My baby's father dislikes my older son - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-03-2010, 01:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have an 11 year old son and an almost 13 year old daughter with my ex-husband. I have an toddler with a man whom I never married and have no relationship with beyond co-parenting. This man is a very devoted father and I love and appreciate him so much, but we do have issues we struggle with (as I guess everyone does). He didn't want the child until she was born, but he quickly became very attached to her.

The problem is that I believe this man is suffering from uncontrolled anxiety (he says he can't sleep from worry) and it seems that he is blaming it on my son. My son is an honors student and his teachers at school and church brag to me about his good behavior. However, he is a high-energy boy and can be rambunctious. Still, I have accidentally hurt the baby MUCH worse than my son has, in play (which is still very minor, like a scratch or a slightly mashed finger or a bump). I worked in day care for many years and I have seen kids bang each other on the head with blocks, bite each other, and push each other down. The baby's father wants her to play soccer as soon as she's 3 or 4. To prevent all injuries, you have to raise a child in a bubble, which isn't a good thing, either.

The baby's father thinks my son is too rough with the baby (who is now 19 months old) and will cause her serious injury. I have tried to assure him that I watch my kids closely and that I don't leave them unsupervised. None of my kids has ever had stitches, broken bones, or any other serious injury. On the contrary, my baby's father lost an arm and his sister lost an eye when they were young children. So, I can see his experiences are coloring his view.

My son asked me months ago, "Why does your boyfriend hate me?" (He calls him my "boyfriend" even though it isn't a correct term because he doesn't like to call him by his name). At the time, I told my son that he wasn't hated, but now I'm wondering... The baby's father has told me he is consulting a lawyer to see what the consequences are for me, my son, and my son's father if the baby is hurt, and he told me he would get a restraining order if he could to keep my son from the baby.

This is so far overblown, it could almost be funny. Ridiculous. I think he's being irrational, he thinks I'm not taking things seriously enough.

I KNOW my son and I know he adores his sister. I KNOW my baby is benefiting from a close relationship with her siblings. I KNOW accidents happen in even when people are being careful, and devastating injuries can occur in a moment. I know my son is careless enough that I have to STILL watch him to make sure he doesn't hurt himself, as well as anyone else. I take reasonable precautions to ensure the health and safety of my whole family.

I am very distressed over this. I have asked that we get family therapy several times for this and other issues, but he refuses. He thinks he isn't part of any "problem" that needs to be solved.

I know one obvious solution is to keep my son away from the baby and this man when he is visiting. He asked me the other day if my son played the same way with the baby when he wasn't around. I said, "yes". And I'm not going to lie, but I guess I should dodge the question next time. My son is a normal, healthy, energetic boy. He doesn't watch wrestling and "body slam" his sister, like I read about some other child doing, and killing his sister. He isn't rough like that. He loves to make her laugh. I know I'm his mother and don't want to think ill, but I'm also my baby's mother and I want them to play safely together and I make sure they do.

I'd sure appreciate any advice from anyone who has dealt with anything like this. I have often worried that this man will abscond with the child. He's a good man, intelligent, responsible, but I think he's a little paranoid and I think no good will come of it.
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Old 06-03-2010, 04:44 PM
 
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Do you need to supervise the visits with your dds father? Why is he around your ds to see them playing? I don't think he has a chance of getting a restraining order against your ds but I would document any incidents and even consider videotaping visits if they take place in your home. Your dd is old enough now that he could take her to the park and then drop her off after the visit so there isn't all this "togetherness". He sounds unrealistic and a little nutty.
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Old 06-03-2010, 05:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Do you need to supervise the visits with your dds father? Why is he around your ds to see them playing? I don't think he has a chance of getting a restraining order against your ds but I would document any incidents and even consider videotaping visits if they take place in your home. Your dd is old enough now that he could take her to the park and then drop her off after the visit so there isn't all this "togetherness". He sounds unrealistic and a little nutty.
No, I don't need to supervise the visits, but he is uncomfortable with her by himself as she is young.

I think things will be better when the baby is older and he's comfortable with me dropping her off, or him picking her up to take her somewhere.

He is rarely around my son, but I have taken him with me to the park a couple of times. That ain't gonna happen again, though. It is okay when he's visiting at my house and my son stays in the room with his door shut, but I feel sorry for my son getting all these bad vibes. He doesn't deserve it.

He's a little paranoid, for sure. I sure hope his attorney sets him straight. I asked him if his attorney has kids of his own, but he didn't know.
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Old 06-03-2010, 07:00 PM
 
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"The baby's father has told me he is consulting a lawyer to see what the consequences are for me, my son, and my son's father if the baby is hurt, and he told me he would get a restraining order if he could to keep my son from the baby."

