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Non-Custodial BioMom Drama

Courty_C's picture

A little background on my current dilemma. BM lives 3,000+ miles away from my husband, and her two sons, 9 and 12. Even through the distance, she has tried to maintain an extreme control and involvement in the kids' lives, from daily FaceTime conversations, mandating they send her pictures of all of thier schoolwork, not study with me, but rather study over the phone with her, etc. It has seemed excessive, considering she willingly chose to move away from her children, and even given the opportunity on several occasions to be closer, has turned them down and chosen her romantic relationships instead. My husband and I have tolerated her inconsistences, her lack of consideration to the kids needs, and generally allowed the staus quo to exist where she is concerned, because it seemed easier to allow her whatever access she wanted, rather than restrict their relationships with her further. But IMO, she repeatedly crosses the line with the kids, and it is becoming detrimental to the kids well-beings.

 

I feel the time has come to limit her exposure to BOTH kids. While the youngest (9) may not be adversely affected by her actions yet, I feel that you can’t claim she is unfit to interact with one, but then turn around and say it is okay for her to interact with the other. Ultimately, even if SS-9 can continue to have good interactions with her, it does not mean it is good for him, or healthy long term, to see a woman, and his mother to boot, in such an emotional and volatile state frequently. A 9 year old does not have the ability to compartmentalize her feelings and understand her reactions may not be directed at him, or because of him. The 12 year old is even struggling with it. Whatever is done, it has to be done unilaterally, across the board.

 

From my perspective, the best path forward is to unfortunately eliminate, or highly regulate, her exposure and interaction with the boys. I understand this is not going to be a popular decision, and may seem extreme. But she has repeatedly crossed the line, repeatedly failed her children, and by her own admission is so severely affected by PTSD from a relationship she chose to stay in even knowing the abuse that was occuring/having the means and opportunity to leave and still not taking them.  She has stated that she feels her 12 year old son is abusing her. To label a child, your OWN child, as an abuser, all because he called you multiple times in order to work things out, after his mother hung up in his face repeatedly, is detrimental and a dangerous game to play. That label can follow him, weigh on him, and no matter what my husband and I do to counteract those feelings, to work through and address them, there is no guarantee we can convince him they are untrue. The more he hears it (which 1 time is one too many IMO) the more he will believe it. The more someone, even his parent, is allowed to say that about him without any repercussions or major interference on our end, the more he will let self-doubt, insecurity, and the natural inclination to believe his mother win out, and cause him to believe the labels, believe the accusations. Comparing a 12 year old to a grown man that hit his mother repeatedly, that his mother has had arrested multiple times, filed restraining orders against, gone on and on about how horrible of a person he is…. On what planet is it okay to say “My ex boyfriend is such a horrible person, he has hurt me so much, and caused me so much grief… and SS-12,you are JUST like him.. it is exactly the same” Never mind the fact that the kids should not have intimate knowledge of her circumstances regarding the ex-boyfriend situation to begin with, for a plethora of reasons including the sheer emotional burden it places on them both… that is an entirely separate issue I can’t even get into right now..  but because they DO know what has gone on, they are aware of exactly how much of a dirtbag he is… a mother CANNOT give her SONS that information and then in the same breath compare one of her sons to the big bad wolf she has gone on and on about being so horrible.  

 

She can throw around her PTSD diagnosis, say she is in domestic violence groups, and that the kids need to be sensitive to her current state, but I disagree. It is not a child’s responsibility to have enough emotional maturity and social awareness to navigate the land-mine ridden field that is their mother. If she can’t compartmentalize her issues, and take 30 minutes out of her day to set aside everything else and not let her drama and issues interfere with her very small window of time to talk with her children, then shouldn't she forfiet that time? I don't want this to be a punishment for her poor life choices (although that is a bonus in my book) but ultimately an executive decision on my husband's part to put his children’s wellbeing first. 

 

What would be the best way to approach the restrictions? Explain that she very obviously needs time to heal, time to process, time to work through her issues, and in order for her to be able to work through her issues and move forward, she needs to focus solely on her issues, and take a step back from her role as mother? She has proven she is incapable of managing her emotional and physical issues while maintaining a healthy relationship with her children. As a mom, I feel she should sacrifice and put her own selfish desires aside, and consider the negative impacts her emotional outbursts are having on her kids.

