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DS1 (11) hates dad's girlfriend, wants to only live with me

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I'm at a loss for how to deal with this.

 

Brief background:

- X moved out September 2012, after 15 years

- Girlfriend dates back to March or Feb 2013

- X was abusive to me, in front of the kids, and to DS1

- DS1 is scared of his father

- DS2 is 8, DS3 is 4

- We share custody 50-50

- X claims I am an incompetent mom and responsible for DS1's emotional/behavioural problems (major rage all his life only released on me) but X refuses consent for ds1 to see any kind of counsellor/therapist and would sabotage any therapy if I got a court order.

- Ministry for Children and Family assigned a wonderful family counsellor who comes to my home once a week, but X refused him.

 

GF seems nice enough. I have not met her, but outright anger or meanness by her is not an issue. Ds1 says that she is trying to be their mom and tells them to hug her and she calls them 'sweetiepie', etc. Could be worse!

 

He called me yesterday afternoon crying from his dad's begging me to come get him, saying he hates his dad, he hates the girlfirend and never wants to go there every again. He's been saying this since the separation, but it waned for a while but is now full-force. He said his dad is ruining his life and so is the girlfriend and if I don't get him, he's taking the bus to my house. I talked him out of it. It seems that he walked in on them yesterday. I don't know what he saw exactly, but he said that she was on top of his dad in his dad's bed and it was horrible for him. 

 

Then he called me again last night at 11pm from under his covers sobbing because the GF was spending the night. He couldn't sleep but I finally got him calm enough to try to go to sleep and he did by around 11:30pm. He was enraged again because that means she will likely go with them on their big trip to their cousins house today and he feels that will ruin the day for him. So he wants to take the bus to my house instead. If he tries to do this today, what do I do???

 

He doesn't feel safe talking to his dad. His dad was doing better, but he seems to be slipping and his abusive tendencies vs. DS1 are returning. He is outright mean and strips poor DS1 of whatever little bit of self-confidence he has. 

 

Our plan yesterday was for him to get through until Monday when he returns to my house and then I (with the help of the family counsellor) would help DS1 write an email to his dad telling him how he feels. My hope is that an honest email from ds1 might initiate a conversation between the two that would somehow help ds1 feel more comfortable with the situation. But he's scared that X will just get mad at him for it (very possible), so he's not sure what to do.

 

ANY BTDT SUGGESTIONS? Thank you!!!

post #2 of 12

This does sound like a bad situation and I very much feel for you and your son. It seems that you and your son have good communication or at least established communication. But what about you and your EX? Do you tell your son to put him on the phone so you two can talk it through when your DS asks to come home for example? It seems like the EX needs to be a part of this conversation. While I do certainly sympathize with not wanting to communicate with someone with your EX's problems.  I would start with a one one one conversation between you and your EX with the intent that the next conversation be between your son and your EX. For example, EX probably won't believe you if you say DS was irked because girlfriend was going to the cousins house. It may carry  more weight when DS tells him how he feels. But the three of you need to build to that point where DS communicates with his Dad when he is at his house.

post #3 of 12

Unfortunately I think the only thing you can do is tell your son that he's got to try and make the best of the situation. If he takes the bus home in the middle of his time with his dad, wouldn't you have to let XH pick him up and bring him right back if that's what XH decided to do? I'd probably let DS know that. It sounds like DS has learned that talking to his dad is futile, it might be better to just accept that. Attempts at communication will always back-fire where someone who doesn't care about your feelings is concerned. It might be better to not encourage him to bang his head against that wall.

 

The courts don't care at all about a child's well being, it's perfectly acceptable to them for a child's father to subject them to all kinds of emotional trauma. Any concerns you bring up will be pooh-poohed, and if you bring up the abusive tendencies the Judge will most likely award your ex more access or rights, just to punish you. They tend to see it as hysteria or exaggeration, rather than genuine fear about what is being done to your kids. 

 

I know it goes against all your instincts to let this happen, but the courts are intent on giving fathers as much time with their kids as possible, but they don't have enough checks in place for abusers... or rather, the checks are ignored and down-played by the Judges. You can't protect him, sadly this is his life now.

post #4 of 12

I re-read and realized how negative I sound, and I am sorry for that. I just think that you can minimize the damage by recognizing that some things can't be changed or made better. Sometimes the best you can do is develop strategies to deal with things as they are and hope that is enough for the kids to get by on.