I hope his lawyer sets him straight, too, and I hope you get your OWN lawyer posthaste, in order to formally establish that you have full physical and legal custody and your dd's father has reasonable access. It sounds like he has never cared for her unsupervised since she was born, so a decent lawyer should be able to get that reality made into a legality.

I'm glad that you don't have lots of negative feelings towards this guy. That can only be good for your dd. But you also seem to recognize that he is a little unstable, and a little untrustworthy. You don't want him to have power over you in this situation. Draw the lines now, while dd is still young and she won't be party to the drama.
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Old 06-03-2010, 08:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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[QUOTE=Smithie;15478231
I hope his lawyer sets him straight, too, and I hope you get your OWN lawyer posthaste, in order to formally establish that you have full physical and legal custody and your dd's father has reasonable access. It sounds like he has never cared for her unsupervised since she was born, so a decent lawyer should be able to get that reality made into a legality.

I'm glad that you don't have lots of negative feelings towards this guy. That can only be good for your dd. But you also seem to recognize that he is a little unstable, and a little untrustworthy. You don't want him to have power over you in this situation. Draw the lines now, while dd is still young and she won't be party to the drama.[/QUOTE]

We already have a custody agreement--joint custody, I've got primary residential custody, he pays child support. But we don't have specific schedules, etc. I expect that when the baby is older, she will be staying with her dad some, without me.

I really hope this blows over, but who knows what other issues are going to come up later. I try really hard to be accomodating.
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Old 06-03-2010, 08:53 PM
 
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Wow. I would keep this man far away from your son. And I completely don't buy that he can't visit with his own daughter because he is "uncomfortable" because she's young. What kind of an excuse is that? Dads all over the world take care of babies younger than that. Not that he sounds like the kind of man you really want around your dd anyway, of course.)

To be honest, and this may sound like a stretch, but what leaped to mind was that your baby's father thinks he might hurt his daughter, and is setting things up so that your son will be the one to take the fall.

I would stop trying to be accomodating with this unstable, paranoid character, right away. He sounds like bad, bad news. I second getting your own lawyer. It sounds as if you're going to need one. Good luck.
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Old 06-03-2010, 11:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow. I would keep this man far away from your son. And I completely don't buy that he can't visit with his own daughter because he is "uncomfortable" because she's young. What kind of an excuse is that? Dads all over the world take care of babies younger than that. Not that he sounds like the kind of man you really want around your dd anyway, of course.)

To be honest, and this may sound like a stretch, but what leaped to mind was that your baby's father thinks he might hurt his daughter, and is setting things up so that your son will be the one to take the fall.

I would stop trying to be accomodating with this unstable, paranoid character, right away. He sounds like bad, bad news. I second getting your own lawyer. It sounds as if you're going to need one. Good luck.
I'm afraid I have given the impression that this man is a monster--he isn't.
see him ever hurting his own child in any way.

I do think I need to stop being so accomodating. It doesn't seem to be having good results. I'll look again into getting some legal advice. I know there is no way I can afford a big custody battle. I am building my own case and I think if I share the facts, his attorney may advise him to lighten up.
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Old 06-04-2010, 06:37 AM
 
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Contemplating anything terrible happening to your child is like contemplating being tortured: You believe - quite rationally and reasonably! - that you might not be capable of handling it without losing your mind.

Add to that a childhood in which you AND a sibling both suffered debilitating and disfiguring accidents. Yikes! This guy probably feels the odds of your child having a serious accident are GREATER than the odds of her continuing to be healthy and safe. Yes, he is wrong. But that doesn't mean he's paranoid. His expectations and concerns are based on his actual experience - just like anyone else.

Add to that the essential insecurity of not being married to your child's other parent. At times, you aren't welcome to be with your child so you have zero control over what happens to her, what she's exposed to, or how she's cared for. You must trust a person you divorced, or chose not to marry, to take care of the most important person in your world! This is hard even for you (and I assume you're not paranoid)! You fear this guy is going to abduct your daughter, even though you've given no examples to justify that fear and, in fact, you've said he's a good father. Basically, you're not attached to him, you don't fully trust him, so you can't be SURE what he might do.

It sounds like he has the same mistrust and insecurity about your rough-and-tumble son and you, as your children's supervisor and protector.

I think you should tell him - sympathetically, but firmly:

* You understand how much he loves your daughter and how hard it must be to trust someone else to raise his child.

* You've done everything you reasonably can, to convince him you're a responsible parent. His doubts about that are based only on his own fears. There is no rational, concrete evidence - such as multiple broken bones or serious accidents - to suggest you're NOT careful.

* He got himself into the situation of conceiving a child outside marriage - and thus not having total control and having to trust you, when the child is with you. He needs to manage his own fears and insecurities about this. You can't do anything more to ease his mind. You're not getting rid of your older son, nor will you keep tolerating this man coming into your home, if he continues making your son feel hated and threatening to get protective orders against him! Neither you nor your son have harmed the baby and neither of you deserve to be treated as though you have.

