Renee - posted on 10/17/2012 ( no moms have responded yet )
My husband has 4 children ages 6-12 who live with BM about 8 hours away. Visitation has been 4 weeks over summer, except when BM schedules activities and her vacation during Dads visitation time (dates are to be "as agreed upon by both parties"...you can imagine how effective THAT is). As well as 1 week for Christmas, and one week for winter/early spring break. Also, "as agreed upon" he is allowed to visit or see them as often as possible when he is in their town.
Phone communication has increasingly become more difficult and infrequent (sometimes up to a month between communicating), with BM stating that the "children don't want to talk with him" or that they are already in bed (at 7PM). While spending time with them during scheduled visits, all of the children gravitate and smother their Dad with love and affection. However, when they are in Dads care, BM will call the kids daily, often times resulting in tears and anxiety after conversation, as well as entice younger kids with gifts awaiting their return, taking away from quality time kids should be sharing with their Dad. Also, the kids show great anxiety and upset during transfers before and after visitations. I am concerned that the children are acting one way around Mom and different around Dad as to not upset either parent.
BM just remarried and during last summer visit, youngest daughter boasted to me about how her Mom has a new boyfriend (now husband) and he can do ANYTHING, build treehouses, build anything! I didnt immediatly share this conversation with my husband as I knew it would hurt him. His youngest son has also stated to Dad that he "sometimes forgets" that he is his Dad.
Having 3 children (now teens) of my own, I am torn up watching this man try and maintain a relationship with these children while BM makes no attempt to encourage consitant involvement or communication. Phone communication has become ineffective and he sometimes goes weeks without being able to speak with 1 or more of his children. He is soon going to a family court ordered mediation, requested by him, to revise the visit and custody schedule as the parents can not agree on visit dates/times, having children return phone calls or making them available to speak with Dad, keeping Dad involved in school and medical related decisions (non emergency), as well as other concerns he has in regards to decisions that have been made concerning their children without involving Dad. Dad regrets allowing BM to relocate so far away, to live with her mom until "she can get back on her feet" as he never imagined she would use the distance to alienate the children from him, and essentially try to maintain a seperate family away from him and without his involvement.
I am sure that there must be other step moms out there, who feel like their hands are tied, and are restraining themselves from becoming too emotionally involved. Not looking for answers, just some enlightenment and support. Thanks!