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DS, manipulative ex, cut contact? Please help ( long, sorry)(19 Posts)
I'm in a dilemma and hope I can get some Mumsnet wisdom please!
Long back story, but basically I'm a single parent to DS (aged 18 months) and I'm really struggling with my relationship with his dad.
So briefly, was with ex for 5 years, fell pregnant, got dumped immediately. OW was in the picture and they moved in together when DS was 10 weeks old.
During the time we were together, he was emotionally abusive and would often be quite cruel to me.
I wish I'd known about Mumsnet then!
DS and I moved back to the UK last year for a number of reasons (mostly concerning my mother's illness and work) but also because I was seriously depressed and I felt bullied and worn down by him. I also needed family support.
Ex was ok with this move, and I facilitate FaceTime 1-2 x per day between him and DS. He visits, and DS stays with him occasionally.
My concerns are these:
He's still trying to control me. If I'm pleasant, he says I still have feelings for him, and if I'm cool and not running around after him as nearly everyone he knows (family and friends) do, I'm bitter.
Because ex is a student, he stays with me when he visits
despite having 20k squirreled away he's poor apparently. Can manage to pay rent and bills with OW though...
I don't want him in my house any more. But he will go mad if I say this to him and say I'm being obstructive, bitter and deliberately difficult. He'll also slag me off to his family. Most of whom have been kind to me.
Mostly though, he's incredibly inconsistent and gaslights me constantly. He will argue that black is white and is very aggressive in his tone.
He initially felt a lot of guilt about his treatment of me and our son when everything came out, and I still do struggle sometimes with the complete rejection I felt when he let me down (and bullied me) when I was at my most vulnerable. But now he's turning the tables and blaming me for taking his son away although he knew why at the time and agreed to it.
My mother is very unwell - he knows this but he picked a fight with me last night during FaceTime ( DS had wandered off ).
I don't want this for my son. Ex loves him but he's talking about 'having a baby he can live with' when he'd always said he didn't want any more kids. My heart breaks for DS - I'm worried that ex will start a new family with OW and let him down/lose interest.
And he already lives with OWs child - how would DS feel about that and a half sibling that daddy actually lives with when he gets older?
I must add that I have no feelings for him any more (not good ones anyway!) and I know that although his behaviour was shitty, I know what he is now. That scares me.
He's so damaged and covers it so well with loudness, arrogance and controlling behaviour.
I'm finding it increasingly difficult to deal with ex - he's manipulative and used to play me like a fiddle. I'm emotionally drained, especially at the moment with my mum so unwell and a toddler to parent alone.
Ex had threatened to cut contact before when I assert myself and he 'loses control' of the situation - I feel like agreeing.
Should I? Will my son hate me? He won't remember ex if I do it now, but I want what's best for him. Should I keep this man in his life who will very likely mess with his head and let him down badly in the future?
Opinions please and thanks for reading.
My opinion is that you immediately make and sustain VERY clear boundaries between you and this man.
Yes, your son has a right to know his father. But your son also has a right to a primary carer who is not being emotionally abused. If your ex really carries out his threat to abandon his child because you won't dance to his tune, well that is sad for your son but I suspect ultimately it would be sadder to keep such a tosser in his life.
All you need to do is make time available for your ex to see his son. NOT at your house. You keep interaction short and sweet, hello and goodbye. You communicate only to share necessary information about your child.
This situation is not good for your emotional health and you don't need to be doing this in order to secure decent contact for your son.
OK, so the first rule is set boundaries.
What works for you and your child? Does your child benefit from twice daily contact and how does this affect you? It is not 'normal' for separated parents to have this level of contact with a child particularly one of only 18 months where the absent parent is antagonistic towards the resident parent..
Are his visits planned? He should not see your (as in both of yours) child at your home. You have no responsibility to facilitate this whatever his (ex's) circumstances.
Basically, establish a pattern of contact that is suitable for you and your (both of you) child.
Yes he'll kick off, yes he'll probably cease contact but that is not your issue but his.
What he wants going forward in relation to 'other' children is nothing to do with you.
He's playing you OP and however detached you feel you are you're letting him.
Start thinking about yourself and your child rather that how he will react to what you do.
Thanks for your prompt replies and opinions.
Boundaries! Totally agree - I was having counselling before we moved back and was working on this.
I find him so exhausting to deal with, and I was (and probably still am) a monumental people pleaser so I do have difficulty here. I also feel guilty for taking DS away.
Also agree about the FaceTime. Twice a day is inconvenient for me, it eats into my time because DS can't talk so I end up talking about his day etc. Once a day is plenty.
Once a week would be fine.
Seriously. Cut him out of your life in as much as you can. This is toxic and unhealthy.
You say you have a good relationship with his family, could you not build up the relationship with your DS's grandparents.
I say this because I never really bothered about contact between my daughter and her father, it happened, but mostly at his parent's house and they were lovely, even protecting her and not letting her go with him when he got drunk and maudlin.
As other people have mentioned her if he is affecting you negatively he is affecting his son negatively. Lots of people grew up hardly seeing their fathers and get on famously
Wow, that was a heavy read. So I can't begin to imagine how this man must be weighing on your mind and life. Please put you & DS 1st and get rid of him. He is a leech, emotional baggage. You need to know that you deserve more out of life than this pest who can't add anything to your quality of life. I guess you give him the time of day because he is your DS father but, really...you have to try look down the future years. See that they will be filled with misery, with this man around. He is weak - you are strong and thats what he is clinging to, even though it may seem the other way around to you. Do you want to end up in later years crying and looking back down the years thinking 'if only Id got rid of him and not allowed him to blight my life?'. Because that will be you in time to come, and sooner than you think, if you don't just get rid. He doesn't own you, you know.
