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WWYD - Kids in a bad situation


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So, DD10yr was talking to me today about some of her dad's friends and family. She had once sent me a text from her uncle's house saying that there was poop everywhere in the house. She tends to be a bit dramatic and over the top, so I kind of brushed it off and told her to try to go outside or somewhere else.

 

Fast forward to today. She was once again, talking about the same uncle's house. I asked her a few more probing questions. This is the story I got:

 

Apparently, they have 2 dogs (a big one and a small one) and the dogs (espcially the little one) are not let out to "do their business". They also have a rabbit who runs free throughout the house a lot of the time. It also uses the floor as a "litter box". DD says the house smells awful and that there is poop all over the floor.

 

Not only am I throughly disgusted that my ex would take my daughter there - I don't care if it is his brother, but these people have 3 kids (7yr, 3yr, and 1yr - maybe less than 1yr, DD isn't sure). DD says the baby's room has dog poop in every corner, and that the 7yr old's room is the worst (the rabbit lives in his room) other than the "dog's room". The "dog's room" is apparently a room that they have dedicated to the dogs and where both dogs poop. The littler dog is still a puppy, but DD says they never let her out and when she goes on the floor nobody cleans it up.

 

DD also said that the 3yr old sleeps on the couch and frequently wets the "bed". When DD's step mom commented on a stain on the couch, the mom said "oh, yeah, I just forgot to clean it up".

 

So......keeping in mind that DD has a history of being a little dramatic, and that I've seen NONE of this first hand, WWYD? DD's step mom is a nurse, and therefore a mandatory reporter (right?). My ex would flip if I brought this up to him.....and if I were to report them, he would immediately know it was me (because I had talked to him about it previously). He comes from the school of "you don't snitch on your friends and family". DD has also asked me not to tell her dad about it, because "I don't really think I'm supposed to tell you".

 

Help please! I'm just sick thinking about those kids in that environment.

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I would report this. It's quantifiable neglect, legally speaking. No child should have to live like that.

 

As for the mandatory reporter, all too often they don't report. Trust me on this. It's far more common not to report.

 

For criminal neglect or abuse, I'd report regardless of the people whom I would anger. (And yes, I have done so in the past, for good cause, and yes, I have suffered for that choice, so I know of what I speak.)

 

Finally, one fear so many people have when reporting is that the kids will automatically be pulled from the home. Please believe that there is nothing automatic about it, and that the vast majority of investigated cases are either deemed unfounded, or interventions occur while keeping the family intact. There is very specific protocol for the circumstances under which a child will actually be removed, and that protocol is based on quantifiable risk of harm.

 

I think you should report it. Children should not have to live in feces.

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He comes from the school of "you don't snitch on your friends and family".

 

Those are exactly the people you DO snitch on because they're the ones you know about. It's not about the adults and who's going to be mad; it's about the kids who have no voice.

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Report it! That's not healthy and goes way beyond just a home in which there is clutter or irregular house cleaning. It's a germ factory and neglectful.

 

If the ex gets mad, just remind him that exposing DD to that environment is a poor judgment on his part and you'll report him if he continues to do so....I'd get pretty "in your face" about his visitation/parenting time and making good choices. UGH!

 

((hugs)) This stuff is just rotten to be forced to deal with.

 

Faith

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Honestly, it's gross, it's disgusting, but I don't get the impression that it's a "call CPS" level of danger. People are nasty. Sad, but true. Houses with several indoor dogs are going to be smelly even if the 'stray' poop is picked up promptly. I have been in houses that smelled awful to me, and the dogs didn't poop inside. You have to work pretty hard to have indoor pets and a fresh smelling house, and these people have both a baby and a poop room, soooooo . . .

 

Given that you KNOW your dd tends toward drama, I'd want to see it myself before reporting it. And it would have to be quite bad before I'd report someone for dog poop and baby pee in the house.

 

And I'd have to say that whether or not CPS has reasonable procedures in place, and follows them, varies widely depending on where you live. When I lived in Florida, CPS was feared by everyone; there were constant stories in the paper about unreasonable 'search and seizures.'

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1) in some states there is a state hot line number you can call to report abuse. I'd look on the internet and see if you can find one.