That said, I've been around a lot of 11-year-old boys. I have one living in my home right now (also with a 2-year-old sibling). I'd only describe one of those 11-year-old boys as "careless enough that I STILL watch him to make sure he doesn't hurt himself, as well as anyone else." That boy (my cousin) has a very clear case of ADHD. (And I don't think every boy who can't sit still in grade school is hyperactive!) Whether your son is one of the rare kids who would actually benefit from Ritalin (as my cousin did); whether he needs more discipline at home; whether he needs more guidance about being gentle with the baby; or whether you just need to keep being vigilant, you should consider: Is worrying for his safety at this age really "normal"? Thinking he might skin his knee while riding his bike is one thing. Thinking he might injure himself or others due to impulsive, unsafe, "careless" behavior is different.

If he does have ADHD, it might help your daughter's father to hear you acknowledge, "I'm aware he's hyperactive. Therefore, I supervise him carefully with the baby." Having you say, "He's completely normal. All boys his age act like this," may be worrisome for your daughter's father, if he legitimately observes that your son is rougher and more impulsive than other kids.

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Old 06-04-2010, 10:33 AM
 
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If you have joint legal custody, then it's going to be an ongoing issue and you can't just put your foot down. On the plus side, the man pays child support.

(sigh) This is just a tough one. If you fear that he might take off with your 19-month-old, or fear that he can't care for her adequately on a weekend visit, then obviously you don't want to switch to that kind of visitation plan - even though it would probably be completely the best thing for your older kids, who might literally never have to see this guy again once you move to non-supervised visits.

In your shoes, I'd really closely examine the kidnapping fear and try to evaluate it rationally. A really good solution might be to offer visitation as solo daytime outings rather than as visits in your home. The visits in your home are just not appropriate given his behavior. He's not an ally of your family, he's not somebody you can trust. He shouldn't be sitting on your couch.

Another favorite custody mind game - where do you see yourself in five years? How do you see this guy involved in your dd's life when she's a second-grader? What can you do today to set down the visitation/interaction patterns that you are likely to be content with later?
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Old 06-04-2010, 12:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Contemplating anything terrible happening to your child is like contemplating being tortured: You believe - quite rationally and reasonably! - that you might not be capable of handling it without losing your mind.

Add to that a childhood in which you AND a sibling both suffered debilitating and disfiguring accidents. Yikes! This guy probably feels the odds of your child having a serious accident are GREATER than the odds of her continuing to be healthy and safe. Yes, he is wrong. But that doesn't mean he's paranoid. His expectations and concerns are based on his actual experience - just like anyone else.

Add to that the essential insecurity of not being married to your child's other parent. At times, you aren't welcome to be with your child so you have zero control over what happens to her, what she's exposed to, or how she's cared for. You must trust a person you divorced, or chose not to marry, to take care of the most important person in your world! This is hard even for you (and I assume you're not paranoid)! You fear this guy is going to abduct your daughter, even though you've given no examples to justify that fear and, in fact, you've said he's a good father. Basically, you're not attached to him, you don't fully trust him, so you can't be SURE what he might do.

It sounds like he has the same mistrust and insecurity about your rough-and-tumble son and you, as your children's supervisor and protector.

I think you should tell him - sympathetically, but firmly:

* You understand how much he loves your daughter and how hard it must be to trust someone else to raise his child.

* You've done everything you reasonably can, to convince him you're a responsible parent. His doubts about that are based only on his own fears. There is no rational, concrete evidence - such as multiple broken bones or serious accidents - to suggest you're NOT careful.

* He got himself into the situation of conceiving a child outside marriage - and thus not having total control and having to trust you, when the child is with you. He needs to manage his own fears and insecurities about this. You can't do anything more to ease his mind. You're not getting rid of your older son, nor will you keep tolerating this man coming into your home, if he continues making your son feel hated and threatening to get protective orders against him! Neither you nor your son have harmed the baby and neither of you deserve to be treated as though you have.

That said, I've been around a lot of 11-year-old boys. I have one living in my home right now (also with a 2-year-old sibling). I'd only describe one of those 11-year-old boys as "careless enough that I STILL watch him to make sure he doesn't hurt himself, as well as anyone else." That boy (my cousin) has a very clear case of ADHD. (And I don't think every boy who can't sit still in grade school is hyperactive!) Whether your son is one of the rare kids who would actually benefit from Ritalin (as my cousin did); whether he needs more discipline at home; whether he needs more guidance about being gentle with the baby; or whether you just need to keep being vigilant, you should consider: Is worrying for his safety at this age really "normal"? Thinking he might skin his knee while riding his bike is one thing. Thinking he might injure himself or others due to impulsive, unsafe, "careless" behavior is different.

