Pushing to our limits (bit long - sorry!)(32 Posts)
DH has just been told by DSD that mummy is getting her ears pierced for her 10th birthday. There is nothing horrendously wrong with ear piercing at this age, however DSD has very poor personal hygiene for her age. She cannot clean her teeth properly, her pants are constantly soiled and she somehow seems to get more food in her hair than her mouth!As such DH is rightly concerned that her ears will become infected. The concern is that where DH was always very clear that he felt 12/13 was a more appropriate age and during their marriage his exW was openly sneery about children with pierced ears this is his exW trying yet again to provoke a reaction.
This is the latest in a loooooong string of incidents that he feels are intended to create a reaction in which his exW can then create a "bad daddy" atmosphere and further alienate the DSC from DH (and in turn myself). He knows that any objection will be used against him, no matter how real his concern for DSD.
In the past the children have moved house and school twice (both inter-year) without DH being even consulted, let alone asked for an opinion on the schools she chose. There is clear evidence (all documented) of emotional abuse/neglect from the exW and latterly her new partner, who has also allegedly smacked and kicked DSS.
DH is at his wits end, the SS want to wade in but the fear is that the DSC will be coached further and their mother will ramp up her emotional blackmail ("I get really sad and cry when you are at daddy's house" etc) which she has done in the past. When we took her to court for a contact agreement DSD would spend weekends here sobbing, picking her finger and toenails until they bled (or were removed entirely) and clutching a photograph of her mother, complete with a loving message on the back about how much mummy was missing her. DH is worried that the emotional impact of doing something will be just as bad as not. DSD is a neurotic mess who listens at doors and runs between the houses telling often fantastical stories which are clearly designed to provoke a reaction. We cannot blame her, she is so insecure and this creates an interest in what she has to say, but it does make the atmosphere between the houses even more strained than usual. Especially when whatever she tells her mother is taken literally.
DH is now on antidepressants and about to start counselling, but every time he has a vile email/text from his exW or her partner (weekly, often daily) he starts to shake with anxiety. He is exhausted from having to constantly second guess what his exW is going to do next in her seemingly endless barrage of abuse and mental headfuckery. She constantly contradicts herself which leaves DH questioning his sanity. It is badly affecting our marriage, the stress has made me so ill that I have been unable to work for nearly 3 years. Finances are drained by us only having one very sporadic income. What the hell do we do??? We simply cannot afford court and mediation would be pointless as the exW is a master at manipulating and seems to believe herself above the law - she lied to a ridiculous extent last time she was in court and it destroyed DH's confidence in the family courts.
10 is a normal age for kids to have ears pierced. They only need minimal looking after. I wouldn't create a battle over something quite so pointless. You could always explain to DD how to clean and why she needs to clean the hole. If it gets infected, she's old enough to deal with the fallout. It might help her learn to take more care.
You all sound so down and at each others necks. Is there anyway the relationship between the adults could be improved. This would probably mean dwelling on the fiture
Oh we aren't going to create a battle over it - DH isnt even going to bring it up. He just feels that as father he might have been party to the discussion before dsd was. He knows that this is yet another thing his exw would never have done before and is only doing now to provoke a reaction from him.
She did something really awful last week that ended up with the police telling her she was in the wrong and making her look pretty stupid. Ever since she has been circling and prodding DH. It is exhausting.
The battling is not constant. DH is his exW's scapegoat, if her life isn't going well then she will create an issue with DH to excuse her histrionics.
We try unbelievably hard to remain calm and ignore as much as possible on the surface, but that doesn't mean it isn't creating huge anxiety behind closed doors.
We don't want to be her best friend but it would make life so much easier if we could sit down with a cup of tea and discuss the children like adults! I grew up in this atmosphere and it is horrible.
Some of your post, Asteria, I could have written myself. It's so emotionally draining - even in your and DH's relationship when you have somebody so toxic in your life.
Can you limit how much she can contact you? IE: Only keeping emails strictly about DSD and nothing else. Is there a separate email address you could create solely for her only?
Is there a reason why your DSD's hygiene is so poor? Is it because she doesn't want to/can't be bothered or genuinely doesn't know how to look after herself?
Would you and DH be open to trying some relationship counselling with regards to the impact she's having on your relationship. It may help to speak to a third party who isn't in the situation and may be able to offer coping strategies with when things get so on top with her.
