What should I do?

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What should I do?
« on: July 27, 2017, 10:00:19 AM »
Another manipulation by u/npd exH.

Ds10 has a school activity coming up on a night that he usually stays with his dad. It is a huge event on the school calendar and I've made sure that his dad (my u/npd exH) was aware of it from the time it was first announced by the school. (He receives all communication from the school anyway but he tried to claim that he didn't know about it last time (blamed me) so I wasn't going to take any chances this time.)

Ds told me a few weeks ago that his Dad and NSmum were not going to attend the activity because they didn't want to watch a Bible story. (It's a "religious" school.) Ds said they were going to ask me to change the weekend arrangements.

Said "request" arrived a few days ago.  They wanted to pick ds up at the end of the performance instead of the usual end of school time 5 hours earlier. They wanted me to pick ds up 5 hours later than normal 2 days later to make up the time they would lose.

The reason they stated was that they didn't think ds should travel to their place in between end of school and activity start time. (They live an hour's drive away.)

An aside:  u/npd exH picks ds up from school once a week and spends about 4 hours with him. They rarely go to their house on those evenings. Why would he need to go on this night? And especially since the activity starts about 45 minutes earlier than the weekly drop off time.

I told u/npd exH that I knew a few weeks ago they weren't attending and why. I said I'd be happy to keep ds in between school and the activity but that I wasn't prepared to pick him up later 2 days later since it was their choice to miss the activity.

I offered to keep ds for the whole weekend since they owe me time from their trip overseas earlier this year.

U/npd exH replied that he has offered the time so that I could do something I wanted to do with ds so he should be repaid the time.  He said he'd be prepared to stick to the court ordered times but that ds would therefore not be attending the activity.

U/npd ExH and his NWife no longer support ds in any way regarding the school.  He hasn't twigged to it yet. They won't admit to it but their main reason is that they no longer want ds at a "religious" school. That, and they don't want to fork out the $1000s for an independant school.

Did I do the wrong thing?  Should I just have said yes to picking ds up later?

I always try to do what is best for ds, especially when these manipulations/ultimatums arrive on my doorstep.

In this case the best thing is for ds to attend the activity (which he's looking forward to), and stay overnight with me.  He has his weekly sports game early the following morning about 5 minutes away from our place. If he spent the night with his dad he'd have a late night and an early morning.

Also, every second weekend when ds is with his dad for 2 nights instead of one, they keep him up really late on the second night in order to sabotage his church attendance with me on the Sunday and his first day or so back at school.  Ds is not yet mature enough to resist the temptation to stay up late.

But u/npd exH has said that he doesn't think it would be in ds' s best interests for him to be with me for the entire weekend when this school activity takes place. He didn't elaborate and I didn't bother to dignify the insult by asking why.

Thoughts anyone?  What should I do?

AOD


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Re: What should I do?
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2017, 11:55:51 AM »
Sorry my post is so confusing!

Now I'll add to the confusion.

I am actually an employee of ds' s school. I had arranged to work at the school, assisting with the activity on the night that ds is supposed to be under u/ npd exH's care. (At the activity)

So whilst ds and I would be in the same vicinity, he would have been the responsibility of his father.

I suspect that if I tell u/npd exH that I'll be working,  he won't allow ds to do the activity.

It's so frustrating. I try to stand up for myself.  I try to do what's best for ds.  But if I don't give in to the pd's demands I look petty. If I give in, ds loses out.

AOD

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bopper

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Re: What should I do?
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2017, 12:25:17 PM »
I am having a little problem following...it sounds like they are giving options  so that DS can stay near school before the activity...and then just move those hours later. Does that cause you an inconvenience?
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WesternLover

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Re: What should I do?
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2017, 02:58:38 PM »
Hi AOD -

I was having a hard time following your post, but it hit a major hot button with me in that your exNPDh and his NPD step mother are trying to squeeze the religion out of DS's life. What I am about to say is only a matter of opinion, and anyone reading this post can take it or leave it.  I'm going to try my best not to cross any lines. I respect people who are atheistic as long as they are still instilling good values and morals in their children.

I have yet to meet a person with a personality disorder who tries to foster spirituality of some sort and positive, empathetic characteristics in their children. It's also a huge job in molding a child this way, and I have really leaned on the support and structure my local church provides in developing my children's character. Even if you don't believe in God, most peace loving religions do provide us with a solid road map of what it means to be good human being - "love your neighbor as you love yourself, there is no higher purpose in life than service to others...", values like humility, patience, love, self-control and tolerance.

