Co-parenting situation: Aunt wants to spend time with child


#1

I may be making a mountain out of a molehill but I am not sure how I might best proceed in this situation. My son's aunt (on his father's side) wants to be able to take my son out for a couple hours just to have some alone time with him. Her work schedule doesn't match up with my son's father's visitation schedule so she hasn't seen him in 4 weeks.

Some background information: I am a single mother of a toddler (I am actually engaged but that's not really relevant I don't think :o). My son's father and I have a joint legal custody, with me having most of the physical custody. There was a lot of drama between me and my son's father and his mother in the beginning of all of this prior to the formation of a legal agreement. Right now, though, I can thankfully say that things are generally peaceful and consistent. (With the exception that my son's father is still not providing health insurance for our son like he's supposed to)

I will say, to sum it all up, that my son's father and his mother are the type of people who, if you go an inch with them, they will try to take you a full mile. My son's aunt, who is the sister of my son's father, is more levelheaded than the other two but I do not feel that I know her well enough to judge whether or not she will try to do the same if I start allowing her her own special visitation time. She is just asking for one block of time for now, but what if she wants to continue doing this? What if conflict occurs in the future and she turns around and says she wants to seek visitation rights? Should I be worried about that sort of thing or should I just allow her to hang out with my son and let it go?

Thank you for your input. God bless!


#2

Well, I would wonder:

How old is your son?

What kind of relationship does she have with your son? Is it a super close friendly one? Is your son anxious to be with her as well or would he rather not go?

If you are worried about her trying to take advantage, why not invite her to places you will be so that she can spend her time then? You can do it casually, around her schedule, saying something like "you are more than welcome to see him and we will be at such and such place and we are happy to have you along" or something like that.

The thing I wonder, after reading the info you provided, is that if you had problems with the grandmother in the past, is this really a way for Grandma to get you to give up your son for the supposed Aunt to spend time with him when in reality its a time for anybody on that side of the family to have him, especially the Grandma? Would you have a problem with that?


#3

[quote="MadetoLove, post:1, topic:250224"]
I may be making a mountain out of a molehill but I am not sure how I might best proceed in this situation. My son's aunt (on his father's side) wants to be able to take my son out for a couple hours just to have some alone time with him. Her work schedule doesn't match up with my son's father's visitation schedule so she hasn't seen him in 4 weeks.

[/quote]

Okay, I'll be honest... I was going to be more sympathetic with her until I went back and re-read that you said it's only been 4 weeks.

My kids can often go **months **without seeing a particular aunt or uncle, and we all live in the same town and don't have a split family! Life just gets so busy that sometimes it only ends up being once every month or two (most likely if we end up at the same Mass time on a random Sunday)...

So, her schedule NEVER EVER lines up with your son's father's visitation schedule... or it just RARELY lines up?

NEVER EVER?... yeah, maybe I'd work something out...
RARELY?... she can cope with that...

At least that's my opinion... :blush:


#4

Can't Aunt come over for coffee and spend some time with your child at your home? Or go out together occassionally, to the park or some other venue?

I would be uncomfortable with the "alone time" if you don't know her very well.


#5

I don't think an aunt is entitled to cout ordered visitation rights. It sounds like in this situation, you need to set the limits and stick to them, no matter what.


#6

I think it is great that the aunt wants to spend time with your child. My sister got divorced when my niece and nephew were young. She remarried a year later and moved out of state. The court ordered that the kids were to spend holidays and summers with their father. We rarely got to spend anytime with the kids who are now both adults. The only time we saw them was from picking them up at the airport until their dad arrived to pick them up. Seriously, I think we spend about 4 hours with them every year. Thankfully they started staying with us for a couple of days in the summer when they got older.


#7

ILoveRoses: my son is only 21 months old, not yet two. I am not sure how close he is to her. What you mentioned as a potential problem is certainly one thing I am concerned about, that my son's aunt is really just trying to get my son so his grandma can have more time with him, or something like that. :shrug:

I know I have the right to decide what to do, it's just that I am really afraid of having drama erupt again, with my son's paternal family treating me as if I am a horrible person for not catering to their wants.

