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10 year old SD wants to live with her mom...DH is freaking out...

Posted by on May. 6, 2013 at 10:26 PM
  • 38 Replies

When DH and his ex divorced they went through a mediator to settle custody. They would have equal time until SD started school then primary custody would go to DH and BM would get her every other weekend. Well, as it turned out before SD even started school BM didn't want her every other week like they'd decided. She asked DH to do the every other weekend thing instead. They didn't go through the courts for it, they just started doing it when SD was 4. I started dating DH a week before SD turned 5. BM moved out of state the summer before SD was supposed to start kindergarten. Again they modified their custody without going to court about it. BM would get SD every summer and either for Christmas or Spring Break of each school year.

The first summer BM was supposed to have SD she decided to travel abroad instead (she was in college and living with her own parents...still lives with her own parents). So she went over a year without seeing her only child, she called her twice in that year. Once on SD's 6th birthday and once to tell SD that she wasn't going to take her for the summer. She'd send random little notes in the mail, maybe once a month.

She's had SD every summer since then, and for the school holidays that she was supposed to have her. BM had SD last Christmas and apparently they talked about SD coming to live with them. I have several problems with this situation, but I'm only the stepmother...DH is also sort of freaking out about the thought of letting SD live with BM. Here are our concerns:

1. BM is bipolar and off her meds more than she's on them, when she's off them she gets really hateful and mean. The grandmother sent SD home early from Christmas vacation because BM was going in a downward spiral due to being off her meds and hitting a depressive stage.

2. BM has not been involved in the day-to-day rearing of her child in nearly 7 years, she opted into doing the every other weekend thing when SD was 3.

3. They're always complaining about how broke they are and that's why they can't do a lot to contribute to SD financially.

4. BM lives with her own parents so SD would have to share a bedroom with her. They have bunk beds.

5. They want to homeschool SD. BM was homeschooled until she was in 8th grade then she finished in public school. She did well academically but suffered socially. Her mom was also slightly abusive, more towards BM's brother than towards BM. DH and I both feel that BM is not stable enough to homeschool SD and that the grandmother is not up to date enough or patient enough to homeschool SD. She's had such a stellar school year this year, I'd hate to see all that hard work disappear because they aren't working with her consistantly.

When we asked why SD wanted to live with her mom these are the reasons she gave:

1. She really misses her mom.

2. She feels crowded here (we have a three bedroom house, she has her own bedroom while her three little sisters share a bedroom, but we are expecting another baby any day now).

3. She likes being the only child there, she gets more attention and less responsibility (that's not exactly how she phrased it, but basically she doesn't have chores there but she does here).

4. She likes the idea of being homeschooled, she thinks it'll be easier.

Given these details...how would you approach this situation? I told DH he needs to call BM and see if she was even serious. She made this offer of having SD come live with her when she was not on her medications and going into a depressive state. I don't want SD to go, but I do get her reasons and I do trust that the grandfather will see to SD's safety. I can't say too much about grandmother and BM.

by on May. 6, 2013 at 10:26 PM
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Replies (1-10):
momof2ex1
by Ruby Member on May. 6, 2013 at 10:38 PM
I don't know. I'm against my dd going to live with her father and I don't think I would ever agree to it. I would have to lose custody.

However, I went to live with my dad when I was 11. I begged for quite a while until mom finally gave in and let me go. Grass seemed greener. Missed my dad. I had never lived with him (not since I was an infant) so I had this real need to know what it was like to LIVE with my dad. It lasted for nearly three years. I became very appreciative of my mom. It brought my mom and I closer. It healed some wounds and it made me realize that sometimes the grass is not always greener and that we should appreciate what we have in life and not wish for something more than what we are capable of obtaining. (In my case, a relationship with my dad like a real daddy daughter bond).
My mom said it was the best decision she ever made. Sure she missed me. She cried a lot and the house was oddly silent every day... But in the end, it really was the best decision and it allowed us to spend the last four years of my childhood, enjoying life and not fighting or me 'wondering' what it was like at dads.

