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Helping DD1 deal with FOG

(20 Posts)
wallypops Wed 17-Dec-14 07:52:05

Previous thread here. DDs dad is an agressive, narcissistic, alcoholic, arsehole.

My 2DDs 9 & 10, currently see their dad for 2 hours every 2 weeks in a contact centre. This is due to finish at the end of January, and we have to renegotiate a new contact agreement between us. If we can't the courts will do it, and costs shared. He is skint so this is in my favour I think as he won't want to go back to court.

It took us 6 years going through the French court system to get to this point, and it has been hard on all three of us. We are very unlikely to ever get this opportunity again so I really need to get this right.

In September 2015 we are probably moving 90 minutes away from him (as opposed to 10) in with my DP.

DD2 doesn't really want to have much to do with him, and particularly doesn't want to see him in his own home. She will go to see him to protect her sister though. I have explained to her that by doing this that she is effectively enabling her elder sister to see him and will in the process have to see him again, with all the fear that entails, for the foreseeable future. I think she has got my point. But I don't think I can stop her doing what she thinks is right.

DD1 though is completely immeshed in Fear Obligation and Guilt. I found some stuff
m.psychologytoday.com/blog/stop-walking-eggshells/201302/what-do-about-fear-obligation-and-guilt
(sited here) for DD1 to read, and she went through the check list and was impressed by how much it totally matches her dad. On a separate occasion she read the consequences of being the child of an abusive parent, the "issues" she is likely to her to face.

However, as predicted, when DD1 saw again she immediately apologised to him. I had already explained to them that it was up to him to apologise as he was the one in the wrong. He has never apologised to anyone.

When DD1 sees him she feels obliged to jump into his arms and make a fuss of him. I understand that he is her dad, and that she loves him. And I have always made contact easy for everyone (which I bitterly regret in the case of DD2). DD1 freely admits that she feels sorry for him, because he has no-one left. (He does have a girlfriend, but she is not allowed to see her youngest child either, so she doesnt seem like a great choice. But she is an absolute victim so an obvious choice for my ex.) His own mother, brother, grandmother don't talk to him any more because he has been so odious to them.

I have talked to her about the fact that the choice she makes now will be ongoing for the foreseeable future and we won't be able to go back to court.

What else can I say? I have to drip feed to her, because she closes off very quickly if she thinks I am attacking Daddy.

What other points can I make? I don't want to be fatalistic about this, but if DD1 continues as she is now, it is difficult to see how it can finish well for her. Anyone that feeds her the right lines can get her to do anything.

What should I be pushing for in the contact agreement - 2 or 3 hours in the large town at the midpoint between our 2 (future) homes? Twice a month - or less?

What other things should be in the contact agreement?

CogitOIOIO Wed 17-Dec-14 08:19:20

You can't tell a child not to love their parent and you can't tell them how to react or behave. The relationship she has with him is and will always be personal to her. It will develop in its own way and, provided she has the age appropriate truth, it is personal to her. You are solely responsible for setting up the contact arrangements so that you are satisfied they are safe when with him. I suggest focusing on that rather than trying to manipulate her behaviour.

CogitOIOIO Wed 17-Dec-14 08:34:46

Btw... I'm as horrified that you told DD2 she was 'enabling' her sister but visiting her father ad I am that you expect a 10 yo to read an article on a psychological condition and then go along with your wishes. Understand if you are feeling anxious about their contact with an abusive man but guilt tripping children this way is pretty sinister stuff.

wallypops Wed 17-Dec-14 09:02:08

Thanks for replying Cogito - I clearly didn't put it in those terms to the children but due to what their father has put them through they really don't have a typical understanding for their age. He is massively manipulative so the only way I had to conteract it is to explain what he is doing.

I certainly didn't use enabling as a term, but I did explain that her choice now, is going to have long term results. And I really, really have never put either child on a guilt trip about their Dad.

And this is France - we were exceptionally lucky to get a judge that accepted that psychological abuse is even valid. We only got this court decision because I had by chance recorded a death threat he made against me when drunk earlier this year. The one friend of their age they feel able to talk to still has to see her father despite the fact that he put a gun to her head and regularly beat her mother in front of the children.

They do have an appointment with their talking doctor mid Jan.

