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#1998133 12/26/07 05:48 PM
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Hi all,

Well, for those who don't know my story, in a nutshell I have been divorced for four and a half years now, and my kids are 14, almost 12 and 10. My X married his OW and they now live 3 hours away. I have primary custody, and he has the kids every second weekend and one week at Christmas, and has them every second Christmas.

Visitation has never really been smooth, and the kids have had their own roller coasters to ride in their lives. There have been times when they have individually gone through not wanting to visit their Dad, and it got to the point of counselling with the older two. I had found a fantastic paediatrician to help them through things. The X has never understood why they would not want to visit him, even though it has been repeatedly discussed. He even sat through an appointment with the Paediatrician with me who made it clear that when kids do this, it is normal, natural and expected. HE wanted to hear the doc say that the kids MUST visit because it was the best thing, but he was disappointed.

As the kids are getting older they are more and more unwilling to go to his place, for a number of reasons, some of which involve the stepmother, who treats them rather poorly. My S doesn't even talk to her, and the older D intensely dislikes her. At present the youngest seems okay with everything. This has been going on for a couple of years now. Numerous discussions with the X have changed nothing.

I am tired of trying to be the peace-keeper and think of the 'right things to say'. You know, like "Well he is your Dad kids and he loves having you there, and maybe the best thing is to get through the time as best you can". Sounds lame, huh? I know it invalidates their feelings about it all, and I know THEY know that too, but what can I do about it? If I support them too much I think it is creating 'sides', which is hard to avoid at this point.

Every second weekend it is the same. "I don't wanna go" "Well this is Dad's weekend, so you are going." It is hard to do that, because the consistency is there - this is not a flash in the pan, fickle thing for them, they genuinely do NOT want to visit anymore. So I am tired of fighting it. I am at the point of supporting their decision not to go on weekends anymore.

In my country there is no real 'age' when the kids are allowed to decide for themselves. If I no longer support visitation, and he took me to court, the decision would be based on the individual children and their responses to things. I am pretty sure he wouldn't take me to court, but he will probably threaten me. As I think my kids have some valid reasons for not going, I think he would lose anyway.

I guess my question is for those who have their kids stop going to visitation, at what point did you support the kids in a decision to stop going? I DO support the odd missed weekend, particularly if it means they will miss a party in their friendship group (and they do anyway - it's too far away for X to take them). How did you handle the X in this regard? I am really at a loss with this man, because his tactics are always the same:

1) Bully
2) Beg
3) Manipulation

With the kids manipulation usually involves tears, with me, threats of court. Usually he wins with the kids, not with me anymore.

Pleas, any advice would be great!

Love and light,

Nina


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i have no suggestions. My x has only been a few minutes away for the entire 12 years he's been gone. I've never had real problems getting the children to go but their stepmother is rather tolerable even if she doesn't like children.

(You know, if I didn't like children, I wouldn't marry a man who had young children. That sounds like a no-brainer to me.)

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I can tell you from my POV as the non-custodial parent that I insisted on my time with my DD. Her mother tried to instill in my DD early on that she didn't have to "go by Dad" if she didn't want to. To heck with the final stipulation. She thought she could weave any schedule she wanted.

Several years later my DD and I are on the same sheet of music. There is no discussion of whether she HAS to "go by Dad". She wants to. As a matter of fact, she can't wait to get the heck away from her mom but, that's another story.

She does not miss any social gathering of friends, sleepovers, Bday parties, school dances. We (parents) live close to each other which helps a lot too.

I'm sure it's hard with their father living so far away. My gut tells me that he is not making life very comfortable for them there. Perhaps they have become a burden to his new way of life. Still, I would not be so quick to alter their time with him unless you start seeing some serious behavioral problems.

They might not want to go simply because it's not as much FUN there.


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So I am tired of fighting it. I am at the point of supporting their decision not to go on weekends anymore.

Is it possible that the kids are manipulating you?


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Thanks for the replies cinders and ba. Yes it always sticks in my mind that maybe my daughter, in particular, is trying to manipulate me, but then she tells me a couple of things that went on, which make her and the others unhappy, confirmed by her older brother. She is a homebody however, and even on school camps or family holidays with me right there she gets homesick.

