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Custody challenges and pressure on relationship

Hummingbird7's picture

I am a childless stepmother to SS10. I am not married, but I have been in a committed relationship for almost 4 years. My boyfriend has joint custody of his son, so he lives with us two weeks a month. We are a family and we love and respect each other.

My relationship with SS10 is absolutely fantastic. At times he is more fond of me than his BM and at times I feel like I am his mother. Unfortunately, I am not, and I will never try and take his BM's place. This comes with its own challenges, since I would love to have a child with my boyfriend one day (which will come with it's own challenges, I'm sure).

The bomb dropped this weekend, when SS10 refused to go to his BM. He gets spoiled rotten when he is with her, but says he prefers being with us, because he feels loved and wanted here. This has been building up over the last few months, but has come to point where it needed to be addressed.

When my boyfriend discussed the issue with his ex, she reacted as expected - she was angry and emotional, understandably so.

They are now trying to find a way to address his unhappiness with his mother through a child psychologist. If that does not work, he will have to come and live with us full-time.

Here is where I need advice...

1.) I care for SS10's wellbeing and I want him to live a normal and happy life, but I also feel he needs his BM in his life. Yes, he will have a more stable day-to-day life living with us, but what about his relationship with his BM?

2.) As mentioned before, I am a childless stepmother. I received the instant family. I chose this and I accepted that it will come with challenges, sometimes more difficult that anticipated. I crave alone time with my boyfriend, but will have to give that up when SS10 lives with us full-time. SS10 tends to me quite emotionally demanding of his BD, so much so at times that I have to step aside. My boyfriend is an excellent father and will always give his son the attention and love he needs, even if I have to sacrifice for it. I'm concerned that having SS10 live with us full-time might put more pressure on Me and my boyfriend's relationship. Am I being selfish and irrational/unfair in my thinking?

Dontfeedthetrolls's picture

You don't have to give up all of your alone time with your partner. You set rules and boundaries and you have a babysitter now and then. Getting full custody of the child doesn't mean he doesn't ever see his mom. It means he lives with her less so that his life is more stable. Visitation to her home could change to mimic what we see many dad's get. Every other weekend and wensdays nights. Kid still sees his mom but doesn't have to be apart of her kaos as often. Still gives you guys nights off.

Either way no your not being selfish but in the long run your partner is going to make a choice. If he decides the kid comes are you prepared to stay and adjust?

Livingoutloud's picture

He'd likely see his mother per new court order, weekends or whatever other arrangements will be made. Why do you even assume he'll never see his mother just because he lives with you full time?

Hummingbird7's picture

Hi Livingoutloud,

He refuses to go to her. He gets to a point where he starts hyperventilating from all the crying. I've tried calming him down, telling him his BM misses him and loves him and that he will have fun, but it's difficult for his BD to force him to go

Disneyfan's picture

He's 10. 10 year olds don't to "refuse" to go to their parents.

Is it difficult for dad to force him to
go to school, do his homework, clean up...

Dontfeedthetrolls's picture

Agreed. Unless there is abuse I'd be straight forward.

"You're going"
"I don't want to"
"Too bad"

Now when you get into the way it's up to his father to decide how to handle it. Because mom wants to see you too or because the court says you have to depending on the child.

My partners 7 year old understands there's a court order deciding some of the things because both her parents love her so much and don't exactly agree on how to split time. NOT their fighting just needed help to decide what was fair and what was best for her and her brother.

Livingoutloud's picture

This should be up to the judge to decide when SS will see his mother, not you.. So you are saying because he refuses to go, mother should never see her kid? That's ridiculous. If you have custody, it doesn't mean BM loses parental rights all of a sudden. And you don't have sole custody! You don't get to decide when to keep him in your house!

Makes me wonder what's really going on here. With your comments like feeling "you are his mother" (you aren't) etc if there is slight parental alienation going on? Does kid feel he'll upset you if he leaves and he makes you happy he doesn't want to see his BM? Typically unless there is abuse going on 10-year-olds don't hysterically cry and hyperventilate refusing to go see a parent (2 year olds might).

