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If you think this is about YOU, maybe you should go reconcile with your parent and work to get back your kids instead of continuing to be a jerk. If you think I am you, or similar to you, welcome! :-)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Where There's a Will...

While we are on the legalities, do you have a will? You certainly need one, whoever you are, but if you have custody of grandchildren, or you you've adopted your grandchildren, you need to make one. Yesterday.

BIG NOTE: I am NOT an attorney. I am a grandparent who has been raked over the coals by an adult child who, for whatever reasons, lost custody of her elder children to the Mister and me. We later adopted them.

There is a difference between a ward and a legal child. One of these differences is that the probate court, in most states, or the family court in others, gives you permission to be the guardian or custodian of your grandchildren. An adopted child is one's child just as much as that problem adult child who caused this problem in the first place. 

So if you die, according to my sources, you're no longer the guardian. It's hard to take care of kids from the Great Beyond. In some states, however, a standby guardian can be named by the current guardian. The alternative is an "interested person" stepping into the role, or worse, foster care, child protective services or your adult child who doesn't care for them as it is taking over the raising of your grandchildren.

If you have taken the step of adopting your grandchildren, and don't leave a will with a designated guardian, your next-of-kin is your spouse, and your adult children. Yes, that's right. If you don't examine your family situation, your grandchildren could go back to their now legal sibling. 

Then there is your Stuff. Even if you think you don't have much, there is bound to be something you don't want Junior or Lulabelle to have. Whether you are the guardian, custodian or legal parent of your grandchildren, you need to tell somebody responsible what to do with your Stuff. 

So give yourself a great Christmas present. GET A WILL, POWER OF ATTORNEY AND DESIGNATE IN WRITING WHO TAKES CARE OF YOU TODAY PER YOUR STATE'S LAW. And go see an attorney. Your situation is indeed complicated. 

And while you're taking care of the will, etc., then how about your insurance policies and safety deposit box? Is your adult child on any of these? Do you you need to make some changes? Get the forms and get busy. 

My cousin was 57 when he died this month, while on his way to work. Thank goodness his adult children are responsible people raising their own kids. But anybody can die at any time.

So, it's a really good idea to give those grandkids a cushion of protection. You've come this far. Get a will. Keep your important papers updated.

If nothing else, you'll get a certain joy from knowing that Junior or Lulabelle will have quite a jolt when you do pass!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Survival of the Strongest: Visitation

Well, well. The noncustodial adult children must be out in droves this Thanksgiving. Here I was thinking it was a quiet year, and I have THREE requests for information on noncustodial visitation during the holidays.

Always remember: I am NOT an attorney. I'm just another grandparent. If you need a lawyer, get the best one you can afford, and interview before you need one, to make sure you have the right fit. 

Let's start with manipulation techniques. If your noncustodial adult child shows up at your front door unexpectedly on a holiday, you are under NO, repeat NO obligation to allow him or her to enter your home. This is especially true if he or she shows up drunk, stoned or seems out to cause harm. If he or she shows up unexpected with another person or persons, a camera, recording equipment, etc., you are being set up. If you don't want him or her there, tell him or her politely to leave, close and lock the door. If he or she doesn't leave, call the police. Waste no further time on the situation. 

When the police come, show them a copy of your court order and anything else to prove to you have custody of the children (WIC coupons, DHS cards, insurance cards, grandkids' report cards, kids' doctor's records with your name, etc.). If you or one of the grandchildren was harmed in any way, insist on filing charges, especially if weapons or weapon substitutes (tire iron, sock of change, etc.) were drawn. You can't be a wimp at this point. The holiday has already been spoiled.

Don't scream unless you are being harmed and then wail as loud as you can. Call all the attention possible to yourself at the first sign of harm. Otherwise, keep your voice as calm as possible. SEND THE GRANDCHILDREN OUT OF THE ROOM, the farther away from the situation the better. It's no time to play in the back yard.  Upstairs, the basement, wherever is out of range of the situation is best. 
A variation on this drama is the Old Friend Bearing Gifts. He or she will come to your door, telling you some sad tale of your noncustodial adult child, who asked the friend to bring the kids a little gift. That's the gift in the paper bag. It could be anything from snack food to toys. The Old Friend promised to deliver it to the children in person, as your adult child has told the Old Friend that you will not give the kids the gift.