 

2) call the social services office in the city they live in and tell whoever answers that you want to make an annonymous report of suspected child abuse. They'll get you to the right people. Just remember you never have to give out your name. They may or may not take action since the information is coming from a minor. Sometimes they will take it more seriously if you give them your name etc but that can take a lot of courage. Social Services are not supposed to give out the name of the person making the report but as you know sometimes they can figure it out.

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You may be able to call the Animal Welfare for the town they live in and askfor an investigation of animal mistreatment. My neighbor is an animal hoarder and occassionally someone will call animal control. They will come for a visit inspecting the cleanliness of the house.

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You can also call the non-emergency police line and ask for a welfare check at the house. When I found a 2 and 4 year old wandering our neighborhood and returned them to the 8 yo who was supposed to be responsible for them, that's what CPS told me to do. Then the cops can make the judgement whether calling CPS is appropriate.

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Yup. If it is as bad as you fear than animal services would contact CPS.

 

You may be able to call the Animal Welfare for the town they live in and askfor an investigation of animal mistreatment. My neighbor is an animal hoarder and occassionally someone will call animal control. They will come for a visit inspecting the cleanliness of the house.
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Can you talk to the stepmom? I mean, sounds like your ex doesn't want to talk with you about it, but as a nurse, perhaps the stepmom could give you her opinion of what's going on over there.

 

I guess this is strangely close to home for me. I mean, I don't have a 'dog poop everywhere' relative; but I'm a stepmom, and I'm going into nursing. And if my stepkid's mom thought we were taking the kids somewhere that dirty, and it was my husband's family we're talking about, then she'd very likely ask me about it.

 

But, we get along fairly well. I realize that's not always the situation. But if you have at least a neutral relationship with the stepmom, I'd talk to her about it.

 

Just my suggestion.

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I personally wouldn't report something that I have only heard about from another source especially if that source has a history of being dramatic. I would not report heresay but only facts that I have witnessed.

 

In this particular situation, I would encourage dd to speak with either her father or step mother about the situation and allow them the opportunity to deal with it in the manner that they deemed best. If you are concerned enough then figure out a way to get invited into the house so you can be a true witness.

 

I have a child in the same sort of situation (divorced parents) who had the tendency to be dramatic and the "reports" went in both directions.

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So......keeping in mind that DD has a history of being a little dramatic, and that I've seen NONE of this first hand, WWYD? DD's step mom is a nurse, and therefore a mandatory reporter (right?). My ex would flip if I brought this up to him.....and if I were to report them, he would immediately know it was me (because I had talked to him about it previously). He comes from the school of "you don't snitch on your friends and family". DD has also asked me not to tell her dad about it, because "I don't really think I'm supposed to tell you".

 

Help please! I'm just sick thinking about those kids in that environment.

 

I don't think you should call CPS on someone when you haven't seen conditions with your own eyes and are relying on a dramatic 10 yo's report about the situation. If you can talk to your ex or ex's wife about it without causing a huge rift, I'd do that for your own peace of mind.

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I don't think you should call CPS on someone when you haven't seen conditions with your own eyes and are relying on a dramatic 10 yo's report about the situation.

 

:iagree:

 

my dd13 is VERY prone to dramatic "WORST DAY EVER" statements ;)

 

you have no way of knowing what the conditions really are - you could wreck these folks' lives over something that your daughter (even unintentionally) blew out of proportion.

 

i think you need to see for yourself or at least have another adult check it out...see what's what.

 

 

[i'm not saying that kids should be ignored when they tell us about potentially dangerous situations - before anyone runs off that way. "mom, i saw so-and-so's dad slap her across the face when he was drinking" is a world away from "mom their house is stinky because the dog pooped on the floor".]

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I'm wondering if the stepmom even visits the ex's brother. She may have thought his house was disgusting before they married and doesn't go. So, at this time she may not know that it's gotten worse. Or maybe she never liked the brother and has never been at all. So, I think her being a mandatory reporter may be out. Additionally, I think talking to the stepmom may be a nonstarter.

 

I think the animal shelter is a good route to start.

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"mom, i saw so-and-so's dad slap her across the face when he was drinking" is a world away from "mom their house is stinky because the dog pooped on the floor".

