Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Family therapy with abusive ex.

(95 Posts)
Offred Thu 02-May-13 07:27:14

Relationship broke up 7 years ago.

Ex is having difficulty relating to the children and them to him. DD (6) is often wetting the bed, having biting/kicking tantrums and going a little anorexic because of stress.

Most recent incident ex had dc to sleep over. DD had brought her new clothes to show off. Ex tried to cancel but only the day before and so I wouldn't allow that. We brought them after tea instead of at 3pm because he said he had to work.

Next day DC said his gf was lying in bed a long time and he was grumpy and told them he couldn't take them out because DD's clothes were "inappropriate". It was sunny and 13 degrees and she had a maxi dress, thick woollen tights, a faux fur coat and mittens so not inappropriate at all.

He also told them he couldn't give them lunch because he had no food (supermarket is less than half a mile away and there were two of them there). He brought them back at 2pm and I heard them ask why they had to come home and he said "mummy wanted you back" which is not true at all, he could have kept them as long as he wanted.

I suspect that he wanted to cancel because they had been invited out and that they went out anyway and he was too hungover to deal with them so instead blamed DD and me.

DS was bullying DD because of this when they came back and when I heard the story from them I explained that I didn't think DD was wearing inappropriate clothes at all and it wasn't DD's fault. She then cried solidly for half an hour because she'd worn the clothes specially for him and thought it was her fault the whole thing was ruined. sad

DS then also felt terribly guilty for being whipped up to be mean to her. sad

They have both been upset since and he has not broached the subject with them and is now asking for another overnight.

In the past he has said he doesn't feel able to communicate with them because of what I did to him, apparently taking them away from him.

Plus, DD was conceived when he raped me and he has always denied paternity of her when he could even after DNA. I suspect he doesn't want her sad

If they are going to continue seeing him they need a greater level of emotional support than I can give and it would be a bonus if someone other than me could help XP relate to them. He is willing to go. Is it going to be a bad idea?

Offred Thu 02-May-13 10:16:41

I don't think he will necessarily respond to a chance, it will however be recorded that he didn't and he will allow them to be adopted.

If I stop him seeing them now it will make it into a power struggle over the children. He has parental responsibility and can simply take them from school.

Offred Thu 02-May-13 10:17:46

They're doing fine with understanding and processing it though Attila. The eldest has said he thinks it is just an excuse.

pickledginger Thu 02-May-13 10:19:10

As children though they're naturally egocentric. Even when they accept he's making excuses they're likely to blame themselves.

I have nothing but admiration for how you've been dealing with this man, no doubt at great cost to yourself, to try to give your DC the best possible outcome. I think it's worth getting a good recommendation and finding help for your DC. If that's under the guise of family therapy, fine, but if he is what you say he is, and I have no doubts about that, he is incapable of causing them anything but harm. On the plus side any professional worth their salt will spot him a mile off.

Offred Thu 02-May-13 10:23:28

I'm hoping they will spot him a mile off. I am admittedly wary of asserting myself without back up for my concerns. The school and surgery believe the children are stressed because I have four of them and am not coping. He has benefitted from the doubt of being entirely absent in those two spheres.

Offred Thu 02-May-13 10:26:14

When the twins go to school that should improve because they are happy little chaps with no worries at all.

Offred Thu 02-May-13 10:30:37

I will call WA today though.

pickledginger Thu 02-May-13 10:33:19

Good luck.

Lweji Thu 02-May-13 10:48:11

Just read this, and, yes, good luck.

If anything, get the therapy for the children, so that they can deal with him. Possibly get support for you on how to deal with the impact on the children.

I think the best for the children is to stop contact, but possibly best for you to let it drop, even if he cancels at the last minute. Record everything. Every event.

redskynight Thu 02-May-13 10:52:18

Redsky - you can't explain away "your dad can't be arsed with you"

No, but you can tell them he is busy, and that you love them unconditionally and that they can always trust that you & other adult role models in their lives (i.e. GPs) will not let them down. You can distract them (if they are younger). You can make him as little important in their lives as you can. You can try to emphasize that none of what is happening is caused by or because of them.

My children have a dad that can't be arsed. He is a total **. He makes so many Disney-like, hyped up promises and lets them down every time. He has strong narc tendencies and was an abusive partner etc etc. I tell my children every day I love them just for them, that I will always be there for them, that I will never just up and leave, that they can trust what I say. When he continues making promises that don't materialise, I point out (gently) to the children that he is unreliable (I want to teach them not to trust people conditionally, but judge them on their actions too), so they don't just cling on to his promises, but also that I and other adults around them can be trusted and point out how & why. I make sure that they have relationships with other adults, other children so that they can learn what healthy relationships are. I don't stop them seeing/talking to him, but honestly as he is such a it is unbelievably seldom that he sees them. I will put boundaries down with his relationship with them, so that the children are in control too. i.e. they decide when the phone call is ending or if they do or don't feel like talking that day, not him. And I make sure they know that is absolutely ok.

