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Topic : Co-Parenting

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Created on : Thursday, June 30, 2005, 12:44:44 pm
Author : dataimport
Are you sharing a child with someone who doesn't live with you? Share your story and your strategies for effective parenting.

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November 17, 2008, 1:26 pm CST

My thoughts .....

Quote From: freddybear63

Hi gang!

Just wanted an opinion from those willing to give it...

I have 2 children (son 15, daughter 13), who live with me during part of their school holidays throughout the year. My partner has a daughter (4), and both are moving from interstate and into my house. While I'm obviously very excited about all this, my question relates to parenting:

Do you advise that we sit down, either as 'parents' or as a family to discuss matters of 'house rules'? After all, when I'm not at home, and my partner is with the three kids, she's in charge, and of course the converse is true...

And another question: My daughter sometimes stays up late (like 10 or 11pm), reading or listening to music on her MP3 player; she's never disruptive, and is a great child. Does anyone else think that that's too late to stay up at night? I get to the point where I sort of need to 'enforce' a 9:30pm bedtime, purely becuse she needs to get more healthy sleep. This has some impact on the establishment of 'house rules', as my partner's daughter seeing MY daughter have a later bedtime may cause some tension... but then again, older kids in families usually get SOME privileges, don't they? I can't expect a 13 yr old to go to bed at 7:30 like a 4 yr old...

Any advice/opinions would be helpful - besides my marriage, I've never lived with an extended family, with a partner who has children! I/we want to get this right...

Cheers,
Fred

Since your daughter only stays with you during the school holidays the 10/11pm bedtime is reasonable.  If she was with you during term time I'd make bedtime 10pm.  If the 4 year old objects she should be told that she can go to bed at 10pm when she is 13 but until then,,,,  My children are 17 and 7 -effectively you run two sets of household rules or face the consequences =- stroppy teenagers and a four year old who acts inappropriately and isn't popular with the mother's of other 4 year olds.

 

I suggest you do things your girlfriend's way for the 4 year old and your ESTABLISHED way for your teenagers.  If a situation arises with your children when you are not there which you haven't discussed with your girlfriend I suggest she 'phones you and tells you the problem and you determine what you want done.  If she can't reach you on the 'phone then I suggest she tells your children you'll sort it out when you get home.  Even well brought up teenagers can behave appallingly if they feel they are being disciplined unfairly and your girlfriend doesn't have the positional authority of someone like a teacher. 

 
November 18, 2008, 10:41 am CST

Looking for Hope

I am a soon to be stepmother to two wonferful little girls 7 and (very soon to be) 10  I worried about these sweet girls every second of every minute of every hour of every day,  The Father and Mother divorced in 2003 the girls were 2 and 4, first let me say that I came into the picture when the girls were 5 and 7. I am so scared for these little girls well being mentally and emotionally. I am a second time Step parent, I helped raise two wonderful boys who are now grown with families of their own. So I was and still expect a lot of things that I know will happen in a Step Parent situation. I did make face to face contact with the girls Mother, after a suggestion of conflict and I let her know that I am an easy person to get along with and if she felt any concerns about me being around HER Daughters, that she could address them with me, and we can work things out as to the better outcome for the girls. this was not taken well by her at all. I want everyone to know that I am not in anyway trying to "Take HER DAUGHTERS" no matter what us adults think or feel about each other she is and always will be their Mom. But when the girls are here for Daddy and Me time, its breaks my heart to see a little child so scared to the point of hypervenlation that daddy is going to call DHS cause she just told him "That her mom's friend wanted to talk to her mom in her mom's bed room (she the daughter didn't want to leave the room) he removed her by slapping her on the bottom"  I was asked to help calm her down cause she was crying so hard. she came to me, she sat beside me, and when I asked what she was so scared of?  It took everything I had to not cry myself. When this sweet little girl said to me "If daddy calls DHS they will take us away from Mommy, and mommy said if they take us away she will kill herself"  What does one say to something like? I hugged her and told her that her Mommy won't kill herself, and reminded her that her Daddy has NEVER CALLED DHS on her mommy. this storiy only gets worse, but I have to stop cause I still can't figure out WHAT KIND OF PERSON SAYS SOMETHING LIKE THAT TO A CHILD?? I am open to any help here, as I stated their well being is all that is IMPORTANT TO ME...  There is so much more to this whole story, but it breaks my heart to even think about it.
 