 

In theory, the most ideal situation is to request a hiatus from her communication with her children. I think requesting she abstain from all face to face communication with them for one month, and in that month she seek therapy, counseling, psychiatric treatment, whatever she needs to do to work through her issues, and then we all re-evaluate her emotional stability in that time, and see where the kids are at emotionally as well. 

 

Is this totally outside the realm of possibility? Are my husband and I wrong for feeling we have to step in and regulate contact between a mother and her children? It isn't like this is a first resort plan for us, but how many times do we have to idly sit by while she curses out her children, calls them names, accuses them of being abusive to HER, compares her son to her abuser, tells her kids she will call at a certain time, then texts them that she can't because she is at a party, or has friends over, or there is some other mild inconvenience on her end that she feels entitles her to shrugg off her kids, or rearrange ALL of our schedules to better suit her social calendar.. ? I have always tried to be an advocate that the kids deserve a relationship with their mother, but at what cost? How do my husband and I continue to allow unlimited and unfiltered influence from her, when we see the kids hurting? 

 

Sorry for the vent session here, I just need some reassurance or guidance that we are not wrong in stepping in, and that we are not over-reacting somehow and adversely affecting the kids, when the entire reason we are considering taking such an extreme measure is to protect them.

ESMOD's picture

It sounds like your DH needs to start monitoring these communications.  When she goes off the rails into 'no go' territory..he needs to step in and shut it down.  He can certainly suggest to his EX that certain talk and topics should be off limits with the kids.  But he doesn't really have a stick to force her to do anything.  If the CO states she gets access..he should try to obey the letter of that... but she should not be allowed to continue conversations that go off track.

I think it's wisest and best if there is no "YOU" in any of this.  Do not let BM know that you have an opinion.. you are not to cut her off.. or be the one monitoring. I would limit phone access to only when your DH is home.. do not let it become drama about YOU not letting her have access to the kids.

Your DH can broach with his EX that it is not productive for the kids to be on the phone with homework etc.. One call a day is fine.. as long as she can not go into adult topics of conversation.

lieutenant_dad's picture

First and foremost, what does the CO say? If Dad has full legal and physical custody, then he can do whatever he sees fit for his children. In fact, the courts have GIVEN him the RESPONSIBILITY to make those decisions.

However, if she is allotted that time in thw CO, then your DH needs to consult an attorney about options. Likely, he will need to build a case to support limiting access to BM while she is getting well. He needs proof of her craziness to make that case, though. That is where an attorney can help.

In the interim, I would seek therapy for the kids. They need someone to help them work through their emotions, and a good therapist can likely make recommendations on how to handle BM (and may be willing to write a letter to the courts seeking that access be limited until she is well).

I think your DH starting with a conversation with BM, alone, expressing his concerns is a good first step if he hasn't already done that. She may willingly back off or monitor herself. If she doesn't, then he needs to follow the CO.

Ultimately, I would have a court decide what is best. Courts are still very pro-BM, and if she walks into a courthouse stating that she feels her kids have been alienated from her, she may end up with most custody and rights, even if you know that will cause more harm. Anytime a parent is willing to hurt their own child, or at least not putting their best interests first, the "better parent" needs to walk the fine line of the law to make sure their kids don't end up in a worse situation due to operating outside what the "better parent" is legally allowed to do. Does it potentially hurt the kids in the short term? Yes. But it's better than having a long term ordeal that could cause massive damage.

tog redux's picture

First off, OP - you seem way overinvolved in this whole situation.  I know that you care about these kids, but this is all written as if YOU are the one making the decisions here, and you aren't.  I get feeling strongly about kids that you care about, but where is DH in all of this? He needs to be the one to take a stand here, not you.