If he does have ADHD, it might help your daughter's father to hear you acknowledge, "I'm aware he's hyperactive. Therefore, I supervise him carefully with the baby." Having you say, "He's completely normal. All boys his age act like this," may be worrisome for your daughter's father, if he legitimately observes that your son is rougher and more impulsive than other kids.
Thank your for your thoughtful post. I think some people are too quick to not put themselves in the other person's shoes and I really do think this man has a place in our lives if we can just keep his fears from causing too much grief for me and my other kids.

There is so much insecurity in our relationship--from the beginning, I wasn't supposed to be "long term" and I never knew when he was going to dump me. It ended up being at the half-way mark of my pregnancy. But I am really thankful that he came around after the baby was born. I do wish, though, that we had brought this baby into the world in a stable, committed relationship. I believe I made the right choice by keeping her, and he soon after she was born acknowledged that he was glad I made the choice I did rather than give into his pressure to abort or put her up for adoption. But my choice has it's own consequences and as unhappy as I am sometimes with the situation, I know if I had aborted or gaiven her away, it would be still more stressful.

He isn't always like this. This is the first "fight" in about 2 1/2 months. Several weeks ago I was the one with "irrational" fears. His sister is moving here and I found it to be threatening for some reason. He has made comments about taking the baby away if I get remarried or if I otherwise "mess up", and before I got pregnant he had told me that if he couldn't find a wife, he'd want to hire a surrogate and have his sister or mother raise the baby. I have recurrent depression and anxiety, but somewhere in the back of my mind, I realize that maybe I'm wrong and my fears are really unlikely to come to pass. We didn't really fight over this, but I was not in a good state of mind and I told him about it and he couldn't understand where my fears were coming from.

I have told the baby's father that I recognize that my son is less careful than some kids his age. I have noticed that. It isn't like I'm in denial about my son. I don't want to give the baby's father the impression that I'm blowing off his concerns.

I have ADD myself. I don't think my son would meet the diagnostic criteria and I don't think he needs meds, although I'm not opposed to them. He definitely needs more discipline and more instruction (I'm thinking about sending him to a Red Cross babysitting class) and I'm going to continue to supervise him closely.

I haven't talked to baby's dad since Tuesday when all this came up. He skipped last night without notice or explanation.

Hopefully things will be better soon.

thanks.
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Old 06-04-2010, 12:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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In your shoes, I'd really closely examine the kidnapping fear and try to evaluate it rationally. A really good solution might be to offer visitation as solo daytime outings rather than as visits in your home. The visits in your home are just not appropriate given his behavior. He's not an ally of your family, he's not somebody you can trust. He shouldn't be sitting on your couch.

Another favorite custody mind game - where do you see yourself in five years? How do you see this guy involved in your dd's life when she's a second-grader? What can you do today to set down the visitation/interaction patterns that you are likely to be content with later?
I think the kidnapping possibility is very remote. We usually get along well and he has often told me he thought I was taking good care of the baby. It's just I don't know what he'll do if I really cross him. Just a nagging fear in the back of my mind, but when I bring it up, he acts like I'm being silly.

I agree--he isn't an ally of my family. He isn't a "friend", and I can't trust him. I'd like to think that I can, but I really can't expect him to act in our best interest.

Five years? Honestly, I see things about the same, except with less or no visiting with me. He'll probably keep her overnight once a week or so. He has always said he'll be willing to take her alone when she is older. I just hope we have a better, more trusting relationship in 5 years. I hope neither of us introduces a "significant other". He has already told me he doesn't want me to be involved with another man (unless the baby is with him and I keep it secret) and I don't see how he thinks he can get married if he's telling me I can't. I think the very best situation would be for us to get to where we were those first 7 1/2 months when we were best friends, but this time have a commitment. I don't want to be single and celibate the rest of my life and I also don't want to bring more step-family members into the mix. I'm already having issues with this man and it makes me wary about bringing another man into our lives.

I hope we will eventually end up in therapy together if we can't handle things better.
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Old 06-04-2010, 12:36 PM
 
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I believe I made the right choice by keeping her, and he soon after she was born acknowledged that he was glad I made the choice I did rather than give into his pressure to abort or put her up for adoption. But my choice has it's own consequences and as unhappy as I am sometimes with the situation, I know if I had aborted or gaiven her away, it would be still more stressful.
Good for you. I always like hearing this!

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He has made comments about taking the baby away if I get remarried or if I otherwise "mess up", and before I got pregnant he had told me that if he couldn't find a wife, he'd want to hire a surrogate and have his sister or mother raise the baby.
Honestly, that sounds mean and manipulative. So does threatening to get a protective order against an 11-year-old. I mean, what would be the ultimate outcome of that, if he were successful? You'd either have to kick your son out of the house or you couldn't have your baby there?

