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What is effective co-parenting and how do you go about it?

wineoclock's picture

 A continuation from my last blog, I need some help as I am very new to all of this. I have only recently become a SM to 2 very young boys. I am still trying to find my feet with this as I haven't quite decided how much I woudl like to engage with my SC in their day to day life - although I am currently interacting with them frequently and we do get along. I have also made it very clear to DH about my other boundary - under NO circumstance do I wish to interact with BM. I just can't being myself to doing this for my own mental health. 

So where does this leave DH in terms of co-parenting when I am semi-disengaged with his other family? What would constitute effective co-parenting between DH and BM and how would DH go about this in a meaningful way for the sake of his children. In what capacity does DH tag team with BM for the welfare of their children, while respecting my thoughts as his DW? 

What does effective co-parenting look like while maintaining boundaries? 

I'm finding being a SM quite tough - I can't seem to get a handle on the fact that I will never have a normal married life, as my DH comes with 2 young kids with different needs due to their 5 year age gap. I just wish that this marriage could be a priority, but I know that the reality is that the children will always have to come first in any given situation, at least until they are old enough to look after themselves. Of course I knew all of this while we were dating for 3 years but I do think once you get married, that's when it really hits you hard. Don't get me wrong, my DH has done everything in his power to show how much he values this marriage, even by moving, as I live further away and I feel so guilty about his sacrifices to make this marriage work.I know that this is my problem and I have to get over it!

Any advice would be greatly appreciated! 


advice.only2's picture

Not engaging with his ex for any reason is perfectly fine and actually a good boundary to maintain if it brings you a level of peace.  Relationships are fluid and any man that tells you “kids will always come first” has zero clue of how to be in an effective relationship.  Reality is who comes first will always be shifting and moving.  The fact that he moved away from his kids to be with you was a choice he made and not one for you to feel guilty about.  Having minimal participation in his children lives is your choice and one you should not feel guilty about if it’s what makes you happy.  Don’t feel like you have to buy into the bullshit social norms of being their mom or loving them like your own, because you don’t have to and they aren’t your children.  As long as you and your DH are communicating your wants and needs and working with one another on any issues I don’t see why either of you should feel guilty about anything.

wineoclock's picture

I think that's the problem - what society says is the normal thing to do is to be this one blended happy family. But what if that isn't how you want to do things? I don't want to push myself to a point where I am resentful - every time DH spends time with his kids,I don't want to be there every single time.  I know that's what he would like for us to all do things together as a family, but I don't know if I'm ready for that or if I ever will be. It's also not nice on kids to feel like their SM doesn't want to spend time with them - what message is that sending, that I don't want anything to do with them? I really don't want it to affect their mental development - as when they are adults I'm sure it will come back to bite me.

While we were dating DH asked me to come on a trip to disneyland as he had never taken his kids abroad on holiday before. I went and yes I enjoyed the experience as it made the kids happy, but equally it was a lot of work. They are not my kdis and I can't parent them in the way I would if they were my own kids. The youngest was running wild and all I wanted to do was discipline him but of course that's not my place. DH's parenting style is so different to mine and that's likely because he is doing it on his own and doesn't have anyone to discuss things with (although he would like that person to be me).  I was exhausted by the end of the trip and needed a holiday from the holiday! But that is of course what comes with kids I suppose. I do feel sorry for them too - but unfortunately those are usually the circumstances when you are a child of divorce - it's never going to be all unicorns and rainbows.

Winterglow's picture

You don't have to be there every single time hiskids are there because:

  • they are there for visitation, i.e. they are there to spend time with their father, not you? Do you want them to resent you because you are ALWAYS there and htey never get ro spend time with ther dad?
  • you and he are not joined at the hip. You are your own person and have every right to have a life of your own. If there were no kids involved, would you expect to go everywhere and do everything with him?


wineoclock's picture

It's definitely food for thought. I shouldn't have to feel guilty for not spending the same amount of time with the kids as DH does. I know DH would like me there, as he wants us to be a strong family unit but like you said - kids also need alone time with their dad. And I need some alone time from everyone! 

la_dulce_vida's picture

A strong family unit BEGINS with a strong marriage.

