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Old February 3rd, 2018, 08:03 AM
rattlesnake rattlesnake is offline
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Here we go again with the step mother to be

My DS's fiancee is angry with me, and I'm left feeling hollow that we are not going to get along well or be close, as I was hoping we could be.
As I have said elsewhere, I have always been quite involved with my grandkids' lives. They are now 8 and 9 years old, but the 9 year old was born when DS was just 19 and his wife was 18, graduated from high school about a month before he was born. They both encouraged my help and so I feel like I'm almost a third parent, but of course have no legal rights like a parent. But the love and concern is there whether I have legal rights or not.

The parents split after 6 years of marriage and xDIL quite frankly left DS for another man. While I will never condone the way it came about, I know she had plenty of reason to be unhappy with him, but I guess that is all beside the point. The fact she immediately put this new guy in the kids' lives and referred to him as their "step-father" is annoying to me and I do believe it contributed to some emotional and behavioral issues the kids have. They still are not married but have been living together ever since the split in late 2014.

I'll try to leave out most details and judgements about the "step-dad" but for the most part I'm going to give credit where it is due. The kids rarely mention him and when they do, it is not to complain. I would have to say overall, they must like him and he must be reasonably good to them.

My DS quite frankly has never been nearly as involved as a father as I feel he should have been. He got 50/50 custody of the kids but during his time with them, he mostly barks orders, or finds ways to just not spend quality time with them, always upset with them when they "interrupt him" when he is on the phone (which is about 90% of the time he is not sleeping or at work).

He of course does not see himself that way or believe it to be true.
Enter new girlfriend, now fiancee. She is a social worker and thinks she knows everything kids need and how to be the best parent (and step-parent) ever and thinks that the bio mother and the grandparents should all comply with her "rules" and DS is supporting that view. She is 30 and does not (yet) have any bio children.

So GS (age 9) likes to play this computer game Roblox. It has settings for "under 10" which is what it is always set to, but I agree it was still not that great that young kids could pick games where their "character" could be mainly shooting zombies, or some other such thing involving heavy violence and shooting.

So I started to monitor it more heavily and supposedly their mother said he could not play Roblox any more or watch any more Youtube videos. I know their mother and her ability to enforce that by having her boyfriend enforce it while she is at work or school, or having her sister or mother enforce it while they watched the kids, was pretty unrealistic. I don't remember the details but in a group text I got about this situation, I believe I did agree that I would also go along with the new "no Roblox, no Youtube" rule. But I'm human and I'm a grandma. And yes, one day I let him work on building a roller coaster in Roblox on my work computer, when I was right there with him.

So this weekend when he is with step-mom to be, he asks if he can play Roblox when she of course says no (because she is the biggest rule maker and enforcer of all) he says mom, step-dad and Grandma let him play! Boy are we in the doghouse, but especially me.

So she writes a Group text, acting like she really wants to know if GS is lying, but I took it more as accusing. And I sure was not going to lie and throw GS under the bus (even though he threw me under the bus telling on me but he is too young to realize that so no I'm not blaming him, of course).


So I admitted it to it. And she writes back (group text again) telling me basically I had been told this "rule" at least 3 times. I could debate the 3 times blah blah blah, but what is the use? Well, once again, I could apologize for breaking the rule (and already have and will and will try to do better) but I did stand up for myself and I wrote to her only (not the rest of the "group") that I have told her that I don't like group texts accusing me of things and I thought it was mean and hurtful. I have discussed THAT with her before that I don't want to talk about important things that could be controversial through texts.

And before writing the text I tried to call her. But she would not answer the phone. So I stood up for myself and wrote that text. I'm going to guess all will say I was wrong for letting him play Roblox even a little in those circumstances. I can admit when I'm wrong so that is okay.

I can tell you this, before this woman came into their lives, I was 100% trusted with my judgement by both the mother and by my DS, what I would let the kids do in my home.

But was I wrong to tell her that her texts are hurtful and there are better ways to communicate with me?

