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"Daddy misses me so much he hardly eats..."

(48 Posts)
Noregrets78 Wed 12-Jun-13 22:29:39

This is really bugging me now. Separated from H about 3 weeks ago - DD (8) spends 3 nights a week with him, and 4 nights a week with me.

It's all games really, but he is pulling at DD's heart strings. She said that he's so sad when she's not with him, he sits on the sofa all day and hardly even eats. That maybe she should spend some more time over there to make him feel better.

Now I have nothing against her spending time with her Dad. but I want to take her out of the decision making here, as she's been caught up in the middle before, and it's been hugely painful.

I've told her that it's the grown ups job to look after children, and that it's not the child's job to look after the grown up. That Daddy is responsible for his own happiness. To top it all off I know damn well that he is fine when she's not there, he's just creating a sob story.

Soooo much other background but I won't make this too long. 'no he's never hit me' but is very abusive. This is just the latest in the attempt at manipulation. I can't do anything to stop his behaviour - I can't even say that DD has repeated this, as she worries that she'll get in trouble for talking to me. All I can do is arm her with the ability to deal with it.

How do I do that? How do I stop her being affected by his sob stories, when she cares so much?

Thank you in advance...

NicknameTaken Fri 14-Jun-13 10:13:29

I agree with ex. It's possible to avoid directly bad-mouthing your ex while making the point that if someone makes us feel awful (as he is doing to her), we can make the choice not to be around them. We can't fix other people.

NicknameTaken Fri 14-Jun-13 10:15:03

I don't agree with ex. That was meant to be "I agree with Chipping and the other posters". Yikes.

Noregrets78 Fri 14-Jun-13 10:44:21

Had another lovely talk to her this morning, which covered a lot of the things you've suggested chipping colditz nickname, although she's 8, not 10. Some things I have told her before but I think you have to tell them more than once so it sinks in. I told her that Daddy scares me when he shouts (me too, she replied), that there's lots of things I can't talk to him about for fear he'll get angry. That I run out of things to say because everything in my head will make him mad, and then he gets cross for me not speaking. I told her he has a 'death stare' which really scares me, and means I know not to mess (she says she knows that look...). I told her about the saying 'walking on egg shells' and she totally understood. There is so much more I could tell her, but she already knows, deep down inside. I asked her if she sees this as my fault, and she said no, she doesn't. Phew.

So hard. He keeps telling her to keep secrets from me, which she also finds very stressful. Stupid things like don't tell Mummy I bought the lottery, beer and cigarettes... I have suggested that she says 'I don't really like keeping secrets from Mummy' but she says she daren't say that to Daddy. I've told her that every time she's scared to say something - take a step back and ask yourself if you're saying something out of order, or unreasonable. If it's something perfectly reasonable, then it's Daddy who's in the wrong, not you. It's such a change from trying to present a united front... but as you say - it's vital that she knows what is OK behaviour, and what is not.

tuckshop I find school very good - they also have a pastoral care person who she goes to speak to, which I've encouraged. But they're always so careful not to take sides - whenever I go into detail I feel like they withdraw and stay as neutral as possible.

springytate I haven't really told anyone, other than friends, and MN! I have considered a child counsellor for her.

i try my best, but I also feel like a pathetic wimp not standing up to him more on her behalf. But she begs me not to, she knows she would get told off for telling me so much. I don't want to betray her confidence, or she won't feel able to talk to me either. I need to go about it in a generic way, without letting slip that she's been talking. God this is so hard! Thanks all.

NicknameTaken Fri 14-Jun-13 10:54:55

You're doing a great job, Noregrets. I think that is such a positive discussion to have with your dd. You can't fix the sadness, but you can address the confusion. It's not a happy situation to be in, but you are approaching it with a lot of emotional intelligence and you're putting your dd's well-being first.

