How would you respond to this?

lovehadleyJuly 9, 2009

We took the kids to a movie this evening.

We were talking about it this afternoon, deciding what to see, and one of the possibilities was Ice Age. SS said no b/c his mom wants to take him to that.

No problem.

So we all decide to see the movie Up. Went tonight and it was SUPER cute, a really enjoyable movie, even for adults!

The first thing SS said when we got out of the theater was "that was an awesome show!" He and DD talked about it and laughed the whole way home.

Get home and SS calls BM to say goodnight as we are all sitting out on the back patio. She must have asked him what he did b/c he said "saw Up" and then all of a sudden his tone of voice totally changed. He said "I'm sorry, Mom" and then a few minutes later he said really dismally, "it was okay" followed a minute later by "we can see Up again." Then he got off the phone and started to get all teary. DH asked him what was the matter and he said "my mom wanted to see Up with me."


Then DH said 'I thought your mom wanted to take you to see Ice Age?" And SS said "she wanted to take me to both of them."

And then he just went off inside to his room. :( DH went in after him and talked to him, but didn't really get him smiling again. DH said SS just kept saying that he missed his mom and felt bad that she wanted to go to the movie.

It is just so, so frustrating. This is definitely not the first time this stuff has happened. I can totally understand BM's disappointment when SS does stuff w/us that she would like to do with him--but when she makes comments like that and has him APOLOGIZING to her, all that does is suck the fun out of things for SS.

And it totally put a damper on his evening, and I HATE that he feels guilty over doing something fun with us. It just shouldn't be like that.

Anything else DH should have said to him? UGH. DH was so p*ssed off, he wanted to call BM back and talk to her about it, but just decided against it. There is no point in trying to reason w/her. He tried to a few nights ago--talked to her about how SS is really beginning to pick up on the tension between the two, and he and BM really need to work better at keeping him sheltered. And BM actually said something about "I have no intentions of getting along with you or sheltering him b/c I want him to see exactly the kind of guy you are."

Nice, huh?

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So sorry this is happening with you guys....:( Is there any way you can limit the phone calls, like does your DH call your SS alot when he is with BM? I know with my DH, SD's were alot older than your SS but their BM used to do this to them and make them upset, or she would call them constantly while they were with DH. He finally put a stop to it. DH was like "this is MY time, butt out". Can you put something like that in the parenting plan? Not to make it that SS "can't" have contact with BM while he is with you guys, but just to limit it so that she is not so much of a "grinch who stole Christmas" by ruining his joys when he is with you guys...Just an idea...:)

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 12:33AM
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Oh Love, SD's mom would do the exact same thing, and SD would have the exact same reaction. And because it made her feel better to bring SD down, she would just continue to do it no matter how many times DH or I tried to tell her how much it hurt her daughter. It was even worse since we have custody and most everything SD experienced was with us. Finally it got to where SD was old enough that DH just said point blank "Your mom is trying to ruin and take away your enjoyment of something you did without her to make herself feel better. She obviously doesn't care how that makes you feel. Do you think that is acceptable?" A light bulb went off and SD started calling her mom out when she did it, asking her if she just didn't want her to be happy. Your SS isn't old enough yet, IMO, but I think some more subtle hints are ok. "Son, your mom couldn't mean to make you feel bad for going without her. A parent wouldn't do that to their child. A parent wants their child to have fun experiences with or without them. I don't get upset when you do fun things with your mom. Perhaps you misunderstood her?" Just planting a little seed. . .

Many may think that out of line, but I think it's called reality, and reaping what you sow. SD'd mom's behavior changed quite a bit once SD was the one calling her out for it, not DH or I.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 2:25AM
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how can any mother be upset when her child has good time? with anyone, dad, grandma, friends? even if she hates dad, doesn't she love her son?

this is terrible. I understand you can't tell SS not to call mom, but what if dad or you come up with some reason not to call that night and call next day instead. maybe next day mom's comments wouldn't hurt him as much.

I know it is a bad idea but it almsot feels like SS has to lie to his mom what he did so she wouldn't ruin it.

It is not a good example but SO's DD27 and DD20 have to lie to mom latelly and ask us to cover up for them. Mom throws fits every time she hears that: DD27 and her fiance invited dad and me over, DD27 and fiance's parents went out wiht dad, dad took DD20 shopping, dad or I helped wiht XYZ for DD's wedding etc...Funny that mom never ever does any of these things including helping nothing wiht the weding yet she screams at DDs when dad or I do anything. So his daughters can't take it anymore so they lie now to avoid confrontation.

I could never understand this. I could not imagine ruining fun for my child!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 9:20AM
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"Son, your mom couldn't mean to make you feel bad for going without her. I don't get upset when you do fun things with your mom. Perhaps you misunderstood her?"

