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Parenting Issues This forum is for discussing any of the parenting issues involved in your divorce, including parenting of step-children.

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  #1  
Old 11-25-2014, 12:48 PM
Straittohell Straittohell is offline
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Default Strong pet odour attached to kids coming home from ex's house

I'm at a total loss on how to handle this.

My ex has a number of pets in her house, most notably a gerbil, and two sugar gliders. The sugar gliders (feel free to google them) generate a lot of smell and odour, especially if the cages are not cleaned on a regular basis. For quite some time, on the odd occasion that I picked up the kids from her house, the smell has pretty much hit me on the face whenever the door to the house has opened.

I'm normally of the mindset of "ex's house is her house, her business is her business, stay out of it" etc. etc.

Here's the problem. In the last two times that the kids have come to my place, the uncleaned rodent cage smell has been clinging to their coats and clothes. I normally just throw them in the shower and put their clothes in the washing machine, but I'm getting concerned that on the weeks they are with her, the smell is following them to school. I can smell it on them right away, and the smell even clings to my ex, which I discovered when we sat together during my daughter's participation in a community Remembrance Day ceremony.

Kids can be enormously cruel. I worry about them getting teased for what is becoming an increasingly noticeable stench on their clothing. Before, it was just a matter of the smell sitting in my ex's house, and I was content to leave it at that, since what happens in my ex's house is her business, and I totally get that.

But now I'm looking at it from the perspective of a parent that doesn't want their kids to get picked on at school. They are already wearing clothes to school from her house that are too small or too big for them, because my ex has not stayed on top of what they need for clothes, and also chooses to only do laundry once a week. (she actually told that to me)

I'm racking my brain trying to think of a some magical way to bring this up with my ex, but I just know that she's going to get defensive and deny it is an issue, and then also asset that it isn't any of my business. Any suggestions on how to frame this in a child-centred way that doesn't piss her off would be great.

I already know that if I eventually talk to her, that it will be framed as being about preventing our kids from being teased, but I have a sinking feeling that won't matter. What makes it worse is that she won't even realize it is a problem, much in the same way that smokers don't quite realize how the smell sticks to their clothing, and the clothing of their kids.

I really need to reiterate that I'm not looking for folks to slam me and tell me this is none of my business. I'm going to respectfully assert that when it comes to my kids being teased at school, the fact that they happen to be at their mom's for the week shouldn't completely remove me from being worried about them.

Am I over-thinking this? Should I just flat-out email her and plead my case, and hope for the best? For the moment, I am doing what I can to mitigate the problem by washing their winter coats, but I'm not sure what else I can do. I just don't want my kids getting ostracized for something like this.
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Old 11-25-2014, 12:55 PM
dinkyface dinkyface is offline
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It's a self-limiting problem. If they get teased enough, they will get rid of the pets.
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Old 11-25-2014, 01:01 PM
Straittohell Straittohell is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dinkyface View Post
It's a self-limiting problem. If they get teased enough, they will get rid of the pets.
I hadn't thought of it that way.

The over-protective part of me just wishes they don't have to go through that stuff in the first place, but I guess that is just life.
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Old 11-25-2014, 01:43 PM
stripes stripes is offline
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The smell may not be as noticeable as you think. It may seem very strong to you because you're attuned to it (and because you know the backstory about all the pets, etc), but other people don't notice it as much. I've noticed that people have very different senses of what smells strongly and what doesn't.

It sounds like there's no evidence that the kids are actually being teased - so I don't see what there is to be gained by talking to your ex about a problem when there isn't evidence of that problem. At this point, if your ex told you it was none of your business, she would be right.
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Old 11-25-2014, 01:47 PM
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If kids don't want to be called "rat shit" or other colorful names then they will quickly learn to clean the cages. I have always maintained that if kids want pets then they should learn to look after them. I certainly failed as a parent in this area - doing things myself - as my adult son is a useless tit in this regard. If I could do this again I would have INSISTED he clean the cat litter boxes. I had to do it as a kid but sadly I did not pass this on to my son.
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Old 11-25-2014, 01:47 PM
wantmyfreedom wantmyfreedom is offline
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fabreeze? and leave it alone. Its her house and her pets.
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Old 11-25-2014, 01:53 PM
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Maybe one of those highly allergic people (who can go into seizure when peanut butter breath is upon them) will complain to the mother. Failing that I think there is little you can do as this is not happening in your home. Depending upon the age of the children you could talk to them about personal hygiene and how important it is to keep one's home clean. Kids are usually creaped out about bugs. Just tell the kids that if the cages aren't clean then bugs will soon move into the home.

If cages are really, really bad (they sound like they are if the odor is transferring to kids' clothes) then there could be a health risk due to hight concentrate of ammonia in pet urine. People going in and cleaning up notorious 'cat houses' have to wear masks and that isn't just because it smells bad.
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Old 11-25-2014, 01:55 PM
Pursuinghappiness Pursuinghappiness is offline
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How old are the kids?

The reason I ask is because by school age, I had goldfish and then a series of hamsters. But I was expected to clean them myself. By the time, I was 6 or 7, I was perfectly capable of cleaning a fish bowl or animal cage.

They'll need to be taught but to do this...you can take the to your local pet store, explain the problem and ask if you can bring your kids while they clean the animal cages so the store keepers can explain how to do it.

Then the kids can participate in being responsible pet owners which is a really great thing for kids to learn.

Then of telling your ex about the smell, you can simply approach her and ask her to get the kids to clean the cages so that they can start learning life skills. Might be an easier conversation if you're giving her help rather than being critical of her housekeeping skills.
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Old 11-25-2014, 02:16 PM
Straittohell Straittohell is offline
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To answer questions about the kids cleaning the cages - the kids are 8 and 5, and never asked for the pets. They were acquired by my ex and her partner for their own amusement. We don't have the pets, so taking my kids to a pet shop to learn how to clean the cages, so that they could go back to their moms, and tell them that dad helped teach them how to clean pet cages, would probably not go over to well with my ex.

Sugar gliders are difficult animals to care for, and it is not easy to have the kids clean the cages, as they are large cages, and the animals would have to be removed from the cages and supervised in a certain way.

Rest assured, the smell is not a figment of my imagination. I wouldn't be posting if it hadn't become so noticeable, I am not the parent that sweats 'the small stuff' with my ex.

I have a large foyer in my house, and when I came home from work on the day that my kids came back from their mom's house, it is all I could smell in the foyer. I hadn't even seen my kids yet that day. We had to wash the coats, it was pretty bad.

You guys are right, I haven't heard anything about my kids being teased. I was hoping to prevent it from happening at all by getting suggestions on how to raise this with my ex in a way that wouldn't get the concerns brushed off, and result in my kids not smelling like urine and feces, but the consensus in the room is that this is not advisable, so I am just going to have to sit back and hope for the best.
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Old 11-25-2014, 03:02 PM
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The best solution is to get rid of the pets -if your ex is unwilling to care for them properly. As for the stink you could suggest she add baking soda to the wash, this will eliminate any pet odors (cats, dogs, gerbils, aardvarks no matter what).

She probably won't understand what your complaining about as pet owners grow accustomed to their stinky pets over time and hardly notice ... This problem is not for the kids to fix, they're way too young.
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