I think PDs hate "religion" or anything church related because it is in direct antithesis with their value system - lying, cheating, stealing, bullying, gaslighting, abusing, malignant self-love... I realize maybe due this being a mental illness some part of their behavior is not entirely in their control. However, there's a great book "Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men" that demystifies how much of this their "value system" vs mental illness. I think this can be applied to all PD people that to some degree, their behavior is in their control.

I work part-time for a Christian church. I take my kids to church every Sunday. For the longest time in my 20s, before I had kids I was estranged from the church, yet still held basic values, I was no saint though. One of the major things that did push me back to church was wanting to instill good values in my kids, and I felt I needed help and support with that. Of course it has helped me greatly as well. I also thought one of the greatest gifts I could give my kids is that we are spiritual beings, interrelated to God and our fellow human being, and some sort of concept of a Higher Power.  That happens comes from within, from our spirits, more so than material things. I wanted to make sure hell or high water, my son did not adopt the attitude, perspective, value system of his PD father.

Personally I believe that unfortunately, we have an epidemic of *ssholes in the world today. I believe one of the greatest gifts we can give in our life time, the biggest way we can give back to society, is by putting good people in it. Our gift to the world should be healthy children who change world and the lives they touch for better.

I'd say who cares about looking petty to PDs. If it looks petty in court somehow I'd just say "My son's 'religious' school and church is very impactful on his developing positive values, and I just want to fight to make sure it stays an active force in his life. Unfortunately his dad and step mom don't care much for it, but I think it's critical, which is why it's very important to me he go to his school event..." It's also something he loves.

I wouldn't say this to the PDs of course, but that's something you could say if they are trying to make you look petty in court. So don't fret about the pettiness. Your son will never get this positive support from his other parents, so I vote to do whatever you can in order to keep it.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2017, 03:03:54 PM by WesternLover »

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HotCocoa

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Re: What should I do?
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2017, 08:39:49 PM »
aod - it was a little hard to follow your post, however, something you said stuck out to me, he owes you time for the time he took son overseas. 
Imo - I would quit trying to change everything to accommodate him and frankly just tell him that you are keeping him for the weekend as he owes you time.  Take it!  He will never provide it to you, I think you have to get a little hard here and just tell him.  Atleast that is what I would do.  State very succinctly, "ex, I was promised xx amount of makeup days and will use them for this weekend.  It is very important that ds attend this event and since you have made it known that you will not be taking him, it is in his best interests to attend and he will spend the rest of the weekend with me as make up time."  That's it.  Don't converse about it after that.  Make it a business arrangement.
Further, if you do not like son's new glasses, take him and get him new ones you approve of.  Fight back a little, you have the power.  You are extremely accommodating to ex and his pd wife, it is now time to play on your terms for once. 
Atleast that is how I feel.  It doesn't sound like you would be breaking any sort of order by demanding your make up time.  If its owed, TAKE IT!
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Rose1

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Re: What should I do?
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2017, 08:31:04 AM »
  :yeahthat:

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redfish

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Re: What should I do?
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2017, 10:28:38 AM »
I'm not super familiar with your story but in reading your post 'give him an inch, he'll take a mile' keeps popping in my head. I've recently been learning the difference between being 'nice' and being 'kind' and I think being too 'nice' with PDs can likely result in us getting steamrolled and building expectations in their minds.
I guess I don't really have any advice, it's hard when whatever one decides can be and will be used against them in situations like this. I guess it boils down to is this a battle you want to fight and if it is by all means I'd go for it.
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WesternLover

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Re: What should I do?
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2017, 02:56:38 PM »
I very much agreed with what Hotcocoa and the others said as well. Every time I was accommodating I got steam rolled.  If you are owed those days then take them for sure! It's like my son's PD father viewed my initial niceness as a weakness and exploited it. Also I gave him a TON of concessions and bent over backwards for five years. Do you know what his response to all of that was? Do you know how he planned to show his gratitude? The last straw for me was when, after all of that, his step-mother told me that he said "I am going to plant drugs in WesternLover's car and call the cops. I'm going to say she picked up DS high as kite. When they pull her over and find the drugs, she will lose custody of DS."   Don't think twice or let those PDs make you dance on egg shells - always drive a hard bargain and maintain boundaries.

I wish you the best!