November 19, 2008, 1:30 pm CST

I'm not sure what the problem is .....

Quote From: oceanfal

I am a soon to be stepmother to two wonferful little girls 7 and (very soon to be) 10  I worried about these sweet girls every second of every minute of every hour of every day,  The Father and Mother divorced in 2003 the girls were 2 and 4, first let me say that I came into the picture when the girls were 5 and 7. I am so scared for these little girls well being mentally and emotionally. I am a second time Step parent, I helped raise two wonderful boys who are now grown with families of their own. So I was and still expect a lot of things that I know will happen in a Step Parent situation. I did make face to face contact with the girls Mother, after a suggestion of conflict and I let her know that I am an easy person to get along with and if she felt any concerns about me being around HER Daughters, that she could address them with me, and we can work things out as to the better outcome for the girls. this was not taken well by her at all. I want everyone to know that I am not in anyway trying to "Take HER DAUGHTERS" no matter what us adults think or feel about each other she is and always will be their Mom. But when the girls are here for Daddy and Me time, its breaks my heart to see a little child so scared to the point of hypervenlation that daddy is going to call DHS cause she just told him "That her mom's friend wanted to talk to her mom in her mom's bed room (she the daughter didn't want to leave the room) he removed her by slapping her on the bottom"  I was asked to help calm her down cause she was crying so hard. she came to me, she sat beside me, and when I asked what she was so scared of?  It took everything I had to not cry myself. When this sweet little girl said to me "If daddy calls DHS they will take us away from Mommy, and mommy said if they take us away she will kill herself"  What does one say to something like? I hugged her and told her that her Mommy won't kill herself, and reminded her that her Daddy has NEVER CALLED DHS on her mommy. this storiy only gets worse, but I have to stop cause I still can't figure out WHAT KIND OF PERSON SAYS SOMETHING LIKE THAT TO A CHILD?? I am open to any help here, as I stated their well being is all that is IMPORTANT TO ME...  There is so much more to this whole story, but it breaks my heart to even think about it.

You obviously feel so strongly about this that your thoughts are not getting onto the page coherently.  Did your husband say he'd call social services when he heard about the slap or did the mother and her boyfriend say that is what would happen if your step daughter let anyone know about the slap?  Either way I think you should restrict your reassurance to "I'm here and I want to help" and the like while you think carefully about non-committal responses.  Mothers do kill themselves and your husband may in the future call the authorities   As hard as it is try not to make promises you can't deliver. 

 

I know I'll get myself shot down in flames for this next bit by other stepmothers on this board but you have to resign yourself to accepting a discreet role in dealing with whatever conflict is between your husband and his ex and the conflict that the new violent boyfriend will bring.   Your best course of action is to ensure your husband does not procrastinate about whatever he decides to do.  Do not talk to the ex about the situation as you did before. 

 

Finally your previous step mothering experience may be more of a hindrance than a help.  Your stepsons' mother may have had her faults, which you were too nice to mention in your post, but essentially that situation worked because she had come to terms with the idea that divorce was likely to mean being tactful to both an ex-husband and whoever was daft enough to take him on.  You are not dealing with the same sort of essentially reasonable woman now.    

 
November 19, 2008, 8:38 pm CST

Need help,

Our divorce became effective Sept 2. This was a very long year and a half. My ex husband decided he wanted a divorce 7 days after finding out we were finaly pregnant after trying for a year and a half. It finally came out that he cheated on me and lied about it. The pregnancy was very stressful and hard. We now have a beautiful 9 1/2 month old baby girl. She is my precious angel. Since she has been here, I have been able to see how controlling, manipulative, aggessive, etc. my ex husband was and is. We are now going to a parenting counselor. His visitation is supervised by either his mom or dad, but he can pick her up and drop her off by himself, unsupervised. His anger, road rage, and seeing child porn listed on limewire on the computer is a huge concern to me. I have no proof of the porn, he took out the hard drive and replaced it, the computer doesnt even work now. I got the computer in our settlement. Everyone, the judge, counselor, supervisors, pastor, lawyers, seem to be on his side. I have been told to get over my fear of him, and the manipulation. The counselor is going to recommend unsup visitation at 1 year old, and over night from sat to sun and then at 3 years old standard visitation. He already has every tues and thurs, 6-8 and 1/3/5 sat and sun 10-3. He is controling me still yet no one can see it but me, my family, and friends.

