Need advice - communicating with stbx about a concern with the kids

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Whiteheron

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Yesterday DS's T brought to my attention that while on stbx's vacations with the kids (2 weeklong vacations), stbx made DS14 and DD11 sleep together in the same bed. DS's T feels very strongly that this should not be taking place and offered to call stbx to let him know she was not comfortable with this arrangement. I asked her to let me think of how I wanted this message to get to him and that I'd get back to her if I decided it would be better that she contact him about this.

My main concern with allowing DS's T to make the call is any potential blowback that DS would face - "why are you 'complaining' to your T about me, what else are you saying about me," etc. There would be repercussions for DS. Even though DS's T was the one who asked about the sleeping arrangements, DS did not volunteer this information. stbx would not see the distinction.

So I debated asking DD's T to say something to stbx. We alternate taking DD to T and spend the first 5 minutes talking with both DD and her T together. Theoretically, the T could bring something like this up...

But then I started thinking I needed to be the one to tell stbx, to get it in text for the record. I am struggling with the wording...and if this is even the right decision. I was thinking something along the lines of "It's come to my attention that the kids are sleeping together in the same bed while away. They are at an age where this is inappropriate and should not be happening..." It fells cold and informal, but I'm not certain how to word this so as not to put stbx on the defensive and have him disregard this concern because it's coming from me.

Has anyone has to let the PD parent know something they're doing is inappropriate? And how did you make them aware?
I have emailed my L, but she may not get back to me for a bit due to the upcoming holiday.

Should I just have DS's T call him instead? Any advice or words of wisdom would be appreciated.

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HotCocoa

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Re: Need advice - communicating with stbx about a concern with the kids
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2018, 10:32:24 AM »
Hello.  Yes, I have had to tell ex about inappropriate behavior.  Never easy.
He seemed to listen MORE when it came from a third party, not me.
I feel like therapist telling ex would carry some weight, especially with the court, or I would fear ex would say I'm just making something out of nothing and I'm mentally ill to even think he's inappropriate in any way and the problem is all me and in my head.  This is just what I've experienced.
I feel this would also put ex on notice that his actions won't be taken lightly in regards to the children.
Your son has every right to express himself to a therapist.
It also takes the burden off of you.  Narcs don't like to be "found out."  This would be a wake up call that his actions are being watched.
The therapist can also be made available to come to court as a third party by speaking directly about what ex said.
I understand how hard it is, hang in there.
 :bighug:
« Last Edit: July 03, 2018, 10:37:42 AM by HotCocoa »
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D.Dan

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Re: Need advice - communicating with stbx about a concern with the kids
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2018, 11:58:59 AM »
I also vote, to let the T speak to him. He already mangles anything you say, it'll hold more weight with the court if it doesn't come from you. Maybe the T can write an email to provide evidence?

Not upsetting your is stbex is NOT the lesser of 2 evils, that is an mental illusion he has created before to convince you to acquiesce to his will.

My reply had been longer but I realized it would terrify you and I don't want to do that, it was based off my own history and not a guarantee of your children's futures. I just wanted to point out that what's best for your children in this situation is protecting/defending their bodily autonomy.

Do what's best for your children, not you and not the stbex. Even the bathroom incident you mentioned in another post seemed physically (sexually? Due to gender) invasive, like he wants to know how your daughter is developing with his own eyes, instead of letting it be private to herself.

He's dancing on a line that can be considered sexual abuse, even if his intentions are not sexual in nature.

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openskyblue

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Re: Need advice - communicating with stbx about a concern with the kids
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2018, 01:46:47 PM »
I'll chime in here, as well:  Let the therapist speak with your ex about this.

For one thing, your DD told the therapist about the sleeping arrangements, not you. Also, this process sets up a good precedent/example for your DD:  She voiced a concern. Her therapist supported her concern by alerting you and moving forward to confront your ex, validating your daughter. This is how healthy, normal conflict relations are supposed to work. Even if your ex blows up or makes accusations, the therapist is modeling for your DD how such exchanges are supposed to go and that her concerns are valid. This is great medicine.

I'd recommend you stay out of this one and let the therapist do the heavy lifting on  this one. She sounds like someone who really cares about your DD -- and isn't afraid to take on a PD father. That's pretty darn great.

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Wild Lupines

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Re: Need advice - communicating with stbx about a concern with the kids
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2018, 03:58:49 PM »
I'd have one or both of the therapists communicate with them. I'd tell the therapist your concerns first about him punishing the kids for reporting, so they will be aware of that potential blowback and be able to watch for it, as well as support the kids.

I agree with D.Dan that this and the thing of forcing and manhandling your daughter to a shared bathroom is very concerning and, as I wrote before, really crossing the lines. Forcing two adolescent siblings to share a bed for two weeks is flat out wrong.

I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse by father figures, but what he is doing here borders on sexual abuse. It creeps me out and sets off every alarm bell.

He wants you to feel worried about his reaction, that's how they manipulate and overpower us. But his reaction is not your problem. His behavior is the problem and you can and should advocate for the emotional and physical wellbeing of your children.  You are a good mom and having the kids in therapy is SUCH a good thing. I wish I had therapists like this when I was growing up...and a mom who believed me, as you believe your kids.

