to think one of us is really, really hard work & that it isn't me?(58 Posts)
This is a text exchange from today spread out between half five and half nine, exactly as you see it.
Back story: Divorced for 5 years plus. Two sons - 11 and 13 (13 is autistic) - who stay at his most weekends, from where he takes them on the bus to school on a Monday morning. I drive, he doesn't. We have a really really hard time communicating as you can see, but I know that I'm putting effort into it & I really do not know if he is or not. I find him quite frightening for lots of historical reasons, so I'm not very natural with him any more, and I just don't know how to take a lot of what he says, but I feel that he's quite rude, especially for someone who is so alert for anything in my tone to object to (this happens a lot). But actually he just bewilders me. And angers me, it must be said. More info on request.
Can you help me out here and tell me if aibu to think that one of us is really hard work here and that it's not me?
I am D for deeppan & he is R.
D: [13 yo Son] thinks his braces are at yours, are they?
R: Yeah - by the side of his bed. Despite my repeated … whatever … they really have to both up their game re their stuff. Bit tired of this now. Let’s both be hardline please. They need some discipline on this one. No violin his weekend because you couldn’t trust [son] to get it through school, I hear. Life-training. I/we can’t do this shit for them forever …
D: What does it mean, hardline? In terms of action?
R: Oh for goodness sake! Train them to organise themselves. Stick and carrot. You know … help them be self-reliant and all that …
D: What would the stick and carrot be, for example? Are you thinking to punish [son] for forgetting his braces?
R: No. Are you deliberately missing the point? They have to learn to organise themselves so we need to be a creative about teaching them how to do this. So be creative. Me too…
D: I need you to make sure they have everything they need on a Monday morning. Mondays are not good as teachable moments. They are your responsibility. By all means be creative at other times.
R: On the other hand ‘punishment’ is not a bad word, imposed with kindness. [Son] said you said he would have to pay for his new braces because he lost his pair. Did you stick to this? And if he lost his violin what would happen then?
D: Yes, he’s paying for his new braces.
R: Consequences is a better word than punishment …
R: You send them to school on 4 days a week, me on 1. It is their responsibility and they need to rise to the occasion. You have 5 times the opportunity to train them at this, yet i am the bad guy. Don’t think so, sorry …
D: This conversation is over.
D: Actually this conversation isn’t over. On Monday mornings it is your responsibility to make sure they have important things with them for the WHOLE WEEK. Yours. Forgetting doesn’t make you a ‘bad guy’, that’s nonsense. It just means that you forgot something important and you need to take responsibility for that. I think you should take his braces to [son] at school this week so that I don’t - yet again - have to make a special trip to [your town].
R: Actually this conversation is over. I’m in london from tomorrow until thursday. I have arranged things with the boys and will only ring them on thursday this week.
D: I see. Perhaps a checklist on the door in future that everyone can look at on their way out. We do it here & it’s good discipline for them. The final responsibility is, however, yours.
R: Thank you -this is very helpful actually. We will do this. It is a great idea and genuinely helpful - thank you again. Really, deeppan, could we do more of this kind of practical chat in future?This helps me a lot and is really valuable. The rhetoric stuff is really not. Can we cut that maybe? Great idea - we’ll do that from this weekend. Sorry i was so crap as to not think of it myself!
D: What rhetoric?
D: Thanks for the apology. You did come out swinging rather, which makes a sensible conversation hard to get around to.
R: Goodnight Deeppan.
D: Of course. And I think you should reread this series of texts in the morning after a good night’s sleep. That’s friendly advice btw
R: And you too, thoughtfully.
There's something quite unpleasant about his tone towards you- controlling and patronising. Sorry for asking, but was there any abuse/violence during your marriage?
I would keep exchanges brief/factual and avoid getting drawn into his argument. For example, instead of asking him to clarify what he means about punishment and consequences, I think I would have just said 'OK, thanks, can you bring them to DS at school please'. I don't think your responses are unreasonable, but I think you do rise to his bait at times, which is understandable.
In an ideal world, it would be great if you could co-parent happily. However, the reason I asked about abuse was that if he continues to exert control over you through the kids, it can be quite damaging for your mental health. Therefore, you need to distance yourself a bit. If the kids are 11 and 13, can they start texting dad themselves about forgotten items? Might make it easier on you.
Why is he buying new braces when his are at his Dad's? Bit harsh <misses point>
Seriously though, his texts are so patronising they'd make me want to throw the phone out of the window! Leave the control freak to sort his checklist and distance yourself. Keep exchanges short, practical and to a minimum. Yes to getting your DD to text him themselves about stuff.
I don't really see anything wrong in what he wrote tbh. Mind I am slightly prejudiced after having this happen EVERY WEEK for a fair few months. We have OHs kids on a weekend and they always always always forget something. And we always get shit off their mother about it lol.
