I didn't want to hijack Nicksmom's thread so I'm going to answer FD's and Nicksmom's questions here. I welcome any CONSTRUCTIVE advice as well. If you can't be constructive, I really am not in the mood to hear it.
Nicksmom - Thank you so much! Yes....it helps us tremendously! It's good for FDH to know what someone else's papers say so he can at least start by requesting those guidelines from BM. FSD is 13 and is increasingly more involved in extra-curriculars. When I read what you wrote to FDH, he liked those parameters because it allows for weekends to me moved around without going too awfully long without seeing her. We know she has family, friends and activities. We understand, encourage and respect that. But going to the fair is not a reason to not come see us after 10 weeks.
FD - I have talked frequently about BM parenting FSD with guilt and fear. This break-down between FDH and FSD started when she was 10 and she started a very all-consuming extra-curricular activity that BM wanted her to do. Up until then, they were very close (too close in my opinion). All of her time on weekends was spent at this other place and we were getting less time to see her. Finally, about a year into this new activity, BM made her chose between that activity, which BM and SF were involved in and we were excluded, and softball, which was a sport FDH was helping coach. She chose softball. BM didn't like that and then said she wouldn't pay for it but that she would pay for the other. So, FSD, being the poor vulnerable soul she is, felt she had no recourse. So she got increasingly more involved in this activity and all but stopped coming over. At some points, it would be 2 or 3 weeks before we'd get any time outside of this activity with her. When BM started to be overwhelmed, she started recruiting us to help. Well of course we'd jump on that because we were doing it for FSD. But, in reality, the only person it was benefitting was BM. FSD was unhappy, stressed and gaining weight.
That's when it started. FSD loves her father and has a great time when she comes. BM never actually "prevents" her from coming, but she uses fear, guilt and money to manipulate FSD. Like, for instance, BM will wait until the last minute to buy tickets and then they are expensive. Then she tells FSD "do you know how much it's costing me to send you to your father?". Or she might tell her "oh, well it's too bad you'll be with your father because we're going to (insert wonderful and fun activity) while you're gone. Too bad because we'll really miss you". And she even has the baby sister call and say "I miss you! Why do you have to go see your dad?" So, no, she doesn't actually say "you can't go", but she makes her feel either guilty for going or like she's gonna miss something big if she does. And no teenager wants to miss out. OR, it's even been said that she's in trouble because the flight was so expensive.
As far as Thanksgiving goes, here's how it went down.......we didn't have her last year. She went to the director's house of that certain extra-curricular activity with BM, SF and sister while FDH and I spent the day with my family (sans DS because he was with his dad). We ended up not getting her all weekend because the day after was a parade and the next day was "hanging of the greens" and the next day was some performance. We did, however, have her Christmas day and the rest of that week (because BM wanted to be with her family so they went ahead and left FSD with us, which was sh*tty of BM, but great with us).
So, this year I have DS. FDH asked BM for Thanksgiving break. She said that we had her for both holidays last year and that she wasn't planning to send her for either, but that she would think about it. Well, that's certainly not true, as I explained to FDH later when he told me about it. I explained how the entire holiday went down and said that I was right. I asked if he would call BM and tell her she was wrong and he said that he would wait until she gave him a decision. The next night, my brother called and offered to pay for all of our flights (a very generous gift) to see him and my sister's family for Thanksgiving. FDH said he would wait until he talked to BM to tell her about the trip. I argued that it wasn't good to wait because BM would've already convinced FSD to not come because (supposedly) she didn't have any holidays with her last year. So BM calls and says that she talked to FSD and she doesn't want to come for Thanksgiving because it's her first one in her new home and she doesn't want to travel on her first break from school. So FDH says that FSD needs to call and tell him herself. So, 2 days later, she does and says everything BM said. AND that she was with us last year and wants to be with her mom this year. I said to FDH when he told me "WHAT IN THE HELL IS GOING ON? THIS WOMAN SAYS SOMETHING AND SUDDENLY ALL OF EVERYONE'S MEMORIES ARE ALTERED? ALL YOU CAN REMEMBER IS WHAT SHE TELLS YOU YOU REMEMBER? DOES SHE HAVE MIND CONTROL OVER EVERYONE EXCEPT ME?" So that's that.
Yeah....he could go there and stay in a hotel, but we can't afford it. They live 1 state away, but we live in Texas and 1 state away is still a long way. It's about 600 miles from here. We've tried, but it would cost a minimum of $500 in gas and lodging. When she comes here, it's MAYBE $200 and she has frequent flier miles. So BM really gets the much better end of the deal. However, we do plan to make a trip out there in the spring to see everything and meet her friends.