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Is DSCs Mum being manipulative or is this ok?

(13 Posts)
parttimer79 Thu 16-May-13 18:23:08

When my DPs ExW does not want DP to do something she says "if you do X DS (aged 5) will be upset"

These things have included:
using my car to collect DCs (now have a joint car so it is a moot point)
stay overnight with DP since they split over 2 years ago (this is due to happen soon thankfully)
go to any places they went as a family

The most recent is his DS not being allowed to meet old family friends in case he find this confusing and asks questions...

It tends to tally with things she does not want to happen and works like a magical force on DP who then accordingly does not do the thing she is against in case his DS is upset.

Now I absolutely understand he wants to protect his DCs from any unneccessary upset and this is fed by his guilt over the marriage breaking down. But I don't think it is acceptable that she uses their DS emotions as a tool to control DPs behaviour.

This may well be naff all to do with me, and I don't have any DCs, just the bump but AIBU to find this weird and manipulative?
And not boding well for the future...

catsmother Thu 16-May-13 18:45:41

Surely as he's also DS's parent your DP should be quite capable of deciding what's potentially upsetting - or not - for his own son. Fair enough if she has genuine concerns - and is prepared to discuss those with DP, but she has no right to lay down the law and DP is a twit for falling for this - e.g. the car.

I agree it's weird and manipulative and also agree that it's likely to snowball. The simple rule should be that while DS is with either parent they should be trusted enough to do what's best for DS - out of the ordinary situations where either is worried can be talked about. DP's making a rod for his own back here.

parttimer79 Thu 16-May-13 18:53:21

I agree, DP is a perfectly capable parent otherwise I would not be having a child with him.
But he does have a mixture of guilt and a blindspot about his ex which I find it difficult to know how to tackle without coming across all evil stepmother/insecure second wife.
I personally think co-parenting should be perfectly possible without one party having "control" over the other.
all suggestions welcomed, including back off and leave em to it!

SoHHKB Thu 16-May-13 18:57:21

Wow - that is exactly what my xh does to me! I will watch with interest to see if the general consensus is that the line 'It will upset dc' is indeed unreasonable on his part and what the hell do I do about it??

purpleroses Thu 16-May-13 19:35:16

Your DP should be able to tell for himself whether any of these things are upsetting for his DS.

And if his parents split up when he was 3, and he's now 5, I wouldn't have thought he'd have any trouble with any of them.

It's the ex who is probably finding these things hard - she's rather her DS doesn't have to share his dad with anyone, feels left out of the new family (which is made harder when you go places they went as a family) and it's easier for her social life if she doesn't risk bumping into your DP. (or possibly, more cynically, she's told them all his a bastard and doesn't want them confronted with the truth, even if she's not there at the time)

Your DP needs to be clear that he will take things gently with his DS, but that he will be the one who decides who they both spend time with when his DS is in his care. And possibly try not to share too many details of what you get up to with her - if she's not aware of where you've been then it won't hurt her. (though your DSS may of course tell her some things, and you can't do much about that).

My own DS was 3 (nearly 4) when I split from my ex and has never shown any signs at all of being "confused" or upset by the situation that he's been growing up in ever since. It's always been just normal to him.

IneedAsockamnesty Thu 16-May-13 21:37:57

Nothing wrong with one parent pointing out to the other a genuine emotional issue its just working out whats genuine.

But you don't tackle it its down to your dh if he feels its an issue and wishes to.

parttimer79 Fri 17-May-13 10:22:52

Thanks for all the advice, helpful to get other perspectives as I know no-one in this position in RL.

Sock I agree that is a good responsible parenting to discuss genuine emotional difficulties and am glad that Dp and his ex generally have a generally good co-parenting relationship.

However I do think that exW is projecting her own upset at various situation, especially the meeting of old friends , on to their DS. To clarify, these were mutual friends who she now refuses to see as they are friends with DP, so his DS has not seen them for over 2 years.
And DP very much feels it is an issue but is terrified of being a bad father. (his lovely DM had a talk to him last night which helped a lot)

When DSS comes to us she expects a list of people who will be there, needs to be warned in advance of where we will be going and who with and frankly it feels odd.
They both have PR and DP would never ask for blow by blow detail of what the DCs so when they are with their Mum.

There also tends to be an issue that as his ExW is the RP she often says "well you don't have to deal with any problems if he(their DS) is upset, I do".
I just find it all quite sad.

SoHHKB if we find any good solutions then I'll report back! at the moment he is going for gentle but assertive i.e. I accept that you are concerned but as DS other parent I do not feel there is a problem.

