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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A good friend of mine and her ex split up a while back. She thought that their marriage had just ended and she was dealing with it ok. Well after he moved out she found out he had been cheating with a coworker for a year. Now that that's all out in the open he has been spending a lot more time with his girlfriend and less and less time with his kids (2 and 5) My friend doesn't want to be around him, but she really wants him to spend time with the kids for their sake. So the big problem is her son is blaming her (my friend) for him not seeing his dad. He thinks she is keeping him from his dad even though she is not. Im sure this is a common problem, but how do you handle it? Will he eventually catch on that his dad is being a jerk or forever resent his mom?
She's thinking of taking him to counseling, but he doesn't want to go.
 

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Is the ds the 5 year old?

The best way I've found to handle things like this is be honest, consistent and when the kid says something about it...ask more questions. Things like, "Are you feeling angry that you haven't seen your dad for awhile?" Or, "Are you missing your dad right now, because there are times when I miss him too." "Would you like to phone your dad and talk to him?"

5 year old don't have the emotional maturity to realize that there's something underlying their anger or that their anger is misplaced on mom.

When my son used to say he missed his dad and wished we could be together as a family, I'd tell him that there were times I wished that too, but it wasn't going to be that way, so we need to be happy with the way our life is now.

It is normal for the child to vent his frustrations with the parent he is most comfortable with and it's normal for them to transfer their anger onto that parent as well.

If it continues and she feels he really isn't getting past it, she could find a play therapist for her child to see who might be able to help him understand and cope better. That might also wake her ex up and bit to the fact that he can't just pop in and out of their lives when he feels like it.

Unfortunately, often the men who do this don't know how to balance the 'new girlfriend' and the kids, so they don't and just continue on with their lives and have no idea what it's done to their chidlren.
 

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I grew up thinking this way because my mom never told me the truth.I think she needs to be completley honest with her son without doing it in a harmful way that will make the son feel guilty or bad. Really dad should step up and talk to his own kid about the situation.But she will have to find a tactful way to be truthful so her son gets a better idea of what is going on.
 

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Yeah, I can't stress the honesty part enough.

When my kids dad didn't see them for 5 months, I was asked a lot of questions and had no answers. I was honest though and said I really didn't know why he wasn't seeing them or calling them. I'd often say, 'would you like to call your dad and talk to him?"

Being honest is so important.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the advice-

the ds is the 5 year old (he's also very bright for a 5 year old)

Also he's been saying things like "I only have fun at daddy's house. It's no fun here" She says she feels so crushed when he says things like that and doesn't know how to respond without being snippy.

Last week he came to her ds's soccer game and showed up for the last 15 minutes, didn't even acknowledge her dd. When he was leaving her ds was begging to go to his dad's house, but the dad just said he had to go and quickly left. Her ds spent the next 20 minutes telling her she is a bad mommy and he hates her and wants to live with daddy. She is such a good mom. I know he's only 5 and he cant see this, but she does everything for those kids and always has.
 

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She just needs to remember that it's not about her. It's totally about the fact that this little boy is feeling majorly rejected by his father and that she is his safe place to vent. The best she can do is honor his true feelings and continue to be an anchor for him.

for your friend. I know it must be painful.
 

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There will be plenty of talking that has to go on. She has to transparent with the kids and honesty will work in her favor. She shouldn't smash their father in front of them, but do be honest about "daddy is making a choice right now to ____________" and fill in the blank honestly, but not in a hurtful manner. Striking that balance will be difficult, but she will find it.
 

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I also wanted to add that it might be helpful for her frame of mind if, every time her son makes a comment that seems hurtful to her, she says to herself something along the lines of, "He's lashing out at me because he feels safe with me and because he knows that I will love him no matter what."

In reality, it's a back-handed compliment. It's hard to see it that way in the moment, but it's true.
 

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Can she put the child in counseling, or a divorce support group for children. I think it is important to tell honestly. I am waiting for your dad to schedule something. I wish he would make more visits. It is important to not let the kids make your friend the scapegoat now and practice honesty.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
What would be an appropriate response if the dad was spending quality time with his children and her son still said those things? (which is what happened when they first split up)
 

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If that were the case, two things would come immediately to mind:

1) That the little boy was having a very hard time dealing with the situation and that counseling - individual and perhaps family - might be a good idea. (That would probably be helpful anyway.)

2) That the father might be putting those things in his head. Which brings us back to #1.
 