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Medowynd

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Re: Need advice - communicating with stbx about a concern with the kids
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2018, 04:22:42 PM »
Let the T take the brunt of ex's anger.  The T asked and your son answered.  Your ex deserves to have his poor parenting behavior brought to light.  And he really dosen't want to have the T testify about his parenting practices.  The questions from the T will also put him on notice that he is under scrutiny.

The one thing I would do, is ask the T to make clear that they were the person that asked the question.  The information was not volunteered by son.

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lifeline

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Re: Need advice - communicating with stbx about a concern with the kids
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2018, 05:01:25 PM »
I agree with the others, let the T take that one to the front.

The thing is, an NPD doesn't want to appear to be less than the universes perfect father in anyones eyes.  So to make a good impression, he will listen to the T more so than you.

Good Luck, I know this stuff is SO hard. 
"Only I can change my life.  No one can do it for me."
-Carol Burnette

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Latchkey

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Re: Need advice - communicating with stbx about a concern with the kids
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2018, 11:50:30 PM »
Hi Whiteheron,

I want to play devil's advocate a bit here on who should tell him.

My only concern in this is that  if I am reading your post correctly it was DS's T not DD's T that brought this up and if the relationship with the T is good this could indeed cause problems with your ex and the T and the therapeutic relationship with the T and the child. I had an experience where a T betrayed my trust to my N/ASPD Step mom and told her everything I had said and she took the drive home to attack me and call me a liar. I was devastated and scared and the reprecussions were many,  It took years for me to trust any T again. Also, you need to find out if either child is very distressed by this or if it is more of the T being distressed.

I think perhaps a sternly worded email from you that insists that the children do not sleep together and that a rollaway bed be purchased for a small fee would be wise and not let him know how you find out. If there is any blowback from him, then you can use the T's and the attorneys.

I would also let your DS and DD know that you know what is going on and that you think it is wrong and that you are (or the T is) telling their father to get a rollaway bed. In general this is like 10-25 a night and he could even get a portable air mattress for much less for one of them.

I don't know what post with the bathroom others are referencing but I think making sure their relationship with their T and the trust there is more important now than their Dad's anger at you in this case.

Just some thoughts, let us know how it goes/went.

Latchkey



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Whiteheron

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Re: Need advice - communicating with stbx about a concern with the kids
« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2018, 11:30:44 AM »
Sorry for any confusion, I had edited part of my original post, and with it some details that may have helped were removed. It can get a bit confusing and long (an understatement!), but I'll try to explain:

It was DS's T that brought this to my attention, in front of DS. She offered to contact stbx to tell him she strongly felt this was inappropriate and needed to stop. I told her I'd figure out how to best convey this message to stbx and if I decided I wanted her to tell him that I would call or text her to let her know. I would likely text her so it's in writing.

Here is some background:
stbx has zero contact with DS's T. I informed stbx that DS was in T over a year ago (thru text because he was out of town). Months later, after I filed, he claimed in affidavits that he was unaware of any T and only just found out. Glad I had the proof. Then stbx took it upon himself to attempt to "serve" DS's T with official looking papers from his L demanding she hand over her private session notes to him. She wasn't in her office at the time, so he dropped off the papers with her colleague. He was reportedly very stern and abrasive when he did this. DS's T told me about this (in front of DS), I told my L, she informed the judge, who put a temporary hold on DS's therapy notes. DS's T was not happy that stbx was trying to violate DS's privacy. She informed DS, who still went to T, but didn't open up to her like he was before - he was reluctant to go to T in the first place because he was convinced his dad would know everything he said, and now it seemed to be coming true.

I also let the psych evaluator know about this, as it was one of my main concerns regarding custody and the kids. She put it in her report for the judge. She also recommended I get full medical (final say) so that stbx would be unable to access these records he so desperately wants. The judge is following her recommendations.

As an aside - During my initial visit with this T, to see if I thought she was a good fit for DS, she pegged stbx as NPD. First and only professional who's said that to me. So she's aware of the types of behaviors we are all dealing with.

I brought up DD's T, because stbx has contact with her. She has offered him a one hour session on single parenting, which he hasn't taken advantage of. I know this because I told her I would also do it. She told me I didn't need it but that if he takes advantage of her offer, she'd offer it to me as well. So far, nothing. Once a month stbx brings DD to her appointment (we alternate). Her appointments are set up in a way that the parent goes in at the beginning of the session and then again at the end of the session to chat about any concerns/issues. I was thinking this might be a possible way to get the message to him, if she would deliver it (she's on vacation for another week and a half though, so I can't talk to her about it yet).

I am unclear on my own motivations - I am very reluctant to open the lines of communication between DS's T and stbx. I don't know if I'm being territorial or selfish or protecting the relationship between DS and his T. I can only envision stbx taking this as his cue to get involved - attempt to insert himself into DS's T, like he tries with DD, or to potentially intimidate and harass DS's T, in which case she will drop DS as a patient (she told me at the start that if she feels threatened by stbx, she will have to drop DS). None of this will benefit DS. DS is now the favored child, and if stbx sees him as tattling on him, I'm not sure what will happen when the kids are with him. There will be repercussions.

