My brother has been divorced from his wife for almost three years. One of the many factors that led to the dissolution of the marriage were her constant infidelities. It is rather ironic that she is more faithful (as far as we know) to her current lover than she ever was with her husband. She has only had two "relationships" (counting the present one) since her divorce while she had several during her several years of marriage. She found her current "squeeze" in a bar, and is rather disappointed that he continues to drink (he has a "yellow" tag on his car). He seems a pleasant fellow (I've only met him a few times), and is nice to her (and my brother's) kids. But I think she is the kind of person that would drive most men to a bar for solace.
She supposedly assaulted him (the police were called, and according to the police report my brother got, was wrapped around his back while trying to gouge his eyes out from the rear). True love prevailed, and charges by both parties were dropped. But Children's Services got involved, and my brother hoped that at last he would get full time custody of the children. It was not to be. They continued as before with each parent getting custody of the children for 12 hours out of each day, and every other weekend.
The oldest son (whom my brother was involved from about a month after conception) has had a tough life. He is dyslexic, and has had problems in school. His mother (who freely admits to having "too much on my plate") has depended on him as a baby-sitter, and servant since the birth of their first child (my brother and her) together. At the age of 5-6 she was having him fetch diapers, wash dishes, and change the diapers on the baby (she often lay on the couch with "migraines"). Now that he is a teen-ager, and experiencing all those hormonal rushes (plus the insecurity of not being "average"), and the mother of his 13-year-old girlfriend (he is 15) decided that these "children" should break up, he has reacted badly to this. He has threatened to break all the windows in the house of his girlfriend's parents. My brother let him come to visit his home (after sending him packing after he became violent), and he got angry with the father of his girlfriend, and went toward his girlfriend's house with a knife. My brother called the authorities, and the boy was sent to a service agency where he spent a couple of days. Now he is being released (without disavowing any violence). Someone at the agency called the police, and had them inform the parents that this boy was getting his "freedom".
The other three children (who are with their mother, and aren't supposed to have any contact with their older half-brother because he held a younger one over his head as if to dash him) are "boistrous". This past week (we learned during a phone call) the youngest (who feels "picked on" by his older brothers) was arguing with the next eldest while his mother cooked breakfast, her back to the argument. The youngest picked up a butter knife, and put a gouge into his older sibling's eye-lid (a fraction of an inch, and maybe the state might have been required to "protect" the child). My brother found out about this when he saw his son's eye, and pried out what happened. He then spanked the youngest (who will be 7 in a couple of weeks). I know there are those who don't agree with "spanking" or any form of hitting (though I was spanked as a child, and find I had no real damage from it). My nephew's mother had done the "politically correct" thing, and put him in "time out" for 20 minutes. What has my brother wondering is how could someone have been cooking 5-6 feet from this altercation, and not gotten involved before a knife was brought into play? He mentioned this to Children's Services (who is now in the process of closing out the case from the end of April), and the case worker stated that since there was no "imminent (or eminent) danger" there was no reason to remove his children from the environment. Earlier, when his children were returned to the mother's custody (after the investigation after she went to jail) a case-worker told him that since the children were only with her 12 hours a day it was felt that they were in reasonable safety during the other 12. If the custody arrangement had been 2.5 days a week with the mother, and 2.5 days a week with the father he probably would have been granted custody immediately. My brother has tried several times to get this arrangement changed but has never succeded.
How in the world do you manage to each have kids for 12 hours a day? Does one parent get them for all waking hours, and one parent get them for all sleeping hours? Do you wake the kids up in the middle of the night for the "switch"? What happens when the kids are in school - do one of the parents lose out on a big chunk of "their" 12 hours?
That seems like a bizarre arrangement that can't possibly promote any sort of stability for the kids. (Your sister-in-law's other issues aside.)
As far as the knife thing goes...truth be told, I can see how a quick kid could get into trouble while you were cooking. If that were a strictly isolated incident, I wouldn't condemn the mother for it. (Under normal circumstances, it would be reasonable to assume that you could turn your back for a few moments on children ages 6 & up, at least for the amount of time it takes to cook a meal.)
However, since there appears to be a pattern of behavior in your former sister-in-law's house, that makes a huge difference.
Since the mother admits to having "too much on her plate," you'd think she'd be more willing to negotiate a different custody arrangment to take some of the day-to-day responsibility away from her. (Unless she has concerns about the environment they'd be in with your brother?)