I know from DS, because he did call me, that she feels I don't respect her because of this stuff. Well, I do think I respect her as a person but I don't agree with all her philosophies. I don't think she would be happy unless I 100% agreed with everything she does and says and "enforces" with the kids.

That does not equal "don't respect" in my view. I also recognize I am a 59 year old grandma who raised 3 kids, two of whom are very well adjusted, very successful young ladies who were both valedictorians of their high school class, and both now have Ph.D.s and lucrative professions. DS is doing okay by most standards but there is no mincing words, he was very different from his sisters though I believe I raised them all in the same way.

I am feeling I'll never agree with fiancee's strict set of rules as I'm just a softer person, with education and creativity being my go-tos for children, along with watching them closely. I have been accused many times with my own children and now my grandchildren about "worrying too much" about where they are and what they are doing, so she should not really be so concerned about their safety on the Internet when they are with me. I do keep tabs on that. If I were allowed to give her an opinion that she would respect (which is not going to happen), I'd tell her to stop being the bad guy. The way I see it when GS asked to play Roblox, it would have been nice if SHE would have been the one to break the rule, saying, okay, I'm going to sit here with you for 1/2 hour while you play and show me what this is about and maybe we can talk about it another time whether you should be able to play with close supervision.

Any thoughts?
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Old February 3rd, 2018, 02:35 PM
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Re: Here we go again with the step mother to be

This is a tough one, rattlesnake.

I'm going to tell you that I agree with everything you've said and with the maturity of a 50mumblemumble year old, totally support your POV.

There just seems to be a big power struggle going on in your family that you've never had before. With your DS and your xDIL, they were willing to pretty much abdicate their parental role to you (well, not completely in the case of your xDIL, but she did look to you for guidance). So you aren't used to the push back.

The fact that your FDIL threw the word "respect" out there... well, I get that. I'm a parent, but not yet a grandparent. The thing about being a parent is that when you are trying your darndest to be a good one, there are all kinds of forces out in the world that are trying to undermine you. You have to have unquestioned loyalty and obedience from your kids in order to be effective in keeping them safe. You can't take 2 minutes to explain to the kid that they need to stop running out in front of that car that is speeding towards them. You have to say "STOP" and have that kid freeze like a statue. This is really for the kid's benefit. It isn't just when they're little. When they're in high school and getting influenced by peers, they need to revert back to that freezing like a statue when Mom or Dad says "STOP."

I'm a softy too, and I certainly would have let my 9yo son play a video game with the settings set to 10 and under, and especially if I was available to watch him play for 30 minutes. I think though, that where your FDIL is coming from is that you have now set a precedent that you will allow him to disobey her. It is not in your GS's best interest to disobey her. I think the reason that "especially" you are in the doghouse is because she didn't expect better of the mom and stepdad, but she did think you were more trustworthy.

Just to make clear that I understand she is maybe too full of rules - I realize that you have been in your GS's life a lot longer than she has and she maybe doesn't have the authority to make those rules.

The thing is... she's trying. She seems to want to be a good parent, even if she doesn't quite have the experience yet. I guess that's where my thoughts go. She is on the learning curve (even if she doesn't realize it) and she has to figure it out on her own. Maybe that's why you're struggling with her a little bit - your xDIL was on a learning curve and was happy to have you teach her. If your FDIL is a social worker (my son is studying to be one) she has a big heart and has seen a lot of parenting - good, bad, and ugly. She may have different ideas of parenting than you do, but that doesn't mean either of you are wrong.

I dunno - I completely understand how you feel. It stings. For the record, I don't think you should have replied the way you did in the group text. If she didn't answer the phone when you called, maybe you should have left a message or replied privately. I'm not a fan of airing dirty laundry, and now everyone in the group text knows about the problem. There's nothing wrong with standing up for yourself, but it seems that you could have done so privately? Now your FDIL has been publicly shamed, and I worry that it's just going to go downhill from here.

ETA: My apologies! I didn't read correctly. I take back the part about replying in the group text. Upon re-reading, I see that you had replied privately. I had misunderstood.
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Last edited by KayKay; February 3rd, 2018 at 06:01 PM.
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Old February 3rd, 2018, 08:30 PM
rattlesnake rattlesnake is offline
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Re: Here we go again with the step mother to be

Thanks for your perspective, KayKay, I was going to further clarify that I texted only her, but I see you did catch that and updated.


