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Not sure how to respond to ExSIL(24 Posts)
For background, my XH is a very difficult man, was abusive to me during our relationship and continues to be controlling and bullying now. He hasn't paid maintenance for nearly a year and is low level neglectful on visitation and quite unreliable with it too. Our two DDs 6 & 8 do not want to see him anymore and get quite distressed at the suggestion. The 8 yo in particular who also has some MH issues and potential SEN (trying to get diagnosis) and has threatened suicide in response to seeing her dad .
He of course blames me and thinks I am brainwashing them. In truth, I'm desperate for a break but I'm also not happy to force them, particularly in light of the way he parents.
I used to get on well with SIL but stopped seeing or contacting them 3 years ago when I split with XH. In all that time, I have messaged her twice to see if she could get him to start paying maintenance as I was desperate and on the verge of needing food bank assistance. At the time she acknowledged he is difficult and said she would talk to him. Nothing changed and XH said his sister wanted nothing more to do with me so I left it.
Over the weekend she messaged me to see if I would 'be a reasonable parent' and reestablish contact 'for the good of the children'. I apologised for having to do it, and acknowledging that she probably only had his inaccurate and biased version of events, I laid all the issues out to her and said if she could get him to change his ways, I'd welcome it.
She's now saying that she wants to collect the DC from school and start contact at her house. My XH has apparently agreed to some things, like not bad mouthing me to the DC, on the condition that I make some changes, none of which I feel I'm guilty of. He also said he would start paying again if contact started up again.
I'm not sure what to make of her suggestions, I haven't asked the DC yet if they are happy to do this, and if I'm honest, I'm pissed off that he is implying that any of this is my fault when I've bent over backwards in the face of his abuse, to keep contact going. It still feels like him being controlling.
How would you handle this? I'm not sure what to do for the best.
If my daughters were distressed at the thought of visiting their father, I would not force them.
I'm sorry you are being coerced by this awful controlling man who now seems to have roped his sister in to bully you.
People like your ex will want to continue to use power and control over their victims (the plural is deliberate). They do not let go that easily and he is still using these children as "punishment" in his eyes at you having the gall to leave him.
It sounds like his sister is as bad as your ex is, she wants to control as well. I would stay well away from her as well.
Informal arrangements were never going to work out well for you anyway seeing as he is abusive in nature. This needed the court system long before now.
I would seek legal advice re this matter, its also not acceptable for his sister to issue such terms. I would also pursue him for maintenance; he is financially responsible for his children. Your children also do not want to see him; their wishes need to be taken into account by the courts as well.
I would completely ignore her and apply via the CMS for child maintenance from your ex. Why haven't you done so already?
Thank you for the replies.
This was the message she sent initially:
Hi Blank hope you guys are ok I was expecting the girls today for tea hope all is well, X says you guys are not on good terms at the moment which isn't any of my business but I really feel the girls are missing out not seeing us and [her dc] miss seeing them as well I know it's a lot to ask but I know you are a sensible person is there any way that you and X can both get some sort of stability and routine for the kids! I also know you owe X nothing but he does love them girls xxx you did love him also at one point that's why the two of you share two beautiful kids please think about it as a parent
I thought the message came across quite well but I'm just so wary of XH. I do think she misses seeing her nieces but at the same time, doesn't fully acknowledge just how awful her brother is. I certainly trust her more than XH and I think while visitation occurred at her house, it would be fine but I don't think that's a long term solution. I'd like to think (hope) her intentions are good, if not a bit naive.
I have an ongoing case with CMS but they've failed to collect any payments in the 6 months since I set it up .
They can have stability and routine without seeing XH and XSIL. I would even suggest that seeing them a few times as an informal arrangement and then it all stopping as nothing would reduce the stability and routine...
Do you want to see XSIL and your children's cousins? if you do and you think your girls would like it too, would it be possible to meet somewhere neutral? local farm, soft play. park etc (maybe when it's warmer!). That might be easier the first time, not so pressured for you if it's not her house.
You're under no obligation to maintain contact with his family, that's for him to sort out.