Those kids already have a mother so it's okay for your #1 role to be a loving wife to your husband. It's also good for the kids to see a model of a healthy marriage.

As far as your relationship with the kids, approach it as if they are nice neighbor kids. You aren't their parent and have ZERO responsibility for them except as one human being to another. You can look out for their safety and do whatever household tasks you FEEL like doing to make your husband's life easier. But you are NOT on the hook for carpooling, homework, sports, laundry, cooking, etc.

Do ONLY what you feel like doing to help your husband - you have no duty to his kids except to protect them from harm while under your roof.

advice.only2's picture

As I said screw societal norms, it’s what made me the bitter and unhappy woman I am today…just kidding, sort of.  I was spoon fed by my DH, his ex, my parents, family and friends that I needed to treat his very toxic and spoiled child like my own and that I needed to love her like my own.  DH was a head in the sand Disney dad and when he got custody because his ex is a drug addict he just handed her right over to me.  Let me tell you 7 years of raising his Spawn and being made the scapegoat for his shitty parenting, his exes drug drama and Spawn’s own problems led me to a miserable bottle of wine a night drinking problem.  It totally damaged my marriage to DH and we are on the cusp of divorce unless he can get his sorry head out of the sand and learn how to be an adult.  So I think you having your boundaries and sticking with them is amazing. 

AgedOut's picture

I refused to deal w/ his ex. I don't poke her with my junk so she wasn't in my circle of people to deal with. I also didn't participate w/ his son in the begining. I tried to respect their relationship. But in all honesty, with a few hiccups, we all found what worked for us. Yes there were times when it seemed unfair or wrong but we kept our line of communication open and worked through it all. 



ESMOD's picture

His minor children are his primary OBLIGATION.. they are reliant on him for support.. food.. housing.. ie parenting.

However, children are not the only and constant PRIORITY.  There will be times that he will have needs for resources.. time.. money.. that his kids don't.. same for you.. Your need for him to go to your parent's funeral trumps him going to his kid's little league game.  Taking care of a sick kid during his visitation may trump those dinner plans you thought you had.  That's how families work.. not everyone is first in line.. there are limited resources.. time.. money.. and not everyone will get first in line.

His kids don't get to sit in the front seat.. his kids don't dictate every restaurant.. movie.. color of your walls.. there are adult decisions that kids need to be taught to accept right?

Will your life be different and will there be some constraints due to him having kids.. yes.. of course.. he has a portion of his paycheck pre spent.. he doesn't have full autonomy over that.. there will be times that you want to go do something and he will have a prior comittment with his kids.. again.. how families work.. 

Your wishes and needs don't always come in last.. but ALSO.. you are an adult.. you can pay for your own desires.. and you can go do your own thing while he does his kid's thing too.. that is an option.


As far as Co-Parenting.  To me what that really should mean is that the parents have a generally similar approach to parenting the kids.. but not that they confer and discuss every detail.. He parents on his time.. She parents on her time.. NEITHER of them attempt to overrule or PAS the kid against the other parent.. and when they may have their kid come to them and complain about the other household rule?  the correct response is almost always.

"Well, that is your mom's rule and her house.. so she has the right to that rule and you need to follow it when you live there"  

You don't undermine the other parent.. even when you might have different rules.  Like you allow eating in the family room.. the other house does not.. that's the rule.. not your call to make.

coparenting can include agreement on things that will impact both homes.. like kid activities.. and may include coordination of bigger things like driving or going to college.  A serious behavioral issue may also be discussed.. but day to day petty? no.. each side figures it out.. though letting the other person know is good.

aka.. "We have had issues with Timmy taking things that don't belong to him at home and at his friend's homes.. please watch out for that and reinforce that we don't touch other people's belongings without permission"

wineoclock's picture

BM doesn't give her children beef but DH does - BM took offence to that as she doesn't give her children beef for religious reasons - although the children are raised under 2 religions - which I really don't understand myself but it's beside the point! But with all due respect, how is this beef situation DH's problem? If he wants to give his kids beef in his house, then surely he should be allowed to do so?  

