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How much should the kids know?

(11 Posts)
ShesYourDaughter Tue 28-Jan-14 14:40:08

I know in the past the general consensus is leave this to my DP and her ex, and I intend to do that.

We have another crisis meeting tonight to discuss the latest outburst from her ex. Another phone call where he'd already determined the outcome in advance and when she said no the usual shouting and swearing.

And that's the problem, it's not the shared parenting, it's not about being flexible. It's about his behaviour.

We have 50/50 shared care at his insistence. We organise ourselves for our week round the kids, work and everything else's takes a back seat and we catch up and have 'us' time the other week. We think that's the way it should be.

He has a different view. He thinks that we should be on call to help him out so he can work or have 'me' time whenever he wants. After all, we're free, we don't have the kids! Where his partner fits in is a mystery.

That's not everything but it'll do to keep this short. The problem is the abusive phone calls, emails and texts that always, and I mean as sure as night follows day, always follow when we don't go along with his plans. We also know he sounds off in front of the kids, tells them stuff that isn't true, blames their mum for having to dump them on people so he can go do what he wants etc. it's very draining emotionally. And it's been going on for over 5 years.

With this latest outburst, we are in a new place in terms of dealing with it. We've gone from being caught on the hop every time it happens and having to deal with the fallout to having a plan of attack. Might not work but its better than trying to pick up the pieces.

DP's plan, and you may or may not agree with this but that's besides the point is to go round and try to have a sensible conversation about how two divorced adults contribute jointly to the welfare of their children and what realistic expectations they can have of each other and how to communicate calmly and sensibly.

I've made that deliberately patronising because it sounds so simple, and yet it's proved so hard.

So tonight I'll get the full low down on what's happened today, and we'll discuss what to do next.

If.... She does decide to go round and spell it out, would it be constructive for the kids to be there too? I can think of some good reasons, it'll keep the atmosphere calm, the kids will understand her point of view , and it'll take them out of the line of fire and being used as bargaining chips and blackmail in the future.

It might also upset them.

16, 14 and 12. Old enough to hear this or not? High risk strategy?

FrogStarandRoses Tue 28-Jan-14 15:41:06

Is she mad?

You can't reason with the unreasonable. Lecturing/advising/talking to her ex isn't going to work. He's undoubtedly been told the same by solicitors, mediators, teachers etc etc. already - if he wanted to, he'd have changed by now.

I suggest your DP reads the CAFCASS guide to separated parents (I can't link but it's downloadable off their website). She might be able to get a place on a separated parenting course - they are designed for both parents to go, but she'll still benefit even if she attends alone as she'll pick up techniques that will help. The first is "you can't change someone else's behaviour".

In relation to the specific issue you mention, the MN mantra is true - NO is a complete sentence. He wants the kids to come to you, no, sorry, not convenient. (The older ones might start deciding on their own arrangements anyway).

I've always been honest with my DD with regard to mine and her Dads inability to get along (i recognise all of the issues you've mentioned) but I have never involved her. She is loyal to both of us and will make up her own mind about each of us. Don't drag them into it, even if their Dad does.

ShesYourDaughter Tue 28-Jan-14 15:53:50

Ok. I think the two older ones know the score already, but are protective of their dad.

The youngest is quite amazing, he has the ability to parent his own father. It's quite a talent, but it doesn't mean he isn't sensitive to what's going on.

The oldest is coming to stay with us anyway while she does her exams. This was partly forced upon her as dad is taking the other two away on holiday, but she wants to come because she says life's less chaotic with us and she feels supported.

Which is nice, in a way.

purpleroses Tue 28-Jan-14 16:07:09

I can't see why you'd want to expose your children to that.

If she wants someone else there to keep it calm - a mutual friend, family member or proper mediator would be much better.

If you and she feel the kids are being "dumped" on you at times, that may be something fair enough to try and communicate with her ex, but it's going to be rather hurtful for the children to hear.

Kaluki Wed 29-Jan-14 10:24:53

Its admirable of her to try and be adult about it all but it takes two and if he won't discuss things reasonably then she is on a hiding to nothing.
Definitely don't take the dc. Its not fair on them. They will feel they have to take sides. Also them being in the room isn't a guarantee that things will stay calm, if he kicks off and gets angry they will get upset. Hope it goes OK but don't be surprised if it starts WW3!!!

ShesYourDaughter Wed 29-Jan-14 18:08:50

Bit of a success in terms of finally getting the message across they're not joined at the hip by the children.

He's decided to go and sulk and not 'talk' to her, which is more than fine because we never want to talk to him, he always tries to start a conversation.

But, and this is the best bit, he asked why she didn't ask him to look after the kids while she was away and she said because she didnt need to, kids are happy staying with me.

The penny may have dropped....

daisychain01 Sat 01-Feb-14 06:13:07

Just in response to the tone of your latest post..... I wouldn't spend too much time or energy micro analysing their every move or behaviour, however frustrating they may have been over time. They are still your DSCs Dad and however much you feel you are reasonable/correct/ hard done by those children may be feeling their loyalties are being split. And children have very sensitive emotional antennae in terms of feeling caught in the middle

I am only saying this after 7 years of struggling, but it is tempting to make someone look like the "bad person" when it may be best to downplay things. Just saying....

Tuckshop Sat 01-Feb-14 09:13:30

I completely agree with Daisychain.

They don't need to be involved at all. And you are on a hiding to nothing if you think he is actually going to take this on board.

You could end up making him bigger in your lives, and more of an irritant that he needs to be. He is who he is. Just say no. And then enjoy your time together.

Twitches2 Tue 04-Feb-14 14:14:20

I agree that it's probably no use trying to reason with him. My father is very similar to the ex in this story: the kids will see him for what he is evetually without being involved

anklebitersmum Mon 10-Feb-14 15:04:58

My personal approach as regards parental disputes is, has been sometimes in the face of extreme provocation and will continue to be even now when it's very very tempting to be brutally honest that
"the children should know as little as humanly possible for as long as is humanly possible".

If there's one lesson I learned the hard way it's that it's almost impossible for even the most aggressively determined ex to have an argument with someone who is always calm and perfectly reasonable.

Charley50 Sat 15-Feb-14 16:50:51

I think it's best just not to respond as far as possible. My ex had a tendency to send nasty texts, shout and scream abuse and threats at me etc. I used to get sucked in. This went on for a few years I suppose. Then I started to ignore it and he was basically shouting at himself. It has more or less stopped now and contact on handover and about issues has become much less stressful. Also I get on well with his OH which makes life MUCH easier for us all.

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