Fiancé wants to take his daughter but exclude my kids from vacation

Veronica - posted on 08/30/2016 ( 34 moms have responded )

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I have 3 kids ages 17, 13 and 11, he has a 14 year old daughter. This past summer his daughter did not want to go on our annual family vacation with us because she didn't want to miss a week of summer camp. (we have taken a summer vacation with all the kids for the past 3 years) The same issue with camp had come up the previous year however she ended up going on vaca with us and was miserable the whole time, making everyone else miserable too. We decided that she did not have to go with us this time so she could do camp. She also claimed she didn't want to go with us because she said she feels uncomfortable, that it's not fun (we went to Atlantis last year) and that me and my fiancé fight the whole time. All of which is not true, except maybe her feeling uncomfortable but that's kind of self induced. My fiancé and I agreed that there would be no "make up" vacation, she vacations with her mom, step dad and step brothers every year and this past year did a cruise to the islands with them. She has a friend in Florida that I said maybe we could schedule a weekend trip for her to see if making up the missed vacation became an issue so I was not totally opposed to something of a make up without calling it that tho. I did not want to set a precedent that she could opt out of family vacation and then be rewarded. Fast forward to Sunday and fiance mentions to me his daughter has off the week before Christmas and says maybe we could go away and then asks if my kids have off that same week. I tell him no they do not, but they have off the week after so maybe we can go away then. This made sense to me since we are getting married in May and were not sure we could fit in a summer vacation next year anyway. He proceeds to tell me that he wasn't really thinking of doing a "full kids trip" and figured he'd go away with his daughter for 5 nights and I could join for 3 nights if I can. I told him I could not do that and I felt he was wrong for excluding my kids and missing important holidays with us that we could all be together. We do not live together full time and he has his daughter only every other weekend and sometimes for a night during the week. When he does have her I am not there because I am 3 hours away in another state with my kids. A bit complicated but the point is when he does have her it's one on one time, so she gets him to herself a lot. He went on to explain that he feels it's important to maintain his father daughter routine (they vacationed together over holiday break several years in a row until we started dating 3 years ago) and because she's being supportive of him marrying me even though he suspects she is not totally comfortable with it! I am far from the evil step mother, I don't get to spend a lot of time with her nor do my kids but when we do everyone is friendly and I try to help the kids "blend". I also have tried to bond with her by taking her shopping, talking to her about school, friends, etc. I've taken her to do fun activities just the two of us...It's difficult for sure but we will never all be totally comfortable around each other if we don't do things together. Taking separate vacations is not going to help. I'm really hurt by this and he can't see things from my perspective at all.

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Jodi - posted on 08/31/2016

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Veronica, sometimes it is also ok to vent or present your point to get different views. This can help you unpack what happened, and what you have just explained makes total sense. I can see you are now reflecting on the situation more objectively, which will generally lead to less hurt. No, this shouldn't have been a text conversation because sometimes information gets lost when you have a character limit! But it does sound like you have also misinterpreted him indicating he hadn't been thinking of an "all the kids trip" as "I don't want to include your kids". Those things have different meanings, but in text, I can understand how it could be interpreted that way.

But yes, my best advice, as a person who has successfully managed a blended family (and we have one that is "ours" as well, and most the others are now adults), you really need to pick your battles. That's not suggesting you "roll over" by any means, but just remembering that your situation is very different and you will never be a "regular" family, so sometimes, you have to be super flexible and just get on with it rather than dwelling on things.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 08/31/2016

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The way you explained it now makes more sense. I understand your frustration, and these things are indeed going to come up. If you want to take your kids on vacation go for it. I think it is really nice that you try to have a planned vacation for all the kids and you and your fiance, but sometimes conflicting schedules are just that....conflicting. Jodi is right, blending families is a challenge withing itself. Add the time and distance, it will be more difficult to plan, and execute vacations. Especially considering there are 2 more adults involved with parenting. If you both are determined to make this work, go for it. I personally would never deal with the distance like this. It wouldn't work for me. I totally respect why you don't want to go through a custody battle. I would see why he wouldn't either. Disrupting the childrens school, making them move away from friends etc. You both need to communicate, and do what you can to make it work. BUT, he should be able to take his daughter on vacation. If you were all living together, in the same house, already married and having a truly blended family, I could see that being more of a problem and hurtful to both you and your children. Considering the circumstances, I don't see anything wrong with it.

