Being a divorced parent

Carolyn - posted on 01/09/2009 ( 13 moms have responded )

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My question is for mom's going through that never ending agony of dealing with an ex telling the child horrible things about us. I've moved on and am getting married again and my ex claims he has but does everything under the sun to try and make life miserable for us. My daughter is starting to see his behavior and is very distraught over it. She's torn and don't want to hurt him, but at the same time she doesn't like what he's doing to me. I've tried to hide this from her and tell her he doesn't bother me, which he don't. What does is that she's the one getting hurt. When we asked him to stop, he pretends he will listen then continues with the bad behavior. Any suggestions on how I can help her accept her father and yet know that she doesn't have to listen to him about that stuff?

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Susan - posted on 01/10/2009

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I never thought that I would ever have to venture into the world of therapy, but it is well worth it! I highly recommend it! My daughter was 3 and watched her father leave. When she was 6, I remarried...all was well until she was 9. Then it all came out. a firend recommended a therapist and we are still going! I highly recommend it! within 2 sessions, i could see a huge difference! Between that and the power of a prayer chain- we are getting through the issues of divorce, acceptance of the new fahter figure and all the wonderful feelings of adolsecence!

Melody - posted on 01/10/2009

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I have been through this for five years.  It only gets worse, unfortunately, most of the time.  I've always told my children their father loves them, and he's making the best choices he can with what he's been given, and we don't have to agree with his choices.  Recently, however, my childrens' therapist said I need to NOT invalidate what he is doing to them.  I am supposed to find a balance between saying "I'm sorry he's treated you that way (or said those things, or whatever the case may be) and made you feel bad.  I don't agree with what he's doing and saying, but he's not likely to change.  You wil have to find a way to deal with him, unless and until your relationship with him changes.  Until then, what can I do to help you cope with this?"



None of this is easy.  The damage my ex has done to both of my kids, based on his "concern" for my "permissive parenting", is permanent.  He and the new wife have attacked me beyond all reason and continue to browbeat my children.  Both kids hate him but would never say that to him, out of total fear.  When I can come up with the $5,000 needed to have a psychological evaluation done by an M.D. so we can modify his visitation and prevent the emotional terrorization, I'm going to do it.  My attorney says he's insane, even though he makes excellent money and is quite white-collar and intellectual.  The anger he carries about me leaving him has only festered over the last half-dozen years and he has totally rewritten history and continues to emotionally abuse all of us involved, all because of that anger.  I think in his mind, if he can prove I'm a rotten person, he "wins" and the divorce was all my fault.  



I cling to the apology he gave me by phone right after the divorce, when he admitted he deserved anything I did to him and more because of how awful he was during the marriage.  No amount of rewriting of history changes what he and I both know in our hearts.  Only good therapy and a truly great lawyer on my end can keep me sane and keep me fighting the good fight for my kids.



Bottom line:  don't disparage the ex to the child, no matter what he says about you.  Do validate her feelings and really listen and try to understand what she's saying.  Do teach her how to deal with bullies.  It is an invaluable skill she will use often in her life.  Good luck!

Elli - posted on 01/09/2009

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been there, done that, had all the heartache, tears, frustration etc. I've even had my 8 yr old son refuse to kiss me goodnight because his father told him he'd get herpes from me (I've never had it) because their mom "sleeps with all the men at work". It's so hard to go through but all you can do is keep a level head and a smile on your face for your kids. I went through so much the last two and a half years, and yet now....you'd never know it. The one thing I stuck to.......for the sake of three of my kids mainly affected...was to NEVER say anything bad about their father. This way my kids could see for themselves just what was going on and who was playing the games. My response would be "....you know....people say and do all kinds of hurtful things when they are angry or hurt but in the end everyone will know the truth"

All I can say is to keep your head up, as hard as it is, try not to let your kids see how much it hurts, and just smile, hug and reassure them. It's ok to fell hurt and angry but it's not ok to hurt someone. Good luck!

Paulette - posted on 01/09/2009

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Hi Carolyn,  I am a child of divorce and can give advise from my point of view. You have taken the high road and not bad mouthed your ex. You have tried to talk to him and he blew you off basically. I would have a sit down talk with you daughter first and tell her that you do not have anything bad to say about her father and you had a talk with him about how his behavior is affecting her. To you it feels like he did not believe it when said and that is why she needs to tell him. Tell her since his behavior has not stopped, you need to tell your father how you feel about it. Let her know that she can have you nearby when talking to him for support too (but I would keep quiet while she talked so he does not act like it came from you). Tell her since he is not listening to you that it would have more impact if it came from her.  Be sure to get her opinion about having a talk with him and see where you and her want to go from there. I hope that helps. Take care.

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Erica - posted on 01/12/2014