I agree with LD. First and foremost, what does the CO say? If it says she can call them every day for 3 hours, then don't limit that.  Go to court and get it changed.  Get a therapist to help the boys deal with having a toxic mother (she sounds as if she may have Borderline Personality Disorder).  SS12 needs to learn to say, "Bye Mom, I'm not discussing this," and hang up.  He needs coping skills.

Be sure this is done planfully and with an attorney.  She would not be the first abandoning mother to suddenly show up and take custody of her kids, and they would not be the first abandoned kids to be easily alienated from their father by a mother whose approval they would love to have. This type of woman is all or nothing - either she abandons her kids, or she cuts them off from their father, and there is no in between.

I personally think your DH has tolerated way too much already from this crazy woman and it's high time to set limits. But he needs to tread carefully.  Don't think she can't turn your whole world upside down if she feels she's losing control.

Goodluck's picture

What does your boyfriends court order say? Did the Judge give BM unrestricted telephonic access with her children? Prior to you moving in with your boyfriend, did BM always call, video chat everyday?

Having read back thru your older posts it does not appear BM lost custody for neglect or abuse. Sounds like she and your boyfriend struck a deal?

If this came to a head...BM's lawyer will paint her out to be Mother of the Year who loves her kids and the mean old bio dad and new girlfriend are X'ing her out...

 First question is what does court order say.  IF it remains silent when did boyfriend agree to bm's daily calls?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Courty_C's picture

There is no stipulations in her favor from the court orders. She is not guaranteed or promised any amount of time, in person or via phone. It simply says he has primary custody until both parties agree otherwise. We don’t “have” to give her any access, or any time. We have done so in the past because it was our belief that it was in the kids best interests to have their mother in their lives as much as she was willing to be. But she is proving that it may not be what is best for them in the long run, given her instability and outbursts. The calls have always been in place, since they first split. It was just assumed and adhered to that the kids would video chat with whichever parent they were not with at the time. It has always felt excessive to me, just given that SS9 and SS12 don’t ever have anything to talk about, and getting two sentences out of them is diffuclt even in person, much less over a phone. They are preteen boys. They don’t communicate well, LOL. if it were just “hey mom, love you, I had a good day” just to hear their voices and catch up, I could go with it. But the level of conversation she wants to take place is not really possible. She wants them to basically recap their entire day, go over what they did at school, or what they had for dinner, go over their homework assignments, their grades... the kids just don’t want to and don’t care to talk about all that stuff in detail. But she takes it as a slight and gets mad at them, feels put out over it. 

She did not lose her kids due to neglect, but it does not mean we don’t have documentation (if it ever came to needing it) that she has made poor choices regarding the welfare of her children. Emails/texts/ voicemails from her - saying she’s high, admitting to driving while high with the kids in the car, admitting to knowing her boyfriend was abusive when she had the kids come stay with her for the summer, let her boyfriend drive her son to a ball game, even though the boyfriend currently had a suspended license for being medically unfit to operate a vehicle, texts from her to her 12 year old cursing him out, calling him names.... the list is endless. We don’t want to use it, but we will if we have to.

still learning's picture

"It has always felt excessive to me." First of all it's not about you. This is their time with their mother and you really have no business being a part of it.  

Yes you do have to give her access and time, she's their parent and has that right to talk to her children. Just because it isn't specific in the CO doesn't mean you can cut her off. The status quo has been phone calls/facetime since the split so that would likely continue if brought up in court.  Teen boys generally don't communicate well with anyone, mom still wants to know how their day went and that's okay.  It is rare for a court to cut off and deny all access of a parent to their child. Most laws state that Custodial parents have to encourage a loving and close relationship with the other parent. How is cutting off communication for a month with mom doing that?

Interference on your part can cause your DH to lose custody.  Nonsubstantiated allegations of abuse aka hearsay can also sway things in her favor.  I would stay out of it and let your DH deal with this. 