[a quick squeeze of the hand]

Noregrets78 Fri 14-Jun-13 11:01:59

Thanks nickname

Biscuitsareme Fri 14-Jun-13 12:04:47

Noregretss78- I'm following your thread with interest. I am the child of an emotionally abusive mother and a father with an entitled side to him (though he can be very reasonable and fair too). Emotional blackmail was rife after my parents split up so your daughter's situation hits a nerve with me. My sense is that in you she has a real 'anchor'. Someone who's there for her without strings attached/ gameplaying/ manipulation. Even if she doesn't fully understand this now, she most probably will when she is older and will all the more appreciate you for it.
I still wish that one of my parents had managed to be emotionally mature enough not to use me as pawn. Now I despise them both for what they did.

Spiritedwolf Fri 14-Jun-13 12:47:48

Children understand what bullying behaviour is, though they might only recognise it in the context of other children because apart from 'stranger danger' children are normally expected to trust the adults around them.

Even the manipulative kind of bullying where the bully is a 'friend' who bursts into tears whenever they don't get their own way can be explained to a child though it might be tricky for them to recognise without help.

I realise saying "your dad is a bully" is perhaps too bold and onesided thing for you to say atm. But you can be clear about how friends act versus how bullies act and let her draw her own conclusions as she becomes more aware. Focus on building her up, how she deserves to be treated etc, so that she doesn't think its her job to make him happy etc. I think your comments about grown-ups looking after children was spot on.

It sounds like you are both still walking on eggshells to try and prevent her from getting into trouble with him. Could you speak to Women's Aid about the situation, see if anything can be done, or if any counselling is available for children experiencing emotional abuse? You've escaped the relationship, but she is still living with it. sad

SummerSun19 Fri 14-Jun-13 13:45:58

Best thing to do is to explain it in her language. ' Daddy and I are not together anymore because he was angry and unkind to me and happened over a long time and made Mum very sad and nervous, so mum decided it was best that we live in 2 different houses now, but its not your fault. You have to understand that he sometimes makes the wrong choice and if he asks you to keep something from me then that's not really fair as secrets should be something that makes you happy and not makes you feel sad or uncomfortable''

The problem you have now is how your daughter handles his behaviour in terms of his secrets and manipulative behaviour.

You need to provide her with the tools to do that . What about if next time he trys to talk about Mummy or his sadness or any of that , if your daughter was to say ' Dad lets not talk about mum or anything now as this is my time to spend with you and I don't want to talk about feelings'

What will happen is that she wont want to go see him and this is a situation he has created. She will get the sense you are the one to trust/believe/ be reliable and provide her with the security and love she needs. Keep going and don't loose heart , when they come back from seeing their dads, thats when the anger comes out and it takes a while to settle but its no wonder this is happening if she cant relax with him or speak freely. Keep a diary for her . document the days he was rude / horrible, the days she was upset and why she was upset - that way when she is older she can read it all for herself and it will all make sense

imademarion Fri 14-Jun-13 13:57:15

You have some great advice and you sound like a li sky thoughtful intelligent mother.

It's only been a short while, perhaps your ex thinks you'll change your mind if your daughter pressurises you and when he realises this isn't working hopefully he will shut his whiny mouth and grow up.

It's horrible for her right now, counselling sounds like an excellent plan if she's willing. She talks to you, that's amazing and a testament to your mothering.

Hope the scales fall for her soon, thinking of you both. Be brave!

TheAllNewMe Fri 14-Jun-13 15:38:51

You sound like a brilliant mum.

You probably know that even a child of 8 has the innate sense and intelligence to see what is really going on. Remember that as difficult as this is, you have a very valuable opportunity here in teaching her that as a woman she does not have to put up with abuse and ill treatment from a man (or vice versa).

When you say that daddy shouting scared you, you must say that everyone deserves to be treated with respect and have their feelings respected by the people they live with and where that does not happen a person needs to think whether they need to live a different way in order to be safe and happy. That is what you have done, for your daughter and for yourself and it is important that she carries tht message with her into adulthood.

Bertiebassett Fri 14-Jun-13 16:55:23

Watching this thread with interest...

I'm in a similar situation...been living apart for 2 months now. DS comes out with things that I know come from XH. He's attempted to manipulate his son to feel sorry for him...and it makes me so angry...but I'm scared to do anything about it hmm

I too find it really hard to explain to DS why his daddy had to leave and why the things he is saying now are inappropriate and should be ignored.

