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My ex says my daughters poor mental health is my fault(11 Posts)
I'm a single mum of four - 15, 13 and four year old very unplanned but very loved 'surprise' twins. My husband left when they were one for another woman he'd been secretly seeing (he told her a whole bunch of lies, including not mentioning that he had twins but she forgave him. go figure. and it wasn't the first affair he'd had and I forgave him. go figure)
Its impacted all the kids in different ways but my now 13 YO daughter has suffered the most. She was seeing someone before the split as we thought she may be somewhere on a spectrum (hate that phrase) but they said that actually, she just had serious anxiety issues and depressive tendencies.
Since the split, my ex (who sees the kids for three nights out of 14 which is 'the most I can do because I'm really busy at work' and even then, has little time for them - their words not mine.) has treated my daughter really badly. I've had to swoop in to rescue her several times after he lost it - once threatening to call the police on her for lying, another time calling her a little bitch.
Needless to say, for the past six months, she's just not wanted to see him. Final straw was him secretly marrying the woman he left us for who by his actual exact words 'can't hack the kids' and stays up in their room when they are at his house. She felt totally utterly rejected by him.
I've supported her decision without adding to any sense of negativoty about her dad (which has been hard) I've tried to give her some autonomy and it seems to have helped. She's stopped self harming and seems to be more relaxed.
This week, she relapsed. Two nights ago she carved her arm open with a tuna tin lid. Had no idea why, couldn't stop herself, was really scared.
I tried to talk to her dad about it today because I want to get her some therapy (she had a couple of sessions before The 'Rona hit and it seemed to help) and we have an agreement that we go halfs on stuff like this (he earns a fortune but yes, you've guessed it, pays minimum he can get away with based on the wage he pays himself)
Long story short: apparently I am complicit in her poor mental health because I don't make her do 45 mins of exercise every day and its on me to do that and if I did, she would feel better about herself and not be 'obese'. He has said he'll pay for therapy but only if he gets to chose the therapist. He said therapy is "a sticking plaster" and I'm not to talk to him about it again unless its to put a proper exercise regime in place for her.
I tried to tell him that its actually a win for me if I can get her to come out every day for a walk around our local park but apparently, that's not enough.
I know its all a load of abusive narcissistic controlling bollocks. I'm not looking for anything really, I just have no one else to tell about this and I needed to vent and get it out. I will be paying for therapy for my girl because I'm fortunate to be in a really good job myself. Its just so unfair and I feel really alone in all this.
I'm also at a Certain Age and really feeling the hormones atm.
Thanks for reading
From memory - and I studied psychology and developmental psychology a million years ago - there are certain ages where family trauma (such as divorce) seem to be worse for the child. About this age is one of those.
Therapy is a good idea - but if he thinks it’s nonsense why is he so determined to choose the therapist? I suspect so that he is ‘in control’ and try to persuade the therapist ‘not to blame daddy’ (no it won’t work like that).
You do need to try to draw her out - keeping busy is a really good thing. Is there a garden she ‘needs’ to water and weed every day, or help with the twins? Can she maybe do some tutoring with them? Exercise is brilliant but it’s really hard to get someone who is in that place to do it. I wonder if you know someone with a dog who wants a walker?
Have you had a heart to heart with her - none of this is her fault (kids often think it is) and that although you feel crap too you have the family around you. Is her older sibling in a similar place with regards to seeing their dad?
You have got do much going on and you're maintaining a well paid job. That is really amazing.
My son was in the care of cahms from 15 to 18, we also paid for private counselling, he had a breakdown after his friend died in tragic circumstances, mixed with being bullied at school and he just fell off the edge. He self harmed and considered suicide often. It was awful. He's now been out of any sort of counselling for a year or so and he's doing well. It might not feel like it, but it can get better.
I think you need to consider getting counselling for yourself, it's exhausting and terrifying to be the mother of a teenager who is struggling so much.