I really need help and advice everything. I need to keep my baby safe. As well as myself, family and friends. Of which ive been told to keep out of our business and me and my ex be the parents and no outside help. This is rediculous!!!! He kept me isolated from fam and friends too. I rarely saw them.

PLEASE HELP ME AND MY BABY!!!!!!
 
November 21, 2008, 4:36 am CST

Children's Activities

Dear Dr. Phil,

I can't find the message board or the show you did on children being loaded down with extra activities.

 

This is my son's story.   He is divorced and his EX has the children in so many activities that his visitation is spent at baseball games, basketball games, running them to music classes, art classes and so on.

These activities were not imposed on the children until the divorce.  His EX found the activities were a way to control the visits with there Father. 

What we need to know is what is the best interest of the children, the activities or time with there Dad?

We need your advice ASAP. 

Thanks

 
November 21, 2008, 4:47 am CST

Children In School

Ex-wife is supposely homeschooling the oldest child, age 10.  The youngest is in public school, age 7.

Now she is going to take the 7 yrs. old out of public school and home school .

The oldest can't read very well.

Dad does not want this. The children need a better education than there Mother can give them.   He wants both children in school.

How can the EX-wife be stopped from removing the youngest from school?  The child loves going to school.  The oldest has never been in school, but needs to be.

 
February 2, 2009, 11:10 am CST

Deadbeat Dad

I'm new the board and hopefully I can find some really good advise today. I'm struggling.

I have been with my husband for 10 years but we just got married last May. 3 weeks ago I found out that he had an affair with a close friend of mine. Not only did he betray me but he betrayed her husband who is also a close friend.
The day I found out I left with our 8 year old son and went to stay at my moms. I stayed there from Thursday to the next Sunday when he finally indicated that he wanted to try and work through the issues and asked me to come home. I was gone again by the next Friday after we both admitted to each other that we weren't in love anymore. I stayed the weekend and then decided that I was sick of being the one to leave my own house when he's the one that had the affair. So I went home on Sunday and told him, if you want to be here then you be here but there are changes that need to be made if you're going to stay, otherwise you know where the door is.  Well the story could be a lot longer, I will spare you all the gory details but bottom line is,  he left . Friday at 2 am. He hasn't called one time time check on his son. He left me with $25 cash and has not answered any of my phone calls or text messages.
The marital problems are bad enough but I know we need to be seperated right now. I'm fine with that. It's the way he is treating his son that I'm so frustrated and angry about and how he's left me with all the bills.
I'm just wondering if anyone else has been through something simular and has advice on how I should deal with my son, how I answer his "where is daddy" questions.
 