I guess the main issue the kids seem to have with their Dad and his X is inconsistency. The kids are aware that things change, sure, but on their stays there they can face so many disappointments and confusions, making their father and his wife difficult to trust.

Issues flare up from time to time, making them feel less than safe. Back in the day when the new wife would TRY to brush their hair (and hair is an issue from way back with them) she threw the brush across the room in a fit of anger one time. It scared all my kids. She has never attempted to help the girls with their hair again. Then at different times she tries to hug and kiss my D12 because she knows that D12 does not like it. His wife changes from annoyance to affection all the time. This inconsistent behaviour is very confusing for the kids. My X is also guilty of sudden violent behaviours although to my knowledge has never actually hurt the kids.

Put downs are common there. Recently the new wife told my D that her dad's family don't like her because she 'isn't social enough'. WTF? A comment like that can leave a lot of damage on a kid, even if it is not true. Another time they (both the X and his wife) told my D's that they would be much prettier if they wore dresses and started to 'look' like girls - they never wear dresses. My X has shown concern to both D's that they are putting on weight (both are beanpoles). Stuff like that gives them the message that they aren't good enough just the way they are and erodes their self esteem.

There will be plans made and broken because the wife suddenly doesn't want to go. They get disappointed. Without warning their Dad changes the rules, or the plan, or doesn't follow through with what he says they will be doing. They in short have never learned to trust him again to do what he says he will. Big issue for them.

When my kids tells their Dad what his wife has said or done to upset them, he never believes them. If I try talking about it, he tells me to keep out of it, I wasn't there (true, but my kids aren't being heard). Anyway for the most part I do keep out of it now. Except when there has been what I consider extreme things happen (the brush throwing incident and the comment above were two things I tried to discuss).

My X makes an effort to keep them occupied sometimes, other times, he has them work in his garden the whole weekend. They resent that particular chore, when as they say, they only get to see him once every two weeks and they have to work there. My X says he does this to teach them responsibility, but I don't support them being responsible for HIS garden. They see it as work. I am aware he is trying to do the Dad thing and teach them stuff along the way, but they are there to see him, not his weeds.

Yes they are bored there. They don't have their own 'space' in his home, never have. No toys, games, and just plain old space. They bring their stuff to and fro, because he doesn't like it hanging around his nice DINK home. They sleep in the spare rooms, full of the X's and her junk. Nowhere to unpack their clothes because the drawers are already full. All those years ago I talked to the X about the importance of trying to accomodate them so that they would feel that his home was their home. He can't see the point because they are only there for two days a fortnight.

The X and his wife argue a lot around the kids; about what I don't know. She has treated him pretty poorly in front of the kids and they don't like seeing that. She will, at those times go into her room and not come out all weekend. This gives them the impression that she doesn't want them around. As for my X, I think he 'thinks' he wants them around, but for every stay they have had, he brings them home early, and this Christmas stay is no different. They were due home this Sunday. First he tells them that, no, they can't go home early, and that is the end of it. Then overnight, it changed and he is bringing them home Friday. What changed? Is he being nice and accomodating to the kids after all, or did he get tired of them being around? Probably a bit of both.

Anyway, I am still looking for an answer to my original question, as I know what's coming this year. My oldest two are not going to want to go to Dad's. Given the small sample of incidents I have reported above, I am not keen on 'making' them go. So when is it okay to support them in that?


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So when is it okay to support them in that?

Well, I guess this was my answer.
"Still, I would not be so quick to alter their time with him unless you start seeing some serious behavioral problems."

I suppose one could argue that there is some form of abuse over there or another. A brush got tossed. Maybe emotional with regards to the way they are dressed or whether someone likes them or not. I guess it depends on your sensitivity factor.

As disfunctional as it may seem 'over there' it is still their dad. They may never appreciate the time they get to spend with him but I can almost promise you that they would one day resent not having time to spend with him.


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I agree, and it is why I keep making them go. He IS their Dad, and I truly wish they enjoyed their time more with him.

As for behavioural problems; the times the kids have not visited is when I noticed those. My D12 and my S14 have earlier threatened suicide, which is why I got them to to doctor. My D12 is again threatening suicide. I think she is very depressed. As for my S he has some major issues with his Dad, but when I suggested he might need some counselling his reply was "Go ahead and take me, but I wll tell them everything is fine."

