How worried would you be and WWYD...(8 Posts)
if your DC told you that a couple of months ago, their Dad (your XP) had had a mental health episode where no-one was technically hurt, but furniture was pulled over and it was described by both DCs that 'it was scary, because it was like he wasn't there'. There was no loss of consciousness, but a change of consciousness, and it involved a brief hospital admission by paramedics, followed by three weeks off work and a return to work part-time. DCs are 13 and 17. What would you do? I'm interested to see if other people would react in a similar way to how DH and I did - to gauge if we under or over-reacted to the situation.
I guess it would depend on how your relationship is with him.
I would offer support and help him as much as I could.
As for the children, I would probably request no overnights until you were sure he was stable.
Having been at work when somebody had a psychotic episode, yes it is scary but it is patently obvious that the person is unaware of their actions and how disturbing it is to witness.
If he is receiving the correct treatment and has now stabilised only then would I look at leaving the children unsupervised with him.
I would not have stopped supervised contact in the interim
Ok, that's great, thank you - as that's what DH and I did - we emailed him to say that a DC had told us about the occurrence, that we were sorry it had happened, and that because the issue had been kept from us for so long, while we understood why he must have wanted to keep it quiet, we would appreciate any further information to ensure that the children were safe. We said that it wasn't going to do any of them any good to change the arrangements at this point, but that we were worried owing to the little information we'd received, and the worrying nature of that information.
He initially responded by just saying what we already knew, but also just saying that the children were safe. When I spoke to the DCs they had no plan of action for the event of a reoccurence (the older DC was the one who rang for the ambulance, I think) so I suggested to them that it would be a good idea to at least make sure their phones are charged, and on them at all times, and that the lock on their bedroom doors work.
The following day he withheld them from coming round, and I'm now being accused of emotionally abusing the children. We haven't seen them for three weeks. I know that the older DC doesn't feel the same as the younger DC, but it's all very weird - their behaviour over the years has been very weird, the way they treat all of us here is very weird, and to go nc like this so suddenly was a big shock.
I saw a mediator on Wednesday and she's writing to him to request mediation next week, but she wouldn't listen to what's happened (so that she can be impartial) so all she knows is that he's witholding the children. I've had a couple of texts from the older DC, and she visited my mum on Easter Sunday, but we're not allowed to talk to them about it. One of the stipulations of their return is that I no longer tell them I love them, and miss them (he changed the arrangements in 2014 so that we were no longer their primary carers but had them much less) and it seems to us like he's convinced them that we're evil - but of course, parental alienation doesn't exist in court, so if it gets to that, we'll just go in and tell them the facts. DH and I have two younger DCs who are missing them terribly, but they haven't even texted to ask how they are.
If there is no contact happening then you can go straight to court for an emergency hearing. I wouldn't mess around with mediation if the children aren't seeing you at all.
I wouldn't be so worried about the situation you describe. The children aren't that young, the eldest is nearly an adult. I'd probably focus on teaching the children what to do if it happened again.
Parental alienation does exist in the family courts - there is case law that covers it (Re S 2010 I think) but yes, you're always better to go in and explain the facts rather than trying to offer a diagnosis as such.
Ok, thank you, Fourormore, that's interesting to know. I'm glad we have gone to mediation first, as I think it will in the long run show that we're trying to be reasonable and logical, and hope that it will show how U and illogical XP is being in preventing contact.
His accusations of emotional abuse are of course incredibly upsetting, hurtful, and worrying (that it might somehow be true), but DH and I have gone over everything, and really can't see how the conversations I've had with them could constitute abuse. I've said that we love them, and miss having them living with us, as opposed to visiting, and have said all along that we don't think their reasons for leaving were justifiable - they said it was quieter over there, that the younger DC would not have to share a room (like he does here), and that they would have more attention from XP (who was working FT) than from us (I work part-time from home and DH works from home) owing to the extra attention we have to pay to the two younger DCs, who have autism. He's now really blown this up, and apparently I ignore the dcs in favour of the younger ones, don't acknowledge or support their academic progress, and perpetually harangue them about returning to a 50/50 situation - all of which is untrue.
The thing is, is that if he has the dcs believing it, I don't know how the courts will see past the bullshit he's spouting. The emails will show how considered and factual and logical an approach we've taken on our side, and how inflammatory and emotive and illogical a stance he's written, but other than that, I feel like it's just going to be our word against theirs. However, thankfully my incredibly patient, loving and kind DH agrees with me that we have to go through the steps of this, if nothing else, so that years down the line, the dcs will know that we tried.
It sounds very difficult and your email seems reasonable. I must say it is not surprising teenagers want to live with their father rather than room sharing, living with autistic siblings whom I am sure are lovely but are bound to get a bit more attention etc etc so perhaps it will work out for the best but it's surprising the teenagers don't want any contact. They are in key GCSE and A level years now so I think both parents should work very hard to ensrue whatever gets them the best exam results is what the set up is. There will be plenty of time for contact and holiday stays when they move into university years. For now they need stability and time for studying and all the rest.
I completely agree Eustace - and if I thought they were better supported over there with homework etc. I would see their point a little bit more - however we feel that they're using the two asd siblings as an excuse - since they've been over there primarily, they've dropped all extra-curricular activities, and DS has started having issues with not having any friends. From past experience, the attitude towards education in XP's very large family is that you do the minimum amount of school work and that should be sufficient, as it's more important to have fun outside of school hours. Over the years, DH and I have encouraged and supported them to do things outside of school - maybe one or two activities, so it's not like I've pushed them to do loads of things. I've even tried to teach them something in my specialty, which they've enjoyed and been really good at, but then when they go to XP's, it's discouraged, forgotten, and lost, until they end up giving up.
I'm doing a degree in DC1's A-level subject, so am happy to help them both with that subject, and other subjects that I've specialised in in the past, as is DH. All of DC1's commended homeworks were projects that DH or I helped with.
Contrarily, in the last year, DC2 has missed homeworks, and his reports haven't been as good as they are normally. Although, when his last report arrived, and there was a grade that seemed concerning, DH and I raised this to be told that actually it was completely fine and all to do with the curriculum and grading changes. We said ok, as there was not a lot else we could say, but now XP is saying that I always put DC2 down and don't acknowledge his achievements.
I think a lot of it stems from the fact that DH and I have had a stable household here for a long time, whereas XP has been living at his parents house for about 9 years. It's also probably not coincidental that he's done this two weeks after moving into a house with a new girlfriend, who the DCs only met a few months ago. I have no idea what this lady is like - I'm sure she must be fine, as from what little we've been told, she's a nurse in a care home, but the DCs don't seem too louch with my mum, so that's something, but it's just really strange how one minute she'll say she'll come round, and then she ignores my texts. I'm trying not to text too much for fear of that being seen as harassment, and haven't rung at all. But other than sending the odd text to offer to meet up, I don't see that there's a huge amount I can do but wait to see if they'll come to mediation.
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