February 11, 2009, 7:09 am CST

Hopefully Someone Can Help

Really long one, sorry.
My daughter is 10 years old. Her father and I split when she was 14 months old. I don't think he was ever really interested in having a relationship with her, however his mother was. Before I left I told him and his mother the I was willing to work out some sort of visiting agreement with them.  Apparently that was not good enough, so the day I left, he filed for full custody. When all of the court proceedings where said and done I have full custody and he has visitation. Throughout the next several years he has popped in and out of her life whenever he has wanted to. There have been times that she has returned in another child's dirty clothes and has not had a bath or brushed hair or teeth the whole time she was gone, other times when she has come back with burns around her mouth and bruises on the backs of her legs (all documented by the proper agencies), I have called her during visits and she tells me that she could not wake him up that morning (passed out on something) he spent time in jail (on drug and DUI charges) and rehab, and he has simply disappeared and had no explanation for where he was. All of this time I have never spoken an ill word about him in front of or to my daughter. When his mother moved away from him, he pretty much stopped calling to get her, so I tried to do visitation just with his mother. His mother tends to manipulate my daughter so that when she comes back we have some issues. She also returned her with sunburn after sunburn, after I sent sunscreen and begged her to put it on her. The last straw with her was when she returned my daughter with a severe second degree burn that she received no medical treatment for, that she did not inform me of, and she tried to extend the visit to hide it from me. I can not trust her either. After dealing with them now for 12 years, I know how manipulative they can be. Over the past two years he has called saying that he wants to "do better" I have talked to him about how he does not have much time, right now she is still okay but soon she will resent this. So he does well for a couple of months and then he disappears for 6 months when he reappears, him and his girlfriend broke up and he was depressed and blah, blah. He has never been interested in her school work, report cards, extracurricular activities. Last summer she wanted to play softball, but I told her that she could not because we had a busy summer planned. The real reason was because of planning camp I have to call him in April to plan summer visitation, he asked me if he could get her for several weeks during the summer. He disappeared, he did not get her once, NEVER EVEN CALLED. In September '08 he saw her for the first time in 6 months. During that visit he took her to a party at his brother's where he got drunk, woke her up at 2 a.m. and passed out and she could not wake him up. Between that visit and the next we had a discussion about him not drinking while she is there. When I took her for the next visit in October I arrived to drop her off at his house and he smelled like beer. I did not want to fight in front of my child so I left her there but called her a couple of hours later. When I asked him about drinking he starting yelling and acting irate. I told him that I was coming back to pick her up. When I got to his house, his mother (who has now moved back near him) showed up and brought the police with her. She thought the police would make me leave. They gave him a breathalyzer and he blew a .20, which is almost three times the legal limit to drive. They informed him that if they had shown up and he was there alone with his daughter in that condition that it would have been reason for them to remove her. They let me take her that night but advised me from a legal standpoint to allow him to reschedule the visit. I did. He had his normal Thanksgiving and Christmas visit and then he was gone again. He called at the end of January and told her he was going to get her in February. He hasn't seen her since December 27th. His court ordered weekend would be February 13-15, in order to get her, he is supposed to call the Monday before to let me know that he intends to get her so that I don't make plans to "make up" for that fact that he is not getting her. All weekend February 6-8 my daughter was telling me and my husband and my parents, "You know I won't be here for Valentine's Day because I'm going to my dad's house next weekend". Guess what? He did not call. This used to not be a big deal to my daughter, it did not seem to visibly bother her that he disappeared, broke promises, did not call, did not get her. But now, she is really upset. Forever, every time that this has happened, I have always led her to believe that either he was working or they have led her to believe that it is my fault. She is getting older and she is so smart. The only time that I have ever said anything about her father to her was the night I took her from his house, I told her that he was drunk and that is why I picked her up. Because he told her that this was all mommy's fault because mommy was stupid and a bi*%$ and over reacting, and that was all he said to her before I got there to pick her up. I would never try to change her view of her father. But I don't know what to tell her this time. She was waiting for him to call. She asked me after school Monday, that night before she went to bed, after school yesterday, and then again when I got home last night if he had called. I asked her if she wanted to call him. She said no. I don't know what to do. She has terrific male role models in her life, my husband is her daddy, she will tell you that, and my father is and has always been there for her. But none of us can do enough to make her feel wanted where her father makes her feel so unwanted. Should I get her some counseling? Should I call him? I really don't want to call him. I have had this "You need to be a better father/ You are hurting your daughter" conversation with him too many times.  I don't know what to do?
 
