What is fair?
I have been in a 2 yr year relationship with my fiancee who is a wonderful, caring, hardworking guy..and he is a father to an 8 yr old and a 12 yr old girl.
I have been a single mom almost since the birth of my 6 yr old son, and although his dad lives 7 hrs away, he does see him for for long visits on all holidays and a few long weekends in between.
We have lived together a year or so, and been engaged 6 months.
In addition to working full time, I'm also pursuing my masters degree (as it is a prerequisite for my current position), and although I don't make quite as much money as my fiancee, I pay more than half our household expenses as he has so much child support to pay (almost 50% of his take home pay). This doesn't bother me in and of itself.
The BM has been preventing him from getting his name removed from the mortgage so she and the kids can continue to live in their marital home - she has never worked and doesn't want to unless it is for exorbitant amounts of money although she has no education or training in anything,nor has she been an 'involved' stay-at-home mom (her kids have never been in any sports or hobbies although they are interested, and she dumps them off at my fiancee's parents home every other day, sometimes for days at a time) - and threatening him with taking him for alimony, his pension, fighting for full custody, etc unless he continues to keep his name on the mortgage...which of course means we could not move from my small house as we can't get approved for a larger mortgage. When his kids visit, all 3 kids sleep in one small room (my sons), as there is no other space..basement not finished, etc.
(We now learned of a supreme court injunction that could be implemented to remove his name from the mortgage so she can no longer hold us hostage in this way...but he is trying to not be too aggressive with this info as she is volatile and it could mean she goes back on her agreement and fights for full custody/alimony/etc. so he's gonna finish. the painting and plan to list in a week or so).
This past fall I decided that if we were going to have a vacation we had to do it then (fall) due to my upcoming school and work projects. We had planned a trip with all 3 kids, but the BM kept going back and forth on her word about whether his kids could come and since they did not yet have the court papers completed, etc., he was in limbo as to custody, etc., and he decided that just the 3 of us should go as we couldn't afford to have her change her mind and we'd lose $ on the tickets, etc., and the kids who didn't know about the trip yet, would be really disappointed because of the last minute cancellation. The BM is really self centred and it would be nothing to her to do this, she rarely, if ever thinks of these children or their feelings ahead of what she wants for herself.
The other reason (my fiancee told me later) that he decided we should just go the 3 of us, was that he wanted the trip as stress-free, fun and memorable as possible as he knew that he was planning to propose to me while on the trip. Why couldn't this happen with his kids there? The 12 yr old was diagnosed last year with anxiety disorder, ADHD, and possibly ODD...after I arranged for her to see 2 specialists (colleagues of mine) as her behaviours are out of control, no one can manage her, and my son (although he loves her) is scared of her when she has these irrational screaming prolonged tantrums that set whatever household she is in, on edge, until she settles...sometimes this is more than an hour...with entire extended family (his parents, uncle, etc) all around...She is a big girl, taller than me, size 10 feet, and I have seen her haul off and headbutt her 8yr sister for accidentally brushing by her clothes! She has impulse issues... i have only ever seen children like this in psychiatric wards. Despite the favour of getting immediate referral to 2 renowned child psychiatrists and psychologist, hearing the diagnoses and getting a referral to a child psychologist nearer where they live, the mother (who has no job or hobby, etc other than partying) has never taken her daughter to an appt yet, its been over a year since the referral. My fiancee works approx 60-70 hrs per week just to meet his financial commitments, so he has not had time to take her. But it has gotten to the point where I put my foot down and demanded he do something as we could not 'blend' our family if the kids couldn't be together....I didn't want the 12 yr old around my son after
she taught him swear words, told him stories about inappropriate things (drunk people, drugs, and how it would be funny to burn the school down with gasoline, etc. a few weeks ago while on a weekend of rock-climbing, swimming, movies and restaurants - family fun- but she manages to wreck it...) my son barely understood what she was talking about, but its only a matter of time when he will...and he does repeat what he hears and this stuff is difficult to explain to teachers, other mothers, and my family...
So, they have an appt with a social worker she saw 2 yrs ago (for similar behaviours back then- of course, her dad had arranged the appointments, etc., all back then)....and he is starting a course for parents of children with behaviour issues in a few weeks...even though he will have to work less in order to attend these things...and we are having to really tighten our budget to manage. this just has to be done.
