You are here

BioDad Taking Advantage

Java_Junkie's picture

DW and I were chilling Sunday afternoon, doing some household chores, till her son's baseball game, whereupon we were going to take custody afterwards, about 9pm. Today being Columbus Day, the kids are not in school, so....

Anyway, there I was in the garage, getting some stuff to work on some project about 2:30pm, when up drove Fuzzy's car. He dropped his spawn off HOURS ahead of time. I thought, "Awesome. Oops, I mean, Awe, some... idiot dropped off his kids because his wife can't figure out step-parenting." I know it's complicated and can be a challenge, but dang...

So when I went in, DW was pretty mad, said her X sent her a text FIVE MINUTES BEFORE the kids came blowing through the front door. Basically, "sorry, I have to go out of town, kids coming early." Turns out, Fuzzy knew he was going out of town, could have given us a heads-up, but he is an inconsiderate a-hole. Ho-hum, nothing new or too surprising there. Sunday was not a day of Great Epiphany at JavaRanch.

DW sent a "we don't appreciate this last-minute change" text, and he responded with a "It was the children who insisted they come early." WHAT?? My thinking is... for stuff like this, I don't get to make unilateral decisions, and it's MY HOME! We all live together, and in the name of RESPECT TO THE OTHERS IN OUR HOME, I DON'T TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OTHERS AND DO THAT. I wouldn't dream of *just dropping by* unannounced to their little lovenest, and when Thing 1 and Thing 2 need something from their dad's, I am DEAD-SET against going there until THEY ACKNOWLEDGE our heads-up messages.

Anyway, both kids said they didn't ask to get dropped off early, DWX said they insisted. So, one party or the other someone is covering their tail (or flat-out lying). I honestly can imagine them all "safe-siding" their stories because DW just allows it to happen with NO repercussions.

Then Thing 2 said she needed some school supplies NOWNOWNOW. DW said, "You were at your dad's ALL WEEK, and you're barely in the door here on a Sunday night, and demanding I take you? I don't think that's reasonable at all (DW had surgery and can't drive for a few more weeks). You should have had your dad take you." Thing 2 motioned her hand to me, "There's Java. He can do it." I kicked my burner from Simmer to Sear... No. This pill had a friend spend the night last night, and... NO. I'm putting my foot down.

So, I am thinking I need to call a family meeting and set some boundaries. Bear in mind, I was told, "My kids HAVE two parents. They don't need more." So I've been told I will NOT be a parental figure in their lives. With all of that, I will reap no parental rewards, and I will take on no parental responsibilities. As I see it, I can't correct them or give them instructions, therefore I am not required to provide for them or be their chauffeur, especially when they are being dummies. I don't clean up after them, and any chore around the house that they should be doing, I have taken to letting it sit a while to give DW an opportunity to assign it. One day, she'll get tired of them watching cartoons and messing up the house - and she'll assign them some work - or her kids will become The Dreaded Millennial.

But I want to say to them all:

I do way too much stuff for everyone, and am getting nothing in return. Today, that stops.

If you forgot something at your dad's house, that's on YOU. If you forgot something here when it's your dad's week to host you, that's ALSO on YOU. Keep your stuff together. This *just showing up and running into the house* junk will not be tolerated again.

When you're at your dad's house, I buy food for your mom and I to eat, the two of us. YOu come by every school day and eat the food I bought, and while of course, your mom doesn't mind, I DO. I bought that. I get NO child support, but you kids are eating MY FOOD. This is a little deal, but it blows up bif when you take food THAT I BOUGHT, over to your dad's house. That is like stealing my money. Please stop. Food that was bought for the four of us STAYS HERE.

When you kids walk into the house, you will take on some responsibility. Your mom and I stay VERY busy cooking, cleaning, and repairing things around here, and it's because we take pride in what we call HOME. We know that taking pride in your home starts with taking some pride in what you do, so I would like for you both to choose a few chores to do that you can do well, to help out your mom and me. You'll feel good about it and will get a sense of accomplishment that goes with it.

I am not your taxi. If you need a ride, you may ask me for the favor, but know this: If you don't come asking for it like it's a favor and it's my option, I WILL say NO. Hint: If you want a favor from me, offer a favor. This is how the world works, and developing social skills on how to ask for help or favors is important.

Sleepovers are not a necessity. Because we've had problems with rambunctious kids late at night when I had to go to work the next day, I have a policy: You may or may not have school the next day - but if I have to go to work the next day, NO - don't even ASK if you can have a sleepover, because the answer will be NO. Don't try to bargain or negotiate, because I'll ban all sleepovers for a month; keep pushing, and I'll ban them for the following month.