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Re: What should I do?
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2017, 08:40:58 PM »
Thanks for the replies and sorry my posts were so confusing. Even I'm bamboozled reading them!

Bopper - their suggestion causes me a very minor amount of inconvenience. But they are capable of looking after ds for a few hours locally in between school and the school activity.  They do that on a weekly basis, so they can on this night too. 

It's the fact that they are suggesting it only because they are unwilling to support ds in his education in any way, that has me fired up. I get that this activity is happening on their time. But it's an essential part of his schooling and they should be there.

WesternLover - I agree with all that you said.  We are not in court and don't know that we ever will be regarding ds's schooling.

But no matter what school ds attends, there will be activities like this that occur in u/npd exH's time, and he should be there to support his son, regardless if how uncomfortable it makes him feel. (If it was a school that promoted terrorism or something, then yeah - don't go!  But this is not such a school.)

He regularly sabotages ds's attendance at church as well. I can do nothing about it except pray, be consistent in my own beliefs and practices and encourage ds to look after himself (get enough sleep) while he's with them.

Hot Cocoa - u/npd exH has been accommodating on making up the time from the os trip. I was owed 11 nights and that's now down to 5, which are planned into the next 2 holiday breaks. I just put forward the suggestion as a way to get over this latest hurdle with the pds.

I agree on the glasses. Thanks.

Redfish - I'm a lot stronger  than I was 4 years ago. I recognise the manipulations and ultimatums for what they are and they no longer upset me. The difficulty is ds is still too young to see through them and the pds still manage to spin a story so that they look great and I look bad for standing my ground. And it always has to come down to what is best for ds. That often means I have to miss out.

So I think I've decided to go with their suggestion.  (They pick up ds at the end of the activity and I pick him up 4 hours later than usual 2 days after that.

I need help wording the response though.  I want to call u/npd exH out a little more on this. Any suggestions?

AOD

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Re: What should I do?
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2017, 08:52:55 AM »
U/npd exH has now informed me that because I didn't respond to his email by his deadline, the usual arrangement is happening and ds will not be attending the activity. He says he has informed the school.

Should I bother responding?

Ds doesn't want to talk about it with me so I'm not sure if he cares or not.  Some days he was looking forward to it, some days he was not fussed.

Should I contact the school?  I doubt that u/npd exH would have told them the true reason for ds' s absence. He's too smart for that.  He knows he'd look bad if the truth were known. If he's said anything other than "something has come up", it would have been a spin to make me look bad.

Part of the court orders say that if a change to the changeover arrangements is required it can be requested no later than 48 hours before. We still have 4 days to come to an agreement before this cutoff time.  But u/npd exH has already decided. And is not likely to budge.

He has for a number of years given me deadlines to respond to his emails. A few of them are understandable but most of them have no valid reason.

I told him a few years ago that unless he gave me a valid reason for each deadline, they would be ignored and I would reply when I was ready and able. That may be before or after the deadline.

He keeps setting them but I'm now at the point where I don't even notice the deadlines he demands. As a result, I missed this latest one. I would have ignored it anyway as I was waiting for ds to return to me before I replied. It's a rule I apply to myself as I don't want ds to witness any of his Dad's rages.

Should I keep fighting to enable ds to attend the activity?

AOD

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HotCocoa

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Re: What should I do?
« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2017, 09:27:55 AM »
U/npd exH has now informed me that because I didn't respond to his email by his deadline, the usual arrangement is happening and ds will not be attending the activity. He says he has informed the school.
He put in false deadlines and changed the rules he now wants you to abide by.  This is his pd talking.  If it were me, I would state his false deadlines are his alone and you will stick to what you originally talked about. 

Should I bother responding?
Yes, absolutely

Ds doesn't want to talk about it with me so I'm not sure if he cares or not.  Some days he was looking forward to it, some days he was not fussed.  I would not talk with son about it further, you do what you feel is best as his mother.  He may care, but doesn't want to upset his father, such is the case with children of pd's.

Should I contact the school?  Yes, if you want your son to attend the event. I doubt that u/npd exH would have told them the true reason for ds' s absence. He's too smart for that.  He knows he'd look bad if the truth were known. If he's said anything other than "something has come up", it would have been a spin to make me look bad.  Don't play into that, just let them know he will be attending and you can let teachers know your ex is not supportive of his son going to school there. 

