Blended Families

Would you say something?

SD keeps coming back to our house in the same clothes she left in. Which is totally fine. They were clothes BM first sent her over in, and I guess she likes the recycling program we set up.

She has her wear clothes that don't fit, ones with holes, etc. and we would send her back in ones that fit. Who wouldn't want to use this awesome program we had set up?

Well DH got tired of it and sends her back in the clothes she wears from BM's house. And BM sends her right back in them.

The problem is that the clothes are dirty now. And she's wearing the same underwear and socks...which are also dirty. It's happened quite a few times. The most recent was yesterday. We sent SD home on Monday night and got her back Wedneaday morning. Poor kid even said she had worn the same clothes on Tuesday to grandpa's house.

I'm starting to get worried that something is up at BM's house, like no access to a clothes washer, and that she may be sending SD to school in dirty clothes.

I've asked DH if he could ask her what's up in a nonconfrontational way but he refuses. Would it be bad if I asked her? Maybe offer her the use of our washer or something? I'd of course tell DH, but I don't want her to get offended.

What would you do? It's not a problem that she sends her over in the same clothes, it's that they are clearly dirty. Not stained either. On Monday she had gotten some dirt on her pants from playing outside and on Wednesday the same dirt was still there. I'm worried that she sends her to school like this. I don't feel it's my place to say anything, but then what should I do? Just leave it and wait to see if it becomes a problem at school? It just doesn't feel right, you know?

Re: Would you say something?

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    Call the school guidence couselor and ask him/her to talk to the teachers about the issue or if it is one.  They are manditory reporters and this is one of the flags they report on.  Actually, I was called about it for my DS but he was Dx'd as Autistic that year and we had to explain that while he does wear the same clothes every day, it more like because he has a cartoon closet full of the exact same clothes he tolerates to wear.

    But I had a good relationship w/ the school and the guidence couselor so I was called first to check on him instead of just being reported for neglect.


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    Oh no, I don't think it's neglect...just that BM doesn't have access to a washer or is just lazy or that she doesn't care if SD comes to our house like that because she knows I'll always bathe her and dress her.

    I wouldn't go so far as to call it neglect. That's really serious, but as of right now it's just dirty clothes and not bathing.

    Sidenote, Is it normal for no one to cut her nails? If I don't trim them they get so long and dirt cakes up under them. I don't know, maybe I am just a clean freak?
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    Neglect is the failure of a parent, guardian, or other caregiver to provide for a child's basic needs.

    Like I said, it's a warning sign for Neglect:

    Signs of Neglect

    Consider the possibility of neglect when the child:

    • Is frequently absent from school
    • Begs or steals food or money
    • Lacks needed medical or dental care, immunizations, or glasses
    • Is consistently dirty and has severe body odor
    • Lacks sufficient clothing for the weather
    • Abuses alcohol or other drugs
    • States that there is no one at home to provide care

    Consider the possibility of neglect when the parent or other adult caregiver:

    • Appears to be indifferent to the child
    • Seems apathetic or depressed
    • Behaves irrationally or in a bizarre manner
    • Is abusing alcohol or other drugs
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    Ita it is a warning sign for neglect for sure. What is up w your dh that he "refuses" to address this? IMO its a big deal and needs to be addressed by the parent.

    Eta posts like this make me feel so sad for the kid. Can you imagine being told"ok time to go back to dads house, change into your filty unwashed clothes!" it puts the kid in an awful spot.
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    This is a touchy issue since there are so many unknown variables involved.  I don't know how your relationship is with BM, so I'm going to say that you shouldn't say anything to her just yet. 

    We have had this same issue with our BM, but the BM in my situation is a control freak.  She flips out when we get rid of clothes that no longer fit or are falling apart and demands them back.  Then she turns around and puts them back on K, despite the full wardrobe of new clothes that actually fit at both households.  BM's "reasoning" behind it is that she doesn't want the clothing that she buys coming over to our house.  In the past BM has demanded that we wash and return the clothes to her at the next exchange, which we refuse to do.  And by "refuse" I mean, we were not going to do a special load of laundry just to wash a couple things.  We weren't withholding clothing, but we also weren't running a laundromat here.  So now if BM doesn't have weather-appropriate clothing from our house for K, she sends her to school on our pick-up days wearing old clothes that either don't fit, are stained and/or threadbare.  It's a sad and pathetic game, which is why we just discard those clothes and always send her back in clothes that are clean and actually fit properly.