When she and I got into a disagreement last summer, she tried to make GS eat lettuce salad at a family picnic. He was sick. It turned out he had strep throat which he has had three more times since then. She says he likes salad and makes himself sick just because he can get away with it and thinks someone like Grandma will rescue him. I know he likes lettuce salad but I'll bet it is not on anyone's list of something to eat when that sick. I would never make a kid with a sore throat eat lettuce and in fact yes I would baby them with soft, easy to swallow food.

She was angry with me (about rescuing him from eating lettuce with strep throat) and tried to do the "lets argue by text" thing and I called her and made it (what I thought was quite clear) that I wanted to TALK it out rather than text it out. Things smoothed over and yet I have seen her force him to eat salad yet another time when he had strep throat. I shut my mouth, recognizing everything you said, KayKay is true and I have to try to look at her good points (which she has many) and try not to let my loving maternal instincts get in the way of what she does with GS. I think right now, I am more upset that she insisted on texting the group text to me, the kids' mother and step father, rather than just call me to discuss.

I am not sure whether I did the right thing or not in standing up for myself, saying her text was hurtful and mean. I certainly have not changed my mind in feeling hurt and that she was mean (about that) but maybe I should have just lumped it down and never expressed that to her. If she had answered her phone the two times I tried to call her I still think it could have been dealt with better. I know from experience I can tell someone what they said was "hurtful and mean" and it does not have the same impact as when you put it in text. I HATE TEXTING FOR THIS PURPOSE. I really do and this case just makes me feel even more that way than I did before.

But tonight I texted her an apology and she seemed to accept it so I guess life goes on.
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Old February 3rd, 2018, 09:01 PM
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Re: Here we go again with the step mother to be

The thing I like about you, rattlesnake, is that you are good about seeing what part you have played in the problem.

I think it's perfectly fine to stand up for yourself. Here's a question - what was hurtful and mean about the text? Was it what she said or the fact that she said it in a group text? (side note, I wonder if she said it in the group text as a "hint" to the mom and stepdad?)

I was thinking earlier about her good points. You have mentioned before that she genuinely cares for the kids (despite mistakes she makes) and that she is good for your son. I wondered about that, because it seems that the things that are good about her seem to cause a power struggle between the two of you, even though you like those things about her. It's going to be a change for you, that's for sure, having someone so (perhaps mistakenly) self-assured about her parenting, to the point of being strong-willed.

This argument with your FDIL isn't too unlike the argument you had with your DS at Christmas. Do you think that doing something that the mom had said no to and she was trying to enforce (it sounds as though with everyone's agreement) reopened that wound? Your FDIL is going to find parenting your grandkids very frustrating, I'm afraid, if she's battling with everyone the whole time.
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Old February 4th, 2018, 06:37 AM
rattlesnake rattlesnake is offline
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Re: Here we go again with the step mother to be

KayKay, My gut tells me that it was much more FDIL that is worried about the rules and whether he plays Roblox than the bio mother even though she is the one who stated that was her rule in their home. I think it was probably to impress FDIL as much as anything. I’ll explain.

xDIL has calmed down in the last year and I think she is perhaps more focused on “parenting” than she has ever been before, even though the kids are now 8 and 9 years old, but certainly not to the point she is concerned about her DS playing a video game that allows him to shoot animated zombies. In fact she is into zombies and stuff like that and buys the kids clothing that presents that, much to my DS’s dismay. DS and FDIL hate “monster high” themed stuff but xDIL just had a Monster High themed birthday party for my GD. Not a big deal to me, but I am just trying to paint a realistic picture of the people involved.

But during the first years of the kids’ lives, xDIL did (neglectful) things that I probably should have called child services about. One time in particular I found the kids in an extremely dangerous situation when they were just 2 and 3 years old, and she was passed out on their couch from partying the night before, apparently. Instead of calling services, I became even more intent on involving myself more regularly to make sure those kids were okay and being cared for. I took them one or two days a week for overnights, and both DS and his then wife were happy to let me.