I hope BM takes dad to court for refusing to send a child home per court order.

Hummingbird7's picture

No...I encourage him to go to his BM. And his BD is not refusing. The two bios are trying to figure out why their son is acting out this way and how to address it

WalkOnBy's picture

there is no "encouraging."

there is "get your butt in the car, you're going."
Why on earth are people so afraid of children?


SMforever's picture

Hyperventilating never hurt anyone. Ask him precisely but kindly why he won't go (in the unlikely event he is being abused, or is BM just too strict and y'all are fun?). And for heaven's sake stop "feeling like his mother" because taking on the SM role has to happen without expectations of thanks, and certainly should never turn into a popularity contest. That will end badly for you.

Explain to him that there is a CO requiring him to go and that he doesn't have a choice. He's old enough to understand that you and his father need couple time. Break the tantrum habit now or it will get worse - simply do not pay his drama any attention.

Dontfeedthetrolls's picture

Don't stop feeling whatever.

Feelings aren't controlled and you aren't guilty for whatever you feel.

What you do with those feelings is what matters. Being protective and wanting what's best is fine.

OP isn't saying she wants mom out of the picture or describing in anyway that she is trying to take mom's place. She is the maternal figure while the child is in their home. If mom remarried a male he would be the partners figure while in her home. That's not instantly bad. The more healthy positive relationships a child has with adults the better of they will be.

So stop telling people they are wrong for how they feel because that's not your place.

Being a step mom is hard but look at that word MOM.

Disneyfan's picture

It is bad if your feelings are leading you to passive-aggressively create tension between the child and bio parent.

If those feelings are leading you to think that you should out mom the mom, then it is bad.

Livingoutloud's picture

Yup. I think OP might want to see a therapist herself to get to the bottom of her feelings. Who knows. Maybe she feels insecure in her relationship, 4 years living together and BF wouldn't marry her, so asserting herself as child's mother makes her feel more secure and stable in this not fully committed relationship.

Livingoutloud's picture

Well we can look at word stepMOM. But technically speaking OP isn't a stepMOM. She is dad's girlfriend.

It's not wrong to feel. What we do with our feelings is important though. Children are very perceptive. They sense and see things that adults often assume aren't obvious. Clearly whatever is that OP feeling (like she feels this child prefers her over his BM for example), is creating major issues. I think it's great this kid will see a professional. Hopefully good therapist could get to the bottom of this mess.

still learning's picture

The kid is yanking everyone's chain and emotionally manipulating all the adults in his life with his hyperventalation act. I'm sure it strokes his fathers and your egos to have him tell you that he feels more loved at your house. The likely truth is is that he's just spoiled rotten. Life shouldn't revolve around him and be all about what makes little ss10 happy. No judge is going to rip him away from his mother to live full time w/dad and his gf w/out some major abuse, neglect or change of circumstance taking place. This kid is going to be a monster once he hits his teens.

lieutenant_dad's picture

Dad needs to shut down the pity parties and support BM's right to see her son whether son likes it or not.

I think it's doing a great disservice to your SS by not having your SO, his dad, be part of this therapy. Dad should not be trying to wrangle full custody; he should be encouraging an equitable split of time with BM for the sake of his son.

Really, though, kids have favorite parents in intact families that they want to spend more time with. That doesn't mean they get to spend ALL their time with that parent, or can disregard what the other parent says. In this case, SS favors Dad, which is fine, but that doesn't mean that he gets to choose his favorite parent like a pet or toy. That's not how it works.

Your SO has to TELL his son he is going to Mom's house. He has to TELL him to calm down. He has to IGNORE the whiney behavior and punish the downright rude and awful stuff. The kid is doing this because he is getting his way, to the point that an outside adult is being brought in to "fix" the problem. The person with the problem is your SO for enabling this behavior.

Granted, all of this is said under the assumption that BM is stable and not abusive. If she has issues that she is working through, then your SO needs to support that recovery to facilitate the relationship between SS and BM for his son's sake. If she isn't stable and isn't trying, then there may be more grounds for a change in custody. However, right now she is trying, and your SO needs to be supportive of HER efforts to be the best parent to their son.