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Author Topic: Being Undermined and Painted Black With Kids  (Read 113 times)
vortex of confusion
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« on: January 11, 2017, 10:36:09 AM »

For years, I was confused as to why he would tell the kids stuff like, "Leave your mom alone or she will get mad." The kids would see that as an invitation to mess with me to prove him wrong. If I was napping and he was supposed to be on parenting duty, he would try to make the kids scared of me to get them to let me nap.  It didn't work. Kids would come get me anyway. He couldn't tell the kids, "Hey, mom is tired, let's do something fun so she can get some sleep." It was usually some form of threat or scare tactic. The threat usually involved him threatening that I would do something bad.

Fast forward to now. . .he has been out of the house for 9 months. He sees the kids occasionally. At Christmas, the kids wanted him to take them shopping so they could get me something for Christmas. Afterwards, the kids shared their frustration with me at the way dad kept shooting down all of their ideas. You can't get this for mom because it is too small. You can't get that for mom because she will be offended by it.

It is becoming so clear that he was undermining me and my parenting. The stuff he said about me to the kids was so untrue and the kids know it. All of the things that he told the kids about me are the things that he actually did yet didn't seem to be able to acknowledge.

I am trying to figure out how to deal with this and undo the damage that has been done. I am finding out that some of the problems that I was having with the kids before he moved out had to do with the fact that he was undermining my parenting. And, it seems that he is still trying to do it when he tries to convince the kids that I am going to get mad over them being kids. 

Something else that the kids have shared with me is the fact that it was really confusing to have two parents with such disparate approaches to parenting. The oldest said that it was really confusing to have one parent try to push you and encourage you and treat you like you are capable and smart and then have the other parent treat you like a 5 year old and act like you are completely incapable. The oldest commented that she feels like she loses 10 IQ points when being around dad.

Even though I know that he is projecting, it still irritates the snot out of me and confuses the kids.

Does anybody have any tips, stories, or ideas?

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takingandsending
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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2017, 02:16:07 PM »

Hey VOC. Been a while since I have come back on the boards.

I actually do some of the things that your ex does with my uBPDw. But I don't know how you respond to kids when they wake you from a nap. I watched last night as my STBxw completely came unglued at my S5 for waking her during her nap to help put him to sleep. My wife didn't communicate clearly how long she was going to nap just saying she needed a little rest. I got S5 ready for bed, read to him, turned out lights and he asked if mom could help him get to sleep. I should have asked her myself but warned him that mom might get upset. She did. S5 didn't get to sleep until about 1.5 hours later after he got dressed down by wife. She came downstairs and blasted me and S11, too. When I came back up to help S11 to bed, S5 was still awake and had been crying for 30-40 minutes alone in bed, afraid to ask for help.

My wife continually blames me for not standing up for her if the kids back talk, complain about what she made for dinner, don't hop to when she asks them to do a chore or do their music lessons when she tells them ... or any other type of "disobedience". In her view, I undermine her parenting.

What I do: I tell the kids that their mom loves them. I tell them to listen and to do their best to respect what she asks them to do. I tell them that we all have responsibility to treat each other with respect and kindness. If I know she is dysregulated, I do warn them not to back talk and not to fight with their mom, which really isn't supportive of them but just a hope that they might learn to protect themselves from her anger. I tell them that mom is trying her best and has feelings that get hurt, like all of us, but they are not responsible for her feeling how she feels - only she is.

Do the kids do a lot better when it is just mom and them? Sometimes, yes. Do the kids do a lot better when it is just me and them? Yes, most of the time. I think there is a confusing dynamic when parents are so far out of alignment with each other, and the kids will act out that tension dynamic. Putting it on the kids is clearly wrong. Putting it all on your husband probably isn't right either. I acknowledge that the tension is not good for my kids, and I cannot resolve it on my own, but I do share responsibility for it. That's why I am going through the divorce process. I want the kids to have the best chance for emotional health.



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vortex of confusion
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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2017, 03:48:29 PM »

I actually do some of the things that your ex does with my uBPDw. But I don't know how you respond to kids when they wake you from a nap.

Most of the time, I get up and take care of whatever it is that is needed. I am the one that has done almost all of the night time parenting for 15 years. If I hear a kid yell "Mom", I can wake up from a dead sleep and deal with whatever it is. There may have been one or two times when I was beyond the point of exhaustion when I struggled to wake up and meet their needs.


Quote
I watched last night as my STBxw completely came unglued at my S5 for waking her during her nap to help put him to sleep.