Part of the court orders say that if a change to the changeover arrangements is required it can be requested no later than 48 hours before. We still have 4 days to come to an agreement before this cutoff time.  But u/npd exH has already decided. And is not likely to budge.  So what if he budges or not, follow the orders and let him know since you previously talked about it, and you have it in writing, you will be following the orders by taking son to event and picking him up 4 hours later on xx day.  You have proof of what was stated.

He has for a number of years given me deadlines to respond to his emails. A few of them are understandable but most of them have no valid reason.   His reasons are his alone, you don't have to follow his reasons.  That is why divorce is wonderful sometimes, you don't have to be in the fog with him.

I told him a few years ago that unless he gave me a valid reason for each deadline, they would be ignored and I would reply when I was ready and able. That may be before or after the deadline.   Yep, stick with that, I would start ignoring any false deadline he puts in place and only follow the court order.

He keeps setting them but I'm now at the point where I don't even notice the deadlines he demands. As a result, I missed this latest one. I would have ignored it anyway as I was waiting for ds to return to me before I replied. It's a rule I apply to myself as I don't want ds to witness any of his Dad's rages.  It sounds like you didn't miss anything, he just wants to mix things up so your son can't attend an event that is important to both you and your son.  As far as your son witnessing any rages?  You can't control the ex, if he rages, it is on him.

Should I keep fighting to enable ds to attend the activity?  I would, good luck.

AOD
The smarter you become about narcissistic abuse, the crazier the narcissist will say you are.

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bopper

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Re: What should I do?
« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2017, 03:25:33 PM »
Only you know what is important:

Having the father keep to the schedule, with the implication that he can do whatever he wants on his time
Supporting your son doing the event, even if you have to be mildly inconvenienced?
Just because they are incapable of loving you, doesn't mean that you are unlovable.
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ForLittleA

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Re: What should I do?
« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2017, 07:52:44 PM »
I see it a little differently. You've got two people to educate here: your ex (the way he treats you) and, more importantly, your son (his caracter).

Regarding your ex, he shouldn't notice that his confusing behaviour is taking you off balance. When he sees that you're doing just everything to protect your son from a negative experience, you're putting him in a power position. Show him, you're consistent by sticking to the rules, regardless of how important the event is to you. Imagine, if the event wouldn't take place, how would you then handle the situation. If your ex can only smell you're doing anything differently because of the event, he is very likely to spoil the next event, too.
As far as I understood, you two have to come to an agreement, when you change the plan. The original plan was that your son was at his father's house. So it'll be. Shrug your shoulders, when you cannot come to a mutual agreement, that's what will happen. If the father is only willing to discuss it you to a certain deadline (his right to set boundaries with you), then you need to accept it. Don't let yourself get pulled into circular discussions.
For the future: Propose a make up time for the holiday way in advance, and don't let the ex do the decision. Make a proposal a few weeks or months ahaid, when it's best suitable for you. Maybe there is another upcoming event you want to 'secure' or anything else that wasn't possible elseway.
And for case he is giving in: You can't bring him back 5 hours earlier next week. This is too spontaniously, you're already made plans. Make another proposal, that suits you.

Regarding your son: You cannot protect him from negative experiences while he's in his father's care. Don't let him witness your co-dependency. You need to be the sane parent that teaches him cpoing strategies and resilience. If his father is hurting the relationship with his son, let him do so. You can help you son understand lateron, or maybe, you can even teach him ways to influence the situation himself. He's old enough to cope with problems like this.

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Re: What should I do?
« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2017, 09:49:45 AM »
Thanks, HotCocoa, Bopper and ForLittleA.

I replied to u/npd exH saying I now agree to his proposal. But he's withdrawn his "gracious offer" (his words).

(It's a shame his emails were not as short as my last paragraph. I had to wade through a lot of projection, gaslighting, accusations,  sarcasm, insults etc. to summarize the situation.)

So ds will not be attending the school event.  He's not happy with his father.

I'm satisfied that I tried my best and ds knows I did and that the school knows what a xxxx u/npd exH is.  His behaviour speaks for itself.

The lesson I've relearned through this latest skirmish is:  Don't poke the bear when something your child wants/needs is at stake.

Ds is now, I think, at an age where he can start to work some of these things out with his father, without me doing it for him. The trouble is, ds won't approach his dad, even though he wants something his Dad doesn't want him to have.  I hope he gains courage as he gets older.

Thanks for your input, Folks.  It was much food for thought.

Now. What's next I wonder?

Actually, I do know.  U/npd exH has informed me tonight he will no longer be paying for one of ds' s extra curricular activities....

AOD