 

I just want to clarify that I asked her much more detailed questions. I asked her to describe what she saw, if the answer was vague, I asked for specifics. She said on the upper floor (where the bedrooms are) there are at least 10 piles of dog poop, most of which are in the baby's room. She said that the floor in the 7yr old's room is 98% covered in rabbit pee/poop/food, because that's where the rabbit lives. The rest is only 25% covered with it.

 

She also told me that her dad and step mom do not know about most of this because they never go up where the bedrooms are. They do know about the "dog room" and "think it's disgusting". I encouraged her to speak up to her dad. She's scared to. She's afraid she will get in trouble. She said her dad will probably say "well, if that's the way they choose to live, that's their choice", which totally sounds like something he would say.

 

Anyway....I told her it might be best to just mention it and feel her dad out. If she senses he's feeling defensive to just let it go....and that I might take over from there.

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Honestly, it's gross, it's disgusting, but I don't get the impression that it's a "call CPS" level of danger. People are nasty. Sad, but true. Houses with several indoor dogs are going to be smelly even if the 'stray' poop is picked up promptly. I have been in houses that smelled awful to me, and the dogs didn't poop inside. You have to work pretty hard to have indoor pets and a fresh smelling house, and these people have both a baby and a poop room, soooooo . . .

 

Given that you KNOW your dd tends toward drama, I'd want to see it myself before reporting it. And it would have to be quite bad before I'd report someone for dog poop and baby pee in the house.

 

And I'd have to say that whether or not CPS has reasonable procedures in place, and follows them, varies widely depending on where you live. When I lived in Florida, CPS was feared by everyone; there were constant stories in the paper about unreasonable 'search and seizures.'

The thing is , 10 year old children can be very observant and they notice a lot. They can also be very nosy so they may even be picking up on details that may be missed by just a casual visit by an adult.

Perhaps the OP could consider the reputation of CPS in her area, as you've suggested. But really, with very young children in that house, this could be a health hazard. It's pretty well known that EVERYTHING goes into the mouth of some young children.

The OP does not need to let anyone know that she is the one who made the report. If anyone asks just refuse to talk about it. Just because someone may think the OP made the report,if she does, does not mean they will know or should be told.

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It's really a mess, isn't it.

I think you should tell the ex that you're going to report it if it continues.

And I think you should report it the next day.

 

The details that she describes are pretty serious.

This is a significant, credible threat to the health and safety of the children who live there. Your DD can leave it behind pretty easily, but those other children are really in jeopardy.

 

If your warning to the ex makes them clean up, so that when CSP visits everything is OK, that is just great. If your warning does not have any effect, CPS will step in, and in that case it's entirely appropriate for them to do so.

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I don't think it's right to call CPS when you haven't witnessed the situation yourself. Your ex-husband is apparently responsible enough to have partial custody of your child and he brings her over there. I can't imagine a responsible adult would sit around in that kind of filth and subject his child to it as well.

 

*IF* you are truly concerned, I think it warrants a visit in person there yourself to honestly assess the situation before picking up the phone and bringing what could be an unwarranted nightmare into this family's lives.

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For those of you saying NOT to contact CPS based on heresay...what if your daughter told you her friend confided that some guy was molesting her...would you not report it? It isn't fair for these children to live in these conditions. You should take the words of your child seriously with these type of accusations. Yes, she may be dramatic, but if 10% of the pooh is there that she says, that is still too much.

 

If you threaten to report, they may clean it up, but go back to old ways because the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. It's just like hoarders...they can clean up, but they will eventually get back to hoarding and have a house you can't walk through. Also if you threaten to report, you may cause problems for you and your daughter. I would do it in confidence.

 

Every day that you don't report this, is every day those kids have to live in filth. There is a 3-year old...and my almost 3YO and 4.5YO still put things in their mouths...so if their toys have feces and pee on them...

 

Google CPS for the town they live in. CPS is generally county based. There is one CPS for each county. At least that is how it is in Ohio.

 

The least dramatic choice is calling Animal control to check it out. If there is nothing, they will leave...there won't be the consequences of CPS, but if there is something, they will contact CPS and the appropriate steps will be taken.

 

If your daughter feels comfortable talking to the agent at CPS, have her give her own testimony of what she saw. But if she isn't, don't make her. She is obviously concerned enough about her cousins to confide that information to you.

 

Good luck. You are in a difficult situation.

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Anyway....I told her it might be best to just mention it and feel her dad out. If she senses he's feeling defensive to just let it go....and that I might take over from there.