I know people say irrational things when they're scared, but if he has a pattern of not just saying, but trying to enact mean threats to control you, you should definitely keep your son away from him. It will be bad enough for your daughter to have that in her life.

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I have told the baby's father that I recognize that my son is less careful than some kids his age. I have noticed that. It isn't like I'm in denial about my son. I don't want to give the baby's father the impression that I'm blowing off his concerns.

I have ADD myself. I don't think my son would meet the diagnostic criteria and I don't think he needs meds, although I'm not opposed to them. He definitely needs more discipline and more instruction (I'm thinking about sending him to a Red Cross babysitting class) and I'm going to continue to supervise him closely.
Then it sounds like you are approaching this appropriately.

My ex, too, has had a couple outbursts over the years where he was really at odds with me - and felt out of control (because I'm the primary caregiver) - so he lashed out and threatened to get custody and phrased it in a high-handed way, as though we both knew he could afford a better lawyer and would definitely win. Boy, there's nothing like that to make me burst into helpless, angry tears! (Which is kind of the point. Then the argument he's losing ends and he feels like he won because I got emotional - even though he didn't get what he wanted. Perhaps it's the same for your guy.) At times like that, it's very comforting for me to have my husband or father (a family law atty.) around to laugh and say, "That's the most ridiculous thing in the world. Imagine him telling a judge you should lose custody! What would he say? He'd sound like an idiot!"

So, here, let me be that voice for you: Based on what you've said, his threats sound ridiculous and you should shake it off and proceed confidently with your parenting, pitying him a little because he's not in control and that clearly frustrates him.

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Old 06-04-2010, 12:41 PM
 
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I really think you both need to be in joint family counseling. If only to get documented proof of the things he is saying. Telling you that you can't be with anyone else unless you keep it a secret is extremely controlling. He sounds like someone who would set it up so that he has full custody and has all the power. I really think the courts need to be involved in the visitation with him for a while. They need to witness this.

You are the only advocate for your daughter AND your son. This is so unfair to him. This is not something to be taken lightly and needs to be dealt with in the courts right now. By not doing that, you are choosing your daughter's relationship with her father over your son. You are setting him up to resent you and your daughter. There is no indication that he would ever hurt her and this fear coming for her father is very odd. I would be worried about him hurting her because he wouldn't know how to behave around her. Losing an eye and an arm are in no way normal accidents. That would worry me. Does he think they?
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Old 06-04-2010, 05:02 PM
 
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"He has already told me he doesn't want me to be involved with another man (unless the baby is with him and I keep it secret) and I don't see how he thinks he can get married if he's telling me I can't."

Massive. Red. Flag.

You are afraid of this guy. He tried to make you abort your baby, he tried to make you give your baby up for adoption, and now he tries to control what happens in your home with threats of taking your baby away. You are not dealing with a reasonable person here.

You need to change this dynamic. Is he really interested in being with his daughter, or is he interested in yanking your chain? If you remove access to you and your other kids from the visitation equation, he might lose interest. Even if he doesn't, you can refuse to participate in these threats that he so enjoys delivering. "You will not threaten or manipulate me. If you would like to address your issues in counseling, I would be happy to go to counseling with you." Then hang up or close the door in his face (remember not to let him over your threshold to begin with!). Over and over and over again if necessary, until he understands that you aren't going to play his games anymore.

No access to your home. No personal conversations. Draw the line. Why do you even know that his sister is coming to live in town? And if he isn't interested in visitation with his daughter that doesn't involve getting all up in your business... then you may have just saved your daughter some serious lifelong grief.

It probably sounds impossible. But it's really, really possible. The next time calls for visitation, tell him that you'll drop off dd or he can pick her up. That's just how it's going to be. That's how most people handle visitation. You are afraid of "crossing him," but you're going to be trapped by that fear until you stand up for yourself and your kids and see what happens.

Of course you don't want to be single and celibate your whole life - and you won't be. But you and your eventual new partner are going to have a much easier time of it if you draw healthy boundaries with your last partner NOW.
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Old 06-05-2010, 01:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We met at the park tonight at his suggestion. I didn't ask about the attorney and he didn't say anything. Maybe it's blown over, or maybe he did talk to the attorney and was told he was being silly.

He is really crazy about his daughter and he isn't confrontational. He actually tries to avoid conflict.

Hope we enjoy a quiet spell.
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Old 06-05-2010, 10:02 AM
 
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I really hope your son has at least one adult in his life that will put him first and advocate for him because it does not seem like you are willing to do that. You let his man threaten you with taking your daughter so you give him what he wants at the expense of your son's self-esteem. I can tell you from personal experience that he will remember this and you may lose him over it.
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Old 06-05-2010, 10:59 AM
 
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I think that's a little harsh.

