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"Daddy misses me so much he hardly eats..."

(48 Posts)
Noregrets78 Wed 12-Jun-13 22:29:39

This is really bugging me now. Separated from H about 3 weeks ago - DD (8) spends 3 nights a week with him, and 4 nights a week with me.

It's all games really, but he is pulling at DD's heart strings. She said that he's so sad when she's not with him, he sits on the sofa all day and hardly even eats. That maybe she should spend some more time over there to make him feel better.

Now I have nothing against her spending time with her Dad. but I want to take her out of the decision making here, as she's been caught up in the middle before, and it's been hugely painful.

I've told her that it's the grown ups job to look after children, and that it's not the child's job to look after the grown up. That Daddy is responsible for his own happiness. To top it all off I know damn well that he is fine when she's not there, he's just creating a sob story.

Soooo much other background but I won't make this too long. 'no he's never hit me' but is very abusive. This is just the latest in the attempt at manipulation. I can't do anything to stop his behaviour - I can't even say that DD has repeated this, as she worries that she'll get in trouble for talking to me. All I can do is arm her with the ability to deal with it.

How do I do that? How do I stop her being affected by his sob stories, when she cares so much?

Thank you in advance...

springytate Wed 12-Jun-13 23:33:35

You couldn't have done better than:

it's the grown ups job to look after children, and that it's not the child's job to look after the grown up. That Daddy is responsible for his own happiness.

She needs to get this early, and you've told her. She may worry, worry, but somewhere down there, she's heard what you said. You could say that daddy is sulking, and that's naughty. Then laugh, and change the subject.

She may use the word 'sulking' with him, and out that it came from you. Maybe you have to run that risk. She shouldn't be put in this position - as you know full well. Abusers stoop lower than low and anything is fair game for their manipulations angry

PurpleThing Wed 12-Jun-13 23:44:01

This book is very good. Has book recommendations for different ages, ways to build their self esteem and ability to judge other's behaviour etc.

I think that what you have told her so far is really important. She will realise that he is being inappropriate by making her worry about him, hopefully sooner rather than later.

colditz Wed 12-Jun-13 23:50:03

What he's doing is child abuse. He's trying to make her feel bad about living with you and not him.

Tell her that daddy is responsible for his own food, and isn't it silly to sit on the sofa and sulk because you're not getting your own way? What does she think a teacher would do if you did that? What do you think a teacher would say?

And then, when she is careful.y out of the way and cannot overhear, ring him up and tell him that if he doesn't stop emotionally abusing her, contact will be reduced to two hours a week in a contact centre because you will not allow him to destroy her the way he had attempted to destroy you.

Noregrets78 Wed 12-Jun-13 23:51:36

Thanks both it's so good to know I'm doing the right things. The Lundy Bancroft recommendation is also interesting - I've read his main one about angry and controlling men, and it was a real eye opener. I hadn't considered this one as I hadn't really thought of DD as witnessing anything... What a stereotypical thing to say! If I'd seen anyone else saying that line on here, I'd jump in immediately with the fact that the kids always see what's going on.

Hmm think I need to go shopping on Amazon.

springytate Thu 13-Jun-13 00:10:36

Just ordered that book! Thanks Purple !

As much as it would be satisfying to hand it to him the way you describe, Colditz , it just isn't feasible with types like this (imo). There is no low to which they wouldn't stoop, and the chances are he'd up the ante and create far more problems. imo it is better to act without involving him, or speaking to him (which is pissing in the wind, anyway. He'd enjoy the hit tbf).

i totally agree that it is child abuse. To that end, I would get some advice about whether access continues. He abused you Noregrets , please don't think he wouldn't abuse your daughter in the same way - as you have seen sad . Do you really want her spending time with him?

Divorce Poison, deals with parental alienation. I would be very careful about threatening reduced contact - the courts would look on it very unfavourably.

Noregrets78 Thu 13-Jun-13 00:27:04

I need to be careful I don't start minimising what he's done over the years! He's never really physically hurt me, but has been intimidating, and I've walked on egg shells for years. I had been thinking if I could just last another 10 years DD would be an adult... but then saw 'the light' including a few comments from DD which made me realise that she was walking on egg shells just as much as me. The only reason things weren't worse in the house were because both of us knew how to avoid winding him up. Not a good way to live.

I'm very aware that nothing he's done is bad enough in the eyes of the court to restrict access. If I try to do that, then it will be the start of a long battle which I am unlikely to win.

TBH I would love for her not to spend time with him, for her own good, not selfish reasons. There are a whole host of other issues - he has been in and out of work for the last 6 years (his own fault), has been unemployed for the last 6 months, and is therefore at home able to take her to school pick her up etc. I, on the other hand, have worked full time to make up for the unpredictable income. I've played things very carefully to enable the current arrangements to work, and to make clear that working does not render me incapable of looking after our daughter. He has, of course, threatened to move my daughter in with him, take her away etc etc.

