Pressuring the kids to move - would you say something? - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
Old 08-25-2014, 08:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
~Nikki~'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 4,093
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Pressuring the kids to move - would you say something?

My kids returned home from a weekend visit on Sunday, visibly upset. I asked my daughter what was up, and how her weekend was, and she divulged that her father is pressuring her to switch schools to his area next year because it would make his step-daughter so happy. Yes, this is the reasoning he is using. It will make his wife's daughter happy. Not because it will be better for her in any way (though he has tried to bedazzle the whole deal by saying how amazingly FUN the school is). Not because it will be easier for him or I (in fact, he expects that I will drive her to and from school - 40 minutes away??) But because his step-daughter would like it.

This is not the first time he has pulled this. Several years ago, he tried the same thing when his step-daughter went to a DIFFERENT school, and was lonesome there. This is NOT a good reason to pull a kid from an established school!! She is a person. She is not a built-in babysitter or playmate.

My son told me that his father has pulled the same thing on him, even pressuring him to move there as well (I can only assume to try and get out of the massive debt of unpaid child support - the collection agency has been pressuring him hard as of late so I'm sure that's where all of this is stemming from.)

My kids want me to say something, to be their voice. I don't want to start a fight. I have full custody, he has visitation. Obviously he can't do anything without going to court, which - frankly - he's too lazy to do. I'm not worried that he's going to enroll them in school behind my back or anything, but the kids ARE being put between a rock and a hard place. They don't want to upset their father (his feelings are hurt very easily and he pouts a lot to them - again, unfair), but they don't want to switch schools, leave the neighborhood they have lived in for most of their childhood, leave their friends, move to a school board in a different language with a completely different structure. The whole thing is illogical.

Would you say something?

They also were upset because he has been forcing them to sit buddied up in seatbelts. He purchased a vehicle after he had his fourth child, that does not fit four children. Because logic. So instead, I have come to learn that he has been either leaving kids behind, or cramming them all in buddied up in seatbelts. The kids told him that it was unsafe an illegal (they have brought it up to me before, asked me to research if it was legal after Dad said that it was totally fine, and then asked me to talk to him about it. I emailed him. He ignored the email.) This past weekend, they refused to sit buddied up, and he told them that if they didn't like it, they could stay home alone and miss out on the fun. Eventually, he forced them to get in the car anyway. Do I have legal recourse here? Should I just email him again and force the conversation?

I am getting so fed up with the brainwashing and mind games. He has been spending most of his visitation time pressuring them to move there, asking them if I mistreat them, fishing for anything he can use against me. It's disgusting. We're at the point now where the kids are uneasy about even going there. I can sense a war brewing, on this one.
~Nikki~ is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 08-25-2014, 12:18 PM
 
Mummoth's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: BC, Canada
Posts: 3,467
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
My ex has pulled this one, the difference being that he successfully convinced my son it was a good idea. He is 12 and doesn't like our rules so sees it as an escape from everything he doesn't want to deal with... school, having to clean his room, limits on the computer, etc. My ex also wasn't taking the proper steps to make it happen. Instead, he instructed our son to behave as badly as possible so that we will get fed up and let him move. His response whenever there's an issue with our son is that I should sign him up for school there (he lives 3+ hours away). My daughter is 10 and doesn't want to move, but since my ex has laid it out like it's all on me to make it happen, it hasn't been much of an issue. She knows I'm not going to send her away.

What I did for both the kids was explain the legal process that would happen, in simple terms. I told them that their dad would have to set up a meeting at court for us to talk about our arrangements. Their dad would have to tell the judge why it would be better for them to live there, and the judge would have to agree. We'd have to make a plan for how often they'd visit me and other details would need to be worked out. I told my son that his dad was right, he is old enough to give his opinion at court... but that doesn't mean the judge automatically does what he wants. So they understand it's not as simple as me just packing them up and dropping them off at their dad's doorstep. Until some meetings start to happen, they can assume they're definitely going to stay living here. Then I told my ex exactly what I'd said. I told him also that talking like this is just causing turmoil for our son, he doesn't have the power to change this.

That hasn't dissuaded my ex from talking up the idea of living with him, but the kids have a better understanding of the situation for the most part. Sometimes my son doesn't want to understand. For your kids, like my daughter, they would at least know that it would be a long process *if* it even starts, and the judge won't agree to their lives being turned upside down for no good reason. If they are at all comfortable saying how they feel to him, maybe you could give them ideas on what to say. I think my daughter has said that she would miss her friends too much.

For the seatbelt thing, that is illegal... I don't know what I'd do in that situation. If he got pulled over witht he kids buckled up like that, what would happen? I would definitely send an email on that one. I might find documentation that it's illegal to attach to the email and just flat-out insist that they need to be properly buckled when the kids are in the car.

