Custodial parent titles
I am starting a new thread because someone revived an old thread and lately, I have been thinking a lot about this issue because my stepdaughter has been living full time with us for nearly four years and her mom has less & less to do with her.
Yesterday, we had a little breakthrough... well, I did. We had a meeting with her school (Friday after school) to discuss retention for next year because this is the second trimester she has gotten 2 D's & 2 F's in all her academic classes & we feel we've tried everything to get through to her. We've had this appointment for over a week so DH called BM to tell her about it at the beginning of the week. Right away, she tells him the baby is sick so she probably can't go. I know I need to learn how to ignore it & let it go, but for some reason it just pissed me off! If she doesn't want to go... don't use your new baby as an excuse. She uses the new baby as a reason she shouldn't have to pay support... it just angers me after watching her neglect and emotionally damage her daughter for the last four years, now she makes another baby & he is her new excuse for all the crap she did BEFORE she had him. So, when DH told me what she said, I opened my mouth & gave DH my opinion. I asked him to imagine the tables turned... SD lives with BM & DH tries to get out of an important meeting with the school.. what would BM say to him? He said she would ream him... because she used to ream him if he didn't do what she wanted, which is what started the custody battle to begin with. I told him that he is SD's voice & he really needs to fight for her. He may not be able to make BM do anything but he should not make it so easy for her to flake on SD & hurt her. So on Wednesday, he called BM and told her she really needs to be there.. he let her know how much her uninvolvement hurts SD & that SD needs her mom to be a mom & show she loves her by coming to her stuff. Of course, BM retorts that SD knows she loves her & she does put SD first... she would be there but the baby has an ear infection & possibly pneumonia. Now, if any other woman said that, I would feel horrible that the baby is sick... it would be a reasonable excuse to not attend. BUT BM is such a liar & she predicts on Monday that the baby will still be sick on Friday? DGS2 just had a REALLY bad ear infection & after 2 days on antibiotics, he was feeling better & back to his happy self. DH suggested BM have grandma babysit so BM can be there & she said there's no way she can leave her sick baby with ANYONE. I'll feel horrible & guilty if the baby really is sick but at the moment, I seriously doubt it & the look on SD's face when her teacher said BM can't be here because baby is sick.. SD knows it's a lie too. Anyway, BM had called the school & wanted to be on speaker phone during the meeting. The teacher was concerned about using the phone in the classroom because it couldn't be moved & was on the other side of the room... she didn't think BM would be able to hear. She said she wished she had her cell phone, so I had mine & offered to let her use it. We placed the phone on the table & dialed BM. When she answered, the teacher did all the talking, but I know my number came up on her caller ID and I could tell from her tone, she was irritated. We started the conference & BM said nothing until about ten minutes into the meeting, she said she can't hear anything with "THAT cell phone" so she asked to use a landline. So, they set up the call on the class phone... from across the room, so teachers had to talk loud ` almost yelling. The meeting resumed and BM was still talking about how this phone is much better... and then the teacher asked BM for her opinion on how to help SD. SILENCE. Teacher repeats it. SILENCE. So, teacher say "BM? Are you there?" BM says yeah. Teacher changes question to "What do you think of SD repeating the 6th grade?" and BM says "That's fine. Whatever you guys want to do." and the look on SD's face went from embarrassed (she looked so embarrassed when her teachers are trying to talk to her mom.. yelling & BM not answering their questions.) It was obvious BM couldn't really hear the conversation on the class phone. And the only input BM gave was basically saying she didn't care one way or the other... even one of the teachers rolled eyes & another's mouth fell open. SD began crying, admitted she isn't trying her best & I wanted to scream... I wanted to scream at BM & tell her teachers that THAT IS THE PROBLEM!!! But then one of the teachers said they heard a click. BM had hung up. I feel bad for SD because the root of the problems SD is having is having a BM, for the last four years (maybe even longer) telling SD that I am not her mom... she is. Which is fine because it's true... but then if you are going to demand a title, live up to it. BE A FREAKIN MOM!!! I think BM hung up because while DH said a little, I did a lot more talking to the teachers about how to find solutions, and about the problems I see with how SD does school... procrastinating, not taking it seriously, etc. The end result was that they are placing SD in a smaller class where struggling kids get more help. (they described it as low achievers) and I'm sure that was a blow to SD because I know when I was in school, many kids made fun of kids in "different" classes, like special ed. I know kids can be mean... but the last thing we really WANT for SD is to hold her back. We want her to work on her study & work habits so she can keep up next year. But, she was crying & upset, but in my opinion, it was more from the realization that her mom didn't bother to come, made up a lame excuse (because grandma was waiting at the school when the meeting was over, so SD was going to BM's & will see for herself is baby brother is really sick) and even though she was there by phone, she had no input or concern for the problems SD is having... she made a bigger deal over what phone they called her on. It was a new pathetic low for BM. She would have been better off just being a no show.
I guess my point is that SD is having so many problems and a lot of it has to do with her insistence that she is the mom & doing/saying whatever to SD, to make sure SD & I don't have a relationship. I'm actually thinking of getting ME into counseling because it's been so hard for me to watch, I get so full of anger toward BM & everything SD does frustrates me... because she regularly throws me under the bus with her mom & that makes it that much harder to live together... and BM obviously isn't going to rescue her.
Then I have custody of my grandson. He's been with me since he was 9 months old & he'll be 2 this weekend. His mom sees him for a few hours (supervised) every week or two weeks. She moved a couple of hours away & relies on her grandparents to drive her... they are getting tired of the drive. Since DGS is with me 99% of the time, he occasionally says "MOMMY" to me. We always refer to me as GRANDMA, but he likes to say MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY. He knows DIL is his mommy, he calls her mommy & cries when she leaves. There's no question he knows who his mom is... but he said mommy & looked at me during a visit & DIL corrected him. She got upset & made a big deal of it. There was a noticeable difference in DGS's behavior following that. I didn't say anything to DIL because she was leaving & I didn't want to have a scene... she would think nothing of yelling at me (I think because of her mental issues) & DGS does not need to see that.
But, it's clearly going to be an issue & as a mom, I understand how it feels.. my son called his stepmom "mama SM" at her request. My opinion is that kids know who their parents are, they know who takes care of them, they know who they can count on, etc. and it may be a whole group of people so they should be allowed to choose how they want to refer to the people in their lives. It might bother me if my child called someone else mom but called me by my first name... but then I would have to wonder WHY they want to do that? I do not agree with any adult telling a child how to address them... except maybe a parent that is teaching a child. ie. If they call a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle by their first name. I think children need to be taught that saying Uncle Bob instead of just Bob is a sign of respect for elders in the family hierarchy. But, that's just my opinion.