When Your Ex tells your kids false/misleading/inappropriate things... - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 9 Old 08-07-2013, 12:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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?

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#2 of 9 Old 08-08-2013, 11:28 AM
 
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I would probably just say something like "Being mad at her is easier for you than feeling lonely for her. She was nice, but you're mad that she's gone." and see what he says to that. If he tells you specifically "Dad says..." then you can say "Well, different people have different opinions. What do you think?" Try not to worry about what the dad is saying and just encourage him to think for himself. He has a lot of information from having known her for years and he can come to his own conclusions.

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~Teresa, raising DS (Jan. 02) and DD1 (Jun. 04) and DD2 (Dec. 11) with DH.

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#3 of 9 Old 08-08-2013, 03:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Tru Mummoth, and we did get to the heart of that, and he personally isn't mad at her at all- it is absolutely coming from his dad, and I personally feel that it is very inappropriate to be slandering your recent ex to a six your old who misses them badly and loved them. i wouldn't be as worried except for the fact his dad is a manipulative person who constantly demonizes women- I DO NOT want my child learning that from him.

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#4 of 9 Old 08-08-2013, 04:58 PM
 
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Unfortunately, he is going to learn that his dad believes that, but he'll also have wonderful female role models in his life that prove to him that women are NOT what his dad says about them. Can the kids visit with her? Maybe it is it too soon for that, but she's been part of their lives and there's no reason why THEY have to break up with her, too. Even if she doesn't want to be part of their lives in the long run, there must be a way to allow them to ease away from her. The abruptness must feel horrible to them (even if your oldest can't express that) and I'm sure your little one is trying on the things daddy says to try and make better sense of it, since all he saw was that she left.

 

and I say this not to take sides, but because there aren't sides where the kids are involved and it just hurts them for the grown-ups to force them to. My XH's dad divorced his step-mom when we were in our 20's (they married when XH was 2 or 3) and it made all the difference that she was still part of the family, even if she eventually backed off more and more (though she also did that with her own kids, so it might not have been particular to XH as her step-son)


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#5 of 9 Old 08-09-2013, 09:46 AM
 
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My BIL grew up with a chauvinistic, bitter father that he saw frequently. He lived with his mom and step-dad. He is a good husband and one of the most involved fathers I know. He doesn't share his dad's views at all. I think he's disappointed that his dad is like that but sees it as his dad's loss. He gets annoyed with hearing his dad bash on my sister and withdraws from him for months at a time. Basically, this guy's attitude has prevented him from enjoying his life and it makes him a miserable person to be around. Ultimately that's what I'd guess you can predict for your son's relationship with his dad... he isn't going to want to hear the negativity and spend less time with his dad once he has a choice. All you can really do is keep emphasizing that he can form his own opinions about people.

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~Teresa, raising DS (Jan. 02) and DD1 (Jun. 04) and DD2 (Dec. 11) with DH.

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#6 of 9 Old 08-14-2013, 02:21 PM
 
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mamakitsune, I could have written your post. My ex husband's ex girlfriend was awesome. She did more to create a child friendly, family environment than my ex ever did. He treated her the same way he treated me, like crap. They fought a lot and my ex cheated on her. My DS witnessed a fight between my ex, his ex girlfriend, and the girl he was cheating with. It got physically violent. My ex talked a lot of shit about me to my kids for years and he did the same thing when he and the girlfriend broke up. DS even said to me "I don't know who to believe". I told him that he didn't have to believe anybody because he had seen with his own eyes the way things really were. I don't beat around the bush. I straight up say the way your dad treated her was inappropriate. My DH and I have a great, loving, respectful relationship and DS can see the difference between the way we are and the way his dad is in relationships. I refuse to sugar coat abusive behavior. My ex hit his ex girlfriend and when I heard about it, I was very clear with my kids that under NO circumstances was that ok. You just can't send a mixed message on that one. My kids don't see their dad anymore but that's another story. 
 

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#7 of 9 Old 08-25-2013, 06:36 PM
 
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You're going to have to be honest.  And being honest doesn't mean demonizing the other parent.  People have faults.  I do not slander the other side of my kids' family, but I never turn a blind eye either.  There are real personality faults that I want my kids to be aware of, so they don't have the wool pulled over their eyes.  I want them to be able to evaluate character traits, form their own opinions, and stand up for themselves.  Validation of the child's feelings and their spoken opinions is essential to them developing healthy relationships. 
 


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#8 of 9 Old 08-26-2013, 04:22 AM
 
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For example, my exH has a problem with exaggerating everything, and I mean everything.  It's like he physically CAN'T just tell the truth about anything.  So I taught my kids what hyperbole means.  They caught on really well.  The 5yo will sometimes remind me, "Mom, you're hyperbole-ing."  LOL  So I know they can catch their dad and grandma in the act too.  I figured I could demonize and tell my kids their dad and grandma lie, or I could teach them that hyperbole is a funny word game. 


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#9 of 9 Old 08-26-2013, 07:08 PM
 
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Well, we just had a new experience with this last week. My 11 year old came home from a visit telling me that I only keep them because I get money for them (child support got adjusted up in court earlier this month so I guess someone is bitter) I just laughed and was like "Oh, if all we cared about was money it would be cheaper not to have you. We spend waaaay more money on you each month than I get for child support! And we're happy to spend it because we love you." My son was really looking for a fight and didn't want to hear it, so I dropped it until he was calmer. We laid it out for him that renting a larger place costs us X extra, his share of the grocery bill is about Y amount, we spend about Z on other things like clothes or entertainment each month, etc. As you can imagine it very quickly added up to a BIG number, much more than child support, as I'd said. He was like "Okay, okay, I get it!" When we went back to school shopping a few days ago, and when the cashier rang up the bill, I made eye contact with him and gave him the biggest "cheese!" grin I could muster, and he laughed. I never asked him who told him that (it could have been a family member of my ex) or said anything like "Oh he's just pissed off because support went up!" or anything like that. We didn't talk about his dad at all, only our own experience.


~Teresa, raising DS (Jan. 02) and DD1 (Jun. 04) and DD2 (Dec. 11) with DH.

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