Make up your mind: Do you want to be a parent or not?

To my ex SIL:

You have an 8 year old daughter and a 6 year old son. You have very few opportunities to visit them because you live 3000 miles away. You were supposed to take them for six weeks this summer. My brother made arrangements to fly the kids up there, with him as an escort, and then fly them back home, with you as an escort. Four round trip plane tickets, which he paid for. Why? Because his 8 year old daughter worships the ground you walk on and thinks you hung the moon. But then, it’s easy to be a hero to a child you never have to see, right?

So then, two days before the planned trip, you cancel. They can’t come. You’re in a very bad place right now, personally, you mean. Your ex-boyfriend is abusive. You haven’t actually made any day care arrangements for the kids, even though you’ve known for months they’re coming, and you can’t take care of them during the day because you have to go to work. You don’t have enough money to keep them for six weeks anyway. It’s just a bad time.

My brother has to explain this to his 8 year old daughter, who is broken-hearted. He has to eat the cost of four plane tickets (non-refundable, non-transferrable); he has to make daycare arrangements for both kids for an extra six weeks; and he does not get the break he needed from being the only parent to two lively children, which he is, 24/7/365.

But it’s okay, you explain! You still have the plane ticket HE bought in your name! You will fly down to see them instead! You can take a few days off of work and come stay with them – in my brother’s house, which you can imagine how excited he is about that, but he says “okay,” because you haven’t seen the kids for a year and the 8 year old is eating her heart out to see you. More plans are made. The 8 year old literally bakes you a cake. The house is cleaned. Plans are laid. Your plane lands tomorrow.

Today you call. You aren’t coming. You are in a very bad place right now, personally, you mean. You can’t take the time off work. You’re not feeling well. It’s just not going to work. So now my brother’s on the phone with me, infuriated, and his daughter is upstairs crying her eyes out. And in the kitchen is a cake with your goddamn name on it.

So I have a very simple question for you, you self-centered unstable irresponsible
bitch: DO YOU WANT TO BE A PARENT OR NOT? Because if you DO, you better start stepping up and meeting some of your responsibilities, especially when those responsibilities are nothing more difficult than getting on a plane to go visit them at NO EXPENSE TO YOU. lf you think my brother is going to sit quietly by while you build up the hopes of a child and then cruelly shatter them, over and over and over, you are fucking insane. The ONLY REASON he has not put a stop to this nonsense is the fact that he knows how much your daughter adores you, and he wonders if having a piece-of-shit mother isn’t better than having no mother at all. At this point, none of us is at all sure about that. Grow the fuck up and start being a part of your children’s lives in a way that is not hurtful and damaging, or fucking do us all a favor and disappear.

Oh, and here’s a little bit of info that will probably make you feel better even though it should make you feel worse: Your son? The six year old? He doesn’t give a shit if you come or not. He barely knows who you are. You are so much absent from his life, either as a reality or as a dream, that he doesn’t give a rat’s ass if he ever sees you again. So nicely done there, as well.

Dopers, my brother and niece and nephew are coming to visit this weekend. Any suggestions for how to comfort/ distract a broken-hearted 8 year old girl would be greatly appreciated.

I need to stop reading the Pit. I’m so upset right now I could smash something. :frowning:

I understand your frustration. I know you and your brother probably don’t see it this way, but in a way it’s good that the children’s mother is so absent from the day to day stuff.

I have a niece who’s good-for-nothing alcoholic mother mostly lived in the same town as my brother did. She rarely provided good parenting to her daughter, but was all over the place as far as showing up in a flurry of gifts, letting her stay out late as a teenager, and basically providing all the luxuries and none of the parenting. And she pulled the same stuff you describe - promising vacations, visits, birthday parties, and pulling out at the last minute.

Unfortunately, my now-20-year-old niece STILL thinks her mother walks on water and is only so-so with her father, who provided for her throughout her life. We’re hoping she outgrows it someday, but for now, the effects of her mother are still very much apparent. Her values are her mother’s values. She exhibits behaviors that are her mothers, aside from (thank god) the drug/alcohol abuse.

My guess is that if she didn’t have so much of her mother around while growing up, she’d be a much better adjusted, confident 20 year old.

No, it’s not.