And your ex is a complete bastard.
Older sibling is a boy and their relationship (him and dad) is much better. Which doesn't help because it make my girl feel worthless and jealous.
She's a fantastic artist so I encourage that. And the twins love her - especially her little sister. I encourage that too, I want her to feel like she is a role model.
Its just a shitty situation and sometimes i get overwhelmed with it. A mate suggested i just post here to get it out of my head and it worked - thank you so much for your response x
Oh your poor boy! That must have been so terrible for him and so awful for you to have to watch him go through it. Sounds like he has great parents.
My girl is bullied too. Just before lock down there were a series of whatsapp voice messages that were particularly harsh. She's pt the easiest person to get along with as she just doesn't get how to interact, but she has two good friends who she's really tight with, which is great.
Counselling for me is a must, I think you're right.
And yes, he is a total dick. Obvs I paint it how it feels for me and the kids would - and do - say that they love him (even my girl, which is just so sad and makes her so sad) I try to be impartial. Its bloody hard tho!
For therapists or councillors start with your doctor (some come on private healthcare too) and personal recommendations. Check their qualifications, memberships and insurance - and also that they specialise in treating children and teens. Go for one session and see if you ‘gel’ - there needs to be a good rapport and feeling of trust and security. Dad should be be within a million miles of this relationship.
In my experience separated dads have no idea how to deal with young teen girls and it worsens when another female comes into the mix as seemingly men have to pick one female or the other they can't cope with two to appease and the one offering the sex always wins. Be a rock for your daughter. My DD is now 18 and close to her dad...he has come sniffing back round for her affections now he's getting divorced from EXW after me. But he treated her terribly all her teen years and his exw actively tried to exclude her.
It’s a horrible situation - but in the words of current life - this is the new normal.
So maybe have a family ‘meeting’ and have a chat about ‘stuff’
- what kind of home do you want to have
- any new ‘laws’ you want to bring in (such as - every Sunday we have a big breakfast that we all help to make and eat together)
- what about house chores and rewards?
- Competitions, all daft stuff that makes home a bit more interesting - and theirs ie From now on we eat dinner on trays on Friday nights and watch comedy shows and have sweeties.
- any pets?
- clearing and yard sale/eBay purge - family pot for spending on something fun later on.
You have a great little unit there - and a sad kid. I know it’s hard to find 1-2-1 time but can the older children take turns to wrangle to smaller ones so you can have 1-2-1 time with the other sibling? Even if it’s baking a cake or having a cup of tee and gossip about what’s in the news.
You sound like you have all been through the wars - but that’s past now. The rest of your lives are ahead and you now. Does he get to see the other children too?
(Oh - and the ‘laws’ would be helpful if they are something that dad wouldn’t allow/approve of)
I had some similarly awful years with my exH, and I genuinely found them more traumatic than any of the other 'obviously' traumatic events in my life.
What got me through them was reaching out to friends and my job. And, eventually, finding the right counsellor for both me and my DC.
Your xH is a nasty, destructive w**ker. He has abandoned 4 DCs and he points the finger at you? That’s just projection, scapegoating and ongoing punishment of you - and his “management” is further toxic control and abuse - none for benefit of your DD.
I would take 100% responsibilities and control of her MH with the direction and support of experts and professionals - not some “opinion” of this wanker.
I would prioritise time and recovery with your DD. Give her the 121 time that she needs (might only be 10 mins either end of the day) - be totally attuned and emotionally available to her. She may have got lost in the birth of the twins, sidelined in the breakup and then the focus of abuse by her DF. She needs to know and feel in her bones that she is wonderful and top of your list. That he DF behaviours are unacceptable. Do you have enough time and resources to do this?
Cut him out of the picture. Ignore his stirrings. The opinion of an abandoning, narc, abuser is not valid. Grey rock him. Emotionally detach and focus 100% on your DD - she needs you for the next few years to be her rock.
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