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Author Topic: Kids' stepdad texting weird messages to DH  (Read 403 times)
kells76
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« on: January 13, 2023, 04:28:59 PM »

Background here: https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=353446.0

Briefly, it seems that the kids' mom and stepdad are now in some kind of poly setup with a long-time female family friend (FFF), who Stepdad "helped" when she and her former H were having marriage problems. For those not in the know, that's exactly what he did when Mom and DH were together -- "helped" with their marriage problems, took her side, started dating her before the divorce was final... etc. This likely started a couple of years ago, secretly between Stepdad and FFF, with Mom not knowing fully until this past summer. It's very unclear who is okay with what, and the kids now call this FFF their "godmother". This is what Stepdad was before becoming Stepdad -- their "godfather".

Last month, it was our weekend with the kids, and we were doing our usual "early Christmas" about a week ahead of time -- out of town, but only like 1.5 hours out of town. It was also World Cup weekend, and apparently SD16 wanted to watch it with Mom, Stepdad, and FFF. Long story short she had a panic attack with us, then sort of talked about it, then was really, really angry with us. We tried to set it up so that she could watch the game remotely and also have a live chat with Mom/Stepdad/FFF, but she didn't really want to do that. We ended up saying it was OK if they drove to where we were, picked her up, took her back to watch the game, and brought her back. Of course, Mom said "we can't afford that".

SD16 was still angry, so we then suggested that she could suggest to Mom/Stepdad "what if you guys wait to watch it as a replay with me later". At first it sounded like yes, they would do that... but actually, SD16 told us that they would -- watch it themselves first, go to the celebration after, and then, later, watch it with her on a replay. [My upset commentary: So, they still made sure that SD16 felt left out, because they simply could not deny themselves what they wanted, for her.]

We did our best to cocoon off SD16 from news/TVs so that she would still be able to enjoy the surprise of the game. Made it through. A few days later, DH asked her how she was doing, and she said something like "I will never forget not being able to be there" to watch it live. He did end up talking with her a bit more and asking her what else she would like him to know. So they did talk through it a bit, but she was still upset. I know that at 16 she just isn't going to have the perspective yet to see -- yeah, sometimes we miss out on stuff we want to do, and it ends up being OK. So I'm not poking at that any more.

But anyway, later in the evening on the day of the WC, after we dropped the kids off at Mom's house, DH gets this long text saying something like (sorry, I don't have it in front of me): "You did the right thing, WC's come and go but SD16 only has one dad, that's you". DH says "Thanks, but who is this?" It was Stepdad. (DH and I basically never text him or email him at all -- way too volatile. I have maybe texted him twice a year on average, and only on stuff like "I will pick up the kids at Time").

DH and I both agreed that it was weird, and that likely it (a) was getting or doing something for him, and (b) had an agenda behind it.

We let it go as "weird". Then, yesterday, it was DH's time with SD16, and she wanted to see a movie. SD14 also wanted to see it, so DH took her along too. Again, later that night, he gets a text from Stepdad saying "It's so great you're with the kids, you can just keep them out as long as they want" or something. DH, to his credit, said "I'll drop the kids off at the usual time" and didn't take any bait.

But twice in 4 weeks, especially with that kind of content, makes me feel like something is brewing. In the past, Stepdad's emails, verbal conversations, & texts have been all about how he's kind of the real dad, and DH is abusive and patriarchal -- to pick some choice memories. Now, though, all of a sudden, it's all about "you'll always be their dad", "stay with them as long as you like", etc.

Stepdad has strong NPD traits, if that adds anything.

DH thinks that because the kids are having more positive times with him (DH), that Stepdad is getting something out of "being supportive of the kids" and being like "oh yeah, I always encouraged you to have a great time with your dad". That's kind of all I can figure as well -- perhaps he's now being seen in a negative light by the kids, due to his affair (despite it being propped up with the legitimacy of "it's OK because it's poly"), so this is a way to buy back the kids seeing him as "the good guy"?

IDK. I'm really suspicious and it sets me on edge, wondering what the shoe is that's going to drop.

Has this happened to anyone else -- a uNPD other parent/other stepparent "turning on a dime" and "making nice"? What happened after that?

Thanks for letting me get this on paper.
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GaGrl
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« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2023, 04:38:09 PM »

The only time H's ex (uBPD/NPD) turned weirdly "nice" was a prelude to proposing that they get back together. Mind you, H and I had been married about 5-6 years at this point. It was a result of issues she was having with her SO.

