Help with daughter
29 August 2019 at 10:20 pm #29764
I just need some advice about how best to help my daughter (9). To cut a very long story short, her father left 2 years ago after he had an affair which he denied. He was emotionally abusive throughout the marriage – everything was always my fault and I wasn’t allowed an opinion in anything that contradicted his. He moved in with the woman I thought he was having an affair with 2 weeks later after we separated but still denied they were having an affair. She has a number of small children of her own and his behaviour towards our daughter has been unhelpful from the start. Though he does see her, she is very much at the bottom of his list of priorities and comes well behind his new partner and her children. (They get a bed, she has to sleep on a sofa or fold out bed in the lounge, he doesn’t take her to her after school activities, picks the other children up from school and left her behind in the playground when she was supposed to be going home with him, been very erratic about seeing her to the point that I had to leave my job… the list is endless). We had mediation followed by solicitor involvement and he breached everything we agreed so ended up in court. Now he can see her three times a month for two nights but frequently cancels.
I have mentally got to the point where nothing he does surprises me. He has split from his new partner and got back together a number of times this year but it was still no surprise to discover that they had got married during the summer holidays. They told none of the children, just put it on Facebook then showed them the photos and the comments / likes and expected them all to be thrilled.
Anyway, my daughter came home from a couple of nights with him very tearful. I eventually got to the bottom of it that he had told her not to tell me they were married as I would be cross apparently. He has told her to keep secrets before. Obviously when I found out I was furious – not because he’s married but because yet again he’s telling her to keep secrets. I confronted him about this and he said he didn’t tell her to keep secrets but she’s lying to protect me. So either way, according to him, she’s in the wrong, she’s keeping secrets or lying but either way he hasn’t had the balls to tell me he’s married himself but has told her the information and expected her to know what to do with it. No wonder she’s muddled, poor kid.
Anyway the question is, how do I support a child who’s other parent is and always has been manipulative? It terrifies me that she’ll be sucked into believing she’s worthless and useless and potentially develop the same traits. How do I teach her that such behaviour is not appropriate? People keep telling me that she’ll work it out herself eventually but I struggle to believe that as her father clearly didn’t.
thanks30 August 2019 at 3:27 am #29770
My ex is similar and plays stupid games. He still doesn’t get that whatever he does is of absolutely no interest to me any more.
To cancel out the games, I tell my son that he shouldn’t keep secrets about anything he doesn’t want to. That he can tell me anything and I’ll just deal with it because that’s “my job” and I’m unshockable. I tell him all the time that of the three billion people on this planet, I love him the most. And I don’t react to anything about my ex, in front of my son, beyond “gosh, that’s exciting”.
I have never bad mouthed his dad in front of him but recently son said, out of nowhere, “dad’s pretty hopeless really isn’t he” so eventually, yes, they do work it out for themselves. Kids aren’t blind, they know who is there when they are poorly or upset or having a homework crisis.
I think being calm, consistent, and non-judgemental (no matter how tempting) works. Don’t rise. Your daughter knows she has a calm safe home with you where she is loved & valued.
It’s just hard sometimes.30 August 2019 at 6:39 am #29777
Absolutely agree with everything Kathy said, my ex is the same. Just be very approachable so whatever secrets she has, she knows you are her ‘go to’. She’ll trust and value your opinion as she gets older. Your ex is doing a great job of demonstrating unacceptable behaviour and the fact she came and discussed this with you, as it made her feel uncomfortable, shows she’s already learning and forming her own opinion of him.
We aren’t responsible for the way ex partners work, but we are responsible for the way we conduct ourselves and it stabilises the balance when you’re consistent.31 August 2019 at 1:14 pm #29853
Thankyou Kathymumofone and Greenfingers. It really helps just to know that i’m not the only one dealing with this sort of game playing toxic behaviour. It’s just so unnecessary.
My daughter has a sensible head in her shoulders, so hopefully she will recognise his behaviour for what it is. It’s just exhausting being positive / neutral all the time when he does something ridiculous.