Quite frankly, at this point, I think that xDIL is afraid of the new Social worker lady in the kids' lives, and her answers in texts that are quite polite to FDIL surprise me since she had DS arrested for doing the same thing in the past, calling it harassment (I'm not kidding and don't want to get into that awful saga right now). During happier times when I have talked to FDIL we have talked about the past arrest, which she knows about, and she has told me herself that she believes that xDIL knows better than to try that number with her (crying harassment, etc.) because she knows all right people and it would backfire big time.

You asked what was hurtful or mean about FDIL’s text. First of all, I made quite a point with her in the past telling her I did not want to discuss controversial things through text. I wanted to do it in person or at least through a phone call. I guess I think she should have remembered and RESPECTED that.

I said maybe I’m “old school” and maybe I am. But this recent incident re-enforces my view of that even more. And in her text she emphasized that I was told “3 Times” about not playing Roblox. Who’s counting? I wasn’t and only recall one brief thing about it where the bio mother said she was making a rule he could not play.

The meanest part by far, to me, was that she knew I was trying to call her, but refused to answer the phone, and she PROBABLY knew I wanted to discuss it on the phone rather than text and she DID NOT CARE.

Even though I think she should apologize too, I know she won’t and it is time for me to let it go. I felt so much relief when I sent her the apology text and she wrote back to thank me. I guess I just want to get along.
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Old February 4th, 2018, 01:46 PM
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Re: Here we go again with the step mother to be

Quote:
Originally Posted by rattlesnake
You asked what was hurtful or mean about FDIL’s text. First of all, I made quite a point with her in the past telling her I did not want to discuss controversial things through text. I wanted to do it in person or at least through a phone call. I guess I think she should have remembered and RESPECTED that.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rattlesnake
The meanest part by far, to me, was that she knew I was trying to call her, but refused to answer the phone, and she PROBABLY knew I wanted to discuss it on the phone rather than text and she DID NOT CARE.
Okay, so it wasn't as much the "what" as the "how." Then I'd have a gentle talk with her next time you see her. Apologize again for allowing him to play, and explain to her that the two of you are on the same side and should be working in tandem with the kids, and not putting it out publicly (airing the dirty laundry) when there is an issue. Tell her that you were embarrassed and upset that she made it public, and tell her that in the future you will not reply to text messages about issues but you will be happy to talk to her in person.

I think she texted about it in the group text more to reprimand your xDIL and the stepdad (knowing that they were allowing it too) than to confront you. But that's just my opinion without reading the texts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rattlesnake View Post
Quite frankly, at this point, I think that xDIL is afraid of the new Social worker lady in the kids' lives, and her answers in texts that are quite polite to FDIL surprise me since she had DS arrested for doing the same thing in the past, calling it harassment
This might not be a bad thing for the kids.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rattlesnake
Even though I think she should apologize too, I know she won’t and it is time for me to let it go. I felt so much relief when I sent her the apology text and she wrote back to thank me. I guess I just want to get along.
Getting along is good. There is a saying - "The best way to win at tug of war is to drop the rope." I really think it would be in your best interest to not get involved in a power struggle with FDIL/DS. Your xDIL and DS put you in a parental role with your grandkids, and while it was what was best for the grandkids, it was unfair to you. You're having to step back more into the grandparent role now, which is hard!! Going forward, now you know that FDIL/DS get mad when you break rules even if it's something you think is okay. Maybe you should use an abundance of caution for a while. It's tough to say no to your GS, but if he wants to play the video game, text FDIL or DS and say "GS wants to play the game. Would it be okay if I sat with him for 30 minutes while he played and made sure he didn't kill any zombies?" I think that's really all they want. If they say no, then GS knows that rules stick.

