Reasonable expectations.

myfampgMay 16, 2011

I know most of you are custodial stepmom's -- so I'm hoping I can get opinions as a custodial parent, not a BMvs.BD.

I am preparing for court and I am working on what I plan to 'ask' for. My biggest concerns are extended weekends (Thursday nights) and DD not being prepared for school the next day. For example: homework not being completed, not having a bath, not being sent with lunch or lunch money. Those may sound like nitpicky things but remember the teachers have complained about these issues and want me to resolve them with BD which was unsuccessful. My next concern is the extended stay during summer. I dont have a problem with dd staying with bd over the summer BUT I would like to have communication with dd and from past experiences and current situations, dd is not allows contact with me while at BDs. I sent my summer requests via email and certified mail to BD by the deadline and my certified mail was returned to sender. Obviously I have the envelope where it shows the letter was refused and I can show the judge that BD refused receipt of my notice and I fully expect BD to deny my access to dd during his summer visit as to say 'I never received it'.

So what I want to know, am I being unreasonable? Am I expecting too much? During the school term, BD has full access to dd at school. He can volunteer, he can eat lunch with her, he can participate in the activities but during the summer, if dd isn't in school or somewhere where I know she is, I literally have no access unless he tells me where she is. In the past, dd stays home with SM and does not attend daycare. Because I work he attends day care and by our order, I have to tell him where she is. Since he doesn't put her anywhere he doesn't have to tell me anything. How many custodial parents talk to their children during their summer visits to the non custodial? Is it too much to 'ask' that I have access to her at least by phone once a week? I don't feel like I 'need' to place my eyeballs on her but I would like to hear from her.

I remember several years ago, the last time she spent 30 days at BDs, I was allowed NO access to her. I went 30 days without even knowing if she were alive. Granted I'm sure if something happened someone would call me, but how do I know and how do I just ease that fear?

I am already in therapy and she is trying to help me but even she believes that a child should not be kept from communicating with the custodial parent for that long. A child in our situation, where I have been her primary caregiver her entire life, and then all of a sudden no contact for 30 days is detrimental to the emotional well being of that child.

I am getting so nervous as summer approaches. I'm hoping I have enough to ask that the visits be split in to 2 weeks at a time. BD lives approximately 25 minutes from me. Our towns are connecting but he lives on one side and I live on the other. He drives through my town to get to and from work. So there is not a huge distance between us like in some cases where air travel or long distance travel is involved.

Help me. What does everyone else do??

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I had no CO, we just did what worked. I always had access to DD when she was with dad and dad always had access to her when she was with me. We had no phone schedules, everyone called when needed to.

"How many custodial parents talk to their children during their summer visits to the non custodial?" I did, any time I wanted to.

If I had no contact for 30 days, I would be livid, I would be in court like you are. It is reasonable to able to talk to DD every other day at least. Yes please ask for it in court and tell about 30 days no contact.

good luck in court

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 10:50PM
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I'm a BM, custodial. I'm a SM, non-custodial.

You've touched on a lot of things.

"My biggest concerns are:

1. DD not being prepared for school the next day...homework not being completed, not having a bath, not being sent with lunch or lunch money..Is it too much to 'ask' that I have access to her at least by phone once a week?"

No, you are not being unreasonable.

It's awkward to make you the go-between with DD and her teacher. Perhaps a note could be sent home that says it's an issue that DD doesn't finish on these days and perhaps those at home could help her with that? No blame, of course.

As for lunch, a dollar tucked inside her shoe, a pre paid lunch card, etc. might alleviate the issue of DD not getting lunch. The semantics of who is paying should be brought up in court.

And not having a bath? Well, one night won't kill the kid, right? (that doesn't mean I don't feel your pain). When she gets a little older she'll want to bathe on her own and it won't be an issue :)

Ex and I agree that DD is to be accessible, within reason, at all times. This does not mean, like SD and BM, that BM/BD can call 2-4 times a day to discuss absolutely nothing. So no, I think a phone call a couple times a week is reasonable. And Ex should facilitate that.

When DD was little I would tell her to call her dad and grandparents. They just weren't on her radar. Now she is able to call them as she likes. When she is with Ex I usually get a call every two weeks, but I don't call either. I speak to enough people around her that I know she's ok.

I can understand the worry. DD leaves in a month for the summer. (((hugs)))

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 10:50PM
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I just thought that I talk to my adult DD few times a week, if I wouldn't call or wouldn't answer the phone she would worry somehting happened to me, both I and ex talk to her few times a week. She is adult. I think it is beyond ridiculous to not talk to a child for 30 days, adult or minor. If I wouldn't be able to talk to my mother for 30 days I would think something horrible happened, and I am middle age!