ESMOD's picture

I don't know..the Beef issue is actually one where I might try to respect the cultural/religious aspects of the other household.

If the reason that they don't eat meat is due to religious reasons.. I don't think it's necessarily right to encourage or "force" the kids to eat things that they otherwise would not be permitted to eat.

If they generally behave "beef free" at their mom's.. at school.. in every other instance but with dad.. I think trying to accomodate his kid's religious dietary restrictions is reasonable... right now the kids are young.. at some point.. they should have final say.. but right now.. it' usually parent's dictation.

Again.. you pullled out probably one of the only kinds of reasons both households might need to coordinate the stance.. RELIGIOUS reasons for abstaining from certain foods.  Though.. I can see that could be quite difficult for religions that have strict preparation limitations.. like full on kosher.

wineoclock's picture

Sorry I got it wrong it wasn't beef - DH knows BM doesn't give the kids beef so he is mindful of that. It was pork! BM has never told DH that she doesn't give the kids pork. They eat sausages and bacon at school and she is definitely aware of that - plus she makes hotdogs for them at home! This issue must have cropped up as her boyfriend doesn't eat pork, so when DH had sent the left over home-made dinner to the kids house, now suddenly the kids don't eat pork because her boyfriend doesn't? Her boyfriend doesn't even live in their house, so we were confused to say the least. Not to mention, she didn't inform DH of the additional dietary restrictions, so DH was clearly unaware. Yet DH still got slated for it on BM's social media. 

simifan's picture

Co-parenting means Mom and Dad agree to the same rules in each household. It means negotiating if you don't agree. Communication varies - usually dependent upon the age of the child & their behavior. It is easier for the child because they have the same expectations in each household. You need two stable parents to do this. 

Parallel parenting means my house; my rules. This is what we most follow here. High conflict parents make co-parenting unattainable as they have a my way or the highway attitude. 

Either style of parenting shouldn't really have anything to do with a step-parent other then deciding on the rules in a joint household. 

Hastings's picture

A lot of good advice here. And I agree on the communication. If you don't want to deal with BM, don't. Set that boundary. Really, it's your DH's role. Not to mention, there can sometimes be complicated feelings when exes are involved. There's often less opportunity for drama if the stepparent stays out. Since day one, DH has handled all contact with BM with one exception -- one time in an emergency where DH's phone was out of commission. BM and I get along fine -- in part because our only communication is a friendly "hi" at events.

Also, she likes me. Why? Because I don't overstep. My whole plan from the start was to stay in my lane. I'm there to help DH. I will advise if asked. But I do not steer the ship. Big decisions are for them to make. I have a say in DH's say, but no vote of my own.

DH and BM split custody 50/50 and they work well together in some ways. They communicate nicely and are cooperative with schedule changes. Some problems are getting bigger regarding the different parenting styles (she spoils SS rotten and is very permissive, while DH has rules and expectations) but, for now, it's manageable.

My hands-off approach did not go over too well in the beginning. Like many bioparents, DH had visions of the three of us as a happy family. It took years, but he finally realizes that his perfect family wasn't going to happen because it wasn't realistic.

As for societal pressures -- hoo boy. I used to feel guilt about that because I felt no connection with my SS. Even though I adore my sisters' kids, the love just wasn't there. Reading a book called Stepmonster actually helped a lot, as it spelled out how expecting women to love stepchildren like their own is not only unrealistic, it's unnatural. If it happens, great. If not, there's nothing wrong with that. It's a complicated relationship that few outsiders can understand. And, in my case, I have a SS who, while not a bad kid, is just not easy to get attached to.

I believe it's important for kids to have individual time with their dad. Sometimes I go along on trips or outings with DH and SS, sometimes not. Little League games and practices? I'm there. Saturday morning bowling league? That my "me time."

cw1992's picture

Effective co-parenting is not possible when you have a controlling parent on one side and an irresponsible, self-serving parent on the other. 

