Is father manipulating us? Urgent, please.(23 Posts)
I have quite an urgent situation and I need some help and advise.
My son that is 10 years old, refuses to stay overnight at his father for quite some time now. Despite my best efforts he does not want to stay there over the night. This past week, and due to many complications regarding this issue, I had to call child services and me, my son and his father visited there and talked with social workers extensively. They advised that our son should not stay overnight at his father before he is ready to do so and made it clear that the father should not attempt to take him from school again unless it is discussed with me first and our son is informed (this, because his father tried to take him out of school claiming a doctor's appointment this week that I knew nothing about).
Contact between the father and the son is encouraged so that they re-establish a connection and a dialogue. The father now opposes child services' advise and informed me yesterday that they cannot decide where the child will stay overnight and if I do not push him to it, I am breaking the private agreement we have signed. He refuses to understand the severity of the situation and every chance he gets he pressures our son to tell him exactly when he will go to sleep over again.
Today, his father took him to the swimming pool and was agreed that he would bring him back at 6pm. The boy did not want to go because he kept saying that he feels pressured and he does not want to talk about this issue for some days (we have been talking with Child Services, the school all this week) At 6.15 I receive a message from my son asking me if he could stay over at the paternal grandmother's house to which I agreed although I dislike the fact that his father the first chance he got he made arrangements that the child would not return to me. I am also worried that he is being pressured again and very delicately to return to overnight stays prematurely, despite the clear message that the social workers gave to both parents.
I want to know if I am just overreacting or if this is really a sign of my son being manipulated.
Thank you so much for your help in advance.
I think you have to speak to your son as soon as he returns and ask him if he was pressured in to this latest sleepover at grandparents. If he was, it is time to call children's services back and take their advice on next steps. My personal advice would be to refuse ALL further visitation. Go to court, (you don't need a lawyer, this part is very straight forward ) and get a 'prohibitive steps order' stating that the child may not be taken out of school by the father without your consent and permission, pending a full hearing for contact. (Which he would have to apply and pay for). If you have social services involvement already, then the judge is likely to make recommendations based on their advice or order a report from CAFCASS. The most likely outcome would be a staggered contact, ie weekend daytime. For 4 weeks, then overnight Saturday with Saturday and Sunday all day EOW. Then 4 weeks later, Friday 6pm-Sunday 6pm fortnightly (which is the norm). You absolutely have no obligation to stick to any 'agreement' made between your and your husband. It sounds like it was made under duress anyway.
This is very difficult. Why is your son refusing overnight stays. ?Does he enjoy his fathers company during the day ? Sometimes children of separated parents have a misplaced loyalty to the 'left' parent, -especially if they have been visibly distressed by the split. The child feels a sense of needing to be home to 'look after you' in case you are sad... Maybe a long way off the mark in your situation, but it is common for children to feel this, no matter the reality of the situation.
The above advice about court, is only really suitable if he is a difficult and hostile person. The ideal from the child's point of view is for both parents to sort problems out amicably, and to be seen to do so by the dcs. The bottom line is that your son should be having overnights with his father if there are no safe guarding issues and getting to the reason of the refusal is all important.
Thank you so much for your answer! I have been sitting here all night waiting for someone to respond because this is a very difficult situation for me and my son.
The arrangement had been one week to me, one week to his father for 5 years now, since we were divorced. Since November, that his father was getting divrced from his third (now) ex wife, problems started at the household and our son started not wanting to go back there. When the ex wife moved out he moved in a new GF after three days, with a daughter that is 3 years old and that our son had never met before. Parallel to this story is that his father started being agressive and the boy started telling me that he screams at him and treats him badly. We discussed all together many times about the situation and his father always downplayed the situation, which made me also think (at the time) that our son MIGHT be overexaggerating due to new circumstances at his father home.
Last Monday our son ran away from his father's house and came to me. He hadnt slept all night crying in his bed and he peed twice there scared. He told me his father was telling him bad things about me all evening and making fun of me. This was after the hand over where I tried to point out to his father that the boy is very scared to be with him and he needs to start listening to him and we should all find a common solution to the problem. Two hours after I informed the father that our son was home at me (I did this the moment the boy stepped foot in the house) and I proposed to let everyone calm down for a couple of days and we parents talk between us in the meantime, the father appeared agressively at my house demanding to take the boy that was crying shaking at the stairs home with him. The boy refused, the father started screaming at him to cut the crap and get downstairs and come with him so I called the police.
Tuesday I went and informed the school of the situation and our son told them he was afraid his father would come take him from school. An hour later the school calls me to inform me that his father had called snd tolled them he is picking the child up for a docs appointement at 11. I went and took a very scared child from school and drove straight to Child Services where we both talked with social workers separately. My son for one and half hours and I for three. I agreed that communication should start again with his dad and we should all try to find a solution to the problem and they amde the father promise them that until the situation is cleared up, he should not go to the boy's school. They also told me that I am doing the right thing, under the circumstances, and after what our son told them, to not let him stay overnight at his dad's.