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

Mummoth is online now  
Old 08-25-2014, 03:27 PM
 
VocalMinority's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: surrounded by testosterone
Posts: 1,314
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 9 Post(s)
I would say something. You can't expect to change his personality or behavior. But I think subversive, divisive people are strengthened when others avoid confronting them, out of embarrassment for them, or presumed futility, or whatever reason.

And there's some sad hope of manipulating him, in return. Right now, he gets some sort of good feeling from talking to your kids about moving. He may assume he's planted a healthy seed in their minds and may fantasize about how much nicer his life will be, just around the corner, when they start living with him. He may feel guilty about being more involved in his step-daughter's life than he is in his own kids' and inviting his kids to live with him eases that guilt. It may alleviate his financial stress, to imagine you paying him child support in the future. He may feel like you make all the decisions about the kids and it may give him a sense of power, to imagine himself as having chosen their next school. Or maybe it pleases him to think he's cleverly gotten your kids to side with him, against you.

If what you say to him makes him feel bad or uncomfortable - on a greater scale than whatever good feelings he's getting from manipulating the kids - then he may stop doing it; not because he's absorbed your logic, but for very basic, selfish reasons.

Don't let that hope take up a lot of your time. But email him (then you can really think about what you want to say and not have to deal with his retorts or denials). Tell him of course you will not agree to your kids changing schools when they're well-adjusted where they are. Of course you would not drive them to a school near him, any more than you'd expect him to drive them to their current schools. Tell him it makes the kids uncomfortable and pushes them away, when he pressures them about issues that ought to be discussed and decided by the adults. And ask him how he thinks your daughter feels, about his request that she uproot her own life for the pleasure of his step-daughter? Why not?

One woman in a house full of men:  my soul mate:    or... twin sons:(HS seniors) ... step-son:  (a sophomore) ... our little man:   (a first grader) ... and there is another female in the house, after all:  our
VocalMinority is online now  
Old 08-27-2014, 06:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
~Nikki~'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 4,093
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Thank you. These are both great responses.

Quote:
Right now, he gets some sort of good feeling from talking to your kids about moving. He may assume he's planted a healthy seed in their minds and may fantasize about how much nicer his life will be, just around the corner, when they start living with him. He may feel guilty about being more involved in his step-daughter's life than he is in his own kids' and inviting his kids to live with him eases that guilt. It may alleviate his financial stress, to imagine you paying him child support in the future. He may feel like you make all the decisions about the kids and it may give him a sense of power, to imagine himself as having chosen their next school. Or maybe it pleases him to think he's cleverly gotten your kids to side with him, against you.
You completely hit the nail on the head. I think this is a HUGE part of why he does what he does. I spent our entire marriage being manipulated by him, in part so that he could alleviate his guilt about cheating/lying/etc. It made me feel powerless against him, and there are times that I still feel powerless. I'm reluctant to contact him because I KNOW that if I do, it will start an outright war, and he will twist it around to demonstrate how poorly I'm treating the kids. He has been encouraging them to "share their feelings" about things they don't like at my house, I'm sure so he can harvest info to use against me. He's done this before. Misconstrues things the kids say into a huge mess to try and turn me into a monster. A couple of years ago, he accused me of poisoning the kids after they mentioned that I give them a smoothie each night with omega 3 vitamins in it (my son had been showing early signs of ADHD and I had read that this could help - it really seemed to). I emailed him about an issue the kids had brought up ("Dad makes us shower with him and it makes us uncomfortable" was their complaint) and he responded with a collection of random "fuel" he had been collecting for god knows how long, including this tidbit, losing his mind about how he had the right to know what I was drugging the kids with to make them sleep at night. Eh? Talk about missing the bus.

So my own, selfish reluctance to email him is honestly to spare my own feelings, because I don't want to know what HE has to say. He can't take criticism without turning it around on someone else. I talked to the kids about it last night and my daughter said that she would prefer to say something. But that she wanted her brother to stand beside her instead of caving (when he has made her share a seat belt and she says no, apparently my son pipes up with "it's ok, I'll share the seat belt" just to be the peacekeeper.) She thinks that this will be more effective than if I say something, because she knows it will just start a fight. Her idea was to tell him about how she learned about seat belt safety in school, and then looked it up online and that it is totally unsafe and against the law, and then put her foot down on going with him. What worried me was my son saying "What do we do if Dad gets so mad that he screams at us and chases us? Do we go to a neighbor?" Great.

My daughter also mentioned that he freaked her out the last time she complained about the seat belts by getting down to her level, right in her face, and saying "You know the feeling called anxiety? And the one called nervousness? Sometimes they mix together and create anger. I think you know who I'm talking about. Get in the car." She was upset and confused by the whole thing. Regarding school, I guess her step-mother flipped out when she said no to moving and said "I guess you must not like your sister, then." It's just brutal.