February 17, 2009, 6:21 am CST

Call him but limit the conversation

Quote From: katiekaboom

Really long one, sorry.
My daughter is 10 years old. Her father and I split when she was 14 months old. I don't think he was ever really interested in having a relationship with her, however his mother was. Before I left I told him and his mother the I was willing to work out some sort of visiting agreement with them.  Apparently that was not good enough, so the day I left, he filed for full custody. When all of the court proceedings where said and done I have full custody and he has visitation. Throughout the next several years he has popped in and out of her life whenever he has wanted to. There have been times that she has returned in another child's dirty clothes and has not had a bath or brushed hair or teeth the whole time she was gone, other times when she has come back with burns around her mouth and bruises on the backs of her legs (all documented by the proper agencies), I have called her during visits and she tells me that she could not wake him up that morning (passed out on something) he spent time in jail (on drug and DUI charges) and rehab, and he has simply disappeared and had no explanation for where he was. All of this time I have never spoken an ill word about him in front of or to my daughter. When his mother moved away from him, he pretty much stopped calling to get her, so I tried to do visitation just with his mother. His mother tends to manipulate my daughter so that when she comes back we have some issues. She also returned her with sunburn after sunburn, after I sent sunscreen and begged her to put it on her. The last straw with her was when she returned my daughter with a severe second degree burn that she received no medical treatment for, that she did not inform me of, and she tried to extend the visit to hide it from me. I can not trust her either. After dealing with them now for 12 years, I know how manipulative they can be. Over the past two years he has called saying that he wants to "do better" I have talked to him about how he does not have much time, right now she is still okay but soon she will resent this. So he does well for a couple of months and then he disappears for 6 months when he reappears, him and his girlfriend broke up and he was depressed and blah, blah. He has never been interested in her school work, report cards, extracurricular activities. Last summer she wanted to play softball, but I told her that she could not because we had a busy summer planned. The real reason was because of planning camp I have to call him in April to plan summer visitation, he asked me if he could get her for several weeks during the summer. He disappeared, he did not get her once, NEVER EVEN CALLED. In September '08 he saw her for the first time in 6 months. During that visit he took her to a party at his brother's where he got drunk, woke her up at 2 a.m. and passed out and she could not wake him up. Between that visit and the next we had a discussion about him not drinking while she is there. When I took her for the next visit in October I arrived to drop her off at his house and he smelled like beer. I did not want to fight in front of my child so I left her there but called her a couple of hours later. When I asked him about drinking he starting yelling and acting irate. I told him that I was coming back to pick her up. When I got to his house, his mother (who has now moved back near him) showed up and brought the police with her. She thought the police would make me leave. They gave him a breathalyzer and he blew a .20, which is almost three times the legal limit to drive. They informed him that if they had shown up and he was there alone with his daughter in that condition that it would have been reason for them to remove her. They let me take her that night but advised me from a legal standpoint to allow him to reschedule the visit. I did. He had his normal Thanksgiving and Christmas visit and then he was gone again. He called at the end of January and told her he was going to get her in February. He hasn't seen her since December 27th. His court ordered weekend would be February 13-15, in order to get her, he is supposed to call the Monday before to let me know that he intends to get her so that I don't make plans to "make up" for that fact that he is not getting her. All weekend February 6-8 my daughter was telling me and my husband and my parents, "You know I won't be here for Valentine's Day because I'm going to my dad's house next weekend". Guess what? He did not call. This used to not be a big deal to my daughter, it did not seem to visibly bother her that he disappeared, broke promises, did not call, did not get her. But now, she is really upset. Forever, every time that this has happened, I have always led her to believe that either he was working or they have led her to believe that it is my fault. She is getting older and she is so smart. The only time that I have ever said anything about her father to her was the night I took her from his house, I told her that he was drunk and that is why I picked her up. Because he told her that this was all mommy's fault because mommy was stupid and a bi*%$ and over reacting, and that was all he said to her before I got there to pick her up. I would never try to change her view of her father. But I don't know what to tell her this time. She was waiting for him to call. She asked me after school Monday, that night before she went to bed, after school yesterday, and then again when I got home last night if he had called. I asked her if she wanted to call him. She said no. I don't know what to do. She has terrific male role models in her life, my husband is her daddy, she will tell you that, and my father is and has always been there for her. But none of us can do enough to make her feel wanted where her father makes her feel so unwanted. Should I get her some counseling? Should I call him? I really don't want to call him. I have had this "You need to be a better father/ You are hurting your daughter" conversation with him too many times.  I don't know what to do?

If he didn't appear last weekend despite not having confirmed then I suggest you call to see if he wants to rearrange and to remind him when the next scheduled visit is due.  As far as your daughter is concerned I think you need to talk to her about character and personality.  This need to be planned carefully but aim to leave her with the idea that some people eg her father never see the big picture, live "in the moment" and are hopeless at forward planning and being reliable.  You accept them as they are and enjoy their company when you can, whilst trying not to take their thoughtlessness personally. 