Thursday I found the father on his way to our son's school AGAIN, so I took the boy and the father and went back to Child Services where the same things were repeated. The father refused to leave the child services building and the social workers had to mislead him in a room so me and my son would get out of there. Next day he came over to an agreed visit to take our son go-carting and the started pressuring both of us as to WHEN will the boy sleep over there again. Even though the boy says he is tired of talking about this and does not want to talk the father pushes and demands and when I say this is enough he tells me I am encouraging him to NOT go there.
Yesterday, before he came to pick the boy up, he called me and told me that Child Services have no pwoer over him, nor does the school, that after Child Services talked to them, the priniple called the father and told him he is NOT to take the child out of the school. We agreed on mediation but he says that he wont wait until this is settled to have his son back at his house. Then the issue with the overnight stay at the grandmother happened.
This is very difficult for me. I cannot be seen as prohibiting contact but I am scared of my son being coersed and manipulated. I feel that we are being bullied to sgreeing with the father and he wont let either of us calm down.
The boy has told me many times that he cannot resist what his father is telling him when he is alone with him becuase he is afraid of him. He wants to talk with his father only together with the social workers that have been talking to us about his feelings.
I am totally lost here...
Your son sounds terrified of his father.
You need to stand up for him by stopping contact and get it resolved formally through the courts.
That your ex is saying that child services have no power over him, would make me very concerned for his safety.
Why is he so adamant to have him overnight when he knows the child doesn't want to?
Are you in the UK?
No, I am in Norway but the laws are similar and I am afraid to post in Norwegian forums in case he monitors them.
He is very manipualtive and selfish. It is no surprise he has three divorces in ten years. One thing I never thought he would do though would be to was to treat his son badly. This si the reason it wook me so long to understand what was going on. As the biy told me on Friday: I have lost faith in my dad after what he did on Monday and Tuesday ats chool. His words not mine.
I have to also say, that this si not the first time this happens. Three years ago, in an attempt to get our son to stay more with him, he out his mother to report me to child services for child neglect and for being an alcocholic. We went through the whole investigation and the report came back saying that all the accusations were false and that they felt they were dragged into a child custody case. They recommended, as did the Mediator, that we parents work thigns out between us for the best of the child, which I REALLy tried to do despite the obstacles. This is the same grandmother that our son stayed overnight at!!
My pateince is wearing thin. I also need to add that yesterday he claimed that our son ahs psychological problems and this si why he is scared of being with him and it has nothing to do with him.
You asking me why he is so keen for the boy to stay at his house sicne he refuses? Well... it is bad for his image now with his new GF in the house, right? Also, what will the people say that his son won't sleep there anymore... Fasade and manipulationa nd control. This is all it is about. I tried to talk to hi, pleaded to give us both time. Let things calm down. He won't listen. he calims our sonc annot decide this but we can (parents) so sicne I do not FORCE him (yes he said that) to stay over the night there I am responsible for what is ahppening!
What really disturbs me is as you said, the lack of respect he has for EVERYONE. he does not respect his son, me as a mother, social workers' advise and experience, the school. NOONE.
First chance he got, he did not return the boy home. If I was in his shoes, even if our son asked me himslef to stay at grandma's overnight under these circumstances, I would say politely this can happen another time. He just found a way to isolate his son away from me where he will have easier access for his manipualtions and an accomplish!
Harsh? This is how I see it.
How would your ex react if you went to the grandmothers to check on him, maybe take a change of clothes and toothbrush as an excuse to just drop by. If your boy is being forced to stay it will be obvious from his reaction.
If you feel that he isn't happy would you be able to bring him home? Would the police be able to assist if they refused to let him go with you?
Isn't it best the boy stays with his GM rather than the father?
If my child was trembling prior to a visit somewhere I would refuse contact and await a court date from your husband.
If I went there myself, I would seem the one to be intruding and hostile.
I told the father the boy should come 12 o'clock so he has time for his homework. I did not receive an straight answer only that there is plenty of time for homework later. What does this mean? I will wait and see...
It is almost 12 here, now... let's see what they are doing.
BTW... I haven't talked to the grandmother since the incident three years ago. I am uncertain I am welcome there. I have to wait for the boy to come home.
It is better by all means... but shouldn't this be prior discussed with me, too?
Under the ircumstances and after all she did three years ago, too, what am I to feel?
Isn't it best maybe that we all start holding the promises we make to each other?
The boy hasn't slept at his grandmother's for two years! Suddenly it is a necessity?
I think it is more important that we re-establish the trust in all relationships involved here before we can take such "on the spur of the moment" decisions. Also, this sends a false signal to dad now that he is one step fromt aking the boy next weekend. I am certain there was a plan behind this.