 

I don't think you should have your DD approach your ex about this at all. It puts her in a no-win situation with her dad and could backfire on you.

 

I don't know that I would call CPS, but I've yet to meet a 7y/o who can care for an animal on his/her own. I would probably start with Animal Control and let them take it from there.

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I have read all the responses and I don't feel any more capable of giving an opinion now than when I read the OP. This is very odd for me as I usually am quite opinionated. I am positive that part of my reasoning is based on the stories of a certain close person to me as well as that we had a REALLY bad situation with one dog for a couple months.

 

I do think the choice is problematic, but CPS problematic? And though I think the idea of going through animal control could be a good idea as it's a little easier for them to check and then close the case or get police/CPS help if necessary.....well, I'm not sure I like the message it gives all the children (the OP's dd included) that animal needs are more important that of children.

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I don't think you should have your DD approach your ex about this at all. It puts her in a no-win situation with her dad and could backfire on you.

 

 

 

:iagree::iagree::iagree:

 

Asking your dd to manage this situation like that is a recipe for disaster.

 

I would NOT threaten to call to anyone. This WILL NOT produce lasting change, and it WILL put YOU in a terrible, untenable position.

 

With the further details you have given about this, I again say this is quantifiable neglect and needs to be reported.

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I'd call and talk to someone from Animal Control or the Humane Society before I called CPS. Check and see whether this type of thing is something they would choose to investigate. Get advice from them about which agencies to call.

 

I can see that there is a case for animal neglect, and I can see there is a case for VERY poor hygiene, but CPS level abuse/neglect? I'm just not sure this would be it.

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You don't know the address of where your XH is taking your DD?

 

Is this normal? I don't mean to be snarky but I don't know how this works.

 

Yes, it's normal and expected. I can't imagine co-parents having to provide detailed information about visits. Even when my kids are at their Dad's, he's *parenting* and has complete and total say and control. He doesn't answer to me simpy because I am the custodial parent. I need to know HIS address, but most things beyond that are not my business or control.

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I have a cat with serious litter box issues, so I can relate a little, but this does sound more like animal neglect. I agree with requesting an animal welfare check. I'm not sure how I feel about calling CPS, knowing that your child might be blamed if your ex-DH thinks you had something to do with it.

 

I do know their names and the city in which they live, but that's pretty much it.

If they own their home, it is usually easy to obtain the address via property records, which are often available online. If they don't own the home, hopefully the name and town will be enough, but you also could try searching Zabasearch and other people finder search engines. (And I bet their landlord would thank you for making a report too!)

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My ex and I were never married. He retains visitation because I let him. We have no written documentation of anything. He is actually very irresponsible. I won't go into all the details, because truly, without the entire picture one could easily say that I'm just bitter toward him, etc. He has (in the past) taken DD to a known and convicted (multiple times) drug dealer's house (pot & meth), because it was his cousin. Apparently they had a falling out, so that is no longer an issue. It coincidentally happened at the same time that I found out it was going on. He (for years) allowed DD to go without clothing at his house. She would wear the same thing for 3 days straight - no shower, no brushing teeth, etc. Anyway, you get the idea. I don't trust his level of "responsibility".

 

Telling him I'm going to report it - THAT I won't do. It would create a very terrible, ugly situation for me. My ex was raised in poverty and crime, and in that world you do NOT snitch on anybody for any reason (children's safety included). If I were to do admit to doing that to him, I am certain it would result in retaliation of some kind. Not worth it. If I'm going to report it, I'll just do it. No need to include him.

 

As far as not knowing the address where he takes her. Is it normal? I don't know. He lives an hour away in a very small town. He does all the driving as it was his choice to move there. DH has been to his house once or twice when he went to pick up DD after she called and wanted to come home. His brother just recently moved to the same town and lives a few houses down the street.

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She also told me that her dad and step mom do not know about most of this because they never go up where the bedrooms are. They do know about the "dog room" and "think it's disgusting". I encouraged her to speak up to her dad. She's scared to. She's afraid she will get in trouble. She said her dad will probably say "well, if that's the way they choose to live, that's their choice", which totally sounds like something he would say.

.

 

If she does not feel comfortable talking to Dad perhaps she can talk to the step mom. If the step mom hasn't seen the upstairs perhaps she can get her to agree to go upstairs with your dd.