I do believe we develop a sixth sense when weirdness kicks up with the dysfunctional side of the family. Your spider sense is tingling.
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kells76
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« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2023, 04:45:42 PM »

I do believe we develop a sixth sense when weirdness kicks up with the dysfunctional side of the family. Your spider sense is tingling.

Thanks for the validation. I've been talking about this in general with my counselor lately -- that yes, it feels like it isn't safe to relax... because historically, it isn't! There's always the potential for 11/10 emotions right around the corner.

While I doubt that Mom wants to get back together with DH  Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)  Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)  Laugh out loud (click to insert in post), I think you're probably close, that this is because of shifting adult relationships.

We'll see how the weekend with the kids goes. Usually SD14 talks a lot when she and I do our volunteering on Saturdays. Will see if anything comes out.
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« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2023, 06:00:19 PM »

It's a curious indication that SDad's perspectives are changing.  What's unsaid here is whether he's inclined to move on elsewhere, maybe to FFF if still available?
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« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2023, 07:41:21 PM »

It's a curious indication that SDad's perspectives are changing.  What's unsaid here is whether he's inclined to move on elsewhere, maybe to FFF if still available?

That was my thought.
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« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2023, 09:55:09 PM »

He's in a new r/s (dynamic), maybe honeymoon phase. Maybe this is a way to encourage the girls to stay with you and DH more so he can explore his new fun?

 Frustrated/Unfortunate (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2023, 06:13:25 AM »

I feel nervous when BPD mother is acting super nice to me. It's not her usual demeanor with me. It often means she wants something or has some agenda, likely one I won't know as she isn't transparent about these things but tends to get to to agree to some of it until I realize there's something she wants that I didn't know about.

The frustrating part is that, if I just knew what it was, I might agree to it or at least consider it and discuss it. When I don't know, I feel like you do- something is up. My BPD mother seems to have NPD traits and so, I can see why you feel on alert.

If SD asked you "could you please take the girls more often", or on a certain weekend- you'd probably agree. But he's got something in mind that he may not be telling you, so instead, he "encourages" your time together.

So I do understand the "what is he up to" feeling with these texts and likely you won't know the whole of it. But I agree with the others- it may involve not having teens at home....
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« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2023, 11:33:06 AM »

It's a curious indication that SDad's perspectives are changing.  What's unsaid here is whether he's inclined to move on elsewhere, maybe to FFF if still available?
 

That was my thought. 

He's in a new r/s (dynamic), maybe honeymoon phase. Maybe this is a way to encourage the girls to stay with you and DH more so he can explore his new fun? 
Frustrated/Unfortunate (click to insert in post)

That's what I can't wrap my head around. Mom and Stepdad's narrative centers on them being the "real, warm, loving, involved, not-abusive, present, wise" true family. It is difficult to imagine them doing anything that releases any grip on their preferred and privileged position, which has a core component of the kids "choosing them" as the "real family".

I wonder now if part of the dynamic is Mom "punishing" Stepdad by passive-aggressively not being around (i.e. her "road trip" this last summer) -- I haven't physically seen her since I don't know when, and SD14 talks about Mom "being out at work" (I don't know what kind of job), which is new. So Mom may be passive-aggressively "chaining" Stepdad to take care of the kids -- like, if Mom isn't at home, then Stepdad has to be, so that means he can't be with FFF, even though "Mom is OK with it"? Like "Oh sure, I'm cool with you/us having a poly relationship, but I'm going to be gone a lot, so you have to take care of the kids". IDK. That's as realistic as I can figure.

Which, yeah, I guess does tie in to the "Stepdad has a new love interest and wants to be with her, not the kids" theory.

I just think that both of them have been so invested in the "we're the good parents, the kids want to be with us" narrative, that even though both of them are disordered and could drop/reframe the narrative in a heartbeat in order to have their own desires met, the kids have still bought into it enough that now the kids are the ones being like "but I don't want to be at Dad's house, I want to be here", which is interfering with the adult love interests/"who takes care of the kids, not my job" goals.

I mean, from my vantage point, it was always about what the adults wanted -- for a long time, they wanted the kids to participate in the "we're the real family, we're the best parents, be with us, Dad isn't safe" narrative. So the kids got used to that as the only narrative, and believed it was real, and not just a manifestation of the adult desires at the moment.