Em_in_FL: Yeah I agree that 4 weeks isn't really a long time. I re-read the text she sent me again and I guess she recently got a new job so maybe she's concerned she wont be seeing my son for a while?

Mary Gail 36: She certainly could, it's just not what she's asking for. She mentioned some few months ago that she would like to hang out with me more often. I don't know whether she really meant it or not. I know I don't reach out to her much at all but why she would rather have my son without me makes me curious to say the least...

Catholic1954: Yeah you are definitely right, as far as my state goes. But that doesn't mean she couldn't try. I'm not the best when it comes to setting limits so I humbly ask that you pray that God gives me a backbone. :blush:


#8

Did your son’s aunt spend time alone with him before you were separated from his dad? That seems like a strange request for a two-year-old. I could see if he was six and she wanted to take him to the circus or something, but that sounds a little off to me. However, if you judge the situation is kosher, take advantage of her affections for him and offer to let her baby-sit next time you go out.


#9

No not really. I let her take him once for the day before Mother’s day so she could surprise my son’s father and grandmother. I thought since it was a special occasion that it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.

My son’s father and I broke up way before our son was born. He definitely knew that he was having a son but he never bothered to tell his family. I eventually told his mom and sister a couple months after our son was born (it was right before Christmas). Things became very heated and dramatic and eventually none of them, including my son’s father, tried to come see him. It was around this time (April-ish) that my son’s father filed a petition to have custody and child support established. He didn’t start seeing our son again until mid or the end of August. My son’s aunt probably didn’t start seeing him until about a month or two after this, based upon the way the initial visitation times were set up.


#10

I think the advice you need ought to come with your attorney, who is familiar with the legal side of your saga with your husband. He or she will know what unknown legal perils and what legal options for keeping things in order are at your disposal. If your attorney tells you that there is room to do this without putting your own guardianship in any jeopardy, by all means consider it. Since you've characterized her as level-headed, what kid wouldn't want a doting aunt?

I think it would be a good move in terms of co-parenting to discuss this with your ex, as well. There may be many family dynamics going on of which you are not aware. I would not give visitation time to his sister unless it has his full blessing. You ought to expect that this time will not come out of his time with the kids, but I think the two of you will probably agree that in the absence of arguments against it, time with extended families is beneficial to children.

This would be a good time (that is, after you have become well-versed on the legal side of things) to discuss with your husband the ground rules of vistitations with other adults. You need to decide what will and won't be tolerated, and promise to back each other up. That might be as simple as "we always check with each other" or there might be people who are allowed to keep the kids overnight and who aren't, or who are allowed to have them unsupervised and who aren't. Other people who want time with your kids will have to abide by these rules. That will take some give-and-take, but it is give-and-take that will be in your son's best interest.

You might also use this opportunity to bring up a discussion about what you want in your new wills with regards to who may have guardianship of your child in the event of your untimely demises, what expectations or worries you have in terms of future siblings you may each be giving to your son, and so on. Lots to think about, lots to talk to each other about. *Again: get your lawyer to explain where the land mines are first! *The main thing is to hammer it out in advance, so that legal wrangling won't upset your son's future any more than necessary. Better that any problems between you and his dad be something too distant for him to remember.


#11

I appreciate reading your insightful advice Easter Joy. I just need to mention a few things:

My son’s father and I were never married. It would have been a disaster for the both of us considering our relationship was quite unhealthy. I also never had an attorney when my son’s father and I went to court. Thankfully we never had to go to a judge because in my state, parents are first required to meet with a case manager to try and compromise on all issues. Since we were able to come to some sort of an agreement on all things, we never needed a Judge to make any decision for us.

I need to stop making excuses, but I thought I would express that I am afraid that my son’s father may not have much interest discussing a lot of what you suggested. Perhaps not because he doesn’t care, but maybe because he doesn’t think it’s that big of a deal. I think I will try to contact an attorney at least for advice. I don’t have much money to retain one at this time. I’ve already looked into state resources to see if I could retain a lawyer for free or at a low cost but there aren’t any.