I suppose what I am really asking is how to help my DDs. And what to aim for in the new contact agreement.

turbonerd Wed 17-Dec-14 09:11:06

Can you keep the contact to a contact centre? Perhaps bring it Down to once a month if it is a long Journey?
You have my sympathies, my boys are desperate to see their dad, even if he was a drunk, violent bully on many occasions. They are roughly the same age as Your Girls, and so are too Young to understand long term consequences. Your daughter is loyal to her dad, there is no way you can manage to explain how he is in a way she can understand. Take the opportunity to figure out how you feel Your daughters will be best protected during their contact With dad. Minimise the time spent and keep it supervised.
I'm shocked at the French system, but use it how you can to best protect Your children.

turbonerd Wed 17-Dec-14 09:15:06

Forgot to add, I remember Your earlier threads. You have done so well to get to this stage where you have the court's protection, just use it for what it's Worth.
It is heartbreaking when the children make such a fuss over someone you know to be manipulative and violent, but he is their father and they often make a big display of love and adoration to the parent they feel they must appease. I'm guessing this is the case for Your daughter. In addition of course the children do love their fathers, often no matter what horrors they have inflicted.
I hope you can find a solution.

CogitOIOIO Wed 17-Dec-14 09:25:27

You help your DDs by setting up a safe contact environment in the first instance and by telling them the age appropriate truth when necessary. They are too young to be expected to make decisions or understand implications. They have to be allowed to live in the moment the way most other children do. If they want to hug Dad and make a fuss of him when they see him, that's something you have to deal with. Not tell them it's wrong

Handywoman Wed 17-Dec-14 12:01:18

From what you've written here it seems to me you are expecting far to much from yourself and your girls. You aren't their therapist, you're their mum.

The painful and uncomfortable truth is that they love him unconditionally despite his abusive ways. Be very careful to let them love him safely, and see him every now and again, in a contact centre.

As they grow and develop they will come to learn about his role in their life: like all important life lessons it it best they find out for themselves.

In the meantime be there for your girls when they have questions. Do not expect them to understand adult psychology workbooks.

At the moment all you can do is ensure safe contact. No more. I hope you have good support and friends or a good therapist to process what is happening. Facilitating contact with an abusive man is very painful, and a difficult path to walk. Look after yourself.

wallypops Wed 17-Dec-14 12:54:55

Thanks. I will talk to the contact centre to find out if there is any way we can continue to use it. Both DDs are really happy to see him there as they feel safe and know help is just a shout away. Plus its full of games and stuff to do. I don't think we will be able to continue to use it, but I am going to try and get an appointment with them to discuss what happens next.
Before the contact was reinitiated the contact centre met their Dad and then us. Both the girls and I came out of that initial meeting feeling that the contact supervisor had swallowed everything he said to her, despite her having a copy of the court order and summary of the issues.

CogitOIOIO Wed 17-Dec-14 13:52:06

Your DDs are far too involved in the adult aspects of this. You talk about them like they are older teens, not 9 and 10, and even though you say they don't have a typical understanding, at the end of they day they are just little girls and they are not emotionally equipped to deal with this stuff. Just now you said they felt the contact supervisor had swallowed everything.... hmm What kind of conversations are you having? I can see how you're worried and that the whole process might lead you to be a little obsessive but are you certain you're not just dumping your problems on them and rationalising it that they need to know? Do you have friends and family you can talk this through with rather than them?

Somethingtodo Wed 17-Dec-14 14:17:20

Wow wallypops - I really admire your proactive attempts to minimise the inevitable damage that their father will inflict on them.

You should continue to keep yourself well informed of the impact of toxic/alcoholic/abusive/violent parents on children and to watch for specific issues with your girls so that you can pre-empt them, address them and nip them in the bud as they arise.

I think that if you do it sensitively and age appropriate, then talking them thru specific recognised and identified behaviours - with reference from a respected, independent, 3rd party source - is absolutely sensible.....and will help rebut any blame that might come your way - ie for not respecting their Dad who they love unconditionally.

But be careful not to try to use a sledge hammer to crack a nut - you will need to told their hand, guide them and wipe their tears for many years to come.

They might be a year or so too young but al-ateen (from age 12) is in place to support - maybe they have access to age appropriate materials that could help you now. Keep strong and pace yourself. Sx

www.al-anonuk.org.uk/public/what-alateen

Somethingtodo Wed 17-Dec-14 14:24:00

Also there possibly is a thing about balance - that maybe your focus should be 99% on creating wonderful, normal, healthy, family relationships - so that they are emotionally nourished by this experience and are able to know what normal, healthy relationships look like - and are then equipt to recognise a toxic one. Think what I am trying to say is to not let the toxic parent pollute and dominate your families emotional life - even when he is not present....but also be watchful for any signs of concern with you DDs.

