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Divorce/Separation :
Kids missing other parent

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 FuturewasStolen (original poster member #74119) posted at 12:45 AM on Monday, September 12th, 2022

Hey everyone,

It's been a while since I've last posted. I'm still trying to get through the divorce process. For about a month and a half STBXH was acting like a normal person. I was letting my guard down and starting to believe that we may actually be able to coparent. Then things didn't go his way so he took it out by yelling at me. I'm tired of being his emotional punching bag. I should have just hung up the phone. Usually I do. But I lost it and I yelled back at him. I'm working on getting better at not engaging him. I had been doing really well at it, and that's part of what upset him. He can't stand the gray-rocking. He takes it as a direct offense if I am not telling him that he is awesome and amazing and so generous and so kind. Because in his mind he is all of those things and more. And I am the c*** who is just bitter and a gold-digger. For those of you not familiar with my story, he has very strong narcissist traits. I have only been able to see in the last few months how controlling he really was in our marriage. Since our separation he has become verbally and emotionally abusive to me. He is a bully who sees himself as a savior. He is constantly up and down. One minute he will tell me that he will always love me and always take care of me. 30 seconds later he will tell me I am incapable of taking care of myself and of making any money. He will tell me I am pathetic and weak for reconciling with my family who he had isolated me from. He will tell me that I was a horrible wife and its my fault that our relationship failed. He was so unhappy because I was such a shitty wife.

So that's what I'm dealing with from him. But at the same time, my kids see him as superman. He is the biggest, strongest, greatest man on earth. I encourage this. I want them to have a great relationship with their dad, and I'm happy if he is going to be a good dad for them. If just breaks my heart that when I drop them off on Friday afternoon they are besides themselves excited to see him, then when I pick them up on Sunday they are dragging their feet and don't even give me a hug. Plus now ever since school started, my 5 year old cries and tells me that he misses dad and wants to stay with him. MY head tells me that he doesn't mean it. I know my baby loves me. I know its because dad is gone most of the time and so my 5 year old does miss him. I know all of this. But it still hurts. All I hear all week is how great dad is and how much he misses dad. How much better dad is than me. How do you all cope with this?

Me: BW (33) Him: WH (34) Married 6 years Dday 1: 2/25/20 Affair for 1 year; Started R for real: 6/1/20 Three boys together: 5, 4, 2 Dday 2: 11/28/21 Affair for 6 months Don't know how many other girls he was "just talking to"

posts: 106   ·   registered: Mar. 30th, 2020   ·   location: Michigan
id 8754872
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ArkLaMiss ( member #14918) posted at 5:50 AM on Monday, September 12th, 2022

PLEASE stop telling them how great he is. He's not. Anyone who cheats on their children's mother is a pos. You are NOT required to tell them their dad is super duper awesome. It will backfire. Let HIM manage his relationship with the kids. If he lies to them, do not make excuses for him. Tell them the truth. Always. If he cancels visitation, tell them he canceled. Be matter of fact and honest. It's not going to help them long term for you to help him be a good father ESPECIALLY if he's so hateful towards you. Let him parent on his time 100% on his own. Don't help him or give him any tips. Seriously. You're NOT his wife appliance anymore so stop offering him suggestions or help.

Good luck!

Just HOW stupid do you think I am, exactly?

posts: 1749   ·   registered: Jun. 8th, 2007
id 8754893
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Bigger ( Attaché #8354) posted at 12:44 PM on Monday, September 12th, 2022

So he gets weekends and you get the workdays.
It’s like asking them whether they want to have fish and salad for dinner or hamburgers and banana-splits.
The moment he has to have them during week-days where they need to get up in the morning, eat cereal and get their stuff in order before leaving for school, do chores, homework and can’t watch TV past 10… his cape will start to crumble.

"If, therefore, any be unhappy, let him remember that he is unhappy by reason of himself alone." Epictetus

posts: 10946   ·   registered: Sep. 29th, 2005
id 8754909
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homewrecked2011 ( member #34678) posted at 1:35 PM on Monday, September 12th, 2022

He absolutely does not get to have them every weekend!!!! I don’t think any state in the US has this in the standards for this reason! It’s not fair to you nor them that they don’t get to share weekendswith you.

I, too, found that my kids hated coming home-it took a couple of days to decompress. I had to get mine into counseling for a while to help process everything. They just wanted to scream:"This can’t be my life"!!!!

