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AIBU to feel slightly harassed by this?(59 Posts)
Hi everyone. Don't feel quite strong enough for AIBU at the moment, so hope you won't mind me posting this here! Would like to get others' perspectives on it.
A bit of backstory: split with my ex husband and father of my children, after repeated infidelity was revealed. He now lives with the o/w and the children live full-time with me (other than a fortnightly overnight stay). He has always been a strong character, arrogant some might say. Not a bad person, and a great dad, but his attitude towards me can be strange. We are seldom together these days, but when we are (e.g. Christmas) he will talk down to me, undermined me in front of the children, can barely stand to look at me. Have now started to cry as I type this He makes me feel like an employee that doesn't pull their weight, and he is the line manager! Not like equals at all, and he can be rather disdainful. This isn't helped by the fact that he is very successful in his career, earns a very high salary, and I am at home. I realise this isn't the ideal situation, to be financially independent on him, so am booked on a course for women returning to work. I am trying to get my life back together.
It used to be that his attitude towards me really affected my moods, but I have come some way in moving past this, and try hard to be more resilient.
So today he has our youngest two, and I am home with our teenager who is ill.
I just received a very abrupt text from him (no hello or anything) asking when the children were last at the dentist.
I replied that I couldn't remember, but could make an appointment for them anytime, and asked if everything was ok.
He then asked if check-ups weren't a scheduled thing every 6 months (which is a fair point), and again asked when they were last there. He said that our 7 year old had a bit of plaque on her teeth (strange that he should be looking, when they're not even there overnight).
I thanked him for letting me know and said that I would phone the dentist tomorrow, to make check-up appointments.
He then asked yet again when they were last there
My final text was to say that he had made his point, and that I was going to act on it, so please stop pressing it. I said that it was neither pleasant nor necessary. I added that neither child had even needed a filling up till this point, which is pretty good going (they are 10 and 7).
I know that this all sounds exceptionally trivial, but I guess it's all part of a bigger picture. I sometimes live on my nerves a bit with our exchanges, as I never know how he is going to be, or when I will next be pulled up over something.
It's just so hard, and I hate to think of having him in my life for the foreseeable future.
So, do I sound pathetic over the dentist thing, or can you understand where I am coming from?
Thanks in advance
Yes of course it's understandable.
However....you reacted exactly like his secretary!
Say he was your Manager:
"When were those files checked last?"
"I can't remember but I can check them at any time"
"They're supposed to be checked every six months - again, when were those files checked last? I have concerns"
"Thank you for letting me know, I will check them immediately"
Do you see?
Stop responding to him all the time. Be very direct and unemotional. You could have simply said "yes they are overdue, I will make an appointment" then ignore the rest of his texts. Just because he texts you, you don't need to respond.
(This is advice from someone who had a narcissist as an ex)
Presumably he know which dentist they are registered with? In which case you should have told him to feel free to make an appointment and take them!
Oh, absolutely! I totally agree with you. But how to move past that, without getting inflammatory or looking like a bad mum (which I'm not) who doesn't care about what he is saying? It's very difficult.
I am tired of trying to keep the peace, and striving towards civility where there is none. I have tried making the point repeatedly that we are setting a poor example of a post-separation relationship to our daughters, but it falls on deaf ears.
Or you could have said "Feel free to make an appointment if you have concerns"
Seriously. He clearly has a phone.
Oops, missed those other posts. Thank you all.
Jenny, I knew someone would say that, and it's a very good point. However, it would be playing right into his hands. He would then act like the big career man who doesn't have time for such petty things, and I'm the bad guy for not having it under control as the stay-at-home mum.
He has no worries about being inflammatory.
You are being too polite. You are almost doffing your cap.
Elspeth, you have to understand that it's difficult not have one's judgement and perspective skewed, when for years you have been made out to be the unreasonable one! It's unbelievably frustrating.
Your point is entirely justified though, and thank you.
Well you are acting subservient. Why didn't you just respond with yeah they are booked in soon, can't remember date, and then ignore him. You could then just go and make the appt without saying anything more. However they should be going to the dentist regularly.
Yes, I agree with Elspeth. What you need to do is change the pattern now. You're not his secretary, you're his co-parent. You don't need to appease him, you merely need to remain cordial. So, imagine this exchange:
HIM: When did the children last go to the dentist?
YOU: after waiting several hours to reply to something non-urgent I will have to check my diary
HIM: Are checkups not scheduled every six months?
YOU: after another few hours Approximately, yes
HIM: But [child] says he hasn't been in over a year!
YOU: OK. I will have to check my diary.
Don't bother telling him his behaviour is unpleasant and unnecessary - he knows that and he doesn't care. Engage with him as little as possible.
Stop caring what he thinks of you and start thinking about what your dd and you think of you.
Arms length. He does not get to tell you what to do.
Communicate briefly and pointedly with him.
I'd have replied "not sure, do you know?"
Put it back on him. These kids have two parents.
I couldn't tell you exactly when my children have had dental check ups, but I do know that whever I'm notified of their next routine checkup appointment we always attend. I have always followed up with any treatment required or made appointments if I'd had any concerns.
I would tell him the same thing,
Thanks everyone. I can see that I have some work to do!
Op have you thought about doing the freedom programme?
It sounds like you're very much still stuck in the cycle of walking on eggshells and deferring to him.
I'd have said to his 'when did they last visit the dentist' with 'when you last took them'.
They're his children too and if heh as concerns he can take the children to a dentists surely?
Don't bother telling him his behaviour is unpleasant and unnecessary - he knows that and he doesn't care.
Truth is, he really doesn't know it. He genuinely thinks he is the one in the right, every time. Quite chilling actually.
Good idea fuzzywuzzy. Truth is, I actually thought my last message was pretty assertive!
What a dreadful man. It must be horrible to be in the position where you even have to talk to him. If you're not careful he will influence the children to look down on you too.
I'm glad you are looking at getting back to work, that's very important, keep an eye out for how the kids treat you. Make sure you are the boss at home.
He genuinely thinks he is the one in the right, every time.
I'm sure he does. But it doesn't necessarily follow that as a result he doesn't think he's being unpleasant and unnecessary. What does follow is that he doesn't care what the effect of his behaviour is. Don't waste any time wondering about his motivations, work on your own - that need to please, to jump when he texts. It won't do you any good at all.
You seem to equate not caring about what he says with being a bad mum. This is presumably something he has said in the past. It doesn't mean anything.
I would set yourself the challenge of not responding to any text from him in less than one hour, unless it is genuinely urgent, of course. You can then work up to two or three hours, or choosing not to respond at all. And I second the suggestion of doing the Freedom Programme, and maybe some assertiveness training.
Thanks for the supportive reply Mermaid. My daughters are wonderful and entirely respectful at home. Nothing else would be tolerated.
It's only with my ex that I have these troubles. Only now that I'm seeing just how emotionally abusive and intimidating he can be.
He sounds like a prat. He probably grilled your daughters about the dentist too and put you down in front of them, how unpleasant for them. Those are not the actions of a good father.
I think he threw away all rights to getting on his high horse when he decided to lie, cheat and sleep around when married. He has belittled you so much your self esteem seems to be in tatters.
An appropriate response would be
"I have custody of the children. They are well cared for and have regular check ups. Please stop nit picking, I find it patronising".
Thank you Tribpot.
Genuine food for thought this afternoon, from everyone. Thanks to all.
Love that response Lostit. Consider it committed to memory!
Another excellent Mumsnet quote that I have remembered was: the steady drip of quiet contempt
It really struck a chord with me.
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