Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Your Turn: “I Don’t Want My Daughter Around My Ex’s Mother”

My boyfriend and I recently split due to ongoing issues throughout the majority of our three-year relationship. He is back living with his parents and is 38 years old. Sigh. I believe deep down he is a good person, but for some reason he has very little ambition and can be very immature. I am not claiming sainthood, but at 31 I do feel as if I have surpassed him mentally and emotionally. We have a beautiful one-year-old little girl together while he has a son and a daughter from previous marriages and I have a son from my only marriage when I was 20. My son’s father passed away last year in a car accident; we had been divorced for seven years. It has not been an easy time for my family, and now I am trying to raise my two children on my own.

One of my concerns is about my daughter going to my ex’s parents house for visitation. I want my daughter to have a relationship with her dad, but I don’t want her around his parents. His mother is very controlling and seems to want to have my ex at her disposal at all times. I have tried my very best to get along with her, but she has insulted me in every way possible. When I was 8 months pregnant and visiting her, she made me hide in her room for three hours because her pastor had shown up for a surprise visit and she was embarrassed that my ex and I were having a baby out of wedlock. Meanwhile, my ex went to church with her and I was not included because his mother wanted to protect her reputation. I begged my ex to go to church with me and he never would. I tried to tell him how his mother had hurt me, but he didn’t stand up for me and our unborn daughter.

His mother has made it clear that she doesn’t approve of me or my daughter. She purposely did not come to my daughter’s first birthday two months ago because “she had errands to run.” She has made snide remarks about my daughter being rotten, and so has my ex’s sister as well as her teenage son! His mother and sister have suggested that my son is autistic when it is obvious he is not. My daughter and son are both ignored by his family while his other two children are favored. I really don’t want to send my daughter around these toxic people! Please, any advice would be helpful. — Concerned Mom

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31 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Moe P September 10, 2015, 8:18 am

    It seems like the mother-in-law is a difficult person. It also seems like YOU are feeding into this and getting into power struggles. Did she really, “make’ you hide in a bedroom for three hours? Could you have just gone home? I also don’t think you are gaining any sympathy points form me when you say you have “surpassed him mentally and emotionally.” He does sound immature, but feeling superior to him is not the answer. I also don’t see anything that makes me feel like your kids should be prevented from ever spending time with her. I think what needs to happen is that, rather feeling like a victim, to stand up and create some boundaries.

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    • avatar

      Nicole September 11, 2015, 9:50 am

      Thank you Wendy, my intention was to receive advice and not sympathy. My concern for my daughter going to a place where I am not welcome and she is treated like a red-headed step child will never go away. I put my children first and will continue to do so. However, thank you for responding.

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  • avatar

    laurahope September 10, 2015, 8:32 am

    There’s no magic solution . If you have a child with someone and then you break up, you lose control of how that child is raised. Next time, choose wisely.

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  • mrmidtwenties

    mrmidtwenties September 10, 2015, 8:33 am

    Unfortunately it sounds like you’re going to be stuck with your daughter seeing your ex’s mother. Presuming you are going to do some sort of shared custody with him and he lives with her, there’s really not that much you can do. The only thing you can do is try to effectively co-parent with your ex and hope for the best. Frankly, because he’s your ex, I would probably not say anything to him about his mother because he will likely tell his mother and it will only make the situation worse.

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  • juliecatharine

    juliecatharine September 10, 2015, 8:38 am

    Don’t add to the drama but it is absolutely necessary to impress upon your ex that your daughter needs to be protected emotionally. There are lots of anecdotes online about the damage that favoritism does to both those who are favored and the kids who are left out. Find them, share them with him and tell him to step up as the father and protector of the little girl you two brought into the world. Good luck and I’m sorry for all the turmoil in your family this year.

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  • avatar

    MiMi September 10, 2015, 8:44 am

    LW, if you haven’t already done so, you should consult a family law attorney to understand your position as an unmarried legal parent. With no custody or child support agreement in place that has the force of law, you’ll want to know your options in case you have to take steps in the future to protect your daughter from her father’s toxic family. For now, while she’s still small, is your relationship with the ex good enough that he will accept invitations to join in family outings (away from his mother’s house) so he and your daughter (and your son) can spend time together in a positive environment? It will be tough managing this situation on an ongoing basis but worth it to keep your children safe from vicious wolves. Good luck!

