Agree to these rules?

sparklepop

New member
Hello everyone!!!

I used to post here regularly, and it's been quite a while!! I'm hoping that you are all doing fantastically well, both new and old members! ;)

Just a brief bit of background, and then an update and question! <3

I was in a poly V for six years. It was long-distance - me in the UK, her in the US. Highly toxic. It finally ended in mid-January. I'll call my ex "former partner" (FP).

The issue I'm having is my stepchild (Baby). Without legal rights to her, I'm basically at the whim and preference of FP. My wish is to do the absolute best thing I can do for Baby.

I was told I could remain in Baby's life and have weekly video calls with her until I could afford to fly out to visit. This has been messy, and after some recent rage episodes, FP is now pulling the "MY rules / MY child / MY way or the highway" card that I knew all along would be coming.

Every interaction with her leaves me feeling disgusted, shocked, abused, and just ughh... I don't want this toxicity in my orbit any more.

In short, I now have to agree to a set of rules, otherwise I can no longer be in Baby's life. And I have to sit and reassure FP and prove myself to her, while she puts me on trial. I have expressed to her that I don't appreciate any of this. Her response was, "You don't GET to have a voice in this. I get to make the decisions, and I'm giving you a privilege, not a right. People get put on trial when they are divorcing, so go and tell someone who cares."

Really, truly, just delightful.

Anyway, one of the rules is that I can't introduce her to my new partner (Moon). Potentially any future partner, for that matter. Reason being that FP finds me to have "poor decision-making", and she labels Moon as toxic due to some issues from last year, when Moon and I first got involved.

Moon is not toxic. She's a truly beautiful, kind, loving person. And I have numerous issues with agreeing to this rule. Logistically (I would be relying on Moon to drive me the 4 hours to visit Baby), emotionally (I would feel like I was dishonouring Moon), and psychologically (I would feel like I am submitting to FP, which triggers abuse feelings).

Overall, I feel like I have to choose between abandoning my child and abandoning myself by putting up with a lifetime of toxic interactions that will never end.

But because I'm in it, and not objective, I'm worried that my perception is clouded. My concern is Baby, so objective opinions would be immensely helpful.

Any advice you could give?
 

Lea

New member
I think I'm a little confused at where everyone is?

I was in a poly V for six years. It was long-distance - me in the UK, her in the US. Highly toxic. It finally ended in mid-January. I'll call my ex "former partner" (FP).

I read this as FP is in the US with Baby and you are in the UK.

(I would be relying on Moon to drive me the 4 hours to visit Baby),

But not?


Regardless --
Technically, you don't have any legal rights to a step-child, so you are at the whims and decisions of the biological mother. While this may be frustrating and upsetting, until Baby is old enough to make her own decisions and choices, that's the way the law works.

Which means if FP doesn't want Baby to meet Moon, that is completely in her legal right. Not knowing anyone personally, but simply as a mother of my children, I retain the right to decide who they can and cannot meet. My reasons don't have to be logical. They don't have to 'make sense'. And other people must abide by them.

If you wish to be a presence in Baby's life, then focus on YOU being a presence in Baby's life. Meeting or not meeting Moon, while it may seem important to you because she's your partner, shouldn't truly impact the relationship you have with Baby. Even if Moon must drive you four hours to see her, you can spend the time growing your relationship with Baby one-on-one. You are an individual and not tied to Moon all the time.

You are not 'submitting' to FP. You are respecting her choices as a mother to decide what is best for her child. And while you may not agree, again, that's FP's right as a mother.

FP sounds toxic and nasty the way she's speaking to you. Yes you have to put up with that if you want to have a relationship with Baby. Sometimes we have no choice.

My sister's ex married an extremely toxic and IMO emotionally abusive woman. If we all had our druthers, my nephew would NEVER go to stay with them. And she put my sister through two years of hell until my sister finally broke free of that cycle and realized, she didn't have to take the abuse. That toxic presence is still in her life, but she manages it differently.

