I have very similar issues with my ex and my son. We have been apart for 5 years and it is SO difficult not to just tell the child "actually your daddy doesn't care half as much about you as he does getting one over on me". I would never say that, it would break my son's heart, not to mention relinquishing the moral high ground that I currently reside upon. Ex and his family have no qualms about making disparaging remarks about how I "took ds away" and other petty things like the clothes I choose for him etc but I will not retaliate. What I keep reminding myself is when my son is older he will remember who constantly put who down, who was always positive about him spending time with the other parent, who never encouraged him to take sides against the other. Good luck and stay strong OP, you ARE doing the right thing here.
Thank you all so much for all of the above. I think I am doing the right thing, or at least trying to, but it does prove hard as whenever my daughter sees her father there is always something she comes back unhappy about - at this moment it is the Sunday drop off time - she comes back whinging that 'its not fair' and that I'm being mean for not allowing her daddy to have her longer (he has normal Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon). But what I can't tell her is that when he was in the family house, he was never here for her and would prefer to spend the majority of his weekends either causing chaos and trauma for me or sit watching sports. He's now getting his act together to step up to the mark to spend time with her, but he hasn't changed his abusive ways. I will explore the counselling route. Thank you. x
Resist any temptation to give your daughter your version of events. It's bad enough your ex is doing it without confusing your daughter any further. Parents are under a duty to shield our children as much as possible from the conflict - "harm" to children is not just physical violence or deprivation. It includes emotional harm. Adults have enough trouble dealing with the issues facing them, and they are the parties involved. Children aren't equipped to deal with these things, they are innocent bystanders, and we owe them better than to involve them in the cross-fire.
What you can do is share photos and stories reminiscing about the times you and your daughter have enjoyed together and generally encourage her to see things for herself rather than accept everything she is told without question. It might be worth having a word with your daughter's school to see if they have any concerns about your daughter and if so perhaps they could support her or organise counselling. An alternative worth considering might be family therapy and involving your ex in that might be a way of persuading him to change his behaviour.
I don't have a lot of advice to give but my view when reading this is that it seems to me that you are doing the right thing for your daughter. I grew up with divorced parents who constantly bitched to me about the other one. It didn't make me love or respect either of them less from hearing these comments, it was just upsetting to hear bad things about your parents.
I really don't think it will make your daughter think anything less of you. You are her Mum and that is all she will care about. Children are more perceptive than we think.
I have an abusive ex, and for years I have suffered his abuse but asked him for a separation. I finally ensured he could not get back in because he bashed my nose (which required surgery and damaged my knee), however, in his anger he keeps getting my daughter involved into 'his version' of events, makes disparaging comments about me, has got his friends to write libelous emails about me to our wider circle. I want him to leave me alone, and when he has contact with my daughter, not to involve her so she feels confused or has to take sides, or keep 'secrets'. This is an unequal situation as I believe firmly that my daughter should not lose her innocence and not be dragged into 'taking sides' - rather she should only experience positive experiences when she is with either parent. But as my child is growing and hears more and more from him - all untrue - I have kept a tight lip but his pressure on my damaging my reputation and my 'status' in my daughter's eyes is so great that I am tearful almost every night after I put her to bed. Is there any way to counteract all this malice and just get him to stop destroying my daughter's innocence?