I have mentioned before that I had this same issue with my MIL. It really hurt me when I'd explain to her a rule we had and why, and her reaction would be to deliberately do what I asked her to NOT do. I wasn't making up rules to be a jerk. I was making up rules in the best interest of my kids. For example, I asked her to not let my highly active toddler run around the pool which had uneven stones as decking. My MIL is not physically active and could not have gotten to him had he fallen in the pool (and I was about 8 months pregnant at the time). My DH is a doctor and told her about the number of kids he had seen in the ER who had drowned in a split second. And she would (and did) literally scoff and say "Oh that's ridiculous" and continue on with what she wanted to do. I can promise that wasn't the best way for her to endear herself to her grandkids' parents. Sadly, because DH and I couldn't trust her, she never spent time alone with our kids. I worry that your FDIL, in her effort to be the good mom the kids didn't exactly have, may think she needs to start limiting their time with you.
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Old February 4th, 2018, 03:40 PM
rattlesnake rattlesnake is offline
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Re: Here we go again with the step mother to be

KayKay,

As a parent myself, I can definitely empathize with why you limited your children's time with the inlaws. Safety was the issue. Everything you say makes sense but neither bio parent is concerned about the safety of the children with me; if anything DS has always told me I worry too much and should just let the kids play in the yard, stuff like that, without much supervision, other than checking now and then. He would have an attitude more like your inlaws. And believe me there have been more close calls than I care to mention for those kids with either the mother or the father (yes my DS) being the one "watching" them.

And these are part of the reason I have a hard time stepping back, but I know time is changing and you are 100% right that I will be a more traditional grandparent now, rather than having an almost parental role to the kids. And you are also right that it is hard to try to make that step. I love those kids so much and they love me the same way.

You are also right that I must be ultra careful to follow FDIL's rules right now or risk her limiting time the kids spend with me on HER CLOCK. I fear that anyway but have already talked to their mother after the Christmas fiasco and she has assured me that she would always allow me to spend time with the kids as I always have so the bigger worry is I just plain want to get along with FDIL. I really do. I hate families fighting and not getting along more than you can imagine. I never took my own XH to court for exactly that reason! I had plenty of reason to do so, but figured it was better to be peaceful, stay out of court, for the kids' sakes.


I love my DS and want him to be happy! I've said it many times: she has many good qualities to be appreciated.

Back to the texting topic, I don't think she sent the group text for any special reason other than that's what FDIL does. She doesn't think it is airing dirty laundry. She thinks it is good "communication." I am willing to admit for me it may be partially a generational thing. That is NOT what I would do! And if it is not directed at me, I do my best to ignore it. The last time it was about recurring lice. She just wanted me informed that time, I guess since I had nothing to do with why the kids got lice, but was always involved in helping treat it. I did not respond in any way that time.

But the way she did it was so much the same topic my DS got arrested for it sent chills down my spine. Yet xDIl and her bf responded somewhat rationally, admitting the lice came from her sister and they were going to stop having her watch them. This was deja vu except this time xDIL did what she should have done instead of having DS arrested, the previous time. By the way the judge flat out said he believed her and not him, and would not listen to any other testimony, look at any texts or anything! And DS got a summary offense and $700 fine.

Bottom line, I appreciate having someone to discuss it with, so thanks. Do not worry, I get it. I get that regardless of my different reasons for concern, the situation is changing.
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Old March 11th, 2018, 03:44 PM
rattlesnake rattlesnake is offline
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Update

Hello All,
I just got back from a lovely 2 week vacation.

Now the wedding will be in less than 3 weeks! For the time being all is well, we are all getting along. Just went to a shower for them today put on by their church. It was nice.
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Old March 11th, 2018, 07:18 PM
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Re: Update

Quote:
Originally Posted by rattlesnake View Post
Hello All,
I just got back from a lovely 2 week vacation.

Now the wedding will be in less than 3 weeks! For the time being all is well, we are all getting along. Just went to a shower for them today put on by their church. It was nice.
Welcome back! I'm happy to hear all is well for the time being. I hope it continues!
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Old March 30th, 2018, 02:17 PM
rattlesnake rattlesnake is offline
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Re: Here we go again with the step mother to be

The weekend of the wedding has arrived...I'll post more in the section for "all grown up" (adult children.
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