It is so difficult, as I said earlier some dad's should not be allowed to have children, as they are not able to be responsible for a child's emotional well being. And it unfortunately comes down to the other parent's responsibility to try and minimise the damage to the children. Good luck calling WA I hope they can help! I accessed some help through my HV previously too, who was absolutely amazing. She came and advised and listened and made time for me, and had heard it all before so understood what I had gone through. She also had the the time to witness that the children were happy and well looked after. If you have preschoolers that might be worth a thought, as a support for you.

babyhammock Thu 02-May-13 10:52:53

Offred you must be so exhausted with this sad
I'm so upset for you that no one is listening to you properly too.. it's awful isn't it.
Do call womansaid xx

Spero Thu 02-May-13 10:59:37

Good luck op. I think you are doing the best you can in a tough situation. I agree with everything you say about why you are still considering contact.

I think it is a shame that some posters want to bang their own drum quite so forcefully when you are in a difficult situation for which there simply is no one clear cut absolutely right solution.

RooneyMara Thu 02-May-13 11:03:56

I can totally see the value of taking the line of least resistance with him. It may prevent him from creating a conflict or a challenge simply out of defiance.

However I have a HUGE problem with this:

'As a sideline I want to present XP with a last chance.'

This is on a hiding to nothing. Seriously. Do you really think that this is worth your while, and their while? Really?

I think you still feel responsible for his actions to a degree and that's why you're not just standing up to him. You are scared of being held responsible for the behaviour of this complete twat.

cestlavielife Thu 02-May-13 11:07:18

yes yes to family therapy for the children .

they might insist you both attend together a pre-assessment without the children (i had to and it was horrendous)

the family therapy has been dds and me attending -building to dds attending on their own. they dont want dad to attend. slightly differnt as they older and dd1 doesnt want to see him and dd2 very unsure as she ash been let down so much - but when she was younger like your dd would have wanted to see him whatever.

defintiely your dc need a space to express their views and feeeling adn work on strategies . eg they might write up a list of what they want dad to do at contact or not do - this could be presented to dad and discussed. maybe therapists could do this. you would discuss all of this. they will work first of all thru play and drawing etc to see what dd thinks.

you need to insist on getting help for dd and yes so it is recorded.

and worry about now and the impact all this is having - and working on giving them the tools to deal with him later. dont act to appease him ...

i've also had sessions no my own which has been useful too.

for now dont stop contact; but reduce it. regualr consistent small chunks might be better.
and if he cancels so be it.

cestlavielife Thu 02-May-13 11:09:16

family therapy should be without your ex, at least initially, you and espec dd need to get chance to speak freely and explore what's going on without him.

if later you decide with therapist you want to meet with him then fine.
but get all the issues aired first from dd point of view and ahve a clear agenda.

and have a session on your own as well.

whitesugar Thu 02-May-13 11:36:14

Offred this is a tough time for you and other posters here know exactly what you are going through. Your EX behaviour is textbook. We all felt the panic you are feeling now and the best way to start making it better is to get into the driving seat now! Focus on what you can do now to make some changes. See a different GP for yourself, talk to GP about children, wrt bed wetting ask for referral to eneuresis nurse, talk honestly to your children about their father in simple terms don't make excuses for his behaviour. Red sky gives brilliant advice, take it.

Start telling your EX how things will be. Tell him the children are distressed by staying over but that they can come over for pm, stay for dinner etc & will come home to you at bedtime. If he gets aggressive just say GP recommended it cos of bed wetting to get him off your case for a while. Keep remembering he is a total FW & you won't change him, be clever & work out ways to get what you want to happen.

Try not to worry about the future. My EXH was just like yours and my DD now 16 and DS 14 know what he is like. They still see him and love him but know he is not reliable and is self obsessed. They say things like "dad thinks he knows everything & he hasn't got a clue" We even laugh about it the odd time! If you stay strong your kids will know you are the reliable parent. So long as you keep reassuring them they will get through it. This is a every tough time & will prob get harder but put your shoulders back because you are a good mother who loves her kids. Just deal with what you can at the moment. When your kids are teenagers they are going to be bonkers for a while anyway regardless! Good luck, I hope things improve for you.

P.s. don't entertain mediation or family therapy with EX, it will just give him a forum to a be a narc. Get therapy for yourself & children. WA was a great support to me back then.

Offred Thu 02-May-13 12:30:48

Have spoken to WA who were absolutely bloody fantastic. They are assessing us next week with a view to providing support for the children. Would not have thought to call them without this thread. Thank you.

Dahlen Thu 02-May-13 12:37:22

Glad you're getting some support. Good luck.

mummytime Thu 02-May-13 12:56:14

Congratulations!

frazmum Sat 04-May-13 04:20:55

My father is a narc and insisted as kids he, DM, DB & I attend family counselling. It was for him to justify in his head that it was the rest of us that caused the problems, not him. So my advice is don't include him in any family counselling. There have been some times in my life where counselling would have helped me but I was too scared to go following my childhood experiences.

Unfortunately my parents didn't separate until I was an adult so unlike my DM you are already not only one step ahead but you're also not enabling him.

pickledginger Sat 04-May-13 16:57:17

Just seen your update. That's brilliant. I hope you all get the support you need.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now