So if I'm the one to tell stbx this is inappropriate...then he possibly hears it from DD's T, maybe that will be enough? I know he won't listen to me, but I will have it in writing (text/email) and I can talk to the kids about how they're at an age where this shouldn't be taking place.

I honestly believe that stbx doesn't see them as budding young adults. That he still sees them as young children, when it was ok for them to share a bed. The second vacation was at his FOO's house - there are two twin beds that MIL pushes together so the kids can be near each other. This all started when DD was too large for a crib, but was in danger of falling off the bed - so the two beds were pushed together and a rail was put up on one side so she wouldn't take a tumble. That was eight or nine years ago. I know MIL asks before each visit - beds together or one on the floor, so stbx had to be the one who said, "yes, push the beds together" for this last visit.

As for the bathroom, I don't believe stbx was planning to actually go into the bathroom with DD, he just wanted her to use that one so he could keep an eye on her coming and going? If she goes into the regular bathroom there are other people? I don't know, I started to type something else but it doesn't make any sense. None of it does. He can see her coming and going regardless of which bathroom she uses.
 
D.Dan, feel free to scare the sh!t out of me. I may need to hear it. I have already spoken to DD's T about him treating her, not like a tween, but like a six year old, with what I view as borderline "inappropriate" tickle fights (that I witnessed). She will be developing soon and shouldn't have her dad's hands all over her. Even if it is just in "fun".

Thank you all for your advice and support. I'll try to come to a decision today and send the text, to either the T or stbx, tomorrow.
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Being able to survive it doesn't mean it was ever ok.

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Latchkey

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Re: Need advice - communicating with stbx about a concern with the kids
« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2018, 06:26:41 PM »
Thanks for the background ... and I think this, given all the possible outcomes is probably the best way to handle...

Quote
So if I'm the one to tell stbx this is inappropriate...then he possibly hears it from DD's T, maybe that will be enough? I know he won't listen to me, but I will have it in writing (text/email) and I can talk to the kids about how they're at an age where this shouldn't be taking place.

And yeah, I've had varying success with telling a PD co-parent  ( and I've had 3 of them, exPD H's and ex BPD wife of my former H)  :doh: something was inappropriate from having my D's wearing seat belts, keeping kids in a car for hours not able to pee, exposing my former SS's to violent and sexual movies or video games, and also having my two former SS's who were engaging inappropriately at age 9 and 10 from sleeping together. I did myself use SS10's T with a session with both boys to try to get the inappropriate behavior to stop but I physically had to restrain them and keep them apart and watch at all times. It was very upsetting and their BPD mom did not seem to understand and their NPD dad turned a blind eye.

.....As kids get older, the more they can stand up for themselves with the parent the better. IME, I see that kids often age out of the family trip and start to refuse to go on them esp when a parent is a PD. Also, if both kids say no and it comes from them it will be noted if Dad or Grandma persists on having them room together.

On another note, your DS is getting to that age where he may no longer want or be able to take 2 weeks away with his Dad. When my D's were in HS, their summer schedules with sports and academics was pretty full.

((My former SS14 -going into HS who is the younger of the bros who was wrestling inappropriately at age 9- just refused to go see his BPD Mom for a few weeks across the country. He had so many problems with her, he'd rather be here with his NPD Dad and his friends. He gets along better with his Dad than his mom who he never really bonded with. He also had a HS class  that he needed to take.))




« Last Edit: July 04, 2018, 06:28:54 PM by Latchkey »
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Whiteheron

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Re: Need advice - communicating with stbx about a concern with the kids
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2018, 10:04:42 AM »
Thank you for all of your advice.

In the end what happened was that I voiced my concerns to DS's T, in writing. She replied that she's speak with DS about the situation. After their session, she informed me that DS had already spoken to his dad about this issue and that she felt this was the best way for DS to navigate issues like this, to self-advocate.

Do I believe DS brought this topic up with his dad? Nope.

This past week, however, I did bring it up to DD's T. Apparently she had already spoken to stbx about the kids not sleeping in the same room together (which they do at his house). She was taken aback that he would have them sleeping in the same bed. She will see stbx next week, so maybe something will be said to him.

Two professionals are now aware of his refusal to engage in basic common sense - I'm certain they'll be asking about sleeping arrangements before/after his next vacation with the kids. If he doesn't change, then I'm hopeful one or both will speak with the law guardian.
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Latchkey

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Re: Need advice - communicating with stbx about a concern with the kids
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2018, 01:08:43 AM »
I'm glad you waited and let things run their course with the professionals for now. My guess is that by the time the next vacation rolls around your ex will be on board with it and will be saying it is his idea.  :roll: Keep us posted.
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Associate of Daniel

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Re: Need advice - communicating with stbx about a concern with the kids
« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2018, 11:07:34 AM »
I've just been confronted with  very similar issue tonight.

I'll open another thread.

AOD