 

Courty_C's picture

Nothing is nonsubstantiated here. We have documented EVERYTHING.. we have doctors and therapists acknowledging the emotional abuse she is subjecting at least one of her children to, on a regular basis. There is no intention to cut off and deny access of the BM to her children. However, if a kid was coming back from mom's house every other week with bruises and broken bones, would people be so willing to say "she has a right to see them, she is their mother, that means something, she deserves the time with them no matter what" .. I highly doubt that, so why is an emotionally abusive relationship between mother and child considered any different? Yes, Custodial parents should always strive to foster a loving and close relationship with the other parent. But in this case, every effort to accomplish that has been unsucessful and detrimental... do we keep forcing him to "nurture" a relationship with his mother, even though that relationship has proven to be extremely unhealthy? We have set up countless therapy appointments for SS12 to discuss things with his mother, for them both to try and repair their relationship and improve thier interactions as a whole. But it isn't working. She refuses to change, refuses to acknowledge she is even a PART of the problem. 

In theory, everything you say is true, and we have done our due dilligence to keep the lines of communication open between mother and child, to support their relationship and do whatever we can to make it better, and if we were dealing with a rational person, it might have worked. But the entire subject of this forum is about mentally unfit bioparents... She has some SERIOUS issues she is refusing to accept and acknowledge, and until she does, why is it wrong of the custodial parent to take actions to prevent her from further damaging or abusing her children? 

still learning's picture

I wish the children in this situation lots of luck and love. It seems that all of their parents are failing them in some way. You're coming in on your white horse trying to save the kids from their mothers abuse yet alienating them from her is just as much if not more abusive.  

Best of luck,

Still Learning, Out.  

lieutenant_dad's picture

Wanting to protect the kids is noble and what a good parent does. However, the persons who need to judge the worthiness of the other parent is not you or your DH. That falls on the courts.

Your DH currently has a CO that allows him to withhold visitation from BM. If your DH has proof that her interactions are detrimental, then he needs to get that information to an attorney so that it can be documented. An attorney can send BM a letter outlining that visitation will end. Your DH can request mediation so that he and BM can come up with a mutual agreement where her visitation rights are reinstated.

I think that last part is where people are struggling. You're saying BM is unfit, but your DH doesn't seem to be contacting her and telling her to knock it off. He isn't working with her to establish guidelines on what is and isn't okay (this could likely be drafted by the therapist). Basically, your DH has allowed her to dig herself into a hole, not stopped her, and now wants to end visitation with no clear guidelines on when visitation would be reinstated.

Not having a plan for reunification is alienation. Not setting out to allow supervised visits or calls is alienation. If you have proof that she has been abusive, then use it to protect the kids. Don't allow BM to continue to dig herself into a hole and hurt her kids so that they make the choice to never speak to her again. That is also alienation.

Your DH and you shouldn't be unilaterally deciding that BM is unfit while also being the ones to decide when she is fit enough to be a parent again. Your DH has the responsibility to both protect his children AND facilitate a relationship between them and BM. That can be accomplished through updated COs and supervised visitation. Anything less than that borders heavily on alienation, which is a big no-no.

Rags's picture

This equation is missing the common denominator of Dad's time Vs. Mom's time.  She has no business interfering in your DH's time with his children, interfering in your marriage, or interfering in your home at all much less to this rediculous extent.

DH needs to put his foot up her ass. Set a call schedule that does not interfer in your family/home/marriage and tolerate zero infringement in your lives.

She gets time with her kids when they are visiting. She gets limited interface when they are with dad.  He needs to stand firm... and so do you.

Good luck.

lieutenant_dad's picture

Actually, she has all the business to call if she is COed time to talk to them. That's the missing piece: does she have the right to the time?

Rags's picture

If it is COd, of course I agree.   This amount of interference can't possibly be COd.  If it is COd, someone needs to go after that Judge with every legal tool possible.

lieutenant_dad's picture

I don't think a daily 30 minute phone call is too much. How she spends that 30 minutes may be the issue, not the time itself. That's why it's not good to walk into court, as a father, and demand even less time for a mother without really, really good evidence that what she is doing is harmful to the kids.

Courts still see men as the cause of divorces and/or the "lesser" parent. One sob story from BM could sway custody to where she gets even MORE time and ammunition against Dad.

This isn't something to ram through. Dads have to be far more tactical. Even if the CO doesn't allow this much contact, the fact that he has allowed it gives her a case to allow it to continue. 