The sad thing is that I KNOW the reason he's pressuring the kids to move. It has nothing to do with their best interest or his desire to be a more involved parent. He hasn't paid child support more than 3 times since we've split up. He owes a monsterous debt to the kids, and they are currently putting pressure on to collect it. He received a warning letter that his license would be suspended, last month. He thinks that if he gets custody of the kids, it will absolve him of this debt, as I will owe HIM support. That's all this is about. And it's sickening that he's willing to turn the lives of two kids upside down because of his misguided opinion that uprooting them will erase the huge debt he has accumulated by ignoring their existence for the past six years.
~Nikki~ is offline  
Old 08-27-2014, 08:25 AM
 
VocalMinority's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: surrounded by testosterone
Posts: 1,314
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 9 Post(s)
So sorry to hear all of this!

Although my ex and I generally get along very well, every few years I unintentionally press his button about something and he will lash out with the most ridiculous, distorted, exaggerated accusations, making it sound like I'm a bad parent. After a good chunk of time, I always realize that what I said had made him feel terribly insecure and he was just childishly throwing up whatever defenses crossed his mind, to avoid thinking too deeply about the thing that made him insecure and to shift my focus from the uncomfortable subject, to defending myself. And boy, does it work! In the moment - and typically for several days afterward - I feel terrible! Also, the more upset, surprised, defensive and emotional I get, the more calm he becomes - even while saying nasty, ridiculous things - and he will keep pointing out this difference, as though it's mutually understood that being icy automatically makes him right and being emotional automatically makes me wrong. Which is infuriating, when what he's saying is so obviously wrong and specifically intended to be upsetting.

I understand the aversion to putting yourself through that - especially if you know beforehand what's coming. It sounds like you should strictly limit yourself to written communication with your ex. You can take the time to phrase your own position carefully and then just leave his responses in your Inbox, until you feel ready to skim over them. Try to approach them like a foreign language translation. Not that you want your daughter to fight all the battles for you - you should protect her, more than she protects you - but since she's going to get sucked into some battles, when she's with her dad, you should train her to "do translation", too.

"Let's focus on how screwed up your mother is, with her anxiety, nervousness and anger" translates into, "I don't have a good answer to what you're saying about the seat belts. If I upset you, maybe you'll quit talking about them? Also, I feel criticized - I don't want to admit that the criticism is valid - so I will change the subject and criticize someone else."

"You must not like your step-sister, then" translates into, "I'm limited, in my ability to motivate people. It upsets me, that I can't figure out how to help my daughter make more friends or enjoy school more. I hoped you going to school with her would be a magic cure - even though, obviously, fixing your step-sister's social problems is not your job. I don't know how to handle my disappointment, that you won't do it. The only (childish) tool I have in my toolbox, to try to convince you to change your mind, is guilt. Obviously, I think you're a good-hearted person, or guilt wouldn't make you second-guess yourself."

"I'm compiling a list of the kids' complaints about you, and exaggerating them. Eventually, I'll wind up with custody" translates into, "I'm afraid the kids complain to you, about me. I'm afraid you have it more together, as a parent, than I do. I'm afraid you have enough ammunition to get my parenting time reduced, or make the kids hate me, or cause problems for me in my new family by cracking down about my unpaid child support. Your very existence - your competence as a parent, your control over the kids' lives, your ability to move on and not mourn the loss of me - makes me feel totally insecure. I have zero adult resources for handling such fear and insecurity, so I just get angry at you for causing it and try to get back at you, as though if I can make you fearful and insecure it'll lessen my own feelings. But I'm sure that the only way I could ever take custody from you is if you did something drastic and crazy, like poisoning the kids. That's why I never criticize you about anything reasonable."

You might consult someone about the possibility of getting supervised visitation? I'm not saying that's warranted. I'm only reading a few paragraphs you've written on a message board. But if your kids are consistently upset by disregard for their privacy (showering with their dad past the age when it makes them uncomfortable) and manipulation - and your daughter, at least, is willing to take a stand about it - perhaps you could make an argument for them spending time with their dad in public places, with a chaperone who could intervene, if grossly inappropriate things are said to them. Your ex and his wife would quickly learn to control what they say, so it's not overheard - and this would necessarily make them conscious of the inappropriateness of some of the things they were accustomed to saying, before.

One woman in a house full of men:  my soul mate:    or... twin sons:(HS seniors) ... step-son:  (a sophomore) ... our little man:   (a first grader) ... and there is another female in the house, after all:  our
VocalMinority is online now  
 
User Tag List

Thread Tools


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off