#12

+I’ve never heard of a request like this . . . a two year old tod:tada:dler . . . isn’t . . . a toy to be . . .** “borrowed”** . . . and little ones are very much in need of the security of the closeness to their “moms” at this age . . . and this is a real imposition on your time to prepare him for an outside-the-home outing . . . normal visits to such a little tyke would be to come to his familiar home where he and his Mom live . . . or Dad in this case . . . where the appropriate food and diapers, clothes, toys etc. are readily at hand . . . and where he can maintain his regular routine, disciplines and naps . . .

You have no responsibility whatsoever to allow such an odd visitation to occur . . . it’s entirely the baby’s father’s responsibility to interact with . . . and make provisions for his own relatives . . . if they want contact with the child . . . I really feel you’d just be asking for trouble and problems if you were to give in to the aunt and allow this odd request . . . *and with a new husband-to-be in the offing you need to keep this little one’s life as uncomplicated and normal as possible . . . *
Just tell the aunt that her suggestion just isn’t appropriate for the baby . . . share that your little one is just . . . way too young . . . for such visits . . . the baby has enough stress and adjustment to make in life with his parents living separately . . . without disrupting his routines even further . . .
[RIGHT]
. . . all for Jesus+
. . . Blessed Virgin Mary our Mother+
. . . protect and guide both this mom and babe+
. . . Holy Angels of God :angel1: help this mom+
. . . thank You Lord+
[/RIGHT]


#13

I don’t see any compelling reason for your son’s aunt to have “alone time” with your son - not at this age. If she wants to see him, she can make time during his father’s time or she can visit him with you. Maybe the three of you can go out to eat or to a park together if you don’t want to have her at your home. If she doesn’t want to work within those parameters, she can wait until either the visitation schedule changes or until her work schedule changes.

You mention you are engaged. If she is throwing in complications now, it isn’t likely to get any better when you are married.


#14

If it was me, I’d still seek out some legal advice like Easter Joy suggested. Especially since you haven’t had any up to this point. Even if you have to spend the hourly rate for an attorney, it could be the best money you ever spend. This whole situation sounds like it could go from being manageable now to a nightmare in a heartbeat.


#15

[quote="Jesus_123, post:12, topic:250224"]
+I've never heard of a request like this . . . a two year old tod:tada:dler . . . isn't . . . a toy to be . . .** "borrowed"** . . . and little ones are very much in need of the security of the closeness to their "moms" at this age . . . and this is a real imposition on your time to prepare him for an outside-the-home outing . . . normal visits to such a little tyke would be to come to his familiar home where he and his Mom live . . . or Dad in this case . . . where the appropriate food and diapers, clothes, toys etc. are readily at hand . . . and where he can maintain his regular routine, disciplines and naps . . .

You have no responsibility whatsoever to allow such an odd visitation to occur . . . *it's entirely the baby's **father's*** responsibility to interact with . . . and make provisions for his own relatives . . . if they want contact with the child . . . I really feel you'd just be asking for trouble and problems if you were to give in to the aunt and allow this odd request . . . and with a new husband-to-be in the offing you need to keep this little one's life as uncomplicated and normal as possible . . . *
Just tell the aunt that her suggestion just isn't appropriate for the baby . . . share that your little one is just . . . *
way too young** . . . for such visits . . . the baby has enough stress and adjustment to make in life with his parents living separately . . . without disrupting his routines even further . . .

[/quote]

I completely agree with this. I wouldn't be thrilled with him going out with other adults when he is in his father's custody either, but I guess you don't have control over that. A good relationship with an aunt can be a lovely thing, but only if the aunt respects your authority as the mom, and doesn't play games or try to get involved in whatever issues are between you and the father. If you think a relationship with her would be good for your child, you can encourage one by having her over to your home.