So I don't know what I would do. Even with the story and the experience I've had, I still don't think I could do it.
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JacyB
by Bronze Member on May. 6, 2013 at 11:28 PM
1) Completely valid concern. Should custody change your husband should see about a clause reqiuring her to be under the care of a physician and on any medication prescribed to her.

2) That's a no go. The fact that she chose to be every other weekend does not make her unqualified in and of itself. There are many fantastic parents who have every other weekend and would continue to be good parents if they had the child fulltime. In fact, I think it is a mark of good parenting to recognize that you're not capable of having the responsibility of fulltime and allowing the other (capable) parent to take the child while you get your act together instead of selfishly demanding full custody.


3) Another no go. Just because she can't always contribute extra to your household doesn't mean she wouldn't be capable of providing financially if SD lived with her. Presumably she have less money going out in child support plus be recieving additional money from you.

4) Yet again, invalid. Living with her parents doesn't make her a bad parent. Sharing a room doesn't make her a bad parent. In addition, she may be waiting to move out until she knows for sure what's going on and can make arrangements for the appropriate living situation. If SD is to live with her fulltime she might choose a different location than if she were to move out by herself for example.

5) a) the abuse is a HUGE concern. I would willing hand my child over to live with someone abusive. That being said, as mentioned above she may intend on moving elsewhere which would make this point moot. In either case, I would agree to a custody change only if it were stated in the court order that the child was not to be alone with grandma under any circumstances .
b) if mom is on her meds, there's no reason she shouldn't be capable of homeschooling. "We think she could be unstable" isn't a reason. However, she might look into it and decide its not for her. It can be a lot of work though highly beneficial if done well. It's also a fantastic opportunity for your SD to spend quality time with mom.
c) a stellar school year this year doesn't necessarily have any bearing on next year, regardless of where the child intends. Something that "might" happen isn't a valid reason to completely shut everything down.

It sounds like your house is way to small for all the people you have in it and that this would be a good expirence for your SD to have. Assuming BM will comply with her medication, I generally think its best that kids get to live with each of their parents at some point (assuming its a safe environment and all that) and this is a good age for it. If it were me I would agree to a (legally binding) one year trial period with protections in place (i.e. she goes off her meds, SD comes home immediately. She leaves her with abusive grandma, SD comes home immediately. In addition, the homeschooling curriculum that's choosen is available to you and you get to see schoolwork and progress reports regularly) and see how things are after a year.
jules2boys
by Gold Member on May. 6, 2013 at 11:31 PM

Is there a CO in place that states what custody is?  If so, there hasn't been a big enough change (in either situation) to warrant a change in custody and at 10, SD isn't old enough (in  most states) for a judge to give her a voice towards that change. 

If SD wanted ice cream and chocolate cake for dinner each night, would BF also 'freak out'?  Or would he simply say no, and hand her her dinner plate, the same food everyone else was having for dinner?  He should approach this the same way.  Acknowledge that things could seem 'easier' with BM BUT, she's never 'lived' there, she's only visited, so she really doesn't know what's best.  Plus, at 10, she doesn't have enough life experience to know everything either.  I have this same conversation with my DS10 often... HE knows he knows everything.  I know he doesn't.  And, fortunately, at 10, MY word still is the final word.  When he's 18, he can have the final word, final decision.  Now, at 10, I still get to say no and he has to accept it. 

But, really, she's 10.  Of COURSE she'd rather live somewhere that she doesn't have chores, people dote on her, there's no competition for anything, I love vacation where I can have room service and don't have to make my own bed because the hotel will do it for me.  That doesn't mean I CAN live there... but I'd sure like to... at least I think I would until that because the norm, then I might miss my 'old home'.  kwim?  At 10, I can totally see her point, mom's home is fun, dad's is 'reality'.  But, in the end, reality is where most of us need to be.  :)  Be understanding to her wants but just because she wants something doesn't mean she should have it. 

momof2ex1
by Ruby Member on May. 7, 2013 at 12:43 AM
You can absolutely live in a hotel room. People do it all the time. Not a good analogy.