Kaluki Fri 17-May-13 12:12:20

I would say it is her being manipulative and wanting to control your DP and DSS and it really should be stopped or she will carry on and try to control you too.
Whether he will or not is another matter.
When DSS leaves her house and arrives at yours it is up to you and DP where he goes and who he sees. I don't quiz my ex when he takes my boys off for the weekend - I trust him with them.
We dont tell DPs ex any of our plans in advance. This is because she will always either put the DSC off going or try and take them there first and ruin it for us.
All she knows is when she calls that evening and DSC tell her where they have been.

BabyHMummy Tue 21-May-13 19:57:24

Neither parent should be using the child as a pawn to control the other!

Be careful how hard you push the issue with Ur dh though, he may just be playing along to get things moving on the mention and is worried that conflict will stop or delay things.

Good luck, it sure as hell ain't easy

ticktocktammy Wed 22-May-13 08:51:37

this behaviour is obviously an attempt to control and manipulate the situation by their mum and clearly unreasonable; sounds like she needs to move on big time
but we are in same tricky situation to navigate as DSS mum is unreasonable but if you put your foot down its the children who are upset... so a catch 22
leave it to more experienced SPs to advise...

spg1983 Wed 22-May-13 22:16:37

OP we have exactly the same, except apparently DSS gets upset about everything, including food, TV and even things like board games, literally EVERYTHING! Food makes him ill unless it's beige, pretty much everything except Baby TV and some of cBeebies is too scary (he's 7!) and board games are too loud and stressful. Swimming is too cold and sport aggravates his (non-existent) asthma.

Oh, and he's always ill when we pick him up apparently and then he goes downhill really badly as soon as we've dropped him off...?! The one time he was actually ill, we didn't believe him until the chickenpox spots came out! His mum didn't believe us either as she thought he'd had chickenpox twice already!!

We do get on really well with DSS mum but we've had to gently reassure her that we would never put DSS into a situation which is bad for him. He is so closed-minded and fearful of everything, it is a real struggle to get him to try new things and he is developing genuine phobias and deep-rooted fears of very irrational things. It's very sad to witness and we have to constantly praise DSS every time he manages something new. But each time we conquer something then a new fear appears. We have introduced him to new things that he's loved while he was with us but then after a week back home he's suddenly terrified of it next time he sees us sad

He is honestly like a different boy with us; boisterous and happy but when he goes home he whines and sulks. He is already learning that different behaviours get different reactions from the various people in his life.

We have found that since DSS' mum got with her DP, things have improved somewhat in that she says she wants DSS to be less fearful but we've yet to see any improvement. Am dreading next year when he goes to junior school as he's so babyish sad he is a lovely boy but just so affected by what we feel are not his own thoughts and fears...

Oh and yes we always get the "he doesn't talk to you honestly and he only tells me when he's upset"...grrr!

parttimer79 Thu 23-May-13 10:17:04

yup sounds like we have the same situation although DSS is 5. He also says he is tired/ill when he doesn't want to do something, lots of things are scary or too old for him (which to be fair they may be, I'm not 5 so happy to let him have his say on that one!). I do think this may be just what he is like though as his little sister (DSD) is very robust, especially for a 3 year old!

The other behaviours/reactions thing really rings true but I guess that is what we have to manage as part of this kind of family life.

Anyway exW has now agreed that he can see these old friends after it was pointed out that a.) he sees all DPs family and that is fine and b.) he sees exWs friends and that is also fine...

She has also agreed to now let DP have the DCs overnight (as a one off trial) which is also major progress so I think his gentle but firm approach has actually worked. Fingers crossed anyway!

spg1983 Thu 23-May-13 10:37:25

parttimer we had a phase of DSS doing the "I'm worn out/ill" thing, we got round it by saying if that were the case then he should go back to bed for a little nap for an hour or so (cos that's what you do if you're genuinely worn out/ill!) and that worked. He said he didn't want to go to bed, we act confused and say "but I thought you said you were worn out?" and then he'd say no, and the real reason would come out, i.e. I don't want to.

We often find that the words that come out of his mouth are definitely not words that he has come up with, i.e. "it's all just too much for me"...what 7yo says that?!

We think that maybe DSS' mum is being very protective, which is understandable and also maybe projecting some of her doubts/fears onto him. He is seriously having social issues with other children taking the mickey out of him for being so babyish and fearful, he can't join in with story time at school because he's scared of the pictures (he's never seen them before!) and has to be taken away by the TA to help with clearing up.

Writing this down has made me realise just how bad it is but it sounds like your DSC's mum is going down the same road with the same effects starting to happen. Please try to get your DP to say something, OP.

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