Your BM sounds controlling...but part of this seems to be as a direct response to your DH being flakey, self-serving and high-conflict. 

Your DH woke up one fine day, and decided he doesn't want to have his kids overnight or be really involved in his kids' lives. This affects both BM and his kids negatively because a) this puts more burden on BM (who didn't make these kids on her own, so they shouldn't be only her responsibility, should they? b) the kids are at a higher risk of abandonment issues and psychological issues that stem from their not having an involved father ( issues that BM will also have to deal with);

Your DH thinks he's entitled to make these decisions, that negatively affect other people, uunilaterally, whilst expecting these same people to just accommodate him. He decided to barely see his kids, he doesn't even have space for them, thus completely relying on BM and "her support system" to raise his kids, drive his kids to places, emotionally support his kids , house his kids etc.. At the same time (to add insult to the injury) he spends the little time he has with his kids undermining BM's parenting and going against her, for seemingly no reason at all, other than to be spiteful.

I can see why BM would be a bit salty about all of this. Because not only is your DH  uninvolved in the kids lives, he uses the little time he has to create even more problems. He's not making these "parenting" decisions in his kids' best interest for sure. His kids don't need to eat beef and they don't need a phone at 10 and 6 years old. So why is he making these decisions, other than out of spite and to serve his own interest? If he has decided to be merely the hands-off "fun" uncle in his kids' lives,  then the least he could do, is respect the choices of the person who is actually raising his kids all on her own, and stop creating drama for no reason. 


cw1992's picture

You don't want to hear the advice 

You and your DH do not have a leg to stand on here. You're simply not in the right. 

It was not BM who cut your DH out of his kids's lives. It was your DH who did that, and you encouraged him to do that. It's simply not your place to decide custody arrangements and what's best for these kids. Ironically, you complain about BM being controlling but your trying to control when and how your DH sees his kids, is very controlling. BM is concerned about the effect this will have on the kids, and rightly so! She will be the one mostly picking up the pieces, after all!

 Your DH didn't want to have his kids overnight anymore, and you don't want him to either because you're not comfortable with kids running around. Well, you did marry a man with kids!

I don't know what you expect here. You want to hear that you and your DH are in the right, and that the kids will just turn out fine. That's not reality. The reality is your DH is being very irresponsible and self-centred as a father,  and you tryng to dictate to him when and how he sees his kids and what's best for his kids, is overstepping and controlling. Disengage and do not stand in the way of your DH being a responsible father and spending time with his kids. If your DH wants to see his kids at his mother's house, that's his choice. If he wants to book an airbnb, that's his choice. It's simply not your place to tell him not to.

Harry's picture

Your statement " problem - what society says is the normal thing to do is to be this one blended happy family. " doesn't really happen in real life. Only on movies and tv.  Do what you can, in the end the kids only have one BM and BF. You are not one of them.  Be careful not to get burned in the end.  They SK loyally will always be to BM 

wineoclock's picture

Yes Harry. I really feel the reality of that now. I want to support DH to be the best father he can be. But as you see from this thread I have my own demons to face. I also think I am trying to justify my thought process, but I know that I need some help in changing my mentality towards having the kids in my home overnight. 

Elea's picture

IMO "co-parenting" is a make believe term made up to help people feel comfortable about failed families. "Co-parenting" only works when both parents are reasonably functional. The reality is that most people wouldn't divorce in the first place if there weren't significant dysfunction on the part of 1 or both parties. Divorce may be common but contrary to popular sentiment, divorce rarely happens lightly. It happens when the family dynamic is seriously f*ed up. What usually happens is Dad's house Dad's rules and Mom's house Mom's rules, not this namby-pamby "co-parenting" that family courts like to pretend exists. 