I'd seriously think about going back to SS - especially with a lot of what you've described. That environment doesn't seem healthy for DSD and it sounds like mum may need some intervention herself.
How is DSD doing with school? Could you ring them and find out if/how all this is impacting on her while there?
Dsd is struggling at school, but they are beyond useless whenever DH tries to interact with them. Her mother bangs on about dsd having a photographic memory and "flying" at school, but her teacher has totally contradicted that. If DH suggests that dsd may need extra help it is flatly denied and he then suffers a retaliatory attack. It is exactly the same for dss, who has been diagnosed with SN. Flat denial of an issue and then a suggestion that it is only when the DSC are at our house because we are bad parents. I used to be a teacher and before that a nanny, I also have a son of my own. I'm not the perfect parent (have yet to meet that mythical creature!) but I have a really good idea of what emotional abuse looks like.
Wow I really feel for you. I have a teenage DSC who now lives with me and DH, after years of petty behaviour and more recently appalling emotional abuse. Ending with total rejection by bio because DSC chose to live with us. The situation is still ongoing because although bio isn't involved in her kids life she manages to play emotional games via other people
If you feel it is necessary to involve SS, school whoever then do it and don't let it go. These spiteful bitter twats who call themselves parents and are simply out to create havoc for their ex partners are appalling. I think emotional abuse of children should be treated as severely as physical abuse, because in some cases the effects can be far more damaging. Don't get me wrong if my marriage ended and my DD chose to reside with dad then I would be absolutely crushed, but I would accept whatever made her happy and cherish the time I got with her. Feel so sad for you OP and I hope you get the help you need soon. feel free to pm me if you need any advice
If he is suffering from depression then he needs to pick his battle and what he gets angry about. There is nothing wrong with what his ex is doing. She might have not agreed with it when she was younger, but DD has been begging her and in the end, she wants to please her DD. Refusing just on the basis that it might get infected is ridiculous. DD got hers pierced for her 10th birthday because that's what she really wanted. We were extremely careful about cleaning it, but despite following all the advice, it did get infected. In the end, she took them off and hasn't been interested in having her ears pierced again. She is now 16. Not the end of the world.
Her ex probably didn't discussed it because she knew he would say no anyway. I understand that he is upset that she is overriding his view, but if she went with his, it would be overriding hers. In the end, it seems fair that the decision should come from his DD considering that it is not a completely unreasonable request for her age.
Conflict only breed conflict, so I would suggest he picks what to fight over, and from what you write, I would say that education should come far ahead.
I'm sure others will have better suggestions than me for the children, but can I focus on you? It is awful that you have been unable to work in 3 years due to this.
What help have you had? This is horribly stressful but there are techniques for allowing storms to rage but still live your own life in the midst of it. Boundaries and practical things will help as well as psychological techniques. Relate may be a start, but since you aren't working there are lots of mindfulness type courses these days, and family support groups, and excellent courses through your local MIND. You deserve to be well and have a life too. You'll be much more useful to your damaged SC then too.
Agree with swing - allowing ear piercing is a matter of preference and not a high safety concern. It will also dilute any of your other concerns. If there is high conflict between the parents already over big issues, I'm not sure why your DP is expecting cooperation with smaller issues?
I find your post confusing in that way. If your DSD has been running between the houses making up stories - neither parent communicating well - then what do either of her parents really know about how the kids are? What exactly is she struggling with at school? If it is a particular subject for example, could you get a tutor for the weekends you have them?
Would you say that parents are perhaps becoming extremes - with mum ignoring problems but wanting kids to be too close emotionally and Dad picking up on every problem however big or small? I don't know, just trying to unpick things.
The earrings thing was just a tiny last straw. although DH doesn't normally let such seemingly little things get to him, after a series of much bigger events and given the mutual stance that they had whilst married, it just felt like a way to dig at him. He gets a lot of them - like flipping weird texts about how their marriage hadn't been all that bad and that having the children made it all worthwhile (she forced him into having a vasectomy a few months before handing him divorce papers) during our honeymoon!!