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  • avatar

    Nico September 10, 2015, 9:07 am

    You need to get your ass to a lawyer ASAP. He needs to be paying support for your daughter. You need to set up a custody arrangement, and since she is so small, you are looking at like one week day for a few hours, and then like one weekend day, probably not at night, since she’s so little.

    You need to focus on raising your kids, and rise above all that drama and BS. Where is your support group? Stop expecting him or his terrible mother to change, instead change how you react. “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” It’s so very true. I am sorry that now you are practically a single mother, but you can do it, and one day in the future, your kids will thank you for being there for them.

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    • Raccoon eyes

      Raccoon eyes September 10, 2015, 9:14 am

      I absolutely agree with you. It is time for LW to build herself up and not concentrate so much on that which she has no real ability to change/fix.
      *
      LW, from your letter, I did not really see evidence that a judge would find compelling to bar grandma from seeing your daughter. But you NEED to set up child support and a visitation schedule and you NEED to be advised by an attorney. There are resources available for lower-income households- you just need to look for them. Your first step should be contacting the Bar Association of your State/City/Jurisdiction/whatever. Also google “Your State Legal Aid” and some non-profits organization(s) should pop up- these likely have longer wait times.
      *
      I agree with you that it is sad that his family is actively excluding your son, and it would be the nice/kind/proper thing to do to include him too, but sadly there is really no way to enforce that.
      Good luck

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  • othy

    othy September 10, 2015, 9:15 am

    I’m sorry, you really don’t have a lot of say in who your daughter spends time with when she’s in the custody of her father. Unless you legally can prove that her grandmother is abusive, you really don’t have a lot of room to dictate if your daughter spends time with her.
    .
    Instead, what you can do is set boundaries. Talk to a lawyer and set up appropriate visitation between your daughter and her father, and work out a plan with him to effectively co-parent your daughter. Take the high road and set a good example for your daughter (and your son) when interacting with him or his extended family. Don’t complain about them, because even a small child can pick up on that and your ex’s family is STILL her family.
    .
    Most importantly, drop the “I’m better than him” attitude. Yes, he’s currently living with his parents, but it sounds like he very recently moved out of the home he shared with you. Even at 38, that seems like a reasonable response when trying to figure out what to do next. In order to have a good co-parenting relationship with him, you need to show him respect.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros September 10, 2015, 10:20 am

      I definitely agree on the last part. In this situation, it doesn’t even seem relevant that she thinks she’s better than him, considering it’s the mom who is the issue. And it’s one thing to critique a person’s actions, but another to compare them to you and emphasize how much better you are than they are.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros September 10, 2015, 10:19 am

    I’d agree about getting a lawyer. This situation doesn’t seem to be something you can really change, but in general, it’s best to have some sort of legal structure when you’re trying to co-parent with an ex. A guy I know prided himself on how he and his ex could co-parent without any conflict or legal intervention. It was fine until it wasn’t. He almost lost custody of his kid and would go weeks without seeing her. The only thing that helped him was that his ex got arrested and knew she would lose any sort of battle.

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  • FireStar

    Firestar September 10, 2015, 10:33 am

    It’s hard when you share custody. Part of that means that you have to rely on the other parent’s common sense in what they do or do not expose your child to. Unless he is unfit in some way and visitation needs to be supervised then your options are limited. And by limited I mean you don’t have any other than speaking to your ex to impart on him that he has to be your daughter’s biggest defender against everyone – including his mother. Other than that when your daughter is of an age to notice any disparity in treatment, then you have a talk with her about the different kinds of people in the world and how we wish everyone would act nicely but they don’t always. What is important though is that she knows she is perfect just as she is and that you love her beyond measure and it’s sad that grandma and auntie and cousin are silly and because they are mad at mommy they take things out on her. And maybe it is best to just be polite to everyone but to keep your distance from them since you now know they are broken in this way. It’s not a bad lesson to learn for the rest of her life either.
    And who knows LW? Maybe when they spend time with your daughter they fall in love with her and she charms them right out of their hatefulness.

