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The ex factor - what now?

(15 Posts)
SteppingUp2017 Tue 17-Oct-17 23:23:42

Second post in as many months. Recently moved in with DP and we have his 11 year old DS 4 days a week. Sorry it's a long one and maybe there are no answers but need to get it off my chest!

DSS is struggling with the adjustment of the move, it started out okay but gradually it's got worse and worse. He started staying in his room and when he does come out he treats me and DP with such hostility. DP is really good at being supportive of me, and he challenges disrespectful behaviour towards me and is very good at setting boundaries. Also, DSS is fine when I'm not around and has made it very clear that he feels threatened by my presence, which makes sense.

However, it turns out that DP's ex has been stirring things quite a bit, she told DSS that he should stay in his room the whole time he's with us, that he doesn't have to speak to me, that his Dad doesn't support him financially because he spends all his money on me (not, true, and especially infuriating because I'm the main bread winner in the house!), told him that if we do ask him how he's feeling he should keep his mouth shut because we will just twist his words....... and the list could go on.

All this is annoying enough but what's really frustrating is - she doesn't want DSS any more than she already has him, in fact when things have got pretty bad and DSS asks to stay with her she refuses. The only reason we don't have him full time is because DP wants to make sure DSS has a relationship with both his parents. He raised him alone until he was 7 at which point she wanted him most of the time and for DP to give her child support - which given the trend of these things DP agreed to. Then this year she said that DP should take him on full time which he didn't think was necessary - they live close to each other and why wouldn't a child and mother not maintain a relationship?

Anyway, now we find ourselves in the position of DSS hating his living situation here but the ex won't let him stay a few more days with her - meanwhile she puts things in his head that makes him hate the both of us.

DP is devastated, so am I. Challenging the ex never goes well and seems to make the situation worse. And most importantly DSS is miserable. Conveniently the ex manages to divert any of the blame and insists the problem is us and she refuses to help him be more positive about the situation.

This week she wanted us to have him full time, DP refused, saying he didn't want to force DSS to stay with us because he's so unhappy here. He's made it clear to her that until she stops filling his head with nonsense and negativity we won't be having him any more than the agreed days (which, when she goes on her annual 3 week Christmas holiday without DSS and leaves him with DP, may be a problem). I hope rather than expect this to change anything.

What can we do? The priority here is DSS obviously, is this something we need to just ride out? Will he ever get comfortable living with us? Do exes ever change?

swingofthings Wed 18-Oct-17 05:46:45

However, it turns out that DP's ex has been stirring things quite a bit, she told DSS that he should stay in his room the whole time he's with us, that he doesn't have to speak to me, that his Dad doesn't support him financially because he spends all his money on me (not, true, and especially infuriating because I'm the main bread winner in the house!), told him that if we do ask him how he's feeling he should keep his mouth shut because we will just twist his words....... and the list could go on.
How do you know she said these exact words, in this manner? Is this the account of your ss? In which case, probably distorted for effect, or a family member? In which case, chinese wispers and distorted as lost in translation.

There might be a number of issues going on and yes, it is possible that your ss doesn't feel listened to as he would want. However, there is almost undoubtedly the effect of age. My ds turned a raging hateful person at that age, who lived in his -dirty- cave and only came out to shout a frustration or another, and made me feel that I was the most hatred person on earth. I'm quite confident but boy did he make me feel awful about myself!

When he got over that phase, gradually, about 2 years later, we talked about it, and he said that of course even then, he never hated me or even disliked me, and that he himself didn't understand why he was so aggressive then and that it made him feel terrible, and that's why he wanted to exclude himself in his room. All this is normal teenage behaviour, really hard as a parent to go through, but they really come out of it.

It's important to challenge them on their behaviour regardless, but despite their threats, it doesn't mean they want their lives to be anyway different. However, there might be other issues with your SS that is adding to his feelings.

SteppingUp2017 Wed 18-Oct-17 08:27:49

Ah, I would agree with you there, swingofthings. But the only reason we know she's said these things is because it was corroborated by her. We assumed, just as you have that it's just DSS being a kid, but she admits she told him these things. Which unfairly or not, makes me wonder what else she's been saying - but I won't speculate!

This is a comfort though, that he could grow out of it. DP worries that lasting damage is being done to DSS and their relationship together, which terrifies me too.

CosmicPineapple Wed 18-Oct-17 09:08:56

Surely if mum is so toxic his dad should be jumping at the chance to have is son full time? That way her negative influence is reduced.

It seems odd to me that the dad is refusing this option stating "well hes not happy here so we wont have him more" when actually having him more would solve the problem seen as its mums fault he is not happy in the first place.

Basically this poor lad has 2 parents amd niether want him. Christ that is messed up !!!

ExWifeCalling Wed 18-Oct-17 11:15:38

Eleven year olds can be notoriously moody, however I would wonder whether he had said something to his mum in order to provoke that response. For instance, if he'd gone home and complained that he was being made to join in family life and got no time to himself she could have responded by saying that he should be able to stay in his room if that's what he wants to do. He then comes back and says "mum says I should stay in my room all day when I'm here," without adding the context to the conversation.