Rumplestiltskin's picture

I agree with this so much. These people who take vacations with their exes and talk every day like best friends, and say it's because the "kids come first" make me sick. It would be one thing if they both stayed single and devoted their lives to raising their kids as friends, but they ALWAYS (ok almost always) bring other partners into the mix and the other partners almost always seem to have a problem with it. And who wouldn't have a problem being a lower priority than not just the kids but the ex? I think these types of bioparents just can't get enough attention and drama. They want to be the center of their little soap opera all the time. If it were truly "all for the kids", they would either stay together or stay single and coparent. 

wineoclock's picture

I couldn't have put it better myself. Maybe also poor decision making on the new partner's side too (from my own experience in retrospect) Really in an ideal and sensible world, we shouldn't get involved with a person who has children with someone else if we can't hack it. But obviously if only life were that simple!  I think it's easier if both sides have children with other people.


ESMOD's picture

This site has proven that time and time again.. it doesn NOT work out well when both partners have children with other people.  

It has also proven that it doesn't work well when SP's have joint children with their spouse who has children by a prior relationships.

Barring the fact that NO ONE has children from a prior relationship.. the best outcomes I have seen are when there is only one partner with children from a prior marriage and the childless SP is able to find a way in that more limited environment.

It's helpful when the SP in that case can be flexible.. is able to tolerate the children to at least some extent and wants to encourage their spouse to have a full parental relationship.. including the idea that they are always parents.. even when not in custodial mode..

It also helps when the spouse with children doesn't force responsibility for their children onto their spouse.. respect's their spouse's role as a head of household and ensures their children are respectful.  It is not a requirement that the EX be non conflict.. (in my case ours was.. my DH handled that for the most part and didn't make it my issue)... and spouse is able to set at least some boundaries with their EX... to protect their own home and relationshp.

If you have a disability that prevents you from being in close quarters with children.. you should not have any of your own ... and you should not be in a relationship with someone who has kids.  It isn't "complicated".. you CAN absolutely decide to not be in a relationship with someone... whether you are attractedto them or not.. whether they are great lovers.. whatever.. 

If you are a person with bio children, you don't enter into a relationship with someone that can't tolerate being around children.  Again.. NOT complicated... there are more fish in the sea.. and when you have chilldren that becomes a non negotiable... 

So.. the fact that you and he have moved on to having a relationship knowing that you have this disability.. it is not complicated.. you both have behaved selfishly.. in your own interests.. and have ignored the fact that he had a primary responsibility to be a parent to his bio children. 

I am NOT saying a SP has a responsibility to care for their spouse's children.. but being an active participant and a reason why they can't spend more than 2 days (and only "day") a month with their very young kids... I mean.. one is 6 years old.. 

and.. he "is saving for a place"... so how long will THAT take?  a month.. 6 years?  are you saying your husband (I'm assuming he is DH..).. is going to buy a separate house for his kids.. vs a larger place where they could visit you as a couple? yeah.. I don't see it all that workable that he basically has two homes.. and for what.. a couple weekends a month?  I'm sure his kids will soon not even want to see him the couple of days he manages to carve out for his kids. .. They absolutely should feel abandoned and let down and that he picked YOU over THEM.



Rumplestiltskin's picture

I agree. If OP can't be around children at all, this isn't going to work. It's one thing to say you can't be a main caregiver with day-to-day childcare responsibilities. But to not be able to live under the same roof, not a livable situation. 

wineoclock's picture

No, the plan was that we would all live under the same roof (when the kids come to visit), but it would require finding a bigger place to live (which DH is currently searching for). I would alao need to find a way to adjust to the living arrangements and know my role and boundaries as SM.

Rumplestiltskin's picture

To answer your original question, though, i think the best you can hope for with coparenting is: 1) A legal custody schedule that is predictable and actually followed. Whether it's 50/50 or long distance. That way you will have predictability in who is in your house and when. 2) A legal CS order. No money to the ex outside that. If the kids need anything extra, the money goes directly to that extra thing (ie the dentist.) 3) Communication between the exes is in writing unless actual emergency, weekly or less, and only about logistics or how to handle issues outside day-to-day occurrences. 4) Changes to the custody schedule are maybe a few times a year and are due to vacations, illnesses, work trips, etc. You are consulted before your DH makes plans with his ex to change things.

