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Warring parents...

(42 Posts)
Mamma66 Sat 25-May-19 11:35:43

My Stepson has three children aged 7, 5 and 2. His relationship broke down in February 2018. His ex wouldn’t allow him (or us) to see the children until early June 2018 when they went to court and it broke our hearts. He lives with us since the split and we have the grandchildren every other weekend from 5.00pm Friday to 5.00pm Sunday. To be honest I look after the children. We love them dearly but it is hard work. The parents are so busy scoring points that they really don’t put the children first. They are now having full on war and his ex is now demanding that we have the kids every Wednesday after school which was in the original court order. There is absolutely no way we can do it, and she is insisting all his contact is supervised (long story but this is really not necessary). We keep saying to them that they need to sort things out between them and not involve us, but it makes no difference. I am at a loss as to what we should do now. They really are not putting the kids first and both using them as a weapon. We are so fed up of getting in the middle and frightened of losing contact with our lovely grandchildren.

March Sat 25-May-19 11:48:51

Your stepson needs to look after his children. Not you.

If it's court ordered it must of been agreed when it all went to court?

crazyH Sat 25-May-19 11:55:22

Shame, isn't it? That's my biggest fear....the breakup of my children's relationships and me not being able to see them.
Please God, I hope you are all able to sort things out and you continue to see your lovely grandchildren. Good luck.!

Mamma66 Sat 25-May-19 12:36:54

Thank you crazyH, it is awful, we didn’t see them for five months when they first split as we have had them every other weekend for the last year we have got really close to the children and I am really frightened that they will be kept away from us again. I really hope that they come to their senses, but am not holding out much hope 😢

Mamma66 Sat 25-May-19 12:40:52

I agree with you March my Stepson should look after his children, but he just doesn’t, I have tried everything but he just doesn’t. I think he likes the idea of being a parent, but not the reality. Some weekends he spends 1 to 2 hours with them and that’s it. The original Court Order was 5pm Friday to 5pm Sunday and every Wednesday but we simply cannot do it.

sodapop Sat 25-May-19 13:01:21

That's difficult for the children and you Mamma66 You are in a catch 22 situation now.
You really need to talk to the Services involved with your family and tell them things are not working out. In the long term this may help as your stepson is clearly not taking responsibility and no one is benefiting at the moment.

EllanVannin Sat 25-May-19 13:07:57

To my mind, the parents in a split are so wrapped up in themselves they don't give the children a second thought and it's they who are the damaged ones-----not the selfish parents. It seems to be happening quite often, in fact most of the time and it's unforgiveable. Poor children suffer all the time and it isn't right.
I couldn't care less about the parents. Sorry, but that's how I feel. They're selfish to the core when things go wrong with THEM !

Namsnanny Sat 25-May-19 13:51:13

I’m assuming the court order is directed towards as, and the condition is that you Supervise?
If so the fact that you can’t be available should mean that other arrangements could be made for Wednesday?
Perhaps he should be told/encouraged to meet the children at an approved centre?
If you can’t make him understand his responsibility towards his children, I don’t know what you can realistically dosad.
I hoe others can advise flowers

Namsnanny Sat 25-May-19 13:52:08

For ‘as’ read Step son

jenpax Sat 25-May-19 14:07:40

Gosh how stressful for you! unfortunately I have heard similar stories quite often through work, and also with friends of the dads gaining shared care and in effect it being his parents who end up with the child care. I am not sure what the solution is for you as if Step Son breaches the court order then DIL would be within her rights to ask the court to look again at the original order and vary it, which might involve reduced contact with the DGC;,equally if it comes to light that step son isn’t actually looking after or spending time with his kids then mum might use this as a further argument to reduce contact. However you do say she is now looking to add the original Wednesdays to the set up and I wonder if you are unable to do Wednesdays specifically or if it’s a general feeling of it all being too much?