    How old is SD?  Is it possible that she's choosing to keep wearing this clothing?  I know my daughter went through a phase when she was 6 or 7 and she had this shirt that she loved.  She wanted to wear it every single day, clean or not.  It was annoying and drove me nuts.  There were times that I didn't have a chance to wash it and I would come home from work and she would be wearing it.  My husband had no idea it was dirty.  Also, maybe SD went to grandpa's Monday night wearing that outfit and BM accidentally forgot to pack a change of clothes?  Who knows.

    My feeling is this: while I can understand your husband's annoyance at "replacing" the stained, ill-fitting, threadbare clothing, I also think that no child should ever be forced to wear this type of clothing.  Especially if there are other options available, which in your situation there clearly are.  If BM wants to keep sending SD to your home in holey clothes that don't fit, don't SD back in them.  Cut the kid a break and get rid of the stuff that doesn't fit anymore or is falling apart.  Maybe BM has fallen on hard times and can't go out and buy new clothing.  Yes it sucks that she might be "using" you guys in an effort to get new clothes, but no matter what it is always going to be your husband's responsibility to provide for his daughter.  Cut BM out of the equation: what type of clothing would DH make sure SD has?

    Lastly, if this is becoming an issue at school, then the teacher will surely notice as well.  Again, it's still your husband's responsibility to help provide for his daughter.  If BM has fallen on hard times, she's probably embarrassed and doesn't want to discuss it.  Maybe go purchase a few extra pairs of jeans, shirts, socks, panties, etc., let SD pick out stuff she wants to take to BM's and send them to BM's under the pretense of "Hey we have a bunch of extra stuff here for SD, and she wanted to bring these to your house."  That way you can make sure SD has extra clothes at BM's, and no one feels embarrassed.


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    If the clothes are inadequate, why would you send them back with her? Put the poor kid in clean, well fitting clothes. This is not about revenge on the child's mom. It's about the child.
    Stay at Home Mama to 3 Beautiful Children by the miracles of Birth & Adoption
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    If it were me, I'd have  DH bring it up to BM and state, This is a huge issue for me and my child. Please try to keep my kid clean and properly clothed and please address it immediately. These are my expectations, list reasonable and clear expectations out and see what happens. 

    If nothing changes, he needs to take it a step further and tell her again and that if changes are not made immediately, he will report her. If she does not change anything after that, report her to child services, and start filing for primary.

    I would not offer to let her use your washer, but I would offer to take your SD's laundry and that you will do it for SD when she is visiting.  I'd also make sure SD has enough clothes for the two weeks (or whatever time it is) for her to change into every day.  Even if you have to go to Goodwill to supplement.

    I would also keep impressing upon SD that no matter what her mother does, she should still change her clothes and bathe every day.

    I also think it's important that your DH needs to have this conversation with BM. Not you.

    "he offered her the world. she said she had her own" - poet Monique Duval
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    ditto everything jobalchk said. also, have DH get in touch with SD's teacher.  set up a meeting with her to figure out of this really is an issue or if BM is just playing tit for tat games with you and dh. 
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    Oh no, I don't think it's neglect...just that BM doesn't have access to a washer or is just lazy or that she doesn't care if SD comes to our house like that because she knows I'll always bathe her and dress her. I wouldn't go so far as to call it neglect. That's really serious, but as of right now it's just dirty clothes and not bathing. Sidenote, Is it normal for no one to cut her nails? If I don't trim them they get so long and dirt cakes up under them. I don't know, maybe I am just a clean freak?

    1. While it doesn't sound like neglect... it's a warning sign. We do the same things with SS, baths on the nights before and after visits with BM.