This doesn't address behavior of the kids in your home, or any childcare responsibilities, but to me, constitutes coparenting that is livable for a new partner who lives with the bioparent and kid(s.) I won't consider cohabiting or marriage without these things. Maybe it means i'll never marry again but i'm ok with that. Not to say that things out of the ordinary don't happen (if you happen to be in the same place as the ex, i wouldn't expect you to not be polite), but the above need to be the baseline for me. 

Rags's picture

I set and enforced standards of behavior and standards of performance that the kid met or received consequences.  If my DW did not parent and discipline, I did.  If she did not like how I parented and disciplined she could stup up and get it done before I had to, or she could have my back and we would discuss it in private.

The same held for me if I did not like how she was parenting and disciplining.

We colaborated on zero tolerance in dealing with the toxic blended family opposition in order to defend the best interests of SS and to protect SS and our family from their noxious bullshit.

Though it may sound surprising, or even delusional, we have had a great life as a blended family, DW and I are happy (29+ years married) and SS-31 had a great childhood and is living a good life as a viable adult, a man of character and honor and is a man of standing in his profession and community.

Conversely, his three younger also out of wedlock Spermidiot spawned half sibs by two other baby mamas are each a train wreck.  Spawn#2 is a Dole Queein, #3 is a convict serving a long prison sentence, #4 is not far behind the inmate.  The manipulatie toxic crap by the SpermClan, primarily SpermGrandHag, took focus and the prompt delivery of escalating abject misery with every legal, financial, and social tool we could use.  Ultimately, we won and SS has put the shallow and polluted end of his gene pool behind him.

Marriage is not about giving up yourself for your mate. It is about each of you making the other and the marriage the uncontestable priority and being equity life partners.  Kids benefit from that, they are not a part of that.  Kids are the top adult responsibility but NOT the priority.  

There are countless examples of failed marriages and shit children, when those children are the worshipped priority of their idiot parents,  who grow to be shit adults and have yet more shit children.

A parent's duty and responsibility is to prepare their children for life. It is not to protect them from life.

Take care of you.

All IMHO of course.

wineoclock's picture

Thanks Rags, it's good to see another side of being a step parent and your involvement in parenting. How did you know what your boundaries were when it came to parenting? Or did you feel as though you parented in the same way as your DW?

Rags's picture

children in the marriage regardless of the kid's biological origins.

I would not have tolerated anything less, neither would my incredible bride. We agreed on this prior to getting married. I knew when I came to the realization that I wanted a make a life with this incredible woman that to do that I would be a parent to her son.

If the X is reasonable, they should be worked with reasonably. If they are not reasonable, they should not even be considered at all beyond minimizing their influence on the kid and eleminating them as  threat to the blended marriage. They should be kept firmly in their place.  Regardless, the entire sitaution should be managed in clear compliance with the CO. It is the best tool for holding a toxic X at bay.

Because we started our blended family adventure when SS was very young (we met when he was 15mos old), we did not have an overwhelming level of kid shallow and polluted gene pool issues to cure him of. That allowed my bride and I to focus on protecting him from the horrid influences of the blended family opposition.  She had left SpermLand right after HS graduation to attent University.  She took SS with her. The CO in place at that time had no visitation element due to SS's age and my then future DW was awarded full physical and legal custody of SS at birth.  We married the week before he turned 2yo.

DW  and I partnered in parenting but we did not necessarily parent the same way.  We respected each other and SS enough that we worked hard to not allow differences in parenting opinion to put our marriage at risk  and we did out best to keep SS's best interests at heart.

He was raised in the example of a commited, respecful, adult equity life partnership.  He wants the same for himself.  That said, he does have exceptionally high standards that he struggles with in his significant other relationships.  He wants what his mom and I have, his grandparents have (my mom and dad), and his aunt and uncle (my brother and his wife), have.  He is IMHO extremely inflexible in how that works and progresses. Though he knows it is work, he will not tolerate any character flaws or deviations from his personal standards for behavior or performance in a mate.  He refuses to tolerate anything remotely like what he witnessed with his Spermidiot and the SpermClan.  SpermGrandHag is an overbearing, domineering, control freek Harpy.  Spermidiot is a serial statutory rapist gang banger wannabe.  SS knows that he does not want and he will not tolerate anything in his partner(s) that even remotely resembles the SpermClan crap.