TheFriar Wed 17-Dec-14 14:29:59

Actually I can see where you are coming from on this one.
Would it possible for you to organise some sessions with a child psychologist? It would give your dd the opportunity to talk about it wo risking hurting someone feelings (yours). And he/she might am so be able to point out to you ways of speaking to your dcs about the abuse and the FOG.
One thing I read one poster on here did was to watch some series such as Coronation Street and to point out all the abusive behaviours to her dd and explain why. So no emotional Links to that and easier to see.
I would agree too about keeping the contact center thing going on. And to be sure you are following all the 'rules'. The French system iscrely
Keen in rules and following them helps a lot (eg have the things your ex is doing that isn't acceptable recorded in the right way, even if you are not planning to go to court atm).

Tbh I think it's normal for your dd1 to feel some love for her dad. He is her dad, even if he is an EA. It will take her time and maturity to see him for what he is. In The mean time, if you downs your time telling them he is an arse, it might backfire and make things harder for you.

CogitOIOIO Wed 17-Dec-14 14:32:19

"Anyone that feeds her the right lines can get her to do anything."

Except the OP.... hmm Isn't this the problem? You want them to take your side?

wallypops Wed 17-Dec-14 14:34:37

When we split 8 years ago I saw an excellent Psy who said show them what other non EA men are like etc so we have always had lots of men around of all ages. My partner is so so different from their dad.

I know it must seem like I'm obsessed with this but occasionally the time seems right to have these conversations. Over the years they have asked questions about his behavior and I've answered honestly using age appropriate language. For eg When DD1 asked why daddy never says well done to her but always her little sister I explained why he does that and it helped her to feel less damaged because understanding made her less helpless.

Somethingtodo Wed 17-Dec-14 14:37:31

Cog - what other side is there? - that of a violent, alcoholic, toxic parent?

Not legitimate in my book!

TheFriar Wed 17-Dec-14 14:42:42

wally I think you are handling it the right way. In these circumstances, it is essential to equip your dd's with the knowledge of what an abusive relationship is.

Maybe a trip to that Psy would be a good idea as you are thinking about modifying the agreement. See what he/she says in full knowledge of the background. What he/she thinks would be a NO-NO and what would be a Yes on the dcs pov.

Fwiw I think that not talking about it is also teaching something to your dds, namely that it's not a subject you should broach. From that they are also likely to develop the idea that it's their fault (as children tend to do) which again isn't the best outcome.

CogitOIOIO Wed 17-Dec-14 14:50:01

It doesn't matter that he is violent, alcoholic or toxic to a little kid. In spite of all the conversations and information, they just see 'Dad'. There's that phrase isn't there.... 'hate the sin but love the sinner'..... and little kids can do that.

His influence on their lives is very limited and the time they spend together is limited but I think, by trying to create this emotional distance and so on, the risk is to make the man even more appealing and ramp up the 'FOG'. ... ironically. Maybe if he wasn't such a hot topic he'd recede into the background?

Somethingtodo Wed 17-Dec-14 14:57:13

Yep exactly as I said above....and yes the OP should definitely be aiming for them to take her side! (subtly)

wallypops Wed 17-Dec-14 17:14:24

They are seeing their "talking doctor" who is also our family doctor mid January. We have tried various child psys over the years and my DDs dont like them, and won't talk to them - and frankly fair enough. It was their choice to talk to our lovely family doctor, who really fortunately also has training in CT.

It was on her recommendation (my lawyer asked me to get her to evaluate the situation as well) that we went to the police and court back in June. The kids do tell her things that they don't tell me, and they see her individually in back to back sessions. Their sessions with her are for as little or as much time as it takes, and then I get a briefing on what to do next, but not the content of the session as that remains largely confidential.

There attitudes to their dad are very different. DD2 has never really had much time for him - he broke her trust when she was about 4 and she is a bit of an elephant about such things. She is very black and white on the subject of lying.

Cogito - I can see where you are coming from, and I really am not trying to force it down either of their throats, or make them agree with me. I do answer what's asked though, and sometimes that's really hard but they know that I always tell the truth and that is really important to them.

When we were going through one of the many court cases, the children (aged 5 & 6) had to choose if they wanted to see their grandparents or not and how much etc. We were all interviewed multiple times by a court appointed social worker. (Their father had falsely accused his step-father of touching up the children then aged 3 & 4, and as a result contact with the grandparents had stopped while it was investigated. Then DDs paternal grandparents took us to court to get visitation rights - grandparents do have rights in France.) At that point I did explain to them that we would all be trying to get them to follow our agendas and we would all be trying to manipulate them, me included, despite my best intentions and efforts.

I do have people I can trust to talk to, who knew prior, during and after my hideous marriage - but I try not to bore them with it all either.

Sorry I expect I have not made myself very clear in this post. I don't want to muddy the waters with too much or too little information.

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