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STBXH, access, crying kids...advice please

(65 Posts)
Redoubtable Wed 26-Feb-14 18:14:06

Sooooo...STBXH has a reasonable access schedule. EOW, evenings each week. Exactly, what he requested.
He is emotionally manipulative, gaslighting, finacially abusive but vvv charming to the point that my (former) solicitor told me how much pressure he is under...

He changes access as it suits him, but I darent change for any reason- I will be called inflexible, called repeatedly while I am on the road to collect kids, called names in front of them.

He goes abroad occasionally for work- he'll tell me a week in advance, although many countries need work visas applied for in advance.

Anyway. Today, he returned from a trip. Had arranged (with kids) to collect after school run. 10 minutes after due time, he telephones to say he's just woken up and will collect them later. For various reasons this doesnt suit and reeks of his attitude that he can do what he wants and we (kids and I) will rotate around that.

AIBU to have told children they cant go out with him this evening? We returned from evening activities to find him parked on driveway ('are you saying I cant park on my property?') and children are now all upset, some crying in bed?

HelenHen Wed 26-Feb-14 18:41:55

You're not being unreasonable at all... He's taking the solid piss! Do you keep note of every time he changes access? That's a ridiculous amount of contact you have to have with him... It must be very tiring!

Redoubtable Wed 26-Feb-14 18:50:31

Helen thanks. I don't keep notes...I did initially, but it became exhausting, as there was so much to record....knocking repeatedly at my door, counting down 60 seconds if I said the kids would be ready in a minute when he arrives.
Its all subtle, insidious and wearing.
But I put up with it for the sake of DC; but wonder if I am teaching them that whatever dad does is ok cos their bottom line is that they want to see him.

ROARmeow Wed 26-Feb-14 18:57:04

What age are your DC?

Honestly it sounds like something that would scare many young children. The mood swings, the banging the front door, the names etc etc.

I also think you should keep notes on behaviours and time changes.

It sounds exhausting for you and not the actions of a man who seriously cherishes his DC.

Redoubtable Wed 26-Feb-14 19:03:38

Yes ROAR he does not really cherish them... He says he does and, of course, that what they need and want to hear from him. They are all under 10.

But, as I tell them 'words may lie but actions dont'

Mood swings, put-downs disguised as 'jokes', overly-soppy 'loving-ness' with DS.

I thought it was the stress of us parting (he left one evening as I was not cowed enough while he lived here).

I struggled with telling them that they cant go out with him; but I have to stand up to him as I have over everything else (coming into the house, turning up when it suited him, ringing constantly to find out where we were after he left).

Redoubtable Wed 26-Feb-14 19:04:54

That was not very clear.
I didnt know if I was doing the right thing. They wanted to see him. He wanted to see them after an absence, but on his terms only.

ROARmeow Wed 26-Feb-14 19:07:36

Contact Women's Aid.

They can do some work with you on your own, and also work with your DC to sort out their thinking about it all and about healthy relationships.

I agree with you telling them that "words can lie, but actions don't"... that's what I tell my own DC about people and it's true.

You and your DC deserve so much better.

sykadelic15 Wed 26-Feb-14 19:48:21

Don't allow it to change. Stick strictly to the court order.

sykadelic15 Wed 26-Feb-14 19:50:37


I think you're right. By changing it you're showing the DC that plans don't need to be kept and that what "dad" wants is most important.

Have you considered a non-contact order or something? Keeping the exchanges in a neutral territory or through a third-party?

Redoubtable Wed 26-Feb-14 19:56:52

Thanks ROAR, I know we deserve so much better. I have tried and tried to placate, reason with etc. Ultimately if he chooses to mis-interpret or deny saying stuff, thats his lookout. But I am literally left holding the (crying) babies...and that is what I now find most difficult.
I suppose if I remain calm and implacable in the face of their (justified) upset and anger, I can teach them how not to bend to a bully? (looks for silver cloud)

sky I have no court order...he becomes more difficult whenever I try to push things to a more formal footing. And in the aftermath of his desertion, I prioritised kids welfare, and my own sanity over a settlement.

fifi669 Wed 26-Feb-14 20:04:24

I think bring flexible with contact is the key to a happy situation. That's different to being walked on though.

I think I'd get him to stay in the car when picking up the kids. Counting to 60? That's just childish. You don't need the hassle of seeing someone that petty all the time. He turns up at the right day/time or unless he has a good reason he forfeits.

TeaMakesItAllPossible Wed 26-Feb-14 20:07:24

I had the same situation. I have no answer. It's awful. I just wanted to let you know you aren't the only one and that I understand why you do keep to it. I have being doing it for almost a decade now and I know I'm on the home straight. Only 8 years, 6 sleeps left until my DS is an adult. It is much easier than it was, which sounds similar to where you are now, because I no longer have to be there at a handover, if he talks to me in 'that way' I just say "I don't like the way you're talking to me, I do not have to listen" and I walk and my DS understands what his father does isn't normal for an adult.

I sort of wish I had called WA for help 10 years ago. Life is great except the irregular knobbing around I have to deal with now. But I did what I thought was right, I just wanted to get out and trying to go down the you're abusive track was just too much on top of me keeping my head above water. I understand why you're doing what you're doing. It does get better.

He is a knob.

Good luck.

RatherBeRiding Wed 26-Feb-14 20:13:19

He is being a bully. Comes into the house? Change the locks. Rings constantly? Don't pick up and delete his voicemails. Yes I'll bet he becomes more "difficult" if you push for a formal agreement because if he flouts a formal agreement its very hard to hide the fact that he is being a dick.