You are being set up. DON'T LET THE FRIEND COME IN. Thank him, tell her she can leave it outside on the doorstep if she wishes, or your adult child can always mail the package return receipt requested. If Old Friend insists, pushes on the door, etc., close the door and CALL THE POLICE. Again, BEFORE you open the door, send the grandkids to the farthest part of the house.

The kids are going to be wound up from this. They will perhaps caper and take advantage. They might also be quiet, sulk or even not want to talk about it. Tend to them first. 

If you have court-ordered visitation, start preparation early. If at all possible, back in the planning stages, please strongly suggest to your attorney that visitation take place in a neutral place, and that the court order supervision. If there is proof that Junior or Lulabelle abandoned or neglected the children, or if there is proof of drug use or alcohol abuse, it's not that much of a stretch to request supervised visitation. If there's a criminal record, you certainly don't want Junior or Lulabelle in your house, at least not now. 

A court-ordered supervisor is somebody the court appoints to go along on the visit. In some states, the noncustodial parent pays for a professional supervisor from a list at the courthouse; in others, it's part of the law enforcement system; still others, some relative or neutral friend volunteers. A paid professional is best. When your adult child has to pay for this, visits taper off quickly. Supervision isn't cheap when it isn't low income, often costing upwards of $25 a half hour. When low income and sliding scale services are used, there is usually a waiting list. Low income and sliding scale visitation is usually limited to an hour to two hours.

If this is an overnight visit, it's still a good idea to have the handoff and pickup in neutral territory. Why do you think the local malls and fast food places team with kids on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons? Some counties offer neutral exchange points without having to go to fast food places or malls. Too many don't.

Also on overnight visits, inventory what the kids will take with them before they leave. The fastest way is to whip out your cell phone and snap photos. When you have a free minute, email the pics to your addy. But do record what they take with them, on paper as a list, in a logbook with the date and time of transfer: Clothes, toys, even the baggage, cell phones if they have them.

Speaking of cell phones, it's not a bad idea that at least one of the kids has one. It doesn't have to be fancy, and it doesn't have to have Internet capability. They don't need to wave it for all to see, but you never know. 

Take somebody with you to the drop-off. Sometimes, local grandparents groups offer the services of their members to switch off with each other. Two can play at the witness game, and that's why you need that spare person, as a witness. It's actually better, if you are married or have a significant other, that ONE of you and an outside person perform drop-off and pickup. If your spouse or significant other is related to the grandkids, one of you can do drop-off with another person, and one of you can do pickup. Grandma and Grandpa together might make up a story. Grandma with Aunt Irma on drop-off, and Grandpa with Mr. Jones from the grandparents' group on pickup- much more believable.

If your noncustodial child shows up sober to take the kids, note the date and time, either on your cell as a memo or in a logbook. Note who came with you, where you performed the hand-off, who was with your adult child, and if possible the make, model and license tag number on the car. If it's a holiday, how about a photo at Junior's car, Grandma or Grandpa? Now you have a photo of the car.

Your adult child is drunk or stoned? Check with your witness to be sure you're not imagining this. Make it clear to the children and your adult child that you're sorry, this won't do, and IMMEDIATELY load up the kids and take off.  If your adult child pitches a hissy in public, or tries to take the children, CALL THE POLICE or have your witness call the police. Let them sort it out. You are within your rights as your grandchildren's custodian to insist your adult child be sober when driving your grandchildren. Don't go right home if your adult child knows where you live, unless you have an order of protection or some such.

This may or may not cause more paperwork for you later on. If you're fortunate, your adult child will just write it off. There may be child services at your door, who were told you simply refused to give the adult child the grandchildren. Again, you have a witness (as well as everybody in the public, neutral place). But to be sure, trouble or no, send your adult child a letter (not an email, a letter), return receipt requested. Be brief and businesslike in the letter. "Dear Lulabelle, I could not let you take the kids on December 24th, 2011, as Mrs. Jones and I observed you were weaving when walking and smelled of alcohol. The staff at the Hungry Tummy noticed this as well. I have informed my attorney of this. I love you, but my first duty is to make sure Jimmy, Janie and Johnny are safe when you drive. Mom." Bring up NOTHING from the past. No name calling! Stick to the facts at hand, and be sure you have a copy of the letter. DO inform your attorney as soon as possible.

