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Elementary Aged Kids Your little ones have grown up right before your eyes! They are no longer those little babies they once were, and soon they are moving to adolescence.

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Old 04-11-2007, 05:50 PM
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Sad face Problems missing school

We have a problem and we're not sure how to handle it. My two step daughters are being allowed to miss school whenever they feel like it and we're not sure what, if anything, we can do about it. The oldests' grades are starting to slip, not a lot, but some. They don't seem to have any idea of how important school is. Mainly they complain that the day's are too long, as well as their tired and don't have time for other thing's (like playing) because their mother makes them work too hard after school. To put it nicely, if their mother thinks it will hurt my husband (their dad) she will do it or let them do it. With most of the thing's we can handle it, but when it comes to school we're not sure what to do as we only get them over night once every two weeks. It doesn't really leave us with any significant role in their lives. We've been trying to get more involved, which is nothing but an uphill battle.
Does anyone have any advice for me? I don't have children of my own and can't understand their mother's thought process when it comes to her kids... I would think someone would have more pride in their own children, but maybe I'm wrong.
Any advice, insight anything would be appreciated at this point as I'm really starting to feel helpless and I really feel for the kids for everything their missing.
Thanks in advance to anyone who reads and posts. All your comments are REALLY appreciated!!
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Old 04-12-2007, 06:19 AM
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Hi StepMom22. I am also a stepmum but my dh and I married when all our kids were (almost) adults.
I guess any answers or advice I have would possibly alter depending on the ages of your step daughters. Are they old enough to make their own decisions about such big issues?
As an ex-teacher I am always alarmed by the attitude that their mum displays and that you are (rightly) so against - that of school not being important.
Sure, the actual work may not always seem necessary, but the whole experience of being there, learning, achieving, the discipline, self-discipline, self-control, consideration for/of others etc etc is very important in the process of their total development. At this point let me say I am not criticizing home-schooling, although I am not totally in favour of it given that I worked in the education system.
It seems the excuses they are using are just that - excuses - and would hardly be acceptable by the school authorities. If the girls are still young, my suggestion would be firstly to talk to a professional at the school, (counsellor, chaplain or social worker) and get the complete picture. Then I would ask for a meeting with all parties where the expectations of acceptable behaviours are clearly outlined. Of course, if they are seniors at school then it is harder as they may already be at school leaving age and so can't be 'made' to go.
I don't know how the system in Michigan is, but here in Australia they are deemed to be truant if they are away more than a certain period of time and that is a prosecutable offence.
Hope this may be of some use. As I said, it's only what I think, not necessarily the perfect answer.
All the best for it all.
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Old 04-12-2007, 06:33 AM
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I don't know the kids' ages but if they are missing a lot of school, the school should be following up as well.

Unfortunately the kids seem to be the victims here with a vindictive parent....it is doing them a disservice to deprive them of an education, not to mention using them as pawns in a battle with an ex.

Your husband should be able to contact the school attendance office or guidance office and ask about the kids' attendance record. Perhaps if he expresses his concerns this way, the school can follow up with the mother.
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Old 04-12-2007, 06:55 AM
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My stepsister did this with her son in kindergarden he missed 70% of school his first year just because she was too lazy to get up with him. The school followed up on it. They said they would not do anything about it that year since he started school at 5 and in NYS boys do not have to start school until they are 6. The truent officer told her that if it continued the next year they would take him out of her home for child neglect and they would also take her youngest son that would be entering preschool the next year. Because it was a pattern with her. She did the same thing when this son was in a school district preschool he was just taking up a spot another child could have had that would attend. My nefhew repeated kindergarden, and is now in an inclusion 1st grade classroom and still can not write his last name. The district has told her already that it is her fault. He still misses alot of days of school but just under where they investigate. All she is doing as well as your stepdaughters mother is hurting the kids.
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Old 04-12-2007, 07:40 AM
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Thanks for the replies everyone. The children are 7 & 8. Sorry I missed that before.

Lynne, you have hit the nail on the head with some of my concerns. I find it bothersome that these poor girls have no imagination whatsoever. When they're here their constantly complaining of being bored, even though they have plenty to do here. When asked why they don't play with their games, toys etc. they act as if they don't know what to do. They say it's because when their at home they don't have time because their too busy helping their mom work (she has too many kids at home quite frankly... no offense to others with large families).
They don't like school and rarely speak of any friends. Also, they don't seem to know how to act out in public. It seems to me that their missing out on the fundamentals of going to school and learning how to be a part of society (so to speak). If that makes sense.
We also found other thing's odd when meeting with their teachers. The youngest one makes it a point to give her teacher hugs everyday, which is odd considering they both react very uncomfortably to affection and her teacher is new and has only been there a very short time.
Their mother has said that they don't want to go and has blamed it on their dad. She said that he said something to the youngest that has had her scared of gonig for fear that her dad will come and take her. We have no idea where that came from as it sure didn't come from us, but we're sure we do know where it did come from.
Thats concerning in and of itself, but I'm also finding out that they haven't been taught simple thing's, like how to tell someone where they live should something happen. Neither can even spell Michigan, which seems quite odd to me at their ages.
Basically, besides their actual classes, their not learning how to be "kids". Their mother refuses to let them bring homework with them when they come over, and the children complain that she doesn't help them with it. It's a mess really and there's very little we can do at this point, but we're wanting to do anything we can because it is greatly affecting the girls even though their mother doesn't seem to notice or just doesn't care... who knows.
Sorry to ramble on, but there's several thing's really that concern me about this, especially seeing that it's their grandparents that take them to school and pick them up. Their mother shows very little interest in the girls directly and instead pushes them off on everyone else (her parents, her new hubby etc). We try going through FOC, but she has them wrapped around her little finger. I never realized exactly how bad our system was until I started becoming a part of it, at least as far as my husband being in it goes.