It isn't about the ears - it is about the constant headfuckery.
boxofsnails I am having therapy and seem to spend more time with him, a Physio and my OT than I do with anyone else!! I'm hoping to get back up and running by Easter - but that really depends on how much shit gets throw at us between now and then.
We can't really afford to get a tutor in for Dsd during our contact weekends - we are really up against it financially and only have 4 full days a month with the children. DH and I try and incorporate educational activities into our time, but to be honest we really don't want our limited time to become boring for the DSC. It is their time to climb trees, walk the dog, go out for breakfast, dress up, lark about and generally make some happy childhood memories. They sit on their iPads or in front of the TV almost constantly with their mother so we like to get them active.
It should be water off a duck's back. You don't react. So what if she's sending strange texts whilst on honeymoon...ignore them! They are only an issue if you engage, surely? She can't hurt you if you ignore the texts and turn the phone off. So she steps up the crap if you ignore it - you get a restraining order and/or the police to have a word for harassment and you follow through. Eventually she will give in or go to prison. It is ridiculous to be in a position where you are shaking due to anxiety at the receipt of a text. You need to get a hold of it and deal with it.
Do you realise that your posts are full of antagonistic 'stuff', some of which you likely have no real handle on yet are annoyed about and judging mum for? If you are involved enough to know they are not doing well in school, help them, support them? Why would that be solely mum's job? You realise that when you stand there and say to your ex 'our son isn't doing very well in school' all she is going to hear is that it's her fault? You basically want to just have the children have fun when they are with you - just fun? can you imagine how it feels to be the parent who has to deal with all the homework and then wave your children off into a household where no one is going to make them do that?
If there is proof of abuse, speak with the school and Social Services and get it dealt with.
cannotlogin I understand that I may sound gripey, but with all due respect, if you haven't had a constant barrage of often totally vicious and unfounded shit for years (over 3 for myself and well over a decade for DH) then it is very easy to say get a grip. That is the sort of minimising talk we get whenever we raise a concern with the exW.
We aren't trying to be the "fun house". We do as much homework and reading with the DSC as their mother does (according to the homework and reading diaries) but we also have very limited time for them to stay connected with their wider family.
DH is in contact with the school and discussed dss with the senco on a weekly basis. DH would give anything to be in a position to do the daily grind of parenting, but the distance and the animosity makes that difficult. He had to go to court just to get fixed contact because it was repeatedly withheld.
As I mentioned before, the concern with getting the SS to wade in is that the damage might be just as bad as doing nothing. The repercussions from simply raising a minor concern are really hard on the children. DH doesn't want the DSC being used as pawns in a backlash, as they have been in the past.
Unless you have been on the end of a psychotic spiteful ex hell bent on making your life a misery and using a child or children to do it then telling someone to 'get a hold of it' is absolutely uncalled for.
I can speak from experience and say it is such a difficult situation to be in and my DH has been pushed to his limits many many times over the past 14 years.
What do you mean by 'SS want to wade in but ...' Social Services either will or they won't, surely?
DH has spoken to SS on a number of occasions and they said that he needed to give names as what he had said led them to believe action had to be taken. He was wary of giving names as the second the boat is rocked the children get an even greater backlash.
As it stands he now has a police record and a very detailed diary covering the last four years.
If the Police know of abuse, I think they are required to tell social services.
Obviously I'm missing something here.
I think you should insist on a meeting and tell everything to social services.
Cannot is one of those.......... I have encountered her before so ignore that post.
I am currently in the process of putting together a harassment complaint after 2 years of nasty texts. Lucky for me my self esteem is OK and I have a great job which is very rewarding so it keeps me going, even so a text from her makes me stress and get the shakes. I email it to myself and delete it so I have it as evidence but not at easy reach to re-read and torture myself
I can speak from experience and say it is such a difficult situation to be in and my DH has been pushed to his limits many many times over the past 14 years
I also speak from experience as someone who has an ex husband of some 7 years attempting to remove children from my care and generally be intent on making my life hell. So I don't let him. He's not gone away but he certainly isn't able to do to me what he set out to do at the beginning. It's been very hard work - emotionally, mentally and sometimes even physically to get to this point.
I'm sorry OP - but either the children are being abused to the point of needing Social Services intervention or they're not. In all seriousness, what kind of parent stands by knowing that the children are being abused? Social Services will - and do - act. There may be 'backlash' but what is the alternative? That they get into adulthood feeling that their dad should have protected them but didn't?