The reason I have to jump in and comment about the every weekend with dad, is -I've seen it twice in close friends and many times on SI. When you let the boundaries slip, give a narcissist more influence (time) with your children, later on they gobble more and more time. Usually convincing then to live with them... Then, after the kids are like 18, they return then to you totally and completely screwed up and you’re left to deal with traumatized young adults, not to mention the impact in their own lives going forward.

It’s ok that you yelled at him. Get right back into the grey rocking. You can do this. Of coarse he hates it, but you can do this.

You’re doing a great job!!! Keep pushing forward.

Sometimes He calms the storm. Sometimes He lets the storm rage, but calms His child. Dday 12/19/11I went to an attorney and had him served. Shocked the hell out of him, with D papers, I'm proud to say!D final10/30/2012Me-55

posts: 5444   ·   registered: Jan. 30th, 2012
id 8754914
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 FuturewasStolen (original poster member #74119) posted at 1:38 PM on Monday, September 12th, 2022

Bigger - So the thing is, Dad won't ever have the kids during the week. He works out of town, so I get the kids Mondays- Fridays. I do get every 3rd and 5th weekend of every month so that I get some fun time too, but I will be the only one doing school/homework/bedtimes/routine/ect. I know that thats part of why my son has been more upset lately too. He hates going to school, and coming back to my house means he has to go back to school. But theres nothing I can do to change that. I keep telling myself that its not because he doesn't love me, or because he loves dad more than me. It's just harder some days than others to convince myself I guess. This morning he was crying again at school drop off and it just broke my heart.


ArkLaMiss - It's not that I'm talking their dad up to them constantly. But when they're talking about him and how great he is I'm not going to tell them they're wrong. I will not ever make them feel bad for loving their dad. It is his relationship to grow with them and I'm letting him do that, I'm not making excuses for him or bringing him up or anything. But my boys are young: 3, 4, and 6. So I'm not going to ever badmouth their dad to them and make them feel bad or like they have to choose. Plus, I want him to be a good dad to them. Boys need their dad growing up. A healthy dad. I want my boys to have that. I acknowledge that I cannot make that happen, but I also don't want to stand in the way of it, if that makes sense.

Me: BW (33) Him: WH (34) Married 6 years Dday 1: 2/25/20 Affair for 1 year; Started R for real: 6/1/20 Three boys together: 5, 4, 2 Dday 2: 11/28/21 Affair for 6 months Don't know how many other girls he was "just talking to"

posts: 106   ·   registered: Mar. 30th, 2020   ·   location: Michigan
id 8754916
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barcher144 ( member #54935) posted at 3:39 PM on Monday, September 12th, 2022

Like others on here, I have been dealing with this type of stuff for several years.

My conclusion, which others may dispute, is pretty simple: you need to focus on being a good parent. It's nothing more complicated than that (although, being a good parent is complicated). Being a parent is not be their buddy or their friend -- it's different.

You are painting your STBXH as a classic Disney Dad. He's fun and exciting but he's not doing any parenting. If this is true, then your kids will eventually learn to dislike him for that.

Anyway, back to you:

(1) it sounds like you need to focus more on being a grey rock. I would not recommend that you have phone conversations with your ex. HOWEVER, if you are going to do so and he is going to verbally abuse you, then you should think about recording these conversations (check your laws to see if they allow one-party consent or two-party consent; I just checked the internet and it appears in Michigan that you can record any conversation in which you are a participant). You should absolutely hang up the phone if he is yelling at you and disparaging you and you are not recording it.

(2) I agree with others that you should not excessively compliment Disney Dad in front of your children. At the same time, you should never disparage him. I encourage my children to behave for their mother. If they are doing something with their mother, I say things like "I hope that you have a good time." I focus most of what I say on my children. I mostly avoid the topic of their mother.

(3) You need to be calm, steady, and reliable to counter-balance the crazy that they get with their father. The roller coasters that you experience with him? Unfortunately, they will get those too. You need to set your boundaries with your kids and you need to enforce them consistently and without a lot of emotion. You need to give your kids a life of boring, normal, and calm.

(4) You need to think about the long game. He might win these early (you aren't even divorced yet!), little, crazy battles but you need to think about winning the long-term, overall war (i.e., until they are adults -- and beyond!). Part of this is what I said in #3 -- creating a safe space for your kids to be kids is what they need.

