You are here

School Involvement? Or stay out of it?

Aeama23's picture

So, my step-son was 10, almost 11 when his dad and I got married 6 years ago and I was around in his life for about 2 years before that. He has 3 older siblings from his dad and they are all from the same mother and my husband and I have 2 younger children. Step-son has lived with us mostly. I’ve never been hands on with regards to school and discipline. I’ve done a lot behind the scenes with school up until last year when my husband told me to not do anything with regards to step-son’s school. He barely passed to the next grade and I told myself I would be hands on this year. I told step-son this and that I would reward him for good grades since I can’t discipline for bad ones and he was all for it.

Went to meet the teacher night and tell step-son what he needs to work on and figure out with some of his classes. I tell him to get it done this week or I will have to contact the school myself (for a schedule change). He is staying with his mom this week and I dropped him off after taking him, my 2 little ones and his older sister to the movies and when he got out of the car, he seemed annoyed.

His mom called me and told me, as politely as possible for her, to essentially f*** off. She said to let her be mom and she will worry about his school stuff. She said she hasn’t been getting emails and doesn’t know why she can’t log in to her account to check on his grades and that I should have told her about meet the teacher night. I explained to her that she can be mom, of course and that I saw the info for meet the teacher on the school website and it was a last minute thing that I even went. (My husband would have gone as well but wasn’t feeling good.)

I told her about wanting to help him with ensuring he passes this year and she said he will do that and I don’t have to worry about it but I told her I will still do what I can to help. His mom and my husband are not very proactive when it comes to school and I feel like if I don’t pay attention to his grades and get onto him about missing assignments, then no one will. I feel that the mom feels threatened and like I undermined her by going to meet the teacher but she didn’t, but if she doesn’t want to take any initiative, why should that keep me from doing so?

Step-son called my husband and told him that he doesn’t want me to do anything with his school and to let his mom do it all and that I’m not his mom so I shouldn’t do anything with school. It hurt because that’s the first of the 4 to say “she’s not my mom”. Husband told step-son that if I want to be involved I will I continue to push to keep an eye on step-son’s  school and bring up missing assignments, try to figure out tutoring, ask about homework? Or do I leave it alone and let his mom handle it, even if she doesn’t end up doing anything to help and risk him failing this year?

justmakingthebest's picture

So this 16/17 year old wants you to stay out of his schooling... sounds like he is more interested in things other than school. He is so close to launching that I would be terrified to stop! I feel like even though his parents aren't doing enough now, it will be you who suffers later when he fails and wants to live with you until he is 30!

Notup4it's picture

Haha, that was my first thought too!!! Don’t stop now otherwise you could end up stuck with this “kid” forever!!! 

I would just make it VERY clear to dad that you are backing off but that if he doesn’t launch he lives with Mommeeeee

ESMOD's picture

Both Bio parents have told you to back off.  You can't care more than the bio parents.  While it is unfortunate that you can see the writing on the wall... it's not up to you to fix his kid for him.  Remember he was the first to ask you to butt out.

Now you did step on BM's toes.. and of course she has assured her son that "you don't have to listen to her.. she's not your mother I am"  So, your ability to put his nose to the grindstone is really handicapped at this point.

Here is what I would say.

To BM:  I will only be involved to the extend my  husband asks for my help. 

To DH:  I am going to back off and let you and your EX work with SS on his school stuff.  But, I expect that you follow up and ensure that he does the work because he is not going to be living here with no education and no job after he turns 18.

To SS:  You are right, I am not your mother but I care about you and I really want to see you succeed.  If I could help you do that, great, but if you feel you can do it on your own.. well, that's your choice and between you and your parents.  But, if you find that you do want my help... let me know and depending on what it is.. I will either help.. or get your parents to help you.

CLove's picture

Sorry ahead of time. You are not his mother and you NEVER will be his mother. If he fails, then it is on his parent's head, not yours. If he fails, then he can make it up in summer school, but it is still not your problem to solve. We are the step-asides  - we can help out all we want to, if allowed, but when chit gets real, we MUST step aside, and watch whatever wreckage occurs and be there to pick up the pieces. This is what I am learning, here and IRL. 

When Feral Eldest got bad grades and we were afraid she would not graduate, it wasnt up to me to decide what to do. When Feral Eldest decided to shoplift and got caught, it wasnt up to me to discipline. I didnt say a word to her. Its not our position really. So, you gave him your time and loving attention and intention, hoping to build him up to be the best version of himself. He has indicated you are to back off, the mother said back the eff off. I would listent to them very carefully, and back the eff off.

I had this happen recently too. I had been job hunting and doing childcare for the summer, while ToxicTroll went to work (sometimes), I did all the daily meals, and did ALL back to school shopping. Bought her a bunch of art supplies. ToxicTroll now likes to make comments that SHE should have the money to take her daughter out on random shopping trips, poor her, she has no money to do things with HER own daughter, but somehow the "live in" (Clove) does, and how dare she. Yeah. She really is showing appreciation for all I have done and all DH has done! And just recently filed a Child Support Modification, to get that money she said she wanted to spend on Munchkin SD12. 