I'm afraid I will not phone him up to tell him to stop - DD will get in trouble and I'll not put her in that situation. We have had the general conversation a few times about how best to avoid damaging DD, but he just laughs at my foolish notions, and asks what book I got it out of. It's all my fault for pushing for the separation and now divorce, any attempt to minimise the damage just results in me getting blamed yet again.

I think things will resolve themselves in time. He moved to the other end of the country from his 2 daughters from his previous marriage, shortly after the divorce. He's already talked many times about moving away (of course i'm 'pushing him away' by not continuing to financially support him...)

Anyway I've ended up waffling for ages. I really do need to concentrate on giving her the tools to deal with it, and bide my time. Sorry it's all just come out in a flood of words, well done if you've got to the end of it!

Noregrets78 Thu 13-Jun-13 00:29:08

veryconfused absolutely there are so many cases of awful abuse where the courts still grant access. I wouldn't threaten cutting contact as it would probably backfire.

springytate Thu 13-Jun-13 09:17:03

<fingers crossed he moves away>

mummytime Thu 13-Jun-13 09:33:49

Do talk to the school too. See if the teacher hears anything (and if she does ask her to record it on your DDs file). See if the school can offer your DD any counselling time, my DCs primary has a Home-School worker who is ideal for letting kids express these kids of things to someone outside the family.
It may help your DD sort out her thoughts and would provide more "evidence" if you ever need it.

babyhammock Thu 13-Jun-13 09:44:56

Another really good Lundy Bancroft book is 'The Batterer as Parent'.
It's quite expensive, around £37 on amazon, but its brilliant and well worth the money.
Don't be put off by the word batterer, he uses it to define someone who uses coercive behaviour and threats even if there's been no actual 'hitting'.

honey86 Thu 13-Jun-13 12:36:37

id report that to whatever relevant authority because thats emotional abuse. disgusting twat x

NicknameTaken Thu 13-Jun-13 12:59:18

It's horrible manipulation. My ex has done similar, told DD I was trying to get him put in prison and killed.

If you're going down the court route, this should be grounds to ask for CAFCASS to do a report and potentially cut back on contact. In your shoes, I would ask whether it's in your DD's best interest to spend nearly half the week with such a manipulative person.

You are giving your dd the right message - it's not up to her to look after him.

Another thing I would say is that when you are with DD, make sure she gets carefree time just to enjoy her childhood. Don't get so caught up in your (justified) anger at your ex and your desire to protect DD that you make your time with her All About Him as well. I'm made this mistake, spending too much time earnestly questioning DD and trying to help her get perspective on her father, when really what she needed was a complete break and just to think about something fun for a while.

Noregrets78 Thu 13-Jun-13 14:13:50

I always think people will say that I have no right to want to restrict his contact, when he's at home all day and I work full time. Thank you so much for seeing that I'm worried for my daughter, not because I feel some kind of ownership of her.

Yes I frequently fall into the trap of asking her things about Daddy, but when I forget all about it, and just relax with her we have a wonderful chilled out time.

I don't want to alert authorities, or ask for a CAFCASS report because that will make him dig his heels in even more. I suspect he only wants her so many nights a week to prove a point, and if I just leave things be he'll eventually decide life would be better with a job, or in a different part of the country, and let go. He'll blame it all on me, and I couldn't care less, as I know the truth, and I'll be well rid!

NicknameTaken Thu 13-Jun-13 14:21:51

I get your point about him digging his heels in - you know him best, and I think it's worth following the strategy of non-opposition in the hope he'll get bored and go away.

At the same time, I think it's worth trying to get your concerns documented by a third party, so if it does involve courts later on, it won't be just your word against his. Can you log your concerns with someone, whether teacher, GP, counsellor or whoever? He doesn't have to know at this point, and you may never need it, but it's worth having.

My ex has fought hard to be the residential parent, and I think part of it is that he fancies tax credits, child benefit etc. I've been grateful for every scrap of third party evidence that has documented previous concerns about my ex.

Noregrets78 Thu 13-Jun-13 21:46:53

Have picked up DD tonight and had the usual Thursday night being difficult... We had a bit of a heart to heart, and she confessed that she's so sad about never having a family meal again, jealous of everyone else's lives, and that she was cross with me because it was my fault, because I was the one that said I wanted a divorce, and daddy thinks so too.

How to deal with this?! I've said rather cryptically that I had very good reasons, that I didn't want to tell them to her, as it would upset her to hear bad things about Daddy. I've said that someone can't treat you wrongly, and then blame you when you say you're not putting up with it any more...

She says that if it's not my fault then whose fault is it? Am I saying it's Daddy's fault? Or hers? I've reassured her it's absolutely not hers. that it's nobody's 'fault' but that it's both Daddy and Mummy that need to do this. Etc etc etc.