If your adult child doesn't show up within a reasonable time frame to pick up the kids, take them home. Some courts will set a time limit for pickup, and some will not. But it's a safe bet that if Lulabelle hasn't called you after 30 minutes, she's not coming to get the kids. Take them home, deal with their disappointment, and send a letter simply stating the facts. "Dear Lulabelle, You did not arrive to pick up Janie, Jimmy and Johnny on Friday, November 25, 2011, at 5:00 PM per the visitation agreement. I waited with Emily Johnston until 5:35 PM for you to arrive. I then took the children home, having received no phone call from you. I tried to call you three times, and had no answer from you. Please check your court documents for your next visitation date and time." OR "Please contact my attorney to see about future visitation."

If your adult child doesn't return the children within FIFTEEN MINUTES of the time set by the court order or as agreed upon, call the police. If you get some rock-head law enforcement officer, who says, "Oh, you're the grandparent" remind them that you are the COURT APPOINTED GUARDIAN. Call your attorney, leave a message if you must, but make it clear you need help ASAP. Record everything. Call your adult child, every five minutes, asking as calmly as you can when the children will be returned, that you are waiting at the place you said you would be and expect his or her call ASAP. Hopefully, you will get the children back that evening. Your attorney will advise you what to do next.

Unless you have seen marked improvement in your adult child (see this story), it's not fair to set up a family holiday in your home as if things were back to normal. It's not fair to the grandchildren, and it's not fair to you and your extended family. Don't make promises you can't keep to the kids. Count the blessings you have, stay safe and have a wonderful time! 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

This says it all...

...Wow. That's all I can say.

When you feel as if it's YOUR fault your adult child has turned out as he or she has, read the following article. I know a lot of you will be hard-hit as the Holidays start this week. Read this, several times if you must. It's that good.


Sunday, November 6, 2011


In our new house, there are 17 stairs upstairs and 13 stairs to the basement. I know this because there is a bathroom upstairs, and a bathroom downstairs, but no bathroom on the main floor. 

It seems as we grow older, we go to the bathroom just a little more often. I can still "hold it" with the best of them, but oh the head seems so far away when I'm on stair #1!

I have to say, though, there are certain benefits to running up and down the stairs. I've lost 2 pounds that way, so far. 

We've also included sidewalks in our routine. Prior to moving to our area, we had roads. We lived at the point of a hairpin turn in the road. Nobody watched how they drove, so walking was squelched at home. Anything we wanted was only five miles away, on dirt roads. Now, we not only walk, but walk to get to the store, walk to get to church, walk to walk. 

I remember a time when people didn't pull the car out of the garage or driveway to get milk or bread. I remember a time when even adults walked to church of a Sunday. I remember when a walk around the block was considered an evening treat in the summer.

Other families with younger parents look at me strangely when I tell them we took public transportation and walked to gym class at the local park district. Some offered to drive us. I explained that it isn't just a matter of having one car right now. Exercise is good for kids, and good for everybody. The independence of putting one foot in front of the other and creating one's own transportation as well as exercise has benefits not found in driving from place to place.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

In praise of Daddies- Let's pick' em right!

I know the Boomers didn't raise a collection of wimpy men who think the greatest achievement of their lives is to create life with the Girl-Of-The-Moment. I know because I see those young men, in their twenties, thirties and even early forties, who are dedicated to their children. 

I saw a couple just the other afternoon, at the skating rink we now attend. They were having a wonderful time with their kids, and other kids were wishing their male parents were like them.  

I saw them again in various neighborhoods walking the kids for trick or treat. Some wore costumes. All seemed to be having a good time, whether they actually were or not.

I don't think it's a matter of Society giving permission to all fathers to take off and see their offspring only when it's convenient to them. There are all these men out there doing a fabulous job of being husbands and fathers, without regard to credit for their good work. 

I think there are simply young women who aren't sure what qualities are found in a future husband. They are a minority, but they exist. First we, then our daughters, are picking slugs and lumps, punks, cads and losers. The Bad Boys might be very appealing when it comes to romance or perhaps aggravating the parents. It's the Good Boys, though, that you want when it's time to hopefully marry and make babies.

If that's harsh, remember that I have an ex-husband, and he is not my favorite person by a long shot. He was a very absent father, choosing to parent when it's convenient to him, then boo-hooing when things didn't go his way. He left us when my older kids were 4 and 3, giving our marriage a whopping 6 years when the ink dried on the divorce decree, gone long before than. In that time, he'd been unfaithful no less than 12 times, of which I have proof. He told me he wanted the divorce as I was drawing his bath. His excuse was that marriage was too confining, and he didn't think he'd really had the adolescence he required.