So what is it a serious behavioural problem? How serious does it have to be? All my kids have kept up their schoolwork and the eldest two are doing extremely well there. So school is okay. None are in trouble. None are hard for me to handle. But although all are well adjusted on the surface, there is a lot of pain and anger lingering, mostly from the older two. They are inwardly miserable. I get to hear about it because they will talk to me. No-one else can see their pain. They don't show it. Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it isn't there, and that it's not important to deal with it.

As a mother I feel horrible sending them into a situation when they clearly don't want to be there. Yes, I think that they might just want to stay home sometimes but it is EVERY time. Clearly something is not right.

I see kids from disfunctional families all the time in my job. And I just don't want them to have to 'suck it up' just because he is their Dad. To me, putting a child into a situation 'just' because one of the adults happens to be their parent is not enough of a reason to do it. I want good role models around my kids.

I tell you what I hear from these kids is that they can't wait until they never have to go again. You are telling me, too bad, he is their Dad. Emotional/verbal abuse is still abuse. I would not put up with it, and just becasue they are kids they have to?


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That's a tough one. First I would say be glad they're talking to you. I would expand on that, as much as you can spare your time and energy for the next few years, to become or remain their confidante. You are their safety line, and you need to be able to stay that way and be the one place they're safe to say whatever they want to say without fear of judgment. So, not only stay on that course, but expand on it. In my experience, the one thing older kids need more than anything is to be able to express themselves. To talk things out, so as to figure out exactly what they're feeling.

As for the problems they're experiencing, my first advice would be to become their pragmatic, logical source of strength. Let them talk to you as peers. You may think they're too young, but they don't. They need someone with wisdom and experience to help them figure out exactly what it is they're feeling. You may have to bring it up. But create plenty of opportunities for them to talk to you. I take my D17 on walks around our lakes at least once a week, if not more. It's a great way to be able to have plenty of time to talk about and work out problems. Another way is to have a project you're working on together, side by side, where you can focus on the project but also be free to say what you're feeling (both kids and adults) in a non-threatening way; things like dusting a bookcase, or going through photos.

Third, I really believe in logic. Your kids are old enough to see the 'real' picture of their situation; you can adjust it for each one, but make sure they are comfortable knowing what they need to know about their relationship with their father and his wife. They're wiser than you might want to believe, especially considering they're living a non-standard life. As children, you adults are pretty much the center of their world; they watch you closely because what you do (as you know) extremely impacts what they do and don't get to do; in other words, they spend a lot of time thinking about you guys. So go ahead and acknowledge that, and spend a lot of time as well, discussing it all with them.

Ask them what they would like in a perfect world. Ask them what they think they got instead. Ask them how they can envision fixing it to get them to a place where they're not so unhappy. Don't pretend there isn't a problem. And let them be part of the solution. I promise they're feeling extremely incapable of defining their future right now, so you taking the effort to let them come up with solutions will give them an incredible sense of accomplishment and hope. Even if they have to continue to visit them, they can do it with a new set of skills and practiced mindset to deal with it.

I don't really like letting them not go, as that just teaches them to avoid unpleasantness and doesn't provide great skills to make it through life. I rather prefer working with them, as young adults, to show them how to deal with unpleasantness and come out stronger.

If you can't come up with anything on your own, start reading. There are tons of books on the subject. Work with their counselors. Talk to your preacher. Work with your family (both sides) to let them know what's going on - even the suicide attempt part. The kids' welfare is paramount, and if your X sees you taking proactive steps to politely and nonjudgmentally counteract the effects of visiting him, he may get the hint and reassess what he's doing.

You could help your kids practice conversations with their dad. "Dad, I would really like one drawer in that dresser in the back room that I could call my own. Can you and I go through that bottom drawer and see if we can free up that space so I can have a place of my own? It would make me feel so much more comfortable and happy to be here." Or "Dad, is it ok with you if I bring some of my favorite movies next time I come? I have some really good ones I'd like to watch with you. I've really started liking Will Ferrell, and I have a couple of his movies." Or "Dad, it really makes me embarrassed when I bring clothes to wear to the play you said we were going to, and then you change plans and say we're going to the beach and all I have is jeans or a dress. Would you mind terribly if we could stick to whatever I've got the clothes for this time?"