Now in your case, since you aren't the biological mother, you are in less of a position than my sister. But you can handle it the same. Let the toxic comments and words roll off your back and focus on your goal. You would like to spend quality time with Baby. You understand and accept the 'rules' around that time. You accept them as meant for the good of the child, not because of you. And approach the situation from the standpoint of having a relationship with the child means you must keep a professional relationship with the mother. Much like any business relationship, she's set out a contract, you're choosing to follow it. If the contract is not something you can follow, then the relationship ends.

I know that seems powerless and frustrating. But if the goal is to have a relationship with Baby, then focus on that goal, and not on what you see as a 'power play' by the Mom.

I think that's your best bet. Because in this situation, the mother does have the rights to make the choices she's making.
 

Norwegianpoly

New member
It sounds like a very recent breakup. Feelings will be expected to be raw.

Regardless of anyone being toxic, it sounds like a good idea to leave any new partner out of you keeping in touch with your step-child.

A practical solution could be that your new GF drives you, while not actually seeing the baby. Or your could rely on different transportation.

I am sure it feels humbling to for your ex to be "in charge", but perhaps you could shift perspective. In the big picture, the goal is to see the child and so any adjustments would be for that reason. Once you keep the relationship with the child going, you have more leverage to try to get things done in ways you prefer.
 

anamikanon

New member
I don't have any legal knowhow on this, but seems to me that Baby should be first consideration in the whole thing. Conflict between adults is very distressing for children. If said child is the focus of a tug-of-war?

In my view, you should do whatever it takes to keep your ex least nasty about the whole thing. It isn't surrendering to her so much as "absolute best thing" you can do for Baby. You have said you want to do that. If this means leaving Moon or any other potential partners out of it, so be it. If the discord between you and FP is high, work on resolving it to some understanding that both of you will respect before meeting Baby. You should at least be able to be polite with each other in front of Baby. Even if it means waiting a bit to meet her.
 

sparklepop

New member
I think I'm a little confused at where everyone is?

I read this as FP is in the US with Baby and you are in the UK.

You've got it - I'm in the UK and FP is in the US with Baby. Moon is also in the US (I met her 1.5 years ago when I was over there visiting).

Thank you for your words on this, your understanding, and your advice!
 

sparklepop

New member
It sounds like a very recent breakup. Feelings will be expected to be raw.

A practical solution could be that your new GF drives you, while not actually seeing the baby. Or your could rely on different transportation.

Once you keep the relationship with the child going, you have more leverage to try to get things done in ways you prefer.

Thanks, NP. Yeah, fairly recent - mid-January, so about 4.5 months.

Thank you for your understanding and advice on this! I really appreciate it.

I think one of my fears is that with the way NP is, she will find fault and use it against me no matter what. It doesn't matter what I do. Any time we have conflict, or any time FP has an issue with me, it goes back to her threatening to cut contact between Baby and I. I'm scared of how this will impact Baby. To be told I will still be in her life then for this to change again. I don't know if it would be easier on Baby to cut this off now given that I haven't seen her in person since last November and she tends to become accustomed to me not being there. You know?

Maybe I'm just overthinking it and acting in too much fear.
 

sparklepop

New member
... seems to me that Baby should be first consideration in the whole thing. Conflict between adults is very distressing for children. If said child is the focus of a tug-of-war?

Definitely. I definitely don't want Baby to be caught in the middle of a tug of war. I don't want her to be around any conflict or toxicity, or to be pulled from pillar to post.

In my view, you should do whatever it takes to keep your ex least nasty about the whole thing. It isn't surrendering to her so much as "absolute best thing" you can do for Baby. You have said you want to do that. If this means leaving Moon or any other potential partners out of it, so be it.

Ok, thanks very much for this! I want to do what is best for Baby, 100%. This is such a new and fresh situation for me and I don't feel equipped to deal with it, as all of my previous breakups have been smooth and respectful and we've remained on great terms. So this has thrown me for a loop, and I've also never had a breakup with a child involved. So outside opinions really help a ton. Thank you!
 

JK40

New member
I will never understand why some people try and use thier kids in these tug of war games, like it seems FP is with you.

