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EA ExH has turned my DC against me - how can I overcome that?(28 Posts)
I have 2 DC, aged 13 and 14, both with ASD. We are just recently divorced after 22 years married and for most of that ExH was emotionally abusive, but it escalated a little each year until the last 5 or so were hell. He has many narcissistic traits. ExH lives overseas (and has done so for 5 years now) and so doesn't see DC very often. They went away to stay with him for a week's holiday and came back totally changed. They seem to hate me and want to go live with him now - they are disrespectful, don't trust me, say I am a liar, say the house is not a happy one, accuse me of manipulating them and ruining their lives.... He introduced them to his "new" GF and they really liked her. But he tried to make them keep her a secret from me. He has poisoned their view of me and I don't know how to get us back to where we were before they went. So, basically I am posting to see if any others have been through parental alienation like this and if anyone has any ideas what I can do to salvage my relationship with my DC.
How about trying a professional family counsellor for you and your DC? You could also petition to stop all contact until they turn age of consent as parental alienation is a form of bullying
How long have you been separated? I'd just play it cool. One week can't make them hate you. That sounds mad! Anyway, he can't just take them overseas so I'd just smile and ignore it all.
Petitioning to stop all contact is unwise, unlikely to be successful and disrespectful of their right to have a relationship with their dad. That's bad advice and could really blow up in your face. Seeing a family counsellor might be constructive though.
Well we've been living apart for 5 years, but were still together. Legally separated for 18 months, divorce finalised last month. He has filled their heads with lies and half truths about me. He has blamed me for their special needs. He has told them I lied and manipulated the professionals involved in their diagnoses to be able to claim disability allowance. He has told them they won't be able to do their chosen careers due to their ASD and of course that is my fault. He has pretended to be poor due to the money he sends home to me (which is child maintenance-I get no spousal support), when in fact that is only 12% of his income.
I don't want to stop their contact with him...they would not want that, but I want to know how to reverse the toxic things he has said and how to stop him doing it again.
Talk, answer questions, be honest where you can, be nice when talking about ex, never say bad things about ex, but can admit things being difficult,reassure that they are loved by both. Take them for family counselling as Chickenmom suggested.
Yes, lots of talk and lots of listening. Show you love and value them by listening and reassuring. Don't try to manipulate them because that'll probably mess with their heads more. If they say "He says we're not ASD." ask them what they think. They can talk to health professionals at their age and take some control of their diagnoses. Give them space to figure things out. You are the resident parent, he lives abroad. You are in a very strong position. Try not to panic.
I think you need to respond honestly, but not emotionally. With the money he sends, I would tell them straight "he sends 12% of his income. The recommended amount for two children is 20%. It's not making him poor."
With their diagnoses "it won't stop you having the career you want. That's not true." Research with them careers and ASD. Arrange some careers advice so they can hear it from someone other than you.
Tell them it is IMPOSSIBLE for a parent to get any diagnosis based on lies. This is not how health professionals work and could never happen. Professionals involved in their diagnoses would absolutely need to see evidence for themselves. Arrange for them (and with their consent) to speak to health professionals about this themselves.
Just try to refute what they say calmly but honestly. Don't get drawn into any discussion of your ex, but just about what he is saying.
I think things will become easier as time goes past. Hope it works out for you all.
How long ago did they have the holiday? In that scenario I would just carry on with my rules and sanctions for poor behaviour. I doesn’t matter if they’ve come back like that from the ex’s or staying with friends. It’s not on and they need to see you put your foot down.
I second the advice for family counselling - and individual sessions for the children. Look for someone who has experience of parental alienation and abusive relationships. A counsellor can be a sounding board and will gently help them to understand that not everything their Dad says is true. This will be invaluable if they spend time with him alone again, because a counsellor will give them the tools to help manage his EA.
The other thing I would recommend is love-bombing. Lots of positive reinforcement and affection. Don't dismiss their concerns, but address them neutrally. So if one of them says "Dad says you've made up our ASD to get money" then tell them that it's almost impossible to do this, lots of Doctors have been involved who are very clever and know what they are looking for, and that the money supports them doing XYZ. Finish on a positive thing - e.g. it's good because remember how you were struggling with X thing at school, and now you get extra help with it? I'm very proud of you for working so hard.
They were only there for a week - it does sound like he has done some damage but it should be reversible.
He has told them I lied and manipulated the professionals involved in their diagnoses to be able to claim disability allowance.
It’s not unusual for one of the parents to not accept the dx.** It’s about their ego.** I would just counter this with calm repetition of the facts.** ‘The drs were careful to get a whole picture of your strengths and weakness.** Parents can’t manipulate drs into dx something that isn’t there.** I agree with the dr that a dx of asd explains the struggles you have and that knowing why you have these difficulties will help you in life’ or something like that.**
I wonder if you and the children would benefit from some family therapy where you and the mental health professional can provide context for these comments, which are highly abusive and deeply damaging.
What, honestly, did you expect from him other than this. Of COURSE he will do this.
Your Ex doesn't live in the country you live in, so they don't get to see him much. For now they have been manipulated, but they are with you and will come round again. Just show them the truth and the love you have for them and they will see. Stay calm and consistent.
Don't let them go over there again.
Honestly, he will hurt these kids to get to you. they don't and never will have the tools to be safe from him. They are also NOT capable of making the best decisions where he is concerned.
You don't TELL them they won't see him again, but it just doesn't get arranged. don't go out of your way to support a relationship between him and them. If they come up with an outlandish comment that he has said, show them the evidence to show he's lying. every. single. time.
Talk, answer questions, be honest where you can, be nice when talking about ex, never say bad things about ex
That only works with normal people. the only way to show the kids how to navigate this is to show them the age-appropriate truth.