You say he would slag you off to his family, who have been kind to you. Why is this reason even in the equasion? So what, basically? If they're decent people they're not suddenly going to turn on you based on what he says. They probably know exactly what he is like. & if they did turn on you well then, that means their kindness was false anyway, and at least you would know that.
Im not trying to sound harsh here, Im just sick of seeing women put up posts about deadbeat men who appear to have zero in the way of redeeming features, that they'd be 100% better off without. He's not the only man in the world. Life truly is too short for some things, and putting your happiness on hold for no good reason doesn't make sense. Make a start, make plans, get him out of your life then go and live the life you deserve without this millstone man around your neck.
Stop talking to him on FaceTime. If ds wanders off, go over and say ds has had enough for today, he'll talk to you tomorrow, bye!"
I think daily face time is a way for him to control your time. You should start missing days ie sorry we are out tomorrow, we'll talk the next day. You need to practice saying no occasionally, it gets easier. If he is aggressive, hang up.
Tell him no, he can't stay with you. Have a friend stay if you need help enforcing that boundary. Tell him he can stay with family or friends and take ds out during the day.
If he threatens to cut contact, say I'm sorry you feel that way. Say nothing further.
Does he pay child support?
Wow. You're doing a great job OP, you know what needs to happen really.
An 18 month old doesn't need to FaceTime 2 x a day, it's a way your ex is controlling you - especially as you are the one doing the talking. Cut it to what is convenient for YOU. You aren't the 'baddie' for doing this, you and your son have a life without this peach of a guy, he needs to understand this. If he gets abusive, end the call/FaceTime, you could even claim the net dropped you if you don't feel able to deal with an angry rant about ignoring him.
If he decides to be a 'real' dad and have more children with out you, great! He'll have less time to try and control what you do in your life.
His family already know what he's like, if they don't, then they are deluding themselves. If they want a relationship with your son, they'll try their best to have one. If they don't, then don't cut yourself up about it!
Enjoy your son, love him, show him what it means to really love someone. You'll feel better for it, your mum won't worry so much ( maybes it'll help her too ) and you'll show your ex just what a sad pathetic loser he is.
Oh and as for staying at your place, seems to me like he's trying to have his cake and eat the croissant too. It's YOUR place, not his. If you really want to keep him out - especially if it's your bedroom - redecorate, get new bedlinen - it doesn't need to be expensive, get something he'd hate. Stick some really attractive posters/wall art up, you'd be amazed how well that works - it worked for me anyway.
I think you need to sit down and write a plan of what works for you and your DS. Don't think about him or his family. If it was me, it'd be face-time maybe twice per week until DS was old enough to tell you when he wants to contact his father. And there is no way on God's green earth I would permit him to stay in my home. Whether or not I'd permit him to visit his son in my home would depend on whether or not I felt he would behave appropriately AND whether I felt he would leave my home if I told him to. If not, arrangements would have to be made to meet on 'neutral territory'. And there is no way I'd allow him to berate me for even one second.
Then, once I got my plan all worked out to my satisfaction, I would email it to him and just say 'this is the way it will be in the future' and that if he can't conduct calls/visits politely and impersonally it will result in my immediately terminating that particular face-time, phone call, visit, whatever. And if he persists in any negative behaviour, then all contact would cease. I wouldn't justify why I was setting limitations or changing things, that will only give him things to argue about.
I can't imagine having my ex on facetime 1-2 times per day. You really do need to decide your boundaries, set them down clearly, and you are not responsible for what your ex does after that. If he strops and decides to cut contact, he is being a man-child and just let him. You don't need to talk to him, especially on facetime, you don't need to have him stay over, he is not your friend, and you do not need to talk orders or abuse from him.
There is no need for him to Facetime your son daily. And there is no need for him to stay over at yours either. The next time he is planning to visit, tell him very clearly that he is not staying with you and will need to make other arrangements. If he pleads poverty, don't fall for it. If he wants to see your son, he will have to make other arrangements. End of discussion.
I'm going through a somewhat similar situation, and it is so difficult to retain boundaries. I've finally (after much prompting from a number of sources) realised that I'm going to have to put a halt to contact visits in my home and now force the issue and refuse any visits other than the contact centre, due to Ex's aggressive and abusive behaviour. Like you, I worry about his reaction to this (have to tell him this week), but I have to do what is best for both myself and my DCs.
If, when you are doing facetime, your DS loses interest or your ex begins to be aggressive, tell him it's done and immediately switch it off. Document all of it. And either you'll see a pattern of aggressive behaviour that will allow you to discontinue facetime altogether, or he will finally understand that aggressive behaviour = end of facetime session immediately and start to control himself. (I'd bet it will be the first one though)
Thank you all so much for your thought provoking posts. I've just skimmed them as I'm going out, but will read them all properly later.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
You aren't responsible for his unreasonable choices. Decide on your own boundaries and stick to them - eg no abuse over the phone/Skype. I used to have a piece of paper with a script kept near the phone so I could just read it when ex was crossing the line, something like 'Your tone is disrespectful. I am not willing to be spoken to in that way. I will take your call when you have had some time to calm down.' Phone down and off the hook.
Also - this was so freeing for me - you don't have to justify your decisions. Or even explain them. 'My home will not be available to you on your next visit and you will need to make other arrangements'. End of.
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