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DS increasingly upset after contact with his dad

(17 Posts)
Morningbirdsong Sun 17-Apr-16 05:22:56

And I've got I idea why.

Divorced for 4 years, DS is 8. They've always had regular contact with ex, he moved in with his partner about 6 mths ago but other than that no big changes.

His behaviour is 70/30 ok. Typical 8 yr old boy stuff, annoying his sisters, rough and tumbling, some disrespect etc

For a while now he has been coming home and telling fibs about his dad. For example he'll say Dad Sent me upstairs all day just for doing X (usually some truth in the matter but exaggerated), this is accompanied by tears and I'm not going to his house anymore.

When asked ex will confirm that X did happen but DS is exaggerating. So DS says ex pushed him in to his bedroom, ex says he guided him, DS says he was upstairs all day, ex says it was 10 minutes.

Today he came home and told me his arm was hurting, I looked at it and started crying, asked him what was wrong and he said he's been telling ex all day his arm hurt. Then said ex has been horrible to him all day, told him off for X,y,z. I phoned ex in front of DS (who is sobbing now) and ex was utterly bemused. Said they've had a lovely day and DS was laughing and smiling all the way home.

DS refused to speak to ex on the phone at the point.

I spoke to the girls who said that DS has been in trouble today but was fine at exs.

Any advice where to go from here?

Ex seems to be saying to me that there is a reason DS is lying to me. I think he's implying it's to get some attention from me. I personally think ex is to harsh on them behaviour wise, he doesn't live with them and I think has forgotten you need to pick your battles and not pull them up on every minor infraction.

Morningbirdsong Sun 17-Apr-16 05:25:30

He started crying obviously not me!

And he wasn't implying that ex hurt his shoulder, I've just read it back and it seemed like I was saying that.

He started off moaning about the shoulder and when I asked him what was wrong starting crying about ex.

icklekid Sun 17-Apr-16 05:32:23

Gosh what a tricky situation. It sounds like you need to have a conversation with ds about how even though you and ex aren't together you will still be talking so no point exaggerating or pretending things happen if they don't. You have dd who can confirm what happened but I would avoid asking her in front of ds for her sake.

As a teacher whose experienced children going home and doing similar to their parents I find the best thing to do is to tell parents at collection about any incident that has happened and the consequences. This happens with the child so if they disagree then there time to say so is then. They can't go home and then exaggerate or lie about it! Would this be possible at handover?

Morningbirdsong Sun 17-Apr-16 05:38:52

Yes I've tried that tactic. So I'll say 'right well shall I phone daddy and ask him what happened?' He'll either back down at this point, tell me ex will just lie or say yes go on then phone him. If I do phone ex there is usually a version of the truth somewhere in there, although DS is sometimes telling the truth and ex will say yes he has been in trouble all day.

Ex thinks I am giving DS what he wants (attention and drama) instead of just ignoring.

I can't just ignore him when he's crying and upset though, given there is usually some small grounds to what he is saying.

Ex doesn't come to the door, drops out of car and goes, I could speak to him about handing over at the door.

icklekid Sun 17-Apr-16 06:11:29

I would push for handover at door with ex explaining any issues- it might help ex think more about which incidents he punishes for otherwise would be there all day!

Morningbirdsong Sun 17-Apr-16 08:19:11

Yes that's a start.

I was hoping somebody might have some experience of this?

PrettyBrightFireflies Sun 17-Apr-16 08:23:02

It sounds like he's struggling with the transition between homes/families.

It's not unusual - there's quite a lot been written about it over the last couple of years; I can't link on my phone but if you google you should find some good ideas on how to support him.

Morningbirdsong Sun 17-Apr-16 08:38:25

Thanks. I haven't heard about it before will look now.

Morningbirdsong Sun 17-Apr-16 09:19:25

Can't seem to find anything about problems transitioning, just tips on early divorce stuff

PrettyBrightFireflies Sun 17-Apr-16 09:32:49

Try searching for 'transition separated parents families' -

karenwoodall.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/crossing-no-mans-land-supporting-children-in-transition/

wheresthel1ght Sun 17-Apr-16 10:55:58

To a point I think you ex has a valid point about your ds using it to get attention. But some of it will just be playing one off against the other.

My Dss is 12 and dss is 20 and not do this occasionally - it is quite normal.

For example Dss will get into trouble at school for not handing in homework. When challenged by mum he will say Dad or wheres wouldn't let him do it. The truth (which she never bothers to ask) is that we always ask if he has any and he always says no. We have now had to take to making him log on to the school homework site and prove that there is no homework to do.

