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Advice- Posting as BM

justmakingthebest's picture

Some of you remember the drama between me and my ex over the summer. If you don't a quick recap: He has always been an active dad but out of state most of my kids lives. He just retired from the military and decided that at 41 he didn't want to work anymore and wanted me to drop CS significantly. When I didn't agree he tried to get DD13 (only DD not our son) to come live with him and offered her a few bribes which caused a lot of issues with me and DD. Thankfully things have calmed down and everything is back to normal. DD is no longer angry. She sees her dad as much as possible and we are all good.

Except... SM reached out to me because she saw on facebook that I turned down a guest spot on a travel ball tournament for DD last weekend. It was her dad's weekend so I didn't even bring it up to DD. Travel ball has always been a sore spot as DD has been offered spots on teams over the years but due to our visitation schedule it never works out. This was one of the bribes her dad tried to use to get her to live there- it was hard to convince her that it was impossible because if she was going to live there she would come see me as much as she sees him and would still be unable to play travel. 

SM said that she knows that my bios are teenagers now and if they have stuff to do they don't have to come  visit. I told her that it wasn't my place to schedule over their dad's time, but thanks for understanding that they are growing up and may need more flexibility as they continue in high school.

She said that they were aware they probably aren't going to see much of the kids over the next few years. 

I didn't respond... should I mention anything to their dad? Leave it alone? Should I allow them to schedule things on dad's weekends and not worry about it? I know that I am probably overly sensitive to not messing with dad's time due to all the hell we have been through with SS. DH said that I need to let exH know that his wife is giving up his parenting time (I don't know if I want to go that far though). 


SteppedOut's picture

Sounds like now that there is a baby at home she either doesn't want to pay support or wants to have more of a nuclear family... I don't think she is as "nice" as you thought. 

justmakingthebest's picture

This is her 3rd kid, 2nd with him. I know she doesn't want him to pay support, she has made many comments about how she doesn't make her oldests dad pay. However she also calls him a deadbeat all the time, so there is that LOL. Maybe if he was held financially accountable she wouldn't see him as a deadbeat? 

MissK03's picture

I consider a deadbeat when there is no PAS and they make very little effort to see their kid or kids. Someone can be financially accountable but if they aren't putting in the "work" the can still be deadbeats. You shouldn't have to force someone to be accountable financially just to be apart of their kids lives...IMO. 

justmakingthebest's picture


Maybe for her it is easier to not have him involved in anyway. Who knows? I try to stay out of it.

ESMOD's picture

Before I scheduled things over his time, I would ensure that he was personally aware of it and on board with it.  If things can be managed with out high conflict and if both sides are willing to be flexible to allow the teens to "live their lives"... without being a total slave to the CO.. then that is great.

I think that her talk was more of a realization that as kids get older.. they can be less involved with family vs their own interests, friends and activities.. work etc... so that it might follow that they wouldn't be as easily meeting all the CO dates.. at least in bold letters... 

So, if it were possible to switch things up a bit so that a kid could do a sport while still maintaining visitation with the other parent.. great.. even if it meant.. fewer days during school and maybe letting a summer break be longer.. or giving up a holiday that was supposed to be set in exchange.

So.. the next time there is something that "could" interfere.. you could proactively approach your EX (CC his wife if you think that needs to happen).. and see if you can work out some change that works for both sides... it may not always be possible.

MissK03's picture

Agree. Why is the wife still contacting you with stuff like this though? I thought you explained to exh that you wanted it to be through him. I could be mistaken though.

ESMOD's picture

I think that her EX and his wife prefer it... perhaps because his new wife is a control freak.. or maybe she is just more the master scheduler/organizer in their home.. so it works best if she just directly deals with scheduling type stuff.  

I also feel like JMTB went back to the way it was once they got past the contentious CS/custody issue. (generally, it seems like they are able to be fairly civil and it's worked in the past.. but I would probably feel more comfortable if her EX was at least a CC or silent partner on the group text).

justmakingthebest's picture

I did ask for it to be him when it comes to anything regarding custody and vistation but that didn't last at all. 

