How can I deal with this?(12 Posts)
DS1 is 9 and is having a lot of emotional issues surrounding his Dad. Summary is, ex and I split in May 2012 (having previously separated in Nov 2009, we had been 'dating' again for 6months.) In October 2012 ex met his NP, within 6 weeks they were engaged, living together, and she was expecting. Me and ex also have DS2 (7) and his NP has DD (13) and DS(11).
The last year has been very difficult, ex refuses to spend anytime with the DC on their own, apparently his DSC get upset if they aren't allowed to join in, and it's not fair on them. This probably wouldn't be a problem if DC had been given a chance to accept the change in circumstances before having it forced upon them IYSWIM. Little things like the DSC calling ex Daddy, and DS1 being told that he's not his Dad's 1st child anymore, DSD is!
DS1 is having pastoral support at school for this, and they are looking at the possibility of a CAMHS referral.
And now for my current problem.
Ex messaged me this week saying that DS1 keeps hitting DS2 when they are there and that I need to 'sort him out' I'm not sure what this means, but other than the odd (normal IMO spat) they don't hit eachother here.
I said as much to ex, and suggested he speak to DS1 about it. He said he has.
I sat down with DS1 and had a chat about it all. He says that Daddy hasn't actually 'asked' him why, but just yelled at him. (I fully believe this BTW as I know my ex)
Basically, DS1 has told me that he hits DS2 because he is cross and sad with Daddy, but can't hit or shout at him.
I have told him that he also isn't allowed to hit his brother, or anyone else for that matter!
If I try and tell ex what DS1 has said, he will just say that I am making it up/jealous etc.
DS1 has tried to tell him before, he written him letters and spoken face to face. His Dads response is that he needs to 'grow up and get over it'
I am going to speak to his teacher again this week, but what else can I do? Should I be discipling DS for things that happen at their Dad's? Or is it (as I believe) his responsibility as they are in his house?
Do you get any feedback from the pastoral care sessions at school? When my dd was having some problems the learning mentor had a chat with me about their session so that I could support her in a similar way at home.
Perhaps you could ask for some written notes which you can pass onto x so that it's not coming from you? I'm sure your DS will have mentioned his concerns at school and certainly will if it ends up with CAMHS involved.
It's so hard and I don't think you should get involved with the discipline when he is at his dad's, but you can reassure him the dsd is just getting confused when she says that ds1 isn't his first child, that she is a step child which is different, and may be the oldest in that family, but that nobody can replace him in his dad's eyes. It would be nice to hear that from his dad, but perhaps point out that dad will be wary of saying anything that makes the other children feel less welcome, so he's in a tricky position.
I know it must be hurtful to have to be so reasonable about this horrible treatment he seems to be getting from his dad, but I think you need to reassure him
even if you don't totally believe it that his dad is just trying to keep everyone happy and a not quite getting the balance right.
I must confess in the early days to giving my dsd the benefit of the doubt over my own dd (even when I was 99% sure my dd was in the right) because I didn't want to rock the boat and upset dsd or DP. I felt awful, but there is a certain amount of juggling with the different needs and feelings of children and adults. Cuddling dsd on the sofa so she didn't feel left out, then my dd getting jealous, but I couldn't turf dsd out, so dd ended up feeling sidelined. The same happened in reverse of course, when dd cuddles DP and his DCs get jealous.
The most important thing you can do is to reassure your DS that he is loved and that other DCs probably feel as confused as he does about their place in the family, which is why they're asserting their rights.
Most importantly let him know he can talk to you about everything and that you won't be cross or judge him for his feelings. He can control his actions, but his feelings, however difficult, are out of his control, so knowing that they are all ok will help him to stay open with you.
Exactly what Natasha has said. Absolutely reinforce the no hitting, but the poor little lad must be in turmoil. Has your Ex been abusive to you ? If no history of abuse, I would maybe enquire about some sort of family therapy that you could all attend together?
Lynda I have had feedback from the pastoral carer, although haven't managed to see her since Christmas holidays. We did agree that we would have a meeting a couple of weeks into the new term, so I am going to try and arrange that tomorrow. They wrote him letters (DS and the pastoral carer) last year, his response was to say to me "What's he writing all this crap for? I've got a new family now, and he needs to grow up and accept that"
I do all of that other reassurance stuff already
as much as it pains me to make excuses for his twuntish behaviour although it's interesting to hear a step-parents POV, so thanks.
Natasha I'm not going to punish him, but his Dad seemed to think I should. He made me wonder if I was wrong . You're right, he is desperate for his Dad to listen to him.
Monet looking back now, I believe he was emotionally abusive, although I didn't see it at the time, and only mildly I'd say. Despite that, I have suggested family therapy. He refused to attend as apparently it's not his problem because the DC live with me, and if I can't cope he will have them
I'd be tempted to take the kids yourself. Ds may really benefit from being able to share his feelings.
ineed your poor DS, spot on the question around whether your ex was abusive, this has that mentality all over it.
Personally I'd go easy on making excuses for his Dad - I think it's possible to be neutral, and not emotive, but at the same time making clear what things are unacceptable from his Dad. Your DS is the same age as my DD, and it really undermines their perceptions if something seems to wrong to them, and you minimise it by saying their Dad's doing his best or similar.
This may really affect his self-esteem, being treated like this. IMO you'll never convince his Dad that he's doing wrong, all you can do is minimise the damage by helping your DS deal with it, and listening when the day comes that he doesn't want to see his Dad any more.
Thanks *noregrets? Maybe make excuses was the wrong word, I don't excuse his behavior as such, more that I don't always tell them the truth. Eg the example with the letter above, I didn't tell ds what his dad said. And when he cancels on them I don't moan about it to them, but try and be positive.
That said, when they are sad or cross I don't belittle their feeling, and try and help them find ways to deal with it.
Spot on ineed - I think the not belittling their feelings is exactly right. And I think you're quite right not to tell DS what his Dad said. As long as you keep DS best interests in your mind, you will do the right thing. If his Dad says something so hurtful it will never do him good to hear it.
Only recently have I started saying to my DD 'Dad saying that to you is unacceptable' for certain things. Felt very disloyal to start with, but now I can really see that it's helped her to stick up for herself, set boundaries, and helped her believe she's not always in the wrong.
Thanks noregrets its just so hard sometimes isn't it?!
blinking awful. Didn't realise I'd need a degree in o
psychology to get through it!
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