Now, looking back, it seems that these poor children are simply tools, to be used. When they start causing trouble or failing school, suddenly the errant parent puts on their cape and becomes "superparent", able to leap tall buildings and attitudes in a single bound. Able to turn bad grades into good. Start looking for outfits for their parent-of-the-year award acceptance. It really sucks for these children. Your SS will realize, later, after some more bumps in the road, that you were right there for him, but right now, he is in between you and his mother, and guess who will always win?

Exjuliemccoy's picture

You've been told by BM, BD, and your SS that your help is neither wanted nor appreciated. So, LISTEN. Stop being a bull in a china shop of dysfunction and stop involving yourself in other people's business. Focus on your own awesome children and the outcomes you CAN influence. 

Pregnantwithquestions's picture

I think your heart is in the right place but unfortunately, BM and SS have a point. I’m not sure how you’re even allowed to have so much say in his schoolwork, TBH. My SK’s school stuff is pretty locked down and I’m usually the last to receive emails or alerts! That said, your husband really needs to step up here. Not interested what his son does at school? Having you do drop offs and pickups? Not going to Parent- Teacher meetings? BM calling you and confronting you? He really needs to man up and start parenting here—it’s not on your shoulders to ensure their kid is successful in life.

sunshinex's picture

That's crazy. My SD's school constantly notifies me before BM or DH about everything. I'm the first one they come to because they know it'll get done. It drives me nuts. Sometimes I wish I could say "You know she has parents, right???" 

ProbablyAlreadyInsane's picture

^ DH had me listed as the Primary contact this year because of how involved I am vs. him. lol  It can happen, he also signed paperwork giving me full access and rights to anything involving school this year. They've been very accomidating since the fiasco with registration. DH set it all straight and now I'm as good as a parent in their eyes. Plus I'm the only one who's going to do things with DH's crazy school and work schedule and Psycho's uselessness.

sunshinex's picture

I don't involve myself in SD's schooling whatsoever. She is 6 and with us full-time, but when her grades were all Cs and Ds last year (in first grade) and I mentioned it to DH, he didn't seem overly concerned. I sent BM a copy of the report card and heard nothing back. So I figure, if they don't mind, that's on them. I don't want to be the bad guy always harping on SD about grades if no one else will. 

But from my experience, your grades early on say a lot about your grades later in life. Personally, I don't even know HOW someone fails/gets bad grades at 6 years old. It doesn't even make sense to me. 

ndc's picture

Normally I would say that if the stepmom wants to help out with school, especially when the bio parents aren't doing what needs to be done, go for it.  In this case, your husband, the BM and your stepson have told you they don't want your help.  To me, that means you should stop.  Let the three of them take care of it; if they're an abysmal failure, it's not on you.  I would, however, have a chat with hubby that makes it clear that adult children who fail to launch because they don't succeed in school are not welcome to live with you.

Areyou's picture

Pull your school involvement as well as well as your financial, time, energy, and emotional involvement with this child. You will feel so much better.

elkclan's picture

I'd be able to stay out of most stuff - but not school stuff. That would drive me crazy. It would drive me crazy to see the bioparents not doing what they could to make it happen. Fortunately, my steps' bioparents do what they are supposed to, so I need do nothing, which is just as well as my ex is slacker on school stuff and with split custody I have enough on my hands trying to get the school stuff sorted for my time and his time as well. 

Pregnantwithquestions's picture

RE the comments about other step parents being involved in the kids schooling. Thats all well and good *IF* the bio parents aren't involved and they've signed over rights and what not for the step parent to be heavily involved. It sounds like from what the OP is describing that is not the case here, and both bio parents plus the child have asked her to exit stage left and really, she should.

Gucci's picture

I wouldn’t do a thing for him. They want you to back off, OK!!! Better hope you don’t need me to do pick ups or anything of that nature. 

Chelsearg's picture

i think it’s best you step back and leave them to it. As hard as it will be. 

My stepson at 5 couldn’t write his name at all, couldn’t read or right and couldn’t even draw stick people. He couldn’t count past 15 and couldn’t even colour in like regular 5yo. I pointed this out and said I think he’s dyslexic. His dad 100% is but hasn’t been diagnosed. Hubby got upset because he’s sensitive about this kind of thing after he was bullied as a kid and he said he couldn’t do anything because the ex wouldn’t listen. He made a comment to ex about his schooling and she disagreed. Stepson had to repeat the first 2 years of primary school. He is still very far behind at 11yo and can’t tie his laces or spell well and can’t do maths or tell the time. It sucks but I have the attitude of “told you so” and as sad as that is for the kid, no matter how hard I tried my opinion and help was never going to be accepted. Save yourself the drama and just back off. But don’t allow them to selectively involve you, if they don’t want your help leave them too it. 

notasm3's picture

If wannabe mother of the year want to take charge of her efftard brat why isn’t he living with her? Tell her you’d be happy to dump his care and feeding back on her.