At this point, I don't really care. I don't want to be HC at all and if this is what makes them comfortable, whatever. I just found it weird that he went from "come live with me" to "whatever, see you when I see you" -- if that is even actually how he feels. 

ESMOD's picture

It's fairly clear his wife has an agenda.  She was trying to get CS cut out... and get a little free babysitting to boot I would assume.

But, now, there really is no "benefit" to having SD there all the time... he already has to pay CS.. so it is what it is.  She probably prefers her home to run smoothly without the in and out of skids.. it is disruptive.. even if the kids are decent IMHO.

That being said.. I don't think it's her place to "give up time".. but I do think that perhaps seeing some flexibility that might allow SD to participate in some things she has missed due to the CO schedule would be nice... as long as everyone.. including your EX are truly on board with it.

justmakingthebest's picture

True. I do feel like there is an agenda here and if it is that she doesn't really want them around, so be it. I love my kids! LOL 

I guess we really just need to test the waters and have them reach out to their dad about schedules and stuff as thing arise. 

nengooseus's picture

When X was participating, that was my approach (as much as I could with a <10 year old).  If they talk to Dad and he's cool with them skipping time with him, that's great, but SM should be staying out of it, and you're wise to stay out, as well.  

Teens (especially) need to practice directly managing their own relationships and schedules, and they need to learn to coordinate those with the people supporting them, and these are great moments to do that.  You can present the opportunity to kiddo and X (via e-mail or text) and then they need to figure it out how they will handle it between them.  Then it's not SM or you making Dad's decisions--and the kiddos can't blame either of you for the relationship with Dad.

SM may not care to see the kids all that much, but that has no positive impact on CS for her.  If he sees them less, they are exposing themselves to an increase in CS, not a decrease.  Maybe she doesn't realize that's a risk...

justmakingthebest's picture

I wouldn't go after more CS, I just wasn't going to cut it to 25% of what they currently receive because he doesn't want to work. 

I agree that I should probably let the teens do more with the their schedules, when they ask I just always jump to "sorry, dad weekend, do ____ this weekend or the following instead". Maybe they do need to just see where he stands on it. 

BS15 has been saying lately that he doesn't want to go for the weekend visits anymore, just the longer ones that are more than 2 days. 

nengooseus's picture

I know you all aren't HC, but that message is best to be heard from kiddo direct to Dad and they let you know about their decisions.  Once the kiddos launch (to college or whatever) the relationship they create with Dad will be what they want it to be, so they need to start practicing now.

As far as kiddos and their schedules...  It's really nice.  Tough to get used to after all the years of managing the schedule for them, but I'm loving it.  

And I know you wouldn't go looking for more CS, but it doesn't get reduced by the kids being there less, if that's SM's goal.  A lot of people don't enjoy teens (God knows there's plenty of reason not to), so that may be her motivator.  Who knows!  But the kiddos need to make that decision with Dad, not her.

AgedOut's picture

it sounds like she is willing and ready to age them out of support and visits but really all you can do is thank her for her opinion and continue to teach your kids to discuss things w/ Dad. 


hereiam's picture

This is something that needs to be run by your ex- NOT his wife.

I do wonder if he knows what she's up to? Agreeing to give up HIS parenting time? I would ask him if he would really be okay with that.

I just wonder if she is not a little resentful that things didn't go as she planned with the CS. I wouldn't trust her.

justmakingthebest's picture

I think I am afraid to cause a fight between them... I know that if I ever did something like that DH would never forgive me. I have had to disengage from the drama but I would never stop him seeing his kid (if that ever happens again).

ESMOD's picture

Right now, unless you have something that might need scheduling to work,  I would not really broach it with him.

If and when something comes up that might work better if some custody could shift... THEN you can approach him.  And.... do it before you tell your daughter that you are going to ask because it's not fair to make him the bad guy if he can't agree to a particular shift.

