As soon as you think it's getting better...

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acc1984

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As soon as you think it's getting better...
« on: March 11, 2021, 05:36:02 PM »
I haven't been on here for a while... sometimes it feels really triggering and I just need some distance although I am always grateful for the support and to have somewhere I don't feel so alone.

I have written before about my step children and their UBPD bio mom. Several years ago UBPDBM alienated my DH's oldest son from him. He left our house for the second time (well... we were actually on vacation and UPDBM flew him home after a blow up) shortly before turning 18 and DH has had minimal contact with him since. He didn't graduate from high school, BM eventually kicked him out and he lived in his car before moving in with a friend.

For the last year and a half things with the other 3 kids have been great. Like... too good. About a year ago we found out that UBPDBM was breaking up with her current boyfriend, moving out of their house, and into a 2 bedroom apartment across town where DD17 had her own room and DS12 and DS15 were sleeping on a couch. We didn't make an issue out of it... our state's housing laws allow 2 people per room in any dwelling so there wasn't much we felt we could do. And the kids didn't seem too phased. Around that time UBPDBM began dating someone in another state. We heard she would go visit there the weeks the kids were with us. Still... everything seemed okay.

We've been in virtual school for the last year and I felt like we were doing okay. Eventually, the kids started coming home from UBPDBM's house with little to no homework done from her week. So for several months we did 2 weeks worth of homework with them on our weeks. Eventually DH emailed UBPDBM about the homework issue. He wasn't inflammatory but asked how he could help so the kids didn't get behind and he and I weren't swamped working from home and also trying to make up everyone's homework. That, in conjunction with a request for a reimbursement and you can guess what happened next.

It started with DSS12 googling "how to kill myself" out of the blue on his computer at our house (2 days after the email). He was using the school's database so they flagged it and called DH. We took him to see the counselors at school who assessed that there wasn't an imminent threat to hurt himself. DH then emailed the court appointed Parent Coordinator to request a meeting with the PC and UBPDBM. That meeting blew up. BM accused DH of constantly berating the kids about their grades, claims he "terrorizes them" and that they cry before they come to our house every other week. This had apparently been happening for months but she never notified him of any issues. **Sidenote... during custody litigation a few years ago she alleged physical and emotional abuse as well (or used the kids to) but never called social services, only entered awful accusations in a court motion. Nothing ever came of it and the professionals involved blew her off.** She also shared that DSD17 had recorded DH lecturing DS12 about his grades and sent it to her mom. Also not the first time that has happened. BM is always happy to share that information with professionals despite the eyebrow raising it causes.

The good news is that the PC referred DH and UBPDBM to a counselor for DSS12. When DH came home he seemed a little hopeful... he said BM, although not as aggressive as she normally is (she's thrown her phone at DH several times in PC meetings) didn't keep her cool very well. DH sat quietly while BM told the counselor her laundry list of complaints about DH, how the kids are terrified of him, it's all his fault, our home isn't loving and the kids have to have a backup plan for a place to go in case they are kicked out of our house (SHE is the one who has kicked one of them out before!!!) Instead of counseling for DSS12 the counselor quickly recommended family counseling for DH, UBPDBM and all the kids which made BM FURIOUS. I believe she was hoping to use the kids as little soldiers to go into the counselor to say terrible, untrue things about their dad (she has tried this move before) so she can make a move for full custody.

VERY long story short... all 3 kids have now expressed to their schools (and in a span of 2 weeks) the desire to self-harm (DSD17 and DSS15 both today-after a midweek visit with BM last night, of course). They claim to only feel that way at our house. DSD17 also told DH she wants to move in with her mom full time. The only thing we can think is that UBPDBM wants to take the kids to live in another state where her boyfriend is so she's trying to get DH's custody revoked.

I don't know why I'm writing any of this, other than to get it out. I'm REALLY tired of the accusations but I don't think they're going to go anywhere. We're getting our attorney up to speed in case we end up in court and I'm hoping the new counselor can make some headway. At the LEAST maybe she can give the kids some tools to work through UBPDBM's manipulation and gas lighting and maybe hold BM accountable if she realizes the counselor knows what's going on.

Any and all advice is appreciated.

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acc1984

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Re: As soon as you think it's getting better...
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2021, 05:45:01 PM »
I forgot to add that after BM's accusations that the kids are terrified of DH, he talked with them. He very quietly asked them if they were scared of him. Both boys immediately said "yes." When DH asked why, DSS15 burst into tears and said "Because you talk to me about my grades for 30 minutes when I have missing assignments." That is what he said word for word. When DH asked DSS12 why he was scared his response was "Well, when you talk to me about school... but it's reasonable!!!" What?! These poor kids have no idea. I do believe they believe they're terrified of their dad because they've heard their mom say it so many times... but they have no idea why. DH quietly apologized for ever making them feel that way and said it was never his intention. DSS15 then said "You send our mom all of these emails about money and our grades... you're making her so stressed and trying to ruin her life!" Ugh. It's so insidious I don't even know where to start.

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Poison Ivy

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Re: As soon as you think it's getting better...
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2021, 09:00:51 PM »
I'm sorry that you, your spouse, and the children are going through this. It sounds terrible.

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Penny Lane

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Re: As soon as you think it's getting better...
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2021, 06:59:50 PM »
Oh no I'm so sorry that it's ramping up in such an extreme way again. Take good care of yourself during this; we all know how hard these kind of escalations can be. Hang in there - you've survived this before and you will survive it this time. :hug:

I don't really have a lot of advice about your husband navigating the system and BM. Hopefully some combination of the school and counselors and the coordinator will yield good results for the kids. It seems like on its face the kids should not move full time into a two bedroom apartment with four people and that if one parent is neglecting them, it's not the one who's around all the time and provides enough bedrooms for them.

Honestly I think the best use of your energy is to work directly with the kids and never involve BM with anything. We too are seeing kids that do literally no homework on her time. DH had been sort of going back and forth about contacting her; your story is definitely a good reminder why he doesn't normally do that. Instead he's been talking to the kids about, hey, it seems like you're really stressed trying to pack ALL your homework into half the time. Do you think you want to do some of it at your mom's house? What would you need to make that happen? It hasn't really seemed to do much but it is getting the kids thinking about what control do they have over their lives at their mom's house? We also talk a lot about why homework and school are important and how it fits into the kids' goals. The reality is, in our situation, we can't make the kids do their homework at her house. We have to give them the tools to do it and trust that they are mature enough to try to get it done - and they know best if the only way they're going to complete their homework is to do it all at our house.

I think a similar principle would work for this latest blowup. The kids are really hurting and they're looking for you guys to let them know that it's going to be OK. I don't think your DH needs to repeat BM's claims about him to the kids - if the kids have a real concern, they'll bring it up to him. But they know that they have to repeat what BM wants them to say if he asks about it. Because otherwise it might get back to her that they said they weren't scared of DH. And that's what they're actually scared of.

So the attitude to take with the kids is understanding that they're really going through a hard time right now. And as far as possible, collaborative problem-solving about things that are under the kids' control, like homework issues. Plus total firmness on things that are adult issues - no, SD doesn't get to move to her mom's house, for example.

These aren't really solutions they're more suggestions for how to survive this bad spell. Ultimately BM is going to make things terrible for everyone until she decides not to any more. The best your DH can do is try to minimize his interactions with her and hopefully speed up this process a bit.

I'm sorry, it's so, so hard, I hope the end comes soon.