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Allowing SS16 to Make Decisions re: Visitation with BM

Posted by lady_q (My Page) on
Mon, Nov 1, 10 at 12:38

I'm hoping I can get some advice on a decision DH and I made recently with respect to SS16 visitation with his BM, who lives about 4 hours from us. He currently lives full time with us, and visits with BM every 2nd Christmas, every 2nd March break, 2 weeks during summer, and occasional long weekends during fall/winter. These dates were agreed upon in an informal written agreement between DH and BM. And, I want to add that BM was okay with this arrangement and wasn't interested in spending more time than was stated in the agreement.

So, fast forward to last month when SS turned 16. We decided that from now on SS would make the decision of when he wants to spend time with BM. If he wants to spend every Christmas or March break or all summer with her, we're okay with it. If he doesn't want to go there at all, we're okay with it. We're pretty certain that BM will discourage more visitation than she has currently, but we've gotten to the point where we don't want to deal with it anymore and we don't want to be the ones who (in SS's eyes) are in full control of the whole thing.

My question is this. What are the likely pitfalls of us stepping back and leaving these decision to SS and BM? Are we setting ourselves up for manipulation by BM?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Lady...


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Allowing SS16 to Make Decisions re: Visitation with BM

"...we've gotten to the point where we don't want to deal with it anymore and we don't want to be the ones who (in SS's eyes) are in full control of the whole thing."

I don't get it. You said: "These dates were agreed upon in an informal written agreement between DH and BM..." so why does SS think you are in full control and are the only ones dealing with it?

That said, I think 16 is old enough to make those decisions.


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RE: Allowing SS16 to Make Decisions re: Visitation with BM

Well, Silversword, as I said it's an informal agreement. So, nothing was written in stone. Sometimes, for whatever reason, the dates she wants to spend with SS are not convenient for us or for her. So it's always been open to change (to a degree). HOwever, our reason for wanting SS to make these decisions on his own, is because he doesn't know anything about any written agreements (at least we haven't told him), and he thinks that DH and I are the only ones making decisions about when he spends time with BM. She's always telling him how much she misses him and wishes she could spend more time with him (although she does nothing to change that). We really think he sees us as the bad guys, and we think he's old enough now to understand that BM has an equal say in how often she sees him. It's going to be a painful lesson for SS, but we feel that it's time he learned some truths (on his own, without our input).


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RE: Allowing SS16 to Make Decisions re: Visitation with BM

"time he learned some truths (on his own, without our input)."

Sometimes it's the only thing you can do, just be sure to *be there* for him.


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RE: Allowing SS16 to Make Decisions re: Visitation with BM

Oh. I see. In that case yes, I think he's old enough to know how the schedule works and let BM stand on her own two feet.


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RE: Allowing SS16 to Make Decisions re: Visitation with BM

"She's always telling him how much she misses him and wishes she could spend more time with him (although she does nothing to change that). We really think he sees us as the bad guys, and we think he's old enough now to understand that BM has an equal say in how often she sees him."

The 'he sees us as the bad guys' is the part that's singing loudest to me. And if that's your motivation, I wouldn't do it... Really. As parents, you're *supposed* to be the bad guys. Especially as parents to a teen.

This truth will hurt him -- badly. All so you can gain brownie points?
I would not spell things out for him. Sometimes a bit of 'plausible deniability' (to borrow a political term) can really spare a person's feelings. Compare "I like you as a freind" to "I'd never go out on a date with you."


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RE: Allowing SS16 to Make Decisions re: Visitation with BM

So she is one of those parents who complain how little they see the kids yet they do nothing to change it?

I think it is fine to let kids and NCP make their own decisions when to see each other.

If mom and SS truly want to see each other more then why not? But something tells me it is convenient for BM to portray you like bad guys keeping her son from her. It is her excuse.

I would not let SS know that BM really does not want to see him more than occasionally-it would hurt him badly. He probably already knows and is in denial. It is easier for him to pretend that you call the shots rather than accept the truth: mom is not that interested in her kid. It is sad.

But the bottom line is, yes, let them make their own plans. I feel bad for SS though, he'll end up being hurt...