The other thing that you need to consider is that being a Disney Dad is very difficult to keep up over the long term. If he is as narcissistic as you say, then he won't keep it up. It's time-consuming, it's expensive, and honestly... it's freaking difficult. I live near a reasonable amusement park with roller coasters, a water park, etc. They have a very reasonably-priced season pass, so I got season passes for me and for my children. I rarely plan any activities with my kids for the weekends that I have them; instead, I ask "hey, what do you want to do?" My 10 year-old likes to go to the amusement park. It's sooooo exhausting and painful (vertigo, anyone?) to ride roller coasters all weekend, every weekend at the age of 45-50 years. I've done this for the last two summers and I'll probably do it for the next 2-3 summers. It sucks personally, but it's awesome parenting time. A narcissist wouldn't be able to do something like that. And when that happens, the kids will notice: Dad, why don't we go to the amusement park anymore?

So, in summary: (a) Keep grey rocking; maybe even improve your grey rocking, (b) focus on being the best parent that you can be to your children, whatever that means to you, and (c) be patient and let Disney Dad try to keep it up. He'll either quit it (because it's hard) or... in the unlikely event that he keeps doing this stuff long-term... then you need to consider that he's actually being a decent father and you should be happy about that.

edited to add:

Um..no. You get every 3rd and 5th weekend? You mean that 5th weekend which is a rarity?

No.

No court will enforce this. Divorce and visitation aren't always convenient. If that means he needs to rearrange his schedule, or find a different job,then that's his problem. Not yours. There is no way you should be accommodating this bullshit.

Tell your attorney you want every other weekend.

This. 100% this. ALSO.

[This message edited by barcher144 at 9:26 PM, Monday, September 12th]

Me: BH, age 48Her: WS, age 45 (multiple EAs and PAs)D-Day: August 30, 2016

Diagnosed with depression in December 2016, which was primarily caused by my xWW's affair and associated emotional abuse.

posts: 5307   ·   registered: Aug. 31st, 2016
id 8754934
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ChamomileTea ( Guide #53574) posted at 4:25 PM on Monday, September 12th, 2022

He hates going to school, and coming back to my house means he has to go back to school.

There's nothing you can do about your STBX's Disney Dad routine. Narcs are gonna be narcs and that means they hustle for love/approval until their self-centered nature is finally revealed for the toxic waste spill that it is. Children are not immune to becoming a source of supply, more's the pity.

But this business with school, that's something you CAN get involved in. While it's true that most children would rather be on the playground rather than the classroom, when a kid is truly miserable about going to school, sometimes there's a reason for it. My youngest REFUSED to learn to read for awhile and fought me every morning about going to school. Turned out, she needed glasses and couldn't see the letters clearly. Sometimes, it's something simple, and sometimes it's a whole lot more complex, but whatever the reason is that your little boy is fighting about school, it's something that you do have some influence on.

Maybe you can meet him for lunch a couple of days a week or get a fun teenage tutor/role model to help with homework? Your STBX can't compete with a fun teenage tutor/role model. He might behave like an overgrown child, but it's not the same. grin

The idea here is that you attack the problem that you CAN solve. There's nothing you can do about your ex, but this business of crying over school is something you don't have to just tolerate.

((hugs))

BW: 2004(online EAs), 2014 (multiple PAs)Married 38 years; in R with fWH for 7

No one can make you into a liar but you.

posts: 5957   ·   registered: Jun. 8th, 2016   ·   location: U.S.
id 8754939
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HellFire ( member #59305) posted at 6:28 PM on Monday, September 12th, 2022

Um..no. You get every 3rd and 5th weekend? You mean that 5th weekend which is a rarity?

No.

No court will enforce this. Divorce and visitation aren't always convenient. If that means he needs to rearrange his schedule, or find a different job,then that's his problem. Not yours. There is no way you should be accommodating this bullshit.

Tell your attorney you want every other weekend.

posts: 4669   ·   registered: Jun. 20th, 2017   ·   location: The Midwest
id 8754953
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VezfromTaz ( new member #80815) posted at 11:23 AM on Tuesday, September 13th, 2022

barcher144
I loved your amusing description of the hidden downside of being a Disneyland Dad (not you) ~ being trapped on a rollercoaster every weekend for 48 hours straight 🤣.School drop offs and homework dont sound so bad after all.

posts: 40   ·   registered: Sep. 1st, 2022
id 8755016
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mommabear1010 ( member #79915) posted at 9:47 PM on Tuesday, September 13th, 2022

((hugs)) I could have written your post myself.

Like you I overcompensated a bit with the "yeay dad!!" talk to my 5 year old...I think I was very nervous she wouldn't miss him and then he'd try to say I was talking negatively about him. But at the end of the day, his true colors need to be allowed to shine to our kids. It sucks, and we don't want to see our little ones sad...but eventually the mask will slip and they will see the true nature.