Stuff like that. I've found that if you help kids 'act out' situations, it makes them feel like they've got more power and more control. It would go a long way toward not detesting the visits.

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You are telling me, too bad, he is their Dad. Emotional/verbal abuse is still abuse. I would not put up with it, and just becasue they are kids they have to?

I didn't post this. If you are going to twist my words to your preference at least do me the courtesy of quoting me.


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I tell you what I hear from these kids is that they can't wait until they never have to go again.

There are a lot of things kids "can't wait for". It's not up to their dad to entertain them when they are with him. Perhaps you could help them come up with some ideas on games to bring or things to do when they are there. They might have to actually entertain themselves. Kids aren't very good at that nowadays.

When my DD's mother takes away her cell phone, cable and internet privileges, she is not a happy camper. Completely lost (at first) as to what to do with herself. She suddenly found herself lost in reading a good book or taking pictures with her camera or even going for a walk. Mind you, she is an only child so she does not have a brother or sister to play with. She manages.

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My D12 and my S14 have earlier threatened suicide, which is why I got them to to doctor. My D12 is again threatening suicide. I think she is very depressed. As for my S he has some major issues with his Dad, but when I suggested he might need some counselling his reply was "Go ahead and take me, but I wll tell them everything is fine."

I would say that this is serious. They could be jerking your chain but I would take it seriously and get them to professional counseling. Not a pediatrician. Depression can be diagnosed as well as jerking moms chain syndrome.

I sincerely doubt that a weekend at dads is cause for suicide. At least I hope not.


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I apologise to ba109. I am probably so touchy because I am currently in extreme back pain. I shouldn't take it out on the boards. Probably shouldn't be sitting at the computer either...Forgive me.

Catperson, thanks for the advice and ideas. I have tried some of those things already, but not quite as you suggested. I will give it another try.


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You could help your kids practice conversations with their dad. "Dad, I would really like one drawer in that dresser in the back room that I could call my own. Can you and I go through that bottom drawer and see if we can free up that space so I can have a place of my own? It would make me feel so much more comfortable and happy to be here." Or "Dad, is it ok with you if I bring some of my favorite movies next time I come? I have some really good ones I'd like to watch with you. I've really started liking Will Ferrell, and I have a couple of his movies." Or "Dad, it really makes me embarrassed when I bring clothes to wear to the play you said we were going to, and then you change plans and say we're going to the beach and all I have is jeans or a dress. Would you mind terribly if we could stick to whatever I've got the clothes for this time?"

Stuff like that. I've found that if you help kids 'act out' situations, it makes them feel like they've got more power and more control. It would go a long way toward not detesting the visits.

Cat, these are great ideas. I'm chiming in because I find that my children (a little younger) appear afraid to address dad in this manner. They tell me things they want and expect me to intervene. (An example is that DD 8 wanted to play soccer and X refused to acknowledge my request). I told DD to talk to dad directly. I think they are afraid of him. I feel the kids think dad doesn't do anything for them, just wants them around on his time.

It sounds like this may be the case here. Some parents cultivate a relationship with their kids and support their actitivies. Other parent's don't. I think kids want to be where they feel supported and loved, and not merely furniture or menial labor.

Sometimes I think kids may see more clearly this behavior than those who were in the marriage could.


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I think the most important thing here, given the kids' past problems, is that they be taught to have some control over their lives. Role-playing is very important for that, because they don't have the experience/wisdom/insight we do to know what they're up against or what will happen. It's like they're looking at the other side of a veiled wall; they kind of know what to expect, but not really, because they depend on adults to shield them.

That's why I also advocate using logic and frank talk about what they're up against. I don't have a problem telling even a 9 or 10 year old, 'Your dad has his own life he's living now, and while he loves you, that new life will be his main focus. So it will be your lot in life to mold yourself a little to become part of that new life while you're with him. I wish it were better for you, but helping you in this way is the best I can do to help you deal with a stepmother who may not be ideal and situations that aren't geared around supporting you. But you're a strong kid, and I'm proud of you for being able to deal with these situations and get smarter and stronger. So why don't we figure out how to make the best of the situation? That way, when you go for your time with Dad, it won't be such a painful experience.'