Quoting jules2boys:

Is there a CO in place that states what custody is?  If so, there hasn't been a big enough change (in either situation) to warrant a change in custody and at 10, SD isn't old enough (in  most states) for a judge to give her a voice towards that change. 

If SD wanted ice cream and chocolate cake for dinner each night, would BF also 'freak out'?  Or would he simply say no, and hand her her dinner plate, the same food everyone else was having for dinner?  He should approach this the same way.  Acknowledge that things could seem 'easier' with BM BUT, she's never 'lived' there, she's only visited, so she really doesn't know what's best.  Plus, at 10, she doesn't have enough life experience to know everything either.  I have this same conversation with my DS10 often... HE knows he knows everything.  I know he doesn't.  And, fortunately, at 10, MY word still is the final word.  When he's 18, he can have the final word, final decision.  Now, at 10, I still get to say no and he has to accept it. 

But, really, she's 10.  Of COURSE she'd rather live somewhere that she doesn't have chores, people dote on her, there's no competition for anything, I love vacation where I can have room service and don't have to make my own bed because the hotel will do it for me.  That doesn't mean I CAN live there... but I'd sure like to... at least I think I would until that because the norm, then I might miss my 'old home'.  kwim?  At 10, I can totally see her point, mom's home is fun, dad's is 'reality'.  But, in the end, reality is where most of us need to be.  :)  Be understanding to her wants but just because she wants something doesn't mean she should have it. 


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momof2ex1
by Ruby Member on May. 7, 2013 at 12:46 AM
Thank you for pointing out that a single parent living with their parents is not a bad thing. I lived with my parents when I was divorced. I was there for a few years. It just made sense. They helped me a lot since I had to work and was going to school. And ex was off doing whatever he does. He used it against me in court and the judge was not impressed. She asked if he was willing to modify child support to help me to provide a home of my own. She also noted that she likes community homes. She likes grandma and grandpa being in the home. More adults to help with the little ones. A solid and sound support system. I had one he did not. No family anywhere around. I did not lose custody over it.


Quoting JacyB:

1) Completely valid concern. Should custody change your husband should see about a clause reqiuring her to be under the care of a physician and on any medication prescribed to her.



2) That's a no go. The fact that she chose to be every other weekend does not make her unqualified in and of itself. There are many fantastic parents who have every other weekend and would continue to be good parents if they had the child fulltime. In fact, I think it is a mark of good parenting to recognize that you're not capable of having the responsibility of fulltime and allowing the other (capable) parent to take the child while you get your act together instead of selfishly demanding full custody.





3) Another no go. Just because she can't always contribute extra to your household doesn't mean she wouldn't be capable of providing financially if SD lived with her. Presumably she have less money going out in child support plus be recieving additional money from you.



4) Yet again, invalid. Living with her parents doesn't make her a bad parent. Sharing a room doesn't make her a bad parent. In addition, she may be waiting to move out until she knows for sure what's going on and can make arrangements for the appropriate living situation. If SD is to live with her fulltime she might choose a different location than if she were to move out by herself for example.



5) a) the abuse is a HUGE concern. I would willing hand my child over to live with someone abusive. That being said, as mentioned above she may intend on moving elsewhere which would make this point moot. In either case, I would agree to a custody change only if it were stated in the court order that the child was not to be alone with grandma under any circumstances .

b) if mom is on her meds, there's no reason she shouldn't be capable of homeschooling. "We think she could be unstable" isn't a reason. However, she might look into it and decide its not for her. It can be a lot of work though highly beneficial if done well. It's also a fantastic opportunity for your SD to spend quality time with mom.

c) a stellar school year this year doesn't necessarily have any bearing on next year, regardless of where the child intends. Something that "might" happen isn't a valid reason to completely shut everything down.