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RE: Allowing SS16 to Make Decisions re: Visitation with BM

My sister is in a similiar situation although she is te BM and this is regarding her sons dad. Although it's flipped I don't think comparing a DS to an SS matters so I will share.
My nephew is 14 and my sister and his dad although they have a decree with set visitations, they have never followed it bc dad can't keep up with what his weekends are and his visits are so inconsistent.
My sister decided to stop following the order and let her son and his dad decide when they would see each other. The problem is when he gets in trouble he wants to go to his dad's and that doesn't always work out bc dad isn't always available or already has his weekend planned causing my nephew major upset bc then he wants to know 'why did you say I could visit when I want but then when I am ready you can't get me' which then causes a nightmare of a fight between my nephew and my sister.
I do agree with the one comment about not wanting to be the bad guy but I don't think you were really meaning you don't want the blame or you want to be his friend or gain brownie points. I see that this battle is probably exhausting since it seems you are having to 'cover' for his BM. 16 is not too young for a kid to start growing up and kind of learning what life is all about. I am one of those thinkers that an 18 yr old that was just 17 yesterday isn't all of a sudden mentally an adult bc they are of 'legal' age... Growing up takes time and in this situation, not that you want him to 'blame' his BM, I think he is going to have to be told or will figure it out sooner or later.

In my opinion, if you let him and BM make the decisions on when they will visit eventually she will say, that doesn't work for me and he is going to find out how it really is. He sees you as the bad guys bc he is angry and in my experience they blame the ones closest to them..

Hope you find peace in your situation.


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RE: Allowing SS16 to Make Decisions re: Visitation with BM

"The 'he sees us as the bad guys' is the part that's singing loudest to me. And if that's your motivation, I wouldn't do it... Really. As parents, you're *supposed* to be the bad guys. This truth will hurt him -- badly. All so you can gain brownie points?"

Sweeby, I appreciate your opinion, but we are not looking for brownie points in this situation. And, we understand that being a parent means being the "bad guy". SS just doesn't understand that BM has an equal say in when she sees him -- because she gives him the impression that DH and I are the only ones making those decisions.

We truly believe that SS is old enough now to learn that no one is perfect -- not even BM. We certainly aren't going to tell SS what we truly think of BM, but we also won't lie to him anymore to spare his feelings. Everyone has to learn the truth sometime, and IMHO, 16 is old enough to start.

So, our plan is that any visitation between SS and BM will be arranged between them. SS will be responsible for informing us of travel dates and so on (so that we can make travel arrangements one-way), otherwise it just won't happen. This is also an exercise in responsibility and organization which we hope will teach SS some important lessons about the real world.


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RE: Allowing SS16 to Make Decisions re: Visitation with BM

I'm a bit concerned with any possible legal consequences to DH unilaterally changing a written agreement, even if it's an informal one. Have you considered the possibility of SS adhering to the current agreement and any additional visitation is to be worked out between the two of them?

I understand your position, but am not sure how a judge would view it if it ends up being an extended period where SS doesn't see her at all, and she decides to go to court and say that DH is violating their agreement. I'm not sure that "we left it up to 16 yo SS to make travel plans" would be acceptable.

Please understand that I am not saying that I think your idea is wrong morally; that's not the case at all.


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RE: Allowing SS16 to Make Decisions re: Visitation with BM

Yes, Mattie, I understand what you're saying. We did the whole legal thing with her 2 years ago...and it got us nowhere. There just was no negotiating with her. Every time we agreed to something, she'd demand something else until it just became ridiculus. And we're not talking about visitation here. She didn't want to see him any more than they had already agreed, but she was demanding that we pay all travel expenses (both ways) for SS and pay for her Hotels, meals and travel costs to come here to visit with SS. This is a woman who makes twice the salary of my DH. She does pay child support, but that was an issue for her too, and she was demanding a reduction. Just crazy stuff. It cost us a small fortune in legal fees until it got to the point where DH threw up his hands and said, "that's it, I'm done". He decided to play his trump card -- he told her that he was willing to allow SS to go live with her and he would pay child support to her. Well, no surprise she dropped her demands and walked away from the table...with nothing more than they had agreed to originally. We knew she would never want SS to live with her. Sad, but true.


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RE: Allowing SS16 to Make Decisions re: Visitation with BM

Maybe this will help. I am a child of divorced parents, and my father moved out of state to re-marry once my parents were divorced. My mother pretty much had sole custody, but in their agreement it said my father got my sister and I every other holiday (Thanksgiving and Christmas) and for two weeks during the summer, and then we planned visits in between (for example, one year my sister wanted to see him for her Spring Break, so she did. And one weekend my grandparents planned a family trip and my sister and I flew up for it).