It took me years to figure out that I was actually being emotionally abused ....and I struggle to explain it to friends and family, let alone a 5-year-old...

OP you've given me hope that I can deal with this...

Noregrets78 Fri 14-Jun-13 23:23:32

So many going through similar things! Especially biscuits it's interesting to hear from someone who's been on the 'other side'.

We've agreed to forget about it all for the weekend and just have fun (well she says she can never forget about it, so we've compromised on 'ignore it' for the weekend...).

Now to decide if I'm protecting my daughter by avoiding mentioning it to him, or just being a wimp!

GingerJulep Sat 15-Jun-13 10:39:09

If I'd split up with someone I'd been in a meaningful relationship with only 3 weeks ago and was unemployed then, yes, I'd probably be spending a lot of miserable time on the sofa. And I might think that I should be seeing more of my child than the parent working full-time, regardless of gender.

If one person (and historically it has mostly been me) has been the one to instigate a break up then yes, they are responsible for the ensuing sadness. It doesn't mean that they aren't doing the right thing. It just IS sometimes a lot harder to dump than be dumped.

If I split with my OH, who is not currently working (our choice) then I'd expect to financially support him to some extent.

I don't want to be unsupportive to OP - this certainly isn't the post I'd be making at the start of a thread like this.

But it is a post this thread looks like it needs just to balance things out a bit.

On MN things tend to get very one-sided. Usually in the OP's favour (although occasionally they get torn to bits!). That isn't the way real-life is. We all exhibit, and live in shades of grey. (Not the book!)

Good luck with coming to an amicable co-parenting solution for your child.

springytate Sat 15-Jun-13 11:10:44

BUT you've told her you found it harder and harder to stand up to him and ended up walking on eggshells (which she understands).

yet she's having to negotiate the exact-same scenario that an adult couldn't handle, and she's only 8 sad

She begs you not to say anything... but my kids begged me not to say anything when they told me about 3 kids left on their own in a house for days (oldest 11; baby crawling through the contents of an upturned bin) and, although it caused a hell of a lot of trouble, I had no choice but to 'say something'. To SS.

sometimes you have to say/do something. It took you years to get out of the situation, imo you have to remove her from this situation. She is only 8. You have to protect her.

Ginger , yy he's upset. An adult keeps any upset away from involved kids. An adult doesn't put the full weight of it on the kids, but does all they can to keep any 'weight' off the kids. If a parent does, in fact, make a bee-line for putting the weight on the kids (in order to 'pay back' the parent who left), then that's a different story entirely. An adult is expected to carry their own weight - not put it on anyone else; certainly not CHILDREN.

Spiritedwolf Sat 15-Jun-13 17:41:10

I'm concerned about the 'ignoring it for the weekend' thing if she's upset enough to tell you she can't forget it.

I think you need to get appropriate support for her, she needs to have someone to talk to. Contact Woman's Aid, tell them that you have left an emotionally abusive relationship and that your daughter is staying with him for 3 days a week and you are concerned about the things he is telling her which are making her upset. Hopefully they can give you some advice about contact in these situations and point you in the direction of legal advice and emotional support for your DD.

You have escaped the abuse but she hasn't. You have a duty to protect her. You'd can't pretend that it isn't happening hmm. Minimising her feelings like that won't help.

Spiritedwolf Sat 15-Jun-13 18:04:43

Sorry, that might have sounded harsh. If you have just escaped an abusive relationship, the chances are you have been coached by him (or an earlier relationship/upbringing) to put his needs/wishes/feelings/whims above your emotional and physical needs and wishes - and indeed your daughter's.

You probably spent the time in that relationship ignoring you (and your daughter's) feelings, putting them aside, forgetting about them, etc - in order to survive day to day.

But ignoring your feelings, and her ignoring hers, isn't a good long term strategy. It makes you both vulnerable to future abuse (and indeed continuing abuse from your ex partner). That's why I think that you need to seek advice on how to limit his ability to EA her, and why she needs counselling to help her process her feelings in a healthy way.