Jodi - posted on 08/30/2016

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I guess I also want to say that blending families is HARD. I've been doing it for nearly 15 years. There is a reason such a high percentage of second marriages end in divorce - because blending that family is more difficult that managing the relationship with your partner. And given you are not planning to be living permanently with each other, the odds are even further against you. You need to decide if this is a battle you want to have. Is it really such a big deal to do things like this separately sometimes?

Jodi - posted on 08/30/2016

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Well, clearly you ARE taking a separate vacation with your kids, because you were unable to accommodate her around her schedule. So when you schedule one vacation around the availability of your children, that could be seen as vacationing separately with your children. Why is it so wrong for him to schedule one around his child's availability?

And does it really matter if you have never taken separate vacations before? You are planning a lifetime together - sometimes things won't always go exactly to plan, and sometimes, maybe, he just wants to have some time away with just his daughter. And that should be okay for him to do without feeling guilty about it.

Jodi - posted on 08/30/2016

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I have a blended family....and I don't see why this is such a big deal. If he wants to have a vacation with his daughter, let him. Even if you were married I wouldn't see the big deal. It's not that he is doing this in order to leave your kids out - he just wants some time with his kid, and letting you know you can join him if you can make it. Sometimes, this is how my husband and I do it too. It isn't always possible to include all the children in all of our plans. It also isn't always practical or necessary. Nothing to get "hurt" over.

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Veronica - posted on 08/31/2016

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Thanks ladies for taking the time to read my post and respond. Your advice has been very helpful and I really do appreciate it. I guess I will have to accept that for the time being, as Jodi says we are not a regular family and for that matter not even a regular blended family. Hopefully something will change in our circumstances to allow us to consolidate to one house. Choosing my battles is also good advice, my personality is that I'm very reactionary though so I do need to work on that. lol

Veronica - posted on 08/31/2016

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@jodi No it's not a big deal and after listening to what you all have had to say and talking it out with my fiancé I realize that. I misunderstood his text asking if my kids had off and took it as if he was asking so we could plan a trip together. I started looking at destinations and got excited about us all going away over the holidays. When he said he didn't want to include my kids I was really hurt and probably overreacted. However that could have all been avoided had he called me which is something we have talked about before too. Important things need to be discussed in person or on the phone. Texts can be confusing and taken out of context. I think we will be ok but it's been a rough couple days.

Jodi - posted on 08/30/2016

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I think we were simply pointing out that you HAVE taken vacations separately before, and there is absolutely nothing unhealthy or wrong with doing so.

Veronica - posted on 08/30/2016

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Honestly the vacation we took in the summer was scheduled in February and her camps hadnt even been signed up for yet. We bought her a plane ticket even though we knew there was a chance she would back out. She had already expressed that she didn't want to go. Then her mom signed her up for camp during the week we booked our vacation which we knew was a possibility but there was no other weeks we could go when trying to work around her moms vacations, camps and my parenting schedule. I get along very well with my future step daughter and the implication that I'm just waiting for her to be out of the picture is insulting. I texted her during vacation telling her how much we missed her and wished she was there and I personally bought her a necklace as a nice souvenir so she'd know we were thinking about her.
To address what Shawnn is saying here. I spent 5k on a lawyer to do a relocation. I ended up being told I had an 80% chance of losing and my kids would have to speak to a judge and my oldest daughter would have to testify. My kids father was telling them all sorts of things and it was causing my children a tremendous amount of stress so I ceased the relocation petition. As for giving up my kids to my ex so I can spend more time with my fiancé, I would never put a man before my children. I have made lots of sacrifices but that won't be one of them. I am also a step child and would never make my children or my fiancé daughter feel like they come second.
Thanks for all the advice. It has been helpful to gain others perspectives on this.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 08/30/2016