Mom2, partly it is financial, I think. My brother sees no reason to pay "child support" if he has the kids full time (although he did offer to let her give him the kids for a couple of months and let her continue to receive the support). She seems caught between being a "good mother" (by continuing to have the children in her home), and being a "bad mother" (by giving up the kids). My brother has a girlfriend (now fiance) that he has lived with for over a year now. She also has two little girls (ages 1.5 and 3), and helps with his kids besides. Since she is somewhat controlling (about such things as diet and behavior) the three boys didn't "cotton" to her at first. At first, they hoped their parents would come together, and they are whip-sawed by a mother who can be "loving" one moment, and a raging "schizo" the next. I am amazed at how they have managed to deal with trips in the middle of the night to a place of safety when their mother explodes in an angry confrontation with her boyfriend.
Mom2, there is a certain amount of flexibility. The kids come to my brothers house around 8 AM (it is summer), and he takes them back about 7:30-8:30 PM. During the school year she takes them to school, and he brings them back home about 3:00 PM. He then has them until 8:00-8:30 PM, makes sure they do their homework, and gets them home. They usually go to their room (hopefully, to be quiet) since she has always held that the time between 8:00 and 11:00 PM is the "romantic" time to snuggle with whoever is her lover at the moment. The weekends are her cross. She has them every other weekend, and the weekend my brother has them my mom often takes them (unless she is sick which happens more often when you're over 80). Those weekends are free for my brother and his girlfriend to be romantic (since her children are with their biological father on those weekends unless she worries about his temper with her children). I am experiencing the "new American family" first-hand.
Hi oldsendbrdy -
I'm sorry that your extended family is going through this. I think that more and more there are kids who are growing up in these circumstances.
I used to work at a youth counseling agency in downtown Toledo called Connecting Point. They have a sliding fee scale for self-payers and accept a variety of insurances including medicaid. Sometimes if there is nothing that can be done to change a situation it is best to kind of approach the kids with the approach of ... "We can't change this situation. But maybe we can do things to help support you while you are in this situation."
I do feel for the kids.
Here is the link to the agency . . .
What has my brother wondering is how could someone have been cooking 5-6 feet from this altercation, and not gotten involved before a knife was brought into play?
It's easy. The knife in question isn't a six inch switch, it's a butter knife and belongs with standard table service. The knife is already in the attacker's hand. The youngest just decided he'd had enough crap for the day and reacted accordingly. See?
He mentioned this to Children's Services (who is now in the process of closing out the case from the end of April), and the case worker stated that since there was no "imminent (or eminent) danger" there was no reason to remove his children from the environment.
It's imminent danger, not eminent. Go look it up if you don't believe me.
This whole thing sounds like the primate house at the zoo. You could probably write this situation up and sell it.
Figuring that your brother is a reasonable person and really does want to give the kids a better home, well, good luck. I suppose he might try creating a better image for himself. Get married, join a church, find a safe hobby or two, coach little league. After a year of that he'll have a better history than the ex, who is certain to self-medicate and end up with assault charges or something. At that point drug testing might be appropriate.
I went back and read your post again.
My brother let him come to visit his home (after sending him packing after he became violent), and he got angry with the father of his girlfriend, and went toward his girlfriend's house with a knife.
You know, I'd have beaten the living crap out of this would be tough boy the very first time he even looked at my 13 year old daughter the wrong way. If he came at me with a knife, I'd pull a gun.
This one needs some very serious attention from a class A head shrinker, followed up by a structured, consistent environment far away from any distractions.
Madjack, I do see your point about the butter knife being available. My brother believes that the mother should have been paying more attention to the argument, but I think many parents tune those out.
The boy in question has a paternal grandmother who feels that my brother should never have involved himself in the life of her grandson. Her own son denied his paternity (which she feels is something most males would do). After what has happened over the years I do wish my brother hadn't involved himself with this girl (and, later, woman). When she found herself pregnant they were in a relationship, and they "hoped" it was his child. He has been involved since before the birth of the child. When the girl decided to determine the paternity, and found that it was her former boyfriend, and chose to get child support (although the father says he wanted to be involved in his child's life). When he used to take him as a little boy he wanted him to be "tough". He used to wrestle hard with the kid to make him tough. The kid often didn't want to be with his biological father because of this. My brother (because he is a "stepfather") had no real legal grounds for the relationship. The father was supposed to provide medical insurance for his son, but often didn't bother. The biological father has fought child support, and tried to get it lowered a few times. So even though my brother was there most days in the role of father he is held responsible by the grandmother for all her grandson's problems while her son "wanted" to be a father, but couldn't. My reply to that is that I wish that my brother hadn't gotten involved with his former wife. If she had married the boy's biological father they would probably have been divorced in a few years, and we would never have been involved in this fiasco.