"Hey EX... I just wanted to pass something by you.  Your wife mentioned that there would probably be some flexibility in schedules if something came up for DD that she wanted to do and there was a conflict with the CO time.  There is this basketball camp she wants to attend but it falls during the last week of your summer break visitiation.. could we shift you time one week earlier so she could make it?.... or is there another way we can make up that time for you so she can still attend the camp?  If you want to stick with the schedule, that is fine, I just wanted to check based on what "NW" said.

justmakingthebest's picture

We have always been good with swaping weekends/dates here and there for bigger things. The way it seemed to me reading her texts was more- If they come, they come. If they don't, oh well. They are growing up." 


NotYourAverageStepMama's picture

have an opinion and thoughts about what happens in her home, absolutely. What she keeps doing wrong is she is overstepping and messaging you directly. If she feels a particular way she should be discussing with her husband and then he message you or even heck she message you from his phone so it is a conversation with the bio parents as it should be. There are times I message BM on the app not DH. Big part of it is with the time difference and me working from home I can handle things when need be because DH cannot be on his phone messaging during work hours. However, BM does not know it is not DH messaging and I only message what DH and I have discussed already. 

I wouldn't message DD's dad right now about it, but if something comes up in the future on his time for either of your children, I would just message saying that SM mentioned if there was a time that an event comes up on your time that the children want to participate in, there might be some flexibility. DD or DS has "x" on "x" day at "x" time, would it be okay for DD or DS to attend the event instead of coming up to you? .... Then if possible that it is not all day or all weekend and there is an option for them to still go to dads for part of their visitation time, then maybe try and accomodate that?

I don't know if it is SM trying to push out the children from visiting because of the new baby or simply they accept that they are growing up and sometimes things come up that they rather do. SD is far off from this, but DH knows at some point SD is probably going to rather do something with her friends there instead of visit him and there might be a need to be flexible depending on what it is and for how long, etc.

tog redux's picture

I think you should reach out to both of them - send an email, since you are back to co-parenting with both.

"Hi - SM let me know that you guys would be okay with DD not coming to your home when she has travel sports or other events. As you know, I feel her visitation with you is very important so I don't want to be the one to make that decision. If DD expresses the desire to stay here for an event, I will let you know, but I will also have her reach out to you directly. Your decision on the matter will be final no matter what she wants."

Don't worry about causing a fight. If she's going to co-parent on his behalf, she has to expect he will find out.

lieutenant_dad's picture

This. Contact them together so there is no misunderstanding of what is going on.

JMTB, I also think it's time for your kids to start making schedules with their dad, or advocating for themselves with him.

Additionally, I don't understand why, now that he has moved closer, the options are still "only on Mom's weekend or it doesn't happen." While I agree that CPs shouldn't book up NCPs' weekends, kids have lives that have to be facilitated, too. He is more than capable of taking DD for travel ball if he is agreeable to it - and it sounds like he WAS agreeable to it less than 6 months ago. I'll never advocate for an NCP having to spend their entire weekend carting kids back and forth to a variety of events because the CP is punishing the NCP, but I'll also never advocate for kids never getting to do normal stuff - like a sport or birthday party - just because they'll be with the NCP.

What it sounds like to me, and I'm a cynic at times, is SM either wants the kids to do what they want to do on weekends or the kids don't need to come at all. Her communication with you wasn't "hey, sign her up, we'll get her there on our weekends." It was "sign her up and feel free to take her yourself, but don't burden us with it." That really shuts down any communication or negotiation.

So, have the big convo with your ex (and his DW if he wants her involved) about the reality of having teenagers and the effort HE needs to put in to facilitate relationships with them and facilitate their growth. Travel ball is a beast, and it would be entirely reasonable for him to say he can't/won't facilitate it. But he (and SM as his proxy) shouldn't give up ALL responsibility to take his kids to their ECAs, birthday parties, outings, etc. Especially after he pulled the "I'll just take DD from you" earlier this summer.

justmakingthebest's picture

You make some really good points. He has been long distance for so long sharing of any real responsibility has never been an option. He is still 2.5-3 hrs away so it will be hard but he isn't plane rides away anymore. I know he is tied up being a stay at home dad and coach to his other kids but he does have our 2 as well. They deserve to have him make some effort for them or to let them be teens without having to adhere to a strict schedule at this point.