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Ponies, unicorns and baby mommas.. oh my!

KBee's picture

Well, another 2 weeks with the SD has come to an end. It went well for the most part. I felt like our relationship was truly growing, but I still have some issues...

*This is me venting - I know it's ridiculous, but maybe someone can help.

Baby mamma decided to take SD3 on friggin pony rides right before dropping her off with me and her dad. 2 weeks of her crying to go back to mommy's because she thinks she can ride a pony again. It's friggin Halloween... I got her the cutest unicorn costume, took her to a Halloween kids party with her friends, loaded her with candy and had a blast with her. I still am being told in between that mom has ponies and she wants to go home. It broke her father's heart to hear. 

I understand that it's not a competition and that I shouldn't mind, but it just irritates me that BM is playing at this level. Am I going to have to take her to a flipping circus to make her happy? Then let BM's heart bre broken when she says she wants to be with us instead? I think it's wrong to spoil the hell out of her just for her to choose us. I also don't want to hear about her liking mom's house wayyy more. 

What do I do? Where do I draw the line? Do I play this game that essentially could raise a spoiled brat? Do I just lewt her mother spoil her and watch her quit wanting to visit us? it's not like we can't do the same and beyond for SD3. Our income would allow us to buy her friggin ponies if we wanted to. 

-I had a step sister growing up that quit coming around to see her father and spend time with her family because her mother did this very thing and it became all about money and material. I don't want to see that happen either. 


lieutenant_dad's picture

SD has at least 10 years before she can even start to think about having a say in visitation (and even then, that doesn't mean she should).

You can't keep trying to one-up. That will turns this into a game, and kids LOVE games. You'll instill the rules into her at a very young age, and she'll manipulate the hell out of it.

"SD, right now is time for you to spend with Dad. We know you miss your Mom, and that is okay. But it's your time now to spend with Dad."

If she throws a tantrum, treat it like you would any other tantrum. Put her in time out, don't go do the fun thing, etc. She needs to realize that playing on Dad's emotions will result in her getting negative consequences, not positive ones.

If she decides later that BM giving her pony rides is a good enough reason to no longer talk to Dad, then so be it. Your SO can't prevent that from happening if that is what she wants, but he can do his part to not turn his daughter into a spoiled brat. And that means NOT rewarding manipulative behavior.

Also, BM may not have done this to be a witch. She may have taken her just to do something fun, and SD is mistaken in thinking it would be an all-the-time thing. All because SD throws a tantrum about it doesn't mean it is actually BM being manipulative.

still learning's picture

2 weeks is a long stretch of visitation for a 3 year old. Is this the normal schedule or a holiday visitation?  IMHO it's better for younger kids to have shorter blocks of time in between each parent. Many fairs have cheap pony rides for kids. I highly doubt BM was plotting to ruin her time with her father by paying $8 to let her ride a pony. This is where Dad gets to be the adult and tell his toddler how pony rides and fairs work. 

KBee's picture

It was at a festival near her place. She literally was late dropping SD off with us because of the pony ride and attending the event. The normal visitation is 2 weeks on and weeks off. We agree this is a long visit, but the BM moved to another state so trading her off every weekend was extremely difficult. 

still learning's picture

Whats the plan when SD starts preschool and school?  I imagine it will be hard to keep this arrangement going.  

KBee's picture

Court said they will continue on this schedule until time for school. Then both parties will make new agreement, if they can't come to one the courts will choose one. I absolutely hate it. I just know they always choose the mother even though we have way more stability to offer. I would LOVE full custody, but I couldn't bare the thought of her being away from her mom that much either. Her mother made it so difficult by moving to another state as soon as the divorce was final. 

fakemommy's picture

It isn't a competition, don't make it one. I'm not sure how SD's BM is, but I'd be willing to bet she wasn't thinking about you guys at all when she let SD ride a pony. If you take everything as a personal attack, your life is going to be so much harder than it is. Also, SD is 3. You guys should really try not to take things personally when she wants BM at dad's house. It is perfectly normal and okay for her to miss and want her mom. You should know that doesn't diminish her relationship with her dad or you. Stop trying to be her favorite and just worry about being her parent and teaching her what she needs to know to be a productive, independent member of society one day. 

tog redux's picture

Oh, this is a classic parental alienation strategy. Usually they schedule pony rides ON your visitation time, so you have to be the meanies who won't let her go. Trust your gut.  She is trying to make her home the more "fun" home so SD will prefer being there.