Now that the adult wishes and desires have changed, and both Mom and Stepdad might want to "find themselves" or be with a different love interest, suddenly they want the narrative changed (which, due to their disordered thinking, they can do), but they've "trained" the kids in The Narrative for so long, that they can't get the kids to go along with the new plan of "we support you being with your dad" -- the kids are like "uh, no, we want to be with Mom and Stepdad, who are perfect".

I don't know. It is difficult to come up with a rock-solid scenario for why DH has received those strange texts. And that is something I have struggled with for quite some time -- not having all the info, not knowing why things are happening, and feeling like I am out of the loop, and am lacking information that if I had, I could use to support the kids better.

Which is also what it comes back to for me, that, like Notwendy said, even if Stepdad truly wants the kids to not be around as much, he will not ask for it straightforwardly, as that would conflict with his favored role as "the real, chosen dad". So he will not do what is better for the kids (in my opinion, it is better for the kids not to be around adult relational chaos), and instead does this weird "have my cake and eat it too" move of "wow, I totally support the kids being with you... because I'm truly perceptive, wise, amazing, and they love me more".

So maybe my core question is -- is there really anything else I can do, when I have no definitive information, and all I can do is speculate here about what might be going on. It does help to hear feedback and experiences from others, and like GaGrl and Notwendy have related, we have these "antenna" for a reason and they function for a reason. I'm not "just making it up" to have a weird vibe from the texts. And I guess it's not pointless speculation; discussion here helps me clarify my thoughts. Yet at the end of the day, Mom and Stepdad continue to not share information that would help the kids.

...

I will add in closing that SD16 said last night that her stomach hurt, and it often happened ~30 min before and after transitions. We talked about it a bit but not much. On the one hand, it's good that she is bringing it up, on the other hand, she hasn't vocalized this in a long time. I asked if it was something more stressful than usual, and she kind of deflected with "there are like 40 stressful things in my life right now". She recognizes she needs help via counseling (and either PT or chiropractor, she has severe back pain), but also is reticent to accept help from me or DH in making that happen. I don't think it's just money worries, though that's part of it for her. I wonder if it's connected to what I brought up above -- she's been so conditioned in The Narrative that Mom/Stepdad are The Real, Caring Family, that if DH or I actually took her to have HER needs cared about, she'd have to face into Mom/Stepdad not being... all that. Might be too much for her to handle, emotionally, right now.

I plan to look into counselors today and at least send SD16 a list and say, "You can look through the list if you want, and if you don't want to, that's fine, but here it is".

...

So that's where my thoughts are at.
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« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2023, 02:20:15 PM »

You describe stepdad as having strong NPD traits. One of the lessons I have learned about narcissists, is that they constantly move the goal posts, and the current narrative is always about what works for them in the moment, and often is full of lies and misperceptions. Your stepchildren know that they are safe with you and their father. They know at some level that they can't really trust their mother and stepfather. Trying to figure out the manipulations of stepdad and mother is nearly impossible, as the narrative continually changes, and stepdad and mother don't even really understand the nonsensical nature of what they are doing in a particular moment in time because if they did it would mean having a certain level of self awareness about how their behaviors affect the children and themselves which they don't have. You are putting the interests of your stepchildren first when they are with you.
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« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2023, 06:04:04 AM »

While it may be difficult to know exactly what SD is up to, I think we do have that radar that he's up to something. When my BPD mother is being complementary, I know something is going on - it's not her usual behavior- even if there's not a way to know exactly.

It seems something is going on with bio mom and stepdad. Yet the image of "looking good" is still a factor. So it makes sense that he'd say "it's so great that you are there for the kids" when he actually means "get the kids out of the house so we can do something without them suspecting it".

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« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2023, 11:11:42 AM »

I’ll agree with the other responses about StepDad looking out for his own interests.

I’ve had several friends who got involved in poly relationships and they all ended in various levels of disaster. Perhaps that can be a successful relationship model, but I don’t know anyone who has pulled it off gracefully.

It seems that someone is always the *fifth wheel* in these situations and with the other parties actively pursuing the *honeymoon phase*, little attention seems to be paid to the one on the outside.

Adding kids to this volatile mix seems to present additional complications, and my vote would be that StepDad is hoping to have more alone time with his new honey.

That D16 has back pain seems evidence of her somatizing her emotional issues. Would she be open to getting a massage at a spa? I’m thinking if you don’t make it a *medical* issue or a *psychological* issue, perhaps you could take her for a girls spa date?
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« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2023, 11:17:31 AM »

It's a curious indication that SDad's perspectives are changing.  What's unsaid here is whether he's inclined to move on elsewhere, maybe to FFF if still available?