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Wow. Would never work for me, for sure. One partner who is OK with living away from the other because they are afraid of the "battle" that "could" ensue if they file a relocation petition (which, btw, you could let the kids dad have primary custody for school year, adjusting visitation to fit, if you chose, just sayin'). The other partner that doesn't seem too keen on blending fully, if they want to wait until the kids get out of school...one partner feels less respected because they feel they invest more fully in the relationship by sharing and gathering input on her side of things, but not being asked her opinion on his side of things...

Red flags. Everywhere. Marriage is a partnership, and if both aren't fully invested, it's like a poorly run business.

Him wanting time with his daughter alone is not unreasonable. It wouldn't be unreasonable for you to expect to spend some alone time with your kids, either. However, you are kind of coming across as being happier when his daughter isn't in the picture as often. You also don't seem willing to look at a compromise in your own custodial situation. If you are truly only 3 hours apart, that is not an unreasonable distance, when it comes to older children and visitation. You may have to cede primary custody to your ex, in order to maintain academic stability, but a different arrangement could be made. Yes it would require court, but that would be you and your ex. No need to have the kids present.

Veronica - posted on 08/30/2016

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@jodi
We have never taken separate vacations with the kids before and he started off the conversation regarding a winter break trip by asking if my kids are off. His daughter and my kids are off the next week so I said we could go then. He told me he didn't want to do a full kids trip. He is literally telling me he does not want my kids to go. We didn't talk about it prior this was brought up out of the blue. Through text. And I was under the assumption he wanted us all to go since he asked if my kids are off. So I was hurt when he said he was ok with me coming but not my kids. If I ever said that to him he would fly off the handle. I also feel it's not right to go back on what we talked about regarding a "make up" trip. I pretty much discuss all my parenting decisions with him getting his input and making sure we are on the same page. I'm not getting the same respect or consideration. It's not that I'm not ok with him spending time with her separately, which he does all the time. (He has every other weekend and week night visits alone with her.) I just don't think it's ok to say you want to take one kid but not the others when we have never done that before. Idk, maybe I'm being too sensitive.

Veronica - posted on 08/30/2016

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Thank you Sarah for your response. Yes my ex is opposed and prepared to fight me in court which is why I cannot move, I will not put my kids through a court battle. I agree there will be more conflicts over the years and I hope we work through them more peacefully in the future. I did end up telling my fiancé that although I disagree with this trip maybe he can take his daughter on this vacation and then I will take my kids over their break so they don't feel badly that they were excluded and we can make this the last separate vacation. Kind of the last hooray so to speak before marriage.

Sarah - posted on 08/30/2016

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Is your ex-husband opposed to your kids moving to another state? Is that why you cannot relocate them?
I guess since your living arrangement is not going to change, schedule conflicts are going to continue to occur. So flexibility and compromise is going to be a big part of both of your lives for a few more years. If you and he are not on the same page now, how will you guys manage future trips that conflict with school for some but not all? The two of you are gonna have to negotiate an agreement that everyone can tolerate. All or nothing may be hard to stick to as the kids get older and can't miss school or work for a vacation. This particular trip? I see both sides, they have not gone on their father/daughter trip the past few years, so maybe a final one before the wedding is reasonable. At the same time, if all the kids are free why not all go as a group to work on blending the families?

Veronica - posted on 08/30/2016

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No actually his daughter and I get along fine, we have fun together. I am not waiting for her to leave the picture at all, simply stating that once she goes to college we can probably live together since she's older than my youngest.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 08/30/2016

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It honestly sounds to me like you are waiting for the daughter to leave the picture. This whole post is screaming you don't get along.