They have to prove that she is unfit, not just an inconvenience. A judge Will not look kindly on a CP, especially a father, who claims it is inconvenient to help his kids maintain contact with their other parent.

Rags's picture

I do not think that it is about less time. It is about structuring the time.  Visitation schedules are how the NCP's time is determined.  Neither party should be tolerated to inferfere with the time of the other parent.  

I do not see a Judge taking exception to a CP structuring calls between the NCP and the kids on the CP's time.  The OP indicates that the NCP BM is highly interfering in the dynamic of the CP's household.  Setting a specfic time frame for calls is reasonable.  Eliminating them all together is not.

still learning's picture

Dad needs to contact BM through email and let her know that the abusive behavior over Facetime is going to stop immediately. BM has every right to call and talk to her kids however often was court ordered yet dad has the right to end the call if she is verbally abusing the kids. Dad needs to keep a journal and document everytime he had to end a call and why. He should also get the kids into therapy. I'd advise you to steer clear of this OP, there should be no "we" when trying to restrict BM's access to her kids.  Cutting her out for a month seems unreasonable and extreme and DH could be charged with contempt. 

Remember that your DH made children with this woman, not once but twice.  It says a lot about his character to choose a person like this to procreate with. This is their mother and there is no way to completely shield them from her emotional issues.  You can't save them and you can't control their interaction with her.  It sounds like he's not very concerned about the dynamic but you are.   It would be best if you stepped back and let your husband deal with the drama he created. 

Courty_C's picture

While I appreciate your concern and opinion, just because my husband was married and had children with this woman, does not mean he has a character flaw. The woman she is now is not who she used to be. Whether through life events, chemical imbalance, delayed emotional trauma, whatever happened... she changed, and that is why they are no longer together. They were happily married for 13 years, and then he was completely blindsided when she announced she was miserable and suffocated and didn’t want to do it anymore, needed her own life, and moved clear across the country for another man. It does not mean my husband made a grave mistake or willingly chose a nutjob as the mother of his children. Multiple people that knew BM before the split have said that she is a completely different person now, that they can’t recognize who she is. She was not always this way. Something occurred that none of us can guess at, and she transformed into who she is today. Now we have to move forward and handle things as best we can, and unfortunately because of her unpredictable and unstable behavior, it makes it a constant guessing game of who the kids will get when they talk to her. Sometimes she is their normal mom, sometimes she is completely irrational, sometimes she is inappropriate in what she shares with them about her personal life (hubs and I feel it is to play on their emotions and be the “victim” in their eyes) sometimes things are completely fine and then she just snaps and goes off the rails on SS12. there are so many variables and factors at play, but I want to stress that her choices now do not reflect poorly on my husband in any way. He has and always will do whatever he feels is best for his children. It is why he fought her tooth and nail and begged for his kids to come back, it’s why he has sought therapy for them both to ensure we are doing everything we can for them. It’s why he has attempted to maintain a productive co-parenting situation with his ex, even with her irrational behaviors, because we have always felt the kids deserved to have their mom in their lives, in whatever way she was willing to be.. we have done everything we could to foster their relationship and try to keep the peace for the sake of the kids keeping her in their lives.... but it just feels as though the cons of her in their lives have severely started to outnumber the pros.

Courty_C's picture

I’ve been processing all of the information .. and considering our options. 

To clarify some things... the CO/custody agreement is extremely vague, as my hubs and his ex struck a deal and it has worked well up until this point. There is no CO dictacting she have access or a certain amount of time with them. There is actually no stipulations that she is guaranteed ANY amount of time with them. My husband is the domaciary parent, and has primary custody “until both parties” agree otherwise.. and he will never agree to give her more than she has. We have allowed them to spend summers and vacation time with her, but that was all before she chose to expose her children to an abusive partner. The kids have not and will not be allowed to stay with her given her current situation, simply for safety concerns on our part. 

The kids have always had daily FaceTime conversations with whichever parent they were not living with. When she left, she took the kids, but both were miserable and hated it, and wanted to be with their dad, and fortunately my husband was able to convince the BM that the kids would be better off with him. He was and is the stable option, he has the stable job, stable life. She chose to leave, she chose to move across the country for another man. 