However, once my sister and I got older, to the age where we wanted to hang out with our friends at home over breaks, my father stopped forcing the issue. If we wanted to come, we were welcome. If not, that was okay too. I think at age 16, about the age I was when this went into effect, a child is completely capable of saying "I want to go see Mom this weekend" or "I want to do Thanksgiving at Moms this year". It is very sad that your SS may get hurt in this if his Mom does not want to see him more often, but in my opinion, it's better for him to realize that, and deal with it now, not hold all sorts anger inside as he grows.


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RE: Allowing SS16 to Make Decisions re: Visitation with BM

Thank you, Smashley. Your perspective is exactly what we needed. Neither DH or I have personal experience with this. I have a son from a previous marriage, but his father and I didn't divorce until DS was 22. So, I never had to deal with any of these issues that are cropping up now. You're right that SS will get hurt and that's what we expect, but we don't feel we need to protect him from that anymore.

A prime example of how this is going to pan out: DH and I are travelling this weekend to the same city where BM lives. We gave SS the option of going along and spending Saturday night with BM. He called her last night to tell her, and she blew him off. She's busy and can't have him for the night. I know it's short notice, but you would think that she'd be happy to change her plans to spend a few hours with her son who she claims to never see often enough. I think that this exercise is going to expose BM for what she really is, and it's SS's misfortune that he is going to have to deal with it.


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RE: Allowing SS16 to Make Decisions re: Visitation with BM

My SD and her BM had a blow up right before SD started high school last year, and SD stopped going for the EOW visitation she'd had for years. BM did not push her to continue, and she would go a month or two without seeing SD. Typically, the only times SD would suddenly have an interest in going to mom's were days we'd told her she had to stay home and help with chores, ot times she was in trouble for something. We couldn't say no to visitation, so off she would go. By the end of the school year SD was tired us us imposing rules like curfew and other horrible things on her, and threatened she would go live with her mom. We offered to help her pack and said we'd call to have her mom pick her up. That scared her, but we followed through. Much to our shock, the 'loving mom' who always complained she never saw her daughter enough didn't want to have that daughter live with her. In fact, she didn't even want to go back to every other set weekend visitation. Talk about an eye opener for SD - she thought for sure mom would fight to have her. At that point we laid down the 'law' - no more running to mommy when you don't get your way. No more getting to pick and choose when you like your mom enough to see her and when you don't. It's set something we can all plan around and stick to it or nothing. So, SD sees her mom EO Saturday night to Sunday evening. We no longer have the fear of 'I'll just go live with my mom' hanging over our heads, but unfortunately SD also has the knowledge that her mom didn't want her.
The sad thing is, its probably the best thing that's happened to our household. SD has become a much more respectful and reasonable teenage girl since she learned she didn't have a trump card.

Why do I tell you this long story? Two reasons. One - it's not always a bad thing for kids at this age to see things for what they are. Two - it's not always a good thing to give kids control of visitation as it impacts you as much as it impacts them. Perhaps you suggest your SS and his BM talk about refiguring a schedule that works for them both. It could be eye opening for everyone. . .


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RE: Allowing SS16 to Make Decisions re: Visitation with BM

"Typically, the only times SD would suddenly have an interest in going to mom's were days we'd told her she had to stay home and help with chores, ot times she was in trouble for something."

Bingo -- My DS would always want to go to Dad's when he didn't like what I was cooking for dinner or when there was work to be done that he couldn't get out of any other way. Then there were the times when Dad would plan super-fun things for our weekends or times when my out of state relatives would be visiting.

That's why I would never agree to 'visits at will' -- because they were always susceptable to bribes, threats or pressure tactics. We had a generous visitation schedule and practiced a flexible 'exchange' policy, so if there was ever a 'good' reason why DS wanted to see his Dad, there was never a problem. But whiny, manipulative stuff? Nope...


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RE: Allowing SS16 to Make Decisions re: Visitation with BM

Thanks Sweeby -- yes, I'm starting to see already that there will be scheduling conflicts because of this decision. But, we still reserve the right the veto any plans they make. BM and SS are already playing around with dates during Christmas. They can go ahead and make any plans they want, but if the logistics interfere with our own schedule, then they'll just have to adjust accordingly. Sounds simple, but I know it will sometimes be difficult. However, it can't be any more difficult than dealing with BM directly.


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