Buffybee Sat 25-May-19 15:03:44

At the end of the day the "buck" stops with your Stepson regarding keeping to the agreed Court Order.
He doesn't seem to want to have much to do with his children on the weekends they stay with you, 1 or 2 hours you say.
As he lives with you, what is he doing for the rest of the weekend?
You mention that having the children is hard work for you for the two nights you look after them and you feel unable to take on the School pick ups which your Stepson should do every Wednesday as agreed.
So, what do you want to happen?
Your stepson doesn't want to take responsibility for his children and it's too much for you.
This is not the ex's fault, she is only asking for your Stepson to keep to the agreed Court Order.
What a waste of space he sounds! angry

BlueBelle Sat 25-May-19 15:13:56

No sympathy for the step son but how heartbreaking if you miss your time with them because of his disinterest it is very hard work having three children for two full days
The trouble is once you say it’s too much or speak to social services it will go out of your hands and the time may well be taken from you completely So from my point of view I d struggle on but put more pressure on him to take some of it off your shoulders

Ilovecheese Sat 25-May-19 15:22:14

If the children's mother is asking you to have them on a Wednesday after school as well as every other weekend, could it be that she has got used to having time to herself and would be very unlikely to stop you from having them every other weekend.

I don't know if you speak to her directly but if so could you ask her why Wednesday after school and would she agree to you perhaps paying for an after school club for them.

Neither you nor she can force their father to take more responsibility, however much you would all like him to.

Joyfulnanna Sat 25-May-19 15:27:52

This is dreadful for you Mama66. What a dilemma and fragile situation you're in. The problem lies with the immaturity of the parents.. Unfortunately they sound like they've never had any parenting training. You can't train them, it has to be an outsider. I am surprised Cafcass didn't highlight or recommend this course of action before the court order was made. I don't know if you could contact them for advice. In the meantime, could you get some additional help with the gc on a practical level. At their ages, it is so tiring looking after them as much as you do. You must have a plan, otherwise you will become ill with all the care you're providing. Even more so as the summer holidays are coming (a fractious time for most) and no doubt the parents will argue and fight more. I really sympathise with your situation.. You are literally holding the family together.. You're a total star and don't you forget it.

M0nica Sat 25-May-19 15:34:34

They are your stepson's children and it is up to him to look after them weekends and weekday as set up by court order. If he has fought so hard for it, he must now honour it. Not farm it off on you.

He does, of course, have you nicely boxed in. He knows that because you love your DGC and worry about their welfare, you will immediately cover him for any of his deficiencies.

It is now up to you to stand up to your stepson and tell him in no uncertain terms that they are his children they need his company, attention and care and that in future he must look after them for most of the time they are with you. You could volunteer to spend, say Sunday afternoon with them, but the rest of the time, he is responsible for their care.

If he doesn't want to and is clearly one of those fathers who really cannot be bothered to fulfill his commitments to his children, then the children will probably be better off if he renegotiated his contact time so that the children see less of him and have time to develop an out of schoollife at weekends with their friends at home with their mother.

Personally, I would put pressure on him to move out and find his own accommodation, so that the children go to his place for access.

Starlady Sat 25-May-19 15:36:41

My heart goes out to you, Mamma66! And to your GC who are caught in the middle of all this though, hopefully, they don't feel it right now.

I'm sorry you and DH (dear husband) didn't get to see them for 5 months. If it's any comfort, this is not unusual during a divorce, until a court order is worked out, as in your case.

I'm glad you get to see them every other weekend now. No doubt, both you and the kids get many joys from these visits. It was very kind and loving of you and DH, IMO (in my opinion) to open your home and your hearts to SS (stepson) and his children.

I'm sorry he doesn't seem to want to spend much time with them or do any of the childcare. I'm guessing he is very young, maybe early 20s? That's no excuse, of course, as he and XDIL chose to marry and have kids, and, no doubt, kids need love and care. However, it might help explain his lack of involvement.

I'm not sure why some posters are blasting XDIL, as well, at this point. She's taking care of the kids most of the time, if I understand correctly, and only wants SS to adhere to his responsibilities as per the court order. It's not her fault that SS tends to shift his responsibilities onto you and DH. IMO, that's immaturity on his part.

Hopefully, as the years pass, he will mature and begin to take on more responsibility for his kids. But, of course, that doesn't help you now.

Also, you don't say if he is working. Perhaps that's why he doesn't/can't pick up the kids from school on Wednesdays? If so, he should have brought that up when the court order was first written up, not just assume you and DH would take care of it. But I know, I know, that doesn't help you now either.

So I agree with what PPs (previous posters) have said - please see about getting the court order revised/Wednesdays taken out of the picture. Could you do it another day? Or will every other weekend have to suffice?

About her "insisting" that all his contact be "supervised" - Is this in the court order? If it's not, to my knowledge, you can just ignore it. If it is, can it be done, as a PP mentioned, by Social Services? This way, SS would be supervised and you and DH would get a break at the same time.

I know you're afraid that if XDIL doesn't get what she wants, she'll keep the kids away altogether. But, really, she too, needs to follow the court order. SS can always take her back to court if she doesn't.