Yes, it does seem like I am highly invested in the situation. However, it does not mean I have had any contact with BM regarding it, and any “opinions” of mine on here, are those that have been discussed and that I share wholeheartedly with my husband. He and I are a team, and partners, and if we feel something is necessary or the right course, HE addresses it with BM as though it is his sole opinion and decision, and nothing is portrayed or presented as me forcing the issues, or interfering. 

Both kids are currently in counseling, and it was at the therapists urging that we even started considering to restrict and monitor access. SS12 is working to gain coping skills and learning to disengage, but his efforts only go so far if there aren’t measures in place to protect him as much as possible. There is also only so much he can work on and work through, if his mother is unwilling to acknowledge or accept responsibility for any of his issues. Coping skills will not get him anywhere, IMHO, if we keep allowing him to be exposed to the drama and abuse, without putting some security measures in place. He’s 12. No matter how much therapy he goes to, or how much he tries to work through things... he will never have the emotional capacity of an adult to process these things. Not for many more years. 

 

Winterglow's picture

I'd do what the therapist is suggesting - restrict the time to ten minutes MAX and cut the call off if it goes off the rails. However, your DH should talk to BM about what you are going to do and why you are doing it. Reduce the time to 5 minutes, if necessary. And no more showing homework - showing grades should suffice ... though, if either of them is really proud of something by all means let him show it off (somehow, I don't think that is going to happen in the near future).

Wishing you well.

Courty_C's picture

None of this is to say the kids cannot reach out whenever they want... rather IF they dont, then she should give them space as well. It is not to force them to never talk to her, or tell her she's never allowed to speak to them again. The entire purpose is to limit the "status quo" of the talks, to limit the "talking just because it is what we have always done, not because we want to or have anything to say.." If the kids have any interest in showing her their grades or their projects, they have always been and will continue to be free to share whatever they want with her, whenever they want. I believe a lot of people are missing the fact that this is only being considered as an option TEMPORARILY due to her current emotional instability and the severely negative interactions that have been occuring because of it. Also, there is never an actual "need" for them to show homework and grades, as we ensured she had full access to their school portals, can see everything down to thier attendance, doctors notes provided, if one of the boys is checked out of school for any reason, what assignments they have, when they are due, what grade they got on them.. so while I understand wanting to stay "in the loop"... we have given her a direct source to keep herself informed, precicley because kids are not a reliable or accurate source of information on those kinds of things.. It truly feels like she uses things like their schoolwork and thier grades to maintain a form of control over the situation... to still be "responsible" for them and take credit for helping them and ensuring they are making good grades and studying, etc... not saying it is a wrong desire for her to have.. but at some point the choices she has made to be so far away, to remove herself from the day to day of their lives, willingly... well knowing what they did hour by hour at school, or at practice... you just may not get that information when you live 3,000 miles away and have made zero attempt to be closer, even when given the option and means to be closer. 

Goodluck's picture

OP I am sorry to say you have a lot of contradictions in your posts.

But hey allow me to congratulate you on your marriage. Your BIG day must have occurred not too long ago, right?

GoodLuck with everything.

I'm out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Courty_C's picture

What contradictions are you referring to? I have been in the picture for going on two years now. My husband has been divorced for three, separated for four. Natural progression of our relationship has occured, yes, and we have gone from dating to living together to engaged to married. Did I forget to post about my nuptials to an internet forum for opinions and advice? My bad. I come here when things get particularly stressful and I feel at a loss for the right steps to move forward.. I was unaware my status change from girlfriend to wife was of any consequence to the advice I was seeking. I do not post to any site, social media or otherwise, with any frequency, as I stay pretty busy helping to rasie two boys, coaching their sports teams, and just generally muddling through life. I was unaware there were requirements or standards for seeking advice from people who claim to have similar experiences and could share some knowledge and opinions on circumstances. However, no two situations are exactly the same, and I don't believe there is a protocol and procedures manual for navigating baby mama drama. If there is, can I borrow a copy? I would certainly read it.