I would also agree that 2 weeks is a long time for a 3 year old to be away from either parent.  Why is visitation set up that way? Sometimes 50/50 does not meet the needs of the child.

lieutenant_dad's picture

Actually, this would be the time that 50/50 DOES, just in smaller doses, like 5/2/2/5 or whatever.

The other common alternative is EOWE, which would likely go to Mom, so that's still 2 weeks without seeing Dad. And trust me, that arrangement never stopped my SSs from calling DH with 10 minutes of getting to BM's and bawling their eyes out because they missed their dad.

tog redux's picture

Yeah - I figured maybe they live so far apart that 2 weeks on/off makes more sense for them, but not the kid?  DH did a 2/2/5 for a while and that worked well.

lieutenant_dad's picture

If they live far away, then SD is going to be without one parent for long stretches of time no matter what. And it's going to be rough on her whether it's Mom or Dad that she is away from. Changing custody won't fix a time and distance issue.

KBee's picture

Please read reply to 'stilllearning's' coment.

Step-girlfriend's picture

I agree that 2 weeks is a very long time for a young kid. We have skids 10 days on, 4 off, repeat, but they are 9 and 12 so it's a little easier. Week on/week off seems like the ideal setup, unless you have majority custody like we do. Any more switching turns into a pain, IMO. Having skid go by BM on a Wed, for example, then back to you the next day. That's more contact with BM, more chances for drama.

Definitely don't do the one-upping game. Can you imagine how she will play you all when she gets old enough to really maximize that? She would be intolerable. Please don't start spoiling her! This would completely backfire. I know you said your step-sister chose the parent she got more from. I don't think that is always the norm. Our house is more strict for skids. They have chores, rules, no soda unless we go out to eat, etc. We are the house where they do homework. BM's house has no rules, unlimited soda, and lots of eating out. It's 8 days a month of no rules and crap eating. However, if they had a choice, do I think they would choose to be with her all the time? No. They have stability by us, and they know it. They have their own rooms, home-cooked meals a few times a week, and fun activities when schedules permit. SS actually is self-conscious about his weight and we pointed out that drinking unlimited soda at BM's isn't going to help with that, so he has cut back himself. They are realizing that getting everything at BM's isn't exactly helping them. They are treated fairly by us and know we care about them. I think that is the best you can do. Make your home a place they feel loved, with a good mix of discipline and fun. And then hope they realize what you are doing for them.

Now, I won't lie, we are REALLY good gift-givers. lol. SS12 got an iphone 8 for Christmas last year. SD9 got horseback riding lessons for her bday (no way BM could have topped that, but SD can't participate in many sports and we wanted her to have a hobby. Plus I would have loved to get that as a child). But that's part of the package they get with us. You do chores and help around the house and are expected to follow rules, but you also get fun things (not as a bribe!). It's a balance.

ndc's picture

Unless it becomes a theme, I wouldn't assume that BM is trying to one-up you and make her house the "fun" house. Even if she is, you can't play her game and get into a big competition for the coolest house unless you want a spoiled, entitled kid.

SO and I do a lot of fun stuff with his kids (3 and 6). We've taken them to Disney World, the circus, ice shows, the zoo, the beach, pony rides and stuff like that.  That's over the course of a couple years, not an every week occurrence, of course. BM can't afford to do a lot of that (neither can we, but my dad has paid for the really pricy stuff - he likes doing things for the kids).  We don't do it so they'll prefer us; we do it to give the kids (and ourselves) a fun experience, and we're not going to stop doing it because BM can't keep up.   BM has always been supportive - she'll swap days and be cooperative to make sure the kids can have those experiences.

If the kids go to BM and cry to go back to us so they can go to Disney World or on pony rides, we don't know about it. However, they do tell us that Mommy takes them to the park and the playground all the time, and fuss that they want to go there.  That's a total kid thing to do - they want all the fun stuff.  For all you know, your SD is at mom's house now crying to go to your house to do fun Halloween stuff. 

I hope in your case that BM isn't doing things like pony rides to compete, but even if she is, there will be things you do (things as simple as playing games as a family and going to the playground) that your SD will really appreciate whether you realize it at the time or not.