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How do I explain to ds?

(5 Posts)
maparole Sun 09-Feb-14 08:54:13

My ex is pretty much nasty to everyone. He manages to maintain an (almost)-normal level of politeness and decency with strangers and acquaintances, but is fairly uniformally unpleasant to everyone close to him.

His virtually exclusive means of communication is barking orders, criticism, taking the piss and shouting. Our ds (10) is a sensitive, kind soul, somewhat over-emotional and easily wounded. I used to "referee" between his dad and him, but now that we have separated I can no longer do that.

I am now quite frequently faced with a tearful ds saying that his dad doesn't love him and "why does he blame me for everything?" and similar.

I keep reassuring him that his dad does love him (as I am sure he does, in a twisted kind of way), and that this behaviour is nothing personal and not something that ds can fix or is responsible for. What more should I do? I am wondering whether he should have counselling; am concerned he is becoming a peoople-pleaser?

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 09-Feb-14 09:41:38

With respect, I think you're giving your DS the wrong message. It's not for you to tell him that his Dad loves him when all the evidence... the bullying and shouting.... points to the opposite. If your DS is confused it's probably because of the mixed messages. There is no such thing as love 'in a twisted kind of way' and, by telling him to see love in this kind of behaviour, the risk is that he takes that forward into adulthood and thinks others who treat him badly are showing him love.

Of course the nasty behaviour is personal, and your DS knows that. Chances are he isn't 'sensitive' or 'over-emotional' at all but simply suffering from the low self-esteem and anxiety that his father creates. DS can't fix it and isn't responsible for his father's behaviour.

The answer to 'why does he blame me for everything?' is that his father is an angry bully that doesn't care who he hurts. Be honest with DS... it's not badmouthing if you're telling the truth.

I think you're going to have to go on the offensive here. Not refereeing but protecting DS. Reduce communication to the written only so that you can keep a record. Record any verbal abuse incidents. If DS is unhappy staying with his father, reassure him that he can reduce the visits. Back this up with a change to the contact order if necessary. In a few more years DS will be able to decide if he wants contact at all.

maparole Sun 09-Feb-14 19:48:20

it's not badmouthing if you're telling the truth.

That's the bit I'm struggling with, though. I have always believed in being as honest as possible with him, about anything and everything, but whatever I tell him about his dad seems inevitably to be badmouthing, because it is all pretty bad sad.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 09-Feb-14 21:03:02

Badmouthing would be to drip-feed DS with your bad opinion of his father for purely malicious reasons. That's not applicable

Your DS can see and understand what's going on. He's astute enough to ask why his father blames him and question whether this is what love is supposed to look like. He deserves an honest answer, even if it's bad, or he'll think you're not taking him seriously. He also needs to know that you're defending and protecting him against the bullying. That you've got his back.

Theoldhag Sun 09-Feb-14 21:54:23

Compleatly agree with cognito here and I would also recommend counselling for your ds, maybe the school has a counsellor?

Your priority is to protect your son, so let him take the lead on this issue, it is good that he can talk with you, he will work out what sort of dad his father is and how he wishes to proceed with this relationship or not as the case may be.

Good luck and be strong, you sound like a wonderful and caring mum thanks

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