 

If your ex still doesn't show up in the next couple of months then I would ring your ex-MIL, give her the details of the next visit and ask her to make sure he turns up. 

 

Given the history I doubt your calls will increase the frequency with which your ex turns up but at least you will feel you have done your duty as best you could.   

 
May 9, 2009, 4:00 pm CDT

Enough Already!!!

My husband nd I were married 15 years ago. Both of us had been married before. We each brought children to the marriage. But we had different "life plans". If you LOVE your children... you will develop a PLAN for your children regardless WHO is in or out of that child's life.

MY PLAN: I wanted my children to grow up to be responsible, educated, contributing to society, adults. I wanted them to be kind, thoughtful and sympathetic to suffering of others.

I had decided way before the NEW husband, that it was important for my children to LOVE their father. If he was jerk...they would figure it out on their own before they were 50... they were smart girls... (we divorced when they were toddlers). Who knew? He might even straighten out by then... win-win, right?

I worked a lot of "off shifts" to spend time with my girls. I was blessed to find good live-in help. I also went to school to finish my degree. So my girls saw that education was inportant. I volunteered EVERY WEEK in each of their classes when they were in grade school. We enrolled in extra ciricular activities. One at a time, and they made a contract that if they started an activity, they would finish it because it was an expeniture of family resources, which were limited. and school always came first. If grades dropped...so did the activity. Manners were important. As was church and sunday school. Every year we counted our blessings, they gave away 1/3 of their toys to the "poor kids" so Santa would have room for more toys. They never asked for Nintendo...because it "cost a hundred bucks" and they knew Santa was real the year he brought one. They were grateful for their toys, their friends, and their family. When our family suddenly expanded they graciously moved over and made room. Now, they didn't let themselves get bullied either.

Today, They are each college graduates, both with 2 majors and both helped to support themselves through college. Neither one has made a life shattering mistake, although each of them has had to face pivotal moments and chose wisely...since leaving home and as teenagers. But we did a lot of groudwork when they were little that help us though the tough times. I thank their father for supporting that PLAN.

Unfortuneately:

HIS PLAN: ?????

We talked a lot before we were married. I even discussed my plan for the children. I even thought he was listening.

When the kids were little, it didn't seem to make a difference. I had a plan. They would slip into the plan that I had. He would support that...Life would be good. . . Wrong.

Values have to have the same weight for both parents or the step-parent is cancelled out. Rather the children go the "path of least resistance". If one parent is not expecting them to succeed in school, they will do only as well as the lowest standard that is held up for them. If you expect them to be making A's & B's, unless there is a physical reason why they shouldnot acheive, your child will make A's & B's. If you tell them "just don't come home with a D" you can bet, they are coming home with at least a D.

And that is what happened to my stepchildren. It didn't matter that I wanted them to succeed. That I loved them with all of my heart. That I worked nights to be home when they were there so that they could have adult supervision. . . One of them got a GED, the others did graduate from high school. One went to war in Iraq, but didn't do so well when he got home...Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He didn't make it. One got so messed up on drugs we don't know if that caused mental illness or the mental illness caused the drug use. We have one success...kind of... he is working and socializes well but is in a go no where job... He could be so much more!!

All my husband and his ex did for 10 years was battle. Neither one of them actually was looking out for the best interest of the children. it didn't matter how many times that I would sit with him and talk to him about these things. Try to get him to read, and educate himself. It didn't happen. So why did MY KIDS turn out OK?? He is a wonderful, supportive person. As long as I was making the major decisions about them, he was great in a supporting role. Not i the Major role as parent though. Shouldering the main responsibility was too much for both him and his ex. and his kids paid the price. We have all paid the price. My girls have lost a brother... and now they have a sister they can't reach...

They also were targeted by the ex who drilled into my step children's heads that they "have more than you do" "They are spoiled" She never mentioned the fact that these girls worked part-time their whole lives. Or that they have a budget for school clothes and were made to take care of their things.

 

I hope that all of you ex- parents out there just STOP your fighting!! It can be done!!! Kids do turn out OK!!  I am so sad for my step-kids and so proud of all of my kids for having survived a crazy childhood!

 
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