Veronica - posted on 08/30/2016

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He can't move because he owns a business where he lives. As for rushing, well I don't feel it's rushing waiting 4 years to get married. We did not realize that we would not be able to live together after marriage, we thought we could move my kids after getting bad advice from a lawyer. We only learned this recently well after the wedding planning began. So now we are just trying to make the best of it and figure the next few years will hopefully go quickly. He will sell his business in the next 3-4 years and his daughter will graduate high school and things will be easier then.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 08/30/2016

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Sounds hectic and unnecessary. Kids need structure. And once again, why can't he move in with you permanently?

Veronica - posted on 08/30/2016

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@little miss

Yes I can clarify - during the summer months when the kids are out of school we (me and my fiancé) live under one roof with my kids spending every other week with us and his daughter coming off and on throughout the summer. Once school starts I spend every other week in the state where my ex husband is and my kids schools are. When my kids are with their father every other week is when I go back to where my fiancé lives.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 08/30/2016

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Annnndd why can't he move with you? Then why can't you wait to get married until you CAN move? What is the rush?

Veronica - posted on 08/30/2016

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We have been together for 3 years, we tried to blend like you suggested. The state I live in has very strict relocation laws and we found out recently that I will not be able to move my children after we get married. I have no choice but to continue going back and forth for at least another few years.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 08/30/2016

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I am so very confused. Can you clarify? One minute you are saying you don't live together, but this makes it sound like you do:

" We spend the summer together and every other week during the school year together. My kids stay with us every other week in the summer and his daughter comes for 1-2 weeks throughout the summer. "

~♥Little Miss - posted on 08/30/2016

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Exactly what I was thinking Sarah. It really sounds like he would be taking a vacation with his daughter (which he is totally allowed to do, he does not need permission) and you would be invited for some of it. I don't understand why you would be getting married when you would not be officially blending your families. It makes no sense to me. What is the point? It sounds like your seperate families need to be blended BEFORE you marry, more than what you are saying has been happening. How long have you been together for?

Veronica - posted on 08/30/2016

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@Sarah E.
The situation is not typical for certain, living nearly 3 hours apart has lots of challenges but we do try to be a "family" as much as we can and have never taken separate vacations with our kids.

Sarah - posted on 08/30/2016

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I really don't know how I feel about this. Shocking, I usually have an opinion. While I don't think excluding anyone from family trips is appropriate, you guys are not a family yet. He lives alone and parents alone. If he wants to take his daughter on a trip? I guess that is up to him. The whole dynamic seems a bit off to me.

Veronica - posted on 08/30/2016

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As for planning the trip around her camp, school let out the end of June for her. Her mom took her on 2 two week vacations. I only have my kids every other week and she had 6 weeks of camps throughout the summer, one was 3 weeks in a row. Trust me I tried to plan the trip around her schedule but she does dance, singing, guitar, acting, etc. It's nearly impossible. The only week that would have worked would have been the 3rd week of August which was too close to the start of school. I really did try.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 08/30/2016

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What will change when you get married then? How will the living arrangement differ????

Veronica - posted on 08/30/2016

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Unfortunately living together full time is not an option right now. My ex husband and I share 50/50 custody so unless something unforeseen happens we will remain living separately during the school months until his daughter goes to college. We spend the summer together and every other week during the school year together. My kids stay with us every other week in the summer and his daughter comes for 1-2 weeks throughout the summer. When we are all together it's fine. Not the brady bunch but we do ok.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 08/30/2016

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Oh, one more thing....as much as you feel your kids are getting excluded, she was excluded. You certainly could have planned the trip after her last week of camp.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 08/30/2016

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SOOO many red flags here, but figure start small with my last post.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 08/30/2016

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Ummm...coming from a step child, why are you not all living as a family BEFORE you get married? Test the water instead of an expensive wedding that may end in an expensive divorce simply because you did not see if living together would be compatible.

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