OP, meeting at the park sounds fine. Letting it blow over if there are no more threats sounds fine. It doesn't actually matter what your ex thinks of your ds as long as you are keeping your ex out of your home and out of your personal life. Given the custody situation, you can't just get rid of the ex. So work on those boundaries! It's so so hard to get out of the habit of talking about your life with a person you used to be good friends with and who still acts friendly a lot of the time - but in this case, it's really important. If it's not about visitation details or dd specifically, words should not be coming out of your mouth when you are around your ex. If your other kids switch schools or start a new activity, he shouldn't know. If you start a new job or hobby, he shouldn't know. When you do get a new partner, congratulate yourself if ex doesn't find out about it until after the wedding.

His sister coming to town may seem threatening, but if she's anything less than full-on crazy, it may actually improve things. With a woman around for support, your ex might be ready to start visitation on his own (and really, how sad is it for a dad to need female-caregiver backup in order to have visitation with his toddler?). Starting up this kind of "normal" visitation will add another layer of distance between you, and start dd down the path to understanding that she has two homes and that you support her having her own relationship with her dad that is separate from her relationship with you.

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Old 06-05-2010, 11:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I really hope your son has at least one adult in his life that will put him first and advocate for him because it does not seem like you are willing to do that. You let his man threaten you with taking your daughter so you give him what he wants at the expense of your son's self-esteem. I can tell you from personal experience that he will remember this and you may lose him over it.
The thing is, I'm struggling for BALANCE, getting everybody's needs met (including baby's Dad--he has a right to have a close relationship with his daughter and I need to try to facilitate that how I can).

I am still trying to "figure him out" and it seems like it wasn't as much of a threat, as just voicing something that was a genuine concern of his, even if it wasn't as big of a deal as he things.

Hopefully, it has blown over. I enrolled both my son and daughter in American Red Cross Babysitting class in 3 weeks. I'm going to make sure they stay apart and I talk to my son a lot and make him know that he's more important than any man, but this particular man is part of our family through the baby and we have to try to all get along, and EVERYBODY's feelings are important.

If I can figure this out, it will be a good learning experience for all of us, especially my son, in learning to deal with difficult people in a healthy way.. That is what I'm trying to do--figure it out. It's a process.
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Old 06-05-2010, 11:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I think that's a little harsh.

OP, meeting at the park sounds fine. Letting it blow over if there are no more threats sounds fine. It doesn't actually matter what your ex thinks of your ds as long as you are keeping your ex out of your home and out of your personal life. Given the custody situation, you can't just get rid of the ex. So work on those boundaries! It's so so hard to get out of the habit of talking about your life with a person you used to be good friends with and who still acts friendly a lot of the time - but in this case, it's really important. If it's not about visitation details or dd specifically, words should not be coming out of your mouth when you are around your ex. If your other kids switch schools or start a new activity, he shouldn't know. If you start a new job or hobby, he shouldn't know. When you do get a new partner, congratulate yourself if ex doesn't find out about it until after the wedding.

His sister coming to town may seem threatening, but if she's anything less than full-on crazy, it may actually improve things. With a woman around for support, your ex might be ready to start visitation on his own (and really, how sad is it for a dad to need female-caregiver backup in order to have visitation with his toddler?). Starting up this kind of "normal" visitation will add another layer of distance between you, and start dd down the path to understanding that she has two homes and that you support her having her own relationship with her dad that is separate from her relationship with you.

Thanks. Yeah, I am continuing to work on diassociating with him. It is hard to break old habits.

Yes, we have already talked about how the sister can help him during his weekend visiting time, or maybe even during the week, but I have to drive the baby to them--the sister lives near his work. He has said that he does want to come to my house once a week, and I am okay with that. I think anyone knows there is nothing like company coming to help you make sure you keep your house up.

I need to maintain the same boundaries with the sister as I do with him. He doesn't want me involved with "his" family, and although he invited me into his house to socialize when they were visiting a few months ago, I declined and I never call or e-mail her anymore (we kept up around when the baby was born and I actually though we could be friends). I love her and her family, but I think, under the current circumstances, we'll all be happier if I stay out. If she REALLY wants to be friends, I'd try to work things out--she knows nobody here other than her brother, and it would be nice if we had outings with our kids. But I'm not going to be the one to pursue it. And unless baby daddy lightens up a little, I'm going to put it off. I don't think she likes me much, anyway, although she did want me to visit with them last time they were here. She can definitely get me a little bit of a break from time to time, which is welcome.

My concerns about the sister is that she will be a source of more negativity. I hope I'm wrong.
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Old 06-05-2010, 12:41 PM
 
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"He has said that he does want to come to my house once a week, and I am okay with that."

Well, you shouldn't be. He's not your partner, not your lover, not a family friend and not somebody who should hanging around your house. He openly dislikes one of your kids. People like that don't get to come into your home.