Also, may I ask what you're doing about the suicide, etc.? I assume they are still in therapy, that you have met with this therapist, and are getting regular updates from said therapist on what you need to be doing at home to strengthen the work he/she is doing? If not, I strongly urge you to. Kids have a HUGE propensity to hide what they're feeling, if they think it will distress their mother. They may pretend they're all 'fixed' now, because they probably saw how upset you got after the troubles. But I PROMISE you, any kid who actually takes the step to even contemplate suicide has major, major issues that won't go away with even 6 months of therapy. I hope you are making this your number one priority.

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Cat, these are great ideas. I'm chiming in because I find that my children (a little younger) appear afraid to address dad in this manner. They tell me things they want and expect me to intervene. (An example is that DD 8 wanted to play soccer and X refused to acknowledge my request). I told DD to talk to dad directly. I think they are afraid of him. I feel the kids think dad doesn't do anything for them, just wants them around on his time.

It sounds like this may be the case here. Some parents cultivate a relationship with their kids and support their actitivies. Other parent's don't. I think kids want to be where they feel supported and loved, and not merely furniture or menial labor.

Sometimes I think kids may see more clearly this behavior than those who were in the marriage could.

Hi Newly...I remember you from when I was here before. and yes, what you are saying there is exactly the case. They feel that when they talk to their Dad, they aren't listened to.

Cat, your last paragraph worries me because I think you are right about the kids hiding things. My D may be carrying those thoughts around all the time but I only get to hear about them when it is crisis time for her (extended stays trigger her). I think I need to get her and my S checked out again, although as I mentioned my S has told me he will pretend everything is fine. His reasoning for this is that he does not want to dscuss his personal feelings with a 'stranger', (typical teenager) and that he also sees no change in his father's mindset as a result of discussions about this. He has basically given up thinking that it will change (and I don't blame him - when it is not 2 in the morning I will describe the counselling and its aftermath my X attended with me that I mentioned above).

Thanks so much for the replies.

Nina


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Nina, you'll find that I'm a huge advocate of counseling. I think everyone can benefit from a good IC with whom they share and learn healthy tips for working out issues. May I suggest that you change the way you personally apprach counseling, find a different way of discussing going to counseling.

This may be too late with your kids, but I have found that there are certain issues that my D17 simply doesn't have any say about. She knows by now that when I say 'you WILL' do this or that, that I am serious, and she WILL end up doing it because I'm the mother and she's the child, even if I have to tie her up and carry her; and she knows I'm serious.

I advise just telling them that they WILL be going to counseling whether they want to, or not. Get them a copy of Good Will Hunting, so they can see an example of the benefits of it, if that helps. But above all, put your foot down. Be the parent, and get them professional help. If it takes them 5 visits before they give in and start accepting the C's help, well that's 5 visits spent toward earning the trust that could keep them from trying to kill themselves. And there is nothing more important in the world than that.

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Nina,
My X fired my DD's last counselor and said he'd find her new one. It's been 5 months and he's not bothered to find one, so I have an appt. next week.
What I know my DD has in the interim is the school counselor, with appts. every two weeks. Now, these should probably focus on school issues, I'm certain the visits go way beyond that. The school knows the issues with my kids, and I'm sure they are tired of it. I know they are there to help. So, if your kids don't see a school counselor, talk to the counselor yourself and get your kids in with them.

My DD used to say she wanted to kill herself. Granted, she was much younger, but the outside counselor said she didn't know the words to voice her emotions or hurt, so she'd say something to get attention. It's not that she'd really hurt herself, she just wanted to be heard. Thankfully, she's grown out of much of that, but I did religiously take her to a counselor every two weeks.
I try to tell her that the counselor is a safe place for her to talk about issues that she can't discuss elsewhere. The counselor also focused on helping her find the right words and the right ways to talk to her parents and others. We don't all have the tools we need, and sometimes we all need help.

I hope you find that help for your children. My children are blessings from God, and I wish I could have them the world, and all they want is an intact family.

PS, my X never did bother to ever meet the counselor - except the day he marched into her office while she was with a client to fire her. She did say that the kids would learn how they wanted to be treated, and how they didn't want to be treated from their visits with their father. I got the impression that meant that as they got older, they wouldn't want the visitation with him, as they never seemed to be primary in his life.
My X is only 30 minutes away, and can't bother to attend any of the kids events or any activities of theirs. And they feel it - bad.

