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Divorce/Separation Post Reply     Print Topic    
User Topic: How children navigate with a disordered parent
caregiver9000
♀ Member
Member # 28622
Default  Posted: 4:18 PM, October 1st (Tuesday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

This is a follow up to my post about soccer last night. I got a window into the thought process of my children today that I wanted to share.

Stretch emailed me today to see if DS12 was going to come to DS9's practice tonight. DS12 often helps "coach" the younger team. As you can imagine, DS12 was not too keen on the idea of spending time with his dad just yet and announced his intention to "skip" his brother's practice.

I emailed back and said "no" and added that DS9 would likely not be there either depending on his pain levels and swelling in his arm.

Stretch "understood" about DS9, but asked that I tell DS12 he "needed him" if he would come. (This is a familiar dynamic. Stretch actively seeks attention and approval from DS12 who offers less supply and shuns DS9 who begs for attention and a result his supply is less desirable.)

I tell DS about the email exchange. He interrupts with "I don't want to!" a half dozen times to which I respond that he doesn't "have to," it isn't his responsibility, his team or his obligation, that I am simply sharing information.

"But Dad will be mad."

Me: I doubt it. And anyway, that isn't a very good reason to do something. And if he is, it won't kill you. I am pretty sure he's been mad at me plenty of times and I am still here.

Which leads to DS9 chiming in with "Yeah, but you don't have to spend every other weekend with him."

Which is a startling truth. The choices the children make to keep the disordered parent happy are self preserving choices. The trick becomes to provide them with a balance of courage, boundaries, and "outs" so that they can survive.

DS12 suffers through waffling between going, not going, going for a little while, not going and the begging request for me to say I won't go out there for a practice DS9 isn't even participating in to "make it your fault, mom."

Sure thing, son. But I don't have to say anything. He'll figure out you aren't coming when we don't show up. Ah, learn the way of crickets, young one.


Me: 43, independent, happy, despite co-parenting with a lower muppet
FT "Stretch" (and Skew!) ;)
DS 12 DS 9
S 5/2010
D 12/2012

Posts: 5301 | Registered: May 2010 | From: a better place
SBB
♀ Member
Member # 35229
Default  Posted: 5:04 PM, October 1st (Tuesday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

"Yeah, but you don't have to spend every other weekend with him."

Ugh. I feel winded.

I know very well about self-preserving choices - I carried them into adulthood and into a toxic M. As a child I was stuck in a situation I *could not* get out of. As an adult I made choices that had me stuck in a situation I *would not* get out of.

A wise and insightful 9 year old you have there.

It is the awful truth. My 5 year old has already learned that telling the truth will make her dad mad. We've talked a lot about it being OK for him to be mad - doesn't change the fact that telling the truth is never a bad thing. It is the truth he is mad at, and its silly to be mad at the truth, isn't it.

I hope their IC can help you guide them through this. Things like learning to not be responsible for anothers' feelings. Some people choose to be mad no matter what you do. Letting others carry their own damn water.

I had two messed up parents - messed up in completely different ways (abuser/abused) but still both messed up.

I did not have a soft place to land. No voice of reason. One was angry all the time and the other was crying or cleaning, or both.

You are your boys touchstone, that soft place to land, those open arms, someone who doesn't get mad about their feelings. I envy your boys that.


Sending all of the love and strength I can muster to Phoenix1 and her family.
"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal."

Posts: 4557 | Registered: Apr 2012 | From: Australia
caregiver9000
♀ Member
Member # 28622
Default  Posted: 7:27 PM, October 1st (Tuesday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

(((SBB)))

You are so strong, and wise and good. You may not have had a soft place to land, but you landed on your feet, my friend. You are a welcome beacon here and a shining light.

DS12 last minute decided to go. Surviving is a difficult path.


Me: 43, independent, happy, despite co-parenting with a lower muppet
FT "Stretch" (and Skew!) ;)
DS 12 DS 9
S 5/2010
D 12/2012

Posts: 5301 | Registered: May 2010 | From: a better place
Sad in AZ
♀ Member
Member # 24239
Default  Posted: 9:02 PM, October 1st (Tuesday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

This is the part that I don't understand:

I tell DS about the email exchange. He interrupts with "I don't want to!" a half dozen times

Why didn't you stop the message at the first "I don't want to!"?


I promise to surround myself with amazing souls and love them fiercely.

Posts: 19179 | Registered: Jun 2009 | From: Upstate NY
caregiver9000
♀ Member
Member # 28622
Default  Posted: 9:14 PM, October 1st (Tuesday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Sad, sorry, I didn't write it well. The entire email exchange Him, Me, Him happened while DS was at school. I told the "story" of the exchange while DS interjected "I don't want to" at every pause and breath I took.

When I finally finished explaining that I had said no and that dad had asked for him to reconsider and I was simply passing along that "request" we got to the decision making place.

Stretch has no idea what the decision making process looked like or that it was even an issue.

Sorry for being unclear.


Me: 43, independent, happy, despite co-parenting with a lower muppet
FT "Stretch" (and Skew!) ;)
DS 12 DS 9
S 5/2010
D 12/2012

Posts: 5301 | Registered: May 2010 | From: a better place
ChoosingHope
♀ Member
Member # 33606
Default  Posted: 9:15 PM, October 1st (Tuesday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Things like learning to not be responsible for anothers' feelings. Some people choose to be mad no matter what you do. Letting others carry their own damn water.

Amen.


Posts: 1433 | Registered: Oct 2011
Sad in AZ
♀ Member
Member # 24239
Default  Posted: 9:34 PM, October 1st (Tuesday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I think I understood cg; what I'm asking is why not stop the first time he said NO. The poor kid knew where you were going with this, and he made his decision. I think your son deserves to have his voice in this. He's being manipulated; don't be that messenger.


I promise to surround myself with amazing souls and love them fiercely.

Posts: 19179 | Registered: Jun 2009 | From: Upstate NY
caregiver9000
♀ Member
Member # 28622
Default  Posted: 9:41 PM, October 1st (Tuesday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

ok, I see what you are saying.

DS said No this morning when we were planning the day. Me passing along the message allowed him to be manipulated after he had made a decision.

I see what you are saying.

I fall into the conditioned response of "not denying him access or contact" especially now that he CAN't directly contact them as he has no phone.

But you are exactly right. I am not his tool or instrument of manipulation. Or I SHOULDN'T be, anyway.

Gotcha.

And it was not "need" as stated. It was need as in, Stretch needed to think his relationship with DS was "fine" and that DS was not still giving him the cold shoulder.


Me: 43, independent, happy, despite co-parenting with a lower muppet
FT "Stretch" (and Skew!) ;)
DS 12 DS 9
S 5/2010
D 12/2012

Posts: 5301 | Registered: May 2010 | From: a better place
Sad in AZ
♀ Member
Member # 24239
Default  Posted: 10:24 PM, October 1st (Tuesday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

*sigh* It's so hard to be the one who is conditioned to 'play nice' when the other party has no scruples. You want to teach your kids to do the right thing, but I think it's more important to teach them to protect themselves from 'takers' like your X.

You're a good mom, cg.


I promise to surround myself with amazing souls and love them fiercely.

Posts: 19179 | Registered: Jun 2009 | From: Upstate NY
Topic Posts: 9

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