They are trying to alienate you. Yes please address it in court.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 10:57PM
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I didn't go in to too much background bc I have in the past but I'll clarify. I don't think no bath for one night is a big deal at all. However, dd is like me, very oily hair and skin. She got her first zit today. Lol I thought 10 was too young for puberty but fact is, she is developing very quickly, needs to be wearing a bra and deodorant, washing her face daily and those things she does not do at dads. She is old enough to do them on her own but she says they won't allow her to because she takes too long. They agree. 'when she learns to get in and get out and conserve water, then she will get het bathing privileges back at our home'. Email response to my request that she have a shower on school nights. See the real problem is not Friday mornings but Monday mornings when she has gone all weekend.

Dd calls me every Friday morning in a panic about this or that. Lunch is easy, I have started dropping her lunch off at school on my way to work so that she has a lunch. I can put money on her account from work if I have to and I do it because I don't want her going without. But who sends their kid to school without worrying, is she going to eat today? I pack her lunch almost every day and on the days that they take her, she just gets yesterday's leftovers. The bag isn't even cleaned out. Makes me sick by Monday evening. Now dd understands to just empty any left overs out before going home on Thursday so as to not ruin the Tupperware or to start a little project in her lunch box. I have had to teach her to take care of herself. It woudnt bother me so if he wasn't always fighting and trying to prove who the better parent is.

I have already told the teachers to contact him directly. I listed his email and phone numbers and they do copy him when they have a concern. He is more concerned about if dd has ever been late to school or how many activities I have signed her up for than any of the things that really matter.

PO1 I talk to my parents daily. Maybe they are the reason for my madness. If I don't call them by 8pm they are calling just to see how my day went. I enjoy calling on my way home from work. I have a bit of a drive and I can discuss things with them that I can't in front of the kids. I check on my mom every day. I don't expect dd to 'check' on 'ME' but as an adult child, I feel it's now my duty to just see how my parents are doing and to see if they need anything. So I dont know how I would be if I had to go 30 days. They go on vacation twice a year and they won't turn on their phones. So I end up talking to my sister a lot on those weeks. Lol. My Dh is talking to my dad right now! Lol they are working out some computer problems... I keep asking when it's MY turn to talk to MY dad lol (my stepdad by the way)

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 11:28PM
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Maybe then a timer so that she can practice "Navy showers" while at dad's? (not that I think this is the best long term plan but....) Get wet, turn off water, lather up hair, turn on water, rinse, turn off water, condition/lather body, turn on water, rinse...etc...

If a letter is sent home to "parents" you can document it... that's all.

I don't know what kind of parent wouldn't worry that their kid was getting enough to eat. It boggles the mind.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 11:35PM
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ask the judge for whatever you want and tell the judge why you want it ... and state in court that if you cannot contact with in a decided upon time frame you will be sending the police to do a "welfare check" since last time she was with him for an extended period of time you were DENIED ANY AND ALL CONTACT.... 15 minutes on the phone every few days shouldn't kill dad if it does ... no more worries about visitation times :)

Hubby's first CO was so vague mom weaseled her way out of every visit ... their last CO has every holiday, every day of year, half days, snow days, sick days, birthdays, no school days, you name it, drop off times pick up times etc.

Be as specific as you need to be ... contact with your DD every other day for 15 minutes ... see what you get but you will get something ...

Now they have the children equal time ... 84 hours a week mom figured it out to the hour "so they have the kids equal time" ...

Lunch money ... give it ahead of time ...
not washing hair .... I bought SS15 waterless shampoo!!! he uses it if he "forgets" to shower.

You can ask for his schedule that he has now ... just reverse it for summer ask for whatever you want... up to the judge to decide but ask for what you want ...

What would work best for you??? thats what you ask for if dad doesn't comply or give a little he may not get anything he wants ... as long as your requests are not unreasonable ... Dad shouldn't be able to say no contact for 8 weeks... and keep stating last time you weren't allowed to contact her at all while she was with dad.

or while she is there you want to take her to dinner on Tuesdays from 5 to 8pm or brunch on Saturdays 10 to 1pm or both :) whatever works for you ...

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 1:20AM
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agree with others, make sure you give the court email stating about her conserving water and bathing privileges or at least tell them about it. this is detrimental to a child, in fact neglectful not allowing them bathing time. "no contact" has to stop too. sending her with no lunch has to stop too. she is 10, that's ridiculous.

make a list of things to address in court, bring copies of everything.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 5:57AM
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myfam, you are in absolutely no way being unreasonable. I basically no our states parenting time rules and guidelines like the back of my hand.