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  • avatar

    Kaluu September 10, 2015, 2:56 pm

    I would never blame you for your feelings and I’d feel the same way. But since (if?) this woman is no danger to your daughter i would not use your energy on keeping her away as it is very unlikely to happen so it will be a waste of energy. If she’s nicer to the other kids, hopefully your daughter won’t really notice if they are a lot older? At the point that she is old enough to be affected by a mean grandma who is nicer to other kids you could reevaluate, maybe even set up some counselling for your daughter to reassure your self that there’s no issue plus if there is an issue the counsellor could back you up in court. It might seem unfair that you are in the position where you have to share your darling baby with someone so disrepectful, or even despicable. I know it would drive me crazy. Maybe look at it like this: you had a kid with someone you would have done better to know better, as he has some issue and a very rude and mean mom. That’s the bad side. On the good side you can’t imagine your life without her, she’s healthy and safe , and your ex is not trying to take her away, plus you seem at peace about coparenting and the end of your relationship. Focus on building a very close bond with your daughter so that she’s likely to confide and then you can protect her from the grandma or any other adult who does something wrong.

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  • Monkeysmommy

    Monkeysmommy September 10, 2015, 3:18 pm

    Honestly, from what I am reading, it doesn’t sound like your ex’s mom WANTS to see your daughter. My advice to you would be to get to a lawyer immediately. Find out your rights, establish custody and support. I understand some people have shitty parents; my mother in law is a real prize (sarcasm) but my husband would NOT let her treat me like shit. You need to seek out legal resources and determine whether or not you can block Granny, if she even wants to see your child.

    *

    Now, I’m going to light into you a little for getting to this point in the first place. Your ex was a guy who wouldn’t stand up for you or your other child. His mother and aunt were rotten to your son. What the fuck is wrong with you? Why did you stick around with this gem of a dude to get knocked up in the first place? When it was clear that your son was not going to be accepted and cared for by the family, and that your ex was okay with that, you should have been gone. Your son was your priority and should have been protected. Clearly you have NOT “surpassed” your ex, because you have no more sense than he does. You made a poor choice, and now you get to live with it. You are STILL not making good decisions here; your son clearly needs you since he has lost his father, and you are worrying about keeping your daughter away from her family.

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    • avatar

      Nicole September 11, 2015, 10:06 am

      The comments about my son were made after I became pregnant. I hoped that my ex would take a stand for us. I guess hoping was too human of me in pregnant state. I did gather the strength to leave him and want only what is best for my children. Yes, I am angry and yes I made a mistake for staying with my ex as long as I did.

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      • Monkeysmommy

        Monkeys mommy September 11, 2015, 10:07 pm

        Too human? I think it is called “willfully blind”. I am hard pressed to believe that your ex’s mother didn’t start making disparaging remarks until after you were pregnant; unless, of course, it was one of those meant-to-be-a-one-nighter things that ended up pregnant right away.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom September 13, 2015, 11:37 am

        If the mother belongs to a fundamentalist religion then it isn’t surprising that she became this way after the pregnancy. The pregnancy proved, and the child continues to prove, that her son was having sex out of wedlock which she considers humiliating to herself in her church group. She will put more blame on the woman, who from her point of view didn’t keep her legs shut and seduced her son with sex and probably tried to trap him. It isn’t at all surprising that this started happening during the pregnancy. His mom hated the blatant proof or premarital sex and sin.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark September 11, 2015, 5:14 am

    STOP HAVING FUCKING KIDS. Seriously. Why is it only that the world’d biggest tools breed like rabbits? PS — give the whole Jesus thing a rest though. Stop wasting your time praying to imaginary friends and instead go see the REAL ones at Planned Parenthood… Hey, they can actually help you. I cannot — as I find you not worth the effort as I have simply surpassed you in oh so many ways…

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    • avatar

      Nicole September 11, 2015, 8:54 am

      Thank you Mark for taking the time to leave a bitter comment. You have definitely surpassed me in ignorance. Have a great day.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark September 12, 2015, 4:32 pm

        Please. You sound OH-SO-VERY smug in your assessment of your ex in your letter. The fact that you apparently FAILED to catch that I was referencing only proves that this smugness is, shall we say, rather misplaced.