You may also benefit from the Freedom program, and/or counselling in order to help you acknowledge your own needs and wants and move on from this in a healthy way.

It's not the case that if you just pretend you are both okay that it will be true, both of your feelings matter.

[I do realise that maybe you didn't mean you would keep trying to suppress your daughter's feelings and that you just want her to have a happy weekend, but I think it is important to acknowledge that she is in a very stressful situation, that is worrying her, and it won't just go away if you don't talk about it]

Even children going through their parent's breakup when there is no abuse can need a bit of external support. Schools ought to have someone they can talk to if the WA can't help. I suggest WA particuarly because the history of abuse in your relationship and their experience in helping children in this situation and they might be able to talk to you about the access situation too.

springytate Sat 15-Jun-13 19:01:10

There is also this idea that we must bow before our children's relationship with their father, that it comes before everything, that is an absolute. Also a fear that we are seen as the mother who cuts the kids' contact with the father (out of spite, or whatever).

imo there are some fathers children don't need. He's one of them if he's pulling stunts like this - emotionally abusing your daughter.

Noregrets78 Sat 15-Jun-13 21:31:54

gingerjulep thanks for your comments, i'd agree sometimes the OP gets an easy ride on these threads and I do appreciate your honesty. To put it in perspective - H not working is not a joint decision. He has been in and out of work for 6 years, due to failing probationary periods, refusing to apply for jobs, walking out of jobs etc etc. Our debt levels shoot up and down depending on his job situation. I have supported him for all those years, while he implies that i'm a skinflint if I ask him to turn the heating down slightly, or consider switching to a different brand of coffee... I could go on about this forever, but in short he is a cocklodger. We effectively separated in January, but he refused to move out, despite the fact there was another home for him to go to, paid for by me, only 2 miles away. He instead used this as leverage - drop the solicitor and I'll move out. Sleep with me and I'll move out. Divorce on 2 year separation and I'll move out. I hope this helps explain that this is not a 3 week separation, with him as a SAHD who I am now dumping.

spiritedwolf I'm also concerned that I minimise the impact that all this has on DD. My worry is that I make it all worse by kicking up a hornet's nest. I'm not sure what to add really, except that I've heard you, and am thinking really hard.

And yes - the ignoring it for the weekend is no way an attempt to ignore her feelings, merely that when times are stressful there is no harm in getting away from it all, relaxing and continuing to have a childhood.

springytate Sun 16-Jun-13 20:46:24

Hi Noregrets

I cna't help noticing that you've spent a long time answering your detractors in your last post. There have been many encouraging and validating posts, yet you have focused on the (relatively) negative aspects of some posts, specifically the parts of those posts that call you into question.

Which leads me to think you have learned to be defensive, to defend yourself - almost as a matter of course, a way of life? And, of course, you have learned to be attacked - even, to take attacks seriously? Perhaps to feel you must defend yourself, almost as though you're in a court of law.

Just something that jumped out...

Noregrets78 Tue 18-Jun-13 13:02:17

Yep springytate I question everything that I do, and am constantly justifying myself. Part of being married to 'that kind of man' for far too long! I have really appreciated the encouraging posts, and just wanted to set the record straight before everyone thought I'd dumped a SAHD with no warning.

onefewernow Tue 18-Jun-13 13:22:20

I think that you are doing him a kindness actually by not financially supporting him any longer. It will enable him to grow up and take some responsibility for himself, if he was ever going to.

OneMoreChap Tue 18-Jun-13 16:37:28

ring him up and tell him that if he doesn't stop emotionally abusing her, contact will be reduced to two hours a week in a contact centre because you will not allow him to destroy her the way he had attempted to destroy you.

and promptly get slung into court yourself for unreasonable behaviour.
8 years old? Doesn't the court take cognizance of a child's wishes?

Noregrets78 Tue 18-Jun-13 23:41:32

onemorechap My thoughts entirely. (although I think at 8 years old it's only just below the age they take their views into account)

onefewernow also exactly what I think! I tried to sell it to him as a positive thing to force him to stand on his own two feet but strangely enough he didn't agree...

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