You are here

High School graduation next weekend. Should I go?

Enuzzo's picture

I have a major dilemma right now. I've known my two step-children since they were 2 and 4 and love their father dearly. In the beginning, our relationship with his ex was okay and co-parenting wasn't too terrible. We split the kids 50/50 having them every other week. I desperately wanted my own child but sadly my husband's vasectomy reversal was unsuccessful. Since I was already parenting my two step-kiddos, I fully embraced the job of mom and loved and cared for them as my own. Though it hurt that they didn't love me like their biomom, I was realistic about not being able to compete for their affections and just did the best I could.

As they got older into their teenage years, they started acting miserable at our house and at times rude. I just chalked it up to teenage angst and the fact we lived out of town which they hated. When the oldest turned 14, their stepdad (not the kids or biomom) explained that the kids wanted to move in full-time with mom. This didn't come as a surprise because we knew how miserable they were. My husband was hurt but didn't fight it, but he also didn't really communicate with the kids for the next couple months. I, on the other hand, initiated contact with the oldest and eventually my husband came around and we would go out to eat together about once a month though they never wanted to come back to our house for dinner or to even pick up the rest of their stuff which we found odd. When either of them wanted something, I always took them shopping for whatever they needed. We did not have a child support agreement in place because at some point the ex told my husband he no longer had to pay support since she was doing well financially. However, they never filed anything with the court. We continued to pay for clothes, school supplies, extracurriculars, etc. when the ex started coming after my husband for child support. A totally reasonable request but my husband wanted to do it the right way through the court system and not through some verbal agreement.

Knowing the kids were fine and happy and could care less about us, we moved to Florida. My husband moved down first and I moved a couple months later while I finished up with my job. The day I arrived, my husband got a notice from the child support enforcement agency (the exes' timing has always been impeccable). Not only did it enforce the original child support amount which was totally acceptable, but it also included the years of back child support that he owed after they had their verbal agreement. So my husband did the right thing and paid the entire amount off instead of disputing it and has been diligently paying child support ever since.

Before I moved down to Florida, my stepdaughter needed some new shoes for lacrosse which I happily purchased for her along with some other gear, but the shoes weren't cleats though I tried to convince her that's what she needed. Meanwhile, she hadn't communicated with her dad at all except for the obligatory monthly meal when she texted him to ask for a pair of cleats the week I was moving down to Florida. I had just quit my job and spent over $100 on those shoes! Long story short, my husband knew I had just purchased her shoes and so he said no. After that, the youngest stopped talking to us and the oldest called my husband to tell him what a horrible person he was for not buying his daughter a pair of shoes! During that conversation, my husband could hear both my stepdaughter and his ex telling my stepson what to say in the background.

During the rest of our time in Florida and since we've moved back, the ex has been constantly threatening my husband with legal action for more money. She doesn't work and lives off her current husband's income and child support. My husband doesn't respond fearing that whatever he says will be relayed to the children or could be used against him. He bought her a house as part of the divorce that she rents out AND she lives in a $600,000 house where we live in a small condo after selling our big house once the kids moved out. Long story short, every time the ex threatens to send my husband to court and he doesn’t respond, the kids stop talking to us. The latest episode was when my stepson was livid that he only got $1000 for college after we told him for years we couldn't afford to pay for his tuition and encouraged him to get scholarships and financial aid. We even sent him scholarship applications and other financial aid opportunities. Two months after we attended his high school graduation, he sent my husband an 11-page letter outlining why he is a horrible father. Interestingly, he mentioned that no one told him to write the letter...