If she does prove herself trustworthy, and if neither you nor she wants to hang out with each other, she could babysit. Not that you necessarily want to use her as your regular babysitter, but if she's looking for some time to spend with him, you could say, "well this Saturday, I've got to run some errands. Would you like to come over and stay with him while I do that?" Maybe you could broach the subject this way (I'm paraphrasing "Jesus 123"'s line): "visits away from the house are just too stressful for my little one. He has enough stress and adjustment to make in life with his parents living separately . . . without disrupting his routines even further . . .but I DO occasionally have to run errands while he's with me. If your schedule allows for it, it might be a nice opportunity for you to spend time with him in a way that helps me maintain that stability."


#16

It just sounds weird to me for her to ask for an assigned time to see him. Married people don’t send their kids to see their aunt every third tuesday from one to three. Why should unmarried people. Again, if she wanted to take him some place when he was older or if she wanted him to be there for a family gathering, that would be one thing. It just sounds weird to me. I’m generally a proponent of people not getting in the way of their child’s relationship with their non-custodial relatives. I’ve known people who have alienated their child from their father’s parents under the argument that they should only see them on “their father’s time”. This sort of thing makes me shudder. It sounds like you are open to him having a good relationship with her though.


#17

[quote="MadetoLove, post:1, topic:250224"]
I may be making a mountain out of a molehill but I am not sure how I might best proceed in this situation. My son's aunt (on his father's side) wants to be able to take my son out for a couple hours just to have some alone time with him. Her work schedule doesn't match up with my son's father's visitation schedule so she hasn't seen him in 4 weeks.
Thank you for your input. God bless!

[/quote]

what input?
you have a custody agreement, when the father has the child it is up to him which family members they see, unless you have a formal court agreement that certain individuals are prohibited from being with him.
why are these people even contacting you? they should be talking to their relative, the boy's father.


#18

Although I'm sympathetic to the aunt, I think you should invite her to spend time with your very young child in your home under your supervision.

My brother has a complicated relationship with his ex girlfriend and it's to my great sorrow that I don't get to see my nephews and niece very often. I would love to see them more than once a year, esp. since I'm godmother to two of them and actually godmother to her son for whom myu brother was a quasi stepfather.

So, I have a prejudice for situations where kids are sadly deprived of the love of extended family due to complicated relationships.

But.....as a mother, I just wouldn't feel comfortable about it.

My sister will have a similar decision to make soon. Her estranged husband will be going to trial for rape in the next few months and is expected to be convicted and then stripped of his parenting rights. So, she'll have to decide whether to allow his parents who really despise her but adore the kids to see them. It's a sad, sad situation.

Pray, pray, pray!!


#19

An Update:

I ended up meeting with my son's aunt (with my son) at a food/game place for kids. I talked to her about me feeling uncomfortable making these sort of arrangements, as I felt that for the sake of keeping things as uncomplicated for my son as possible that it was better for relatives who want to see him to make the arrangements through the parent they are related to.

My son's aunt mentioned that her brother, my son's father, actually hasn't been living at home for the past several months (which I had no idea about) so she and her mom haven't really been able to see our son that often. She also expressed that she doesn't understand why I would be approaching the situation from a "legal standpoint" at all, as I mentioned when I spoke. She told me that "bottom line, we (her and her mother) are his family too." My son's aunt said something along the lines of me being very lucky or blessed to be able to spend the most time with him.

I understand what she is saying, and I also understand that they are a very close-knit family so being able to see their relatives often is quite important to them.

However I now feel even more uncomfortable about this. I don't want to get in the way of my son establishing relationships with his relatives but considering the history of my situation (that it has been nothing short of rocky and stressful), I don't think I can agree to making these sort of arrangements. I feel it's too risky.

Before I talk to my son's aunt again I am going to talk to a lawyer, asap.


#20

Why don’t you bring them over for visits if you are uncomfortable dropping him off? I totally understand her standpoint, unless she and her mom have done something wrong…they ARE his family. It’s sad their son isn’t stepping up, but at least your child has you to ensure his relationships with his family aren’t shattered.


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