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      • avatar

        Nicole September 12, 2015, 8:20 pm

        Mark…how shall I break this to you…your advice is critically lacking. You have nothing to offer except to stop breeding? Is this because you can’t breed yourself??? Take a long hard look in the mirror. It sounds like you need more help than me bittergaymark.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark September 13, 2015, 1:30 pm

        Please. I could have breed multiple times in college had I been fucking careless. But I wore a condom and didn’t sleep with train wrecks. Two kids from two failed relationships. Hey, at least you’re consistent. 🙂

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      • avatar

        Nicole September 14, 2015, 2:52 pm

        Mark, you must find yourself comparable to jesus since it’s obvious you have never made any mistakes in your life. I am a good mother with two beautiful children, sorry I don’t regret that. You have a nice life sir.

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  • avatar

    Nicole September 11, 2015, 8:50 am

    Thank you for all the feed back, when I wrote this I was very upset. I really wasn’t trying to make myself seem superior. I am certainly human and I have made many mistakes. I didn’t realize my ex’s true character until I became pregnant. My children’s best interest will always be my number one priority. Reading some of these responses helped me to sort out my line of thinking on this matter.

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    • Monkeysmommy

      Monkeys mommy September 11, 2015, 10:09 pm

      I imagine you will not be taking our advice and seeing a lawyer, though. Just not getting that ” I really want to help myself” vibe from you.

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      • avatar

        Nicole September 12, 2015, 6:45 am

        I definitely will be seeking legal advice. And my pregnancy was not the result of a one night stand, although I hardly see where that is relevant or an excuse for my ex’s mother to treat us the way she has. Your advice is an outside source, and while I appreciate positive feedback I really don’t have the patience for snide remarks from a person I have never met. Either be helpful in a way that is constructive or keep it moving.

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      • Monkeysmommy

        Monkeysmommy September 14, 2015, 11:22 am

        The relevance of the one night stand question is that had that been the case, you truly would have had NO idea what the family on his side was like. It’s no an excuse for her; it would have excused you. But since that’s not the case, then you should have at least had an idea that she wasn’t an overly pleasant person. And unlike what we want to believe when in love, you really do marry a person and their family when you commit.

        *
        As for your “snide remarks from a person I haven’t met” comment, honey when you seek the advice of the Internet on a common sense issue, you are going to get the bad with the good. I am sorry that as a woman who has stood in your shoes with the MIL from hell (twice) that I don’t have a lot of sympathy. I would never have procreated with a man who allowed his mother to treat me poorly.

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      • avatar

        Nicole September 14, 2015, 2:59 pm

        As I have stated many times now, his mother did not treat me this way until after many months of being pregnant. I really don’t feel the need to repeat myself anymore “honey.” Please take care.

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      • avatar

        Nicole September 14, 2015, 3:20 pm

        On a side note, what you are telling me is that you have been in my situation twice with a not so pleasant mother in law? So you allowed yourself to get into the same situation TWICE, yet you are giving me advice??? I think I will pass Madame.

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  • avatar

    lee3 September 12, 2015, 6:53 am

    Nicole, I just wanted to wish you well in the future living with and dealing with this difficult situation in the future. I second what everyone has said about have a court ordered visitation and support schedule in place. To offset the favoritism shown to other children by the ex’s family, you will need a strong support and social system, whether it’s your church or a group of friends or your own family. But you know all this. As painful as it is to know your child is being treated less lovingly than the others, try to control your distress and don’t let your child see that you dislike her grandmother and aunt. Children can be surprisingly flexible — if she doesn’t know her granny and aunt are ‘supposed’ to love her, she won’t be disappointed because they don’t. Best wishes.

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    • avatar

      Nicole September 12, 2015, 8:14 am

      Thank you for your kind words lee, they are very much appreciated. I have a huge family that have been very supportive. My children know they are loved. I am really trying my best, so thank you for the positive advice. I know I will never have it all figured out but I will continue to provide for my children and grow as a person. Everything just seems so hard right now but I know there is a rainbow around the corner. God bless and keep you.

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