Yes you have little choice but go along with her rules, and that is difficult. Why can parents in situations like this not see it is the childs best interest to still habe contact and to see both estranged parents / step parents getting along amicably?

My ex was awfull using my son in his twisted games, playing him off me, telling my son i was an unfit mother for being in a relationship with a woman and all sorts. Luckily for me my son hit 12, went to school one day and said tp his counsellor i dont want to live with my dad anymore. ( sons reasons being unfair treatment..upheld by social and court, beating, emotional abuse and disrespecting his mother [me] )
Son came to live with me and dad vanished and nobody knows where he is.... if he could only get past this and realise his son is the important issue (not that a person is an issue) here.

So i really feel for you... on the other hand my wife and I are now divorcing. My son still has regular contact, as much as he wants and still calls ger mum. Different as he is older but my point is you be the better person, go along with her mind f**k games and baby WILL see this as she grows up...IF you are "allowed " to see her still.

A difficult situation and I send you my well wishes that your ex can eventually stop the games.

One thibg to note...if that was me I would be tenpted to retaliate with yeah i know i make toxic choices...you were one of them! However i wouldnt actually voice that in reality as it would worsen the situation.
 

anamikanon

New member
My ex was awfull using my son in his twisted games, playing him off me, telling my son i was an unfit mother....

My ex tried that once with my son (who fortunately lacks the ability to understand something this complex and simply loves me). I told him point blank if he pulls that stunt again, I'll do everything in my range of possibilities to make it impossible to see him again. From legal options to simply moving somewhere out of his budget to travel to.

He didn't like it. Made lots of sarcastic comments. I ignored. He didn't visit for 3-4 months. When he did, he was polite. Thank you very much. Kid doesn't deserve the insecurity of thinking the ONE PERSON in the world he can count on is not reliable.
 

JK40

New member
Through all dads games I just tried to be there for my son, listen to him and never bad mouth his father in front of or within ear shot of him. I tried to say dad loves you etc.

But as I say dad cut all contact by his own choice and later moved and nobody knows where he is now. Which is all adding further damage to our sons perception of dad.

If I had done what dad did..well i would have been dragged thriugh every court in the land I am sure. Dad even tried saying to the judge in court I am an unfit mother to exoose my son to homosexual relationships! Shame on dad as son has jsut come out himself aged 17!
 

vinsanity0

Active member
For me this is a no-brainer. Toxic ex=move on.

If you insist on remaining in the life of a child that is not yours, then you will have to put up with these rules. But ask yourself if it is really healthy to put a child into this tug of war. Also, prepare yourself for the eventuality that she will get to a point where she doesn't want you in their life anymore.

The reality is this is not your child. It takes two to participate in a tug of war. Think about if any personal satisfaction you may derive from this is worth what the child would be put through.
 

WhatHappened

Active member
I will never understand why some people try and use thier kids in these tug of war games, like it seems FP is with you.

Yes you have little choice but go along with her rules, and that is difficult. Why can parents in situations like this not see it is the childs best interest to still habe contact and to see both estranged parents / step parents getting along amicably?

... you be the better person, go along with her mind f**k games...

...I send you my well wishes that your ex can eventually stop the games.

This is the problem with forums. We give advice based on one side of the story, usually with very few actual facts, and on the assumption that the poster is 1) fully honest and 2) fully aware of self, others, the complete situation. For instance...

Anyway, one of the rules is that I can't introduce her to my new partner (Moon). Potentially any future partner, for that matter. Reason being that FP finds me to have "poor decision-making", and she labels Moon as toxic due to some issues from last year, when Moon and I first got involved.

It seems there were issues regarding Moon. And it seems it's a relatively new relationship. It doesn't take long reading on relationship forums to realize that it's very common for someone in a new relationship to not see the problem with their new partner, which are obvious to others.

And sparklepop is even now talking about how toxic FP is--who she was with for 6 years. Did the toxicity just start in the last year? Or was it there and she failed to see it all that time? Or are there joint problems or more problems that really stem from sparklepop and we're being told the problem is a toxic FP?