I have watched ex come unglued on the kids for waking him up. The time that stands out the most is one night when I was having a difficult time getting the kids to sleep. The youngest was under two, which meant that I was trying to get 4 kids that were all under the age of 10 to sleep by myself. He got woke up. He was mad. I don't remember what all transpired. I just remember that he pushed me down while I was holding the baby. He told me that he didn't push me and that I fell when he was trying to get past me. He also told me that he wouldn't have had a problem if I hadn't gotten upset with the kids. Basically, I was supposed to do it all by myself with no help from him AND I wasn't supposed to be tired or frustrated. He would used isolated incidents where I did react poorly due to the fact that I had only had a couple hours of sleep because I was doing all of the night time parenting with 4 kids by myself while he slept.


Quote
I should have asked her myself but warned him that mom might get upset.

I usually had to wake ex up so he didn't snap at the kids. The kids and I figured out that one of the middle kids could wake him up and he wouldn't snap. She was and is his favorite and the kids learned to use that to their advantage.

When I have found out that ex has tried to tell the kids not to do something like wake me up because I will get mad, I have asked him, "Why couldn't you tell the kids that I was tired and needed sleep?" Kids are reasonable people. Why couldn't he say something like, "Let's help mom get some sleep." Those are the kinds of things that I told the kids when he was asleep. "Hey, dad has been at work all day and he is tired. Let him sleep." The kids would tell ME that they didn't want to bother dad because he would be a jerk. I tried to talk to the kids about this to get some balance and perspective. They said that the stuff that he tells them about me is actually the stuff that he does.

Quote
My wife continually blames me for not standing up for her if the kids back talk, complain about what she made for dinner, don't hop to when she asks them to do a chore or do their music lessons when she tells them ... or any other type of "disobedience". In her view, I undermine her parenting.

In my opinion, she should be able to stand up for herself. Part of being a parent is being able to set boundaries. Ex wouldn't stand up for himself. The kids would say or do something that was wrong and he would react like a child would. I would come home from work and there would be mass chaos because one of the kids refused to eat. His response was, "I am sorry I couldn't make her eat." Huh??? The oldest was able to step in and get her to eat and resolve the situation but he couldn't.

One way that he would undermine me was to NOT set a good example for the kids. There was an issue with how much time everyone was spending on their computers at one time. Him and the kids would spend a lot of time buried in computer games. When I tried to talk to the kids, their response was, "Why do we have to get off if dad doesn't?" and, likewise, if I tried to talk to him, I would get stuff like, "Why do I have to do it if the kids don't?" It felt like he and the kids were in competition with each other and he would act as though he was one of the kids rather than a parent.

Quote
Putting it on the kids is clearly wrong. Putting it all on your husband probably isn't right either. I acknowledge that the tension is not good for my kids, and I cannot resolve it on my own, but I do share responsibility for it. That's why I am going through the divorce process. I want the kids to have the best chance for emotional health.

That is ultimately why I kicked him out. Trying to navigate this and deal with the tension that was created has been difficult at best.
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takingandsending
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« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2017, 05:14:05 PM »

VOC,

I agree with your comments. Sorry. I think I was a little triggered in my response since I just watched my S5 get totally smashed by my wife last night. It's a fine line when any parent of a baby is sleep deprived and cranky v. coming unglued. For last night, I expected my wife would be tired as she woke me up the previous night at 1:30 in the morning talking on the phone with a friend. It upsets me that she chose to take friend's call and talk for a couple of hours, and then turns around and rages at her family because she is exhausted.

I also experience my wife competing with the boys for attention and being angry with me when I give more to them. As well, she loves to make rules for others but does not follow them herself.

I think the best you can do for your kids is let them come to you when they are confused, sad, upset, questioning, contemplative, whatever, and validate what they feel without putting your own experience into it. That seems to be what they are most asking/needing. I don't want to put down my wife in front of the boys, and when I slip, it puts them in a weird position between mom and dad. Seems I do best when I just listen and acknowledge their experience without judgment. I really have to resist wanting to fix their relationship with their mom by helping them negotiate her. That's my longtime childhood programming to make peace. Not necessarily what helps the boys.
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vortex of confusion
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« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2017, 09:48:15 AM »

I agree with your comments. Sorry. I think I was a little triggered in my response since I just watched my S5 get totally smashed by my wife last night.

I completely understand. I felt a twinge of trigger when you mentioned how I respond when the kids wake me up. I think that is why this stuff can be so confusing. There are ways of reacting that are within the range of normal and their are ways that are totally outside the range of normal. It is normal to be a little agitated when getting woke up from a dead sleep. It is NOT normal to come unglued on a kid. I have seen ex have reactions that were over the top. What is confusing is that ex likes to highlight my normal reactions and compare them to his over the top reactions. That leaves me wondering if what I am doing is normal or if I am being like ex and trying to delude myself into thinking that I am okay.