    2. The nail thing - BM never cuts SS's nails either. It drives me up a wall. He ends up picking them off and they get all scraggly. I cut them as often as I can remember.. I do DS's nails every weekend. SS is at BM's 3 weekends a month (altho she refuses alot) so it sometimes falls off the to-do list.

    If I were you, I'd first contact the school. See if the teacher or guidance counselor has noticed anything about personal care issues. If they have, ask them if they can talk to BM about it. I wouldn't feel like it's my place to talk to BM directly either, but our BM has personality disorders, and we keep her as much out of our lives as possible. 

    In addition to that, I'd go to a second hand shop and buy a couple sets of decent but affordable clothes that you can send SD to BM's house in. That way she's not in something dirty or outgrown, and it won't cost you an arm or leg if BM "steals" them. It's not fair to SD to be in the middle of a clothing war like that.

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    I would also keep impressing upon SD that no matter what her mother does, she should still change her clothes and bathe every day.

    This too. Nicely and gently, I'm not sure of her age, but at some point a kid hearing that they are dirty and smelly is going to really hurt their feelings and self esteem. It's important to teach her about proper personal hygiene since her mother isn't doing it.

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    Hello!  I would like to thank you for this post as I am experiencing the same thing with SD.  To take it a bit further, her mother will send us to her having not showered or brushed her teeth for days.  It is ridiculous and I know her mother has some sense because I see how she goes out in public.   I would say maybe this is more laziness on BM's part and not some sort of neglect.  Should you say anything?  I would still leave that up to your husband to address with her.   There are times I wish I could say something, but I just can't as my husband has a better rapport with her than I do even though we get along fairly well. 

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    I would definitely ask your DH to say something to her about it, but I'm not sure it will change anything.

    For three years, DH and I used to pick SKs up for visits about every two to three weeks for the weekend (we lived 3 hours away from BM). We would get them for a week here or there for spring break or summer holidays as well. BM always sent SKs with ill-fitting, dirty clothing that reeked of cigarette smoke. She never sent full outfits or weather-appropriate clothing. DH always sent regular CS. On top of that we purchased clothing (toys etc.) for the kids as needed. However, since they didn't live with us, the clothing was always with BM. So if she didn't send appropriate clothing for them, we would buy new outfits for them to wear while they were with us. We tried sending them home with the kids in hopes that they would eventually be wearing the clothes again when we picked them up for another visit but this never happened. This is when we finally just bought them a bunch of outfits and kept them with us for their visits so they would at least be in clean clothes that fit them when they were with us. We weren't sure that they were being sent to school in the same condition but it seemed very likely. To us it seemed that BM was trying to get us to supply her household with new clothing all of the time (she had 4 other kids at the time and we knew that at least one of them was wearing the clothes we sent for SD). We tried asking her to send them with a certain number of tops and bottoms, socks, underwear etc. but she never, ever did.

    Three years ago, DH and I moved ten hours away and started to see the kids on a much less frequent basis. The clothing situation remained the same when we would go to pick the kids up for visits but, since we were seeing them less often and for longer periods of time after our move, we just bought new clothing and kept sending it back. It was pointless for us to keep any of the clothes because the kids would probably grow out of it before we saw them again.

    SKs started living with us six months ago. SD has gone to see BM for visits twice since then. We sent her with clean, complete outfits for each day she was to be with BM. We sent her with enough pairs of underwear, socks, and pjs for each day as well. BM returned SD to us after the first visit and not ONE other piece of clothing had been worn while SD was there (other than the clothes we dropped her off in). SD wore the same outfit for 4 days straight. SKs just spent a week with BM over the holidays and, while the same thing didn't happen, not all of their clothes were returned. DH and I were ticked because the kids are living with us now and won't be visiting BM for a while. She doesn't pay us CS and we don't get child tax benefits etc as we are currently in the middle of custody proceedings. So plenty of items we bought for the kids to wear here are now gone and probably won't ever be returned to the kids. SD told us that she didn't brush her teeth the entire time she was at BM's and SS said that he only had one or two showers the whole week they were gone! Ugh!