 

My own dd formed a good ally with her step-mom that proved to be very important during the teen years. Even now she feels far more comfortable addressing a concern with her step-mom than her dad.

 

Best of luck!

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You don't know the address of where your XH is taking your DD?

 

Is this normal? I don't mean to be snarky but I don't know how this works.

 

Certainly it's normal. He's the dad, not a babysitter, and he doesn't have to report in each time he takes his kid somewhere.

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She said on the upper floor (where the bedrooms are) there are at least 10 piles of dog poop, most of which are in the baby's room. She said that the floor in the 7yr old's room is 98% covered in rabbit pee/poop/food, because that's where the rabbit lives. The rest is only 25% covered with it. ... They do know about the "dog room" and "think it's disgusting".

 

From what I am getting from the OP's posts - the family allows their dogs to poop in the house, and they do not clean it up each time, or even each day, even when they have visitors. If their child pees on the couch, they do not clean it up immediately, even when they have visitors. It sounds like the rabbit does not have a cage/hutch, and so it is allowed to poop anywhere, and they do not clean it up each time, or once a day, even when they have visitors.

 

I've known families with sick or elderly animals, or new puppies, who take care of them the best they can; sometimes this results in pee and poop where it doesn't normally belong. However, the families I know clean it up, usually as soon as it happens, or at the very least once a day, *especially* when they have visitors.

 

It sounds like the family in question does *not* have a good plan for dealing with the rabbit's waste, does *not* clean up messes in the living area when they happen, does *not* try to separate their children's living area from places where animals poop, and does *not* even clean up when they are having visitors.

 

I cannot understand how that can be in any way acceptable practice.

That is not a safe environment for the children (or the adults, or the animals).

 

But what about the possibly unreliable child? Well, as a previous poster said, if even part of this is true, then it is unacceptable.

 

The OP has choices. She can explore the situation with her ex, or with his wife, both of whom have seen the situation first-hand and can verify or refute what the dd is reporting. In doing so, she can express concern both for her own child (but this of course could spark conflict), or, more importantly in the big picture and less likely to spark conflict, she can express concern for the kids who live there on a daily basis. She can report the family to animal welfare (because the environment is not appropriate for animals to live there). She can report the family to CPS, because the environment is not safe for children.

 

How this all plays out is for the OP to carefully decide as she works through the choices. But if the dd is accurately reporting the conditions in the home, then it seems clear to me that it rises to the level of unsafe and unsanitary living conditions, which would fall squarely into the abuse/neglect category.

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My ex and I were never married. He retains visitation because I let him. We have no written documentation of anything. He is actually very irresponsible. I won't go into all the details, because truly, without the entire picture one could easily say that I'm just bitter toward him, etc. He has (in the past) taken DD to a known and convicted (multiple times) drug dealer's house (pot & meth), because it was his cousin. Apparently they had a falling out, so that is no longer an issue. It coincidentally happened at the same time that I found out it was going on. He (for years) allowed DD to go without clothing at his house. She would wear the same thing for 3 days straight - no shower, no brushing teeth, etc. Anyway, you get the idea. I don't trust his level of "responsibility".

 

Telling him I'm going to report it - THAT I won't do. It would create a very terrible, ugly situation for me. My ex was raised in poverty and crime, and in that world you do NOT snitch on anybody for any reason (children's safety included). If I were to do admit to doing that to him, I am certain it would result in retaliation of some kind. Not worth it. If I'm going to report it, I'll just do it. No need to include him.

 

Wow. Um. I guess I don't understand why *you* would put your daughter in this environment. I get that a child should know both her parents, but there is no way that I would go along with this situation, especially since it is not legally required. This too, could be considered neglect/abuse by CPS.

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If ever any of those situations were NOT rectified immediately, visitation would be OVER. Quite honestly, I have no desire to have her with her dad....EVER, and struggle with the notion of "a child should know both her parents" in this scenario. Where does the balance lie? I'm still trying to figure that out. If I had my way, he would disappear and she would live with us 100% of the time. Unfortunately, that would hurt DD - no matter how much I wish she just didn't care.