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That does happen. Maybe ds would need a counselor. It's common for the kids to lash out because they don't know who to blame, but want to put it on someone. Generally, it seems that the parent who is present takes the fall because they are there. That's what happened between my mom and I when I questioned my father's absence. It happens and she should at some point be able to see past the hurtful comments.

Also, have her to be honest about how the comments make her feel. She should tell her son how she feels when he talks that way. It will help him to see her as an actual person.
 

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I have another POV:

She needs to tell her son that she will not tolerate him talking to her like that. He has the right to his feelings, but he doesn't get to just go around hurting other ppl. It doesn't make him feel better (she needs to point that out to him) and it doesn't change the situation (she needs to point that out, too).

I have dealt with a similar situation in various ways, as I have 4 kids. Everyone expresses their grief differently, but I have always stressed to my kids that *we* are a family, even if Daddy doesn't live with us, and family does *not* go around being mean to each other. Perhaps they can role play and she can pretend to be the dad and let the son hurl all his hurt against her that way. But, I would *not* allow my son to go around saying hurtful things to me just b/c he's sad. I don't think it shows much self-respect when mothers tolerate that sort of behavior and kids need to know that their parents respect themselves. Esp. in situations like this.

Good luck to your friend. A counselor may help, but there are things she can do in her home w/o making appointments, etc. Sure, the kid may be lashing out b/c he knows he's safe with her, but she's not doing either of them any favors by allowing it to continue. He needs to be redirected into more beneficial ways to deal with his pain. This is her job.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Lucy VanPelt View Post
IGood luck to your friend. A counselor may help, but there are things she can do in her home w/o making appointments, etc. Sure, the kid may be lashing out b/c he knows he's safe with her, but she's not doing either of them any favors by allowing it to continue. He needs to be redirected into more beneficial ways to deal with his pain. This is her job.
It's also her job to validate his feelings and help him process them. It's the very rare (if non-existent) 5-year-old who is going to respond productively to a mom who chastises him for his behavior. I don't see anyone saying that she should be this child's whipping post. It's fine for her to be honest. But being a brick wall when your child is hurting is rarely, if ever, the best course.
 

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Who said anything about being a brick wall? (I'm not even sure I know what that means, but it sounds like she'd be void of emotion in some way.)

Five years old is old enough to begin acting like you know that the world doesn't revolve around your feelings. That's not chastisement. That's teaching your child how to direct his feelings in a way that benefits him and doesn't hurt those around him. It's the mom's job to make sure he learns how to do that. And, it's his job to learn it. They are being presented with the perfect opportunity for this to happen, IMO.

Letting *anyone* hurt your feelings just b/c they are hurting themselves is harmful to all parties involved. This child can learn that he needs to show his mother's feelings respect, esp. if he wants her to respect his. You can validate someone's feelings w/o knocking them down and if this mother can't, then counseling is necessary for her as well as her son.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Lucy VanPelt View Post
Letting *anyone* hurt your feelings just b/c they are hurting themselves is harmful to all parties involved.
I agree. However, putting her foot down and directly telling her hurting 5-year-old flat out that she will not tolerate him expressing his feelings in the only way he presently knows how could very well do more harm than good. That's what I mean by being a "brick wall." Does that mean that she should not be proactive about helping her son to find more appropriate ways to deal with his feelings? Of course not. But what young children generally need when they're acting out this way is not a parent who says to them "I will not tolerate this." They need a parent who says, "I understand you're hurting. I love you. I want to help you feel better." It's when they're at their worst that they need the most understanding and love.

5-year-olds are still very self-centered. It's developmentally appropriate. That doesn't mean it's okay to go around haphazardly saying nasty things to people, but it's understandable that he's not really thinking of what his mom is feeling right now. He can certainly be helped to understand this, but I think it's important to tread lightly and go slowly in these situations. Thinking about this in terms of my own child (who is the same age), I can easily see how taking an "I will not tolerate this" stance would make the situation worse in that suddenly he would be struggling to deal not only with his own feelings but with the knowledge that he has hurt his mother. That's a lot for a little kid to handle when he's already dealing with his parents' separation.

Quote:
This child can learn that he needs to show his mother's feelings respect, esp. if he wants her to respect his.
See, I'm of the opinion that the onus is on the parent - the older, more experienced human being - to model respect for feelings and that young children will behave accordingly. In other words, children give back what they receive. If this were a teenager, I might agree with you that an "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" approach would be appropriate, but this is a very young child. It's a whole different ball game.
 
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