I don't mean you are giving him shit by the way, just I can see why he is getting annoyed about it. I also completely get the asking if you can both 'punish' in the same way.
You do seem to be..goading him at times though? For example you said the convo was over. Then started it back up again when he agreed
See I see something unsettling in the OP tone. Goading and unexcessary. Being deliberately obtuse. To me you sound like hard work.
Is the 13 year old able to call his dad and ask about the braces?
Jesus, he talks like he's your line manager or something.
I really wouldn't have extended exchanges with him by text.
(I use the word "sanction" rather than punishment or consequences)
His tone is patronising and controlling but I don't think you need to have this level of engagement with him, the majority of that conversation simply wasn't required.
don't think either of you come out of this interaction well. Yes he is patronising, but your tone is a little goading - your last text for example.
I agree with others - keep it short and simple.
Do you both always make such a huge meal out of parenting your children?
He sounds hardwork, but you do too. I'm guessing there is a huge history of misunderstandings and miscommunication, because you both read as terribly defensive.
When a friend went through a divorce, she used to get me to read their text exchanges - his sound exactly like her ex-dh's.
An almost identical text exchange happened when their dc's coat was left in McDonalds on his day, and she asked him where it was. Same kind of passive aggressive crap - he couldn't just say 'yeah, sorry' - it had to be someone else's fault. She ended up collecting the coat, while he accused her of 'using any little thing as an excuse to criticise him'.
runningincircles, yes there was, and I get tense and anxious now when he communicates with me. I second guess myself a lot, which is why I wanted to get this read here.
icytea ... not deliberately obtuse, honest. I'm really careful to try and understand exactly what he means as it's easier in the long run. I don't want to make assumptions or mistakes.
I am defensive. Definitely. It's a difficult thing to try not to be & I clearly haven't cracked it yet :S
lovewine ... he isn't buying new braces this time He totally lost a pair, and they were £65 to replace, so I said I needed him to cover it with pocket money as it is a large sum. This is the new pair.
I did want the conversation to be over! But it really wasn't, that's why it carried on. Oh god. Yes, it is often like this.
Thanks for lots of responses.
DPotter, would you just ignore the tone if you were me? He had just criticised me for "rhetoric"! I thought I'd been careful but firm and clear, but maybe not.
His use of the word rhetoric suggests that he doesn't know what rhetoric actually is.
You'd think. He's actually an English Literature academic.
I have had such an uneasy feeling reading this. It's like deja vu. It's just the kind of exchange my ex husband and I often have. He often starts texts with just my name (no hello) and might just as well sign it off with 'regards' and his name! More like my manager than ex husband and father of my kids. They have such a superior and abrupt tone to them. Things are a bit more amicable now, but it got me down for a long time and I found it difficult to emotionally detach. I also used to feel nervous on seeing a new message or email from him. Perhaps our relationship had been borderline abusive ... and if I ever do meet someone again, he'd better have a big heart! It's not easy OP, and I hope your situation gets better.
And all the blame going on in your OP definitely rings a bell too!
She stopped communicating with him by text, deeppan. Only contact each other in emergencies. It's hard, but in your example, she would have just replied 'I think you should take his braces to [son] at school this week' - she totally ignored all except essential communication.
Dieu is right I think - it's the emotional detachment that is so hard to get. Easy for others to see, when they weren't the ones in the relationship. It's also incredibly difficult to ignore the digs - the question was "are ds's braces at yours?" - His answer was "blame you, blame the DS" and "consequences" or whatever. It's a matter of learning not to engage - so rather than getting caught up in his discussion about discipline and parenting - just reply a pragmatic "Please can you take the braces in for him".
Tbh this sounds like two people who don't communicate with each other trying to do something intimate (like raising children). Forced politeness (excessively so at times), both trying hard not to start a fight and both trying to keep the main point (getting kids to look after their stuff) central.
I don't think either of you are hard work necessarily. I think what you're trying to do together is hard work. You're ex-partners stuck with each other. It's hard.
Also a good point, FFF. After all, it's not like we'd ever willingly have anything to with each other, if not for the children. And yes, it is hard.
Deeppan YANBU. He is the one who is hard work. A lot of irritation and resentment coming through there from both sides though.
I think you probably start calm but struggle to keep calm while texting? I don't blame you.
Perhaps the same conversation would have turned out different if it was face to face (I'm not saying you want to have conversations face to face, or can easily arrange to do so) then again, perhaps it wouldn't have ended differently.
Teenagers both girls and boys forget things. Your DSs are 11 and 13, not 16 and 18.
The way I see it too is that the responsibility is with R and if he wants to teach his sons about responsibility (and there's nothing wrong with teaching them) then he should learn a little more about it himself
and not rely so much on you
I would try to reduce any explanations and keep it short & sweet in texts. He's riding on them. If they are shorter he'll hopefully have less to play with.
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