This is NOT a criticism of sparklepop or an accusation--I'm only saying we get only a small piece of the whole story on a forum. Therefore, it's unfair and unwise to accuse FP of 'playing games' and using her child as a pawn because we really don't know that.

And in fact, if sparklepop failed to see the supposed toxicity of FP for 6 years, then FP may have a point that she's failing to see something in Moon in the first few months with her.

The issue I'm having is my stepchild (Baby). Without legal rights to her, I'm basically at the whim and preference of FP. My wish is to do the absolute best thing I can do for Baby.

... This has been messy, and after some recent rage episodes, FP is now pulling the "MY rules / MY child / MY way or the highway" card that I knew all along would be coming.


Overall, I feel like I have to choose between abandoning my child and abandoning myself by putting up with a lifetime of toxic interactions that will never end.

How old is Baby? Did you ever actually live with her? Is she the biological child of FP and FP's husband? Did you ever adopt her legally?

Whose rage are we talking about and what brought the rage on?

I personally think 'no introducing kids to new partners' has some wisdom to it. Especially in poly where there can be a revolving door of people in and out of the parents' lives, and each of those people having their own revolving doors--and all of them now feel entitled to access to one person's child, and to introduce all their new partners to that child?

Kids get attached. And then people disappear. It does cause attachment disorders later in life. And FP is her mother and is entitled to decide what she feels is best for her child.
 

sparklepop

New member
Why can parents in situations like this not see it is the childs best interest to still habe contact and to see both estranged parents / step parents getting along amicably?

Right? That's my perspective, also. I feel like any conflict between FP and I should be between FP and I, and separate from the relationship between Baby and I.

A difficult situation and I send you my well wishes that your ex can eventually stop the games.

Thank you!

One thibg to note...if that was me I would be tenpted to retaliate with yeah i know i make toxic choices...you were one of them!
Ha... Made me laugh!
 

sparklepop

New member
For me this is a no-brainer. Toxic ex=move on.

If you insist on remaining in the life of a child that is not yours, then you will have to put up with these rules. But ask yourself if it is really healthy to put a child into this tug of war. Also, prepare yourself for the eventuality that she will get to a point where she doesn't want you in their life anymore.

The reality is this is not your child. It takes two to participate in a tug of war. Think about if any personal satisfaction you may derive from this is worth what the child would be put through.

This has been the advice of those close to me too - to let go and walk away. So it's interesting and helpful to see this perspective being shared by you also. These are definitely the kinds of things I'm thinking about and stuck on.

It's not so much about personal satisfaction for me, though. It doesn't make me happier to be in this limbo. It's more that I want to do what is best for Baby's happiness and well-being. I'm terrified of leaving her with abandonment wounds, because I have them from my childhood. I can't bear the thought of her feeling abandoned. You know?

FP asked her therapist for advice on the whole issue when we broke up, and he said that what would be best for Baby in this situation would be to have consistency. For me to still be in regular contact, and in her life. Which is how we originally agreed on weekly video calls and in-person visits when possible. So I just don't know what to do.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hi sparklepop,

I think what you need to do is figure out whether you can stand the rules and treatment FP is imposing on you. If you can stand it, then that's easy, you go ahead and stay in touch with Baby, it's what you want to do I think. On the other hand if you can't stand it, then you have some hard decisions to make. And you may also want to consider any long-term damage agreeing to her rules might do to you.

That's a harsh situation to be in ... I don't envy you.

Sincerely,
Kevin T.
 

MeeraReed

Active member
Hi sparklepop!

I am so glad to see you posting again. I remember your story quite well. And I must say, I am profoundly glad to hear that your relationship with FP is over. I am sure that the ending was painful for you, since you really loved her and really jumped through hoops to make things work with her, and I am sorry for that pain.

But seriously. In your previous posts you came across as kind, thoughtful, mature, excellent at communications, and generally an awesome all-around person. FP came across as...none of those things. Immature, selfish, etc. I could tell you liked her energy and perhaps her volatility (emotional opposites attract, it is true), and certainly you tried as hard as you could with her. But...you are too awesome to deal with her toxicity forever.

My advice would be to move on with your life without her, as much as possible.