Children do often tell parents what they want to hear or tell things in a way which shows the children in a favourable light, and sometimes that needs further probing to understand how that conversation was reached, but sometimes the parent may just take the child's version of events without further investigation.

However, I would question why your husband feels it's ok to insist the child spends more time at his mother's just because he has expressed unhappiness at being at his. Admittedly a child of that age does begin to have some say on where he stays, but if the mother is rejecting him and the father is saying that if he's unhappy there he doesn't want him there then that is sending a very clear message to the child. And when you're a full-time parent you don't just get to send your kids away when they express unhappiness, so this notion that the mother should be prepared to have him more is unreasonable.

If he decides of his own accord that he doesn't want to stay at his father's any more then this needs investigating and addressing, but not by the father throwing his toys out of the pram and saying that if he's not happy then he just shouldn't come.

2014newme Wed 18-Oct-17 11:20:17

Poor kid. Lived with dad then mum took him. Blah blah he really has been shipped from pillar to post combined with toxic talk from ex no wonder he is upset, vulnerable, disturbed. He's probably deeply worried that his living arrangements will change yet again. He needs love, stability, security and to get off this merry go round of who wants him and where he is living. Deep down he probably feels rejected. He could do with some counselling, perhaps family Therapy would help heal the wounds.

DaisysStew Wed 18-Oct-17 11:26:43

Oh your poor DSS. Lived with his dad full time, then his mum, now it's 50/50 because his mum doesn't want him and his dad won't let him live at his house full time either. No wonder he's hostile and emotional - he's being rejected by both parents. What his mum is doing is awful (and abusive) but your DPs almost as bad by saying that he won't have his son more because of what his mums done. Someone needs to be the grown up and put this child first.

SteppingUp2017 Wed 18-Oct-17 11:32:20

Just to be clear DP is not insisting that he go to his mum's any longer than he normally would. It just seemed at the height of his discomfort the ex wanted us to have him even more than normal and DP was conscious that this could upset DSS since we know he's so unhappy with us as it is.

I admit though, I did feel like we should have just taken him. But unfortunately that time has passed now. I'll make sure I speak up a bit more and insist we have him for next time it happens.

2014newme Wed 18-Oct-17 11:35:13

Poor kid. Please get him some help, he's been rejected by everyone those scars run deep.

Biglettuce Wed 18-Oct-17 11:40:57

I would have a calm word with your DSS and say that in your house it’s really important that you work together. That your house has different rules to his Mums house and that is ok. Don’t put down his mother. Just be firm and clear.

Get a routine going, meals at a certain time, shower bedtime etc. The boy needs as much stability as you can give him, and having these things gives predictability. Keep everything stable. Don’t react to his moods, let him be. Be the rock.

I’ve had similar. My DSD alienated me because of it, and doesn’t talk to me now. However I know I gave her a calm stable home for a long time. So be warned emotionally it’s tough for you. Take utmost care of your mental health and try not to buckle if he rejects you. Childhood goes past quick. If you give him a caring, solid home now even if he rejects you as an adult he’ll have that to fall back on.

PerfectPenquins Wed 18-Oct-17 11:42:12

Is there anyone in the family the child can talk to? He sounds so lonely in all this. What does the child want? Id look into some counselling for him on his own and possibly in the future his dad can join for a few joint sessions.

SteppingUp2017 Wed 18-Oct-17 11:47:37

@DaisysStew and @2014newme

Couldn't agree more. I get DP's desire that DSS grow up with both parents but I can see how this whole thing could be coming across to him. We'd love to have him more, we really would - but we thought it would be best that he feel he has some kind of say in where he lives and that he has his mother in his life - since he didn't for most of his childhood so far. Looking back and seeing it from your outside perspective I can see the only person that's suffered from this is him, I'll have a chat with DP - think we just need to agree to be here for DSS no matter what and eventually he'll see that we're a consistent part of his life....hopefully!

2014newme Wed 18-Oct-17 11:49:18

It will take time, he's obviously waiting for his next shunt back and forth. He definitely needs counselling

SteppingUp2017 Wed 18-Oct-17 14:33:15

@PerfectPenguins
He actually has a really lovely relationship with DP's mum and seems to tell her much more than he does either of his parents. She's spoken to him a few times, but maybe we should make it a more regular thing, him staying with her once a fortnight or her coming over to ours more often.

@Biglettuce
I think this was our intention but we've definitely let things slip in terms of a routine, so you're right, we should be a bit stricter with ourselves about this. And as much as I think I'm letting it wash over me I'm sure his hostility is impacting how I speak to him (i.e. keeping conversations short, asking closed questions) - need to improve my game face!

Biglettuce Wed 18-Oct-17 15:34:52

A child continually rejecting you is really tough. I know it’s tough for him too. I wouldn’t rule out tellling him straight that you find it really hard to be ignored and that it hurts your feelings. It should be in the context of saying that you genuinely do care, recognising and telling him you are not trying to replace his mother. Gain his trust.

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