As my DS gets older (going into first grade in the fall), I am more and more frequently being put in a position where I have to delicately address the sensitive issue of inappropriate/inaccurate things his dad has been telling him/ saying in his presence. Brief backstory: I left his dad over four years ago due to domestic/emotional/mental abuse, controlling/manipulative behavior ans so on & so forth. It's his pattern, his past relationships were similar, It was my ONLY relationship like that (I am married and have a totally healthy, happy relationship presently). He had a long term live-in girlfriend who was very similar to me when i met him- she was in her early 20's (he's in his mid/late 30's), quiet, isolated, super sweet, submissive, kind, you get the picture.
She finally got out. While it breaks my heart for my kids, I totally support her. I was struggling hearing my son confide in me and my mom and my stepson about his dad yelling at her, fighting, her crying all the time. some of the stories were so eerily similar to my own. On top of this, my kids were older, more aware of what was going on and being said, more impressionable. i left because I wanted to give my boys a chance to break that cycle. of course i can't control their life with Dad, but it's hard to do damage control being removed from the situation!
My ex's GF did everything for my kids. My other DS from that relationship is a year older than his brother, and has Autism. he is pretty intense at times, is non verbal, and has a lot of behavioral issues that come and go. She stepped up- at 23- and was like a mom to them from day one. feeding them, buying them things, putting them to bed, bathing & dressing, driving them to & from school. Their are a lot of unpleasant details about unfairness and control and unkindness on my ex's part in the mix, but she was a GOOD person. She finally left him and she STILL let him drive her car to work for two months (because he comandeered it since she bought it two years ago, letting her drive his pos car). She just took it back and he got an old beater truck.
So my DS and my EX have told me a lot of things- some that I have discussed on these forums before- and it just keeps happening. First it was delicately trying to handle my son crying about them fighting etc and trying to not alienate his dad WHILE telling him behavior like that towards women/your partner is wrong. Then it was my ex telling DS she didn't love them anymore. Then he blamed their demise on "her childlike animosity" towards my son with ASD. Which is total bullshit. And he keeps saying that to DS2- that she left because she didn't like DS1! Who she stepped up and cared for for the better part of hear early/mid 20's. And even if it were true, it's okay is someone needs a break from a child like my son who has the issues he has. It's hard. And I know she stayed all this while FOR my kids.
Now DS just told me & DSS that he "really hopes his dad finds a nice girl! because (old gf) wasn't nice!" and "I hope he finds a girl who is nice and FAIR. Because (old gf) WASN'T fair."
What. If there were any two things she was, it was a) nice and 2) fair. To a fault. I asked him what he meant by that. Who thinks that? He said his dad said it to him. And that she wasn't "fair" because she would "always do things without them, go places without them, buy things for herself and not his dad/brother/self. Major flashback. He totally isolated her, they were almost always together. I was the same. He freaked out any time I spent money on myself, or if I wanted to do something without him. This woman bought groceries for my kids, drove them everywhere, was a mom to them, paid half the bills AND covered his ass every time he quit his job (one time for 6 months) AND let him drive her new car to work while she drove his POS lemon or biked, even AFTER she left him.
SO. I, again, tried to delicately approach this with DS, reminding him of all the good, nice, and fair things she did for them, and that sometimes when grown ups are sad or have hurt feelings they say things they don't mean. And that, again, It isn't his brother's fault either, and even if she did need to leave because of him that was okay, because sometimes people need a break, that his mommy & daddy will always be there for him and that's our job.
Okay, so I said the totally PC thing. But, It's bothering me. This most of all- that he is slandering this person to my kids, and not only is it inappropriate and untrue, but it is also totally conflicting and sending a VERY mixed message to DS- he witnessed this woman be a good mom figure to them, bend over backward for their dad, be fair, kind, loving, etc- and they witnessed their dad being controlling, unkind, unfair, and yelling at/ being scary towards her- (it was always "he was mad and yelling, she was sad and crying"- sounds familiar) And now DS is being told over and over about how SHE was unkind/ unfair/ selfish/ didn't really love them/ etc. It is so messed up and backward, and I feel like trying to be PC about it falls short of standing up for abused women, breaking the cycle, and teaching my kids about being good, honest, kind people.
Even if you are not in my exact situation, I know a lot of blended families go through this sort of thing- where one parent or step parent slanders/ talks inappropriately about their ex/ ex's new partner to their kids and it gets back to them. How is that usually handled? How direct would you be with your child, if you don't want to demonize the other parent?