Your love for Baby must make this very painful indeed. As others have said, I don't think there is anything you can do to gain access to a child who is not yours. I am so sorry.

May I ask, how old is Baby? I don't remember much about Baby from your previous posts.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
If you are not willing to walk away from Baby? Then don't. Figure out how to reduce your exposure to Mom drama instead.

I don't know if it would be easier on Baby to cut this off now given that I haven't seen her in person since last November and she tends to become accustomed to me not being there. You know?

How old is Baby? Old enough to have a reliable opinion one way or the other?

Or super young?

Because the reality is... while you EMOTIONALLY might feel like Baby is your step child, legally Baby is not. So if you choose to stay in this child's life, you ARE at the mercy of what the mother will allow while the child is still her dependent. You might not like it, but there it is.

That doesn't mean you have to put up with drama or abuse from the mother. And Baby will not be a dependent forever.

I was told I could remain in Baby's life and have weekly video calls with her until I could afford to fly out to visit.

Ok. Fair enough.

I now have to agree to a set of rules, otherwise I can no longer be in Baby's life.

What are the rules? So far I'm only hearing "You cannot introduce new romantic partners to Baby at this time."

If Baby is super young, and/or gets attached easily? I could understand that parent POV. Don't want a bunch of new people coming in and out of the child's life disrupting child's routines or emotional stability. Especially if child is adjusting to you guys breaking up recently. Why add more emotional load on the child?

That rule doesn't sound awful to deal with.

I have to sit and reassure FP and prove myself to her, while she puts me on trial.

Why do you have to do this? What does this mean? What does FP do to "put you on trial?" What's she asking you questions about? How can she sit in judgement of you if you simply choose not to share personal details that she could be critical about?

If she wants to know nosy things, you could say "This has nothing to do with visiting Baby on video call this week. I'm not willing to share those details at this time."

Could give it 3 strikes. If you ask for access that week 3x and she's still giving you run around trying to engage you in drama conversation? YOU could choose to bow out. Maybe you only give it 1 or 2 strikes and not even 3 strikes. You decide. But certainly not more than 3x. You don't want to get sucked in.

You could cut to the chase and say "I see that you are not willing for me to video chat this week. Thank you for your time. I will check in for next week's video chat." Then disconnect.

You don't have to sit there doing drama talk. You have the power to disconnect. You basically know that if she's trying to suck you into drama, she's not likely to give you access that week anyway. So the question is really "Do I feel like doing Mom drama this week? Or just skip it?" I'd say skip it!

If FP gets off on creating drama? Don't provide it. Be polite, boring, and flat. Just play the broken record. It's going to be only 1 of 2 possible songs:

  • You show up. 3x trying to start drama? Consequence = You say "I see that you are not willing for me to video chat this week. Thank you for your time. I will check in for next week's video chat on ___." Then you disconnect. Polite, plain, and boring.

  • You show up. She allows video chat. Consequence: You say "Thanks for your willingness for me to video chat. I REALLY, REALLY appreciate it. (do chat with Baby) Thanks again, Mom, for your willingness. You are sooo great. I will check in for next week's video chat on ____." Then you disconnect. Polite and mostly plain.

You can keep this WAY simpler on you without engaging in drama stuff from the mom.

If she's after ego strokes? Gush a tiny bit on the "access script" so she gets some. Might feel a bit annoying to do, but better than doing drama talk. And if she's after ego strokes she's more inclined to go down that path next time to get some more of them. Does it kill you to be a little bit "extra nice" to the mother of your child rather than "basic polite?" No.

If she's after ego strokes the other way? From feeling "powerful" that she can withhold access and has you begging/engaged in some long drama conversation? Take the power away and remove the ego strokes. Cut it down to 3 strikes and then YOU disconnect. No ego strokes to be had on that path any more. She cannot feel good "lording it over you" if you simply check out after 3x trying to set up a video chat. She no longer can suck you in and then suck you dry.

If what you want to provide Baby is another adult figure in Baby's life who is reliable? BE reliable. Show up for the weekly video chat visitation. Do your side of the video chat job.