Tell him to stop letting his ex hurt his children. He needs to stop getting their hopes up. And quite frankly, the sooner the 8 year old learns her mother is worthless the better. Then she can move on and find a good mother figure, because this one ain’t it.

He needs to sit them down, tell them it’s not their fault, and Auntie Jodi and Grandma and Grandpa and Miss Sally down the street love them to pieces.

Then take her out putt-putt golfing, and a movie, and ice cream, and generally wear her out. Then have fun smashing the cake together. Kids are resilient, but they need a big old safety net to fall into.

Oh man, my son is eight and I know how tender they are at that age. I don’t know if I have any useful advice except to make sure she knows none of this is her fault. My husband’s dad was an absentee scumbag who maintained just enough contact to get his hopes up and then dropped off the face of the earth for years. He (husband) has always said the support of the reliable adult friends and family around him were invaluable at the time. So it’s great that you’re involved. It will make a big difference just being there.

sure, but first – can your brother use the tickets himself – take the kids to see her for a couple of days and then bring them back?

ok - I will share the secrets of a veteran day and sleep-away camp counselor. Get them physically tired doing fun shit. You don’t show your location but no matter where you are it’s probably hot. Is there a water park or pool nearby (chlorine makes me sleepy)? Does the eight year old like the movies – how about a trip to lunch, a movie, an arcade or fun zone (laser tag, indoor playground), bowling or mini golf is always a kick, then pizza and movies at home. Kids are resilient. Sounds like she has one good parent and a good aunt, in time she’ll forget about mom (for now).

also maybe a ball game, zoo, kid’s museum, IMAX movie . . .

This is the worst part of it all. These are scars that won’t fade soon.

Completely reprehensible.

It took me about 5 minutes to figure out what SIL stood for…I guess my brain is short-circuiting?
But anyway, that’s horrible. I remember being the little girl’s age and bawling my eyes out when I couldn’t visit my grandma because of a blizzard suddenly hitting, I can’t imagine what it must be like to be denied visitation to your own mother just because of her own asshattery.
To distract her…hmm. I have to think like an eight-year-old again. I’d say definitely don’t talk about it, even though that’s practically a given. Try and do fun things as much as possible. I liked board games quite a bit at that age, but then again I was a weird kid.

I think the answer’s obvious: Not.

God I hate reading shit like this. As some here may know, **babygirl **and I can’t reproduce. We have tried to adopt. We even thought we found a woman who would let us have her soon-to-be born twins. I am deployed at the time and made a lot of the arrangements for the adoption while I was in Iraq. I took leave to finalize the legal portion and went back confident that I would be a daddy when I came home. Nope, this dunce now has six fuck trophies that she has passed to her brother to care for while she gets on her feet. The oldest is eight years old and the bitch mom cannot visit for more than a weekend or two a year, because she is too busy trying to find the next man to let her live with him. The only place to meet a responsible father based upon her past performance is in bars or crack houses.

This fucking kills me. I have to undergo local records checks, criminal history checks, medical, financial, and credit history, while some dumbasses can just fuck with reckless abandon and call themselves parents to kids they never see.

Sorry for the hijack
SSG Schwartz

^^people like this are the people who DESERVE to have children. Sometimes I think you should take a qualifying exam before procreating.

So, Jodi, you gonna post your Sister-in-law’s email address so we can all let her know how complete strangers feel about her? (Mostly kidding. Part of me would dearly love to let her know that she needs to start acting like a grown-up.) As some of you may know, I’m not much of a kid person, and I’m sitting here with tears on my face from reading that. The part that bugs me the most (other than an eight-year old girl baking a cake for a mother she doesn’t know is worthless yet) is how your brother can’t do anything about this. He can’t badmouth their mother to his kids, or he’s the bad guy; he can’t stop them from seeing her, or he’s the bad guy. All he can do is just keep trying to make her do the right thing, and picking up the pieces when she doesn’t.

Has your brother looked into any advice on how to deal with this ongoing situation? There has to be some kind of best way to deal with a no-win situation like that.

Can behavior like this be considered cause for denial of visitations rights? The damages that’s being done to the children is significant. Has your brother tried to explore this option?