Your mom and dad are DIVORCED. Your mom doesn't tell him what to do, though she may ask him for a change in the schedule. They have to talk about it and negotiate. Your dad doesn't tell your mom what to do, as they are not married anymore. And when your dad drops you both by unannounced or brings you kids by at a different time than previously negotiated or agreed, that's a lot like he's not just *telling your mom what to do,* but he's telling me what to do - and that DEFINITELY won't be the case. So if he starts saying stuff like, "Well, let's do XXX or YYY," it's your responsibility to remind him that I'm not going to play that game anymore. DW, please make sure you emphasize how very serious I am about this.

Exjuliemccoy's picture

***Slow Clap***

You may not be "allowed" to parent these skids, but you are the head of your household which gives you the right to work with your partner to have rules and boundaries for the home. FWIW, I think everything you listed is reasonable. Now to discuss it with your wife. Show her your list, have her add some items (it gives her skin in the game), and have that family meeting.


marblefawn's picture

I like that idea of them learning to ask for a favor by agreeing to do a favor in return.

Instead of a grandiose family meeting laying down the law, maybe make a slower change. As soon as the kid wants the school supplies, say they can ask, but not demand, and ask what they'll do in return. It's a subtle way to show you're not a pushover and it teaches them nothing in life is free (I actually learned this in a dog training class -- the dog can have a walk, but must calmly sit for the leash to be put on. It worked!)

Taking each of your grievances one step at a time might be easier for them to digest and will probably be less disruptive than laying down the law all at once.

Java_Junkie's picture

Many thanks, folks.

I've tried rolling out some of this gradually, agree it's maybe a bit to lay down everything all at once. Still, it's not going too well.

Where to begin... these kids are both still wasting so much food, and so I'm going to lay it down with them all because DW thinks it's NBD. I spent a few hundred bucks on groceries, and these kids just rip into it like Godzilla's coming to town and this will be their last meal. They open something, take a taste, then shove it back onto the shelf without properly closing it, and it goes stale. I'm beyond frustrated because I've practically pleaded with them all to be better, and while SD is usually pretty good, SS is HORRIBLE, and every time I say it, he acts like it's his first time hearing it. Further, DW says I'm nit-picking because I point out how her son (Thing 1) put cinnamon raisin toast into the toaster oven yesterday and burned it BLACK, then threw it in the trash, then this morning, he did the same damn thing with a bagel. He cranks the knob and walks away, lets it burn, then just cooks something else. So I said, after he burned this morning's bagel and was toasting up SOMETHING ELSE and came back into the living room while it was toasting so he could play on his iPad, "Hey, y'know, it'd work a lot better if you go in and keep an eye on the toaster oven while it's going so you don't burn your food." To her, that was nit-picking. FPS, I can't say a thing without her getting overly-protective of her kids. This is BS, they're grinding me down.

Thing 1 picks at his food, says he's not hungry, then he doesn't have to finish. Last night was Stroganoff, and he picked at it like it was toxic, complained that it smelled like dirt (it didn't). He ate a bunch of bread to fill up on that, didn't want salad because he doesn't like "any of the stuff that's in the salad" and was just sitting there, being a tool. So I said, "Don'cha wanna finish your stroganoff?" and he said something, then plowed through all three bites of it, then put his plate in the sink and went to his room, said he had to do homework.

I never said a word about it, but DW and I went on a walk, and while we were out, Thing 1 went into the kitchen and ate some snack box I bought instead of something his mom cooked, but didn't eat it all because he doesn't like cheese - he threw that in the trash (to which, I think, if you're the only person here who doesn't like cheese, DON'T TAKE THE SNACKS THAT HAVE CHEESE). 2 hours later that night, Thing 1 was hungry, so I suggested (AGAIN), he could have some of his mom's home made chicken pot pie from a couple nights ago. He went to the freezer and got one of the frozen cheeseburgers I bought for emergencies, pulled off the cheese, and ate that. At 9pm. We have a bunch of good leftovers, but her kids DON'T DO LEFTOVERS. DW cooked the chicken pot pie because it is "Thing 1's FAAAAAVORITE thing!" but then he barely ate it and definitely won't even look at the leftovers.