Quote
It's a fine line when any parent of a baby is sleep deprived and cranky v. coming unglued. For last night, I expected my wife would be tired as she woke me up the previous night at 1:30 in the morning talking on the phone with a friend. It upsets me that she chose to take friend's call and talk for a couple of hours, and then turns around and rages at her family because she is exhausted.

That was similar to my experience. Ex couldn't stay awake to help with the kids but he could stay awake to play his games. It seemed like he was tired more often than not and would not rest when he had the chance. My hope was that he and I could work together so that we both got rest. Keeping up with 4 kids can be exhausting at times. Since he has left. I have had more and better sleep than I have had in years. It is so bizarre how the kids let me nap and be mindful without him here. It is so sweet how they help each other when I am napping on the couch. That rarely happened when ex was still here. How in the heck did it become so much easier to care for these kids on my own than it was when there was supposedly another adult here to help?

Quote
I also experience my wife competing with the boys for attention and being angry with me when I give more to them. As well, she loves to make rules for others but does not follow them herself.

Towards the end, that was huge. The more he tried to get my attention, the more clingy the kids got. It was horrible how he couldn't back off and let me be a parent to the kids.

Quote
I think the best you can do for your kids is let them come to you when they are confused, sad, upset, questioning, contemplative, whatever, and validate what they feel without putting your own experience into it. That seems to be what they are most asking/needing.

My kids have a whole slew of negative things to say and think about dad. It is upsetting because it feels like validating what they are feeling is basically ragging on dad. The oldest has said that she doesn't like to be around dad because it feels like she drops IQ points around him because of the way he talks to them and treats them.

Quote
I don't want to put down my wife in front of the boys, and when I slip, it puts them in a weird position between mom and dad. Seems I do best when I just listen and acknowledge their experience without judgment. I really have to resist wanting to fix their relationship with their mom by helping them negotiate her. That's my longtime childhood programming to make peace. Not necessarily what helps the boys.

When the girls were a little younger, they used to come to me to complain about dad. I used to tell them that he was their dad, blah, blah, blah. In essence, I invalidated their experience. It has come out that the kids were walking on eggshells as much as I was. They kept a whole lot of stuff to themselves because they didn't want to upset dad and wanted to keep the peace. Now that he is gone, I can tell the kids stuff like, "I realize that dad did those things and that is part of the reason that he and I can't be together. Dad did those things to me too." I don't know if it is right or wrong but it does help the kids when I validate them and share that I had similar experiences with dad.

One of the girls thought it was her fault that we are separated and moving towards divorce. She said that maybe we could have stayed together if they had let us have more time together. I will tell them, "No, it is NOT your fault. Dad did x, y, and z to you kids and he did similar stuff to me. I can't continue to allow him to treat us that way." Of course, I only share the stuff like the gaslighting and the eavesdropping. Before he left, the kids and I couldn't go to another room to have a private conversation without him barging in and wanting to know what we were talking about.
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takingandsending
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« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2017, 12:37:24 PM »

I can tell the kids stuff like, "I realize that dad did those things and that is part of the reason that he and I can't be together. Dad did those things to me too." I don't know if it is right or wrong but it does help the kids when I validate them and share that I had similar experiences with dad.

I have spoken with my S11 along these lines, but I told him stories about me growing up with my mom (who definitely had BPD traits/anger but was a milder case than my wife), which he really could relate to. I still feel kind of guilty if I talk about my wife to them, like I am throwing her under the bus.

One of the girls thought it was her fault that we are separated and moving towards divorce. She said that maybe we could have stayed together if they had let us have more time together.
This is my BIG fear. My wife has already told the kids (especially S11) that they were responsible for mom and dad arguing. This was before divorce. I worry that when she gets stressed, she will send the same or stronger message like that to them. It is so hurtful and unfair to a kid to blame them for our own inabilities. Makes me see red.

On the other hand, my STBxw has also observed and said the kids behave better, cooperate more and let her nap more when I am not around. I actually believe it's true. The stress around us as a couple cannot be fun to be around, and I am certain the kids act out their confusion, upset and displeasure in the safest way then can - by fighting with each other. I know I have a part in creating this. Not typically the yelling, screaming, blaming part - more the judging, tuning out, closing off part.  My wife is not incapable of being a loving parent. She actually is that a lot of the time. It is when her resources are low, that's when any little infraction or need or just anything more sends her into reaction, reaction, reaction. I can't protect the kids from experiencing it, but I can give them something different, and I can be there for them when they want to try to figure out what the heck just happened.

I am happy and proud of you for having the courage to make the changes that you and your girls needed. I know you have been through a lot. Sometimes, this is just a tough path to walk.  love
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