You can’t just replace your Mother. You’ll only ever have one Mother. My Mother died when I was 4 and my Father remarried when I was 6. My Step-Mother was not able to fill that Mother role, and I cut a swath through terrible relationships torturing poor girls who in turn tortured me with their issues, trying to find a replacement Mother. It never worked. The healthiest thing is to just accept that a good Mother is something that you don’t get to have. You’re not ever going to get it, don’t even bother trying. If your Father remarries and she’s a good woman, that’s fine, treat her as such, and hopefully you’ll all be relatively happy, but at 8, I’m sorry, it’s too late. If you spend time trying to replace your Mother you’ll waste time in a withering fantasy world that will never satisfy you.

Trust me.

It is only as a Father myself that I have been finally able to give up my destructive quixotic quest. Now, I just have to deal with the repercussions of being angry at myself for not being smarter than I was and wasting so many years in denial.

Jodi It’s really unfortunate for those kids. Your Brother sounds like a good man. I hope your niece finds a way to deal with it. Every time I want to just break down and not be together and say ‘fuck it all’, I look at my daughter, and realize that it’s not a valid option anymore. It’s sad that your SIL doesn’t see it the same way.

Dammit. Some people aren’t worth the fucking ammo, ya know?

Jodi, my sympathies to you and yours. Hopefully, if SIL continues in her ways, her daughter will come to realize who loves her. Your brother must be a saint.

Jodi, I don’t know what to say. Your brother is heroic, obviously a very good man. I’m sorry for what your whole family is going through, especially your niece. God go with you, dear.

That would only make the Father into the bad guy.

Yeah, the cake was the thing that got the tears going for me.

Jodi, my sympathy to you and your brother. I don’t have any clue what to do for that poor kid. All I can think of is that I wouldn’t say a word next time SIL promises something until she either walks in the door or the kids need to head out the door to go to the airport.

Fucking bitch.

I’m not sure how much more I should post in this thread, because the situation upsets me so deeply. But I appreciate the sympathy and empathy; it’s nice to know others can at least see the frustration and helplessness this makes my entire family feel.

Athena, the situation you describe is exactly what my family fears will come. My niece’s mother can do no wrong in her eyes; she’s perfect. She calls weekly and tells her daughter how much she loves and misses her, how much she wishes she could see her, and of course my niece knows nothing about child support unpaid or promises broken. Meanwhile, my brother is the one who makes her do her homework and clean her room, who yells at her when she’s bratty, and who won’t let her stay up all night or live on ice cream. Sure, he also puts a roof over her head, pays for new school clothes and cheerleading camp and ballet lessons – but he doesn’t get any credit for that, as he should not; the child is 8 and rightly sees all of it as things she’s entitled to. So her mother can do no wrong and her father is the meanie, the baddie. WHo do you think she will emulate when she’s 16? Sometimes I hear her talk about her mom and I foresee her emulating her mom’s behavior, and it’s like seeing a train coming down the tracks, knowing there’s fuck-all you can do to stop it. And of course neither my brother nor I nor anyone else in my family ever says a word against the woman to her children – which again is only as it should be but, jeez, what a bitter pill to choke down, to stand there and listen to that adoration knowing the woman does not deserve a grain of it.

whole bean, thanks for the suggestions. I think mini-golf and the IMAX are great ideas. And yeah, my brother has the three tickets to use at a later time, but he has to pay $100 each for the change fee. I think he’s going to use them over Christmas. But that’s another thing – He asked her: Fine, you can’t come now; pay $100 and change the ticket, come some other time that’s convenient for you. (And speaking of bitter pills to choke down, you have no idea how much he dislikes this woman, so this offer was fricking noble on his part.) No. She doesn’t have an extra $100. She can’t foresee when she will have it. Translation: She doesn’t want to come and see them.

Sarge, I completely sympathize. I don’t have kids and at this point it’s looking like I probably never will. I’m mostly okay with that, but I do know that if I did have children, wherever the hell they were, that’s where I’d be. If their dad has custody and takes them to Mongolia, by God I’ll get a job as a yak herder and follow them over. I know kids can be a PITA, but they are a blessing from God IMO, and to watch this woman squander that opportunity drives me nuts. And how completely short-sighted: It’s not like these kids are going to be 6 or 7 or 8 ever again.

Anyway, thanks for everything. More later, maybe.