As you are in NOrway I am not sure how the legal system works. In the UK, unless there is a court order, there is nothing to stop the resident parent refusing contact. The non resident parent then has to go to court to get contact. If the child is adamant they don't want contact then CAFCASS are appointed to represent the needs and wishes of the children. CAFCASS will spent time with the child, ascertaining their true feelings. The problem with children is that they often tell each parent what they think that parent wants to hear, so it quite difficult to know what's going on in their minds. CAFCASS (in our experience) are really good and deciphering these complexities. If the system in Norway is similar, could you just stop visitation and ask children's services (in tandem with the court - so he can't ignore them) to assist with advice on the way forward in your child's best interest ?
I have an appointment with my lawyer tomorrow about this.
BFT (the equivelent of CAFCASS in Norway) that we visited with my son twice this week already told me that if the father refuses to hold the deal he made with them (to not seek the child at school until the issue is settled), they will and can send a recommendation to court.
They also advised and I agredd that it is best that we try to solve this between us, if possible. This is what I have been trying to do. But as you read and I am not exaggerating in the events, this is impossible. So, off to the lawyer I go tomorrow.
Btw... 2pm, and still no sign of them or a single word. The child has a lot of homework and I am running out of time already. I explained exactly why I wanted him home for homework at 12pm and all the homework he had to do. No respect, no cinsideration, nothing.
Child services here, did talk with our son extensively the past week and as they told me, he was very articulate and very mature despite his age to explain why he refuses contact, talk about the insidents the last months and also about his thoughts and feelings. They tried in two ocasions to explain to his father also but they also find it difficult.
He sounds horrific.
Can you get the equivalent of a court order that stipulate what contact there is to be?
I am going to talk about this with my lawyer tomorrow.
I am on my witt's end.
14.38 still no sign of them.
16.00 if the boy is not returned till then, I am contacting the father via SMS to ask that his is returned.
What a horrid feeling... to not know what to do. Catch 22 when there is so much disrepect and manipulation and we are dealing with a parent.
I hope he's home soon. I would look at getting contact in supervised way in future.
Your poor son.
I need to thank everyone for their replies and give a short update:
Son came back at 3pm happya nd smiling and said that he will start going to stay at his dad's fron next Sunday onwards. I asked him if he is scared now? No, he is not. Was he pressured? No, he was not. All is fine now.
I am at a loss.
If the 10yo has managed to fool everyone (me, the school and CAFCASS) that he was terrified... I have another problem in my hands.
To say I am besides myself, would be an understatement.
Have you contacted the 3rd ex-wife? She may be able to shed some light on what is going on in his house.
I did yes.
She actually confirmed what the child was telling us, about the shouting and the verbal agression and that his father has a few times grabbed him violently by the arm or twisted his ear.
This is why I am SO confused right now as to what happened in 24 hours and everything is fine again...
Son goes to bed, I sit in next room with Mac... son starts talking about teddy bear again ... so I grab the opportunity and re-enter his bedroom and sit down on the floor asking a bit blase what is the story with the teddy about... He says he doesnt trust his dad that he wont destroy his teddy. I tell him, look... either you trust your dad or you don't. If you trust him, you trust him with the teddy, too. He replies, no he doesn't completely trust him... so I look at my nails and I ask him: So, if you don't trust him 100% yet, how come you agreed to go back next Sunday to stay all week? ... Son replies; I didn't agree, dad said he wanted to get things back to normal ass soon as possible and I said yes because I didn't want to talk about it anymore... I ask son: so... you didn't have a talk with your dad about what changes you want to see happening? about what you feel and what you think? Son replies no, they didn't... I tell him ok, sleep now and rest your head and we talk about this again in a few days time... I leave the room sit my butt on the couch again next room.. after 2 mins son asks: Mom? how many days do I have before I have to go back to my father? (off I go again back inside the room but calm), I tell him you have 8 days, he replies, can i talk with SS again? I ask what he wants to talk about this time, he replies he feels he hadn't talked enough with them and that since they talked a lot of new thoughts have come into his mind...
I told him that we should, in the next few days, talk a bit of how fast he changed his mind about things after he had some time to relax. To this he replied that he hadn't changed his mind, he just agreed to everything because he was afraid that his father would not bring him back here if he said no.
Gosh this reminds me so much of the previous situation between my DD and her father (similar age). It sounds as though your son is being heavily manipulated. He will not be able to break from that cycle easily, as he'll e under pressure whenever he sees his Dad.
I think he needs to know that if he doesn't want to see him, he doesn't have to. That he can tell you what's going on, and you won't tell his Dad without prior agreement. He absolutely has to feel safe telling you things, or you'll never know the truth.
Assuming things are similar in Norway - I'd then get the Order prohibiting his Dad from collecting from school, tell your DS he's not staying over until resolved. Do not allow his father into the house to shout at your son. Make him feel safe enough to open up.
I am so sorry that your son and you are going through such an awful time with this awful man. It is time to refuse contact & get into court. Get something in place that your son is happy with & that cannot be altered by his dad. If it were my son I would not allow unsupervised contact at any time. Your son is being damaged. Please be his voice and his defender. You owe this man nothing. Your son needs you. Good luck xx
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