I can understand not wanting to make a huge deal about it and fling your body across the doorframe, but I really think you'd be better off changing this dynamic. He doesn't get to decide that his visitation happens in your space. I would just have it never be a good night for him to come over, but ALWAYS be a good time for visitation on his turf. Maybe "dd is old enough to start to understand that she has two homes, she needs to feel at home with you" line will pacify him. But even if it doesn't, you need to channel your inner mamabear and insist on a more typical visitation setup than what you've been doing.

BTW, he also doesn't get to decide that you do all the driving for visitation - but if it suits your purposes to do it now because it keeps him off your doorstep while you are working on your boundaries, then have at it.

You might want to move to all-email communication, too, so that you have a record of any future threats. Again, doesn't have to be a big dramatic declaration - just don't pick up the phone when it's him and send an email in response to any message that he leaves.
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Old 06-05-2010, 01:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You might want to move to all-email communication, too, so that you have a record of any future threats. Again, doesn't have to be a big dramatic declaration - just don't pick up the phone when it's him and send an email in response to any message that he leaves.
He didn't tell me that on the phone, he told me on person.

He blocked me from his e-mail in November. He told me that he got an e-mail from me that I had sent to everyone in my mailbox, though, so I don't know what is up.

I think things are going to get better. I wonder if he talked to his attorney and told him about our situation and if the attorney told him this wasn't a good idea, what we're doing. It was more okay for the first few months after the baby was born, but for some reason he pulled WAY back and got a lot more hostile. He was even taking us all out to eat for a few months. I don't know what made him do that or what made him stop. It was kind of awkward for me (what is this, a "date"?) so I don't really miss it. We just haven't settled into a situation where we are both comfortable. "Normal" vistation would definitely help.
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Old 06-05-2010, 03:47 PM
 
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I don't think it was too harsh at all. I had a parent choose their SO over me. My dad let her treat me and my sister like crap. I haven't spoken to him in 7 years and only then because he heard gossip that I had nearly died giving birth to my first child. He has never met my second child. Nothing angers me more than a parent putting someone else's wants above thier child's and that is just what this is. His requests are not reasonable and are at the expense of the OP's ds. Sitting back and just hoping that since things are better they will stay that way for awhile is not good for anyone involved. Things need to be dealt with with the courts so that these threats can be used in any future hearings. It is obvious that he is mentally unstable. He can love his daughter with all of his heart and still be unstable. He is already using the dd against the OP and it will only get worse. It will not get better. Sometimes being blunt with the truth is what someone needs to hear to make them realize the situation is actually more serious than they want to believe it is.
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Old 06-05-2010, 03:51 PM
 
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In this thread, there have been several positive references to the idea of you and this man attending counseling together. Let me present for your consideration the opposite thought.

Therapy - when done well - involves significant time and emotional investment. (It's not just the time you spend in someone's office, but the time you spend thinking about what was said there, or what you want to say next time, or whether you're doing the work you agreed to do, and whether he is.) I think it's better and healthier to invest that time in relationships that have a future - or at least relationship which you hope might have a future.

Yes, this man will always be in your life because of your daughter. But she can't go to counseling with him. And it sounds like you and this man are not going to work things out and get back together. I know the therapy goal would be "co-parenting", not necessarily reconciliation. But if you were once "best friends" and lovers and you have a child togther, but your problems are too great for you to raise that child together, I can't imagine therapy producing results that will satisfy either of you. It would become a forum for dwelling on all the things that pushed you away from each other in the first place. Worse, if this guy is manipulative, it could very well become another way for him to try to control you. Manipulative people often use joint counseling as a way to say, "See? I told you you owe it to me to do such-and-such. And what I got out of that counseling session is that the therapist agrees with me."

In my experience, good co-parenting happens after two people give themselves time and space to adjust to the break-up, lick their wounds, get on with their separate lives, return to feeling hopeful and confident about themselves... and slowly realize there's just no reason to resent or feel threatened by each other anymore, since you're not trying to build a life together anymore. I think it would be harder for that to happen if you're engaging in the emotional intimacy of therapy together every week. And some people cannot get past all the old stuff, to become a good co-parent.

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Old 06-06-2010, 01:45 AM
 
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Boundaries. The feeling I get from you is that you and your kids are at the mercy of his whims and moods. This is not good. You said he was even taking you and the kids out to dinner for a while- but you were uncomfortable with it because you didn't know what [U]he[U] meant by it. A lot of this sounds like classic manipulative garbage- the hot and cold behavior, playing family one month and blocking you from his email another- this just isn't good.

I think what sounds really wrong here is about your son. If he was running around like a tasmanian devil one day when ex was over and you sent him to his room to calm down, ok. But if he spends whole visits in there just to avoid rubbing ex the wrong way with his normal personality, not ok. That is your home, your son's home, and in no way is it acceptable for ex to have that kind of control over the people who live there.