It sounds like your house is way to small for all the people you have in it and that this would be a good expirence for your SD to have. Assuming BM will comply with her medication, I generally think its best that kids get to live with each of their parents at some point (assuming its a safe environment and all that) and this is a good age for it. If it were me I would agree to a (legally binding) one year trial period with protections in place (i.e. she goes off her meds, SD comes home immediately. She leaves her with abusive grandma, SD comes home immediately. In addition, the homeschooling curriculum that's choosen is available to you and you get to see schoolwork and progress reports regularly) and see how things are after a year.

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jules2boys
by Gold Member on May. 7, 2013 at 12:54 AM

I was thinking along the lines of a 4 star hotel, vacation scenario.  Guess I didn't make that clear. 

Quoting momof2ex1:

You can absolutely live in a hotel room. People do it all the time. Not a good analogy.
Quoting jules2boys:

Is there a CO in place that states what custody is?  If so, there hasn't been a big enough change (in either situation) to warrant a change in custody and at 10, SD isn't old enough (in  most states) for a judge to give her a voice towards that change. 

If SD wanted ice cream and chocolate cake for dinner each night, would BF also 'freak out'?  Or would he simply say no, and hand her her dinner plate, the same food everyone else was having for dinner?  He should approach this the same way.  Acknowledge that things could seem 'easier' with BM BUT, she's never 'lived' there, she's only visited, so she really doesn't know what's best.  Plus, at 10, she doesn't have enough life experience to know everything either.  I have this same conversation with my DS10 often... HE knows he knows everything.  I know he doesn't.  And, fortunately, at 10, MY word still is the final word.  When he's 18, he can have the final word, final decision.  Now, at 10, I still get to say no and he has to accept it. 

But, really, she's 10.  Of COURSE she'd rather live somewhere that she doesn't have chores, people dote on her, there's no competition for anything, I love vacation where I can have room service and don't have to make my own bed because the hotel will do it for me.  That doesn't mean I CAN live there... but I'd sure like to... at least I think I would until that because the norm, then I might miss my 'old home'.  kwim?  At 10, I can totally see her point, mom's home is fun, dad's is 'reality'.  But, in the end, reality is where most of us need to be.  :)  Be understanding to her wants but just because she wants something doesn't mean she should have it. 




momof2ex1
by Ruby Member on May. 7, 2013 at 12:57 AM
Hey! If I was rich that is where I would live. Penthouse!!!


Quoting jules2boys:

I was thinking along the lines of a 4 star hotel, vacation scenario.  Guess I didn't make that clear. 


Quoting momof2ex1:

You can absolutely live in a hotel room. People do it all the time. Not a good analogy.

Quoting jules2boys:

Is there a CO in place that states what custody is?  If so, there hasn't been a big enough change (in either situation) to warrant a change in custody and at 10, SD isn't old enough (in  most states) for a judge to give her a voice towards that change. 

If SD wanted ice cream and chocolate cake for dinner each night, would BF also 'freak out'?  Or would he simply say no, and hand her her dinner plate, the same food everyone else was having for dinner?  He should approach this the same way.  Acknowledge that things could seem 'easier' with BM BUT, she's never 'lived' there, she's only visited, so she really doesn't know what's best.  Plus, at 10, she doesn't have enough life experience to know everything either.  I have this same conversation with my DS10 often... HE knows he knows everything.  I know he doesn't.  And, fortunately, at 10, MY word still is the final word.  When he's 18, he can have the final word, final decision.  Now, at 10, I still get to say no and he has to accept it. 

But, really, she's 10.  Of COURSE she'd rather live somewhere that she doesn't have chores, people dote on her, there's no competition for anything, I love vacation where I can have room service and don't have to make my own bed because the hotel will do it for me.  That doesn't mean I CAN live there... but I'd sure like to... at least I think I would until that because the norm, then I might miss my 'old home'.  kwim?  At 10, I can totally see her point, mom's home is fun, dad's is 'reality'.  But, in the end, reality is where most of us need to be.  :)  Be understanding to her wants but just because she wants something doesn't mean she should have it. 