Cannot is one of those.......... I have encountered her before so ignore that post
At least I have said what I think. I don't engage in the passive aggressive shit you just wrote there.
Social Services have far from a flawless reputation
It is utterly draining and so destructive dealing with someone behaving in this way. OP, you and your DH are in a horrible situation. However, i wonder whether a different approach might be to have the attitude that your DH is someone's father not someone else's punching bag. That means that you will only engage on certain things, and not react to other stuff however awful.
A few years ago things got so bad I was prepared to walk out on my marriage - the endless abusive, aggressive and often unnecessary communications were endless. It was when my DH's exW started to draw me and my own DC in that I decided enough was enough and we went to DHs solicitor. A polite but firm letter was sent by the solicitor explaining all abusive communications had to stop, only day-to-day important stuff went to DH, and everything trying to change court ordered arrangements went to the solicitor for screening and forwarding if necessary. The immediate reaction was not great, but to my knowledge the solicitor has never been sent anything, the abusive communications were massively toned down and she realised engaging constructively would get her more attention than the abuse. All texts now go straight to an email account so there is a record if ever needed, but our aim was to return it all to child focused communication rather than allowing exW to rant and abuse whenever she wanted. Things are by no mean perfect and I dread every text/email for what is going to be kicking off, but the aggression and abuse has stopped.
But can I also suggest one more thing which has had a really good effect in our case - being really positive to the exW. Taking the earring thing as an example, when the deed has been done getting DH to say to Mum (not to DSD, it needs to be to Mum) 'those look really nice, how do we help DSD keep them clean?' (and doing so with a smile). If she is doing it for the reaction then you are not reacting in the anticipated negative way, but complimenting and working with her. It's just a babystep I know, but an argument has to have two sides, don't be the other side.
I do wish you well, and hope you find a way through this.
Cannot - your situation sounds dreadful and I admire your strength through all those years of shit from your ex. It is horrible when separation results in a vengeful power struggle over children. I completely understand why you have said what you have, this is what you personally would do in a similar situation.
However this is a different family with different dynamics and personalities. Dh's exW has never adhered to any advisories or court orders and has happily told enormous lies in court. The day she decided to divorce DH she set about totally destroying his reputation (who accuses a father of abusing his children and then constantly nags him to have MORE contact with them??) and thinks nothing of emotionally distressing her DC to disrupt their time with their father? She doesn't regard her DC as people in their own right, more as a reflection of her, something to be controlled and manipulated and a means of exacting revenge on DH for not being the husband she felt she deserved. I feel very sorry for her as her total lack of empathy and compassion has ensured that she will never truly realise the full extent of the damage that she is doing.
The SS are good, but they are not infallible. When presented with a couple who are clearly warring, they have to sift through the lies and the truths which is virtually impossible. When a child is being coached it is even more difficult to decipher. Meanwhile plotting begins and another attack is launched as a means of punishment.
either the children are being abused to the point of needing Social Services intervention or they're not. In all seriousness, what kind of parent stands by knowing that the children are being abused? Social Services will - and do - act. There may be 'backlash' but what is the alternative? That they get into adulthood feeling that their dad should have protected them but didn't?
It's rarely as simple as that. SS will often only act when a report is made by an ex spouse if the allegations are supported by other professionals in the DC's lives, or by the child themselves.
If the OP's DSC school has concerns, they will raise them with SS themselves. SocServ may consider a 10 year old DC capable of disclosing/removing themselves from an abusive situation so consider the risk to be lower.
From experience, I know that SS won't proactively intervene unless a teen DC discloses repeated and serious abuse - my DH's teen DD was advised to call the police if her Mum hit her again (DH's DS disclosed he'd seen his Mum hit his sister, DH reported to Soc Serv, both his DD, DS and his ex confirmed to SocServ that it had happened) but there was no ongoing monitoring or sharing with other professionals.
In the mean time, the involvement of SocServ actually increases the risk of abuse, as the DC's were pressured/threatened into complying with their mums wishes.
It's a fine line to tread - teen DC's screaming at their Dad to mind his own business when he expresses concern for their safety, but as you say, adult DC's looking back and feeling let down by a dad who didn't protect them.
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