Two words.. Flying Monkey..
If she is missing your dc so much then she can arrange to meet with you and them independently of your ex. I would just just politely but firmly say that it's none of her business to get involved.
If she has missed them why wait til now to ask to see them? Because he is pulling her strings maybe? If she had genuine interest in your dc she would have done it ages ago. .
That message comes across as very manipulative. Do what is best for your kids.
Why does he have the option to pay child support or not? If she is desperate to see the kids make it at your place or somewhere neutral.
Thank you for your recent email.
However, you've neglected to take into consideration the feelings of the girls, who, despite my best efforts to minimise the effects of unreliable and infrequent contact of x, have clearly struggled with this.
Given that the girls last saw you 3 years ago when aged only 3 and 5, I'm sure as a mother you'd appreciate how inappropriate it would be to expect them to remember the relationship you used to have and therefore your suggestion to collect them from school to spend time at your house would not be something the girls would be comfortable with.
"He also said he would start paying again if contact started up again."
Rent-a-daughter? . It's all about him, isn't it? If he actually cared about his kids he would've been paying maintenance.
But that's all academic. With your eight-year-old's traumatic response to him there is no way on earth I'd let them near him.
I agree with what Joysmum wrote with a suggestion of notifying the school of your situation and that under no circumstances are the children to leave with your exSIL, reinforcing exactly who they are allowed to leave with. I wouldn't put it past your ex's family to just turn up and attempt to sign your children out.
If he feels that strongly about it he can arrange for supervised visitation where a social worker or similar will watch and listen to his interactions with the children and step in if necessary.
I wouldn't rely on the SIL to keep your children safe from emotional distress and manipulation. She wants you to be the sensible one. You know why that is? Because she knows damn well she can't get her brother to be the sensible one, and you are the easier target.
I agree with Joysmum. If she wants to reestablish contact, you can meet at a neutral place with her only. Your dds are the most important thing in all of this and with your dd1 having mental health issues, the last thing you would want to do is hand her over to a stranger. Especially as this stranger most likely doesn't have her best interest at heart and will allow access to her father in a way, which may traumatise her further.
I don't have any experience of this myself. I don't know what would be most appropriate when responding. What you say may be use in any future court case. Perhaps others will help with this?
Thank you again for the further replies. I apologise as I don't think my op is clear, XH had regular contact up until around 8 months ago but was always flakey. He's seen dd2 sporadically since but dd1 has point blank refused to go for around 3 - 4 months now. Here is what I sent back to her message:
Hi SIL. I appreciate what you're trying to do - trust me, I've tried myself. I also understand that you're only getting half a story and that X is your brother so there will obviously be loyalty there. I have absolutely no problem with you, your DP (I miss nothing about my relationship with X except for my friendship with you guys) or the DC and would love for the girls to be able to maintain a relationship with you all. There have been a few times where I've wanted to tell you what is going on, to see if you can get him to see sense and I did message you out of desperation that one time but he told me you said you never wanted me to contact you again and I've always felt bad putting you in that position so I've left it.
But here is the other half of the story which I doubt he's bothered telling you:
1) He hasn't helped me financially since May last year. He's paid no maintenance, not helped with clothes or uniform, no helping with presents or parties or xmas. Nothing. Not a penny. I've had to do it all on my own even when I was out of work and really struggling. I even paid the £20 to start a case with CMS out of desperation. They've written to him loads and called him but he still won't pay. Even before that, when he was kind of paying, he would always pay late and would agree to go halves with me for birthdays and xmas and then wouldn't give me the money back. He's carried on going out on the piss, taking his girlfriends on weekends away, going on holiday and I've just had to accept it. He even had the audacity to have a go at me for going on a weekend away with my BF, saying 'I thought you had no money'.
2) I have concerns about the way he looks after them.
-The girls have told me that he doesn't brush their teeth and there isn't a toothbrush for them at his house. dd2 had such bad tooth decay that she had to have a tooth pulled out as she kept getting abscesses. One time when she was on antibiotics, which I had to drive to Leeds for as an emergency appointment, he forgot to send it back home. When I messaged him, he sent someone to my house with it and they left it outside and it was ruined (it needed refrigerating) as I was out.