So, I've been there, done that, regretfully. 

This isn't really aimed at grandparents today, at least not in the sense of dealing with the adult children who've abdicated parenting. This is a preemptive strike, as it were, to attempt to prevent future generations from making the blunders that lead to baby-daddies, divorce court, dead beat dads, and really, the vicious cycle that has grandparents raising more grandchildren than at any time in history.

I am expecting mothers everywhere to tell their unmarried daughters, young and old, but even their married and divorced ones, or the ones with baby-daddies, that there is a method to the madness of choosing a spouse. The days of getting married right out of high school are long over, but making babies younger and younger is not.

Therefore, please young women, and mothers, be aware, of the following when choosing a bed partner, a boyfriend, or even a mate:
  • MEN ARE DIFFERENT. They are not harder versions of ourselves with bigger feet and less brains. They think differently than women.
  • MEN ACT DIFFERENTLY. Thank goodness! Yes, they tend to mature slowly in comparison with women, but women who want men really want them to be different. All the jokes on Facebook and YouTube, all the country songs about guys, they have a ring of truth to them. 
  • DON'T TRICK THEM. It is simply wrong to take advantage of people, whichever gender you are. If they are of an age where they don't think as quickly on their feet as women, please don't trick them into anything, whether that's paying for your meal or lying to them about birth control.
  • BE HONEST. A pimp, drug dealer, thief or sneak doesn't make a good father, and in time doesn't make a good boyfriend or husband. A man who will cheat on his current wife or girlfriend will cheat on you. It's hard to raise a child from prison, and that's usually what happens as men of lesser caliber live their lives. You still might find a jerk in church, school or through friends, but you stand less of a chance that way. 
  • GET YOUR OWN SKILLS AND KEEP THEM UP-TO-DATE. You can dream of being a stay-at-home mom. But have some skills, just in case. This doesn't only apply to dating and mating with the Bad Boys. Good men have been known on occasion to die young. 
  • DON'T GIVE TOO MUCH OF YOURSELF AWAY. Sex is an issue, but that's not what I mean in this instance. It's one thing to be a good hostess, a good sport about jokes, mature about disappointment, ready to share one's life history when the time is right. It's another entirely to wait on a man hand-and-foot, be the constant butt of his jokes, the one who constantly sacrifices, and allow him to use your life history against you. 
  • TAKE YOUR TIME.  As I stated earlier, people no longer get married at 18, right out of high school. The maturity factor simply isn't there for most young people. Think about putting off serious boy-girl dating until at least 18, maybe longer. And if you think you've found Mr. Right, or at least Mr. Possible, take your time before committing to sex AND marriage. Ten years might be too long, but nowadays, six months is much too short a time to know each other before marriage without being over 25. Seriously. Take your time. 
  • KEEP YOUR JEANS ZIPPED AND ON YOUR HIPS, LADIES. Don't tease. Don't unzip. I'd say don't unzip until you have vows said and a ring on your finger. You are worth the wait. Boomers, particularly the later version, always seemed out for a sexual conquest. We were really, most of us, very insecure. Have confidence, and wait. You will save yourself an awful lot of grief. 
  • MOTHERS, SAY SOMETHING WHEN GIRLS ARE SMALL. Yes, your 3 year old is too small to hear the intimate details of procreation. She is never too young to hear that Daddy loves Mommy if it's true. Your five year old is not too young to know that babies should be made when Mommy loves Daddy and when they are married, and that the baby grows in Mommy's body. Your 10 year old daughter is not too young to know that once she starts her period, she could get pregnant, and a good young man who works hard is worth five of the flashy ones who want to take her places and buy her things  but really want nothing but to have their way with her. It doesn't start too early, that each little girl will grow into a woman, that she is of infinite worth, and babies too early are blessings, but blessings that are much more work than having them in a marriage with a competent male when a woman is older. If Mom is not on the scene, substitute Grandma and Grandpa, even if Grandpa is dead. 
  • MOTHERS, SAY SOMETHING EVEN IF THEY ROLL THEIR EYES AND THREATEN TO NEVER ALLOW YOU TO SEE THE GRANDKIDS AGAIN. Slugs are slugs, pimps are pimps, thieves are thieves. Yes, people can change. It is unlikely and requires a great force of self-will. If she's dating a slug, SAY SOMETHING. If she won't listen to coached terms, spell it out for her. Yes, her feelings will be hurt. Would you rather raise more grandchildren?