Please keep us updated on the situation. Many of us will live through similar things.


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Hi Jacky!! (waving furiously) ...it's me Faithful! I miss you and I'm so glad to hear from you again, even though it's for a weird question like this.

May I make a suggestion? It is a huge, 100% "about face" from what you've been doing with the kiddies and their visitation to their Dad's. In a nutshell, I suggest that you stop trying work with the kids to change their dad, his wistress, and life at his house, and instead work with the kids to change THEM.

Now I realize that the kids are doing nothing wrong here, so I don't mean that they have to "do" anything differently. But rather than expecting their dad to listen to them, to be stable and consistent, and to be a caring father, I suggest that you speak with the kids individually and with the counselor and help them figure out how they are going to accept the fact that their dad is inconsistent, selfish, and won't listen. It has been YEARS now, Jacky, and reality is that he is NOT going to change--so work with them to figure out how they are going to deal with that reality. He is their dad but he's 100% self-centered...so stop trying to get him to be something he's not.

I have to tell ya that I suggest this from experience. My kids now are 21 and 18, and they each had to deal with their dad in their way. But here we are, like five or six years later, and my exH is still self-centered, cheating on his current "lady friend" on the internet, pursuing money like it's a god, and not involved with the kids on a daily basis. He is good for one or two visits a year and sometimes for money or a trip. And my kids had to come to that conclusion on their own and figure out how to accept that this is who he is! Here's where it was tough though: as an adult, I could see that but as kids, my kids could not...or at least they didn't want to. They had grown up with their dad always gone, or at work, or "out"--and they just assumed that OF COURSE their dad loved them and kept his promises. They were kids and it never occurred to them otherwise.

When he would let them down, rather than try to "fix" it for him and scramble around--I taught the kids how to appropriately express their anger about being let down. When he didn't listen to them, rather than try to get him to be a listener--I taught the kids how to verbalize the request to "stop right now dad and listen to me" and what to do if he still didn't listen. When he disappointed them and broke a promise, rather than try to come through on the promise or make him see that he "needed to be more consistent"--I taught the kids how to experience the disappointment and tell HIM that he had disappointed them. Thus, I was not responsible for his choices to let them down, not listen, or break a promise--HE got to hear directly from his kids exactly what HE was doing to them, and the kids got to learn how to accept reality and how to verbalize their anger or disappointment.

Just for fun, here's how my daughter finally "got it." Of the two kids, she and her dad got along together the best because she was his princess and he didn't hurt her much. Well one day she was yammering on to him about when this or that happened at school, and she said, "Remember that?" and he said, "Uh...well not really." Then more yammering about this or that friend from baseball, and she said, "Remember that dad?" and once again he said, "Well, I wasn't actually there..." THEN IT HIT HER. All along she would say something like that to me and I'd say, "Oh yeah! That's the kid with the freckles who had 10 brothers and sisters, right?" and she'd know I remembered and was there. She came back that weekend and said, "You know what dawned on me this weekend mom? Dad was not there for most of my life, was he? You were there for everything and he was somewhere else. Where would he be that was more important than my life?"

Sooooo...I share all this with you because they will have to figure some of this out on their own. You can't tell them even if it is true (cuz they'll just defend your ex) and he ain't gonna be changin'!! So help them to accept reality and learn how to deal with it.

Love ya! It's been too long!! ((Jacky in Oz))


~~FaithfulWife/CJ

P.S. Chick, I didn't even tell you! I'm remarried now and we have a total of SEVEN KIDS between us! <img src="/ubbt/images/graemlins/eek.gif" alt="" /> Can you say, "I love big families?" We are both custodial with walk-away exes....so YAY!! <img src="/ubbt/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbt/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />

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Hi CJ!

First of all congratulations on the 2nd marriage! Sounds like it's busy at your place now!

Notice I managed to post using my old name...it is giving me a bit of trouble though, all the replies are on a list instead of straight out posts and I don't know how to fix it. Also I couldn't even see the toipcs until I really fiddled about with my preferences.