I also agree with this.

He was all for promoting himself as "the new dad" and being there for "his" stepkids, and now all of the sudden a new love interest comes along and it's all "hey kids, you know, your real dad was a pretty good guy..." as he starts to pack his stuff and get ready to move on.

As an aside, this guy has a really weird M.O. Like he's stable for some period of time, and then gradually eases a new woman into his life, and eases the old one out.  Wow.  Very calculating...
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« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2023, 01:53:14 PM »

Maybe not so calculating, but a low threshold for boredom?
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« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2023, 12:00:10 PM »

Agree: "He was all for promoting himself as "the new dad" and being there for "his" stepkids, and now all of the sudden a new love interest comes along and it's all "hey kids, you know, your real dad was a pretty good guy..." as he starts to pack his stuff and get ready to move on."

Sounds like he's preparing to move on.

CoMo
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kells76
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« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2023, 09:33:27 AM »

Sounds like he's preparing to move on.

Hard for me to wrap my head around, given the 10+ years of narrative to the contrary. And, his MO seemed to come from his background, where the story I heard was that his religious fundamentalist dad left the family when Stepdad was a teen, leaving Stepdad as the oldest kid to be "man of the house". So Stepdad has a "white knight" filter plus strong NPD traits that show up as: "I'm better than my dad, I'd never leave a family, in fact, I rescue sad women and/or kids". This got majorly imposed on Mom & DH's divorce, as Stepdad was the "friend" who "helped" them with their marriage. This is what Stepdad did with the latest relationship, too -- he "helped" the female family friend and her now-ex "with their relationship" and naturally took FFF's side. I have heard rumors that he "helped" and "supported" a female coworker (single mom) a few years back, too.

I guess my suspicion would be that he'd try to do a "have my cake and eat it too" move of "I never left the family, I'm always here for you, and I've always said that your dad was the real dad, I'm such a good guy that I encourage you to go spend time with dad" -- as his self-image of "I'm not the leaver, I'm the rescuer" is too important to him.

He did recently get a new job, though I'm not sure it's related to the relational stuff. I think it's more tied into his uNPD trait of requiring an audience and demonstrating his superiority over others who may have authority over him. It's a move from a "behind the scenes and not seen front and center" job to one that may involve teaching young minds, sigh. Again, though, likely not related, though who knows anything at this point.

I guess to bring my speculation back to Earth, I post about this stuff here as a way to process (and just get it out of my head/cut down on rumiation), as a way to journal/document, and because it is hard for me to want to help and support the kids when I (and DH) have so little info to go on. So, getting others' ideas about what may be going on, helps me feel like I at least have a direction I can go with caring about the kids -- like "OK, consensus is that these behaviors point to Option A being likely, and Option B being unlikely, so I can operate with Option A in my mind as I find resources for the kids".
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« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2023, 09:52:17 AM »

You have been a steady presence in the lives of your stepchildren for many years and really care about their wellbeing. Is there any way your could tell your stepdaughters that you would always be there for them no matter what or maybe you don't need to say anything as actions speak louder than words?
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« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2023, 04:18:58 PM »

Kells,
"Hard for me to wrap my head around, given the 10+ years of narrative to the contrary. And, his MO seemed to come from his background, where the story I heard was that his religious fundamentalist dad left the family when Stepdad was a teen, leaving Stepdad as the oldest kid to be "man of the house". So Stepdad has a "white knight" filter...."

My guess is you'll know relatively soon.  Everything I read about poly relationships is they are typically short term. It's a new situation for your step-children to handle.  A difficult one too.  You are already preparing to help them whatever happens. 

Questions; what if the family disintegrates and the mom and "white knight" step-dad go their separate ways?  Will he remain in their lives?  Will mom allow that?  What if mom shows up with a new partner?  Would your approach to helping the children navigate be any different? 