Earlier this week, SD was doing something on her iPad, and DW walked in, and SD was instantly hiding her iPad and deleting stuff, etc... DW had to physically rip it out of her hands and has now confiscated it to give to BioDad (he bought it for her, even after she got caught lying and doing uncool stuff on her phone and they confiscated THAT). SD was quick because she was able to clear the browsing history and any questionable messages in SECONDS. I doubt she was doing anything BAD, but it's the hiding things that looks so suspicious. Given her history of lying and hiding stuff, I'm very concerned. Then, last night, SD said she wants to have a friend sleep over Saturday night. At least they asked, so I said, "I dunno..." They looked at me like I just ordered their friends to go to the Gulag in Siberia. TBH, I *thought* SD's behavior a few days ago was pretty close to being worthy of a grounding, but I suppose I'm supposed to just let it slide. Well, shoot...

They're very entitled and DW refuses to see it or do anything about it. Grrrrr... now I'm confused. Does DW want me to SUPPORT her in her decisions? Does she want me to SDASU about her parenting? Does she want me to just sit there and say, "Yes, dear, you're the best mom ever, and your son is perfect, and your daughter is perfect, and life's perfect?"

I'm pretty confident that DW will unilaterally go ahead and green-light SD's friend sleeping over, though last night, I asked, "Who is she? (a friend from school) What's her last name? (Don't know - does it matter?) Where does she live? (Oh, somewhere close to our old neighborhood) What time will she be here (Noon Saturday - to which DW said, "Woah, that's too early for a sleepover.") When will she be leaving? (Sometime Sunday, I have a soccer game unless it reains) How will she be getting here? (Her mom will drop her off) How will she be getting home? (Her mom will pick her up). DW and I agreed last night that SD needs to iron out the details before we go agree to allow it.

DW even said, "I was WAY worse than her." She seems to think that BECAUSE SHE WAS RAMBUNCTIOUS, she can't be firm with her own kids. OMG...

I swear... I think I ought to say to DW, "Sweetie, I don't want to fight about this. I just want you to know, I see you letting your kids walk all over you, but I am not going to let them walk all over me. That's all this is. I'm trying to have your back, but then you just plain roll over and let them have whatever the Hell they want, which sort of leaves me wondering why I'd ever want to have your back, if you won't even have your own back. And it REALLY makes me wonder if you'd ever have MY back if I was in a tight spot."

Ssssso... Seems to me that someone needs to be the parent, and my efforts aren't needed. I'll be disengaging this weekend, maybe for a week or 2.

And it looks like Christmas for these entitled brats will be a card with $10 in it from me.

Siemprematahari's picture

Java_junkie you're my kind of guy and by that I mean you want to place reasonable boundaries and are trying to teach and show them respect and how to interact with others in the world. You are not asking for much and only asking for the same respectful treatment in return. You are willing to compromise and let them know the rules and expectations in your home.

Remain strong in your stance and hope your wife is supportive with you. Keep being consistent and enforcing what goes on in your home. You seem like a good reasonable step parent to me.

Java_Junkie's picture

@ Siemprematahari

Thank you.

I am still trying to find a way to show DW that there's being rigid and inflexible - then there's being a pushover... and that between those two, a spectrum of tolerance exists for us to moderate how we treat kids (or, for managers, EMPLOYEES; or, for police, SUSPECTS; etc). When I see suspicious behavior, I tighten the reins a little; if I see a history of suspicious behavior, I tighten them more. If I see compliance, I loosen the reins and will even let them handle their own reins for the ultimate in freedom. That seems best.

Like driver's education, the teaching driver has a brake pedal on the passenger side. Can't just sit there and not use it when the kid gets nervous and starts to head the wrong way on a one way street, right? After all, the instructor is in the car, and the suffering of a head-on would be everyone's to feel. If the kid driving keeps screwing up, the instructor has a responsibility to tell him to pull over and park - the equivalent of grounding.

Well, disengaging is basically saying, "Hey, DW, you want me to 'support' you - but don't want me to interact with your kids - it sounds like you want me to pay for your kids' lifestyle and not complain when they are wasting all the stuff I provide. OK, well, I won't play that game - so you have the helm. I won't say a word unless they're in my way or doing something directly to me. I won't provide anything for them, won't ask anything of them, won't clean up after them, and won't complain one bit. Basically, KMAG YOYO." And it's tough to do because it flies in the face of everything that's natural for me. But it does feel good to let them all struggle a bit at each other's hands for a while, to let them realize what the Hell I've been struggling with and how painful it is when someone just wastes your time, food, money, etc. I'm a "have your back" kind of guy, and it's tough to just step back and let them fall. But I can't be the Catcher In the Rye...