wineoclock's picture

I do feel very conflicted. I think what would make my situation easier is if BM wasn't in the equation and then I could just take over full parental responsibility with DH. If I had no choice but to have DH's kids under my roof - say if they didn't have a mother or we had PC - then I would be forced to take on that role. I think what makes it harder is the fact that I am unable to parent DH's kids as I am not their BM and she is very much around. I have helped the eldest with his school work (as BM is unable to do so), both boys know me very well and we all spend time together from time to time as we do get along. The problem arises because I don't have a voice to discipline them myself. I don't have that right. The boys can get out of control and I can't parent them and that makes me feel powerless in my own home- particularly with the limited space. I am not their mother and I'm sure BM wouldn't be impressed if I started taking on a motherly role. The truth is I've interacted with these kids since DH and I started our relationship but I still don't know what my role is and when to disengage 

ESMOD's picture

If the kids are in your home, you have a say in how they behave.. what they are allowed to do.  You may need to make your SO enforce it.. but you DO have a say.  If he can't or won't parent his kids (discipline.. redirection etc..)  You are well within your rights to tell a child to "stop doing that'.. if it is destructive or overly intrusive on you.. 

You can ask a kid to turn down the TV even if you are not a parent for example. .. it's not All or nothing.

You can ask your SO to take his kids out for a walk.. a drive.. to get a pizza so you get a sensory break.  You can have him get a couple of air mattress beds to use in the living room for when they stay the weekend.. you can have the bedroom.. he can bunk in the living room with his kids.

His mom may be getting older.. but if she still has a home.. HE could take the kids THERE for the weekends that he has them.. so that he could spend some undivided time with them.. maybe spend enough time with them to start instilling better behavior standards?  

I get why BM thinks she needs to be "the" parent.. because she IS the parent.. your SO hasn't been.. I don't doubt she has reservations about his abilities.

wineoclock's picture

No the irony is that BM actually regards DH as a co-parent. She always needs validation and reassurance from DH when parenting their kids. This was my initial topic of this blog as BM always wants to be in contact with DH regarding their kids. Now she is requesting regular phone contact with him to discuss child-related matters.

ESMOD's picture

Do you believe she would want to take him back?  Was it his choice to leave?

Do you think he, in some part would want that too?

Do you think maybe she is trying to get some amount of support from him with the children since he has stepped back so much?


Coparenting is not a requirement.. but if he wants to have input on how his kids are raised.. he likely will need to figure out some way of having input since she is the custodial parent 99 percent of the time basically.  

Maybe that does mean a weekly call to discuss?  it's not overly burdensome considering he isn't really caring for them otherwise.

Maybe it means a weekly recap email.

Maybe it means he sets ground rules/critieria for more frequent contact questions.

wineoclock's picture

Not a chance DH and BM would have ever reconciled -  BM used DH as she wanted to have kids so she would not have to work. She clearly didn't really think it through at the time and now she most likely regrets her decision as the circumstances mean that she suffers, DH suffers and more importantly the kids suffer. All because of her selfish needs. It's all self-inflicted. But the kids don't deserve this and they need us all to work together for their best interests. 

I don't mind email contact for the two of them to discuss anything to do with the kids, but I personally feel that regulating phone contact with BM will be difficult as she doesn't understand boundaries, urgent versus non-urgent or knowing when is an appropriate time in the day to make contact i.e. after work. Also having a phone conversation with BM is like banging your head against a brick wall. The conversation takes longer than it has to be and then at the end of the conversation, you don't feel you have got anywhere with it or you have any useful information to help better support the kids. I just don't feel it's a very productive way to have a discussion about the children. If it's email then it cuts out all the nonsense and both sides can maintain a professional relationship for the kids' welfare. 

Rags's picture

So, if your DH is not doing it to your standards and is a ball-less parent... you do it and let him know he can bite his tongue until he steps up and gets it done before you have to.