She seems a bit better for getting it all out, but I'm so upset. There's me continuing to give the neutral message, and there's him saying he's so so sad and it's Mummy's fault. How on earth do I convince her that i'm not to blame, without bad mouthing her Dad? It's making my head hurt confused

colditz Thu 13-Jun-13 22:02:05

You cannot give her a neutral message whilst her father is shit talking about you. You are going to have to give her a well clipped version of the absolute truth.

I told my children that I split up with their father because he wasn't able to be nice to me, or even able to stop being horrible. That the reason he went to live somewhere else was as a result of his own behavior. I reassured them that this can only happen with adults, so they weren't concerned abut being sent away, and told them that their love is theirs, to give to whoever they want, and they will never make me angry by loving someone that I don't love, but that I cannot let them live with their father because if he cannot make himself happy, and cannot feed himself properly, or clean his house so it is safe enough because he is so sad, he cannot look after children. Children must live with someone who can look after them properly,it is the law. And again, it's fine to love him, but children are NEVER in charge of making grown ups happy. Grown ups HAVE to make themselves happy without making children do it.

Can you tell that my ex pulled similar shit? And left my kids thinking I was an evil bitch who mistreated their beloved daddy until he was nearly dead!

Fucking tosser!

Anyway, it took a while for the message to sink in, but it did, and he stopped doing it after a while.

Optimist1 Thu 13-Jun-13 22:02:16

Not a great deal to add, Noregrets, except I think you're doing a great job and I really hope he gets tired of these manipulative games sooner rather than later.

Your daughter sounds a dear, sensitive girl. With regard to Mummy being to blame for the divorce could you tell her that Mummy was very sad for a lot of the time and that this was the only way out?

Feeling for you, and wishing you and your little girl lots more fun together in your future.

SummerSun19 Thu 13-Jun-13 22:48:01

Its a shame these men dont have a child filter, that way they would know not to speak to his daughter like that. Ive been in the exact same situation with a similar loser and ultimately its very hard not to say anything directly to the child about their father but phrases such as :Daddy says the wrong thing, thats not true and im not sure why he would say that.??... : what you need to do is to point out that he has said the wrong thing and made the wrong choice of words... and let your daughter reach her own conclusions by reassuring her with positive words and building her self esteem..your day will come when your daughter will get the measure of this man. Children are not stupid and pick up on comments, body language and atmospheres and she will realise very soon that he talks bullshit.. My daughter is 7 and has just realising now what her dad is like and ive had to button my lip for 4 years while she idolised him. These dickhead men are not even smart enough to realise children will soon work out who is the honest person. In fact go have a nice glass of wine and let him keep babbling away ruining things for himself. theres more than one way to skin a cat and hes doing a really good job himself smile

ImperialBlether Thu 13-Jun-13 23:39:20

You could say something like, "Oh he does exaggerate, doesn't he? One of my friends saw him in town laughing and chatting with his friends."

Noregrets78 Thu 13-Jun-13 23:46:23

Thanks everyone, you've given me some lovely fresh ideas on how to approach the subject with her. I know Thursday nights are always the worst, as she really acts up. Once she gets her anger out of her system things always improve.

As long as she's able to tell me how she feels, even if that means telling me she's cross with me... he'll never break our relationship.

springytate Fri 14-Jun-13 08:23:30

I hope you've taken on board to get this documented somewhere. It is so important to let someone official know what is going on.

It is just so appalling that your little girl is being used as a pawn like this. Poor girl, pulled back and forth sad sad . I appreciate that you expect him to gradually lose interest and drift off, but I just hate to hear of your girl being used in the meantime.

If you told someone official what you have told here, they would immediately recognise (as we have) that he is emotionally abusing her.

I don't know what I'm saying here, really. Suffering is part of life and maybe this is the price she has to pay for a finite period ??

Tuckshop Fri 14-Jun-13 08:42:25

Is there a pastoral care worker at school? My dd talks to them when she is finding it difficult at her Dads. She has a tendency to hold back with me, as she doesn't want me getting upset or angry - not that I would with her.

It sounds like you are doing a fantastic job.

ChippingInWiredOnCoffee Fri 14-Jun-13 08:43:17

Noregrets - DD saw enough, heard enough and absobed enough when you were together. She's 10, not 4 - I think you need to be more on the level with her - explain to her that his behaviour wasn't good enough, explain that walking on eggshells wasn't good for your or her mental health. You don't have to say he's a twat - but I actually think it's wrong not to discuss things properly when they are her age as it just confirms that his manipulative, abusive behaviour is OK - when it's anything but. Also, it completely destroys her ability to trust her own judgement about things - she knew he wasn't behaving nicely - don't make out he was/is - for her own good.

I'm not sure I've explained that very well though.

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