Truth is the enemy to abusers.
Is there a court order for contact? Have you formally raised any concerns on their return? When are they due to visit again?
Hissy, not sure where "honest where you can" isn't synonymous with "age appropriate truth" but I will apologise if I was unclear, it was stupid o'clock and half asleep. Felt I couldn't read and run as I was a child subjected to parental issues and my mum did what I wrote above and it worked for us. Was not an overnight thing, took time and the older we got the more information we got to our questions and helping us piece together the puzzle. As for not saying bad things about the ex, my mother has never said a bad word about my father, but she has been truthful and her side of the story matches up with the memories I have and have questioned her about. She is as neutral as she can be, will only answer direct questions, over time explain the story surrounding episodes we remember and will always reinforce being loved by both and reassure this love when we were wobbling. They have both made mistakes along the way and we don't know everything but know what we need to know. Hope this explains some of my very brief reply. As for the recommendation for counselling, they have diagnosed ASD, which means that professionals will have better tools to help them and the OP to get to the bottom of this in a way that helps them better, providing them with outside input and tools to help deal with this now and further along in life.
Thank you everyone. It helped to read your suggestions. I will carry on as before and just try to get as back to normal as possible. It will be Mums home, Mums rules...Dads home, no rules! but at least i will know I am doing the right thing for them. I will do the love bombing too!
I have booked some family therapy and we can start that in 2 weeks and I have put the children on a waitlist for young persons therapy through an organization like relate. I have spoken to guidance at school and they are going to help the children see what extra help they are getting and why they need it and the careers adviser is also going to talk to them and where their career paths may be. They are each seeing one of the specialists involved in their diagnoses in November so i will raise the issue then. I have spoken with Women's aid and will start the Freedom Program soon.
So all in all a very productive day! I needed that direction, so thank you all.
Ime it wasn't enough to wait it out. My kids had been poisoned with lies and they never recovered - to this day, all adults.
Iiwy I'd get extremely heavy and proactive. You say you want them to continue to have a relationship with him but that will mean you will lose them forever. Your choice.
This stuff doesn't just go away.
no probs Shifty we are kind of saying the same thing. the point I wanted to make was not to do any kind of PR for the Ex, that if his actions are ugly, not to cover up for him.
I had this with my ex and do say to my DS that his dad loves him, but that he doesn't know how to love really, and that although he gets things wrong and goes a strange way about things, in his head and heart he does love his son, even if he was and is vile to me.
With this case with the OP though, there looks to be blatent parental alienation, and as there is ASD these kids have pretty much no chance at being able to sort out fact from fiction.
I see it with a friend's DC and her manipulative father and see it with my OH child and her mother. kids getting hurt in the pursuit of someone else's ego/control/whatever upsets me greatly.
I think 'Honest where you can' IS different to 'age appropriate truth' though.
I am 100% honest with DS, I tell him that if I can answer a question I will do so, and I find a way to be honest and truthful in a way he understands.
I won't tell him something different to the truth, so there is no 'honest where I can' in what I say. If I can't how to tell him things in any way at all that he would be able to process, I tell him this, and say to him that when he's older we can come back to the subject if we need to and i will probably be able to find a way then.
If that makes sense ...
hissy you asked what I expected- well I thought they would come back having had few boundaries and rules, having enjoyed themselves greatly due to being on holiday and that life here and being at school might seem very boring in comparison. What I did not expect was 1). For him to fill their heads with lies and misinformation about me 2) to have their diagnoses questioned and 3) that they would believe it all. Given that I have parented them virtually solo for 5 years, I thought they would know me and be able to see through his lies. I did not imagine the level he would stoop to and that they would "flip" so quickly.
My love, he was too abusive for you, they have ASD, they stand NO chance against him and his games.
People like him see other people as collateral damage, your kids weren’t raised by him, you did the hard work so he has little bond.
Now you know what he is and what he can do...
Now you know what he is capable of you cut him off from their lives.
Supervised contact, if you must. You'd have to work your socks off for that but it's worth it. What you mustn't do is allow them to be exposed to him and his poison again.
I do speak from experience. As hissy is saying, they have no hope of separating fact from fiction. You have to protect them - or lose them. You will probably have a hell of a battle undoing his poison thus far, if you do in fact manage to get every barb out, which is debatable.
Perhaps speak to a lawyer /the police /women's aid about parental alienation.
You have very specific details here.
My parents divorced when I was 6 months old. From a young age I remember going to his house every other weekend (when he showed up). I remember thinking he was the best parent ever - at his house we had no rules, he'd take us places, buy us our body weight in sweets, no bedtimes no discipline. He would slag off my mum to us and she would slag him off (he'd been abusive to her in almost every way and did whatever he could to get out of paying maintenance).
By 8, he started drinking more. He's drink a six pack of beer, pass out all afternoon then drive us home drunk. I have a memory of asking his gf to lock my bedroom door from the outside at night but don't remember why I asked this at the time.
By 9, I saw him beat his girlfriend up and smash a lamp over her head. She left.
The first time I remember him abusing me I was 10 or 11 but have my suspicions it started way before that. I remember begging my mum not to send me there any more and she told me she had to or he wouldn't pay maintenance.
When I was 12 he abused me on his wedding night. Shortly afterwards we went on a holiday to France with him and his new wife - one night I mentioned is ex (I was really close to her and she disappeared from our lives) which resulted in his wife trying to stab him with two handfuls of kitchen knives and him giving her two black eyes. That's the last time I saw him.
He managed to pull the wool over my eyes for a lot of years and filled my head with all sorts of gabage about my mum but I figured him out for myself and would have done so even without the sexual abuse. You don't need to convince them he's a lying shit, give them the evidence of his lies and be a lovely mum and let them figure it out.
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