Starlady Sat 25-May-19 15:54:12

I love Iloveheese' idea of an afterschool club for the kids. Or if that's not feasible, for some reason, maybe a nanny? Would you and DH be willing to pay for this? Or perhaps SS? Would XDIL agree, do you think?

Also, do you know why XDIL wants SS' visits supervised? You say it's "unnecessary," but perhaps you're too close to the forest? His lack of interest in them suggests he might not be the most responsible caregiver, so maybe he needs supervision on that account.

I saw BlueBelle's concern about your talking to Social Services. I get her point, but I can't see just ignoring those Wednesdays, as this, too, could lead to your losing contact with the children. It is more reason, however, to try to work together with SS and XDIL to find another solution for those Wednesday afternoons.

IMO, your GC are very lucky to have two such loving GPs in their lives! Bravo!

March Sat 25-May-19 16:52:53

If he only spends time with his children max 4 hours a month I can see why she would want supervised access.
The kids barely know him.
This speaks volumes for you though as it seems she trusts you.

She must be bloomin fuming though. She is the fulltime career for her children and their 'Dad' can't even manage 2 weekends a month.

She has every right to take this back to court as he isn't sticking to the court order at all.

Mamma66 Sat 25-May-19 23:37:02

Sadly, both parents are immature and self-absorbed. Neither work, my Stepson had a very bad accident and can’t really work at the moment. His ex partner is using the Wednesday afternoon contact to stop him from seeing the children. Alas they are so busy trying to manipulate the situation and exercise control that neither of them can see past that and realise the impact on the children. We tried initially to support them and to help them to become better parents. Through Social Services involvement they are just about adaquate, but neither of them is the parents our lovely grandchildren deserve- it makes me so sad

GG65 Sun 26-May-19 09:48:32

You say that your stepson’s ex wants him to take the children more, then you say she is trying to stop him from seeing the children. Which one is it?

You say they are both as bad as each other and inadequate parents, however, your stepson’s ex is the one raising the children, whilst your stepson isn’t even doing the bare minimum. How do you expect your stepson’s ex to work when she is solely responsible for 3 young children with no support from your stepson?

You are lucky that she hasn’t went back to court to have the court order revised given your stepson’s clear lack of interest in his own children. It may well end up that your stepson doesn’t see his children at all, and it will be his own fault, not his ex partner’s.

March Sun 26-May-19 10:43:30

Agree with everything GC65 has said.
I presume he isn't paying for the children either.
He doesn't see them, spend time with them. He doesn't seem to parent them. You do.
If he doesn't work how is he only spending 4 hours a month with his children, where does he go?

If she has a 2 year old she will be looking after him aswell as doing the school run twice a day.

I imagine she is at the end of her tether trying to get him to step up to be a Dad. I'd be fuming if I was her, he isn't sticking to the court order.

4allweknow Sun 26-May-19 10:55:15

Who exactly did the Court Order give access to the children at the times you say, you or their Dad? If you are the official supervisor then you do need to be present but then so does their Dad. He needs to be made to realise the terms of the Order which he no doubt agreed to. Obviously the risk you are worried about is if he doesn't comply then you don't see the children and we all know GPs don't seem to have rights if access. Your DSS needs to accept his responsibilities and at least help look after the children as he is given access to them with you being present. Very hard situation and you will feel you could be the one to make or break the situation. You are not, it's the parents and you need to make them be parents!

FarNorth Sun 26-May-19 11:21:48

Are you able to see ex-DiL to discuss the situation, rather than leave it to SS who seems to be a useless dad?
I think she is not being selfish. She is trying to get him to meet the responsibility he took on at court, which is understandable.

FarNorth Sun 26-May-19 11:25:30

Btw, I'd be very reluctant to leave 3 children of those ages in sole care of this man, from the way you've described him.
He may not be an active danger to them but sounds like he wouldn't be very competent.

Starlady Sun 26-May-19 15:07:46

"Neither work, my Stepson had a very bad accident and can’t really work at the moment."

I'm so sorry about SS' accident. Is he in a lot of pain? Could that be why he can't seem to focus on his children very much?

" His ex partner is using the Wednesday afternoon contact to stop him from seeing the children."

Not sure I understand this^^ statement. How is asking him to fulfill the Wednesday requirement a way to stop him from seeing the children?