- he puts them in clothes and shoes which don't fit and never returned the clothes I sent them in. This really used to piss me off since he wasn't helping to buy the clothes! One time he sent dd2 home stinking of piss. Dd1 told me he had nothing clean for them so fished something out of the dirty laundry. He'd taken them bowling so she was out in public like that.
- they tell me they are bored at his as he doesn't take them anywhere (except his mates playgym as its free for him) and all he does is shout at them.
- Dd1 came home once asking me what porn was. I was pretty shocked that she had heard that word so asked her where she'd heard it and she told me it was on the frequent search terms on the Google home page on the laptop X bought for her. I felt a bit sick at that to be honest. It's also a safeguarding concern.
- he's had a few girlfriends since we've been separated, and without fail, they've all been introduced within a couple of weeks. This isn't fair on them when they inevitably break up a short while later. Particularly concerning was the episode with C since she has a history of drug and alcohol addiction. Still, he was happy to introduce the girls just a couple of weeks after he started seeing her and she fucked off to rehab just a couple of months later. To add insult to injury, he's very vocal to the girls about how he hates My BF and at one time went round telling people he is a paedophile because he made them some loomband bracelets?!?! This has been really damaging to the girls who really like My BF (I wouldn't be with him if they didn't) and they feel torn loyalties.
3) there have been times where he's unreliable, turning up late, changing plans, using contact as leverage, only having one of the girls and driving off without the other
4) despite me trying to be amicable with him, he is frequently abusive, threatening and nasty to me. I can send you screenshots of the vile things he says to me and my girls have to listen to it as he has no problem saying this stuff in front of them. I've told him to remember that he's teaching them how men treat women, but years later, nothing has changed. Just this weekend I heard him berating me on FaceTime to dd2. This particularly pisses me off as I know I'm a good mum, everything I do, I do it for the girls. I don't know if he's told you but I was diagnosed with Hashimoto disease two years ago so I'm doing it on my own when I'm really ill. Instead of thanking me and giving me credit, he treats me like shit.
5) despite the fact that he blames me, it's actually the girls who say they don't want to go anymore. There are times when I'm desperate for a break but they refuse to go. I don't just mean they say no, they actually scream, cry and plead with me not to go. One time he turned up at my house screaming at us through the door and the girls were in hysterics as he was frightening them. Other times I've suggested ways he can encourage them to want to go but he gives me abuse for my efforts and says the girls have to change their attitude?!?! I actually think that dd2 has higher functioning autism and sensory processing disorders which I've been trying (and am still trying) to get a diagnosis and help for. I think this is adding to dd2 reluctance as she's very black and white about things and she still hasn't forgiven him for not giving her the birthday money he promised her. In an ideal world, I'd be able to ask his help to sort this out and create a structure between both our houses but he point blank refuses to work with me as he just wants to make out like everything is my fault. He's incapable of recognising his own fault or changing anything.
There's loads of other things that have happened over the years but you get the picture I'm sure. I tried really hard for a long time to make this work but there comes a point where you realise you can't make someone else do the right thing so you give up. I don't know what else I can physically do to change things. For my own mental health, I've had to just detach and accept that I'm in this on my own. Quite frankly, half the reason I stayed with him despite the affairs, financial and emotional abuse, the selfishness and lack of help with the girls is because deep down I knew he didn't have it in him to be an equal parent. I know he loves them in his own twisted way but that alone doesn't make him a good parent. He's far too selfish. He sees child rearing as women's work and he should just get the good bits.
I'm sorry to have to lay it all out so bluntly but I've just had enough. He makes my life so much harder then goes round complaining that I'm the one stopping him seeing his children. People don't know the half of it. I do appreciate you taking the time to message though. If you think you might be able to get him to see things from a perspective that isn't his own 'poor me' view then I'd be happy to see it. Ultimately it's the girls that suffer.
well that certainly made it very clear - he will just tell his family you are lying and they will believe him.