Just a though I heard somewhere...not to offend you, but somebody told me that.

It might not a be a good idea to tell a child that he misunderstood what he heard because it might teach him not to trust his own perception or his own feelings, teach him denying what is obvious.

i think i heard it from my own theparist, i think.

maybe it sounds like a long fetch but for example he will grow up and notice things (like his GF cheating or people take him for granted) and he would think "perhaps I misunderstand, she wouldn't hurt me this way, they wouldn't do it to me."

do i make sense?

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 9:40AM
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YOu make total sense, Fine - and that's something I hadn't thought through. It goes somewhat with what SD's therapist told us about not making excuses for mom's behavior, and not letting SD think that she was part of the bigger problem (mom) Maybe something more like 'I hope she didn't really mean to make you feel badly" would be better said and take SS out of the equation, if you know what I mean?

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 9:59AM
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You didn't get that book yet did you?
If you email me privately (my email is linked), I'll send you my copy. The cover's been swapped out because once I started reading it, the information was SO relevant to all of Ex's nasty tactics that I needed to read the whole book NOW, which meant reading in front of DS. And with a title like 'Divorce Poison', he was sure to ask a bunch of questions. So ignore the replaced cover... But READ THIS BOOK!

OK - You know exactly what BM was doing. She was trying to make SS feel guilty about having fun with you two so he'd only have fun with her. Then if he doesn't enjoy his time with you two, if he knows how sad his mom is without him, if he thinks you're mean, etc. -- he'll want to spend all his time with her.

And as uncomfortable as it will be, you have to confront BM's tactics. Not to BM, because she can deny and rage and scream and cry all day long. But to SS. BM is pulling a basic 'spoil sport' move. Since she didn't get to participate, she doesn't want SS to have had any fun.

SS has probably seen it on the playground or at a birthday party -- where a kid who doesn't win the game sulks, pouts or bullies. Or where a kid who wasn't invited to the party badmouths the birthday boy or activity. I'd use exactly that type of scenario to explain the tactic.

Once SS understands the kids version, tell him that the kids' solution is to not mention Billy's birthday party when they know Sammy isn't invited. Or if Sammy finds out, to briefly acknowledge the party, then quickly change the subject to something that will make Sammy feel better in a good way. "Yeah - it was fun. Do you want to play kickball?" Then help SS develop a few "Wanna play kickball?" lines of his own.

The next step is to explain that this is what his mom was doing with the movie incident. She wants SS to have fun with her, and because she sometimes gets mad at Daddy, she sometimes forgets that SS should be able to have fun with Daddy too, not just with her. That is the simple truth, factually stated, at a level he can understand.

You then say that SS should be able to have fun at BOTH houses with ALL of the adults who love him, and that he needs to have some "Wanna play kickball?" lines ready to use with Mom. You saved "Ice Age" for her -- That's the perfect line. And if it doesn't work, SS needs to be able to say directly "I want to do fun things with BOTH my parents, Mom. There's nothing wrong with that!" Followed by a quick "Gott go now -- Love You -- Bye!"

It's the truth. It's direct, assertive, not rude, not unkind. It's taking a positive stance for himself, and if he can do this, you will all be better off.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 10:25AM
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Sweeby, if she doesn't want your copy, I'll take it!! :)

I'm kidding, but I am getting a copy this weekend!! I tried last week but they had to order me one. It sounds like a great book, thanks again for recommending it!! And the answer you gave sounds like it would actually work!!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 11:17AM
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It actually DOES work.
(Worked wonders for my son, whose Dad has Narcissistic Personality Disorder and pulled most of the tricks in the book.)

And it's very empowering for the kids! It allows them to make sense of the other parent's reactions and come to their own appropriate judgements ("That's not very nice") instead of feeling hurt, confused, helpless and/or emotionally manipulated. (Or worse - BEING emotionally manipulated and not knowing it.)

Another tactic is to ask the kid "Why do you think Mommy said that?" and give them an opportunity to process things through with a little guidance.

The all-purpose "Mommy gets really mad at Daddy sometimes, and you know how people sometimes say stupid things when they're mad?" is another tool to keep in your toolbag.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 1:24PM
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Sweeby that's funny .... I put brown electrical tape over all the words on the book and sat reading with the kids in the same room !!! Noone had a clue what I was reading so intently every night and then re-reading the next night so it would sink in... :)

I told her I would send her my copy too!!

I have used the angry people say stupid things a million times it works ...:) gets them thinking that mom really doesn't mean what she says she just says it because she is mad. Not just mom but most adults their friends etc.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 4:19PM
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That book is the best!!! We have learned soo much from it, and I think Sweebys example on how to explain it to SS is a really good one.