Again, sorry for the ramble, but I'm feeling like someone has to care about these girls because their mom sure doesn't seem to. Thanks again everyone for all the advice and for letting me vent...LOL... This stuff has been going on from day one is to say it's exhausting would be an understatement.
Thanks again everyone!!!
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Old 04-22-2007, 06:12 AM
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Stepmom, the girls are too young to be making up their minds about school...here in Michigan, kids are only allowed to miss so much school. Sounds like they are falling through the cracks.

School not only prepares a child for learning, it also teaches them about being responsible..getting up, going to school, doing the work,interacting with their peers, coming home, enjoying your family..and doing it all over again the next day. It prepares them for WORK..something they need to learn to survive in this world.

Maybe all this fuss is between the mother, trying to keep some sort of interaction going on...even if it is negative. My guess is that she has not moved on, and is upset and lashing out.

Head to the library and get some books on this subject and try to keep the girls on a postive track.

Good Luck Sweetie!
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Old 04-23-2007, 05:39 AM
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Thanks for the advice Janet. Do you by any chance know of any specific books that you would recommend?
I’m aware that’s there’s only so much school they can miss, but do you happen to know more specifically where I can find exactly how much it is their allowed to miss? I have tried talking to the girls, as well as their father has tried, but it doesn’t seem to be getting through to them. I know when I was younger I had some personal issues that had arisen which caused me to miss a lot of school and repeat the year all over again. I have told the girls that that could also happen to them if they don’t start making an effort to go all the time. Hubby had tried saying something to their mom about it but somehow she managed to turn it around on us saying that it’s my hubby’s fault (their dad) that they don’t want to go because he said something that’s had the youngest scared he will come take her from school. We know it’s just BS out of their mom, it’s the why that we don’t know. Personally I don’t know why she feels the need to lash out at their dad since she married a few years ago and their dad and I married last year. But she has put up a resistance with everything concerning the girls. Their dad has tried working with her and has cooperated with her for years, but it doesn’t change how she interacts with him and that’s where we’re having our problems. But we know where school is concerned that they are suffering because you can tell by how they interact, not just with other kids but with adults as well. They are very closed off, don’t talk much and have some issues with affection. We know a lot of it has to do with their home situation, which we can’t do anything about (we’ve tried). It’s heartbreaking for me to see what their going through, but it’s made worse when I have my grandparents and mother tell me that they don’t act & behave as normal children their age do. I thought it was all in my imagination at first, but now I know I’m not imagining it. But what else can we do when whatever it is that IS going on is evidentially going on in their mother’s home and NOT ours?
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Old 04-23-2007, 05:47 AM
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You can contact the attendance office at the local school district to find out how many days are required.

It might be a good idea to express your concerns to someone at school, such as a school counselor, principal or the children's teachers.
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Old 04-23-2007, 01:57 PM
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Stepmom2..follow Barbszy's advice, the schools are an excellent source of where to get help..and check out the library for books on Blended Families, Being a Stepmom, etc. (usually in the self-help section) Some churches have books available for child rearing too.

Being a step-mom is a hard spot at times, the natural parents always have the ruling, but if you read up or learn what is required..you can present that information to your husband.

In the long run, all you want is for the children to have a new additude towards school and their own self esteem.

Remind the children, you are not there to replace their mother, but you care about them too, and want the best for them.

Keeping you and this situation in my prayers.

Hugs, Janet
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Old 04-25-2007, 06:15 AM
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If the school does not take any action on these kids missing so much school..then as a last resort you must go to the child protection service. These girls are being very neglected. Their emotional and social stability is being very affected. If it is not nipped in the bud now while they are still young and teachable, then you will see some major problems with them cropping up very soon. They need to just be kids and their mother just don't give the nurturing or emotional support that they crave.

If you and your dh can afford it..take them to kid functions and let them see how normal kids their age act and have fun.

Their mother is emotionally crippling them, and if they have kids of thier own, they will do the same to them and the cycle is continous.
Hug them everytime they are with you, even if they pull back, they will eventually realize that you really do care.
Does your dh reassure them that he is not going to take them away? Maybe that is their biggest fear, or their mother tells them such lies that they are very untrusting of most adults.
I hope all will be better for them and you in the very near future. Please let us know and keep us updated.


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