With these types of men (my ex exactly the same) nothing is their fault or their responsibility and now he is roping in the flying monkey to continue his manipulation.
I would ignore all further contact and attempts to suck you back in - you will feel calmer about it.
then see if he takes you to court and see what cafcass say - i am in exactly the same boat as you myself so just a waiting game.
tell the girls they can call their 'dad' if they want otherwise just leave it.
and total sympathy to you as well BTW and sounds like you are doing and amazing job!!!
I wouldnmt mention yor DD2's medical issues to her!!!
You need to be on the phone to the csa every week. Annoying I know but if you get some money worth it.
His sister is what's known as a flying monkey. If she wants to see your girls it needs to be neutral and on your terms.
bastard ex wants to see them it looks like he's going to have to take you to court. You don't need to do anything it seems like you've been more than accommodating, your daughters are distressed so it's time to stop now.
Is your gp aware of your daughters problems relating to her father? Might be worth making her aware.
I doubt this prick will bother with the effort and expense of taking you to court, he wil be more interested in having a poor me story to tell than what's best for his daughters.
I'm sorry you and your daughters are having to deal with this op.
I would go for tea with your DC, without your XH there first, otherwise you are putting your already stressed DC into an unfamiliar situation, then take it from there.
I think that taking your DC somewhere where their father will be after they have said that they don't want contact is totally unfair and will affect their stability and trust in you.
That's a good response.
I hope she starts to see things from your side but unfortunately, I wouldn't hold my breath!
You've done all you can.
You are now protecting your girls.
Keep doing that and all will be fine.
Well done for getting this off your chest. Don't expect an immediate response. Or even a response at all. Unless she's a mature and adult person, she's going to struggle to deal with what you've told her about her brother. So do prepare yourself to potentially be on the receiving end of either silence or a barrage of abuse.
You sound as though you are absolutely doing the best for your children. I have ME (chronic fatigue syndrome) so I can relate to how hard it is to parent when you're chronically ill. It is incredibly hard to look after your children without having to also deal with destructive people. You are doing incredibly well.
I'd never heard the term flying monkey so had to google. I certainly think she has believed his sob story and believes she is helping her brother as the 'wronged' party. She did reply quite wiickly saying she would speak to him about the issues although never really acknowledged anything I'd said except to say she knows it will have been hard dealing with him. I don't know what I was expecting but I think any neutral person would be shocked at some of the things he's done. I think she just wants contact back on track at any cost.
She got back in touch the next day to say she had spoken to XH and he'd agreed to certain things in exchange for others, like paying maintenance if contact got back on track. I asked DDs if the wanted to go and it was a categorical 'no' so I passed that message on.
I have recently got the school involved to help get DD1 a diagnosis and some of the issues with XH came up. They're now saying they're referring her to CAHMS at level 2 as there are some safeguarding concerns. Whilst I'm not holding my breath that this will come to anything as we've had two CAHMS referrals already through my GP, I'm a little worried how it will be viewed if I allow my DD's to go. XH has arranged via FaceTime to see him and DD1 is saying she will also go if he agrees to buy her football cards which she's just decided she is collecting.
This is often the issue I have. They refuse to go unless they think they will be getting something from him. The last time this happened, they went, got their present from him then demanded to come home and refused to go again. If they didn't waver so much, it would be an easier decision. I don't want to stop them going if they want to iyswim but on the other hand, I don't think it will look good now there are safeguarding concerns. How on earth do you make this kind of decision?
If they are only going because he'll give them gifts I'd knock that right on the head. They are pulling exactly the same type of stuff as their father and no doubt learned it at his knee. They either go because they want to, or they don't go at all - unless there is court ordered visitation that you have to comply with.
I would purse the supervised visitation route if you think contact would be the way to go. Where I am (not in the UK) a social worker watches and records the visits, you would have no contact with your ex, and if there is a problem the social worker will step in and end the session. This would be far safer for your children than sending them to see your ex with just a highly partisan, naïve, and loving SIL who has zero control over her brother even if she did pick up on a problem.
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