared" phase, this or that is scary and she doesnt want door closed at night - I think that is all prob stress as well, although maybe age as well cause my nephew went through it at a similar age. Also re the mediation, DH made an appointment for mediation and his ex refused to go. We paid for the appointment and got nothing out of it other than a stupid certificate so we could go for breach of orders. Those services are handy if both parties are willing to try but unfortunately you cant force someone to be involved. Unfortunately the only way we were successful was through lawyers which cost lots of $$$. We were in court June last year, just this month and I am pretty sure we will be there again. I think this might be something we have to wait to end until she either finds some happiness in her own life or the kids are old enough to tell her what they want (and be listened to). The funny thing is that DHs ex is a SOCIAL WORKER :O

    Lulu - You are very right that they are good at manipulating, especially girls and especially at that age. It is funny she is also really big on the "cant do it" atm, she will bring something out to the lounge and you tell her to take it back and she goes "ohhhhh cant do it" and we say well you got it out here LOL. While I am sure we are not 100% positive about their mum all the time (we are not perfect) we do try very hard to keep our comments for when they are not around and just try not to speak of her, the middle child said at one stage she thought her mum wasnt letting them come cause she was trying to be mean to them and we told them that mum loves them alot and doesnt want to hurt them. When they try to talk to us about what has happen we pretty much just say not to worry that things are back on track now and that is the main thing. DH does most of the disciplining however, we both believe it is very important that the children also see me as a person of authority, as well as the fact that I often take the kids with me when I am going out somewhere (especially the middle one cause we are quite close). Neither of us smack or yell or anything, if they get in trouble it is sitting in the doorway for however long and a bit of a lecture, at worst losing a toy but that doesnt happen very often cause they are pretty good kids to be honest. Re your PS 110% agree and hope that DH never comes to this decision, both for his sake and the kids - I know he would never be truly happy knowing they are out there and he doesnt know how they are. Re your PPS DH could represent himself I guess but we would have no idea how to start a 50/50 custody case nor would we know what to and not to say to a judge, but your right I guarantee if she had to pay out like we have then she would NOT do this and risk court! I just cant understand how she can get legal aid if she is truly declaring her whole income

    Anyway, thanks for all your advice - I need all I can get... and we will do our best during the block they are here to provide some stability and love to them, we have a few nice things planned for us to all do together which I am sure they will enjoy so fingers crossed it helps them get back into the swing of things.

    Mel

  6. #6

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    Mel you are doing a FABULOUS job!

    Bloody ex probably knows how to rort the system with inside information......

  7. #7

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    LOL thats exactly what we wondered about legal aid to be honest... although not sure if you would be able to do a dodgy with that sort of thing. Who knows though

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