"Through Social Services involvement they are just about adaquate, but neither of them is the parents our lovely grandchildren deserve-"

I can see that SS is not the best dad. I know that must sadden and frustrate you, and I'm so sorry. Again, hopefully, he'll grow into the role over time.

I'm not sure why you feel XDIL is not the mum she should be, but I suppose that's not relevant to your concerns here (the Wednesday and supervision issues). If it's any comfort, perhaps you and she just have different ideas of parenting. Regardless, I'm glad Social Services has helped. And bless you and DH for being there for your GC as well!

SunnySusie Sun 26-May-19 16:27:26

I am wondering if there is any way you can involve someone else in looking after the three children on the weekends to relieve the work for you? A nanny sounds expensive, but what about a local babysitter? In my area teenagers at the college studying for child care qualifications are very keen to pick up pocket money and gain experience. They could come round to your house and play with the children and help out with their care with you or SS keeping an eye on them. I had a brilliant girl do this for me when mine were small and I had to work from home on Saturdays. The kids loved her, she didnt charge much and I was there to make sure nothing went wrong. I know it doesnt solve all the other issues, but it might be a good stop gap and allow you to continue to see GC without getting exhausted.

paddyann Sun 26-May-19 16:30:13

My son and his partner split years ago .They didn't go down the legal road and managed to sort out access between them but it amounts to him and us having her 7 out of every 14 days .On the days he works we look after her ,do the school run and clubs etc
.I have to say if your SS is reneging on times stipulated by a court I would be angry too ,his ex has all the responsibility of bringing up HIS children .
He needs sorted out ,if his accident was so bad that he couldn't look after them he should have spoken to social services about alternative arrangements until he was well.BUT you cant use "he's not well" as an excuse for dumping his kids on you all the time, however happy you are to have them.2 days a fortnight isn't good enough

dizzygran Sun 26-May-19 17:12:59

Awful situation - the children must be so confused - and I would think upset by the situation. I agree with above post - if you can afford it - or get SS to pay - for an afterschool club for the children on Wednesday it would help. How about a letter to both your ex DIL and SS telling them of your concerns about the impact of their relationship on their children, and how this will escalate if they be civil to you and each other. You can stress how fond you are of the children and how worried you are about the impact of the situation on them. Unfortunately this is a fairly common situation and your SS needs to grow up and take responsibility for the children - make sure that you are not always available.

HurdyGurdy Sun 26-May-19 17:17:55

It is really bad to breach a Court Order, so by not having them on Wednesdays, whatever the reason, your stepson is laying himself open to a fine, or at worst, a prison sentence.

Is it your stepson's ex who is insisting on supervised contact, or was it part of the Court Order that he is supervised - and if so, does it specifically state that you and your husband are to supervise?

What was the reason for contact being supervised? Sorry to ask - but was it down to drugs or alcohol (mis)use?

Have you/stepson ever had the children after school on a Wednesday? If not, and it was part of the Court Order, why not? If it wasn't possible for you/stepson to have them, why agree to those terms?

Is it overnight contact on Wednesdays, or just for the evening? Obviously, you've not given all the details of your home life in the short posts so far, but why is it not possible for you/stepson to have them on afternoon after school each week?

I'm sorry your stepson is unwell, but there are many very disabled parents who just have to get on with bringing up their children full time. How bad is he that he can't even sit and watch a movie with them, or play a board game, or watch/help them do crafts, or just talk to them?

If all this is too much for him, then I'd suggest he goes back to Court and requests a review of the Child Arrangement Order to see if they can reach an agreement on what contact he does want. Because to be honest, is sounds like he doesn't want them at all at the moment, which must be confusing and upsetting for the children. And THEY are what's important right now.

Mamma66 Sun 26-May-19 20:04:04

As some of you have commented it is quite complex and I appreciate that some of my remarks may appear contradictory. The Court Order doesn’t specify supervised contact, Social Services were involved and the children were on the Child Protection register in relation to both parents being inadequate. They have now stepped back and the children are no longer on the register. My Stepson presents no threat to the children but he does need to up his game. He sustained life changing injuries two years ago and I think he is struggling to come to terms with the limitations. I am not making excuses for him, we have said for a long time that we will put the children first on every occasion. It worries me now that his ex will do what she did before and prevent him and us having any contact for five months. I think I just needed to vent really and not feel so alone. Thank you

FarNorth Sun 26-May-19 20:27:53

Ex-DiL is trying to get SS to meet the requirements of the Court Order.
He and you need to figure out how that can be done, instead of moaning and arguing about it.