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by easydoesit View Post
 

This does sound like a bad situation and I very much feel for you and your son. It seems that you and your son have good communication or at least established communication. But what about you and your EX? Do you tell your son to put him on the phone so you two can talk it through when your DS asks to come home for example? It seems like the EX needs to be a part of this conversation. While I do certainly sympathize with not wanting to communicate with someone with your EX's problems.  I would start with a one one one conversation between you and your EX with the intent that the next conversation be between your son and your EX. For example, EX probably won't believe you if you say DS was irked because girlfriend was going to the cousins house. It may carry  more weight when DS tells him how he feels. But the three of you need to build to that point where DS communicates with his Dad when he is at his house.

I'm still scared to talk to X. I don't feel strong enough yet. I know that doesn't model good communication with ds1. Our wonderful family counsellor comes tomorrow and I'll discuss with him what to do. I know that ultimately DS1 needs to be able to communicate with his dad and I need to help him do this. I also know that it's important for ds1 to recognize X and I as a parenting team.... that's just so crazy hard, if not impossible, given the type of person X is. But it's like what Mummoth says, this is simply the way it is and we all have to adapt. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mummoth View Post
 

Unfortunately I think the only thing you can do is tell your son that he's got to try and make the best of the situation. If he takes the bus home in the middle of his time with his dad, wouldn't you have to let XH pick him up and bring him right back if that's what XH decided to do? I'd probably let DS know that. It sounds like DS has learned that talking to his dad is futile, it might be better to just accept that. Attempts at communication will always back-fire where someone who doesn't care about your feelings is concerned. It might be better to not encourage him to bang his head against that wall.

 

The courts don't care at all about a child's well being, it's perfectly acceptable to them for a child's father to subject them to all kinds of emotional trauma. Any concerns you bring up will be pooh-poohed, and if you bring up the abusive tendencies the Judge will most likely award your ex more access or rights, just to punish you. They tend to see it as hysteria or exaggeration, rather than genuine fear about what is being done to your kids. 

 

I know it goes against all your instincts to let this happen, but the courts are intent on giving fathers as much time with their kids as possible, but they don't have enough checks in place for abusers... or rather, the checks are ignored and down-played by the Judges. You can't protect him, sadly this is his life now.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mummoth View Post
 

I re-read and realized how negative I sound, and I am sorry for that. I just think that you can minimize the damage by recognizing that some things can't be changed or made better. Sometimes the best you can do is develop strategies to deal with things as they are and hope that is enough for the kids to get by on.

 

Lol. It was negative, but sadly realistic. I see you're in BC, too. The 50-50 push is so strong here. Even when there is proven physical abuse against the mother, if there is no evidence that he has been abusive to the children then he still gets 50-50. I've done my research through hundreds of cases of abuse in BC in the last decade and it's tragic. There's good reason to have such a jaded view. We had a Section 15 evaluation done by a forensic child psychologist who found that my and ds1's reports of abuse were most likely true, given X's personality tests and ds1's persistent reporting over the years, but because there was no evidence of current problems (because the kids were too scared to say anything bad about their dad) she had no reason to recommend anything other than 50-50. If it weren't for getting that S.15 report, though, I was in a tough place of being accused of Munchausen Syndrome and being an inadequate parent - incapable of setting boundaries (not accepting that my parenting was compromised because I had to protect ds1 from X's violence). Going into the S.15 it did not look good for me and X was asking that ds1 live exclusively with him with me having limited to no access. Even my lawyer told me the cards are stacked against me. It's scary.

 

I found out on Monday that ds3 (4) sleeps in bed in between X and GF when she stays over. Accepting that kind of blending of famiilies is just so HARD! It almost makes me want to go out there and get a partner just out of spite. I'm not that immature, though, but it really triggers anger and a sense of injustice. 

 

Thank you for your btdt thoughts with this. Maybe I'll get to come here some day with questions of my own about being in the step-mother role.... maybe. ;)

post #6 of 12

Luckily,I don't have to deal with 50/50 custody but unfortunately there is proven abuse against my son (my ex served an 18 month suspended sentence for physically assaulting our then 5 year old) My ex was absent for 5 years and has just been back in the picture off and on for a little over a year. The kids behaviour went completely haywire after the reintroduction, and again whenever he comes back after dumping them for a few months. I wanted him to be honest about how much access he really wants, so that at least the kids know what to expect if it's just 4 or 6 times a year. The Judge ignores the fact that he's skipping visits and doesn't respond to their emails when he's 'off again', doesn't take into account how hard it is on the kids to be kept in this state of not knowing where they stand with him. Her solution is to make it easier and easier on my ex, so that he hardly has to put in any effort at all to see them, in the hopes that that will keep him in the picture. It won't, it's only a matter of time until they get dumped again.