Dsd will tell her mum that she hasn't eaten all weekend because we haven't cooked food she likes...the truth is I order my shopping on a Wednesday when they are here and they help plan the meals for the time they are with us so they only get stuff they like! And she never leaves a bloody thing on her plate. Am half tempted to show her my food bill for the weekend and take photos of the full fridge on a Friday and the empty one on a Sunday!

He may be feeling insecure and helpless about the situation and using these lies so that he can exploit a hostility he has picked up on ie that you think dad is too hard on him over his behaviour so he knows that he will get away with bad behaviour because you will hear from dad what happened and then agree with ds it should have been ignored.

We have very different rules here than their mum has, I think it's quite natural. We expect a higher level of behaviour and have a far lower tolerance of their poor behaviour. They have zero discipline at their mums and as a result used to be utterly vile to spend time with as anything that wasn't 100% about them was met with temper tantrums, refusal to engage and vile attitudes towards everyone. Now there are consequences for behaviours they are lovely to be about and even their mum has commented on how much easier they are to manage.

wheresthel1ght Sun 17-Apr-16 10:56:36

Dsd is 10 not 20 sorry fat fingers

Morningbirdsong Sun 17-Apr-16 12:40:14

To a degree I understand what you're saying. I agree that DS may have picked up on some hostility or disagreement between our parenting standards.

He isn't undisciplined here by any means. When you have DC full time you have to parent differently to part time. It would be impossible to pick up on every little thing they do and you have to pick your battles. DPs standards have changed since he moved in with his partner and the goal posts of acceptable behaviour have been moved. That is obviously up to them to decide, his partner may find some behaviour intolerable and they've put a stop to it (tv programmes they were previously ok with watching aren't allowed anymore etcetc).

Obviously these things happen in separated families. From my point of view we started off with one parenting philosophy which I have stuck with, DP has changed his parenting to suit his household and there is a disconnect between the two. Thats not to say I am lax but as things go I think DP is being too hard on the DC to appease his partner.

I'm not sure if that is even the issue though, we have been divorced a number of years now and previously the children were fine with transitioning between homes. This issue has only raised itself in the last 6 months or so as DS has gotten older and changed quite a bit in himself.

I appreciate your reply though, thank you.

wheresthel1ght Sun 17-Apr-16 12:54:59

Sorry I wasn't hinting that at you weren't disciplining him, just trying to explain some of the causes in our set up.

You say this has been happening only for the last 6 months - what (if any) changes have happened in that time? Has the gf moved in with dad since then? Has ds changed class in school? Could he be struggling elsewhere and using the situation with his dad to express that?

The tv thing is weird! My dscs live on computers at their mums and whilst that is her choice dp does feel it his duty to balance that with not allowing it as much here. They get such a small amount of time with him that he feels it is critical that that time is spent bonding and doing stuff - not in a Disney way but in a going out for a bike ride, walking the dogs, doing stuff together kind of way. Could that be the issue with the tv and it has just been really badly explained to him?

Morningbirdsong Sun 17-Apr-16 13:07:35

Argh sorry no I didn't want it to sound like thats what you were saying.

I think its kind of like the threads you get on here where people say before they had DC they had an idea of how they would parent and then you have kids are realise you had no idea what you are talking about? I know that I was like that 'oh my kids wouldn't do this or that, i'd never allow that etc'. Then you have them are realise that it doesn't work like that. I think that ex and his partner are parenting them in a very idolised way which does work on a part time basis, but couldn't work full time.

If you put their standards up against mine I think I would come out looking bad! However there are other things such as making them eat all the food on their plate (I have never done that and don't think its a healthy thing to do, they eat until they are full and then finish, they don't have to clear all the food), banning programmes they watched before as now they are unsuitable (Simpsons, i'm a celebrity to name a few), they've introduced reward charts which I have never agreed with or used myself in ten years of parenting.

They adore DPs partner and DP, in the beginning they did complain about the new rules but were told repeatedly by me that different houses have different rules. On reflection that could seem like I was agreeing that the rules were over the top.

I don't think you can compare discipline between houses where there is a big difference in hours spent IYKWIM. You can keep up a certain level of discipline over a short period time that wouldn't work for the majority of the week, or would just make everyone miserable.

Its very tricky anyway, DS still refusing to talk to his dad on the phone but seems happy in himself.

wheresthel1ght Sun 17-Apr-16 19:54:45

I think it's hard enough in a "normal" family but twice as difficult when there are 2 households.

Is there an adult friend of either of yours them at ds might find confiding in easier? I know for me if I couldn't talk to my parents over my dads drinking for example then I knew I could (and still do) talk to my aunty. God knows why but I find I can explain it better to her maybe cos I don't have to worry about hurting her feelings. Do you think ds might find that a help?

Morningbirdsong Sun 17-Apr-16 21:27:41

No I don't think he would, but thanks for the reply

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