'forcing' vs 'neglecting' decision made - long

liesbethApril 14, 2009

Quick recap;

The current dilemma; when the skids come to our place they say we 'force' them. But we know from the past that if we are flexible and let them come and go as they please (= as BM decides..) they are made to believe that we 'don't care about seeing them'

It's a catch 22, you can never win.

We talked to the counselor about this and she discussed it with her clinical supervisor as well. Her advise to us is to look at the family dynamics as it is for the skids. They spend 10 days with BM and 4 with us every fortnight, so their loyalty will naturally be with BM. Also the counselor acknowledges that the skids have a carer-role for their mom, so they feel bad leaving her to come to us. The counselor has seen the skids a few times now and she is right in saying this. The skids feel huge guilt over 'leaving' their mom to come to us. They always need to check in with her to see if she's ok and then of course she is not, adding to their distress.

Since we can't change that and the skids have that role whether we like it or not the counselor advises us to let the girls go. Give them their freedom and flexibility. Let them come to our place and let BM disrupt our visitation every single time. It is less stressfull for the skids if they don't feel like we keep them away from their mom (and from their role as carer) and we need to look at the kids' best interest.

The best thing we can do is to be supportive of them and to accept that they have this role. Accepting does not mean agreeing of course, because it annoys the h*ll out of me, but I do realise that it's not in our power to change it either.

We have always tried to protect them from the madness and the ridiculous responsibilities. For the skids to have a break and a rest and just be kids when they come. But it's not working out that way, disappointing but true. We can't stop them from feeling guilty and we can't make them be just kids and 'forget about the b*llshit' for 4 days a fortnight. The harder we try the worse it gets.

The counselor says that if the skids feel supported and loved by us they will have a better experience coming to our place. Even if it's just for one night. That is still better than 4 'forced' days. She says it's the experience they have with us that matters, not the amount of time they are spending with us.

So here we are. We agree with what she says, and we are going to let them go. We were already leaning towards that, but she put it into words really well. We will not announce it to the skids as such, because that will go straigh back to BM, but we will implement it on a day to day basis. So for example when they get to our place we would be one step ahead and ask the skids if they want to ring their mum, rather then waiting for them to ask. These kinds of things should make them feel more relaxed and supported and therefore happy.

I hope I'm ready for all the disruptions though, BM will make the most of it I'm sure...

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I also wanted to add a message for Ima; because I know you understand this situation really well and you advised us to stick to the court order. I really appreciate your input and I agree with your point of view, but I hope you understand as well that we can't seem to 'force' it, as much as we want to protect the kids. This seems to be the way to go for us.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 5:04AM
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Well I wish you luck. I am just worried that the bm will alienate the kids even more. They will say you asked them if they wanted to go home and bm will in turn tell them "see they don't want to even keep you for the whole weekend!"

Such a rough situation.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 11:18AM
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My divorce/custody arrangement was never enforced, there was no dispute about me seeing the kids with bm, however in reading the original post, I guess the kids saw themselves as carer for their mum who had some issues.

Mum was also very openly verbally abusive of me in front of the kids. I was always trying to back mum up and present a united parent front, but she thought nothing of contradicting me on anything and everything, in a most demeaning way.

When I left she passively - maybe even actively encouraged the kids to take swipes at me, and the youngest went all the way down the line with it. I haven't seen her since 2002. The eldest and I do have a relationship now, she's a lot more like me and saw through a lot.

I did manage to insist on one counselling session at which mum agreed it was right and healthy for the kids to have a relationship with me but they were 'old enough to choose' which, when you are the majority parent, still in the family home etc communicates to the kids (or she did) unconsciously or consciously, that she'd prefer they didn't. Eager to please, the youngest went that way (both kids feared their mother's temper) and the counsellor pulled them up on it, and asked why, if ex thought kids should see me, why she didn't insist. No answer. Asked if she would insist kids should see doctor or dentist when they needed to, answer "of course" - counsellor pointed out the logic or lack of, answer of ex to me later "I didn't think much of that counsellor" - of course not, because the session showed her in a pretty bad light.

Hopefully the youngest will see this one day. Unfortunately I moved a long way away, so a casual visit's not an option. It killed me to do it but I waited several years to see if things would improve and circumstances dictated this move. I despair I may never see her again, but, the bottom line, I could have insisted on my legal rights as a parent, but it would have been far more damaging. I'm sure it's catch-22 as well, because I'm sure she thought I didn't try hard enough to see her, (or not) but she shares with her mother her intelligent mind but complete lack of insight or ability to see others' points of view.

It's a tough call but I can see the counsellor's point in the op's post.

Just take the high road, never criticise the bm and hope that the kids see themselves how things are, but like I say, in hindsight the 'caretaker' role makes a lot of sense. Bad that kids have to do it, but that's how they see it.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 12:32PM
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'Allowing' BM to alienate kids even more is the one big problem that comes with this, I do know that and I do worry about it. But if we are inflexible and make the skids come when they are supposed to, they resent us for it and then they don't relax when they are with us. Then it's really a tug of war.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 9:33PM
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