Saturday, November 24, 2012

My 3 year old step son and my husband's ex-wife

Dear Kay,

My step-son is 3 yrs. old and recently his mother filed for temporary full custody because she claims my husband and I are abusing and neglecting him. Which is the furthest thing from the truth. She claims since my husband has been released from prison that our 3 yr. old is now hitting himself and other children. That he has told her we pinch him on the back of the neck and flick his fingers. She also claims he throws major tantrums when told he is coming over to our home. That it breaks her heart to have to peel him off of her.

 Sure for the first few times that he came over he cried and didn't want her to leave, but that was almost a year ago, since then he is so excited to see both me and his father. He runs up to the car or into the house and practically knocks me over when greeting me. Tells us he missed us and seems to have no problem staying with us. And it's the same when it is time for him to go back to his mother's, he is happy to do so. If we were harming him the way his mother claims, why then would he be so ecstatic to see us and the rest of our family? Her answer to this was he is my son, I'm his mother and I would know.

There was no problem until it came time for court regarding child support due to her own dependence on the state for assistance. She is on welfare and cash aide and because it is my husband's son as well and he is working they want someone to pay back the debt. Even though we support him fully with the 50% custody we had. So we were told that the only option for us not to have to pay would be to convince her to get off aide or file and try to get 100% custody. As soon as my husband informed his son's mother that he was not going to pay for her debt and was going to file for the 100% custody she became very hostile and didn't want to agree on anything when it came to the care of our son. And now she has all of a sudden seen changes in her son that have forced her to file abuse and neglect charges on us and for us to lose custody until we go back to court. If she thought that he was being harmed a long time ago wouldn't any sane parent automatically do something the minute they thought something was wrong? Now all of a sudden court is coming and now claim something is happening.

We haven't seen our son since the day we went to court for the child support hearing, where she claimed she had him for more of the time, so another court date was set for mediation to determine each of our time with him. That day she called after court demanding that we meet her right away because she wanted to take him shopping even though we hadn't had him 2 days. My husband told her she would have to wait until we were done and she got an even worse attitude because she had to wait a few hours. When she came and picked him up, my husband said that he wanted him for as much as she has him and that to be fair she needed to arrange dropping him off in 2 days. She became really mad and was holding our son in her arms and began disagreeing with my husband and belittling him right there in front of our 3 yr. old. Since then it has been well over 3 weeks since we have seen him. We have tried numerous times to contact her each day with no response except one and she made up a bunch of excuses to why we couldn't have him and she said she would call back and never did.

We filed papers at the police station of violation of custody agreement and have not heard anything from that and because in the custody agreement it says that it is to be arranged between the two parties to work out days and times, nothing is set the police can't do anything. So myself and sister-in law went to our son's mother's house to find out why she is breaking the arrangement and why she is keeping him from us. I was very respectful and asked if we could talk, but she automatically started saying we were abusing him and I denied it and was trying to explain the ways he is disciplined at our home, but she didn't want to listen and we told her she was violating the agreement and she claimed that she was granted temporary full custody. Which we replied we had been served no papers, she then said she would serve my husband the next day and shut the door in our face. A few hours later my husband called to say he had been served papers at work. Isn't that illegal for her to have been granted temp. custody and have not served the papers when she was supposed to?

Apparently she had gotten these more than a week before and obviously had no intention of giving us these documents until I confronted her. My husband and I are concerned that she may now be coaching our son into saying things that are not true for when it comes time for court. We won't be able to see him until who knows when and his brother is going to be born hopefully sometime tomorrow and now he has to miss out because his mother is using him as a pond in her sick game. He knows he has a brother on the way and constantly loved seeing my growing belly and talking to it. He was at the baby shower and helped me get their room ready for the coming baby. We are so upset by this and just really need some guidance on what we can do to see him again. We already have family members and friends who are willing to be character witnesses and as well as my husband's bosses and parole officers. If we get all of these people to write statements about us and our life as a family, do you think that it will help prove our innocence in court? Our son's mother has also been found to lie in court as to benefit herself, so what else could we do to stop her from continuing this because this is only harming our son and it is definitely not benefiting him to be with her. She also has a problem with our son calling me mom. She claims we force him to and that he is getting us confused. We have never made him call me mom and I and my husband refer to me as Tessa when talking about myself. We have explain that I am his step-mother since I married his Daddy. We show him the pictures and he says I wanna go. We tell him wee wish he could have been there. His mother didn't want him to go because we got married out of state and it has to be agreed upon by both parties when the child leaves the county. So he also missed that life changing event. She is trying to keep the control completely to herself and not letting us all parent together.

Do you think that she is jealous or threatened by me playing such an important role in his life? How can I deal with that? I thought that I had been as respectful as possible to her and her as his biological mother, but I still feel like she hates the idea of me. I never have butted in and asked her to give her son proper hygiene, that is a big problem we have with her. Our son comes over stinking of body odor and dirt caked under his long and broken finger nails. His teeth are rotting away and she has never given him a hair cut, only we have. The only thing I have done is ask my husband to say something to her. It is just common courtesy to us and our son for him to be clean and properly cared for. My husband often finds himself afraid to say anything for fear that she will try and take our son away, and now she has, over her own fear of losing her only source of income. We have an appointment with a lawyer soon and really appreciate any advice you have eon our situation.

Dear Tessa,

My advice to you is to  step aside and let these two parents work this out. STAY out of the line of fire.Either side can request an assessment of the child to determine what is happening with him and neither side should be afraid to do so of an independent counselor who is qualified and trained to work with children.

In the meantime my concern is for the child because as long as the posting and and as much information about who has done what it seems the adults are more focused on each other than on what is best for the child.

REALITY CHECK #1. You have no control over the mother's behavior. I have not advice that is going to make her behave like you want her to.

REALITY CHECK #2. Getting in the middle of this war is only going to keep you from enjoying your relationship with your step-son. Spend time with him when you can an focus totally on him and building memories. You can become a stable figure to him while his parents are fighting this out. You can provide unconditional love and acceptance for him.

REALITY CHECK #3. No one really knows what is best for another person, so let go of the need to be right about this situation. My grandmother (a very wise woman) use to tell me you can be right or you can be happy, you can't be both. Being right means others are wrong and people do not enjoy being told they are wrong. It only creates more conflict.

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller

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