Thanks for that advice. I have been trying to help the kids with the X's inconsistent approach all along, but what I haven't been doing is asking them what they think they can do about it internally; how they can deal with that disappointment. I tried this approach with my son a couple of nights ago. I don't know that I helped him any, except to listen to him, which is sometimes all we need.

You're right about not changing the X in regard to the kids...I gave up long ago, and actually it was on the advice of the kids' doctor. He was the one who said if the kids have an issue with Dad, I needed to totally keep out of the loop and let them try to solve it with him themselves. Unfortunately he didn't give me the next step: what to do when he won't listen to them either! Mind you, he probably didn't think there would be a problem with that because the X was putting on his concerned, caring, empathetic face. He listened at that conference, but the only thing he heard is that the kids reactions are normal. He went right back to being unreasonable with them the very next week.

So that's reality. I get it and have for a long time, and maybe I assume the kids should have gotten it by now. But they are kids after all. I guess I'll just be there for them, and try the counselling thing again.

Thanks again,

Love and light

Jacky


* Divorced January 6, 2003.
*X married OW on July 4 2003.
* I live in Melbourne, Australia

The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. - Elie Wiesel....this is where I am now.
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Quote
You're right about not changing the X in regard to the kids...I gave up long ago, and actually it was on the advice of the kids' doctor. He was the one who said if the kids have an issue with Dad, I needed to totally keep out of the loop and let them try to solve it with him themselves. Unfortunately he didn't give me the next step: what to do when he won't listen to them either! Mind you, he probably didn't think there would be a problem with that because the X was putting on his concerned, caring, empathetic face. He listened at that conference, but the only thing he heard is that the kids reactions are normal. He went right back to being unreasonable with them the very next week.
Jacky, have you read any books on kids in divorces? They have a lot of insight into what the kids are really thinking, and what kind of support they need from you. Good stuff. Basically, your kids are old enough to look at the situation as the hand they are dealt. Not a perfect world, but what they got. But with that comes a lot of resentment. I see it every day with D17's friends, and it takes a real toll on them.

The thing is, though, most kids who live with their mothers learn to 'protect' her from their stuff. They learn to hold it in and most often, turn it on themselves. They start placing more and more blame on their own shoulders for their parents breaking up. If I'd only been better, if I hadn't asked for that guitar, if I'd helped more and kept them from fighting...

It's all very unhealthy in the best of situations. But add in a father like theirs, and I can promise you, your kids are going through internal h3ll, no matter what they show you.

The best thing they can get from you is blunt honesty. 'I know he stood you up and went on that date last night. I can only imagine how unloved and scared that must make you feel. Can you elaborate what you were thinking last night when he called and told you? I can help you come up with a response for the next time, so you don't end up feeling responsible. Because, above all, you were NOT responsible for your dad choosing other priorities.'

Stuff like that. Remember that parents and family are the majority of a kid's world. He thinks about you, your ex, his siblings, grandparents, etc., a LOT more than you think he does. Especially in a divorced family. It's not til they're 14 or 15 that they start crowding out thoughts of you with thoughts of friends and school. So for now, they're really putting in a lot of time thinking about how the family broke up, their role in it, etc. So I would suggest making a ramped-up effort to talk to them. Start taking each one on separate walks with you, one on one. I do that with D17, and it is a huge relief for her, to have this special time where it's just about her and me and she can unload whatever she's thinking.

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I find this thread fascinating as my kids recently started visitation; my 15yo especially hates it! (H is living adulterously with Ho and her child, amongst other problems)

I am suprised Ba took Nina's words as a personal insult. I totally relate to what Nina said; how uncomfortable it feels to force your kids into a dysfunctional home just because it is their father's! I tried to protect my kids from such environments/influences, and now I am unable to protect them--it sucks!!!

Ba, it sounds like your daughter is lucky to have you. Please consider that not all kids are so blessed and some dads really ARE "icky" to be around! I know multiple other families where children of the marriage really do NOT want much relationship with fathers like these once they're grown, esp. when they can remember adultery, abandonment, being ignored, lies, etc.

Cat, those are really great sounding suggestions! Thank you.

Nina, my sympathies and best wishes!

J


Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person. -Mother Teresa
Jenny #1998152 01/06/08 11:38 PM
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Faithful, I just saw your post on this thread, and it's good too!
Thanks and congrads!
J


Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person. -Mother Teresa
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