 

Part of how she's made it easier for him is to allow the kids to have overnights with him at his home, a ferry ride away from us... and that is without having ever required him to produce proof that he's done anything at all to manage his anger problem. He had a tantrum when he was served and screamed at the Judge during the hearing... his anger is NOT under control. Basically, we are in the position of waiting for him to become violent again before we can protect the kids. Ministry of Children and Families is involved with us and I've been told point blank that these Judges make orders that are harmful or downright dangerous to kids and I've been advised to create a safety plan for when the inevitable happens. The kids bring my cell with them when they go on a visit and there's an info file open with the RCMP so if they call, they will know to look for the kids at my ex's house and what numbers to call to get ahold of their step-dad or me, their MSP numbers, etc. The kids had to memorize the address there and we talked about being able to got o a neighbour if there's an emergency, etc. 

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 

Wow. Yes, that's a whole other level of fear. I'm mostly worried about their emotional safety. No real child protection issues. X used to physically abuse ds1 but that ended 5 years ago and I really don't think he would do anything physical now. He might angrily grab ds3 but I'm pretty confident he would be sure it wasn't as bad as it was when ds1 was little. What you are describing is absolutely terrifying. But it seems that with the whole father's-rights and the notion of it being in the best interest of the child to maintain a relationship with their father completely negates the possibility that it in some situations it is best for the child to have no relationship. 

 

The Ministry is involved with us, too, but I didn't get support. Instead our social worker loved my X and believed his lies and told the S.15 psychologist that she strongly doubted my allegations of abuse and believed I had been 'coaching' ds1 about what to say about his father.

 

It's like a minefield out there :(

 

I'll be thinking of you and your kids and hoping that they can safely get to a point (age?) where they no longer have to have him in their lives. 

post #8 of 12

Oh, the 'no current problems' thing is such BS, too. If you can't use even the last few months as an example of what has been happening when you are expressing concerns about how things will go in the future, what can you do? 

 

What does MCFD say about the sleeping arrangements? Does your son have a safety plan in place? Maybe that's something he could do with you or the counsellor at your place, work on what he can do in the situations where he is scared or upset. Does he know anyone else in the neighbourhood where his dad's house is? Or is there a park he can go to safely to get some space? Maybe the girlfriend would be more receptive to his concerns than his dad, and be able to mediate some of the conflict? (I know that one's a stretch) I think having a plan helps my kids to cope with their anxiety.

post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 

I haven't said anything yet about the sleeping arrangements. I just found this out on Monday and I'm going to wait to talk to my wonderful family counsellor (Ministry appointed and a Ministry program) to see what he says about it. If I can set a boundary without inciting X's rage and revenge, all the better. And this family counsellor is great at that. He is old and has spent decades working with abusive men.

 

I like the idea of developing a coherent plan for ds1. It would help both of us. I'm going to discuss this also with the family counsellor tomorrow.

post #10 of 12

I am ill to think of how you are forced to close your eyes and hand your children over to these kind of "men." My experience has been on the other side of the fence, with a DH who got shut out for several years by a mom who told all kinds of lies to keep DSD away from him, so it's easy for me to see/believe the injustice of blocking a loving parent from seeing their child. But this other extreme is so much worse. I can't believe the courts (even if it's the law, that the specific judges, mediators, counselors you have each seen) can manage to be so cold on the issue and order your children into these situations. My thoughts and prayers are with you both and your children.

 

I don't have advice, I just couldn't read and not let you know that you're being heard. You are such strong women, supporting your children through these kinds of circumstances.

x1000 on creating a plan for your DS, lilgreen. Even if there were things you could do through the system to resolve this, I still think it would be good to have your children prepared for what-ifs. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. Unfortunately it is hard to prepare your children for what-ifs without risking ex finding out and calling it alienation. I hope the counselor can help you walk that fine line to protect your children.

post #11 of 12

The way around the alienation thing is pretty easy, you don't go "I need you to practice dad's address so you can call the police when he goes crazy and beats you up again." or anything like that. They know our home address and that they can run to a neighbours if there's a fire here, so I used that as an example of an emergency where they'd need that information. I've said that if anything happens at home that has them really scared, like if they couldn't wake me up or when my son is home alone, if he thinks someone is trying to break in, etc. They need to have that information for ANY emergency, not just ones caused by their birth dad. My son has anxiety around his dad and brought up the specific situation of his dad losing his temper so I confirmed for him that he could run to a neighbour or call the police if that happens but I tried to keep the focus off that specific scenario as much as possible.