The moral of the story is the ex has probably always talked badly about us, and my stepson even told me that the child support was "never enough" after I told him he shouldn't be privy to that information in the first place. My husband refuses to have a relationship with either one of them while I occasionally see my stepson but rarely see my stepdaughter. So because I don't have much of a relationship with my stepdaughter, her graduation is happening next weekend and I know she's having a party that we have not been invited too. I'm torn as to whether or not I should go to the actual graduation. My husband doesn't want me to go and I know it would just make me feel bad knowing she probably doesn't care whether or not I'm even there. We plan to get her a card and gift at the very least. Should I go anyway??? Thank you!


tog redux's picture

It sounds like these kids have been alienated from their father by BM, but he hasn't helped the problem any by counter-rejecting them. It's fine for him to ignore BM's money threats and not buy extras, but he shouldn't be refusing to speak to them, he should be letting them know he loves them and the door is always open.

You've overheard yourselves how BM and the sister manipulate the son - older kids often help alienate younger kids. I hope your husband can find some empathy for them (I say this as someone whose stepson was alienated for over three years), instead of feeling so rejected and rejecting them back.

Anyway, on to your question - yes, you and he should both go to her graduation. DH and I went to my SS's, even though they hadn't spoken (by SS's choice) in years.  SS was not there, as it turns out (he skipped it), but it was a way of showing that we still cared.

Enuzzo's picture

I agree my husband should not continue to estrange himself but he's been hurt so many times and he fears (whether founded or unfounded) that they are all conspiring against him which I too believe to be true. I am very careful with what I say to my stepson who is actually the older sibling because I know it will get back to mom. I am the one that always brings them back together and then the kids will do something horrible again. He's only protecting himself and whether or not it's right or wrong, I've given up trying to force him to continue his relationship with the children. I can only hope he'll come around some day. However, he won't go to graduation but I plan to go with my mom. Thanks so much for your input!

STaround's picture

I do not think you should go.  I am sorry about all this.

If your stepkid's stepfather makes a lot of money, I doubt he will clarify for much financial aid. Not that dad has to pay, but I hope that you and dad are not sending the kid information for need based aid.   I thnk that the years that dad was not paying CS, he should have saved that money for college.

SteppedOut's picture

Did you miss the part that said he paid "back support" for all the years he didn't pay?

OP: I think you should NOT go. 

STaround's picture

Did not see, and I agree, he was right to go throught the courts

Enuzzo's picture

Thanks to you both! And just FYI, both children do have SMALL college funds. The oldest already got his even while he refused to talk to us AND we helped him pay for his books because honestly, that's all we can afford to do. He was angry because it "wasn't enough" just like the child support!

Cover1W's picture

I did not go to my OSDs middle school ceremony (thank goodness because DH was shunned and I wouldn't have been able to keep my mouth shut) and so long as she treats DH like dog poo and BM doesn't help then no way in h#ll would I consider going.

No. Why would you go?

tog redux's picture

Obviously, OP - I am the dissenting opinion on this topic; I would like to point out, that my formerly alienated stepson is no longer alienated.  So maybe we did something right? I don't know.

But punishing a kid for being alienated won't help the situation. You aren't invited to the party so, don't go, but the ceremony is probably open.  At least watch it streamed if it will be.  Alienated kids do still care about their other parent and are hopeful that they still care, too. You aren't the parent, but you are part of the other family.

MommyT's picture

It sounds like you guys keep getting screwed over. Why put yourself in the situation to be that way? It’s also the dads fault for not fighting harder for his kids. 

Enuzzo's picture

Thanks, MommyT. I agree he should have tried harder (trust me, I pushed him too). But we didn't want to create any waves by forcing them to hang out with us when they didn't want to or worse, inflaming the ex. The whole situation is just plain sad.

SMto2's picture

My oldest SS  is enmeshed with BM and hadn't visited us for about 5 years prior to high school graduation due to PAS, yet we went anyway. DH's siblings and parents went with us, so we actually had a large group to counteract BM and her "clan" of a family. It was quite painful My husband was able catch SS outside the graduation and snap one very forced, blurry, quick pic with him before he went on his way with BM and her family. Two years later, youngest SS graduated, and we all went again. At the time, he wasn't estranged from DH, so we went to dinner with him before the graduation.