And how is that he gets to be "willing" to have his dd for visits? For crying out loud! Unless you agree that he can't be trusted to have her on unsupervised visits, there is no earthly reason for you, or anybody to supervise. None of this is supposed to be all on his terms! Healthy relationships just don't work that way.

The one and only sure way to deal with this kind of stuff is to mentally put your own boundaries where you feel comfortable having them, and then don't let them cross them. He will deal, really. He doesn't have any actual power in your life. When you have your parenting time, you are free to parent in your way, and same for him. He has nothing to say about your son, and you don't have to listen to him or have a conversation about him at all. I could go on. You can talk to his sister and be her best friend if you want to. Who cares what he thinks?

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Old 06-06-2010, 02:48 AM
 
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I hope this doesn't sound harsh, but it sounds like you are confused or in denial about what you want from this relationship. You say you wish things would go back to the way they were the first 6 months you were together. Your ex says that he doesn't want you to ever be in another relationship because he's so threatened by another man in your daughter's life and you seem to accept this as somehow normal. You say you don't want to get in another relationship in the future. I think you are hanging on to the hope that things with this guy will normalize and that somehow you will become some kind of family. It seems pretty clear that this is not going to happen but you are allowing this hope to put you in a position where you are manipulated by him. This is a very unhealthy dynamic. It doesn't allow you to move on. And more importantly, in this case, it's bad for your children. It's bad for your son because his self-esteem and relationship with his sister are being impacted by it. It's bad for your baby daughter because she will grow up without a clear sense of her relationship to her parents and them to each other. It will not end well.

I think you need to accept that this man will be nothing more to you than your daughter's father and move immediately to develop a mediated, court-approved custody agreement that spells all the terms out in very clear terms.
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Old 06-06-2010, 03:02 PM
 
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I agree with Jeanine that therapy is not the way to go. But mediation could be really helpful. Wouldn't it be nice to work this stuff out with someone int he room whose JOB is to make sure YOU are heard and what YOU want for your daughter is taken into serious consideration?

I don't think therapy doesn't have a place in your current situation, though. I expect it could also be helpful to you to have someone help you sort out your own feelings about your relationship with this man.

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Old 06-06-2010, 03:44 PM
 
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I think you need to accept that this man will be nothing more to you than your daughter's father and move immediately to develop a mediated, court-approved custody agreement that spells all the terms out in very clear terms.
I agree with this. The boundaries in this situation are really off.
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Old 06-06-2010, 07:07 PM
 
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... He asked me the other day if my son played the same way with the baby when he wasn't around. I said, "yes". And I'm not going to lie, but I guess I should dodge the question next time. ....
It seems like it is perfectly fine to lie lie lie lie lie in this situation! Why on earth would you not lie to this guy, that clearly needs one specific answer!

Lying is fine for mama-bears protecting their young!!!
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Old 06-07-2010, 11:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't think it was too harsh at all. I had a parent choose their SO over me. My dad let her treat me and my sister like crap. I haven't spoken to him in 7 years and only then because he heard gossip that I had nearly died giving birth to my first child. He has never met my second child. Nothing angers me more than a parent putting someone else's wants above thier child's and that is just what this is. His requests are not reasonable and are at the expense of the OP's ds. Sitting back and just hoping that since things are better they will stay that way for awhile is not good for anyone involved. Things need to be dealt with with the courts so that these threats can be used in any future hearings. It is obvious that he is mentally unstable. He can love his daughter with all of his heart and still be unstable. He is already using the dd against the OP and it will only get worse. It will not get better. Sometimes being blunt with the truth is what someone needs to hear to make them realize the situation is actually more serious than they want to believe it is.
I am SOOO sorry about your childhood situation. I don't think I'm choosing this man over my son. Believe me, if we didn't have this child together, there would be absolutely no contact. I feel the hackles raise on the back of my neck when I feel like my children are being threatened. But I don't want to do anything that will make me look bad in court, should we get there. My son and I talk a lot and I think at this point, he' s not too upset--we all think this man is being unreasonable.

Keeping things in perspective--most of the time--by FAR most of the time, our lives are conflict-free regarding this man's involvement. I think everyone is entitled to a "bad week" every once in a while. I think I have gotten some good advice here.

Thanks.
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Old 06-07-2010, 11:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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In my experience, good co-parenting happens after two people give themselves time and space to adjust to the break-up, lick their wounds, get on with their separate lives, return to feeling hopeful and confident about themselves... and slowly realize there's just no reason to resent or feel threatened by each other anymore, since you're not trying to build a life together anymore. I think it would be harder for that to happen if you're engaging in the emotional intimacy of therapy together every week. And some people cannot get past all the old stuff, to become a good co-parent.
Well, you may be right. It's a moot point, though, as we're never goingt to get family therapy anyway. He would never go for it, but your comments make me feel better about this point on which he won't bend.
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