"Even while summer parenting time schedule is ongoing "regular" parenting time still may occur. During any extended summer period of more than two (2) consecutive weeks with the non-custodial parent, the custodial parent shall have the benefit of the regular parenting time schedule (generally, every other weekend and one evening per week), unless impracticable because of distance created by out of town vacations."

"With A Child By Telephone. Both parents shall have reasonable phone access to their child at all times. Telephone communication with the child by either parent to the residence where the child is located shall be conducted at reasonable hours, shall be of reasonable duration, and at reasonable intervals, without interference from the other parent."

"If a parent uses an answering machine, voice mail or a pager, messages left for a child shall be promptly communicated to the child and the call returned."

All these quotes came directly from our guidelines. You should google your states guidelines. They can't possibly be that far off of any other state. Your exdh is being unreasonable. It's absolutely rediculous that he not allow you phone access. I believe that to be parental alienation. I don't think the judge will like this.

Save all emails, texts, whatever from your exdh and teachers. It's all admissable in court. My dh used text messages to catch my ss bm in lies during court. Judge yelled big time at her. I love it!! She absolutely should not be not allowed to shower, that's insane, I don't care how long a shower she takes. My ss takes the worlds longest showers, I just have to go knock on the door to remind him to hurry. Lunch... ABSOLUTELY!! If she's with him he needs to make sure she's taken care of. Ask away with the judge.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 8:23AM
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I'm trying to digest the thought that Dad does not feed his DD lunch on his school days. Seriously, what's up with not providing a lunch when she will be leaving from his home that morning for school. That's just strange. I bet Dad, SM and stepsister eat on that day. What a petty *ss. Are you expected to run over DD's breakfast meal too or does he manage to feed her for this meal? I'd think a father would be shamed to pieces for a judge to hear he does not think it's his duty to feed his daughter lunch when she's under his care during that school day...

--" 'when she learns to get in and get out and conserve water, then she will get het bathing privileges back at our home'"--

This one is strange too. Just how will they deem DD has 'learned' if she is not allowed to bath? Putting the bathing and lunch together , I think there's more to these actions on Dad's part than 'wasting' water or agruing who should pay for school lunches.

This child is going for an extended stay and can't bathe unless they now think she has 'learned'? The can of hair wash is a good idea, but as this Dad makes DD's things remain in car during visit I doubt he'll let her bring it in and use it.

Oh yeah, I agree with others. Make your list of request/expectations and state exactly why you are including these concerns.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 8:28AM
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Myfampg, you are not being unreasonable at all. DH actually managed to get a lot of similar things in the latest "parenting plan" - SS is to bathe at least every other day, he is to have a reasonable bedtime, no sharing bed with BM, BM is to ensure any homework projects are completed, etc.

BM has already managed to violate every one of them, which was not surprising - and is more ammunition for next time in court. She actually has followed them about half the time, which is a lot more than before.

I think judges don't like if parents get ridiculous and nit-picky with trying to agree. If parents are standing in court arguing if child's bedtime should be 9:00 or 9:30 they are going to annoy the judge. If one parent just wants the child to have a bedtime, and the other thinks kid should be allowed to stay up until 4 or 5 AM, that's entirely different.

Your expectations sound perfectly reasonable and normal to me. You've got unbiased opinions of teachers in your favor as well as backup for some of your (perfectly normal) expectations.

As for phone contact, it is nuts to expect a child to go 30 consecutive days without phone contact. I've never heard of such a thing. I have no idea how they think they're going to justify that to a judg

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 8:39AM
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I would suggest that you ask for a set night of the week during the summer that she calls you, like every Thursday night at 7:00 or something.

I think calling every day or every second day would be a bit excessive when it's on dad's time, and creates more situations where "We were going to watch the fireworks but we had to be home for the call". I'm saying this from the POV of a spontaneous person, sometimes we visit auntie So-and-So and if the visit runs over time, so be it. It would be unfair to have them schedule the summer around too many call times.

But I know where you are coming from, my son often goes to the cottage with his dad for the summer and contact is broken.

I often have contact with my son over Facebook while he's at his dad's. I send a hello, and when he isn't busy, he gives me a note back.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 9:51AM
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I think everything you're wanting sounds WAY reasonable.

The bathing thing would really bother me. Not necessarily the "missing a night" thing but the comment about her bathing "privileges" would really irk me. (And I'm with you, my DD is nine and really starting to sweat a lot. She needs to wear deodorant and is still pretty smelly after a day of playing/working at school. She NEEDS a shower every night.) But bathing privileges? I'm sorry, bathing is a hygiene issue, NOT a privilege. That's just weird and very controlling.