Bibbity Sun 26-May-19 20:53:26

It is really bad to breach a Court Order, so by not having them on Wednesdays, whatever the reason, your stepson is laying himself open to a fine, or at worst, a prison sentence.

Unfortunately this isn’t true. You can’t make a man be a decent human.
If he is failing his duties and his children there is nothing anyone can do.
The only enforceable part of parenting for the NRP is the child payments.....which I doubt she’s even getting.

HurdyGurdy Sun 26-May-19 21:00:46

Bibbity& - a google search shows that it is true.

"The Court can impose a community service order, requiring the parent in breach of the child arrangement order to undertake up to 200 hours of community service. The Court can fine to the parent in breach. The Court can impose a short prison sentence on the parent in breach."

The same information is on every returned page I looked at.

Bibbity Sun 26-May-19 21:19:10

Yes. That’s if the parent does not return the child. If a mother refuses to hand over the child.

It does not enforce a NRP to take up time.

lincolnimp Sun 26-May-19 21:42:59

Mamma66 I have sent you a message

jenpax Sun 26-May-19 22:01:33

Reading your second post it does seem as if you are Slightly more inclined to blame the mother more than your SS, for the current situation. However I can’t understand why he agreed to the existing level of contact (or indeed pushed for it if he took his ex to court!) when he had these life changing disabilities and has been struggling to cope?
I think you need to sit down with him and find out exactly what he wants regarding a relationship with his children and try to work out a level of contact that he can cope with and that will be in the best interests of the children. The children need above all consistency and stability so, better it be less frequent, but quality time together, than disinterested and uninvolved parenting. He needs to understand that he is at risk of loosing all contact if he doesn’t pull his socks up. Maybe suggest seeing if you can involve a mediator to find a compromise for both ex and SS which could then be taken back to court for a revised child arrangements order?

stella1949 Mon 27-May-19 00:42:57

If there is a risk that you'd lost contact with the children completely because of this, can't you agree to have them on Wednesdays ? I have mine every day and have done that for 5 years - I'm not trying to sound like a martyr, but if you love the children you do what you have to . They only have one chance at being children - if you don't have them, things could get really bad.

paddyann Mon 27-May-19 00:48:15

I dont understand why you think 2 days a fortnight is enough time with their dad...and think their mother is being unreasonable asking he sticks with the court order.They ARE his too so why should the mother look after them12 days to his 2?
I think she should be getting some back up from you ,no wonder she cant work 3 small children and a useless ex.

Grandma2213 Mon 27-May-19 01:55:49

Mamma66 There are so many grandparents these days in similar positions due to family break ups. I too am one of them and maybe as stella1949 points out we take the role of 'martyrs' to protect the children and give them a point of stability in their lives. Difficult though it is we try to do our best and I believe as DGC get older they will recognise this and appreciate our efforts. Having read so many sad posts about those who have not had contact with DGC through no fault of their own, at least we will have our happy memories. I am hoping that you can hang on in there and that eventually the great job you are doing will result in the rewards you deserve. flowers

Starlady Mon 27-May-19 03:43:56

Thank you for explaining further, Mamma66.

"He sustained life changing injuries two years ago and I think he is struggling to come to terms with the limitations. "

IMO, you are probably right. And this probably impacts his ability to care for and interest in spending time w/ the children. Perhaps this is why XDIL wants his visitation supervised? B/c she's not sure he can cope, physically or emotionally?

"My Stepson presents no threat to the children but he does need to up his game."

I believe you. But is he truly able to "step up his game?" Either physically or psychologically? Also, while he may not be a threat to the children in the sense of hurting them, etc., IF he's self-absorbed, inattentive, or tends to be a little irresponsible when he's w/ them, that may be why XDIL wants his visits supervised. (IDK that these things are true, I'm just saying IF). After all - and I hope this doesn't sound insensitive - I take it that SS' parenting is now considered "adequate" (and probably more) b/c he has good, caring, responsible people/you and DH taking care of the kids when they're w/ him, not b/c he, himself, does a good job.

dizzygran Mon 27-May-19 07:35:21

If the children were on the CPR they would have had a social worker -if you had a good relationship with them they might be able to give advice or help - but only involve them If you cannot cope

FarNorth Mon 27-May-19 09:29:44

if you love the children you do what you have to

End the squabbling by saying the children can come on Wednesdays.
Then make sure SS at least stays around to help you, or pays for someone to do so.

You say you'll always put the children first, so do it.