Oh boy, sure sounds like a chocolate mess could be heating up.  Especially given the ages of your step-children.  My best wishes and prayers for you and your family to successfully navigate these challenging waters. CoMo' 
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« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2023, 04:22:53 PM »

"You have been a steady presence in the lives of your stepchildren for many years and really care about their wellbeing. Is there any way your could tell your stepdaughters that you would always be there for them no matter what or maybe you don't need to say anything as actions speak louder than words?"[

I second this zachira.  Well said.  CoMo
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« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2023, 05:18:26 PM »

And I suspect that despite all these years enabling the kids' mother, he may have spoken well of your husband since they had once been friends or acquaintances.
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« Reply #19 on: January 30, 2023, 03:03:35 PM »

You have been a steady presence in the lives of your stepchildren for many years and really care about their wellbeing. Is there any way your could tell your stepdaughters that you would always be there for them no matter what or maybe you don't need to say anything as actions speak louder than words?

zachira, I think you are getting to the core of why I'm talking through this here. I fear that (a) whatever I do for the kids will not be enough to counteract the toxicity they're exposed to, and I also fear that (b) the stuff that goes on at Mom's house won't just stay there; that it'll spill over into my life and DH's life and impact our relationships with the kids and with each other. Kind of like -- there's no firewall between Mom's house drama and our house, and it's not a crazy or groundless fear, because it's happened before (i.e., financial woes at Mom's = the kids "have to" go back there for the night "to help"). If there's toxicity/dysfunction there, we aren't able to say "well, there they go again" and then get on with our lives. It inevitably impacts the kids, which impacts our relationships with the kids, which hits our marriage. DH and I have been through some hard times over the last 2 years and I wish our relationship could be insulated from the chaos, but it isn't.

So, I think my fears are that "me being me" is not enough to help the kids and is not enough to insulate our home from dysfunction.
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« Reply #20 on: February 01, 2023, 05:15:40 AM »

Kells, I think you are dealing with two issues.

One is - how much can you do to help the kids and is it enough?

Two is- your own marriage. You and your H and how to have that without the chaos of the ex wife and the drama.

Speaking as the child of a BPD mother- I don't think it's possible to completely avoid the influence this has on a child- and- whatever you are doing can mitigate it.

Speaking as someone who has the tendency to over- function- to try to fix things - it is possible you may be doing too much.

Too much is probably not enough to undo the influence of BPD mother but it's enough to put stress on you and your marriage.

Creating that boundary with the chaos of ex's family and with your H is also role modeling self care and taking care of yourself. Focusing on the issues coming from ex's household- is taking the focus off your own relationship. Sometimes this can be a way of avoiding issues between you two as well.

From your post, I am sensing you are feeling depleted and that this might be too much - and also you do love the kids, there's no question about that.

Your investment in the kids has an impact. I don't think it's possible to predict the outcome of it. The other part of this relationship is the kids themselves- their own emotional make up, resilience, how they manage their situation, and the choices they make. I think an important aspect of your relationship is that you love them unconditionally and they have a secure bond with you. You may not see this right away. They are teens. Teens aren't grown yet, they have emotions, insecurities. Sometimes they push away from you, sometimes they don't. Ironically, they may push more against a secure person because they feel secure.

I was a pretty good kid, didn't do the most concerning things that teens do but as I recall- the most mischief we kids did was when we were with my father's family. I am talking silly kid stuff, acting up, and I imagine the adults were annoyed with us at times but I think in retrospect, we did this because we felt safe enough to be kids. Then, as a teen, I was able to be a teen with my cousins there- stay up too late, go out and do things. With my parents, there was fear. We walked on eggshells, we had to act like adults. BPD mother got angry at even the slightest transgression. Now, I absolutely believe teens need limits, and appropriate expectations, and some behaviors should not be tolerated and if they transgress a rule, there are consequences but consequence with love are different than consequences with fear. There were times my father's relatives gave us a warning - but we didn't fear them.

One thing to consider is- that you are on the receiving end of the kids' emotional reactions to the drama at ex's house because they feel safe with you. You also may be on the receiving end of their acting out the influence they have due to their parent's changing identities with whatever is trendy. The parents seem to be seeking some self gratification and identity by being almost stereotypically whatever is "cool" or impressive to their own group- as if they are teens themselves and maybe the teens are going along with it because they want to please their parents. You and your H on the other hand have a solid sense of identity.

My father's family was not as involved as you are- they didn't live close by to us. We saw them on school holidays. But still, their influence went a long way. I recall an aunt saying she wished she did more- but my reply was that- what she did was a lot. When you don't grow up with "normal" even a little bit of normal is something. Doing too much isn't something to role model either. As an adult, I had to work on that behavior, not BPD behavior. I didn't learn that it was OK to say no, OK to have boundaries.

If you need to carve some time with just you and your H- do that. The chaos is unavoidable, but you can have some chaos -free time too.
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