We are dealing with exactly the same things with BM. When she rings the skids they will usually start off talking happy, but it doesn't take long before they turn quiet and start answering only with 'yes' and 'no'. Sometimes I hear them apologizing, sometimes they even cry. And usually once they are crying BM has to go and quickly hangs up, leaving the skids to feel awful and bad.
They go to their room all sad and usually FDH or me will go in after to sit with them for a bit. We are not going to let that bad feeling fester for too long. So I'll give them a hug and ask if they are ok. I'll say I can see they are upset and that I don't want them to be upset because they've done nothing wrong. If they tell me what it is that their mom said then I'll respond by focusing on their behavior, not moms response. (sometimes I think it's better/easier to focus on the kids and their feelings without commenting on the other parents behavior. And also because I'm the stepparent, FDH is the one who usually does the talk that Sweeby suggested).

For example: Just before we went on holidays BM rang SD10 "to wish her girls a nice trip". SD10 was understandably excited, and reduced to tears soon after. So I gave SD10 a big hug and told her that I didn't like to see her upset. SD10 then told me that her mum had been upset because SD10 sounded as if she didn't want to talk to BM because she was too busy having fun with us. So it was not very nice that SD10 did not want to make time to talk to BM and did SD10 realise how much BM is missing her and how miserable that makes her feel??? Especially since we were taking them on a trip and it was raining so it was dangerous on the roads (another subtle message: FDH and Liesbeth are taking great risk with your safety).
I told SD10 that I KNOW she likes to talk to her mom, so she doesn't have to feel bad. And FDH is a good driver so not to worry about the rain because she knows FDH would not do something to endanger us deliberately. Now let's go and have some fun.

It's an awful thing to do to your own kids, but BM truly does not see it. As JNM explained it's because they are too focused on their own feelings and needs.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 9:20PM
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And I just thought of another tip we got. Sometimes it's good to not announce your plans, just go do them when you're ready. That way SS will not have time to check it with BM and for BM to say she wants to take SS herself. SS will still get the hammering after the activity, but at least he will not feel anxious about it beforehand.

We wanted to take the girls to a footie game, which we mentioned one night. When they came next time they told us BM was very angry when she heard about that because SHE had been planning to take them for years!! (and still hasn't gone, uhuh..)
My SD's are now 11 and 13, and for us it works to let them go. So our way of dealing is to let go of the plan. We won't go to the footie then if you'd rather go with your mum that's fine.
That particular game was three weeks ago and guess who didn't go to the game??

I mentioned it on this forum and i think it was Pseudo who advised me not to announce plans, just go when they come up. So we have two options now:

1. If we announce a plan the skids might come back saying BM wants to it herself; in which case we then let go of it.

2. And if we don't want that to happen we don't announce it, we just surprise them. Which is what we will do next year when we take them to the footie!!!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 9:29PM
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this only happened once in my household...when SD made the comment that we take her to do all the fun things before BM gets a chance to and it makes BM sad...I told SD that was one of the only perks to being the product of parents that werent get to do all the fun stuff twice!!!! she liked that idea and from then on SD never felt bad and BM eventually stopped trying......

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 10:15PM
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lol.. fiveinall...that's another good way to handle it.
Bm does this to the skids all the time in my place....its gotten less and less since they are older...but it still happens.
Exactly what other member describe, they get on teh phone all excited and the end ofthe convo..its reduce to a yes and no answer...they sound truly annoyed.
The kids will remember when they are even older and bm or bd will hear it after that. So this bs only works when they are very young and impressionable.
we've spoke to them a few times saying, bm wasn't being fair to you by saying that. its not nice to make you feel bad. Its ok, wipe the tears, lets go have some fun. I'm sure you 'll havve fun with mom when you get
just hate seeing them upset for no good reason except the selfishness of their mother. But i honestly believe they truly do not see what they are doing. I dont think its their intent to hurt their kids, but its their feelings they are expressing and they need to open their eyes.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2009 at 6:49AM
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The movie has been out for 6 weeks. Just when was she going to take her son to see it? If she wanted to take him, then she should have done so weeks ago.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2009 at 3:25PM
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I am so sorry. There are so many parallels with your situation and ours. It's been a loooong time since bM has done anything with the girls but back when we were dealing with her we rqan into this same issue alot.

She didn't want us to take them to the beach because she wanted to. (Remember the wierd old guy that was trying to force the girls to kiss him? That was another stranger friend of hers she was hooking herself out to in order to try and get the kids to the beach before we could.) She didn't want us to take them to the museum because she wanted to. She didnt want us getting them Wild Adventure passes because she wanted to. She didn't want us taking them down the river on a boat because she wanted to.

Had we waited for her to do any of these things they would of never have gotten to go. It's so sad when they would rather their kids miss out than have fun with another adult that isn't them.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2009 at 9:29AM
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