AS far as phone contact....okay, we have had issues with BM wanting constant contact to SS when he's with us. She's tried to get him a cell phone a couple times and DH always says no.

One time she actually called the freakin' police because she couldn't talk to SS any time she wanted. The cop basically told her to take it to court.

DH's order says the same blah blah stuff, reasonable phone contact.

But BM (and she is better NOW than she used to be) used to call at least three or four times a day. In the morning before school, right after school, then around dinner, again at bedtime. She would call and call and call. It was ridiculous.

In the summer, it was worse. She'd call a hundred times----no joke---until SS answered or called her back. It was seriously harrassment of her child.

We have a phone line that is STRICTLY for SS and BM now. She is the only one who even has that #. So anytime she wants to call, she can, and it rings and SS knows it's his mom. He doesn't always answer. He almost NEVER asks to call to talk to her.

BUT I think the reason for THAT is because she doesn't give him a chance to call her. She doesn't even give him a chance to miss her, if you kwim.

So I would say we had the opposite issue of what you're wanting. DH felt that one call a day was plenty reasonable but BM wanted to be able to call as many times as she wanted and have full access to SS.

I think HE should be allowed to call HER anytime HE wants, no doubt. But I do not think SHE should be allowed to intrude upon his time with his dad and our family whenever SHE wants.

if that makes sense.

It's all about moderation and being reasonable.

I know that while we were in court, we went on a vacation to Michigan and BM complained to the GAL that she was afraid DH wouldn't let her talk to SS. The GAL just kind of waved it off, and told DH to have SS call a few times throughout the week. As it was, DH had SS call EVERY NIGHT to say goodnight, which is what he's always done.

DH has NEVER EVER withheld contact from BM. At the most, he's limited it to one call a day, but even that, she felt was not enough.

Now that SS's older, it's not so much of an issue. Plus, BM now has two other children and is just way busier. She doesn't have [as much] time to harrass her son!

I think you not having contact with DD for 30 days is UNACCEPTABLE. I think being specific and asking for a minimum of one call a day, or at least one call every other day is reasonable and good.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 6:58PM
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Love I actually was only going to ask for 1 call a week. No matter what the order says, they won't grant the call. They give her the wrong #. Now she knows the # so SM tells her, oh didn't only said to get you ready for bed and get you in bed, he didn't give me permission to let you use the phone so we'll ask when he gets home.. And then dd is already asleep so she doesn't get to ask BD to call me.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 7:07PM
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Yeah, they are playing mindf*ck games. Especially SM. It is sick and twisted. :( I'm sorry.

I wish it weren't like this for you and DD.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 7:38PM
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Exactly. Tomorrow is the start of her long weekend and she has already told me that she won't be able to call me this weekend. I am OK with not talking to dd over the weekend. I don't HAVE to talk to her but if she needs me then she should be able to call. She probably doesn't 'need' me but maybe she just wants to say hi.

I don't want them to alter plans or anything. If she were going to camp she wouldn't be able to call home so... I could look at it that way... But it's not just 1 week. It's 30 days. I'm dreading it. It was such an awful year for us. I had never been away from her longer than 2 nights. Of course she was younger. Now that she is older she spends a week with my parents during the summer. But the difference is -- I know where she is and she had access to me.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 8:50PM
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"she should be able to call"

That's just it---SHE should never be prohibited from contacting you.

And I do not think that your asking for "one call a week" is unreasonable. Far from it! I think you are completely reasonable and respectful of her time with BD.

It's just so ridiculous that they are like this. I really feel for your DD. She is being used by her dad and SM as a pawn in their sick game. I don't get it. What do they even want?! Rhetorical question.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 9:46PM
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i so hope judge sees it all, if i was a judge in your case i would not allow extended visits. i would allow eow visits but no overnight and no weekdays. just send every other sunday at dads, that's it.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 10:56PM
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You should ask the judge to allow you to give your daughter a pre-paid cell phone while she is gone so that she can call you anytime and you can call her once a week.

If he doesn't allow her to call, you will have the phone records to prove it.

I can't imagine. I am so sorry.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 11:10PM
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Dd asked her therapist to ask dad for a phone of her own. I'm actually against her getting in to having her own phone but if it were to just call me or dad then I would pay for it myself. Its $10 a month.

Therapist thought it would be a good idea so she mentioned it to dad and he said no. He doesn't allow cell phones.