I can understand why you would want to prioritise your sanity and DCs' welfare but, honestly, this constant stress and bullying behaviour is being far more detrimental than getting a good solicitor to get a formal contact agreement.

Take back the control - believe me, your DCs will thank you for it in the long run. They need stability and emotional security, not manipulative bullying.

Redoubtable Wed 26-Feb-14 20:18:12

fifi yes, I would love to be in a situation where there was true flexibility on both sides.
When he decided to leave, I set myself the goal that I would be dignified and reasonable, regardless of how I might be seething. I thought that I could turn his anger down.
But how he is, is how he is, and nothing I do can cause or sure his anger.
Hard lesson learned.

He will not stay in the car- its a power thing. I've knocked the 'coming in to use the loo' thing so its not as bad as it was.

My question is (am upset, so not clear I suppose) when he, me and the children have an arrangement, to which they are clearly looking forward, is it unreasonable to say (in polite terms) 'your dad is dicking around. No, you cant see him today'.

Redoubtable Wed 26-Feb-14 20:19:57

Tea that is the phrase I use, and I walk away from him.
I dont think I need WA. I no longer react to anything he does? Its all about the manipulating the kids now, and ensuring that I dont claim a penny from him.

Redoubtable Wed 26-Feb-14 20:23:25

RbeR it has been made very clear to me that I cannot change the locks as we jointly own the house.
When I dont answer phone calls he emails me with his side of the story (so there is a 'record' if it ever comes to court)
I have had to prioritise sanity (and I dont say that lightly...I was at a very very low point when he left) and the kids sanity/wellbeing...and that requires an investment of time and energy.

I am trying to eke back control over my own life, but even now, years later it is still a case of wrenching it from him.

TeaMakesItAllPossible Wed 26-Feb-14 20:37:31

He is a knob.

I felt the same. With hindsight he was an abusive man and a conversation with experts may have made my approach more strident. I could perhaps have done with a framework of normal. But when so much is done to ensure the child has relationships with both parents i felt it was best for DS if I took a normal line. I have a normal life. He has a normal life when he's with me. I say in an unemotional way when I'm not accepting my ex-knobs shite, just like they advise kids with bullies, and he goes back in his box but sometimes there is a bit of a bullying for a couple of weeks. In my head I sing you're a cunt when I'm dealing with it. On a day to day basis I disengage and have a David Attenboroughesque voice in my head providing a commentary when he's in my space 'and the lesser-spotted knob is approaching his pray but he has been observed.'

My DS and I talk and I am there to support my wee boy.

Some people are so entitled and so unaware they are best just to ignore.

Redoubtable Wed 26-Feb-14 20:44:41

Tea grin in my head I actually feel sorry for him (which I suspect he would hate..... although he is constantly looking for sympathy for his many stresses/tiredness/business worries).

This is the first time I have refused to bend when he changes the access terms, the first time I've said no to the DC about it. Naturally, they will see him on whatever terms he offers and are very angry that I said no.

They would not have seen him today if he had not camped on my sorry, our drive.

TeaMakesItAllPossible Wed 26-Feb-14 20:57:43

It'll get better as you stand your ground more.

Redoubtable Wed 26-Feb-14 21:32:19

Tea, can you clarify that please?
I feel I stand my ground pretty well, considering that no boundaries are recognised by the other party.

Do you mean that DC will become more accepting that my no means no (they do for everything else?)

TeaMakesItAllPossible Wed 26-Feb-14 22:16:52

Oooooo. Soz. Life got in the way then.

Knobber will get a new victim. Children will realise you are reasonable. You'll get stronger and stand your ground more. The drive will be yours and you can threaten the police on him. You will care less about his reaction. He'll stick to plans more or less but it will be expected you'll anticipate the tears next time and have an alternative. Everything will get easier and less intense.

Redoubtable Wed 26-Feb-14 23:24:20

Thanks, I've spent the evening thinking about this, and stumbled across a good quote:
You get what you expect and you deserve what you tolerate.

I've been tolerating appalling behaviour thinking that sense and manners would fall from the sky on to STBXH ( as he sure as hell is not looking for them grin)

Hmmmm. I've learned about the co-dependency thing and not expecting to control him....but it would appear that I am still expecting him to change.

arthriticfingers Thu 27-Feb-14 06:22:01

I am sorry the tosser your ex is putting you and the children through this.
It is nothing to do with 'co-dependency' (aka victim blaming imo) and everything to do with abuse.
You do need WA. If nothing else, you need their advice about lawyers with experience of abuse.
You can also read this and come over here
Abusers don't do divorce (that is putting it mildly)

mummytime Thu 27-Feb-14 07:06:15

Are your children really desperate to see him?
Or just scared of what will happen next time if they don't see him on his terms?

Please go and see a Solicitor.
If he is parked on your drive again phone the police. It is an agressive act - you have every right to be scared.

Walkacrossthesand Thu 27-Feb-14 07:18:44

Can I ask - on what proportion of occasions does he seriously mess around with contact ie make an arrangement and change it with fairly short notice/rock up half an hour or more late with no reason other than to piss you off etc? If it's 'frequently' and your DCs are young, could your approach be that you've decided it's not fair on them to tell them when he's coming to pick them up, because he's so unreliable. Then, when he changes plans at the last minute, it's easier for you to say 'not today, matey' - because they didn't know he was coming anyway IYSWIM. When they say 'when are we next seeing daddy' you can say 'not sure, sweetheart, we'll expect him when we see him shall we?'

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