 

My ex's girlfriend disallowed my son from using the phone when they had an issue during a visit already, so we didn't need to mention anything that might happen at a future visit when we started having them bring the phone, that is just so that they can call whenever they want or need to.

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 

So, a week later and not much is different. There is nothing I can do about ds3 co-sleeping with GF. Acceptance.

 

I had a talk with ds1 when he returned to me on Friday. I explained the legal limits of what I can and can't do. I told him that I will help him to find the words to talk or write to his dad about problems and by listening to him. But I made it clear that problems at his dad's are problems that he needs to work out with him. I reassured him that his dad loves him and that I would love to see him and his dad's relationship get stronger. I told him that if he has any ideas how I can help him with this, to let me know.

 

All the while, he just ranted how he hates his dad and he doesn't even want to ever call him dad ever again. he said he can't stand living this life any more and he never wants to see his dad's face ever again. He went on about how angry his dad gets at them and how the GF does nothing to stop him. I told him that it's a hard place for her to be in because it sounds like she is a caring nice person, but she feels she can't step in because she is not their parent. I then told him that he has so much hard stuff to deal with - way more than most kids his age - and that it can really help to talk about it with someone who's not part it all. And I encouraged him to talk to the school counsellor. He said he will never do that - he will never talk to 'those kind of people' ever again (referring to clinician, social worker, family counsellor... who revealed what ds1 said about his dad and his dad twisted it on ds1). I told him that if he feels so strongly that daddy's home is not safe for him, then he needs to tell that to those people. I told him that I know that his dad loves him, but that I'm seeing and hearing that he is really upset about this situation and so the only things that can do anything about it are to talk to his dad (and I reiterated taht I could help him with this), or start talking to other people like the counsellor. But I finished by saying that I most want to help him be happy or at least find it tolerable to be at his dad's because I know that his dad loves having him there and spending time with him. And I added that I would be very happy if eventually he got to become friends with GF - adding that I don't want him to ever worry about me because I will always be his mother and that means that we share a special love that will never change no matter what friends we make. So as long as she is nice to them and loves them, then I am happy.

 

Ds1 told me last night that his dad regularly asks him if he's been talking to the social worker, clinician, or family counsellor. Hence his fear of talking to them! 

 

Two nights ago ds2 went on and on at bedtime about how much he hates GF and how angry he is with daddy. He said that he wants GF out of their lives. He said that the only good thing about her is that his daddy doesn't get as mad as often because he's showing off to GF. I told him the same about our special love, etc. to hopefully squash stress about loyalty.

 

Last night, ds3 flipped out because today he goes to his dad's. He said all kinds of horrible things and said that the GF actually dates back to before Xmas (we separated in Sept 2012) and that she is 30 (7 years younger... fits with his need to control) and is super annoying with how happy she tries to be all the time. (could be waaaaay worse I know! lol) He said his dad's family all can't stand her because she's so annoying. He said said his daddy has already gotten mad at her a bunch of times (with kids there to witness - great) and gave an example from last weekend while they were all driving in the van together. (Thank goodness it's not me!!!! That left me celebrating.) He said he's ready to talk to my lawyer. because he wants his dad out of his life. I asked him if it would be better if the GF weren't there and he said yes, but that daddy would probably get more angry more often so he doesn't really know what would be better. he said he just hates his life. he said he wants to kill his dad. Ugh. 

 

I tried to suggest that maybe she could be an ally and maybe because she's so nice, she will be able to help their dad change to become softer. I also tried to initiate some empathy for her by suggesting that it must be pretty hard for her to be the only one in the family from the outside and feel like no one likes her or welcomes her but it sounds like she's trying really hard but she's probably never done this before and doesn't quite do it right. I told him he could talk to her and that she would probably be easier to talk to. That freaked him out because X would know he talked to her and would get mad. He said he will never feel anything for her - he has never looked at her face, never spoken to her, never smiled at her and never will.

 

That's my long rambling update. Thank you all for the commiseration and support. This stuff is messy!!!!!!!  Family counsellor comes tomorrow and I talk to my lawyer tomorrow. No need to reply since I've inevitably shifted this thread from a blended family problem to an ex-husband/father-son problem.... shoulda seen that coming! lol. Thank you all! xo


Edited by lilgreen - 10/9/13 at 1:25pm
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