Therapist has not been pleased with dad ignoring dd's requests so I expect her to let the judge know. There are so many things but there are ways around the courts. Dad could say phone was dead or they lost it or he could 'remove' it when dd isn't looking and then say it was lost. Or he could use it as punishment for behavior which I doubt he would need to do because dd is so scared to misbehave with him. She isn't afraid of dad by the way, but SM is very scary to her.
The only thing that keeps me sane sometimes is knowing that dd has stepsister there with her and I think that keeps dd sane as well. She says she is scared to be there alone. Not because they would hurt her but it's unfamiliar to her. She doesn't like spending the night with people. She likes being at home. She would much rather a friend spend the night than go anywhere. And I think going to bd's is no different. It's just new and the room is different. She says she is scared of the noises and the tree outside the window. Etc. Nothing to do with bd or SM just dd not being familiar. She calls me from school on Thursday's and Fridays to say 'good night'. It's sad. She should be able to pick up the phone and say, good night right before getting in to bed.
I remember when she was about 6, it was her first holiday away and she was gone for a week. She called half way through the week and was ok at first but it was about mid sentence #2 when she just bust in to tears and said she wanted to come home. They took the phone and hung up. I didn't even say anything to make her cry, she literally had just said hi mommy and I said HI DD!! How are you?? And she just bust in to tears. I do not believe they were being mean, I believe she was 6 and home sick. Nothing more. But they think that if she misses me it's disrespectful to them. There are times that out of the blue DD will say 'I miss my dad' and I always ALWAYS give her a hug and say I know but youll see him (fill in the date). If they did that, she would be fine. If they just let her know it is OK to miss someone then she probably would feel more comfortable.

I hate to think what all of this does to her mind. Like what little things are swirling around in that brain when they do things like this. She always gets a tummy ache before she goes to their house. Never fails, Wednesday she is clingy and sick. I just comfort her and act like it's just a belly ache... Never fails though. She is never excited.

My dd is a spitting image of her dad. Down to the shape of her toes and toe nails. I'm not even sure who the mother is. Lol
I just wish he could enjoy every little minute instead of it being about erasing her life from the moment she arrives to the moment she leaves.

I know this is awful of me but I'm going to admit it anyway. If we don't get what we want (no school nights) then we are moving. We live close so that this will be easier on dd. I don't transport her so it didn't matter to me if we lived 99.9 miles away. (we have to stay within 100 miles)
But I knew that he would get his visitations back (it's what I wanted also. What's best for dd). I knew that if we lived far like we were, school mornings would be awful for her and/or he wouldn't get her. If they don't make changes, we are moving back. We moved away from everything to be closer so it would work out but I'm not staying here and putting dd through this again. I know I might get slammed for saying it but I'm already ready to move. We rent because we weren't sure where we would settle and this trial is going to be the deal breaker for us. Move back to where we are from and where our family is or stay here to keep dd close to bd. I sure wish he would just see the sacrifices we have made as a family to help him and dd have a better, closer relationship. I thought he would be more involved but he's not. It really did nothing for us. We actually hate this town. And this situation makes me hate it even more.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 11:55PM
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I don't blame you for wanting to move. honestly they are evil. my DD often cried missing dad when she didn't see him for some time, it is normal, it never occurred to me to find it disrespectful towards me. one has nothing to with the other. evil people.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 12:02AM
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I would not view it as 'moving away from Dad'. You selected your current home when daughter was younger, traveling harder for her, and Dad was getting only a bit of visitation (while SM was allowed none). You did what you thought was best during those years.

Things are different now. DD is older, Dad has access to daughter more of the time (entire long weekends) and it's less than an hour and a half. I often scoot GS down the interstate to school from his father's to school...I can drive, I have a license and it does not hurt me a twit. It actually gives GS and I good quiet conversation time. Of course I've also checked his lunch account online to assure he has credit for his school meal, likes the day's menu and/or put more money in account, packed his lunch whatever is needed (I still am digesting your DD has to eat yesterday's afterover lunch or you have to take her PO1 says 'evil people').

If moving back to your hometown makes work travel closer, homes less costly, friends and family to assist in childcare blah blah...go for it. Summer would be a good time to do it as DD would not be moving during school year (that can be hard on kids). Summer would give her a chance to adjust to the new surroundings and she'd start the school year with the kids and be ready to make new friends.

I don't see a thing wrong with the idea. If Dad ever comes to his senses you could think about meeting half way to make travel less hard on the opposite parent...since he's being unreasonable currently, I'd not worry about him having to drive more. You stayed under the 100 miles and he always knew since the order was in place that a move could happen. You can't set your life around what is easy or best for Dad...if it's a problem for Dad he too always has the option of moving closer to where you now live. It's not like you are leaving the area, he can drive an hour or so a day to work, won't hurt him a bit.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 7:41AM
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