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Yes, it's normal and expected. I can't imagine co-parents having to provide detailed information about visits. Even when my kids are at their Dad's, he's *parenting* and has complete and total say and control. He doesn't answer to me simpy because I am the custodial parent. I need to know HIS address, but most things beyond that are not my business or control.

 

Certainly it's normal. He's the dad, not a babysitter, and he doesn't have to report in each time he takes his kid somewhere.

 

I guess I would consider it common sense and polite.

 

My DH and I tell each other where we're going and where we are taking the kids. If friends take my kids, they tell me where they are taking my kids.

 

So, it makes sense to me that you tell someone where you are taking her kids whether you are the other parent or a friend or whomever.

 

I guess I am in the minority.

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I guess I would consider it common sense and polite.

 

My DH and I tell each other where we're going and where we are taking the kids. If friends take my kids, they tell me where they are taking my kids.

 

So, it makes sense to me that you tell someone where you are taking her kids whether you are the other parent or a friend or whomever.

 

I guess I am in the minority.

 

It's not about "polite". It's that from a practical boundary perspective, time with the co-parent is independent. They parent, not "watch" or "caregive". Co-parents, by definition, have parted company. Losing specific knowledge of your kids' hours and comings and goings is part of that reality.

 

I don't think it could be any different and have any hope of healthy.

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If ever any of those situations were NOT rectified immediately, visitation would be OVER. Quite honestly, I have no desire to have her with her dad....EVER, and struggle with the notion of "a child should know both her parents" in this scenario. Where does the balance lie? I'm still trying to figure that out. If I had my way, he would disappear and she would live with us 100% of the time. Unfortunately, that would hurt DD - no matter how much I wish she just didn't care.

 

:iagree:

 

It's likely if he went to court, he'd get ordered visitation, more "say", more input and possibly more time.

 

You probably know this, I'm posting for other readers. Even the stuff you've posted would not NEARLY be enough for a court to consider limiting his time, having his time supervised, etc.

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My DH and I tell each other where we're going and where we are taking the kids. If friends take my kids, they tell me where they are taking my kids.

 

I think the OP was saying that the ex has said something like "this weekend we're going over to my friend Joe's, he lives over on the west side of Sunnyville", which does not give the OP an exact name/address to use in reporting. So she knows where her kid is, generally speaking, but not necessarily the specifics.

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my dd13 is VERY prone to dramatic "WORST DAY EVER" statements ;)

 

you have no way of knowing what the conditions really are - you could wreck these folks' lives over something that your daughter (even unintentionally) blew out of proportion.

 

i think you need to see for yourself or at least have another adult check it out...see what's what.

 

 

[i'm not saying that kids should be ignored when they tell us about potentially dangerous situations - before anyone runs off that way. "mom, i saw so-and-so's dad slap her across the face when he was drinking" is a world away from "mom their house is stinky because the dog pooped on the floor".]

 

:iagree:

 

I'm currently under investigation by CPS because some kid at church called it in. Statements like "child #3 is always covered in dirt from head to toe and wears torn clothing, so they are neglecting her." or "oldest child is psychologically harmed because she doesn't make friends easy with other girls her age." (what about socialization? sorry, but she has friends away from church!)

Some of the stuff the kid was saying was so over the top exaggerated that we expect the case to be closed quickly. Our interview was yesterday. nuf sed

 

But yeah, check it out first hand before you call. The OP's child might be right on it. But before calling it in check it out first hand because it is very stressful for the person who is being accused falsely based on a child's blown out of proportion report.

 

Make sure you have facts.

 

-crystal

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It's not about "polite". It's that from a practical boundary perspective, time with the co-parent is independent. They parent, not "watch" or "caregive". Co-parents, by definition, have parted company. Losing specific knowledge of your kids' hours and comings and goings is part of that reality.

 

I don't think it could be any different and have any hope of healthy.

 

Good to "know." Thank you for "explaining."

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:iagree:

 

It's likely if he went to court, he'd get ordered visitation, more "say", more input and possibly more time.

 

You probably know this, I'm posting for other readers. Even the stuff you've posted would not NEARLY be enough for a court to consider limiting his time, having his time supervised, etc.

 

Exactly. I went to attorney when oldest was 12 because his Dad was taking him into bars (and late at night) when his band played. He said it was a "lifestyle choice" and a judge would not put an end to it unless it was on a school night or ds was drinking/doing drugs.

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