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MamaMoopsie
by Bronze Member on May. 7, 2013 at 9:49 AM
I'm sorry that I implied that living with ones parents is a bad thing. I don't think it is...I've had to do it as well. My problem with their living situation is that the grandparents provide everything financially. BM moved with them to another state to finish her college education, which was fine (and highly encouraged by all of us) but she graduated two years ago and since then has not worked or done anything to contribute financially towards her daughter. We do not recieve child support from her--it's never really been an issue because we can afford to provide everything for SD, but it does bother me that BM basically lives completely dependent on her parents (who aren't in the greatest health). DH and I are concerned about what happens if the grandfather dies? It's his retirement that is providing for their family.
Quoting momof2ex1:

Thank you for pointing out that a single parent living with their parents is not a bad thing. I lived with my parents when I was divorced. I was there for a few years. It just made sense. They helped me a lot since I had to work and was going to school. And ex was off doing whatever he does. He used it against me in court and the judge was not impressed. She asked if he was willing to modify child support to help me to provide a home of my own. She also noted that she likes community homes. She likes grandma and grandpa being in the home. More adults to help with the little ones. A solid and sound support system. I had one he did not. No family anywhere around. I did not lose custody over it.


Quoting JacyB:

1) Completely valid concern. Should custody change your husband should see about a clause reqiuring her to be under the care of a physician and on any medication prescribed to her.



2) That's a no go. The fact that she chose to be every other weekend does not make her unqualified in and of itself. There are many fantastic parents who have every other weekend and would continue to be good parents if they had the child fulltime. In fact, I think it is a mark of good parenting to recognize that you're not capable of having the responsibility of fulltime and allowing the other (capable) parent to take the child while you get your act together instead of selfishly demanding full custody.





3) Another no go. Just because she can't always contribute extra to your household doesn't mean she wouldn't be capable of providing financially if SD lived with her. Presumably she have less money going out in child support plus be recieving additional money from you.



4) Yet again, invalid. Living with her parents doesn't make her a bad parent. Sharing a room doesn't make her a bad parent. In addition, she may be waiting to move out until she knows for sure what's going on and can make arrangements for the appropriate living situation. If SD is to live with her fulltime she might choose a different location than if she were to move out by herself for example.



5) a) the abuse is a HUGE concern. I would willing hand my child over to live with someone abusive. That being said, as mentioned above she may intend on moving elsewhere which would make this point moot. In either case, I would agree to a custody change only if it were stated in the court order that the child was not to be alone with grandma under any circumstances .

b) if mom is on her meds, there's no reason she shouldn't be capable of homeschooling. "We think she could be unstable" isn't a reason. However, she might look into it and decide its not for her. It can be a lot of work though highly beneficial if done well. It's also a fantastic opportunity for your SD to spend quality time with mom.

c) a stellar school year this year doesn't necessarily have any bearing on next year, regardless of where the child intends. Something that "might" happen isn't a valid reason to completely shut everything down.



It sounds like your house is way to small for all the people you have in it and that this would be a good expirence for your SD to have. Assuming BM will comply with her medication, I generally think its best that kids get to live with each of their parents at some point (assuming its a safe environment and all that) and this is a good age for it. If it were me I would agree to a (legally binding) one year trial period with protections in place (i.e. she goes off her meds, SD comes home immediately. She leaves her with abusive grandma, SD comes home immediately. In addition, the homeschooling curriculum that's choosen is available to you and you get to see schoolwork and progress reports regularly) and see how things are after a year.


MamaMoopsie
by Bronze Member on May. 7, 2013 at 10:08 AM

 The non-medication is my husband's biggest concern, honestly. She doesn't become physically abusive when she's off her meds, but does become very verbally abusive.

