At what point do you throw in the towel

Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
At what point do you throw in the towel
3
Mon, 05-20-2013 - 1:24pm

... when it comes to long distance visitation, or visitation at all?

Brief background, DH and ex divorced when DSS was about 3ish, ex cheated on DH and eventually married that person, they are still married and have 2 more kids together.  So ex's husband has been stepdad and lived with DSS for the last 10 years.  DSS calls stepdad "dad" and is not allowed to call DH "dad" at all when he is at his mom's house, or even when he is on the phone with him while at home.  Ex did everything she could to deny visitation over the years, and yes, I do know this for a fact, while DH isn't perfect by any means, he has done everything he could to see his son consistently and as much as possible.  8 1/2 years ago DH entered the army and was moved to Texas, shortly after that we were married and we have been living in Texas since then.  The "local" visitation schedule did not change at all, and DH did as much as he could while in teh army to see DSS on his holiday visitations, and eventually had to go to court to get mandated phone call visitations because ex wouldn't give DSS phone messages and wouldn't let him call DH back or let him talk on the phone with him for longer than 5 minutes.  After DH was back from deployment in 2007 we had the visitation schedule changed to a long distance one, and now we have him for 1/2 of christmas break, Thanksgiving weekend every other year and half of summer break.  Some years DSS has come to Texas for the entire visit, sometimes he is up in Michigan for part of it as we will take vacation time up there to see family. 

This year, in March DSS's mother contacted me to arrange summer visitation, which is normal practice as her and DH cannot get along at all, so I end up being the intermediary.  She let us know that DSS wanted to attend a football camp as soon as school let out and he had to be back for high school football practice starting August 10th.  Our visitation schedule would have had us picking him up mid-July and returning him the weekend of Labor Day.  We had no problem with changing around the schedule to allow him to do football, we knew how important it was too him.  However, about 3 weeks ago DSS starting calling to tell DH that the high school team required a mandatory practice all summer, and that he needed to attend it or he would jeopardize his position on the team in the fall.  First, DH went to this school and played football there, we also have a niece that attends this high school, and she was told the summer "mandatory" summer practice for another sport.  Second, the Michigan High School Athletic Association prohibits mandatory summer practices.  DH tried to explain this to DSS and told him that even if the summer practices were available, they were strictly conditioning practices and he could condition down here, and we would make arrangements for it, but at the end of the day, these practices weren't mandatory.  DSS called several more times upset about it and on Saturday, we received a motion to change parenting time indicating we were standing in his way of playing football, and jeopardizing his position on the team because our visit interfered with his mandatory practice.  They are asking the visitation to be reduced to 2 weeks contingent upon and working around his football schedule (which she did not provide).  Of course DH is upset about this, he looks forward to his summer visit all year long.  DH is tough on DSS, yes, DSS is a momma's boy, even at 14 he talks to him mother on the phone daily during all of our visits, makes derogatory remarks to DH that "mom has said xxxx about you", etc.  Honestly, I dread these visits each summer, we have two yougner daughters, and while DSS was nice to them the first few years, last summer and at christmas he was downright mean to the middle one who idolizes him, he wouldn't talk to her at all except to tell her to leave him alone.  And while I understand that a 14 year old boy having a 6 year old sister around is annoying, IMO there is no need to be downright mean to her when all she wants to do is talk to him or play a board game or something with him because she has limited time to see him each year. 

I will mention, we are currently contemplating moving back to Michigan at the end of the summer.  And most likely we will ask for the visitation schedule to be changed to go back to an every other weekend or one weekend a month visitation and holidays, DH will be able to attend games that DSS is involved in, etc.  But I am honestly wondering if this mandatory football practice is more of a cover and that DSS just doesn't want to come visit any longer, but doesn't want to just come out and say it.  He calls often asking for money, games, etc., so he's just fine with getting things from us, but not visiting or "being bothered."  I overheard him telling my ODD last summer while visiting one evening that his mom told him at 14, he gets to decide whether he comes to visit and that once he turned 14, he wasn't coming any more because "no one could make him." 

I love DH and I know he loves his son despite all the frustrations, but its so hard seeing him try so hard to have a relationship with him and always being set up as the bad guy.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Tue, 05-21-2013 - 10:32am

I think if you really are going to move back to Michigan and therefore your DH will have more opportunity to visit his son on a regular basis, that you should probably just agree to 2 weeks this summer.  I think it's really difficult to have long distance visits for a long period during the summer when kids get to the teenage years--if it wasn't football, it would be the fact that he would be separated from his friends and "out of the loop" for the whole summer.  I don't think that most kids would go for that.  then you add the parental alienation on top of that.  I think if at all possible you should move closer so that visitation can occur more often and your DH can go to his games.

I also think that your DH needs to step in and tell him that he isn't to treat the younger kids badly--but I would bet that considering that he's not even allowed to call your DH "dad" that his mom is probably saying things like they aren't your real sisters & stuff like that.  I think it's pathetic that parents would try to turn a child against the other parent, esp. when they haven't done anything wrong, which is another reason why your DH should try to be around as much as possible.

Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Tue, 05-21-2013 - 11:17am

That's the slightly odd thing IRT the little girls, I don't know if its because his ex has 3 boys and DSS has said before that his mom had wished for at least one girl, but he has always brought presents for the girls when he comes, for christmas as christmas presents and at summer for their birthdays, which fall shortly before he arrives usually.  DH was bad when we first got married about being the disney parent, but has evolved quite nicely into realizing that it can't be all about DSS the entire time he's here visiting, there are others in the house also that need to be taken into consideration. 

Yes, I am hoping the move back will help out quite a bit.  DH was visiting relatives on his own earlier this year and DSS didn't know he was there but texted him to tell him he had a wrestling match that night, and so DH found out the details and went and from DH said DSS was very happy to have him there.  So I definitely think it will help things.  DH's thought on the visitation thing is that every inch we give the ex, she'll take a mile, which she has often in the past and he's afraid if he gives in on this issue, she'll take even more advantage of it when we move up there.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Thu, 05-23-2013 - 10:53am

I think your DH has to stop thinking of it as a battle between him & his ex & start thinking of what would be best for the relationship between him & his son.  If he forces his son to come when he doesn't want to be there, how much fun is that going to be for everyone also?  If you weren't moving & this was the only time he could get to see his son, then I would probably fight for more than 2 weeks.