Also just a note little ones process stress a lot differently than adults. I've noticed my child is hyper-active and a little reluctant to leave WH house on his weekend. It sucks, it hurts...especially because of the paid they caused us. I've haven't quite figured out how to navigate this one yet, but wanted you to know you're not alone here. I've tried to really be cognizant of having moments each day that are not just the "boring day to day" tasks of a weekday with my child. We go get ice cream, make a Starbucks run for a cake pop..small things that make sure I don't get stuck in the role of being the rule-giver all the time.

Dday- 1/19/22
Trickle truth
Dday2- 2/8/22
Dday3- 3/10/22
Divorcing

posts: 102   ·   registered: Feb. 9th, 2022
id 8755121
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 FuturewasStolen (original poster member #74119) posted at 12:47 AM on Thursday, September 15th, 2022

barcher - I think that you're right:

My conclusion, which others may dispute, is pretty simple: you need to focus on being a good parent. It's nothing more complicated than that (although, being a good parent is complicated). Being a parent is not be their buddy or their friend -- it's different.

At the end of the day, I cannot control what STBXH does. Whether its him being a good dad or being a disney dad or being a shitty absent dad. I can only control the kind of parent I am, and hope that you all are right and that that will be enough.

So, in summary: (a) Keep grey rocking; maybe even improve your grey rocking, (b) focus on being the best parent that you can be to your children, whatever that means to you, and (c) be patient and let Disney Dad try to keep it up. He'll either quit it (because it's hard) or... in the unlikely event that he keeps doing this stuff long-term... then you need to consider that he's actually being a decent father and you should be happy about that.

your entire response really spoke to me. Its so amazing to get advice from people who have been in similar situations. I am building my resolve again to grey-rock. You know how hard that is. Part of me wants to believe that we still have a special bond, but really he's just an abusive bully. He plays up the fantasy of having a bond when it suits him, to get something. But the second he doesn't get his way, it's gone and hes back to treating me like crap.

ChamomileTea - Thank you for your advice about school. I have talked to my son about why he doesn't like school, and I think a big part of it is that he is bored. They are still doing a lot of review from last year and he wants to learn new things. We are talking about focusing on the good parts of school. I think he may also being having a lot of anxiety about being away from me/home, and I have him working with a counselor for that.

mommabear - its so nice to hear that I'm not alone! I love what you said about trying to make the "normal" days special too. I'm trying to find a balance between doing special things like that and still having rules and a routine. But I definitely make sure we have fun. That after school I'm not just watching them play, that I'm playing with them. Or like today we stopped at a small grocery store just to grab some milk, and they had cookie mix on sale. So we got that too and went home and made cookies together. I think it's the little things that will make the big impact in the long-run. Their smiles make me smile. And those are the moments I remember when I'm feeling sad. The last few days my 5 year old just tells me over and over how much he misses dad. He gets so upset and wants to cry. We've been separated since January and the only thing that has changed recently is that school started. I think my son may be overwhelmed with school and like you said, processing it in a different way: by getting more separation anxiety from dad. I'm hoping with time he will be able to cope better. All I can do is be there for him.

Me: BW (33) Him: WH (34) Married 6 years Dday 1: 2/25/20 Affair for 1 year; Started R for real: 6/1/20 Three boys together: 5, 4, 2 Dday 2: 11/28/21 Affair for 6 months Don't know how many other girls he was "just talking to"

posts: 106   ·   registered: Mar. 30th, 2020   ·   location: Michigan
id 8755305
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barcher144 ( member #54935) posted at 3:35 PM on Thursday, September 15th, 2022

Part of me wants to believe that we still have a special bond, but really he's just an abusive bully. He plays up the fantasy of having a bond when it suits him, to get something. But the second he doesn't get his way, it's gone and hes back to treating me like crap.

I am not an expert on this, but I believe that you are describing a "trauma bond." It's not a real connection and it's unhealthy from your perspective.

And, as a lot of your response suggests, yes... we've been there, done that, including making mistakes similar (or worse) to what you are doing. It's hard because they occasionally appear normal, but they aren't.

Go easy on yourself. Focus on you. Stiff upper lip.

(So many platitudes, so little time)

Me: BH, age 48Her: WS, age 45 (multiple EAs and PAs)D-Day: August 30, 2016

Diagnosed with depression in December 2016, which was primarily caused by my xWW's affair and associated emotional abuse.

posts: 5307   ·   registered: Aug. 31st, 2016
id 8755384
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