This daughter also plays one parent off the other, and does the same with her grandparents. She tells stories of hardship and unfairness at each household to get sympathy, and the grandparents (his parents) are only too eager to believe her, spoil her and think ill of the mother. However, his dtr does the same to us; stating we are too strict (we do require that kids pick up their dirty underwear off the floor, and clean up any toys they have made a mess with after they're finished playing)..other than that, they don't lift a finger, as we have to be careful not to put too much 'chores' into the very little time they spend with us (maybe 2 weekends a month) as they then tell their mom(or grandma - they are often staying with his parents) that they don't want to come to their dad and my place as we are so strict..., so we try to make it mostly fun...and we have to as well...they are so spoiled that unless we take them to restaurants, to buy them toys, or go on roller coasters/big ticket festivities- you get the picture... etc. OR let them play video games all day, then they don't even want to come to our home for the visit.
Yes, my fiancee, like his parents enables this somewhat as I believe he feels guilty about everything....that their family split (4 yrs ago now..her infidelity was cause), and that he doesn't see them more (but he has to work this much to pay their mom and afford to do things with them), and because he does worry that they will not want to come to our home if there are any more 'rules'.
We cannot compete with the grandparents (loving but enabling) and the BM who allow videogames ALL day long, don't enforce homework getting done (12 yr old now failing in school), and they allow cheese pizza, ribs and coca cola/gingerale every day. The 12 yr old is a resistant eater, and they just cater to this. No wonder she likes it at the grandparents the most...what child wouldn't...no rules, all junk food and video games. The mother doesn't cook at all so it suits her fine to heat up frozen racks of ribs/pizza every day.
So, anyway, the 3 of us went on the trip this past fall, it was great. His kids weren't happy about it, their mother told them he went without them and he spent time 'making up' for it, and they were spoiled rotten at Christmas by him.
We are planning a destination wedding next spring, with everyone (all kids and extended family).
Lately, my son started inquiring about Disney World, what is it, where is it, etc., as some classmates went on spring break, and all 9 of his cousins have been and filled him in on it. I hadn't been able to afford this as a single mom in years/careers' past, and now next year is out of the question due to wedding plans/cost, and following year is out of question as my only break from grad school program is at a time when his dad is taking him for vacation (government job- predetermined holidays) and he will not be taking him (to Disney) as they don't have enough money and are kind fo homebodies/don't travel. The year after he will be turning 9, and I'm told by my sisters/friends, that he mightn't be interested anymore at that point.
So, I want to go in a few months or so before his dad takes him for half the summer.My fiancee cannot afford for he and his girls to come with us and neither can I (afford to pay for 3 more people). I will be dipping into credit for 1/2 this trip even for the 2 of us. My fiancee says the 2 of us will have to go alone as he can't go on another trip without his girls ...
My fiancee's daughters went to Disney for a week last year with their mom, aunt and grandmother.
This doesn't seem right...85-90% of our lives, the 3 of us are a family...but then when it comes to this trip, its all or nothing....so if my son and I don't go, is that fair to my son who has never been to Disney?
Incidentally, the girls have been on a cruise before (my son had not), they have been away to the Caribbean to resorts, they go almost all summer to their grandparents cottage by a lake (fiancee's parents), as the grandparents care for these girls more than their mother..they are at the grandparents at least 50% of the time - they take them to school and back, etc...the mom has a busy social life.
They got to attend an elite kids camp (would have cost $2000/week) because their dad went with them last summer and worked at the camp for the week they were there, hence no cost, as he forwent pay so they could attend free). Ziplining, aerial park, watersports, bungee, etc. My son is too young to attend for another 2 years. They will do this again this year and next.
My son didn't go on those trips, or to the cottage... does it go without saying that if you're a stepchild (even 10-15% of the time), you still get 100% of the vacation time at every household where you visit/live in that year.
We're all single parents ( with dads who pay their fair share of support PLUS all the extras), and then have to pay for kids to go on EVERY vacation too or be guilt ridden?
There are obviously more issues here than this trip, but this is the most pressing issue right now...and I have no friends with stepkids in a similar situation....they all have their stepkids every weekend or have them 50/50...they have 'blended' more, and they don't have quite the level of drama/behaviours as we have with our lot...
(BTW, His ex won't allow the kids to live with us primarily -many friends say we should 'have' the kids so we can give them a stable, more normal upbringing...
but, despite her selfishness and near neglect of them, having the kids is what she sees as her 'ticket' to his money (child support) and the only way she can blackmail and guilt him into things. For example, he just spent every day after working 12 hr shifts this week, at her home painting rooms, because if 'he expects' her to be able to sell the house, he has to paint it and get it ready. No, she wouldn't consider painting it herself...or taking care of it (cleaning it) in the first place and so it was pretty rough to list 'as is'.) He does want her to get max value for his kids' sake. He is foregoing his half of equity in the home (and all its contents) so that she agrees not to pursue his having to pay alimony.
I'm new here. please forgive my lengthy post. I just finished a course (last assignment was tonight), so I'm not used to having time to myself before 3am - my usual bedtime after homework :P...I couldn't ignore the opportunity to seek advice.