    Oh, and the nails? Same thing happens there. SS's nails have never been that bad because he's old enough to deal with them himself but SD's nails have always been long, ragged and dirty when we've picked her up. We've always been the ones to trim them. In fact, when the kids first started living with us, SD didn't want me to trim her nails (or comb her hair) because she thought it would hurt. Apparently BM would sometimes clip her skin and always pulled her hair when doing these two tasks. It came to the point that SD didn't want to have either thing done because she was afraid it would hurt her. It took me a little while to gain SD's full trust to do either but she completely trusts me now. It really bothered me that SD didn't want to have either done because her own mother was hurting her.

    I'm sorry for turning this around and explaining my own situation. I just want to say that you're not alone (as you can tell by other PP's responses as well). I do think that these are signs of neglect. BM was being investigated by child services because of some of these things. I'm not saying that you should report BM, but I do think you should have DH address the situation. As another PP posted, as your SD gets older, she will become more aware of her ill-fitting, dirty clothing and can become quite self-conscious of it. I don't think my SKs really noticed how dirty they were or how poorly their clothing fit because they were used to it. However, since living with us, they have become very conscious of it because we have been teaching them healthy grooming habits.

    I wish you luck! And, please know that even if nothing changes, at least you'll know that you've tried (if you do have DH say something about it).

    Happily married to my Snorkelbutt - 07/31/10

    BFP #1 09/02/11  M/C 09/12/11 8w6days
    BFP #2 07/18/12 Baby S born on his EDD 03/23/13

    SS - age 12...SD - age 8...DS - 13 mos.
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    It's your H's job to address this.  WTF is wrong with him that he can't advocate for HIS child?  Is he OK with the possibility that she is going to school in the same dirty clothes?

    I would make sure that she is sent back to BMs in clean clothes.  So, if she gets dirty, send her back in something clean.  This is something you DO have control over.  You can wash the dirty clothing and send her back in it (clean) the next time.

    FWIW, there are some great sales now.  I know you don't want to buy a complete wardrobe for SD to wear, but a few clean pieces will not break you - - and you can send her back in the outfit she wore to your house (cleaned) next time.

    And if BM isn't clipping her nails, her DAD can take care of that, too.  Nails don't have to be clipped every day - if it bothers you, instead of complaining about it, clip the nails!

    How old is SD?  Is she old enough to know to put on clean clothes every day?  Have you asked her if there are no clean things in the house, or if the washer is not working?  Does she have a disability (emotional, learning) where she finds comfort in wearing the same things day after day?  Does nothing else fit?  I think you can gently ask questions without making her feel like she is being confronted.

    Obviously, if you think she is neglected, report it to the school, but there are things that you do have control over.  I find it sad that she went to your house, grandpa's house, mom's house, and NOBODY cleaned her dirty clothes.  It takes less than an hour and a half to do a small load of laundry and dry it.  Heck, if there is no access to a laundry machine at BMs house, I would offer to take SDs clothes and wash them myself. 

    image "Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.
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    We have a similar problem with SD not bathing at her moms, not having clothes that fit and coming back in the same underwear 3 days later, not having brushed her teeth since she left.

    My DH addressed this with BM.  All it did was make her mad and defensive.

    Then SD started getting UTIs (she's prone to them anyway and dirty underwear for days on end wasn't helping).  So we talked to SD.  Explained that it's very important to keep clean, so she doesn't keep getting these infections.  We send a toothbrush to her mom's every time she tells us her old one got thrown out or chewed by one of the dogs, or thrown in the toilet by her sister.  Luckily our dentist is very understanding and he sends her home with extra free toothbrushes so we have a reserve.

    Now the problem we're running into is SD coming home in her little sister's underwear.  Not only is it not hers, but it's way too small.  So I got a little bag, and I put a pair or two of clean panties in it and toss it in her bookbag.  So far so good.

    I don't think you or your H saying anything will be well received, which is why he doesn't want to.  But your H seriously needs to answer for why he won't stand up for his child.  Sometimes you have to rock the boat.

    Mama of 2: one who grew in my womb, both who grow in my heart.
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