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Shared parenting when one parent may be mentally ill

(15 Posts)
zizzirocket Tue 05-May-15 12:40:32

Does anyone have any experience of sharing the parenting of DCs when the other parent has a mental illness? Have you any recommendations on books/resources/etc? XH displays paranoid delusions (usually about me, but have also been aimed at colleagues, friends and family before), DCs are 7 and 5 and I worry about how to parent them effectively when they might be exposed to paranoid behaviour. Also, if I'm totally honest, worry about how bad it could get, as this behaviour has got worse over the years, to the extent he has restricted his contact with a lot of friends and family due to believing things about them that are not true.

SunnyBaudelaire Tue 05-May-15 12:42:16

seriously I would not share parenting with someone like this until they were well again. Is he an outpatient?

zizzirocket Tue 05-May-15 12:46:54

No, he was never assessed... The thing is that the children are OK at the moment, although some things they tell me worry me slightly, but on the whole, they're OK. I think unless school pick up on anything (and I do keep them updated about the situation so they can keep an eye), I can't apply to the courts to change anything as they will see that the children are OK.

SunnyBaudelaire Tue 05-May-15 12:56:41

if he has never been assessed how do you know that he has 'paranoid delusions' and 'paranoid behaviour'?
Honestly if it were me I would just stop contact until he had been assessed by a mental health team and was well.

zizzirocket Tue 05-May-15 15:57:32

Pretty much that everyone is conspiring against him - either to take his money, his property/land, his rights, and/or his children, etc. And although I call them paranoid delusions, I am not qualified to make any sort of mental health assessment, I just know that he believes things about people that are not true, because one of those people is me. His behaviour is delusional, maybe that's a better way to put it.

I am not confident enough of taking that course of action as I would be in breach of the court order and (at the moment) the children are not seen as "at risk" because they are happy and seem well adjusted. So I'm just wondering how I can co-parent in the best way when I'm dealing with someone who sees me (incorrectly, and no matter how much I try and convince him otherwise) as a threat, hence the original question. smile

zizzirocket Tue 12-May-15 15:59:13


zizzirocket Mon 22-Aug-16 11:24:08

Bumping this thread.

Would like to reiterate that I am not looking to debate whether or not XH has a mental illness (unless he voluntarily seeks professional assessment, I'm under no illusion that anyone can confirm this, especially me), just wondering if anyone has experiences they might be willing to share of co-parenting with someone who displays behaviour consistent with paranoid schizophrenia (PS) and how they cope with it in the best interests of DCs.

DCs are 50% with each of us by court order so restricting access is not an option. Without a diagnosis or any form of current physical threat to the DCs, the equal shared care will not change. I'm simply wondering if there's anything I can be doing to minimise any impact on the DCs, to minimise the difficulties I have with communication, and/or look out for any symptoms in DCs (there is a history of mental illness in one of XH's parents, who has been diagnosed PS, and other family members, including depression and bipolar).

erinaceus Mon 22-Aug-16 18:32:16

Do you have RL support for yourself? That would be my first suggestion. The second would be to ask, how is your communication with your ex?

zizzirocket Mon 22-Aug-16 19:16:59

Thanks for your reply, erinaceus. I have a good network of friends and family around me, so I've got a ears and shoulders to lean on. smile

Communications are pretty poor. I can't raise any issue about the DCs with ease. Trying to discuss holidays, handovers, health-related issues, anything requiring cooperation, is like wading through treacle. I don't think he trusts anything I say to him. He has little to no RL support- he's cut most of it off through making accusations about people or mistrusting them.

erinaceus Mon 22-Aug-16 20:05:54

zizzirocket In your shoes, I would go to your GP and explain the situation. If your GP is not sympathetic or is unable to suggest anything constructive, then ask for a second opinion. The GP may be able to get professional help for you, not because you are a problem per se, but because these types of situations are nuanced and difficult. That is what I would do, for the sake of your children. When there is nothing to see, you need support for yourself as a parent. I appreciate that you are asking for support from MN, and I can listen, but situations like this deserve real-life attention.

I have been the child in an analogous situation to this, which is why I am suggesting this. At the time, neither of my parents sought support from professionals nor realised what was going on for really quite some time, but this was a long time ago, and things are different now. They and I are in scant contact, but there is a shared understanding of what happened. I suppose I am trying to say that you may believe that your children are protected by your actions but this is something that it is very very difficult to know.

dangermouseisace Mon 22-Aug-16 20:56:38

Have you tried communicating important things by email?

This is my preferred method with my ex. I will chat to him on the doorstep/text about minor things etc it's not because I won't speak to him. It's more that I know I don't trust what he says (there are reasons for that), also my memory isn't that great at present, and it is really useful to have something to refer to, for both of us. This method works well.

zizzirocket Mon 22-Aug-16 22:13:56

Saw the GP today, told him a bit of background, which he cut off as he wanted me to get to the point of what it is I want, told him I wanted some help/support in co-parenting when there are signs of paranoid behaviours and if there was any risk of inheritance for my kids. He more or less told me to go away and look up stuff on the Internet! I came home feeling very tearful and stupid and wrote a letter to one of the other GPs at the practice stating what I wanted to say to the one I saw. I'll wait and see if anything more useful comes back. Resources/support for someone in a position like mine seem non-existent.

Communications are mostly by email but if it's addressing anything which might change the routine, such as wanting to take the DCs away on holidays, he doesn't generally respond well. It usually degenerates into him accusing me of manipulating him/the kids/government bodies/other people or me attempting to steal his time with the kids or divide the family, etc etc..... sad

erinaceus Mon 22-Aug-16 22:21:40

zizzirocket I am sorry that you did not feel supported by your GP. It could be that he is not a parent or that he does not have a particular interest in mental health problems or the health and wellbeing of families. You might find that your email gets you the support you need. For example, practice managers of GP surgeries can be hit-or-miss. Some are former nurses who have seen everything and know what is available in your community.

I hope that you get the support that you need and that your children need.

Natsku Mon 22-Aug-16 22:26:36

My DD's dad has paranoid delusional disorder and parenting with him is a nightmare but getting child protection involved was the best thing as thanks to them he now only has day visits with her rather than overnights as he is too unpredictable in his illness and its too distressing to DD.

He would say the same sort of things as your ex - everyone is against him, social workers and doctors are teaming up to take DD away from him, making accusations against police and doctors/nurses any time he has been alone with them. I just try and ignore his rantings now and explain to DD that daddy is ill.

zizzirocket Mon 22-Aug-16 22:53:54

Thank you erinaceus and Natsku. flowers

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