I should mention, as well, that even when she had the every other weekend situation she wouldn't actually take care of SD, she left her with the grandmother or a family friend. You're right though, that doesn't mean she's a bad parent. This is where I become a little torn. In previous summers BM would get frustrated with SD because she was too "needy" but last summer they got along very well, BM and grandmother worked with SD on her math skills (which she was struggling with) and they all had a good summer. SD did start calling me about halfway through the summer saying she was lonely and missed us and that her mom was always sleeping, but she didn't sound miserable like she has during other summers. I think BM is able to handle longer periods of time with SD now that she's become more self-sufficient.

 

She'd have to have some sort of job before she could move out. As far as we're aware she isn't even looking for a job. It's been two years since she graduated college. She has done some volunteer work at a Christian store and at a museum, but has not had a paying job in over 5 years.

As for the abusive grandmother she had years of therapy and according to SD she has never lifted a hand against SD, but she does get very impatient when SD struggles with a learning concept. You're right, that BM might be capable of homeschooling, but I don't think it's her idea to homeschool, I think it's the grandmothers.

 

I'm torn about the situation. I see this budding relationship between BM and SD that they haven't had until the last year or so and I want that them to have a good relationship, but there are some red flags about the way they handle SD, but none of them are major enough to say that BM is an unfit parent, they're just not in sync with what DH and I believe about child rearing. Putting that aside the only major concern we have is BM going off her meds repeatedly.

We do have a three bedroom house now, but SD has her own room in our house and we're planning on buying in the next year. The new baby will stay in our room until we move into a house with more bedrooms.

 

 


Quoting JacyB:

1) Completely valid concern. Should custody change your husband should see about a clause reqiuring her to be under the care of a physician and on any medication prescribed to her.

2) That's a no go. The fact that she chose to be every other weekend does not make her unqualified in and of itself. There are many fantastic parents who have every other weekend and would continue to be good parents if they had the child fulltime. In fact, I think it is a mark of good parenting to recognize that you're not capable of having the responsibility of fulltime and allowing the other (capable) parent to take the child while you get your act together instead of selfishly demanding full custody.


3) Another no go. Just because she can't always contribute extra to your household doesn't mean she wouldn't be capable of providing financially if SD lived with her. Presumably she have less money going out in child support plus be recieving additional money from you.

4) Yet again, invalid. Living with her parents doesn't make her a bad parent. Sharing a room doesn't make her a bad parent. In addition, she may be waiting to move out until she knows for sure what's going on and can make arrangements for the appropriate living situation. If SD is to live with her fulltime she might choose a different location than if she were to move out by herself for example.

5) a) the abuse is a HUGE concern. I would willing hand my child over to live with someone abusive. That being said, as mentioned above she may intend on moving elsewhere which would make this point moot. In either case, I would agree to a custody change only if it were stated in the court order that the child was not to be alone with grandma under any circumstances .
b) if mom is on her meds, there's no reason she shouldn't be capable of homeschooling. "We think she could be unstable" isn't a reason. However, she might look into it and decide its not for her. It can be a lot of work though highly beneficial if done well. It's also a fantastic opportunity for your SD to spend quality time with mom.
c) a stellar school year this year doesn't necessarily have any bearing on next year, regardless of where the child intends. Something that "might" happen isn't a valid reason to completely shut everything down.

It sounds like your house is way to small for all the people you have in it and that this would be a good expirence for your SD to have. Assuming BM will comply with her medication, I generally think its best that kids get to live with each of their parents at some point (assuming its a safe environment and all that) and this is a good age for it. If it were me I would agree to a (legally binding) one year trial period with protections in place (i.e. she goes off her meds, SD comes home immediately. She leaves her with abusive grandma, SD comes home immediately. In addition, the homeschooling curriculum that's choosen is available to you and you get to see schoolwork and progress reports regularly) and see how things are after a year.


 

whatIknownow
by Ruby Member on May. 7, 2013 at 10:12 AM
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I would not support changing custody in this sitch. I personally think there has to be a really good reason for changing custody, and I'm not seeing a good reason here.

but, I do think that maybe something could be worked out so that SD has more access to her mom and spends more time with her.

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