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I found your post very helpful. I am a 34yr old wife and mother of 3children 13,9 & 3. Our 13yr old daughter is not handling or coping with the situation of her father just walking out and leaving us about 20months ago one evening while the kids and I were at the park to be with his 25yr old girlfriend we later learned he had been having an affair with for the past 3yrs prior to leaving. When he first left he was not having or trying to have contact with the kids and then when he started getting them it wasnt and hasnt been just him but his girlfriend and there have been times when they were suppose to come home and he would bring them back home or meet me to get them. Our daughter has been told very malicous untrue things like I have kept him from seeing or speaking to him, or that Im a liar, looney, psycho, crazy exaggerating about whats going on because the marriage had been over several years ago. Now I deal with constant disrespect from back talking, lying, being sneaky, her ignoring me when told to do something and she has even lashed out at her brother and sister and has said many times she doesnt want to live with me and she ia unhappy and miserable with me and wants to live with her father. My husband and I are still going through the divorce process he filed for and unfortunately no matter how many different ways Ive tried to speak with him regarding how this is effecting her he doesn't believe me nor is doing or trying to do anything to help resolve or improve the situation. Ive spoke with our 13yr old one on one and told her I known she is hurting, disappointed, scared and doesn't like how different things are now but just like daddy I love her very much to and Im still here and always will be here for her. I also explained that its unfair to lash out on her brother and sister as well as me and that I believe it would be helpful to her to speak with daddy about how she feels not to punish or hurt daddy but so you can get all of the emotions feelings and thoughts and beliefs off her heart and not bottled up inside to help her begin to heal, face and deal with a situation that she didn't cause but has been effected by and needs to speak openly about with daddy but she refuses and nothing seems to work and she went to counseling twice but when her dad found out got very angry and told her that only weak people or people who were mentally ill went to therapy and since she hasnt asked nor wanted to go back and people who once could speak with her and get her to open up and talk to she doesn't and the disrespect and verbal abuse towards me and her siblings is getting worse :(
thank you for your post, suggestions

Kim - posted on 01/11/2009

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I finally sat both of my children down and told them they had two choices.  They could NOT have a relationship with their father, OR they could have a relationship with him KNOWING what he is and how he's going to act and treat them.  They both have decided to have the relationship with him, but they know what to expect, which is nothing or just all out bad, and can deal with it.  They also know they can come to me and I will be honest with them about ANYTHING, including anything my ex husband has done to me or to them.  When they know the truth, they have a better chance at dealing with EVERYTHING.  Since your daughter is finally seeing what a creep he is, allow her to talk to you about that and do NOT deny that what he does bothers you.  That is shooing it away and giving her the impression she is the only one who's bothered by his actions.  It's ok for her to see you upset or to even cry over his actions.  He's the one at fault here, not you and not your daughter. 

Madeline - posted on 01/10/2009

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I am going through the same situation with my son, all I can say is that just keep on showing your daughter the love and affection you are giving her.remind her every day what a blessing she is and that she is not a burden. Do not bad mouth her father whats so ever, it is hard cause all you want to do is move on and be happy but in all reality he will continue to be miserable and he will try to keep making you look like the bad one, give your daughter credit our children are very intelligent and she knows the truth.

Brandy - posted on 01/10/2009

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Been there - she will realize what he is doing.  Doesn't get easier but maybe explaining to her gently why he is doing what he's doing without going into too much detail about the details of your relationship with him may help.  I've been divorced for over 12 years and I'm still dealing with this same issue with my ex! Good luck!



~ Brandy



www.belleserelle.com

User - posted on 01/10/2009

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Hi Carolyn. I am the parent of a child in a very very similar situation. My son is 5 and he is at the age where he as well as your daughter is starting to realize what type of parent she has. The only advice I can give you is to continue to be strong. Be the super mom (nothing can bother you or get to you) and he will burn his bridge eventually. It stinks because in our case there is absolutely nothing that can be done for this expecially through the court system. It is horrible that one parent would want to put their child through that but sometime some people are so miserable in their lives they want to make everyone else feel that way. So keep on staying strong and eventually your daughter will realize the type of person he is and she will make her own judgement call later down the road. Just make sure you have always encouraged a positive relationship with her father regardless of how big of an ass hole he is. Hope this helps and good luck.

Tanya - posted on 01/10/2009

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Quoting Yvonne:



It sounds like you already have the right idea!  Stay close to her.  Don't bad mouth him.  My oldest daughter went through it for 17 years!  She is now 20 and an incredibly wonderful person.  Things didn't change, but they are fine with each other.  She saw things as they were as she got older and I didn't have to worry that I ever said or did the wrong thing.  Hang in there and GOOD LUCK! 





I couldn't of said it better myself. As long as you are there for her and don't bad mouth her father she will understand in time.....Divorce is hard for everyone and people react differently. Just like everthing else It will get better with time she will understand more and hopefuly he won't be so bitter. Your doing great!

Sandy - posted on 01/09/2009

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My husband has a similar problem with his ex-wife spinning yarns to their son. My husband has simply told him the truth of a given situation as it applies to him, and at an age appropriate level. He doesn't say anything pointedly negative about the mother, but has told the boy what was said or done. In time, the boy has begun to see his mother's personality for what it is... He's coming to live with us next year for a year.



Unfortunately, a negative side effect is that the child could act out, as in doing poorly in school, bullying or other such things, instead of saying that s/he wants to be with the other parent. My stepson let his grades drop to failing to show his mother that he didn't want to live with her. She didn't notice. It took her being deployed to Iraq to let her have him live with us, but only at the boy's insistence. She was going to let him live his teacher at first... This made him react negatively also.



It's a touchy subject. Hopefully, the child doesn't grow to resent either parent. Time reveals many things.

Christel - posted on 01/09/2009

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has she told her father or asked him not to talk to her about you that way?  i am divorced, but my ex and i get along pretty well, concerning the kids.  neither of us talk bad about each other.  maybe if she tells him how she feels, he might stop?

Yvonne - posted on 01/09/2009

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It sounds like you already have the right idea!  Stay close to her.  Don't bad mouth him.  My oldest daughter went through it for 17 years!  She is now 20 and an incredibly wonderful person.  Things didn't change, but they are fine with each other.  She saw things as they were as she got older and I didn't have to worry that I ever said or did the wrong thing.  Hang in there and GOOD LUCK! 

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