I have always struggled with the seemingly default position that SParents take that they cannot enforce standards of behavior and standards of performance that children in their home will abide by. Yes, we can, and we should.  Preferably in collaboration with our mate, but if they are too cowardly to parent, they get no say.

IMHO of course.

Yes, my DW and I parented SS as partners under a CO that included a long distance visitation schedule for the CP, my DW was the CP with full physical and legal custody, making my SParenting experience the proverbial Unicorn SParenting experience.  However, abdicating a huge part of life to a partner who is a crap parent m to their failed family ill behaved progeny, abandoning our adult status to those ill behavied failed family progeny, and to the toxic manipulative X, is not something anyone should do or tolerate.  If we are married to a quality partner, the partner would never ask us to sacrifice those things and that partner would defend us and our marriage side by side from their toxic spawn and their toxic X as a hill to die on.

IMHO of course.

Rumplestiltskin's picture

Sounds like there is a lot of info missing here. 
1) Did your DH ever have his own place where he parented independently? Where was he living before he moved in with you? How big a role did his mother have in caring for the skids before you married? 2) How many different cultures are at play here? You mentioned your parents had an arranged marriage, BM is Hindu, and DH is Catholic, and you all live in the UK? 3) Are one or more of you "on the spectrum?" You mentioned BM can't help skids with homework and they are very young, and she can't differentiate between emergency and routine. You also mentioned sensory issues.

All these things will make this very hard. People are sh!tting all over you for not allowing DH to be a true parent, but was he ever a true parent? You can't take something away from him if he never had it. You guys should get counseling to deal with these issues. 

wineoclock's picture

1) Unfrotunately DH never had his own place before marriage and lived with his mother who had a huge role to play with Skids-  she had them overnight under her roof. She is getting older and quite run down now. DH has been trying to build himself up financially to be able to accommodate his kids himself.

2) All of us have the same cultural background, born and raised in the UK

3) BM has dyslexia  - she uses this as an excuse to explain why she thinks she is not intelligent and why she can't work.

And finally yes counselling would definitely help! I think the kids do need to spend more physical time with DH, we just need to make this happen - sooner rather than later.  

Rumplestiltskin's picture

Your situation is not easy. Hopefully a neutral counselor can help get to the root of the issues and help find a workable solution. 

Dogmom1321's picture

For you:

- don't interact with the ex, don't get involved with exchanges, don't get involved with changes in custody schedule UNLESS it directly affects you (example, you and DH already had plans to go out of town and BM springs the SK on you last minute)

For DH: 

- communication should be about the child, and the child only

- both should be signed up for school & doctor emails/records

- any concerns can easily be done phone or email

When DH and I first got married, BM was OBSESSED with trying to "sit down in person" with DH. For whatever reason she felt the need to talk in person and dictate when & where they were going to chat. DH stuck to his boundary and never gave in. He felt it was something "extra" and not necessary for them to communicate about SD. Now that SD is 13, they honestly don't communicate much at all. I would say they "parallel parent", but just google. 

wineoclock's picture

Parallel parenting is the only way. My other concern is how the disengagement between myself and BM makes the kids feel. This must cause a lot of confusion. Particularly there was one such occasion when both BM and I were forced to come face to face for the very first time, as we were both celebrating a milestone for my eldest SS - she tried to look directly at me but I just ignored her very existence because I genuinely can't stand this woman. I really feel bad for the kids because they shouldn't be subjected to all of these complicated adult issues but I don't know how to just pretend that I like their mother in front of them - it would just be fake.  

wineoclock's picture

Interesting what you said about the "hmmmm" as I've found myself in similar situations. Mum always comes up in conversation in some capacity and it's so hard to maintain decorum when the kids talk about BM. I have to pull myself together and remind myself that this is nothing to do with the kids. To these kids, it's their mother and they love her very much, even if DH and I think she's an unpleasant human being - this is irrelevant as far as the kids are concerned. I have to respect that they love her and not take away from that when they talk about her to DH and I. 

Rumplestiltskin's picture

If you can't say anything nice, just say "hmmm!" Works for me. You can nod, shrug, etc.