If Baby asks why you haven't been showing up? Be honest. Tell her you do show up every week. Sometimes Mom lets you through, sometimes Mom does not. But you are there every week and if Baby wants to draw you pictures or write you letters Baby can. Keep your focus on Baby, not the mom.

Logistically (I would be relying on Moon to drive me the 4 hours to visit Baby), emotionally (I would feel like I was dishonouring Moon), and psychologically (I would feel like I am submitting to FP, which triggers abuse feelings).

Logistically -- either ask Moon for the favor or make other transportation arrangements when you make the trip. Like postpone the trip to save up longer if you need money to rent a car or whatever.

Emotionally -- tell Moon that FP is being how she is about you introducing your new partner to Baby at this time. You are sorry about that. But this is how it is right now and you hope Moon doesn't take it like you are dishonoring her or something. If it were up to you alone you would introduce Baby now. Don't sell Moon short. Moon has eyes with which to see.

Psychologically -- don't submit. Be FIRM. Create and then obey your personal boundaries.

If your personal boundary is "I don't tell FP personal details so she has fuel to be judge-y with" then obey it and be ok telling FP "No, thank you. I'm not sharing that info. This does not relate to video chats" if she's asking nosy things that do not relate to Baby video chats.

Or if she starts raining verbal abuse say "I see you are upset. Perhaps this is not a good time. I will talk to you next week for Baby's video chat. I hope you feel better then." Because you have created a personal boundary that YOU obey of "I do not allow people to talk crap to me. When people talk crap, I just disconnect."

Whatever her load of crap? You do not exist to be her emotional punching bag so she can feel better. You do not do visitation video chats for the Mom. You do it for BABY. She can go hire a counselor to sort out her crap. You are not her emotional punching bag and you are not her therapist.

Be boring, be flat, and play the broken record. Show up every week on time. Pick which one of the songs its going to be. There's only 1 of 2 possible songs to play.

  • She lets you through? Fine. You know what to do. You have a script.
  • She doesn't? Fine. You know what to do. You have a script.

YOU know you are doing what you can for Baby in your position just by showing up for video chat every week. You are doing your part of the video chat job. If mom is flaking out on her side of the video chat job because she's got some weird ax to grind? Fine. Let her flake out. And she can grind her ax elsewhere without you being part of the conversation.

You do not have to choose to participate in drama conversation with the Mom. You have created that personal boundary for yourself. And you choose to obey it.

You simply disconnect and show up next week for Baby's video chat.

Baby is not blind. As Baby grows, Baby will be able to see what's what. Don't sell Baby short. Baby has eyes with which to see.

And what is Mom going to do in the meanwhile?

  • Complain that you are polite to her, the mom, when you show up for visitation?
  • Complain that you are "boring?"
  • Complain that you are reliable/devoted / nice to her kid?
  • Complain that you do not allow her to use you as emotional punching bag?
  • Complain that you don't want to be her free therapist?

That just makes her look foolish. But if she really wants to go there? You have answers for those too.

  • Complain that you are polite to her, the mom, when you show up for visitation? "Do you not want me to be polite to you?"
  • Complain that you are "boring?" "I'm sorry I'm boring."
  • Complain that you are reliable/devoted / nice to her kid? "Yes. I am reliable/devoted / nice to Baby."
  • Complain that you do not allow her to use you as emotional punching bag? "Yes. I am not willing to be your emotional punching bag."
  • Complain that you don't want to be her free therapist? "Yes. I am not willing to be your free therapist."

There's simply no argument to be had if you don't get sucked into having arguments.

Overall, I feel like I have to choose between abandoning my child and abandoning myself by putting up with a lifetime of toxic interactions that will never end.

Or you choose to bide your time and be "polite and boring" in the meanwhile.

It will end when Baby is 18-21 yrs old and no longer a dependent. Maybe sooner -- when Baby is able to set up video chat on their own. Then Baby can see you without relying on Mom to set it up for Baby to allow access. At that point is no longer up to Mom whether or not you have continued access to Baby. It is up to BABY if you have continued access to Baby.

Galagirl
 
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