Now oldest SS is 25, youngest SS is 23. I wish I could say taking the high road made all the difference, but I can't say it did.  DH has a "decent" relationship with oldest SS, his wife and 2 kids, and they're going on vacation with us in a month (we will pay for every single thing on the trip, so it's a free vacation for them.) DH is almost estranged from youngest SS because he dropped out of college, got married and is working minimum wage jobs trying to survive. They became estranged after the last time youngest SS asked for money and DH gave it to him but advised him to go in the military.

Our story is not over yet and is continuing to be written. However, I can tell you, my SSs may say a lot of things about DH, but they can NEVER say he didn't try, even when they shunned him. We feel some satisfaction in that, even if they don't give him credit for it and it doesn't change the situation. Either way is painful, and I'm so very sorry for you. I treated my SSs like my own sons EOW for well over a decade, put them ahead of me and my family like I would my own children, and they could not care less about me. However, my DH knows I tried very hard and he appreciates it, so that's what's most important to me. Wishing you peace and strength.

MommyT's picture

My husband has always tried and will always try but he does get to the point of giving up. The biggest thing that DH makes sure to do is be honest. He doesn’t talk down the BM but he lets ss know that he has tried and will continue to try and work with BM so that ss is not being put in the middle.  BM has a warped image of right and wrong. In this case, will sd even know that you will be there? You can tell her you are going but the truth is, DH needs to make that effort.

Focused_onourlife's picture

Why would you go to your SD graduation if you don't have a relationship with her, especially if your DH asked you not to go? He needs to go with or without you if anything.  You will not be able to make up for your DH lack of involvement with or for your SD. She will never appreciate it or you for that, if anything she will probably be upset with the situation of you going without her dad, despite your good intentions.  I agree with others do not go unless your DH accompany you.

Enuzzo's picture

Thanks, Focused_onourlife. According to the biomom, his daughter will "never talk to him again." I actually do have some sort of a relationship with my stepdaughter, albeit barely, and have asked her why she won't reach out to her dad. I think if she did, he would melt like butter. I'm not saying it's her responsibility to make the effort, but he's tried for years to have a relationship with her and she has just continued to estrange herself. At what point do you put the responsibility on the child or in this case, the young adult? 

Lndsy747's picture

My SD is alienated and graduates next year so I've thought about this a little myself. She currently does not respond to either of us and I don't think this will change over the next year. I'm not sure if her dad will want to go or not if we can figure out when it is. I would like to go but only if her dad goes.

Over the years I've made more of an effort to reach out to her than he has. Mostly because she's changed numbers and I've reached out through Instagram which he doesn't use. I've stopped completely now though other than wishing her happy holidays or birthday because the last time she messaged him she said that her mom and I make more of an effort for them to have a relationship than he does. I was trying to help because I know teen girls often do pull away from their fathers and my mom would help with my relationship with my dad. I wanted to help but I chose to stop because in her eyes it made it seem like he cared even less. I'm not about to be the person who give her any ammo even though I know she'll find it somewhere.

Enuzzo's picture

Wow! That's a great point. I never thought about that. I choose to continue to have a relationship with both stepkids and I have decided I can't control my husband but I can control my relationship with the kids. I refuse to let them go and I hope someday my husband will come around.

Siemprematahari's picture

her graduation is happening next weekend and I know she's having a party that we have not been invited too.

^^^^^^^^^^^^this very reason is enough for me not to attend. You were not invited. It's also not so much about giving up but creating boundaries to heal from the alienation and "letting it go". It's unfortunate that this is happening. You can't force a relationship with someone that is rejecting you. Your H deserves some peace and healing and if he chooses that's up to him but if I were you I wouldn't. Wishing you both much strength.

Enuzzo's picture

Thank you. My husband says he only wants peace and healing too but because of my continued relationship with the kids, and he sees how poorly they treat me, it breaks his heart. You nailed it perfectly!